Get on the bus!

Increasing One's Personal EnergyJust blazed through a FABULOUS book called The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon (big thanks to my new friend Nancy for the tip on this one). I highly recommend it for anyone feeling stuck in a rut, wishing things were different than they are, or ready to take the next step down the path toward achieving their dreams. Reading it gave me a big ol’ kick in the pants. It’s easy to let negativity and fear roadblock the journey toward our dreams. It’s easy to forget that we are actually allowed to HAVE dreams. I’m off to write down MY dreams right now… anyone ready to get on the bus? It’ll be the ride of your life (literally)!

New Year, New Outlook

I’m not one for resolutions. Oh, I’ve declared all sorts of things on the magical January 1st in years past, but none have been compelling enough to stick with for any length of time. Now I set goals as I think of them, starting whenever it seems appropriate, ie immediately. My current goal is to discover something great about each day, and to express gratitude for at least one thing. It’s a modest request of myself, which makes it easy enough to comply. I won’t bore anyone else with my ongoing gratitude list, but since I’m here right now, here is today’s: I am grateful today for sunshine, good health, and the roof over my head. What are you grateful for today?

Some relevant words.

Procrastination.  Lack of focus.  Scatterbrained. Overwhelmed.

This has been my plight of late. It’s easy to become mired in complacency, justified by almost anything: lack of time/inspiration/motivation/planets in alignment…. But NO MORE! I am inspired! I am motivated! (I don’t know about the planets, but I’m hopeful!) Since I don’t have the power to add hours to a day, my time management skills are being put to the test. I’ve been forced to have a daily plan, at least a loose one. I can no longer rely on bopping along through the day, remembering everything that needs to get done.  This makes me a little sad, but for me forgetful is the new black.

There’s early progress…

  1. I have rekindled my obsession with lists. If it’s not on the list it’s dead to me.
  2. I have cleaned and re-organized my home office.  I can’t focus if there’s clutter or if I can’t find my lists.
  3. I have adjusted my mindset. EFFICIENCY is my new mantra.
  4. I have committed to harnessing the power of the spiffy handheld device. The calendar! The beeping reminders!
  5. I wrote a blog post! finally! The spell has been broken!

Anyone else on this quest? Anyone mastered it? Send ideas. I’ll add them to my list.

Lunchtime!

After recently contemplating my unnecessary landfill contributions (good times, good times…), I decided that my next step toward green would be to tackle my reliance on/addiction to the uber-convenient and oh-so-multi-purpose Ziploc bag. For several years, our cabinet has contained no less than 3 or 4 different sizes, a mixture of sandwich weight and freezer weight. I went through those boxes of plastic convenience like water; how easy it was to use them for everything from snack transport to corraling puzzle pieces to marinating chicken! One day I decided to stop the bleeding, or at least slow it, by finding more sustainable alternatives. The main challenge was toddler preschool lunches. Since I rarely buy single-serving foods: applesauce, yogurt, all those “kid” snacks with Disney characters on the packaging (don’t get me started on that…), I needed a variety of containers that were BPA/phthalate/toxin-free, reusable, spill-proof, durable, and easy for small fingers to open and close. The following is what I’ve found is working the best so far, after many hours of research. New products and vendors pop up all the time, so there are many more than just what I’ve listed here. I have no affiliation with any of the companies, but as previously noted, I like to spread the word about the good stuff.

Instead of Ziplocs, we’ve been using the adorable and highly functional Snack Taxi. sushi-greenThese are in essence a fabric baggie with a velcro-ed flap closure. The outside is cotton and the inside is nontoxic coated nylon, which turns out to be pretty darn good for containing all sorts of foods, leak-free: dry snacks as well as sandwiches with stuff like jelly or mayonnaise. They come in 2 sizes, a zillion fabrics, are easy to wash, and are user friendly and fun for the youngster. Since they aren’t see-through, it’s like a little mysterious present for her! www.snacktaxi.com has all the details about their version. Other similar products include Reusies (www.reusies.com), which are also fabric,  and Fresh Snack Pack (shown below, www.freshsnackpack.com), which is a transparent, non-toxic pouch I’ll be trying soon.

410_GOFsandwichplacemat

For small stuff like yogurt or soup that require a more sealed container, tiny Gladware containers seem to do the trick. Despite my skepticism, they are made with the “good” plastic, so that helps a bit with the guilt. They are cheap and easily found at Target/grocery stores.                                                                        

prodshot_gladware

I LOVE the stainless steel Thinkbaby containers. The set contains 2 round bowls with thinkbaby_220101_onlinelids, a rectangular container with a cool “clicky” lid, and a toddler sized mug. They ain’t cheap, but they have come in handy for a billion different applications. www.thinkbaby.com

 

 

 

 

Aladdin has some new, “good plastic” options that are less expensive than a lot of the others.                                 They have this saaladdin boxndwich box and these cool snack containers.     www.reusablebags.com

aladdin2 

 

I learned recently that many (most?)  soft sided insulated lunch boxes/bags contain LEAD!   Hello? Our food goes in there!  Here’s the lunchbag we got that makes ME want to pack a lunch: by Built NY, it’s neoprene (insulating) with a zipper for containment, and it’s STRETCHY so you can pack it with a plethora of odd sized/shaped items and it almost always closes!built I got mine at (of all places) Office Depot, but www.reusablebags carries them too.

 

 

 

 

So, go forth and reduce, reuse, recycle! All of these items are suitable for grown-up use as well, of course. I figure by the time some unfortunate Disney-character peer pressure rears its ugly head on the playground, some of my tree-hugging values may have rubbed off on her and she’ll still be happy with all of this . :)

Shades of Green

People who are full-on, gung-ho, take-no-prisoners about the environment might be classified as “eco-warriors.” I might fall more into the more sedate category of  “greenish.”  I’m not out picketing  companies that pollute water sources or spending a year in a tree, but I do make many of my daily choices based on the impact they might have on the earth.

On the plus side, with the heightened awareness of environmental issues, it’s getting easier to make smarter choices. With increased customer demand, more and more companies are cleaning up their production methods, offering earth friendly products, and making these new options widely available.  The downside to the frenzy of demand is “greenwashing.”  Vague claims like “all-natural” mean essentially nothing in the real sense, but slap an earthy label on a mainstream household cleaner and unknowing consumers may assume they are buying something greener, only to find out they paid more for essentially the same ol’ product. Reading the fine print and doing some extra research becomes more important than ever.

I struggle a bit with consumerism in general… I know it’s a good thing to stimulate the economy by participating in the buying and selling of “stuff”. However, unless everything I buy is manufactured, packaged, transported, consumed, and disposed of responsibly, there’s an impact on the earth. All I can do is do my best and go for balance; support the good guys, buy local whenever possible, check out ingredients and materials, etc.

In the next few posts, I’ll share some of my favorite green or greenish products. First up: tackling the Ziploc!

Keepin’ it real

Over the last several years, one of several things has happened: 

  1. Experience and wisdom have caused my preferences and tolerances to evolve…
  2. Aforementioned experiences have made me somewhat grumpy and bitter, or …
  3. I finally got some gumption.

Actually, I think they are all true to some degree.   For someone like myself, who is viscerally averse to most conflict and/or confrontation, the gumption thing has been a major personal growth item.  What’s happened is that I have been finding it increasingly difficult to overlook things like lapses in business ethics, poor customer service, driving faux pas, and general ineptitude.  I have been doing things like writing to companies to give them constructive criticism of products, spreading the word about poor experiences that I have at  less-than-ethical businesses, calling people out on blatant displays of rudeness, etc. I will admit that this has been an easier undertaking with the ease of the internet… shooting a nicely worded but obviously dissatisfied email off to a company’s customer support division is less intimidating than walking in for a face-to-face with a retail salesperson. Nonetheless, I’ve found that  in these times of financial volatility, most good businesses respond to customer feedback (at least the profanity-free kind) with respect. I also find that if I don’t ask for anything and just present my experience/objection/dissatisfaction as “feedback”, I’m often  pleasantly surprised with compensation of some sort.  What’s that thing about attracting flies with honey…?

Here’s an example of one recent positive interaction I had: I bought 2 pair of shoes (same style, different colors) made by a company called Ahnu. I loved the fit, style, and function of said shoes, but after a week or so of wearing them I realized that I was constantly having to re-tighten the straps. Like every 2.5 minutes. This was annoying. But I loved the shoes otherwise. But I was irritated every time I had to bend down to adjust the fit. But I realized that I should have investigated this more before I had worn the shoes so much and it was too late to return them. So I wrote a quick email to the company, something to the effect of… I love your shoes, but… maybe the next version should have a different strap system… thanks for listening. I felt better, satisfied that I had perhaps helped them out in some way, and I anticipated a friendly “thanks for your input” reply. Instead, I was promptly and cheerily informed that I was invited to send both pair of shoes back to them, to be replaced by the newer, redesigned version with a different strap system! My spiffy new shoes should arrive any day now (or if not, you can expect a decidedly less glowing followup post)! I am now on the Ahnu bandwagon, tooting their horn whenever I can.

On the other hand, I have also had plenty of not-as-good experiences with products, businesses, and people. I am no longer hesitant to share my “buyer beware” stories with others. Accepting poor service, quality, products, etc. just isn’t cutting it for me anymore.

The moral of the story is, supply and demand is up to each and every one of us. If enough people speak up, stand up and vote with their voices and wallets, we’ll hopefully end up with a better marketplace/society/world. Let’s reward the good guys with our loyalty and support, and let’s tell the not-so-good guys what we think of their shenanigans. They’ll either shape up or ship out.

Seeking balance

As many of us are, I am in constant search of finding balance in my life. Work vs. play. Social vs. solitary.  Productive vs. indulgent. Protein vs. chocolate. In the busy-ness of daily life, one thing that’s gone by the wayside for me has been  the indulgence of reading books for pleasure (chocolate has a chokehold- it’s not going anywhere). When I do have a few minutes, I feel like I should read educational/business/personal growth books, to keep my free time productive. Yesterday, however, I chose to revisit one of my favorite just-for-fun books: Eat, Pray, Love by the endearing Elizabeth Gilbert. If you aren’t familiar with this one, it’s autobiographical, the story of her year spent “finding herself”, exploring pleasure, spirituality, and balance in Italy, India, and Indonesia, respectively,  after a bad divorce and other personal challenges.  Her story will make you laugh, cry, nod in agreement, and cheer for her bravery. Her writing is quite funny… when’s the last time you heard someone use the phrase “spazzy free-for-all”? Through all of her ups and downs, twists and turns, the underlying quest is for balance. Reading about someone else’s experiences sometimes helps me to re-think, re-prioritize, re-vamp my own journey, and I am excited to follow Ms. Gilbert’s again. Also, since I won’t be jetting off to Italy, India, or Indonesia anytime soon, it’s nice to live vicariously and get a peek into these cultures. 

Pick this book up. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Eat, Pray, Love

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