I've tried to find this common theme in the core of my longings and intentions in regards to what I "want" out of life. I have tried to encourage my perspective into gathering all the scattered randomness and tying it together with one big shared ribbon of common ground. What does that ribbon look like? I think it has something to do with mindfulness. Mindfulness can share space with my longing for creative living, my longing for simple living, my longing for gentle, patient parenting, my longing for making a difference, my longing for activism and social change, my longing for adventure and experience...my longing for bringing it all into my reality on a day to day basis. Mindfulness might certainly be the essence of that ribbon that ties together the bits and pieces of my heart. Without mindfulness...all of these things would just be out THERE...floating, dancing on a breeze, never making it into the care of my spirit. Without mindfulness, I would only be reaching for them...and never living them.
In mindfulness, I have conceived a set of guiding principles that I would like to set in place for one full year in an effort to bring more of my value system out a bit further into the everyday moments of living. I'm setting them with gentleness, as an intention with this is to create greater quality of life within my own self. If I beat myself up about it all to the point of making myself grumpy...that is totally beside the point. So, I make room for being human, for being me, for messing up. I also hold all of it with determination and commitment as well and wish to be loyal to my efforts. I was going to list only the new habits that I am bringing in to my life, but I thought it would be good to also list those that I have already adjusted to as habit (which can always use some re-commitment to anyways). Some people call this living the "compact"...some people call it voluntary simplicity...I also think it falls under a category of mindful living. I've come to realize that, while my intentions are always in the right place in terms of the environment, I don't always take the steps that I know I can. In reference to some words written by No Impact Man, I most certainly tend to be a person who cries about the condition of the polar bears in the poles while sitting in the comfort of my air conditioned living room. That brings a whole lot of frustration into my world, because, while I might not be able to do EVERYTHING...I can do what I know will help. And that might just be a ticket to the somewhere "better" I often imagine. Regardless of the outcome, I know that I will learn quite a bit along the way about what I am capable of and what I am incapable of and how it all effects my quality of life and the quality of life around me.
And so, here is the beginning draft of some open-ended habits that I will be encouraging into my life out of the desire to live healthfully, mindfully and gently with the earth.
1.I will begin walking or biking to anywhere I need to go that lies within a one mile radius of our home.
2. I will only buy what is needed...ie, cleaning products, self-care products, etc... The exception to this is when materials for homemade projects, art projects and learning tools are needed...and even then, I will buy used when I can. I make this exception because I believe those things enhance the quality of our life and excluding them would make me really frustrated...thus, defeating the purpose.
3. If there is something that needs to be bought...I will buy second hand through eBay, craig's list, thrift stores, antiques or etsy...gotta love etsy.
4. I will donate all items that we no longer need or use to local charity organizations.
5. I will be buying whole, local foods with the desire to eat only what is in season.
6. I will use cloth bags for all shopping purposes.
7. I will refrain from eating "out" when it is possible to make or bring something from home.
8. I will minimize water use...taking less frequent showers (well...I have that one down pat..hee hee!) and flushing less often. I will also do my best to collect water that is being waited on to "warm up" and use that water for the plants.
9. I am going veg! The healthiest I think I ever felt was in college for the nearly two years that I ate vegetarian...so, I have selfish reasons for this one!
10. I will use a laundry line to dry clothing when possible.
11. I will begin a compost pile and begin growing some of our own herbs and vegetables. This one will be implemented when we move into a different home.
12. I will use the library more often and buy books less. This one is particularly challenging for me as I love to write all over my books with side notes and doodled thoughts as I read along. Although I already buy used books...I think this would be one more way to reduce.
13. I will switch from using paper towels to using cloth napkins for meals and washcloths for cleaning. I do have a stash of paper towels in my garage, and I will be using these until they are gone, with no intention to buy more.
14. I will begin using ONLY cloth diapers (even at night and on-the-go). This requires me purchasing a new size of diapers and that is not feasible until two weeks. Until then, I will use the cloth diapers I do have as well as using up the stash of disposables I have.
15. I will buy grains, pastas, nuts, etc from bulk as to minimize my purchase of unnecessary packaging. With this in mind...I will be extremely limiting my purchase of processed and packaged foods.
16. I will use refillable cups whenever I go to coffee shops or the like for something to sip!
17. I will be proactively looking for ways to volunteer in the community through acts of service concerning the environment and the wellness of her inhabitants.
18. I will be moving our TV out into the garage. This act has many purposes and is most certainly one that I am both delighted about and nervous for!!
The idea behind all of this is to significantly reduce my consumption as well as my trash accumulation. I want to indeed stress to myself the importance of reducing and reusing before recycling...so that there is less to actually go in the bin in the first place. I think that by following these guides for living, I will be able to draw the connection between each of my desires as being all a part of something wonderfully alive and forward moving. I really crave being a part of something igniting, challenging and that which contributes in the most positive of ways to the betterment of myself, my community and the world at large. My greatest hope in setting these goals for myself is that I will see myself and this tiny bit of commitment evolve into something that furthers my own expansion and wellness. I think that by taking these feasible steps...I will see that it helps me connect further with my own creative nature, my earthly nature, my mindful nature, my spiritual nature and the gentleness that resides in all of those.
There is so much unbiased information out there, grounded in scientific discovery , telling us that there is a NEED for change.
I know that these efforts aren't record breaking, astounding leaps...but they are what I know I can do at the moment and I am most confident that they will lead me to take further steps. As for now, as for these things that I have brainstormed for my own life...if not now, then when? If not me, then who?
I keep reaching. And by the way...I know that I have probably left out some very basic, general eco-friendly practices. If you have some on your mind, feel free to leave them in the comment section! Thanks so very much.