Thursday, January 20, 2011

Be the change you want to see.

I take such joy in finding ways to live a more ecologically friendly life, odd as that sounds. Each time I discover a new way of living wisely I feel a sort of delight that isn’t easily taken away.

Just yesterday, ironically minutes after my final load finished, my back-ordered Wonder Ball arrived, a way of using less or no detergent and getting things clean. I can’t wait to use it! I already started using the Static Eliminator instead of dryer sheets. I had no idea how many chemicals were in those little sheets! But when I think of a lifetime of using them (even if I was someone to use half of one per load), I’m embarrassed by the waste.

One of the great things about having these items for laundry, besides the environmental benefits, is the money saved. The Wonder Ball lasts for 2,000 washes and the Static Eliminator for 500 washes. For a single woman with not a lot of laundry, that’s a long time.

The other thing that is great about using these products for the lifestyle I’m working toward is that they travel well. I don’t have to buy small packages of products I don’t even know if I can trust because that’s all that is available, or alternatively I don’t have to carry bottles or boxes of detergent around.

Another item I purchased part way through the year is a safety razor. This is going old school, and I love it! The razor I chose was the Vintage Butterfly Safety Razor with Gun Metal Finish. Does that sound like me or what? It's pretty hot to look at, and gives a nice, close shave.

I will say it takes some getting used to. After a lifetime of shaving with those disposable things, using quality takes practice. You don’t need to push for one thing. Nor do you take fast, long strokes. It’s just as easy, mind, but it’s a different way. When done properly, it is the closest shave you’ll ever have. And the waste is almost nil. Plus, it’s purdy.

Some changes I’ve implemented over the last year or so:

  1. Only reusable shopping bags. (If I don't have them with me I go without or don't buy.)
  2. Only handkerchiefs. (So, so much nicer on your nose!)
  3. Only cloth napkins. (This includes always carrying one with me for restaurants without them.)
  4. Rags instead of paper towels. (Best change made - works much better and you don't realize how often you use paper towels.)
  5. Always use my own container for coffee and other drinks. (Again, don't buy if don't have a container with me.)
  6. DivaCup instead of tampons, LunaPads instead of liners. (I cannot believe I hadn’t heard of these before! So much more effective, more comfortable, and healthier!)
  7. Never plastic utensils. (Again, proper silverware carried with me.)
  8. Ending all catalogues and junk mail. (So easy and so few do it.)
  9. Changing to non-disposable razor with replaceable blades.
  10. Laundry detergent and dryer sheet alternatives.
  11. An eReader instead of books; an external hard drive instead of DVDs.

I’m not militant about any of this, don’t impose my ways on anyone around me (beyond blogging), and when in other’s homes I use what they have. But for me, all of these have been really easy changes. And I feel great about them.

Obviously, there is so much more I could be doing. And I’m working toward quite a few new changes. But I also won’t be so over-the-top about it that I can’t enjoy things with people. For instance, the one and only time I used a paper coffee cup last year was when I was out with a friend and we drove to the coffee shop in his vehicle a mile away from my car with my cup inside it. I was out to have coffee with a friend on a schedule. It was to be my treat. Of course I ordered something, and we had a lovely visit.

I hope this inspires someone – even just a little. It started small with me, just the shopping bags, and expanded from there. But these changes, they feel good. It may seem small, all this… one little person, what can she do? But you know what? I know that last year because of my changes a tree or two less were used for wiping my nose on or cleaning up a spill. I love trees. Simple as that.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The gypsy in me.

Today I awoke a bit healthier than I have done in the last week or so. But what I awoke to was a longing for the visceral again. For actually seeing the world. Walking it. Interacting with it. Tasting it’s flavors. Understanding bits of it. Definitely appreciating it.

When I get this feeling at this level, it actually physically hurts that I'm not attaining it. It’s the deepest, most intense longing in me. It goes beyond even the desire for companionship.

It’s not about making my mark on the world. My time here on this planet, in the scope of all of history and all that is to come, is miniscule at most. It’s about BEING in it. Experiencing it. Knowing, truly knowing, the wonder of it during these moments I'm privileged to be in it. Glimpsing it’s beauty in this moment. Marveling at the cultures I encounter. And touching as much of it as I possibly can.

This. This is what drives me. What feeds me. I spend my time downloading books to my reader or films to my external hard drive in anticipation of the first step of this journey. Yet, in reality when I go I won’t give a crap about these things. I’ll care about engaging with what is around me. Not what is made to entertain. (Not that I obviously don’t enjoy these things… but they often can dilute the preciousness of the moment as well as suck time from this sacred interaction.)

I used the word “sacred.” I do see being deeply engaged in each moment as spiritual encounter – as the most profound way to honor the divine, or at least to honor this mysterious gift called life.

But I digress. This drive, this desire for a nomadic existence is both marvelous and maddening. How do I support myself financially is the most trying part to figure out. (Yes, I am open to suggestions – and especially connections.)

It is isolating, too. Many people I meet think it’s a great dream, but then have a lot of negative comments about it. They even become angry. I do understand. They have made choices in life that have allowed them to walk away from their dreams. To encounter someone who still holds to theirs is not always comfortable. It is only hard when I get discouraged and haven’t someone who believes in me and my goals to encourage me. (I’m so very grateful I have a few wonderful women who do that for me now. What a true blessing.)

Whatever this wayfaring passion is, it is my objective; my goal. my future. I just wish so much I knew how be in it now rather than always, ever “moving towards it.”

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The weight of me.

I thought with the New Year I would start afresh. An invigorated focus on my goals in life brings me back with a new look for the blog and a refreshed sense of purpose for my writing. But first, a reflection…

The last few months I have had some personal breakthroughs I didn’t even know I was needing. (Sometimes those are the most awe inspiring.) These epiphanies have centered me as never before.

What it comes down to is a knowing myself completely at the deepest levels of my being. Really being good with who that is. This is an all-encompassing knowing; a resting in and embracing of my whole self. This includes recognizing and appreciating my place in the journey of life, loving my body just as it is, and being both contented with and excited about my spiritual path with the wrestling and expanding it involves.

This sounds so corny, really. But it was born of coming the other side of an intense trauma after finally truly healing. In that final emergence from the dark waters of that churning ocean of betrayal, despair, and brokenness I was lost in, with that first step on dry land I felt the weight of me. By that I mean I knew the depth of my courage as well as just how intense and incredible my strength is. That was my “grounding.”

One interesting thing about that ocean: you feel so overwhelmed in the depths of it when you can’t see the shore as the waves are pounding you and threatening to take you under, but the very hardest part is when you finally stand in the shallows of the tide and are taking that long walk to the beaches. Because you feel the sand between your toes as you step, you think you are on land, so the effort is all the more frustrating as you fight to bring your legs forward through the eddying riptides. Never have you worked so hard, yet you don’t realize you really aren’t out of it yet. It’s only on that first step out of the waters that you find that true freedom.

And that’s the moment you know. You know just how fierce you are. You know it’s not an invincibility but an endurance. You feel your strength in every molecule and know… that you can. Who you are is enough – more than enough. Whatever comes next, strenuous and painful or freeing and joyful, will not be beyond you. You can.

Edith Södergran said:

“My self-confidence comes from the fact that I have discovered my own dimensions. It does not behoove me to make myself smaller than I am.”

I know my own dimensions now. In fact, I OWN my own dimensions. I revel in them. So I walk tall. Because I am tall.