General ramblings, My Make Do and Mend Year

What am I doing?

What  exactly am I doing? Where am I going? What am I trying to achieve?

I am sat here, tired, with a headache. My house is a mess. My kids are playing upstairs on their own, when I should be inter-acting or making some wonderful craft with them. I have a pile of jeans that need patching, and projects that I want to make a start on. But here I am, blogging. Always blogging. And e-mailing. And tweeting.

And what is it achieving?

Both for me and my family and on a wider scale too.

Yes, My Make Do and Mend Year has undoubtedly changed the way we approach buying, what we buy, and our consumption in general, but I could have achieved that without blogging about it, and saved myself a whole heap of time and bucketfuls of energy.

Yes, My Make Do and Mend Year has some very loyal and lovely and supportive readers, but I don’t know if it has changed anyone’s buying habits, and even if it has, changing the buying habits of one or two people isn’t going to save the world.

I have met some lovely  and inspiring people, both on-line and in real life, and I wouldn’t have not done it for a minute, but it is hard to keep finding the time and the energy to get the blog and the message out there, and at the end of the year, what will it have achieved?

On a personal level, I need to pay the bills. Maybe the energy and time that I have put into My Make Do and Mend Year would have been better channelled into a part-time job? I keep hoping for some marvellous way of making money from spouting on about living a sustainable life to drop from the sky into my lap, but in all reality that really isn’t going to happen.

On a wider level, my little blog is not going to change the world. And if you read most of the reports in the papers, there is now very little we can do to save the world. We have sleep-walked into a disaster, and there is probably no way back to the way we have it now. Our children will not be able to lead the lives that we do. And most certainly, our grand-children won’t. I firmly believe that as individuals, we all have an obligation to do what we can, and to live the most sustainable lives we can. But until we ALL start doing it, and like NOW, I sometimes feel like it is a very futile exercise.

I’m still not quite sure why I started the blog. I know it was about a desire for ‘less stuff’ and for our children not to grow up as mindless consumers, but as it has gone on, it has grown clearer and clearer to me, that what I really want is to show people how they carry on living their ‘normal lives’ but make them hugely more sustainable by just stopping to think a little bit. But unless that message can get out there and ‘sustainable  living’ becomes mainstream, then it will never work.

And I still won’t have paid my bills.

Sorry for all the navel gazing and whining. I guess I’m just having a bad day.

Tomorrow will be better. Promise.

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  • Reply Angel Jem June 3, 2013 at 7:54 am

    Are we having a bad day? Your blog is totally readable and inspiring. It does make a difference, but you don’t see it. It’s like a teacher who never actually sees the full impact he/she has. You just have to trust.
    I know I am living more mindfully because at the root I want to be sustainable.
    Take time off. Chase some income, could you have suitable adverts on the blog? And we don’t need you everyday (wants vs needs again, you see?) And remember that the sun shines well today.

    • Reply Jen June 3, 2013 at 1:25 pm

      Thankyou for your kind words. Was just having a momentary blip! Back on form again now 🙂

  • Reply Normal service has resumed.. | My Make Do and Mend Year May 31, 2013 at 1:04 am

    […] quick one to say Thankyou so so much for all your lovely comments and support following on from my little bit of navel-gazing and snivelling..! I am touched and re-motivated that so many people are being inspired by My Make Do and Mend […]

  • Reply suth2 May 30, 2013 at 9:49 pm

    You just need to re read all your comments to see what an impact you are having. Don’t give up. Love your blog.

    • Reply Jen May 30, 2013 at 10:01 pm

      Thankyou. You are right. Inspirational comments. I am feeling much more positive!

  • Reply clairelewisco May 30, 2013 at 8:58 pm

    Hey Jen,

    I completely understand how you feel but all I know is when you expend SO MUCH ENERGY doing what you do you expect the steps forward to be bigger and faster than what they are. You are also having a bit of a bad day but don’t dispare two pieces of advice: The best way to eat an elephant is bit by bit and just remember some times the end goal is bigger and once you get there the journey and how you got there will be just as important and remarkable.

    I know if you are like me you want to be reassured that you are on the right path, a crystal ball would be good every now and then hey!! Your comments I hope have eased your concerns that you are achieving what you set out to do and more. You have succeeded in changing your families mindset and you have influenced others – amazing!! You could also reduce your blogs to every second day rather than every day to give you more free time either way people will still want to hear from you and your time could be spent doing those other things you crave.

    Keep up the good work 😉 XX

    • Reply Jen May 30, 2013 at 10:00 pm

      Thanks Claire. Am getting some great inspirational quotes tonight. Your elephant one made me chuckle-thankyou!

  • Reply Tracey Furnival May 30, 2013 at 8:38 pm

    Hi Jen, I just want to echo the other comments. I think you are an inspiration to us all and well done to you for sticking with your goals. Blogging is all very new to me (I have only recently got into Twitter!) but I have enjoyed reading your blogs thus far, and thank you for your kind words and support for my Skool-Kit venture. xx

    • Reply Jen May 30, 2013 at 9:58 pm

      Thanks Tracey. Your Skool-kit venture is fantastic-will be checking it out soon for BigSmall-eek!

  • Reply fenendfarm May 30, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    I think it might have been Gandhi who said something like “never doubt that a small group of committed individuals can change the world. It’s the only thing that ever has.” He also said “be the change you wish to see in the world”. When I get down about whether I’m making a difference, those are the things I think of. One more quote, from John Seymour: “I am only one man. I can only do what one man can do. But what one man can do, I will do.”

    Keep going Jen, yours is the only blog I subscribe to! Never would have heard of sugru if it wasn’t for you!

    • Reply Jen May 30, 2013 at 9:57 pm

      I love those quotes-thankyou. I should tattoo them to my forehead, or get them imprinted on the inside of my eyelids so that I see them regularly (now there’s a blog post..) Honoured that you have chosen to subscribe!

  • Reply Sue May 30, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    Hi Jen…we all need people like you to remind us what is important and it’s not shiny new cars and expensive clothes. We all need to do our bit to help the planet. I’ve tried to be green all my married life (nearly 39 yrs!) and sometimes I’m green sometimes pale green! Do as best as we can, together we can try to make a difference. Keep up the good work…I look forward to your daily blog. Xx

    • Reply Jen May 30, 2013 at 9:56 pm

      Thankyou Sue. You are quite right. Shiny new cars and expensive clothes are definitely NOT important! Learning to Make Do and Mend most definitely is.

  • Reply Jen May 30, 2013 at 7:07 pm

    Thankyou so much Hilary. What fabulous quotes 🙂

  • Reply TheMadHouse May 30, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    There are ways to make an income from your blog. I make it from mine and am happy to chat about it with you. Sometimes we all have these days were we question things

    • Reply Jen May 30, 2013 at 7:09 pm

      Thankyou. I know that there are people who manage to make money from their blogs, but I feel that I can’t really have adverts on here as it kind of goes against what the blog is about. Will drop you an e-mail though if that’s ok?

  • Reply Jo aka Kiwijo May 30, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    Blimey missus, you are having a bad day, my head spins just looking at all youve done so far. Youve met lots of people, got more involved with your community and got lots and lots of people thinking about if they need things before they buy them. You are truely an inspiration to me and lots like me, give yourself a break!
    I hope tomorrow is much better for you

    • Reply Jen May 30, 2013 at 7:03 pm

      Thanks Jo. I’m sure it will be. Day out with the Smalls at the Bath and West Show 🙂

  • Reply sarah@everydaylifeonashoestring May 30, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    You’ve achieved a HUGE amount in a short time so don’t underestimate the impact you’ve had on your readers and those around you. And don’t forget the wider impact of the BIB shortlist, the TED talk, the Sun article…? With all the energy you’ve poured into your year, it’s not surprising you’re feeling ‘burn out’. You can’t change the world singlehandedly but you’re having a hugely positive impact on your corner of it with all your community building, virtually and in real life. When I’m fed up with blogging, the bottom line for me, is that the positives of blogging – feeling part of a community, meeting some great people, making changes in our own lives – outweigh the negatives. Maybe after the year is up (or even before as others have said) you won’t have to keep going at such a phenomenal pace online, but can put deploy your energy differently. And as for a part time job, I’m sure somewhere down the line, even if not right now, there’ll be some ‘sustainability’ type work for you…Some organisation would be crazy not to snap you up!

    • Reply Jen May 30, 2013 at 7:03 pm

      Thankyou Sarah. I agree with you, the positives far outweigh any negatives. I am just having one of those days. And I am shattered. The sensible thing to do would be to log off the computer and get an early night…!

  • Reply heathercards May 30, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    Hi Jen, dont be hard on yourself, who said you have to post every day? we really wont mind if you have a day off, or two, or blogg every other day, although I must admit I do love reading your blog, and yes you have changed the way people think. As a family this year, we have made a lot of changes to the way we buy our shopping, with less packaging, more recycling, and freecycing, only yesterday we freecycled a canoe and accessories on freecycle and without your blog and a couple of others I read I wont be making all these changes. So from me a great big thankyou

    • Reply Jen May 30, 2013 at 7:02 pm

      Freecycling a canoe-love it! Thankyou for your kind words. I know I don’t have to blog everyday, and I never set out to, it just kind of happened. And now I feel a bit like I have come this far, and my stubborn streak kicks in, and I want to finish the year having posted 365 times-so no-one to blame but myself really.

  • Reply Hazel May 30, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    Okay, not in order-
    As Anona said, some benign neglect is a good thing when bringing up children. We’re brainwashed into thinking we should be doing something with them all the time, but just leads to dependent children who need to be entertained constantly. At Rainbows I can tell the girls who are left to their own devices a bit. They’re the ones who don’t fall apart when I say “There’s some card/sticky back plastic squares/large boxes for giant junk modelling. Do what you like.”
    Imagination needs boredom to kick start it sometimes and I don’t think most children ever get to be bored anymore. There’s always a class or activity or day out scheduled.
    So don’t worry about the Smalls for a moment- they are not suffering because of what you’re doing. I ignore my children when I’m gardening… (Incidentally they’ve just had a sleepover with cousins, been out for lunch, then a walk in a bluebell wood and then for an ice cream and they’re all whingeing like billy-o. I’ve just told my son I’m never going to organise an activity for him ever again…)

    How do you know your blog won’t change the world? You’ve been in a national newspaper!! You are part of making sustainable mainstream. All the stuff you’ve done to bring that to people IS helping. Anita Roddick (and others) once said if you don’t think one small thing can make a difference or change behaviour, try sleeping in a room with a mosquito….

    You’ve changed your family’s mindset and you will be changing that of other people around you without realising it. Every time you refuse something, or try to mend something and explain why, you are making people think. It may take some people more encounters than others but the message will be drip, dripping into their minds.
    I thought I was pretty good at keeping stuff going, but I’ve definitely mended stuff this year that I would previously have given up on and binned. Because I read your blog.

    Our lives are going to have to change in the future, but d’you know? It might even be for the better.

    Don’t be so hard on yourself. You’ve achieved so much this year, I’ve been feeling very inadequate. And now the Mending cafe. That wouldn’t have happened without you! All whilst running a family and chairing your playgroup, amongst other stuff.. That would be more than enough for most people.
    If blogging is becoming hard work, how about posting less frequently?

    Phew. Longest comment ever 🙂

    • Reply Jen May 30, 2013 at 7:00 pm

      Thankyou so much for such a detailed comment Hazel, and for all your support. I think part of the problem is I am not very good at ‘baby steps’ and I don’t really have a clear end-point that I am aiming for. I am starting to think about what will happen when the year is up, and what I will do, and what lasting impact, if any, it will have had. It has become such a huge part of my life, I can’t really think what I will do without it. I know I have just had a moan about blogging, but I do really love it-just wish someone would pay me to do it!

      • Reply Hazel May 30, 2013 at 8:48 pm

        Ah, baby steps. Yes, they’re great they are. It’s taken me a while to realise that perhaps that when I feel like a total failure it may be because I’m trying to declutter (thanks Sarah!), slim my bin, avoid supermarkets, make do and mend and grow a decent proportion of our food, all at the same time. All the things that sensible people choose one of, or at least one thing at a time. Consequently I have piles of mostly-sorted stuff in every room, a reasonably slimmed bin and an allotment I’m too scared to visit cause I’ll need a machete…

        • Reply Jen May 30, 2013 at 9:59 pm

          You are quite mad to try and do it all at once, but it is very admirable. Loving the image of the machete wiedling allotmenteer..! Keep up the good work Hazel 🙂

  • Reply Katrina Shaw May 30, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    We all have bad days filled with doubt but you are doing good. You may not realise it but there are many of us who choose (although not always) to live like this. It’s creating a community (albeit online) of like minded people. If we can all try to influence just one other person to try it, think how much could be achieved. You are doing a great job and we “followers” truly appreciate it 🙂

    • Reply Jen May 30, 2013 at 6:48 pm

      Thanks Katrina. That is one of the things that I love so much about blogging-the sense of being part of a community, or a bigger picture. And it does make you realise that you are not alone, and I have found it to be very empowering. Without the blog I wouldn’t have attempted half of the things I have this year.

  • Reply Angela Bevington May 30, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    Hang on in there. I look forward to your blogs. I agree with everything you are trying to do. You inspire me and I’m sure many others. Hopefully we in turn will inspire others, and so on. So we can make a difference!

    • Reply Jen May 30, 2013 at 6:47 pm

      One small step and all that. Thanks Angela

  • Reply knittymummy May 30, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    Keep going, we all have doubts like this. You are inspiring people

    • Reply Jen May 30, 2013 at 6:47 pm

      Thankyou so much, that is lovely to hear.

  • Reply Rose @ The Cosy Dragon May 30, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    You’re having an off day – everyone understands that. Through your blog, I’ve branched out to a bunch more sustainable living with kids blogs that I never would have gotten to otherwise. I think you’re doing a great job, and I really hope you keep on blogging. I understand the huge amount of energy blogging takes though, and I’ve been in ruts of my own before. In the end though, you’ll probably be pretty proud of what you achieve.

    I know it’s probably not on your list of wanted things, but it is possible to monetise a blog instead of getting a part time job. There are often free things that can go with blogging, but I’m sure most of these would not fit in with the whole philosophy of the blog. Additionally there is always advertising, but not everyone wants to go that route.

    Best of luck, with whatever you choose to do.

    • Reply Jen May 30, 2013 at 6:46 pm

      Thankyou so much Rose. I will undoubtedly keep blogging (can’t get rid of me that easily). I just feel like I am running around like a headless chicken without achieving much (financially or otherwise). I would love to be able to ‘monetise’ the blog or My Make Do and Mend Year but don’t really feel that I can start advertising products or ‘stuff’ if I am trying to encourage people to think about their consumption…

  • Reply helen May 30, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    i love your blog and you are an amazing mum and an inspiration xxxx

    • Reply Jen May 30, 2013 at 6:44 pm

      You are very kind Helen, thankyou.

  • Reply --ginger. May 30, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    Oh I think that the writing about it is part of what makes it all sustainable for us. Because it does require some talking to ourselves to stay the course. What you’re doing is meaningful. And it will likely scootch the trajectory of your family’s life–and even if it’s just a few degrees or so away from the norm, I bet that’s worth it. Really. Don’t lose heart. I think we’re supposed to listen when our souls say, “Do This.” And it sounds like you have. Best, –ginger.

    • Reply Jen May 30, 2013 at 6:43 pm

      Thanks Ginger. I have never been very good at finding the balance-maybe that is what I need to do. I feel like I no longer have the time to do the Making, and Making Do and Mending that I am supposed to be blogging about. But I do love the writing too. Balance….

  • Reply Anona Mead May 30, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    chin up chuck you are just having a bad day. To probably mis quote the Chinese philosopher, a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. Ditto saving this beautiful world. One person can make a difference and lots of one persons can make a huge difference. Ok we cant stop our hell bent slide into disaster but we can and you certainly are, teach our off-spring how to be self reliant and cope with the constraints they will have to face. Every generation has had to face some sort of disaster be it wars, disease, famine mini ice ages etc. So have a good bawl, now blow your nose, big blow and put on your big girl pants and back to the grind stone. There are lots of us who love your blog and for heavens sake you are a good parent, you do heaps with your children. There are plenty who start school with nearly zero language skills because they have never been spoken to. As a very old lady once said to me ‘a little healthy neglect never did any child any harm, but taught them to be just a little self reliant’. She was born in 1912 and that bon mot came from her mother who was born 40years prior to that. She was one of the wisest, well balanced, capable women I have ever met. big hugs Anona

    • Reply Jen May 30, 2013 at 6:42 pm

      Thankyou so much Anona. Loving the big girl pants, or is that just big pants..?! Healthy neglect is also a good one 😉 Thankyou again.

  • Reply clairebyron May 30, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    I only recently found your blog Jen, but I like no doubt many others, find in inspiring! I’ve always been a bit of a shopaholic – until my kids put a stop to that 🙂 but surely if your blog has made even one person like me think twice about buying yet another bit of tat they don’t need – then you’ve made an impact. Don’t give up and give yourself credit for what you have done! x

    • Reply Jen May 30, 2013 at 6:41 pm

      Thankyou for your kinds words.

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