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.


daisies said...

what a fantastic list honey, i found myself nodding along because most of them i practice ... except for the books, i buy books like crazy, i have bookshelves on almost every wall in my basement and shelves and stacks all over the house but i love them and i write in margins and they are like old friends that i converse with over and over, tee hee ...

and the televsion though we don't have cable so only use it for movies, i love my movies :)

jessamyn said...

i buy books like crazy too!!! and, yes, they are indeed like old friends to me as well..with my own notes written all along their pages. i was trying to be mindful when i wrote that i would only buy them "less"...i don't think i could go completely without!!
and for the tv...we haven't ever had cable, so we won't be missing that too much and will still bring it in every once in a while for our movie nights and such!
wish me luck with that one!:)
any ideas from people who live here on a conservative temperature to set teh thermostat at in the summer heat???

cassie said...

i agree with jamie on your last post's comments that what you have set out to do here is indeed making me soak in some of your words and stew...encouraging me to think about my own life and how to achieve some peace with my contributions to the world. i love your pictures as usual...but i think that IS your hand in the lady bug pics. you have to settle the dispute between me and jamie.

PixieDust said...

Such huge steps... yet so simple... the perfect balance! I have incorporated a few of these in my life, always had initially because of my financial situation at one time, and I just fell in love with it afterwards.

Sending you love and (((HUGS))), and cheering you on!


Jme said...

This little vine is reaching AND living ...don't ever forget that the two can exist along side each other. I think these goals you have placed for yourself are very healthy, mindful and earth saving contributions that will give you much satisfaction about your significance in giving back. I worry just a little that there are so many that you will be trying to do at the same time that you might possibly become frustrated with yourself if you're not able to maintain this way of living up to your personal expectations. Sometimes it's okay to work new things into your life so that each one individually becomes "habit" and it's easier to add to habit than to add to "change". Also keep in mind that if there's something that you LOVE (such as books and all they encompass to you), maybe that's something that you don't have to change. :) I understand your goals and have a desire to make a difference also ~ I just know that I can't do it all at once....but what I can do is take steps forward and that, in itself, was more than what I have done in the past. I hope none of my words have offended you in any way. I love you and support your spirit and goals 100%!

jessamyn said...

Cassie...yes, that IS my hand in the lady bug pictures. You are right my sister!
Jamie...thanks for your concern! I most certainly understand where you are coming from. While a few of the things on this list are habits that are brand new...some of them are things I am already doing and most are things I have been gearing myself up for for some time...meaning I have done them half-way or have slowly introduced them into thought and action. This should make it easier in giving myself an extra push towards further incorporation.
And...like I said...I am going to be gentle with myself and make room for acceptance and also give freedom in looking at each situation I may find myself in for what it is and make decisions based on my own judgement...not a set of "rules". I also left out several things I would like to do...but know that I am either not ready to do or am unable to do. So...ideas of what people would like to incorporate into their lives will differ from person to person. For me, this one seems to have enough challenge and I am going to approach it all with enough grace to make it plausible for my life.
As for books...need not worry...I am not completely "changing" that habit...only altering it a bit!:)

Debbie said...

Jess, once again you inspire me. I admire your courage to follow in actions what your heart is telling you. I am glad you are going to be gentle with yourself. I know how much of an all or nothing gal you are and I hope that you appreciate all the steps you are taking. You inspire me to look at my life and see where I can improve. You make me strive to do better for my family and the earth. Thank you for that.

As far as temperature, we always keep our house on the "warm" side if we don't have people over. We conservatively set it at 82. We have fans in all the rooms so it feels cooler. We tried to do 83 or 84, but that just gets a little too hot during the summer. We do have to change it when we have people over though, others like it a little bit cooler! :) Good luck wtih that!

S. Barnes said...

My lovely friend Jessamyn,

Hi friend! I've missed you! As always, I've enjoyed reading your thoughts! And it makes my heart smile really big to find a kindred spirit in your desires to walk softly on the earth. I'm by no means the epitome of no-impact living, but, I --too -- try to bring cloth bags to the store, use cloth instead of paper, recycle, avoid packaging ... several of the things you mentioned. Sometimes I get so mad at our American tendency to use, use, use. When I lived in Finland, the trashcans always had three parts: trash, recycle, organic. Sigh. So, I'm raising my glass to your goals, as well as the gentleness you'll show yourself in striving toward them. Cheers, cheers, my dear friend!

Nonnie said...

it is a wonderful list, sass.....and i hope that you will find satisfaction in the effort you make! a little, as you aleady heard, is more than before....and a good place to start with all of them! i will need to reread and make a comittment to some also...as many spoke to me also....i already take a 1 minute shower....:)
thanks for sharing....and i also "support your spirit and goals 100%!"

moonboots said...

You go girl!!! Let me know if you need a coffee tumbler - he hee. Go on my blog and click on my friend "Latisha" she has been using only cloth diapers and wipes since her daughter's birth and has some really great tips and resources for you.

It's been too long. We miss you. I work mon - friday next week but maybe we can swing the week after.


Annette said...

What a list you have there, but a very good reminder for me, we do take easy way out for almost every thing, it just seems to be easier for everyones life stlye, but we do need to slow down and enjoy what God has given us, he's given us some excellent tools to use, we just need to use our brains,eyes, and hand's more. Lot's of luck to you and your excellent goals you've set to make this a better world. Annette

latisha said...

I hope this doesn't seem strange, since I don't know you, but I love reading your blog. You are such a great poster. I am impressed by how much you are able to share. I am a friend of Kelli's and like to peak in from time to time. I wanted to ask you about your co-op. Which do you use? we tried something when we first moved here, but it wasn't very good. I'd be interested in learning about yours. I sincerely applaud your list so while you are going all enviro-natural etc, I wanted to suggest a great book "The Naturaly Clean Home" by Karyn Siegel-Maier. It's all about using good natural ingredients like lemons etc to make cleaning products. I love it, no more harsh chemicals you can't pronounce. It is what inspired me to go paper towel free when I read about the "quick clean rags" on page 56. Thanks again for such great inspiration.

Elizabeth said...

Jessamyn, you're really an inspiration! I love the idea of saving the "warming up" water for plants--never would have thought of it, but I am going to do it now. I am (flexibly) trying out many of the same ideas these days myself. I also have a terrible book-buying addiction, but love to buy used at bookstores and have recently gotten into Paperbackswap.com, where I can swap books I no longer want with people around the country in exchange for used books I would like to have! Can't wait to hear how things go for you, please keep sharing!

Sara said...

love the list...as you I and I talked about the other day, I can't wait for the day I can take something out to my compost pile and pick something from my garden for dinner that night.
My struggle comes with thinking there is "nothing" eat in the house and learning to be more creative with ingredients I have on hand to make meals, and trying to plan dinner for the week as to only take one trip a week to the grocery store instead of several little trips...as for the heat in the summer I keep the thermostat at about 80 during the morning hours and when the afternoon comes, I close all the blinds and drapes where the sun is brightest to keep it cooler, it seems to help take off a degree or two...

Karen said...

I love these pictures. Life keeps growing up and around walls.