Eco Challenged

I have always cared about green spaces.  My dad used to tell me I was a tree hugger mostly because I found the value in nature.  I never really liked recycling, reusing, and I never thought about reducing but as I have gotten older and learned more these things have become increasingly important to me.  The problem is that everything we do as human beings seems to involve consumption to some extent or another.

I have been trying to be more eco friendly while also being more cost wallet friendly as well – these feat is proving challenging.  I find myself giving up because it is much easier to buy what I need without trying to research what is what.  Overall I think living an eco friendly life would be of more value to more people if A.) it was more cost effective and B.) easier to navigate.
I tired using labels – ‘100% natural’, ‘certified organic’ – at first I felt good about that despite the extra dollars that may have left my pocket.  And then reality sunk in, these terms don’t always mean what they should.  How can something be called 100% natural when the process that makes it is wasteful and harmful?  When the plant the product came from was ‘protected’ with pesticides?  How do we actually define organic?  Honestly I think that might just be a buzz word in most cases to make people feel good.
Then I start thinking about clothes and shoes – which leads me to bras and underwear.  Clearly in this case the fabric is going to matter because clearly I am not going to ‘reuse’ those items.  I have felt pretty good lately since my family uses less water than in the past even though we now have a little girl running around the house and our energy/gas bill always claims we are more efficient than our most efficient neighbors – a pretty big accomplishment in a house over 50 years old I would think – and then I started getting into crafting again.
I bought a brand new sewing machine instead of finding a used one that ran well and just wasn’t needed any longer, I bought yarn blindly because I don’t really know anything about the types of fibers – and then realized that some of the eco fibers are from animals and that I would have to research brands to ensure the technique was humane.  I also started thinking about the crochet hooks I bought and the knitting needles, yes I enjoy the art but at some point all of this just translates back into additional waste.  And of course I bought the metal hooks because they were less expensive than bamboo and I just plain old like the feel of them better.
Do you have any resources you use to find eco friendly and cost effective alternatives to everyday consumption?  Any tips on cutting through all the noise and aligning competing desires?  I’d love new thoughts and resources – please share!
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worrying, rocking chairs, and wine

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As long as I can remember my mom has told me I over think things, that I worry too much.

Since I see the world through my colorful lens of worry, fear, self doubt, and a tendency to over plan I always assumed she just didn’t worry enough.  Since Baby A was born October 2012 I am beginning to realize my mom might be right.

I am frequently heard saying there are a million things no one ever tells you about having children but I am starting to think there was no way anyone could tell me these things since I spend a lot of time on that rocking chair of worry getting nowhere fast.  The biggest thing no one told me is that there is no such thing as a break – even when she isn’t near me there are a million worries going though my mind.  Does she miss me?  Are there enough diapers?  Can she sleep okay?  Did she fall and get hurt?  Is she crying?  The list goes on and on.  I even worry about when I have to send her to school and how to make the right choices about her education.  And college?  Geez, just forget it.  Every year kids die at college from one thing or another, are robbed, rapped and generally partake in risky behavior.  I am so invested in this beautiful little girl that any amount of risk sends me buzzing in circles in my own head.  Before you go thinking I am over protective, I can promise you I am not.  That worry also enters my worry tornado and forces me to weigh the potential risks of x activity with the more likely risk of her being socially awkward because I didn’t let her learn to be a kid and eventually an adult.

My latest fear is how my fear will affect her.  I am afraid of upsetting the status quo because sometimes the best laid plans … well you know the rest.  Even if I make a well thought out plan and take the right steps, sometimes it just doesn’t work out and the stakes seem to get higher as you start to get older and realize that time is not infinite and you only have limited resources.  Every second spent doing X is a second taken away from doing A-W and Y-Z.  

I don’t want to burden my daughter with over thinking, not relaxing, needing to control everything and so I have to take conscience measures to avoid modeling this.  The place I am having the biggest struggle doing this is with my goals and objectives in life – personally and professionally.  How do I teach her a job or career is what you choose it to be.  Some people love doing what they do, they are fine working long hours – others not so much.  Some people aspire to that corner office while others aspire to pay bills, live comfortably and spend time with their families.  Both are okay if it makes you happy.

My current job provides several benefits that I love – flexible work schedule, 40 hours – no more, good amounts of vacation, back up child care should I need it, etc.  It’s a great company, but it’s not what I had planned and if I am being honest it isn’t quite what fits my personality.  I want a job that can be more than what I do and reflective of who I am.  There might be something broken in our mainstream way of thinking – our children aspire to be doctors, lawyers, etc.  They learn to feel shame over a ‘less than job’ before they even think about their first paying gig.  

A had her 15 month check up today.  My doctor – like any good pediatrician – has expressed concerns about her sleeping habits for the 10ish months.  It isn’t ideal but she sleeps in our bed, between mommy and daddy.  It’s her safe comfort zone.  In additions to concerns about where she sleeps and what that could mean for her (not learning to soothe herself, forming a bad habit, etc.) it strikes me that she has never asked if A is a happy baby.  I know her primary job is to ensure A’s physical health and wellbeing, but isn’t a part of that her happiness?  

I don’t way A to spend all her time on the rocking chair worrying not because it has not purpose in life but because it doesn’t lead to happiness.  I won’t always agree with her about what makes happiness but I will always support her in and hope for her happiness.  When she lays her head down at night my hope is that she is content with her choices, her accomplishments, and that she has left nothing on the table.  

Now to figure out how to do that for myself…

New Year’s Resolutions: Why They Should be Avoided

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If you are in the camp with so many others who have made resolutions this year let me first congratulate you.  It’s a big deal to see that something may need to change in your life.  It is hard enough to take a good look at your life, it is even harder to admit that you are doing something that could be done better.  You might be one of the few people who have made a resolution with careful thought and consideration, if you are this will be irrelevant for you.

There are countless reasons making resolutions for the new year is a challenge not to be taken, here are a few of them:

1.) Any change worth making should not wait until the new year.

Lets be honest, our calendar is an arbitrary division of time.  Sure it can be argued that the calendar is based off of some constant in the universe but there is nothing about the universe that says the new year should start in January and be in the middle of Winter.  2014 could have just as easily started in the middle of Summer instead.  Now if you have carefully thought out your resolution, waiting until the clock strikes midnight seems like procrastinating – if your resolution (like so many) is to loose weight or eat better why not start with the next food choice you make?  Procrastinating is just a way for humans to avoid pain, in this case the discomfort of making a hard decision.  Time and time again research has shown that individuals who do something ‘cold turkey’ – giving up junk, starting an exercise routine, quitting smoking – are more successful than those who wait for Jan 1 to role around.  We all know one day won’t make or break any of these goals, but putting it off one day starts a slipper slope of ‘one more day won’t hurt’, and then you are left in the planning stages unable to make the leap to action.  As a friend of mine likes to say planning and talking don’t equal action.  If you want to make a change – do it!  You can always reevaluate and adjust accordingly.  

2.) Pressure

Every year it seems to be inevitable that someone will ask you what your resolution is for the coming year, one year I decided to be a little bit of a smart ass and came up with my resolution is to stop making resolutions.  Part of me meant it but it was just a more polite way to tell someone that it isn’t any of their business.  There is an expectation in our culture that you have a resolution for making the next year the best year and the typical New Year’s festivities tend to involve friends, family, and drinking.  Decisions to make life changes (big or small) are probably best made sober and not necessarily under the watchful eye of family and friends.  Too many times my own resolutions have been to loose weight or save money.  These answers are random, cliche, and vague, no wonder we have a hard time achieving these goals.  The other problem with this is some people are happy as they are and don’t want/need to make a big change.  Good for you, don’t make a resolution because it’s just what you do.

3.) Poor Planning

This is almost the exact opposite of how I ended point number 1, but it is equally as destructive.  While being stuck in the planning phase and never taking action is a problem if your goal is too large and unrealistic you have already set yourself up to fail.  Talk about the start of a downward spiral.  If your goal is truly to loose weight in the new year, you should be able to answer how much, how do you plan to do it, what are the little goals you have in mind, what is the benefit you hope to see, etc.  Having clear, measurable goals is an important part of being able to gage your progress.  If I set a goal to loose 40 pounds, I better have a timeline that is feasible and smaller goals to meet along the way.  It’s also helpful to have a clear picture of what you will get out of meeting your goal.  What is motivating you?  Is it fitting into the pile of clothes in the back of your closet, lowering your blood pressure, or maybe having an easier time walking up and down stairs?  Great!  Write it down, remind yourself in the mirror every morning, find an accountability partner to check in with regularly.  Have a plan – and then start!

If you are one of the many who made a resolution this year, I wish you the best of luck on your journey.  If you stumble every second is a new moment, you don’t have to wait until tomorrow to start over, or the start of the next week, month, or year.  May the new year be everything you hope it to be.