My transition from cluttered to simple living.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

I am back.

My last post was well over a week ago. So much has prevented me from writing. The creative juices have not been flowing. I have felt overwhelmed by relationship issues, but I have visited the blogs I follow and have been inspired by their posts and will attempt to get back on track in the coming days.

It is strange how the ones that we are connected to in the most intimate way...the ones who we grew up with and share blood ties... are often the ones that can bring the most grief into our lives. The details are irrelevant. The issues constantly replay, like an old 45 vinyl, well-loved, but worn and damaged. What I long for is not the solution to the problem, because the problems are too many to resolve. I long for the knowledge of how to disconnect from a situation which is hurtful, repetitive, and which takes me to a place that is so uncomfortable...and one which is so earthy in nature. Do we all not want to rise above issues and actions that keep us at ground level?

My religion forbids backbiting. It also forbids the use of alcohol and drugs. The latter is "a piece of cake." The former is an ongoing challenge. Backbiting, (or gossiping about others) is practiced by many and often done as a form of entertainment. Its effects are injurious. It ruins one's reputation. It has the potential to destroy self-esteem. It is infectious...and could be considered pandemic in its extent and involving nature.

I was recently visited on this site by the author (I think) of "Esteem News" who spoke of living in the now, and who writes eloquently on the many faces and issues and importance of self esteem. I now visit this site on a daily basis. I am hoping to learn how to develop and maintain a sense of self esteem in the light of the ongoing events in my life which often cause me to question my own self worth.

So...for the rest of the day, I will constantly endeavor to focus on those things which bring me great joy. I am going to pick up my grandbaby from school today and spend a few delicious hours in his company. I will look forward to a visit from my granddaughter in the coming days. I will finish a long forgotten pair of socks, and play in my garden for a few hours. I will consciously do everything I can to turn off the voices in my head that sour my day.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

April showers

There are times that the weather just doesn't cooperate. It rains on a day when plans were made to spend time in the garden. How easy it is to judge that day by the weather. Gloomy weather, gloomy day...bright sunshiny weather...bright sunshiny mood. Today was one of those damp, gray days but instead of feeling cheated out of the ambition to spend the day outside playing in the yard, I spent a perfect afternoon with my dad. We traveled to Orillia where we had another "best-chocolate-donut-in-in-the-whole-world" and a cup of coffee. We marveled at the sudden appearance of green grass and trees laden heavily with bud. Fields are being prepared to plant. Red-winged blackbirds, hawks, Osprey. robins have all returned and are preparing their summer homes to raise new broods. They do not seem to notice the gray skies and cooler weather.

We humans find many reasons to complain. Either the day is too warm, or too cold. It is either too dry or too wet. We never have enough. Many of us look upon our cups as half empty instead of almost full. What is really missing from our lives is gratitude. How often do we say "I am so fortunate." or "Thank you?"

So... I want to take this opportunity to voice my gratitude. I am thankful for the rain that cleans and nurtures the earth, that feeds our plants and flowers. I am thankful for another day spent with my dad. I am thankful for friends and family and for birds that fill the air with song. I am thankful for a new day, and good health to enjoy it...whatever the weather.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

One month down...

Well, as this is the anniversary of my resolutions, I think it only fitting that I look back and see what I have learned along the way... what I have done well, and what I can improve upon.

I have learned the value of positive influence. Amber from "Unstuffed" jumped in at a time when I felt I might jump off the bandwagon, and reminded me that each one of us that is trying to make a difference is a member of large community of like-minded people, and that together we can accomplish great things and learn from each other. Thanks, Amber.

I have learned that clothes hung outside smell so good, and that the extra work it takes to get my clothes from the machine to the line burns calories so...bonus!! I have also learned that cold water wash gets clothes just as clean as warm water. I am now washing ONLY in cold water.

I have learned that if you are going to practice mindful living, you have to allow a little more time to do so. I now plan my shopping day...(now once a week.) I am looking for and purchasing more organic products to support those companies that produce them. In time, I hope that demand lowers the prices of these goods, but for now I know that I am purchasing a higher quality product... and one which is produced in a manner which is kinder to our earth home.

I have learned how to grab the first jolt of water from the shower to use to water my plants. I continue to flush less often when we do not expect company. I am using less TP.

I have GREATLY reduced my consumption of meat, and am ready to take the step and eat vegetarian meals only. I feel lighter.

I am learning that there IS a story behind "stuff"...its production, its consumption and its disposal.

A long time ago I learned that people are more important than things. Did I learn this because I was surrounded by a huge clan of loving relatives who in my early years had little. but cared for and nurtured their own? I think that is so. As I have grown, and witnessed more affluence, I have also witnessed families battle and become divided over material possessions.

A friend once quoted, now 36 years ago, a line I have never forgotten. "I claim no possessions so none can claim me." In the months to come, I hope to gain a deeper understanding of that quote. I am hoping to reach a point in my life where I can sincerely practice its sentiments.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Workplace waste

I work in a Home For the Aged. Lately I have been noticing one area of waste that I find really disturbing. We have 150 residents in our home. Med passes are done four times a day. At each pass each resident receives a sealed envelope of medications which are checked, opened and poured into a plastic med cup. Every day 600 cups go to the landfill. Multiply that number by 365 days. Atrocious!

When I started nursing over 35 years ago, we used glass med cups that were washed and reused. I often wonder what happened to that practice, and to the cups themselves. I really can't see that the old practice of washing and reusing was harmful to the resident's health.

We do have a committee at work which now addresses the issues around recycling and I intend to bring this small but important issue to their attention.

I will write about this at a later time.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

What a great day!

In an effort to keep my goal of making family a priority, my dad and I have been doing our best to spend a day together every week. Dad is 88 and he is such a great guy. He is always interested. He never bores of tales told twice. He remembers and confirms those memories I have of growing up. He fills in the blanks. We usually drive to Orillia's Mariposa Market and enjoy what dad describes as "the-very-best-chocolate-donut-in-the-whole-world"...and a cup of their fair trade coffee. I am never disappointed in a day spent with my dad.

His mother, my nana, was also a great influence in my life. Nana taught me to never waste, and to make-do and be happy with all that we have. Nana produced no waste. She could not afford to. She lived through a depression and growing up in a large family taught her many survival skills

I can remember grandpa wore flannel shirts most of the time. When they became worn at the elbow, they were cut down to become a short-sleeved shirt, and when they had become threadbare, they were put in the rag bag... but not before every pocket was cut off to be used as a patch, and every button was cut off and put in her button jar. Aprons covered and protected every one of the few dresses she owned. What we ate came from her kitchen. She made the best cookies and currant squares. There was no wasteful packaging, and certainly never a scrap made its way to the garbage when my brother and I were around.

At night, when we visited, we shared a pot of tea, and what I remember as a HUGE stack of toast and peanut butter. We played "snap" with her and grandpa until we could barely keep our eyes open. What I remember most about those times was that we were always welcome, and that we were loved unconditionally. We were greeted as a special guests and made to feel valued. This is the legacy I want to leave my grandchildren.... unconditional love, and a feeling of being valued. What greater gift is there?

Monday, April 13, 2009

This is a lot harder than I thought!

I really have to salute those who have managed to avoid buying new for a whole year. My goal was to buy less, and that I am accomplishing, but to buy nothing new? I am not certain that I can do that. It isn't that I mind giving up "new" for myself, but it is difficult to avoid buying new for those in my family who are not of the same mindset. I have a grandbaby arriving next month, and as he is my DIL's first, (and perhaps last) she does not want hand-me-downs. I can't say I blame her on some level. It is only recently that I have realized the need to consume less, so for now, I will refrain from bringing new into this house for myself or my husband who is now starting to share my enthusiasm for this project. We watched "The Story of Stuff" together this week and I am ashamed of what I saw and my contribution to this problem. Eventually my children will realize the necessity to consume less, and hopefully before this is thrust upon them through a catastrophe of some sort.

Our snow has finally disappeared and I am not-so-patiently awaiting the day when I can plant my gardens. I have started strawberry plants indoors, and they are doing well! Tomorrow I am going to see if my grapevines and blueberries made it through the winter. Traps will be hung from our apple trees soon, as the apple maggot fly will soon be making an appearance. In cleaning my garage, I have found all sorts of canning jars that I will fill with local produce this fall.

My bike has been readied for the spring. I hope to ride it to work, weather permitting, and leave my car in the driveway as often as I can this summer. This old gal just may set an example for her children yet!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Just ramblings

Today I have little to contribute. I have worked for the past 5 days and I find myself bone tired...bankrupt of creative ideas or posts. HOWEVER, at times like this I lean a little on others for inspiration, and in that, have sat at this computer for the past hour surfing other blogger's sites. When I feel particularly saddened by what I perceive as a lack of effort on my friends and family's part to change the way they do things... I have to remember that there are many many people out there that are doing their part to lessen their carbon footprint. Change takes time, patience and knowledge.

I do have one thing to share, however. I have two large apple trees in my backyard. I have not been able to eat the apples off them as they are pock marked and misshapen. I have finally found out what has caused this and it is the Apple Fly Maggot. The Apple fly lays its eggs in the apple and in turn, the larva tunnels through the apple leaving brown streaks. If I owned an orchard it would be quarantined because of this problem.

I contacted the Annapolis Royal gardens in Nova Scotia where I had seen a red trap hanging from the apple tree there and asked for information. I was eventually able to order pesticide free traps from a company in the States. I hope to post a picture on this site of the trap later this week... AND...I have contacted my local garden centre to ask if they would be interested in seeing this trap. They are!!!!

So... slowly, ever so slowly, like minded people become the instruments of change.

Now for more perusing....

Thursday, April 2, 2009

What was your "ah-ha" moment?

In 2004 I participated in the very last Paddle to a Cure, a kayaking expedition that ran for 5 years and raised close to one million dollars for Breast Cancer Research. I had lost my dearest friend to Breast Cancer prior to this and fund raising and paddling helped me to heal from the loss of such a good friend.

In the course of the three trips that I was involved in, I learned many a valuable lesson. I learned that I could manage for a week with what I carried in my knapsack, and little more. I learned that I could enjoy great vegetarian meals. I learned that it was not necessary (or healthy) to wash my hair every day. I learned that "a rich man is not he who has the most, but is he who needs the least."

On our trip in 2002, 13 women shared six rolls of toilet paper for one week. We returned with three rolls. I learned that there is another use for bandannas.

The greatest lesson learned, however, is that a few people working towards a common goal can accomplish great things.

The experience of Paddle to a Cure changed my life, and I am forever grateful for the opportunity that was presented to me at a time when I needed it the most.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

More thoughts

I just returned from a two day stay with my daughter in Bracebridge. Mandy is my youngest and lives approx 40 minutes away from me in the part of the world that I love the best. Bracebridge was my home for over 20 years, until I moved to Beaverton to be closer to my father who is elderly. Going to Bracebridge is truly, a trip "home."

Mandy and her fiance have just bought a house.... a nice place that is perfect for the two of them. It needs a little work but neither she nor her fiance are afraid of hard work. It is cute to see how they get a charge out of domestic chores... dish washing, cooking, baking, laundry...and...recycling!! Yes!! They are serious about recycling! Halleluia! (And I thought that they were not listening!!)

Mandy recycles. She reuses. She regifts. That is one thing I have not been able to bring myself to do. When I receive a gift, I cannot part with it, because it reminds me of the person who has given. That in itself is why I live with so much clutter. I can not bear to part with things that evoke memories. To solve that problem, I am going to ask for giftless occasions from here on. My walls, closets and cupboards are full. I would rather spend an hour in the company of someone I love than spend a lifetime with a token of their affection.

There is another bright light at the end of the clutter tunnel. My daughter's closets are bare and...(I sure hope that she doesn't read this!)...I think I may have found a home for all of her grandmother's and great grandmother's cups and saucers, china and glassware!

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Regift.

Thanks Mandy. You don't know it yet, but you are instrumental in helping my to further simplify my life. Oh how I love my children and their empty houses!