Tuesday, February 5, 2013

30 Day of Sustainable Living

Today is week three of living as sustainably as I can. I am now on a journey of a life of no restaurants, no mass produced, no processed foods., growing what I can, buying locally what I can't. A life of knowing if I run out...I either make it myself or don't have it.  While this journey started years ago, on some level,  not until now have I really decided that this is who I am, this is what I want to do 100% ..with all of me.  I decided to start a facebook group of 30 days of sustainable living.  Each of us is on a different level of this journey, and to each person sustainable, frugal, simple means different things, and that is okay.  We all learn from each other, if we just listen.
First let me start out with the above picture I chose for this blog.  When most people think about sustainable living, they picture acres of produce, pasture of cows, goats,etc.  But what sustainable living to me is that all of nature works together..everything has a purpose if it is true to nature.  Sustainable is being aware of the beauty in the world, and how it all exists for the purpose of sustaining life.  Sustainable living is seeing the world in both a complex and simple context.  It is noticing the changing of the seasons, the wildlife that changes with them, the vegetation that changes with them.  It is being aware of who you are, and what living truly means.  I could go into how the bright life, loud music, instant gratification is wrong, but maybe it is not wrong for some...but then again maybe it is wrong for the future survival of the world.  I have no answers only answers for myself, and listening to what truly makes me feel alive. 
So all that being said, here are a few observations of my first few weeks of  cutting out processed, mass produced food, and where it has lead me.
The first thing that hit me, maybe after a week and a half, and it kind of came out of the blue was that I began to feel a certain itch, a certain craving that I could not put my finger on.  I started thinking about it, and then I began to wonder if what I was craving was the chemicals in processed foods.  That whether it is intentional or not, and I suspect it is, we become addicted to those chemicals in processed foods so that we crave more and more.  I thought my life was relatively free of processed foods, but the more I thought about it, I was still getting an amount of it I didn't realize, we bought crackers, we bought ketchup and other condiments, we ate out at restaurants,  I did not realize that we were still getting our share of chemicals while thinking we were living a 100% healthy life.
The second thing that struck me was that things smelled different to me.  I don't know ..I suspect again an absence of chemicals.  But it was also something else, the smells I was smelling were real smells, smells of fresh produce straight from the farmer or my garden, fresh herbs and citrus from my garden.  The smells of fresh bread  in the oven, homemade soups...smells of homemade cooking and baking.  Smells of spices as I made our own condiments.  The smells that nature intended, no longer a spray to cover up odors.  Walking into garden became a journey of sites and smells.  There is a problem with this, however, man made noise, smells, chatter, bright lights...it all assaults you on a different level...one that is almost unbearable.  You find yourself building a bubble around yourself when you are forced to go into this world.  You force yourself to be calm and to quiet your own mind...easy no...not in the least.  But for now it is the price I pay for living the life I believe in.
My final thoughts ..the ones that struck me this morning.  When you start living this way, you are suddenly aware that there is a half of a bottle of ketchup in your fridge and that you only have one jar of tomatoes left to replace it, and that it is only February.  You realize that last stack of paper napkins is the last you will use.  You know that when that plastic bottle of dish soap runs out..it is you who will have to make more.  You count the little tooth pastes that are in your linen closet.  You take stock of what you have left and what you will need to make.  Guess what...you stop wasting..you become aware of how much you use.  What I thought about this morning as I went about my chores,  most of your time is spent preparing, making, and growing.  Part of the outcome of all these chores is that you don't have time to feel sorry for yourself or wish you had what your neighbors had, or fight with your family.  You have to work together.  In some small ways I feel I am walking in the shoes of my ancestors.  Though I will probably never have the strength or fortitude they had, we are, after all a product of our society, I can work toward stepping into their big shoes.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

To Quiet The Chatter In My Head

I know in other blogs I have told you why I strive to live a simple sustainable life.  One is to honor my ancestors.  Another is because I truly believe it is the right way to live, for ourselves and for the earth. But there is another reason....a big reason. 
The smell of rich soil or strawberry jam cooking, the colors of the flowers and real food,  the sound of birds singing and jars pinging, the feel of the gentle breeze and bare feet on a bed of thyme ....these are the things that stop the chatter. The chatter of  the world around me and the chatter in my own head.  For when I am living that simple sustainable life, it all stops, that crazy noisy, whirling out of control, that chatter that keeps me awake at night, that chatter that makes me afraid and angry at the same time.  The world suddenly becomes solid and real to me.  It is becomes my sanctuary.  To need so much...to have so much...to no longer see the world around me....that is when the chatter ...the thousand fragmented thoughts whirl around in my head like a tornado....until they hit that nerve that says you are not good enough, you are not smart enough, no one loves you, you have no friends, and blah and blah an blah.  You all know those thoughts.  Those little thoughts we picked up along the way.  But when I sit and dig in the earth...when I watch a lady bug trying to maneuver it's way out of a little hole ...when I watch the humming birds come and splash in the fountain and notice how beautiful their colors are...when I connect with who I am..when I connect with the earth...that chatter both of an angry and afraid world and mind...they not longer exist.  When I rely on myself to grow and can my own food.  When I create things for my home with my own hands, and don't just go out and buy "stuff"..that is when I am at peace.  So it is the right thing for me.  I have to balance that with the world I live in, and sometimes that is not easy.  I won't give up tho...because when you find the quiet and the peace and  the feeling that what you are doing is right with everything in your heart, you just don't give up the fight.
I guess this blog was brought on by reflections for a new year, my private writings regarding those reflections, but I also think it was something I needed to share.  That all of us who live the green, the sustainable, the simple, the prepper, the suburban farmer, the urban, the just plain farmer   etc. etc. etc.....whatever you want to call us...we all have different reasons "why"  but at the same time similar reasons .To make some sense of the world we live in ...to have some control in our choices.... to save the earth...whatever the reasons..they are all valid.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Sustainable Living ..Can Anyone Do It?

I work very hard to live a sustainable life and to leave as little damage to the environment as possible, and I do so because it's what I think is the right thing to do.  I live in a warm loving home, I have stock piled food and I never go hungry.  It seems like such an easy life, but I am very aware that in a blink of an eye it can all be gone. Would I bounce back if that happened, probably but that is because I am the kind of person that if you give me a lemon...I won't just make lemonade...I will grind it up and spit it out.  That is my makeup, my disposition..I was both born with it and learned it thru life's circumstances.  I know what it is like to go hungry, to have people in stores ignore you because you clothes are ragged, I have stood in free cheese lines, accepted free food boxes, lived off of powered eggs and canned meat in some kind of slime, I have felt the wrath of people behind me in a grocery store when I used food stamps, and have seen the heart breaking look on my kids faces because they could not have what other kids had.  I have been there so I write this from both sides of the fence.  I am not writing this  to put anyone down because I am a firm believer that most of us do the best we can with what we were given.  For everyone is affected by circumstances in a different way, everyone feels pain in a different way, everyone reacts in the only way they know how. I am certainly not putting anyone down for having the means to live sustainably.  But my point is that we do have the "means" to live that way regardless how we got there....we have the privilege of having a home, a little (or a lot) of land to grow our own food.  And this is what has been on my mind lately, that I have been graced with a disposition that bounces back, with enough money  to live in a home, and wear clothes  that makes people in stores rush to ask if they can help me.  But it is not that way for so many people, and I have started wondering if we few who have the means can help the ones who don't.
I work in a beautiful city, in a beautiful 100+ year old building, but if you step outside the door, a big face full of reality will hit you.  The homeless, the ones who somehow did not find the way to that dreaded, nasty saying pull themselves up by their bootstraps.  People whose bodies are destroyed by drugs and alcohol (in most cases I suspect, their only way to escape), mothers with little children begging for food,  people 20 years younger than me who look 20 years older than me.  How did they get were they are?  Is it their own fault?  Maybe it is but maybe, just maybe its because they just didn't have the means, mentally or financially to pick themselves up.  Maybe they started using to ease the pain and it became a perpetual spiral.  Maybe they just lost their job, lost their home, lost the will to keep trying or have tried to no avail.  These people do not care about the environment, they don't care about GMO, they don't care about pesticides, they just want what we all want, someone to love them, a warm home, and enough to eat.  They smell because they have no place to bathe, they do their business on the street because they have no where else to do it.  Some of these people are mentally ill and have no one to help them.  Some of them are so lost in alcohol or drugs they no longer even know they are there.  Is it their fault...in most cases I think it isn't.
So with all of this said...can we as farmers or sustainable striving people extend ourselves to those that don't have the means....can we begin to make part of our fight for these people also?   I have read that there are warehouses of stock piled food.  We can't give that food away because it would lower the prices paid to farmers?  Why?  I know there are many farmers struggling just to keep afloat.  But what the heck is wrong with that picture....think of it.. people go hungry  so that farmers can barely eek out a living?  I heard a homeless man talking to another homeless man as I hurried to the train excited to start cooking my Thanksgiving dinner, he said...It's a holiday...I don't want to be out here...how hard is it to handcuff me and take me to jail?  Can you imagine...does it not make your heart ache.  Can we make part of our fight to make the world better .....making it better for everyone?  Can we give our surplus to those who need it ...can we fight to get the mentally ill back in institutions...can we volunteer at shelters...can we work to change laws that will help those that can't help themselves.  Sure we all work hard, have very little time for ourselves, sometimes maybe just enough to feed our families, I realize that, but if we are truly serious about making the world better, isn't part of that helping the ones who haven't been graced with whatever it was that helped us get where we are now. 
I know some of you will say you have no money to give, no energy to give, or (and I hope not) they deserve what they got.  I get those feelings, but for me being sustainable does not just mean it's all about me, it means that I fight for those rights for everyone.  Maybe if nothing else we can make just one person feel they are not alone or forgotten.  Maybe we can take the abundance from our gardens and give it to a shelter or bring that guy at the train station selling newspapers for a living, a bag of plums or tomatoes.  Maybe just once in a while we could not look away, look the person in the eye and say good morning.  Sure there are the aggressive homeless and those you just have to walk away from...but even with them maybe as you hurry away you could say good morning..maybe just maybe they will hear it.