Lately I’ve been in a major state of self-actualizing, and it has been such a blessing to have the space/time for the journey. From honing my wardrobe, analyzing and developing my sense of color and style, to utilizing a new method of cleaning to truly de-clutter our home my wellness pursuits have been largely unconventional lately. Though, yesterday I did smear raw honey and banana all over my face, and the same mixture plus coconut oil in my hair, while I read about color theory. I highly recommend doing that while you read this in fact (Treat yourself!).
Growing up, and now, Earth Day is one of my favorite days. When I was a kid it meant going to Earth Day fairs with my Dad who taught people about Vermicomposting and energy conservation. I would visit all the booths, “help” with his booth, and then return to my little fort under one of the tables to look at my new pins and treasures. I have always tried to have the approach of keeping the environment in mind every day: purchasing used over new, making do with what I have, supporting local businesses and responsible companies, taking shorter showers, educating about the environment, etc. Today I want to share two fairly recent discoveries that are helping me keep the environment in mind every day, and as always, support my goal of joyful living.
The good New England Yankee in me wants to keep things forever- just in case, or with the intent of doing something, or finishing something another time. So much mental energy tied is tied to the books on your shelf you will get to reading, or the stack of old holiday cards you feel guilty throwing away, or the pile of magazines that are perfect for a collage, or even the great for you tea in the drawer that you just don’t like, but really should drink. I don’t remember where I heard about the KonMari cleaning method, but after reading her book and passing it on to my partner we had a massive cleaning and decluttering day using her protocol. The simple idea being to hold every item in your home in your hands and ask the question “Does this bring me joy?” I was ruthless, any hesitation and away things went. After a long day 7 trash bags of clothes were gone via a flash give to my Buy Nothing community (more on that later), over 30 books had new homes, and a Honda fit full of trash bags and boxes went to Goodwill. Yet, surprisingly, our 500 sq. ft. space really didn’t look very different to the naked eye. Yet, about a month after this process it has been true that our space has stayed neat, and I have been on more bike rides, and fallen down more research holes than I have for a long time. I am heartily recommending this process to everyone after I was initially quite skeptical about another schtick for a life changing cleaning method. Even if you don’t read the book (it is a quick read) begin the process of thinking about what brings you joy in your home.
Here are most the clothes the two of us passed on to new homes, as an idea of just how much left our little apartment that day. Really, I haven’t missed anything for more than sentimental reasons.
I would not have had such an easy time embracing KonMari if it were not for my local Buy Nothing Project community. The Buy Nothing Project (BNP) is an experimental hyper-local gifting community that began on Bainbridge Island, WA just over a year ago. “The Buy Nothing Project is about setting the scarcity model of our cash economy aside in favor of creatively and collaboratively sharing the abundance around us.” This group is more than the other free or trade groups out there (as a long time follower of the Craigslist free section, and the Freecycle project that began with Yahoo groups) in that this project really creates connections and strengthens community as part of it’s mission. Not long after joining I became an admin for my local group to help with membership requests (BNP uses Facebook as a platform for the groups). Now, our larger group has separated into smaller more hyper-local communities to support the mission of the project. I have made really good friends through the gifting process, and it has also enabled me to pass on items that were deeply personal, but not being used or loved by me. Being a sentimental on top of being a good New England Yankee just asks for trouble. Seeing the “gratitude” posts from recipients of gifts never fails to warm my heart, and to see the community come together to meet people’s asks gives me hope in this very impersonal modern age where many of us don’t know our neighbors.
Now, as the admin of my hyper local BNP community, I had the pleasure of considering Earth Day and how it relates to BNP. “Participating in a local Buy Nothing Project group allows individuals and communities to reduce their own dependence on single-use and virgin materials by extending the life of existing items through gifting and sharing between group members. Rethinking consumption and refusing to buy new in favor of asking for an item from a neighbor may make an impact on the amount of goods manufactured in the first place, which in turn may put a dent in the overproduction of unnecessary goods that end up in our landfills, watersheds, and our seas. It most certainly creates connections between people who see each other in real life, not just online, leading to more robust communities that are better prepared to tackle both hard times and good by giving freely.” It gave me such joy to reflect on items I have received, and items I have gifted, and how it all occurred outside of the cash economy.
The introvert in me loves this purpose driven platform to get to know my neighbors. In gifting a dress that I just wasn’t going to wear again I met someone who has become a good friend, after we spent almost 2 hours chatting on the sidewalk in the process of gifting. I have gifted a very sentimental purse that my great Aunt made, but was really not my style. The recipient now knows it was made by Sylvia, and has seen some of her quilts. I know Sylvia would be glad to know it was being used and appreciated versus sitting in my closet. Recently, I biked a few blocks away to pick up some alcohol as the finishing touch for a urinary support tincture I was making for my cats. I had glycerin, but hadn’t considered the roots I was tincturing and did not want to go buy vodka or brandy- both cost, and since we don’t drink much it would just sit around. A quick ask to the community and my need was met, and I got to meet her son and play for a few minutes while we chatted. Another member was picking up from her and it turned out to be someone I gifted a favorite pair of earrings that I hadn’t worn since we moved 9 months ago, she hasn’t taken them off yet. When it came time to strain my tinctures, a neighbor met my ask for cheesecloth. I have seen people get help moving, weeding their gardens, finding a running buddy, borrowing a Moroccan Tagine to make couscous, and so much more. It has improved my New England Yankee attachment to stuff immensely. Not long ago someone asked for painting supplies as she had found it was a great way to relieve grad school stress, I thought about the painting supplies in my art box that I enjoy, but honestly don’t use frequently. I gifted them all to her, knowing that they will be used and enjoyed. If I get the hankering to paint again, I know I can ask for supplies. It has been a couple of months, and honestly, I don’t miss them a bit.
The lessons here, folks, wellness is about so much more than your physical body, or even attention to your energetic body. Everything around us really does have an impact. Don’t feel trivial for getting rid of the things in your life that don’t bring you joy, with those things gone you are making space for whatever joy comes next on your journey. Embrace it, and be kind to yourself. Let go of the guilt, listen to your gut, and have fun!