Category Archives: environment

ISO Our Tribe

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Step 2, maybe should’ve been step 3, but this is the order in which it happened for us.

tribejourneyWe had our values list and now it seemed only rational that we seek out how to be more in alignment with our values.  We started researching like crazy.  And when I say ‘like crazy’, I mean it became a small obsession.  Every waking, free moment was spent researching.  We watched documentaries.  We read articles.  We purchased off-grid magazines.  We stocked up on library books.  We began to learn the language of alternative communities and to understand the differences/similarities between ecovillage, co-housing, off-grid, co-parenting, intentional community, permaculture farm, communal living, co-living, communes, Tribe, nomads, raw foodies, gypsies, etc etc.  We began challenging our own limited viewpoints and stereotypes.  We began visiting and engaging intentional communities across the country.  We interviewed people we know who have lived in intentional communities.  We emailed. We called.  We read.  We visited.  We observed.  We educated.  We questioned.  We processed late in to the nights.  We wrestled with what it was we truly wanted.

We were longing for change and a community with shared values.  We were longing for intimate, authentic relationships.  We were desperate for a community that would further our growth.  We were looking for a shared workload.  We were looking for communities that valued independent thinking, shared resources, environmental awareness, maximizing individual skill-sets, and a sense of responsibility for our shared environment…both communal environment and global environment.  We were looking for communities with sustainable practices.  We were looking for communities with gender, age, cultural, and religious diversity.  We were looking for communities who chose equality and harmony amongst its members rather than hierarchy, patriarchy, or guru heads.  But above all else, we were seeking a community that really understood the value of family and children…meaning they had families and children actively participating within the community environment.

This search led to many heated debates between Adam and myself.  Fear-based debates I might add.

“How can you be okay with living in one house with so many people?!?”.
“How can you be okay with the fact that three women are openly sleeping with the top dog of that community?”
“Can you not see how much ego is wrapped up in this community?”
“Why can’t you be more open-minded?”
“Is this really about the kids’ needs or is this about you?”
“Are we subjecting our children to a life without a future?”
“Why can’t we just be happy where we’re at?”
“Isn’t what we have good enough?”
“Are you really okay with subjecting us to a life of poverty?”
“What if that’s a cult and we missed the signs?”
“What the hell are we doing?”

We entertained and/or visited communities from North Carolina to New Mexico to Arizona to Missouri to California to Oregon to Texas to New York to Ecuador to Belize to Costa Rica.  We wrestled with the idea of co-housing.  We wrestled with the idea of living on $1/day and being completely removed from the matrix.  We wrestled with the idea of selling everything and becoming an RV family.  We wrestled with the idea of living completely off-grid.  We wrestled with the idea of buying our own land and beginning a community of like-minded individuals.
AND
We met fascinating individuals.  We met people doing huge things in their communities on very little money.  We witnessed communities who were artistic and creative and caring.  We witnessed people who were tent-living or living in buses and completely content. We followed and engaged families who were unschooling and traveling the states in their RVs.  We questioned how a heavily advertised “green community” could be green without the simplest of  green tools such as composting and recycling?  We witnessed communities who had definite hierarchies, who were openly polyamorous, who were hallucinogenic based, who had gurus they revered, who had lost their voice, who were completely falling apart, who were overrun with battles of the EGO, who were nothing more than a rich subdivision with a community kitchen who met for meals some nights of the week, who valued profit over people, who sold a lie

We Need Oneover the internet, who touted families but only had two children, who touted sustainability but were clearly starving, who had more drama than a tween television series, who made brags about their community harvest which was nothing more than 3 bananas per family.  We met with communities that had great ideals but had never gotten off the ground.  We met desperate communities and thriving communities.  We found so many communities to be so outrageously priced and others to be inexpensive but somewhat destitute.  We met communities with loads of lovely individuals who just quite hadn’t mastered how to develop a clear, shared vision causing for a bit of divisiveness.  We met communities just attempting to launch and others that had been trying to launch for years.  We invested money in a community that online looked wonderful but in person was clearly a full-blown cult.  We found that so many communities were either full of 20-somethings still trying on the latest fad or full of retirees settling for the cheapest way to retire.  Families were nowhere to be found.  We honored the choices of all of these communities as each person has a different path to take in this life,  but for our path we felt the communities were too rich, too poor, too young, too old, too fanatical, too lackadaisical, but nothing just right (for us).

 

And, thus, by the end of December 2017 we were absolutely spent and questioning whether what we desired was ever to be had.  Or maybe we just weren’t ready.  It was time to regroup and figure out exactly what it was that we wanted and how we were going to find it.

Stay Tuned for what comes next…

 

 

 

 

 

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These Present Moments

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IMG_2354Time is elusive.  Moments fleeting.  I know that this is true because I sit here listening to water falling from the mountains in a force so powerful it carves its own path to the stream below.  The water is proof of time.  Proof of forward movement.  I recognize this moment as a moment of awareness.  Awareness of time and of life in motion.

Glacier National Park has provided me a moment that has become moments that have become space that have become experience.  A string of single moments strung together to ignite a sensory explosion so breathtaking that its existence is hardly fathomable.  Hence the need for awareness of time.  The proof that these moments have existed.

There was the moment when I stumbled across an older woman wading in the icy waters of IMG_2166Lake McDonald.  That moment inspired by this female pathfinder became a moment turned moments turned experience.  I took a chance and joined her.  I stripped down to my skivvies, climbed to the front of my kayak, became encouraged by my boys standing on the shore chanting, “Do it! Do it! Do it!”, and leaped.  Jumped right in to the ice cold waters.  Fully immersed in the icy waters and vowing to last more than just a few seconds, I had to remain focused on each individual breath.   Each spacious moment.  I swam to the woman who had inspired this jump and I learned that she was a spry 72 years old!  Her spirit and energy filled me and we swam together for a span of nearly 20 minutes or more.  Her moments inspiring my moments.  My moments inspiring moments within each member of my family who all joined in the experience for a few seconds or a few minutes.  If we allow ourselves, we find we are all pathfinders.  We are all both inspiring and inspired.

I was fully empowered and alive, simply because of a moment turned moments turned experience.  A bunch of tiny moments strung together to become part of me and my story.  Time both present and moving.

There were many other pinch-worthy moments reminding me of life and progress and the enormity of time and space.  Moments that I grasped and followed in to experience.  When standing in awareness, fully awake, only then does one become fully immersed in this journey called life.  I’m thankful that I’m finally seeing the moments presented to me and no longer sleeping through them.  May you too, reader, become more present in your moments and find in those moments a variety of experiences.

Just for my recollection, when many other moments want to take the space that these moments occupy, I want to jog my memory with these bullet point reminders:

* The most serene campsite in which daily deer would pass through and even the occasional black bear.
* Observing Marmots in play.
* 9 Blissful Days of family unity and zero electronics.
* Watching a mosquito feed on Adam and instead of finding annoyance in its need for blood, appreciating the awesomeness of sharing life and observing a belly fill with nutrients. Appreciating all life.
* Listening to each of my boys lead their first family meditations.  The perspective of  a child is something we can all learn from.
* Hearing what words the campfire and trees spoke to my boys.  The boys are still open enough to hear nature and that encourages me to keep listening and practicing mindfulness.
* The day G cried because he had hugged a tree and felt a connection so deep he grieved leaving the tree behind.
* Hiking for 3 miles with the boys and at the end stumbling across a landscape of waterfalls and vegetation that cause you to believe you could really leave your life behind and live in the wild.  The forest somehow feels more natural than returning to city life.
* Nights under the stars with your best friend and lover snuggled in a hammock made for one. Knowing that all is right with the world as long as you are together.
*MARSHMA……..LLOW!!!!
* A bike ride up the Going to the Sun Road when the road is closed to vehicles.  Just you, your boys, countless waterfalls, a river, and the occasional deer.
* Laughing hysterically when it rains so hard on that bike ride that you are not even able to see straight ahead.  Knowing that you are alive and you are teaching your boys to laugh when crying would be easier!
* Introducing the No Trouble Bubble.  Looking at the father of your children and laughing because what is being said in the bubble is both hilarious and frightening and the bubble confirms that as parents we are succeeding.
*  Meditation in a place isolated enough to believe that you are no longer human…in fact you are water.  Transitioning, fluid, and unbreakable.

 

Time may be elusive but I am determined to be present for every moment possible.  May you be present as well.  Journey On.

 

Oh, Kermit, You Need More Optimism

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It’s not easy being green.  ~Kermit the Frog~

Happy Belated Earth Day!  In true too busy to blog fashion I missed my Earth Day deadline (which doesn’t really exist since I gave it to myself).  But I figure better late than never and besides my blog would’ve probably been lost in all the great and informative blogs from real authors that are focused enough to post on the actual celebration date of Earth Day.  Now mine stands belatedly alone.

We started going green a few years ago and I felt that today would be a good day to share with you some of the products we’ve come to love.  I’m sorry, Kermit, but in this case you are pessimistically incorrect, being green IS easy.

Re-Pac Bags

Out with Ziploc and in with Re-Pac!  We use all sizes of these bags and for everything imaginable.  We use them for travel, lunches, food storage, as purse-sized first aid kits and female product kits, for mobile packages of legos to give the kids in the car or at boring appointments.  I’ve been washing these sturdy guys in the washer (and drying them too!) for over two years and they still look brand new.repac-002-2

Envirosax

These are by far my favorite reusable bags.  They are easy to wash, hold a ton, come in a kazillion fun patterns, and roll up small enough to fit in the smallest of handbags or jacket pocket.  No more excuses for using plastic!  In fact, many stores now give you a financial incentive to bring in your own bag so why not make the investment?

Envirosax

Envirosax

Cloth Wipes

We ditched paper towels a few years ago and we’ve never looked back.  I purchased my favorite cloth wipes from the Etsy shop Nate’s Mommy Made It.  These bad boys are used for wiping tables, as our “formal” napkins (guests get a kick out of their monsters or robot wipes), lunchbox napkins, window cleaners, as tissues during cold season, and I hear they’re great for baby butts too.  Small enough to throw in any load of laundry and big enough to tackle good sized cleaning jobs.il_570xN.436414340_ey4r

Miir Water Bottles

A great water bottle that gives back!  Now that’s a green product I can stand behind.  You can custom make your bottle (and in May your Tumbler) or choose from fantastic colors.  For each bottle you purchase $1 will go to provide clean drinking water to another human being for an entire year.  Feel really good about this purchase.

Courtesy of Miir

Courtesy of Miir

Biodegradable Toothbrushes

You’ve rid your home of plastic bottles and plastic bags and now it’s easy to replace your plastic toothbrush with something far healthier for our planet.  Another product that not only does great things for the earth but also helps those in needs.  For every toothbrush you purchase from Smiles for the People an equivalent brush will be given to a person in need.  These brushes are made from 100% biodegradable bamboo and even the packaging and shipping have been considered.  Recyclable boxes, limited packaging and carbon neutral shipping.  I know that just made my smile brighter!

Courtesy of Smiles for the People

Courtesy of Smiles for the People

Laptop Lunch Boxes

We love these lunch boxes and they hold up really really well.  Perfect for the kid who doesn’t like any of their food to touch.  These have a place for all the food groups and they make packing lunches super easy for the little ones.  My only complaint is that I wish they offered stainless steel containers.  But other than that they are a win/win for moms and kids.

Courtesy of LapTopLunches

Courtesy of LapTopLunches

Alpaca Dryer Balls

While I know that line drying is the greenest solution I am not willing to make that commitment quite yet, especially as I raise four dirty boys and live in the rainy PNW.  In the last year I have been able to stop using fabric softeners, which are full of chemicals, and cut my drying time.  These Alpaca balls for the dryer have been awesome for reducing static and for speeding up the amount of time it takes to dry a load.  For a family our size (6 of us) we use about 6 balls in each load.  Use them over and over and over again.  They’ll pay for themselves in no time flat.

Courtesy of Alma Park

Courtesy of Alma Park

Essential Oils

If you want your home to smell wonderful without releasing harmful chemicals from plug in scents, pick your favorite essential oil and freshen up your home the green way instead.  I use a few drops of lemongrass oil in my toilet paper roll each time I change it and it keeps my bathroom lemony fresh.  You can also add a few drops of oil to your alpaca dryer balls to help your laundry smell extra clean.  Make a mix and spray in room just before company arrives.  Loads of options with these guys.  I like to purchase mine from a local store or my favorite online green shop, Vine.

essential oils lavender, lemon and sweet orange

essential oils lavender, lemon and sweet orange (Photo credit: How to be Sustainable)

Bug Repellant

I hate bug repellant.  I hate the smell of it.  I hate the chemicals.  I hate the feel of it.  Thus last summer I set out to make my own and I am so sorry I didn’t attempt this sooner.  You can find great formulas all over pinterest and find the one that works best for your needs.  If money is not an issue and you’d rather just purchase something from the store, I can rave about Badger Anti-Bug Balm.  It’s certified organic and while a little greasy it smells wonderful and it’s easy to apply.  This also can be purchased at Vine.

Courtesy of Badger

Courtesy of Badger

Chef’N Compost Container  & Norpro Degradable Compost Bags

For those of us fortunate enough to have curbside compost pickup or who are already composting in a worm bin (I highly recommend doing this!) or in a yard composter this little container and bag combo has made my life simpler.  I no longer have to keep worms in my kitchen.  The boys scoop their compostable scraps right in to the bin, there’s an easy to remove degradable bag that a child takes straight out to the compost bin, and it’s easy to clean in the sink or dishwasher.  It also has a filter, so no foul smells escape.  An added bonus is that it looks cute on the kitchen counter too!  Buy these at numerous stores but I found amazon to be the least expensive.

courtesy of amazon

courtesy of amazon

Rekixx Recyclable Sneakers

I am a sneaker junkie!  I love all things sneaker.  I’ve had my eyes on these shoes since they were debuted on Shark Tank and while I do not own a pair I swear that the day my husband lands a job the first thing I’m doing is buying each member a pair of these environmentally friendly sneaks.  Kick ass designs to choose from and the real kicker (like what i did there?), they are 100% recyclable.  Every part of the shoe, recyclable!

Courtesy of Rekixx

Courtesy of Rekixx

Sanuk

While we are talking about shoes let me just give a shout out to Sanuk.  Sanuk is by far my favorite sandle maker for the entire family.  And their selection of vegan shoes is to die for.  I love love love their yoga mat flip flops.  Check them out.  You’ll love that you clothed your families’ feet in these all around winners.

English: This is a photo of the Donny Multi. T...

English: This is a photo of the Donny Multi. The photo was taken, editing and uploaded by a Sanuk employee who has rights to distribute. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Keurig K-Cup

By now I think most of us coffee drinkers have opted to invest in these wonderful home brewing systems.  And while the individual packages of coffee are simple and easy they are quite expensive and wasteful.  For your at-home maker invest in the K-Cup.  It’s a reusable filter that allows you to use your own ground coffee.  Use it for a single cup (or multiple cups depending on how black you like it), rinse it out, and reuse the next day.  Zero waste.

Courtesy of Keurig

Courtesy of Keurig

Eminence Organic Skin Care

Every product I have tried from this company has made me a happy woman.  I recommend getting on their website and learning about them.  From organic farming to green energy (wind and solar power) to environmentally friendly production (handmade) and packaging this company has covered it all.  And their products are the kind of products that make you sing in the morning!  Your skin will be super excited that you made the switch!  If you happen to live in the Tucson area I can get you in touch with a fabulous aesthetician who carries the Eminence line.yamandpumpkinproenzymepeel-pro

Haiku Bags

Last but not least I have to mention these fantastic bags.  Made from 100% post consumer beverage bottles these bags are durable, stylish, and easy to clean.  I’ve owned these bags in numerous options and have used them on outdoor vacations (Costa Rica and Hawaii), family vacations (Disneyland, Grand Canyon), hiked with them, beached with them,  stuffed them to the rim and yet they still are my go to bag.  The original bag I bought still fetches compliments too!  What more is there to say.  Grab yourself a bag and get out and go.

Courtesy of Haiku Bags

Courtesy of Haiku Bags

There are so many other green products that are probably worth mentioning but these are my top pics right now.  Go out and prove to Kermit just how easy being green can be!

Please share what products you love!  In fact I’m looking for your favorite cleaning products (especially homemade formulas).