Transition Culture

An Evolving Exploration into the Head, Heart and Hands of Energy Descent

Transition Culture has moved

I no longer blog on this site. You can now find me, my general blogs, and the work I am doing researching my forthcoming book on imagination, on my new blog.

Balancing Your Life – Anne B Ryan (2002)

**Balancing Your Life – a practical guide to work, time, money and happiness. By Anne B Ryan. Liffey Press, Dublin.**


Whenever I teach a permaculture course, I begin by talking about how as a society we are addicted to oil – our clothes are made of it, our houses, our food and so on. Until I read this book, I really hadn’t realised the extent to which the same can be said for money. Or, to be more precise, the idea of ‘more’, of always striving for more, an impossible quest which results in stress, dissatisfaction and ill health, and fuels the consumerism which is destroying our planet.

All too often I hear people saying ‘all this permaculture is great but I just don’t have the time…’. We all work far more hours than our parents did, we consume much more, and supposedly enjoy a higher standard of living, but many people are starting to feel something is missing. Also, more and more people are feeling they want to do something to help the process of healing the earth and its communities, be that starting a garden, planting a wood, learning skills or taking time out for some spiritual replenishment. How do we make that leap from full time work to a new set-up where we still work, but we also have time and space for ourselves and our families and communities?

‘Balancing Your Life’ is a practical guide to making the leap. It is inherently realistic and offers a series of achievable steps towards a simpler lifestyle. All too often the idea of living more simply is seen as a step backwards, a return to the bad old days, whereas in this book Ryan argues that simplifying your life is the only realistic way of improving your quality of life, and backs this up with case studies of people who have made the change in their own lives.

The importance and the timing of this book cannot be underestimated. The great illusory Celtic Tiger has begun dissolving before our very eyes (a demise which, unbelievably, seems to have not been anticipated by our political leaders), and Anne Ryan offers us a gentler, more rewarding and inherently sustainable vision of the future. She doesn’t shy away from the tough questions (such as “how do you convince the kids?”, and “surely this is only appropriate for well qualified middle class professionals”), and she writes with such conviction and compassion that even the most dubious reader will be won over.

Give this book to every person you know who is stressed out by work, who never seems to have enough time for doing everything, and who wants to be doing other things but never quite gets around to it (thanks but I’ve already got a copy!). This book really will change your life.