December 14, 2011 § 11 Comments
There’s not much clutter left in my house, and I am definitely feeling the benefits of more free time, an organized space and the ability to find pretty much anything in the first place I look. These simple gifts are not to be trivialized. Not only is my load lighter, but my mood is lighter. There is an indescribable peace that comes from getting your shit together.
But something interesting has happened – and it was totally unconscious (until I put two and two together yesterday morning in a green tea-induced a-ha moment.) I’m going to share it with you now in the hopes that your comments can offer some insight into what may very well be an active case of obsessive-compulsive disorder.
I’ve taken up running. (This is not the issue. Be patient.) I’ve always been a passionate walker and hiker, but I gave up drinking any alcohol in November (this is also not the issue) and I have found that without my nightly wine I have an excess of energy. Not manic energy or anxious energy, just alert, vibrant energy – and it’s wonderful.
I started running because I also started getting up at 6 a.m. (not the issue) after the last time change and after I quit the wine. It’s chilly at 6 a.m. so instead of walking I just sort of bounced around my route in order to stay warm and that turned into running. I am now running up to three miles, three to four days a week. And it’s wonderful.
I noticed on my run that there is a lot of litter in my town, (wait for it…) so every morning when I head out for my jog, I take a plastic bag and pick up all the litter on my route. I’ve been filling the equivalent of one regular-sized trash bag per week with Starbuck’s cups, Taco Bell bags, McDonald’s wrappers, liquor bottles, cigarette packs, clothing and grocery bags. (There is a LOT of trash in my town!) I then retire to my home – which is on the second floor of a downtown building with a view of a parking lot, a hair salon, a train depot and an Irish pub — and look out with great satisfaction over my trash-free vista.
I imagine being able to run even farther so that I can broaden my trash pickup to all of the neighborhoods in my town. I want to inspire others to do the same by creating a “Litter Gitter” (working title) patrol with the help of my Town Council. I envision myself on the front page of our paper with a title that reads “Local Woman Says It’s Cool to Be ‘Trashy'” with pithy quotes from me encouraging other runners to grab garbage on their cool down walks…
I’ve Type A’d all over this thing.
So my issue is that I think I just transferred my need to constantly clean and organize my home to a need to clean and organize the entire world.
Is this a problem? Discuss.
December 1, 2011 § 2 Comments
Um, yeah. So when you’re de-cluttering it is important to make sure you don’t throw out a project your kid worked on for several hours and is due after the holiday break.
You see, our kids have never, ever had homework assigned over a holiday weekend. That’s why, when I did my clean sweep of my 10 year-old’s backpack over Thanksgiving break (while his dad took him to the movies), I tossed out a map of the United States that was meticulously labeled with the state names and capitals. I assumed it was a project he’d done in class, so into the bin it went!
I forgot all about it until yesterday when George returned from dropping the kids off at school and told me that our youngest had lost the school project that was due, and, boy, had he really lit into him. We’ve been having some issues with the kids not being organized and losing their stuff, so when he lost something yet again, George just went sort of nuts – the way a parent goes nuts when they’ve already gone nuts over the same topic 497 times.
Turns out that George had him complete the project early while I was out of the home on one of my jaunts to the corporate office. I had no idea that any of that had happened, which is why I assumed that it was an in-class project he had just brought home for us to see.
So poor little guy gets lambasted for being disorganized and it’s really my fault.
Cue the guilt.
George went in to talk to the teacher about what had happened, and it turns out that she extended the deadline to Friday anyway. Whew.
Fortunately this kid is pretty easygoing and he took it in stride. He just re-did it and handed it in this morning. It looked great. I still feel awful.
I have apologized profusely to both dad and son, and I learned a valuable lesson: Don’t throw other people’s stuff out without checking with them first. (Mostly.)
Have you had any de-cluttering mishaps?
November 29, 2011 § 3 Comments
As if there weren’t enough alarming reasons to stop eating processed foods, the latest revelation is that food companies are using wood products as fillers in some of your favorite treats.
On labels it’s called “cellulose”. Cellulose is virgin wood pulp that has been heavily processed, and it’s used in everything from mustard to syrup, muffins, sundaes, wraps, cocoa mixes and a variety of other “foods”. It’s also a component in asphalt, paint, roof coatings and pet litter. Yum!
It’s often found (hilariously, in my opinion) in foods that are sold as “high fiber”.
I’ll let that one sink in for a moment.
It’s also used in low fat products to achieve the same consistency as their higher-fat counterparts while still maintaining the flavor.
The problem is that the human body cannot digest cellulose. We lack the enzymes for it. We are genetically incapable of receiving any benefit from eating it.
For a thorough article on cellulose in processed foods, visit http://foodfreedom.wordpress.com/2011/07/08/15-food-companies-that-serve-you-wood/. It’s a real eye-opener!
I love the part where the guy who works for the company that processes cellulose says that cellulose-laden foods are good for people who don’t have enough fiber in their diets.
That makes sense. Let’s chop down a tree, mash it up, send it to a plant, process it, then send it to another plant where it is mixed into a vat with hundreds of other chemicals. Then it comes out as an Eggo Waffle, wrapped in plastic, frozen, put in a box, shipped hundreds of miles, purchased, driven home, unwrapped (all of the packaging goes to a landfill), heated up, slathered with syrup (more cellulose!) and eaten by someone who thinks they’re getting fiber.
You could do that. Or how about we all just eat an apple?
I cannot stress enough the importance of understanding what is in your food and where it comes from. There is nothing, I mean nothing, we do all day that is more important than feeding ourselves.
Our diets can continue to vex us with fatty, processed meals that increase our waistlines, damage our organs and affect our moods. We can stuff ourselves full of nutrient deficient snacks that satisfy our cravings but leave our bodies yearning for more. We can shop for low-fat alternatives to the junk we love in an effort to trick ourselves into believing that we’re doing something good for ourselves.
Or we can have a come-to-Jesus moment and stop avoiding the truth we all know: The best way to nourish our bodies is with healthy, fresh food that comes out of the ground. And, for meat eaters, that includes buying only ethically farmed, hormone free meats, and then preparing them simply.
Having a healthy diet is as easy as you let it be.
I can personally testify to the difference in my wellness (mental and physical), my energy level and my weight since I started reading labels and refusing to buy items that did not support my body’s health and wellness. Plus — and this is big for me — eliminating processed foods saves TONS of money. Veggies are cheap. Even the organic ones.
Here are my Type A Food Rules:
Nothing from China. It’s impossible to regulate what comes from China, and they have a deplorable track record of putting hazardous chemicals in food.
Nothing with corn syrup.
Buy organic whenever possible. I am aware that “organic” can be controversial on labels because US regulations are vague, but this mostly applies to processed and packaged foods. I buy very few of these items, and even though I can’t be totally sure I’m not being lied to I feel that it’s best to vote for more organic foods with my dollar in the hopes that more companies provide organic alternatives in the future.
No more dairy. Although I do enjoy a little goat cheese, sprinkled like a spice, on homemade pizza
Nothing that needs to be microwaved.
Produce from as close to my house as possible. That means no fruit from New Zealand or avocadoes from Chile. My one splurge: bananas a couple of times a month for vegan banana-pecan pancakes.
Only real maple syrup.
Buy in bulk whenever possible. No packaged beans, rice, grains or spices.
Eat greens and cruciferous vegetables every single day.
Buy only fair trade chocolate, cocoa, tea and coffee.
Nothing with cellulose.
I hate being tricked. That’s why when I discovered that the FDA and USDA don’t have my back when creating their food rules I took matters into my own hands.
What are you waiting for? Take control of your own diet, and don’t let someone else convince you that sawdust is a healthy choice.
November 16, 2011 § 4 Comments
On this journey to find calm in the chaos I’ve made some big moves. I can now officially claim that I eat a vegan diet. I have slashed my spending by epic proportions, and have bought down the principle on my mortgage enough to be able to re-finance to lower my monthly payment by $1600 – even though I’m technically underwater. My family has successfully survived with one car and one cell phone for four people. I hate how my hair looks, but I’m pretty ok with the fact that I have not colored it in 13 months. I actually turned down a freelance job earlier this year because it didn’t sound like fun.
November 8, 2011 § 2 Comments
At the beginning this avian love affair was all about me. I had a Type A need to locate, identify and categorize every bird I saw. I read books about birds. I went to all the birding hot spots I could find. I watched DVDs and nature shows to learn everything I could about my fine feathered friends. (I still do.)
October 26, 2011 § 8 Comments
October 20, 2011 § 2 Comments
One of the simplest ways I’ve found to save money is to turn off the lights when I’m leaving a room.
Just by employing this very simple practice (a little fanatically, I have to admit), I have lowered my monthly PG&E bill from an average of $150 per month to an average of $100 per month.
The sacrifices with this simplifying tactic are virtually nil. I do not have to read by candlelight. I have not stubbed my toes because I stubbornly refuse to flip the switch into the upward position. I have not been attacked by closet monsters. I just turn off the lights when I leave a room, and I turn off lights in uninhabited rooms when I discover them.
I’ve also gotten the kids in on the fun, having explained to them that every time they leave a light on a baby polar bear dies.
They know I’m joking (they’re 10 and 12 and pretty snarky – I wouldn’t recommend this tactic on a tenderhearted 4 year-old). However, I did get their attention and they are much better about extinguishing the illumination when they leave.
Plus, there’s the added benefit of saving energy. Why have lights burning when no one is using them? Seems silly when you think about it.
I’m also more mindful and appreciative of the fact that I can just brighten a room at my whim. Electric light on demand is a luxury the vast majority of the now 7 billion of us will never enjoy.
Just because something seems commonplace to us doesn’t mean that we should take it for granted. It’s a privilege to live this way, and I’m happy that this simple pleasure is something for which I can express gratitude.
Turning off my lights turned me on to a whole new way of seeing my little world.
Now go turn off some lights!