support. The radical homemaking path requires
a person to confront those fears. The would-be
radical homemaker has been able to do this,
and has discovered that many, if not all, of
their fears are little more than a hall of mirrors
keeping them from a deeper, more pleasurable and
empowering way of life. The unsupportive partner may
still be clouded by the fears—so committed to them that
he or she is unwilling to engage in a dialogue that might
Lack of a Dream. Despair and fear alone are
problematic attributes in an unsupportive partner, but
everyone who considers a different life path confronts
them. In order to put up half a fight in dispelling them,
a person must be able to imagine what a life could be
like without them. What does a life look like where one
is not afraid? Where one lives with optimism that our
collective individual choices will add up to a new earth
community? What would a happy life look like?
Fear and despair creep their way into everyone’s life.
They overtake our daily decisions without our even
noticing, smothering our imagination…unless we take
the time to dream. Dreaming about what we truly want
for our homes, for our families, for our land and communities, and for our time is the best antidote I know for
fear and despair. Each time we reflect on what we most
want in our lives, we are pushed to examine the barriers
that are keeping us from our dreams. And each time we
examine and express them, the barriers grow a tiny bit
weaker, the dreams grow a tiny bit more clear.
We dream constantly in our family. And every few
years, Bob and I write down whatever the current dream
You like tomato and I like tomahto;
Potato, potahto, tomato, tomahto!
Let’s call the whole thing off!
But oh! If we call the whole thing off,
Then we must part.
And oh! If we ever part,
Then that might break my heart!
“let’s call the whole thing oFF”
— george and ira gershwin, 1937
is. We write down all that we want for the land—the
land that we steward, as well as the land that we impact
with our life choices. We write down what we want
our time to be used for, what we’d like our financial
resources to be, and what we want our home to be like.
The dream we write is a shared one. It contains what we
both want—no compromises, no negotiations. It sits up
on a wall in the room where we meet every morning to
share a cup of coffee or tea. And every decision we make
together, whether it is a simple choice about what to get
done that day, or a big decision about a financial investment, reflects the dreams that are posted on our wall. It
reminds us that playing music together is as important
as making sausages for the farmers’ market, or returning
phone calls, or doing paperwork. It reminds us that keeping the car turned off as much as possible keeps us closer
to our deeper dreams. When we make choices about our
money, it reminds us of the world we want to create.
That is not to say that fear and despair don’t enter
our lives. But with our shared vision on our wall, we are
constantly reminded to challenge them, and to see fear
and despair for what they truly are: obstructions to our
dreams. The dream holds fear and despair at bay for us.
And it enables us to support each other, because we both
know what we are moving toward.
Not every union is worth preserving. Sometimes
couples must go their separate ways. But sometimes all
the pieces for a happy life together are present, but need
help coming out. If you are pining for the radical homemaker path and feel you have an unsupportive partner,
before you abandon your relationship, consider if fear
and despair are holding the other person hostage. They
are very real for the person who is experiencing them,
and it is important to honor their existence. But then, if
you can, try dreaming together again, as you may have
done once a long time ago. Your mutual dreams may
not resolve the fear and despair, but I promise they will
soften them. And better still, those dreams instill hope
and inspire courage. And hope and courage inspire
good change, even though it may be slow. The radical
homemaker path may have more bends in the road for
your family than for others, but the journey will still be
interesting, beautiful and powerful.
Shannon Hayes wrote this article for YES! magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions. Hayes is the author of Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture, The Grassfed Gourmet and
The Farmer and the Grill. She is the host of GrassfedCooking.com and
RadicalHomemakers.com. Hayes works with her family on Sap Bush
Hollow Farm in upstate New York. View article resources and author
information here: pathwaystofamilywellness.org/references.html.