Hi. Kristina Munroe here from Sustainable Home Resource with this week's blog.
This week I had the pleasure of sharing dinner with some dear friends. I have known Eric and Elizabeth since the days of researching, designing, and building our home. They provided emotional support, cheered us on, and celebrated our victories as we constructed Twisted Oak. To my delight, they have remained friends ever since.
Over our meal we talked about house projects, things we might have done differently, and any advice they might give to others who may be considering building a sustainable or self-sustaining home.
At first, the conversation revolved about the "nuts and bolts" of building a rammed-earth-tire home. But then, as the plates of sushi and spring rolls emptied, the conversation turned to the unexpected transformations that all of us have experienced, not only during the building process but more profoundly, as we continued our journeys of living in our homes.
The day I met Elizabeth at their enchanted, rammed-earth-tire home, she told me that living this way would rewire my brain. At that stage, I was utterly focused on the physical tasks ahead of building a home.
Lessening my impact on the earth, and building with natural, recycled, and sustainable materials consumed my thoughts. But, I had not once considered how I would change through this journey - I wasn't sure I wanted to rewire my brain!
The changes I was looking forward to involved eliminating my mortgage and utility bills. These were things I could understand. I could imagine the freedom I would have to spend more time with my kids by eliminating my house payment and the utility bills. But how it would feel to have my brain rewired eluded me.
To this day, I struggle to find the perfect words to explain the personal transformation I have undergone during the last nine years. For me, the root of the change lies in the deepening connection I have with nature and Her cycles.
As I pondered what to talk about in this blog, I listened to the trickle of water flowing through gutters and into the cisterns. Now is a time of abundant water. I can wash as many loads of laundry as I like, and fill the clawfoot tub for a bath. During the hot and dryer days of summer, I will likely need to keep a closer eye on the water levels. But, now is time to celebrate the abundance of water.
It is March, but I have the windows and skylights open welcoming in the fresh mountain air. No need to worry about a heating system. The sun keeps the house warm even with the fresh air flowing.
While seeking inspiration this morning, I took my tea outdoors to see how far the snow has receded from the gardens. My heart leaped when I noticed the tiny tips of green poking through the soil from the bulbs I had planted last fall.
Even with my heightened awareness of the natural cycles, there is still something even more profound at work. Elizabeth explains it as living in a home that cares for us. It's as if the house has us wrapped in its arms. I sometimes describe it as a sense of peace, serenity, and safety within these thick walls.
Most often when someone new visits, they are curious about all the systems and how the house works. We spend most of the time talking, but when a guest can stay and enjoy a cup of tea or sit quietly in the house, I notice that they feel something too. They often sit back and take a deep breath and remain quiet. I can feel them let go of the stress they brought with them.
I have come to realize how rare it is for most of us to experience a quiet space without the constant hum of electronics and mechanical systems. Most people live and work under artificial light rather than natural sunlight, and they rarely experience moonlight and starlight filling their bedroom at night. How many people are aware of the cycles moon?
There are many ways those of us living this way try to explain the natural changes we have experienced over the years, but it nearly impossible to put into words. It is a deep feeling and an awareness that we gain when we are living within the earth in a home that takes care of us. It is a process so organic and so natural that we may not even be aware of the transformation.
Living here at Twisted Oak has rewired my brain - and I wouldn't have it any other way.
Please scroll down and leave me a comment. Tell me the changes you are looking forward to on your journey toward sustainability.