Is This The Time I Finally Do It?

>> May 7, 2020

>> Blog Post #69

I signed up for a coding bootcamp this week. It’s not the first time I take some coding classes online, but up till now I had only taken a few free modules.

This time it’s an entire program and I actually paid for it. It was cheap, so whatever happens it wouldn’t feel like a waste of money, but it is a different feeling to actually pay for something.

I’ve been pretty active on the program for the past three days and it has actually eaten into my nighttime posting routine, but I’m sure I’ll figure out some sort of new organization to make it all work.

I also feel like I’ll be more committed to my learning plan this time around. There is more genuine interest, I actually have plans to use my soon-to-be new skills, my goals are achievable and so far, the program I’m following is really well done. You feel the person who’s put it together is genuinely trying her best to teach you and make sure you are satisfied.

I actually enjoy it so much I need to get back to it, NOW !

Sliding Into A New Rhythm

>> April 27, 2020

>> blog post #65

I’ve noticed my organisation has started to slide somewhat. I wasn’t necessarily getting as much work done recently because a lot of my time was spent on the family, specifically the kids’ education. But I must say my newfound love for gardening has also been pretty time consuming. All of this has resulted in my days getting longer and longer and any free time has extended in to the early hours more and more, so have my getting up hours. I think I’ve gotten used to this confined state and the novelty has gone a little. That’s probably why the slide is taking over. Need to get back to a better rythm and focus on the tasks at hand.

What should we tell the future generation?

>> April 17, 2020

>> Blog Post #60

These past four weeks have been easy. We are healthy, we can work from home, the kids have been helpful, I’m ok with teaching, the weather has been fabulous, we have a yard, we can go walk in the forest without running into anyone, etc.

No complaining on our side, I feel we have it good and I certainly cringe at the idea some of my friends are stuck in small Parisian apartments.

I think we have all adapted well to the situation, even though we have all done so on our own timeframes. The oldest kid here is just about done with high school. He’s eased his way into confinement really easy. Just stay in bed, chat over the phone and play video games. I heard someone mention he probably worked for a minute or two at some point, but no one knows for sure. He’s reached that age where everything is a drag and the prospect of trying to figure out what you’re supposed to do in the future is a question you face daily even though you don’t want to think about it and clearly do not know how to answer.

It’s been slow, as I don’t want it to be too abrupt, but I’m trying to get him to do a few chores everyday so that he participates in the family life and give him ample time to get bored – just take the power cable for the video games away. This has taken him out of his room quite a bit and he’s been around us more, for a few after dinner laid back chats or just to hang out. We haven’t really gotten to the point where we could start talking about the future without it turning into some kind of boring discussion, but I hope that we can get there in a bit, if this confinement continues. Because I see this time as being a great moment for us to try and help him figure out what he would like for himself. The whole COVID-19 thing is a terrific pause in everyone’s life to try and figure out what you really want more than anything and decide to go get it. I think part of what is really tricky for adolescents is that they feel like they don’t really have a choice or none of them is better than the other, probably because they are left with adult dilemmas. I don’t care what he does as long as he is happy about it. I just need to find a way to help him figure out who he really is so that he feels like he can be himself in his choices moving forward, whether we like it or not.

I personally always went for the middle road when making decisions regarding studies and the start of my career. It was a strategy picked consciously, in order to always keep a maximum of possibilities available to me. It wasn’t bad as I was successful with it if you judge by status or accomplishments or money etc. But definitely nothing shattering. However, I don’t think that’s how you should judge this, or at least that’s not how I do anymore. I think this strategy was actually the only strategy that kept me from being myself 100% at every decision and at this stage in my life, I have decided to change that. Now maybe this is wrong, but I believe that it is probably better to try to become who you really want to become even though it may be hard and you therefore should take that risk as early as possible, when life is easier – no kids, no mortgage, no boyfriend/girlfriend, etc.….

I’ll try to pass that message along.

Where Do I Start?

>> April 15, 2020

>> Blog Post #58

So let’s say I really do build a citadel like I said I’m dreaming of recently, where do I start?

I guess there are two main elements.

1/ convincing my better half – tough one right there

2/ figuring out a game plan for something as big as a life choice…. – yikes

Ok, so tall order….

I’ll probably have to start with the game plan first. To try and figure out whether this is attainable, achievable, by me. I’ve heard and read several times already that you should start small and grow from there, at least as far is permaculture is concerned, as that has been one of the first topics I have dived into. The comment probably carries a lot of wisdom as it has been expressed by people who have tried and seem very humble in their approach to things. It might therefore be wise to heed that advice and remember it. Especially because I have a natural tendency to go too far too quickly.

So how do you make a plan?

  • You need land
  • You need to gather resources
  • You need to use these resources as efficiently as possible
  • You need to progressively tend towards more autonomy while understanding that it takes several years to build
  • You need learn new skills
  • You need help along the way
  • You need to survive the hardships as there will be hard times – that again seems to be a common comment of people who are willing to share some feedback on their personal experience.

I will probably split my studies along the lines of:

  • Land – choosing the best possible land to establish a citadel
  • Design – learning how to build a system, that is an ecosystem where things and animals (including us) live off of each other
  • Food – how to grow food, how to keep food, how to transform food
  • Shelter – learn how to build a house. Isn’t it kind of crazy that 99.9% of people do not know how to do this anymore?
  • Energy / Resources – Water, heat, electricity obviously, but also all the resources you can accumulate freely and transform into something useful for crops or animals. There is a ton of stuff to do there and this recycling, DIYing aspect is one of the most interesting to me.
  • Security – physical security, financial security, health considerations, risks, redundancies, etc. This is probably an understated theme but another one that I am very curious about
  • Network, social – finally this theme. You cannot do everything yourself, obviously. I will need help and support, and this is only possible with the help of others, to build, criticize, support, buy, sell, dream, joke, … Whatever it is people do. You need people.

This all sounds so crazy.

I must say though, that someone offered his help to me yesterday. I am 100% sure he doesn’t know just how crazy I am, but I do also believe, he was serious in at least considering there was some hard work to be done and I know he’s got the mind of a builder, just like me. Never know… 🙂

I Want To Build A Citadel

>> April 13, 2020

>> Blog Post #57

This is the crazy obsessive idea that I can’t get off my mind these days. I think it’s the project that I’m looking for. Something all encompassing, durable, a mix of a lifelong goal and a trajectory at the same time.

What is the citadel? The citadel is a physical space where you can exercise your liberty to its fullest. To do so, you need to be independent enough from the rest of the world around you. Independent from spying eyes as well as from material ties such as energy bills.

The citadel is a system, where all elements and components of the citadel have to work together efficiently as a whole. The system is designed to last and must evolve constantly in support of that objective. The goal is to constantly improve the citadel so that it can be transmitted to others down the road and that its value will have appreciated with time.

But a certain level of independence and autonomy do not mean that this is a solitary project or that there is no communication with others. Quite the contrary. I am convinced that a growing number of people are feeling the same urge to build for themselves in a way that is respectful to others but uncompromising with regards to their own personal freedom and well-being. These people can be friends, partners, customers, suppliers and the citadel has to be designed to be able to benefit from all these networks and relationships.

Finally, the citadel is both old and modern. It is respectful of history and wisdom while also having a strong appetite for science and the benefits of modernity. It is built to enjoy life at its fullest with all the best ideas of the past, today and the future.

Now I know very well that a citadel cannot be built in a day. I will have to conduct a ton of research, plan, choose a strategy, find partners, people who might want to contribute and enjoy the journey.

How Long Will This Last?

>> April 8, 2020

>> Blog Post #55

We’ve now been confined for three weeks. I don’t feel as confined as others as I still go out once in a while to shop for food and take a walk in the forest frequently – a little less than my usual 6 days a week, but still almost every other day. I also have a yard that I can sit in and garden and enjoy the warm sunny days we’ve had.

And obviously, we’re healthy, so no complaining on my part whatsoever.

I’ve talked to some of my friends over the phone recently and everyone’s story is basically the same: it’s not that bad, we’re adapting, sometimes we lose it with our kids because they drive us nuts, but all in all it’s fine.

But what I find interesting is the few comments that seem to be fairly common amongst most people. They are:

  • taking the time to reflect on their lives
  • taking the time they have now, to do things they had always wanted to do but never started – I have one friend who’s currently tearing down his car to learn mechanics!!! Insane
  • finding new efficiencies in how they work, day to day – less meetings, less calls, asynchronous teamwork, etc.

So, the question goes further than what possibly crossed your mind when reading the title of this post.

When is the confinement going to end is one thing? But something potentially much deeper is at play. A lot of people seem to be questioning their way of living and seem to be happy to try things differently, probably forming habits along the way. How long are these going to last? Will they be durable? Will they be more beneficial than the old ones? Should we actually hope that we have more time confined to push this exercise, this test to its limits? Are there any limits to how we can adapt?

I for one am just getting started, and I have ways to go.

Stay safe!

Being Grateful For Tomorrow

>> April 7, 2020

>> Blog Post #54

I did a ton today. And yet what I wanted to do and was planned for this day, just never happened. I didn’t have time, no matter how hard I tried, other stuff just came getting in the way.

It was the type of day where you know there are only a couple of hours left until tomorrow and you wonder if you should just get to it, now that everyone else has disappeared or just take it easy, recognize that sometimes it’s better just to pace yourself and accept that there is a tomorrow.

As I was sitting down somewhere private, the thought just occurred to me. All in all, it wasn’t that bad. Be thankful there is nothing serious going on and you will just get it done tomorrow. You want to do it. If you did not do it today, it wasn’t for lack of envy. Not everything can be achieved through pure will. Sometimes other things interfere.

Knock it out of the parc tomorrow.

Be thankful for what you have. Not everyone is as fortunate. Anything that is within man’s reach, you can set your eyes on and do it.

The Homeschooling Book – Part 2

>> March 24, 2020

>> Blog Post #45

Guess who is going to have 5 more weeks to work on his homeschooling project?

One of the difficult aspects of having everyone at home 24/7 is that you pretty much have to take charge of the weekly calendar for everyone. How autonomous were we when we were kids? I don’t remember. Looks like the attention span of my kids isn’t very long and they look at others for ideas of what to do quite a bit. Actually, today wasn’t too bad.

I think everyone needs to get a little more bored, to hit some kind of bottom, so that progressively the will to get genuinely excited and motivated by something comes up.

I’ve started to introduce a mandatory moment for the kids to get online and do some internet searches. I want them to be stimulated enough that then they would then start going for the DIY stuff which they really like. We’ll see how that goes.

Anyways, this is just a drill. We are practicing for later. We are learning more skills patiently while the confinement lasts. But we will probably take this mindset with us after. I hope we’ll be able to learn for years to come and maybe one day we can build a family citadel with the children.

The skills we are learning might come in handy if we want to put a roof over our heads, farm the food we need to survive or just want to change our lifestyle. They might come in handy as a way of living or as a way to earn money or trade. It will, whatever happens open up our horizons.

The Homeschooling Book – Part 1

>> March 23, 2020

>> Blog Post #44

The COVID-19 induced confinement period has been an opportunity for me so far. Of course, there are many problems because of it, and I’ve ranted enough about how afraid I am that governments are just going to seize this fine opportunity to grab more power and screw us more. But, overall, the mood has been very positive, and I’ve seen it as a chance to do more and to do things differently. Having the kids 24/7 and the weather being pretty nice have also been an underlying reason for this all.

This will probably turn into some big experiment for me and I decided to take a blank notebook and start writing down all my ideas around it and I will also probably take a journal of what I do to keep track of it all.

Being in confinement means spending all your time together. It means you have to reorganize both your time and your interactions. No more school, work, week-end rhythm punctuated by set alarm clocks and meals.

As I’ve said, I’ve taken this positively. I know I have more time to enjoy – and completely loose it – my kids, and I also know that they need to keep busy.

Mens sana in corpore sano – a healthy mind in a healthy body.

I actually like the Latin version better as it includes that notion of saneness, which for a ton of people is paramount when they are faced with spending their entire days locked up with their kids.

I am still figuring out my exact setup here, but so far, I try to have my kids work every morning and then spend some time outside in the afternoon on outdoor games or yardwork.

I am guessing that physical activity would be a better way to start the day, but thee reason I am keeping this for the afternoon is that it is still too chilly in the morning these days.

Here are some of the things we have done over the past week:

  • We’ve cleaned out an area on our lawn to grow a vegetable garden
  • We’ve recycled old wooden pallets in making a compost
  • I’ve trimmed the hedges and the kids helped me pick up the branches so that the garden is clean
  • We’ve trained the dog outside – or at least we’ve attempted too, but he’s so young the distractions are too frequent for much progress
  • We started discussing how we should proceed for the planting of the vegetables, when to do it, what to plant, where to plant seeds, etc.…
  • We’ve cut off the butt of one of the leaks we ate the other day and left it in water, as it is supposed to grow back, and we should be able to repot it in a few days’ time.
  • We’ve set aside some potatoes to sprout
  • We’ve cleared out an area to grow some fruit trees
  • We’ve played a board game every single day
  • We’ve introduced more frequent movie nights
  • We’ve let the kids “camp” in each other’s’ rooms
  • We’ve started to do half of the homework on the computer in order to start teaching them how computers work. Our hunch is it might be useful someday 🙂 We’ve maintained handwriting for the other half because I don’t want them not to know how to write with a pen properly.
  • But the most exciting, or at least the one which I was the most proud of was the 10 min race between my kids to see who would gather the most worms in the yard so that we could settle into our new compost. That was a hit and got them really excited.

What I’ve wanted to do but haven’t incorporated in the schedule yet:

All of this has taken more time than it should, as being all on top of each other does create organizational “problems”. Especially when the adults are also supposed to be working etc. So, we’ve taken it one step at a time, guessing that we will probably have a lot more time in confinement anyways. At least that’s my bet.

I want my children to read every day and to learn how to enjoy it. Reading at least 30 min a day is paramount in my opinion and this hasn’t been done every day. My plan is that it should be.

I also would like to incorporate some kind of muscular wake up routine, just to get some of the kids’ energy out in the morning or during our homeschooling breaks.

I’d like to add some elements to the school program that are more philosophical or geared towards building confidence in my children that we are all capable of pretty much anything that we set our sights on if we work hard and persevere.

And finally, I would like to have them do so internet searches on whatever we plan on doing together so that they bring ideas, get creative, start dreaming and maybe provide me with some guidance on what there is to do. This should tie in nicely with the goal above.

All in all, this should be seen as an overarching goal to develop the mind, the body, the personality of each kid in their own way.

I’ll follow up on this post regularly in the coming weeks.