Monthly Archives: March 2015

What Do You Know About Your Local Economy?

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What do you know about your local economy?  We talk about supporting small businesses and buying products that are made here in the USA, but why does that come second to a sale on an imported good?  Why do we have to have Small Business Saturday to remind us to support our local entrepreneurs?  We talk about a floundering economy but we are so willing to give our money for goods and services rendered from foreign lands when we could so easily keep some of that money right here by shopping locally.

Now, before I get into trouble up here on my soap box, I have to say that I am not so high-and-mighty in my small-town Americanness that I would ever bash another country or culture.  There is nothing inherently wrong with buying imported goods and it is not the purpose of this post to belittle anyone who chooses to shop at supermarket chains, but let me pose a scenario to you:

Let’s say you spend $40 per week at the supermarket of your choice on fresh fruits and vegetables.  You get the things you like, many of which have been imported, and everyone in your family gets fed.  Easy enough, right?  Well what if you took your $40 to the local farmer’s market or produce stand?  You got everything you wanted, you were going to buy it anyway, and the supermarket is not going to miss your $40 contribution to their bottom line, but that $40 can help to pay the rent cost for the person running the stall at the farmer’s market or the produce stand.  When you go to the local hardware store and pay $2 more for the same brand tool or product that you would find at a larger home improvement store, you keep alive the dream that the proprietor had when they opened up shop in the first place.  That money that you were going to spend anyway is not just money in their pockets like it is with the CEO’s of large corporations, it’s food on the table for their families just like it is for yours.

So I ask again, what do you know about your local economy?  How many self-employed individuals work within 10 miles of you who would be honored to provide you with their goods and services?  How many have you not even thought of or met yet?  The next time you are given the opportunity to make your community a better, more-rounded place to live, please don’t hesitate to do so.  Please buy small.

What Does A Year Look Like?

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What Does A Year Look Like?

A year is only 24 hours experienced 365 times in a row.  As we get older it seems like the years come and go faster and faster.  Sometimes you wake up, realize that your year has passed, and it feels like you’ve barely blinked it by.  While it is happening, though, dragging on day by day, it can feel like a year will never end.  This last year, at least for me, has been mighty peculiar compared to the last 20 I’ve experienced.

This year has consisted of two overnight, cross-country road trips that culminated in a move out-of-state.  It has seen me take up no less than five new jobs that are all unique but somehow quite the same.  It has seen me work hard and move into a beautiful brick house on a lake with the man I love.  It has seen changes unlike any others I have yet to encounter.

Beginning with what I knew, I planted a fruitless garden and kept on planting until I found something new that would grow here.  I began raising six chicks, buried one, and loved the remaining five all the more for it.  I have been exploring how much of their own food that two people can grow and raise on less than 0.1 acres in town.  I have made myself stronger from the fruits of my labor.

I have given my collie more room to run and when my cat ran away I gave her a home to which she might return.  I’ve seen the unfortunate deaths of two good cars after unbelievable breakdowns, both automotive and emotional, and found out how hard it is to get a new one on my own.  I’ve worked for little more than peanuts and prayed for the day that I could afford a shoe-string budget.  I have learned exactly what it is like to start over from scratch.

This past year has seen the birth of three new cousins, a handful of weddings, a heartbreaking number of funerals, and one very important high school graduation back home – all of which occurred no less than 850 miles from where I am now.  Yes, this year has been pretty lonely for this girl, but I don’t regret it.  I have grown up a lot, too, you see.  You have to learn to lean on yourself and the community that you build when you strike out on your own – away from your family and everything you’ve ever known to a place where so many before you have only found failure.

Success does not have to be measured in nice things or the infrequency with which the bill collectors call, but the happiness that you find along the way to the life you’ve always dreamed of.  It’s hard to remember the misery that accompanied the beginning of this year-long journey and think that I should ever be happy again, but if happiness is not what I’ve found, it is contentment and I can live with that – at least until next year…

– Claire