Disconnect Yourself

Wake up, hurriedly prepare for work, 8 hours later come home, vegetate.

Welcome to my non-existence.  For the past few years, I’ve been alive but I have not been living.  The day passes by and the night lingers, and it feels like part of my life has been smudged away by the end of an eraser.

A mental fog clouded my mind and my body sunk into the couch like a sack of rotting potatoes.

Each evening I would scroll away the time as the animated lightbox flashed before my eyes, as ideas floated into the current of my subconsciousness.

I still battle these desires to this day, it is a constant struggle and I dare say that it forever will be.

Desire.  What is desire?  The OED defines desire as a strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen.  Now I ask you, why does desire control our lives?

These kinds of thoughts have sparked a light within the fog of my mind.  Ever since my recent life-changing camping trip, where I spent 3 days backcountry camping up a mountain with 40 pounds on my back and another 5 camping in the isolated Smokey Mountains.  If you want to change your life, then do something that pushes or challenges you.  The Smokey Mountains changed my life and forced my concentration on survival and appreciate what are often everyday things.

I disconnected myself from technology, immersed in mother Earth in all her beauty and everything was in full harmony.  My usual stomach pains, body aches, and headaches ceased to exist.  As if the bag of rotten potatoes magically sprouted and blossomed into new life and beauty.

Potato Flower

Potato Flower.  Photo Credit: Keith Weller, en.wikipedia.org

The flowers of potatoes are quite pretty, aren’t they?

As mentioned before, I still struggle with this battle, but one thing has changed.  Each morning when I think of the day and what I will accomplish, instead of continuously saying “I’m going to rest a little longer”, I internally yell at myself “KAT STOP LOOKING AT YOUR PHONE AND GET UP!”.

This is my secret, my prized idea that no one else has ever dreamt before–yeah right.

If unproductive thoughts flow through your consciousness then those thoughts will continue propelling into reality.

This also can be said about positive thoughts.  If positive thoughts flow through your consciousness then those thoughts eventually become reality.

When tasks linger within my mind for a long time it makes me anxious and I don’t find satisfaction until the task is complete, and oh is that feeling such a relief.

I cannot depend on my power of thought to overcome these poor habits.  Removing technology is necessary for me since I often scroll through other people’s ideas for countless hours without grasping the memory to serve me later.

Another key component has been keeping up with chores, decluttering (donating mass amounts of crap I’ve collected through the years), reading more, spending time outdoors and enjoying cat naps during the day.

What’s the longest you’ve disconnected from technology?  Can you go without social media or T.V. for an hour?

Title Photo Courtesy of ziggy1, istock.com

 

Conscious Living in a World that Throws Everything Away

A few months back while doing research for gardening and composting on YouTube,  a video showed up featuring Bea Johnson, discussing her lifestyle called “Zero Waste”.

Those two words say it all and my mind quickly began simmering the idea of zero waste and soon after I became obsessed!

Johnson’s blog and book, “Zero Waste Home”  began a movement that has spread across the globe, inspiring other environmentally conscious individuals like myself.  Johnson has brought back a lifestyle that our ancestors have lived for thousands of years that include canning, making vinegar, cooking without waste, reusing what is available.

Bea Johnson believes you can live simply by following these simple guidelines, the 5R’s:

Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rot (Not only in that order)

Johnson believes all habits can be adapted to this lifestyle, but a lot of regular habits may have to be sacrificed.

I’ve continued my research into this lifestyle by joining the Zero Waste Reddit community, researching books at the library, and by watching YouTube videos discussing their attempts at this lifestyle along with the frustration that comes with it.


Some frustration that I’ve personally experienced includes:

Feeling Overwhelmed

  • How do I even begin living this lifestyle?
  • What do I do with the things I currently waste?
  • Everyone I watch in public is so wasteful!  ARRGGHHH!
  • I have pets and taking care of them is wasteful.
  • The numbers game – Learning how much is wasted makes the heart feel heavy.

These are all complications I’ve come across and still struggle with during my journey.

To cope with the overwhelming amount of wastefulness I try to be non-judgemental of others, continuously restructure my habits until I find a system that works, and communicate my feelings to others and try to teach others about easy habits to reduce waste.

One of the key factors for adjusting to this lifestyle is the realization that I cannot expect to be waste-free overnight, it will take time and effort to attain a completely zero waste lifestyle.  

Being Unknowledgeable

  • What is considered to be waste?
  • Is recycling worth it?
  • What products are available for this lifestyle?
  • Needs Vs. wants.

I’ve delved deep into learning as much as I can about zero waste within the past couple of months and there is still much more to learn.

One dilemma I’ve experienced is how to get rid of the wasteful things I currently own.  I have nail polish, plastic wrap, plastic Tupperware, personal care products, toilet paper, random kitchen gadgets, and more.  

I currently just have these items sitting around, waiting for its life purpose to be fulfilled.  I still need to figure a solution for most of these items, but until then, I do the following:
  • Use or recycle the Tupperware.
  • Do not buy anything that has wasteful packaging or that is not recyclable.
  • Create family cloth. (A reusable cloth for wiping your bum)
  • Donate these items to a thrift store.
Bea Johnson points out an important detail:

Don’t buy anything new, you can find almost anything used at a local thrift store or on eBay.  Buy your food in bulk form and locally and in season.  Be conscious of what you are buying and think to yourself “Do I really NEED this?”

Get out of your comfort zone and try new things like crafts, growing herbs/other produce, cook more or try making your own almond milk or cheeses–You’ll be impressed with what you are capable of and honestly, you’ll probably enjoy being self-sufficient in these areas.

Being Lazy or Reverting to Old Habits

  • Making excuses.
  • Putting leisure before productivity.
  • Eating out because “I’m hungry now”.
  • Feelings of frustration resulting in inactivity

Altering decades of old habits is challenging and require constant motivation, determination, and effort.  I’ve realized that planning ahead and organization is crucial to success and includes daily journaling, meal planning, and attainable weekly goals.

Eating Out

  • Ordering takeout.
  • Avoiding straws.
  • Over-ordering.
  • Utensils
  • Refusing plastic bags

Eating out is difficult when you are trying to be zero waste.  You have to deal with disposable cups and utensils, becoming full before finishing so you are stuck with either food waste or a wasted container, straws being forced to you, and ordering takeout is completely out of the picture unless you bring your own reusable container.

I have a past addiction to Mitsuwa’s pastries, ice cream, shaved ice, and other desserts featured at Ry-Leaf.  In my continuous effort to be less wasteful, I now bring reusable cups, containers, choose a cone Vs. a cup, and request no disposable straw/utensils.

My first attempt at bringing a reusable container to Ry-Leaf started off without a struggle until the cup I had brought was too large for their machine.  The employee decided to use a styrofoam cup to transfer the ice, so without thinking, I reacted with anguish expressing that the cup was not necessary and the whole experience became awkward.

Now when I ask for a business to use my own container I instantly say “I know, I’m crazy–Don’t worry about it!” and usually go on to explain WHY I am asking them to accommodate my strange requests.



I’d like to end this post with my Earth Day messaged which was shared on Facebook:

Today is Earth Day, and while every day should focus on our precious Earth we need to all take a moment to reflect on our actions.

We all group up wasteful, we are wasteful as a species and the neglect needs to stop.

Take a moment today think of ONE thing that you can do to help Earth and all the life that struggling with it.

500 MILLION plastic straws are wasted EACH DAY. This is an easy habit to break and it all begins with REFUSING. Do you really NEED a straw? Think about it.

Plastic is killing the remaining wildlife and the oceans. If you love animals and/or love seafood, help protect them! It is our responsibility to reverse our destruction to this planet!

Thank you for reading. 

Included in the post was a button for friends to donate to the Earth Day Network.  I raised $95 including my donation of $20!

Drifting by

Do you ever feel like you’re just drifting by?  No purpose, no urgency, just living?

Since my last post, I’ve become pretty inactive and less-driven than normal, slowly ripping off the band-aid and ready to continue my dreams!

This past week I fell ill with the flu, so that was a major set back in the plan;

But… I can’t keep making excuses, and I must persevere through life’s challenges while harnessing the determination to reach my goals, ultimately relishing success.

Mark is out of town for a Sesshin.  I’ll make another post about Sesshin retreats since Zen Buddhism has been such an important role in my life, and nothing is as inspiring, harmonious, or life-altering as a sesshin.  Anyway, Mark is gone until Sunday.  Which means I have a lot of free time to use for myself!

I tried to get a decent start to my day by catching up on some routine chores (dishes, laundry, etc.). I’ve recently utilized the Konmari Method to organize my clothes since I had so many pieces unused in an unorganized chaos.  It makes doing laundry a lot easier and more enjoyable, not to mention that looking at nicely displayed drawers reduces so much stress and makes finding an outfit much quicker.


Konmari Method

Konmari.jpg

If you are unfamiliar with this way of life, I highly recommend learning more about the Kon Marie Method! 

Some basic components of Konmari are: 

  • Keep things that spark joy.
  • Discarding the idea “someday I will… use… wear… make..”
  • Treat your possessions as if they were alive, with respect.  (This helps with mindfulness.)
  • Celebrate the present, get rid of past souvenirs that clutter your house.

Wool Balls in Drawer:

Wool Balls

In case you were wondering why I have balls in my drawers.  I bought these spiffy wool balls to help reduce drying time, soften my clothes, and freshen the scent of my clothes.  I should have done more research before buying these since there is unethical treatment towards sheep, and knowing that I contributed to an animals suffering just pains me.  I also did not buy local and ordered from Amazon, but honestly, I have no idea where to find wool balls in my local area. 


Self Improvement

Considering this is a fresh blog, I will most likely cover a lot of the ideas, hobbies, etc. that I mention in later posts.  Hopefully, you will find this collection of thoughts useful, inspiring or interesting!

Please feel free to leave comments, I would love to read any feedback!

I have a little workspace by the main entrance of the apartment and today decided to organize the area to make it feel more inviting.  I cleared off the top, moved my storage rack and decided to hang up part of a newspaper end roll to create a board for my goals.

Constructing a Maguiver Wall Easel 

It was surprisingly simple.  I cut a newspaper end roll in half (I work at a newspaper publisher and these are super convenient!), found a piece of thick string and tied a knot at each end.  Then I threaded the string through roll’s opening (it resembles a roll of wrapping paper) and stuck push pins into each knot – hanging the roll of paper.

I just unravel whatever length of paper I want when needed and to help keep the hanging paper taut, I clipped a small piece of cardboard on the bottom.

Goal Poster

(Please excuse the strange title illustration, “Goals”,  composed of a worm, a whale, a fountain pen, a bird, and flowers)

You can see that I listed some goals that I’ve recently been focusing on:

Blog – I’ve recently had to write articles for the paper, which is completely frightening for someone who did not study journalism!  I decided to brush up on my writing skills with a blog and to learn more about myself.

Picture Book – Walking in the forest inspires me.  One day I thought of a story about the squirrels of the forest (in my head I think ‘Kingdom of Squirrels’ came to mind..) and their fight for their home.  Yes, it sounds like Ferngully or Avatar, but this deals with conservation in a familiar setting… Who doesn’t know what a squirrel is?  I’ll talk about this idea in another post, so stay tuned!

Language(s) – Refamiliarizing myself with French and Japanese has always been a goal.

Learn Video Editing – The other day we had a webinar for work, which I recorded.  I wanted to remove some unnecessary scenes in the presentation and using my handy dandy Creative Cloud Membership (ty work!), I was able to use Premiere Pro CS6!  It was painful learning at first, but it was a lot of fun!  I actually picked up a book about this, so hopefully, I will get better!

Improve Graphic Design Skills – For the past year, I’ve been teaching myself how to use Adobe Illustrator and InDesign.  I feel naturally gifted with design and have an innate desire to create, so this has been [fairly] easy to learn.  Typically my designs involve ads for the paper, programs for events, flyers, and I have designed a logo which was fun.

There is so much more I want to do, but I think 5 things to pursue is a hefty goal to reach.   I eventually will have brainstorming sessions to construct a plan with ideas/steps to reach each goal.  It has taken 30 years to pursue my goals and precious time has been wasted, but I vow, never to give up!