Plastic-Free July

Although I did have a few new year’s resolutions for 2019, this year I mostly focused on a list of monthly challenges for myself. They felt like mini goals to keep things fresh and let me try more of the things I’ve been interested in. Was this a good idea? No, probably not.
Self-care January was pretty awesome. It was a great way to finish up my maternity leave and force me to focus on me. Highly recommend.
Snail mail February felt a bit overwhelming at times but I wrote around 14 letters, several of which resulted in return mail- a win!
Minimalism March was mainly weekends of purging and tidying which was very cathartic. I need more of this in my life!
April is where things started to go downhill. Originally slotted as focusing on yoga, I changed it to No Expectations April. Even with utilizing YouTube, creating a daily yoga practice felt unrealistic. Do I want one? Sure. But at the end of March was when I felt like my insides were starting to crumble. Living a no sleep, new baby life alongside a full-time job and an ever growing realization that I had developed postpartum depression meant I felt like a shell of a human being. I wasn’t sure what the expectations were but I knew I was holding myself to a high standard and I wasn’t living up to it. Thus, No Expectations April. May and June followed in loosey goosey suit.
I did however take a stab at Plastic Free July. Plastic Free July is an actual thing (Instagram handle, hashtag and all) which made it much more fun and motivating to do. Since this was my first year doing it I had pretty low expectations. I wanted to use the opportunity to say no to plastic where I could, identify where I was unnecessarily dependent on plastic and see where we could improve. I didn’t ask my family to make any adjustments although I did make it clear what I was doing and I did make some changes in our grocery shopping.

Saying No:
With a few exceptions, I was able to say no to all single use plastic. Several times at work I used a piece of plastic cutlery without thinking about it although mostly I’ve been reusing them to make them not-so-single use. I’ve never been good about remembering my travel mug but I made a special effort to keep it with me so I wouldn’t have a need for disposable coffee cups and their plastic lids.

Room for Improvement:
Groceries are tough y’all. Since I work 40+ hours a week and have two children in diapers, I have limited opportunities to shop around in multiple stores. For the most part, I need to be able to go to my local grocer and get what I need but my local store does not have a bulk section.

I made a special effort to go to Whole Foods and the farmers markets but neither provided as many plastic free options as I might of thought. Our local Whole Foods is small with a limited bulk section and I realized many of the items I was buying from farmers were still wrapped in plastic such as meat or cheese. Even berries and cherry tomatoes were coming in plastic containers there. Oy.

My family did not directly complain but I did cut out cereal, chips and crackers from our grocery lists since they all come in plastic bags. It made for shitty snacking, so I welcome ideas here.

Also, on my to do list is to create and utilize plastic free alternatives for eating out. We’re doing great on carrying:

  • Reusable water bottles
  • Reusable Ziploc bags- we recently upped our game with some Stasher bags!
  • Reusable fork and spoon for kiddos
  • Reusable pouches for pureed food

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But we need to include:

  • Straws for adults and kids
  • Cutlery for adults
  • Back up travel mug for those who can’t keep theirs clean (I don’t want to name names but… it’s both of us)
  • Cloth napkins to take plastic free to zero waste
  • To-go containers

Plastic Free July was not actually free of plastic but it was reduced and a good exercise. We ended the month by signing up for a compost pick up service which I’m pumped about! You can bring your compost to the county for free but that’s unrealistic for me right now so I’m willing to pay for convenience.

The unintended upside of this challenge is that all my favorite unhealthy snacks are wrapped in plastic wrappers. No more mid-afternoon candy bars!

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Self-Care January

I am a person of lists. And goals. I love lists of goals. Even lists of lists of goals. So when my friend @thenewchrissy declared that she would be doing monthly challenges for 2019, I jumped on board. We share a lot of interests and values but I modified her a few of her challenges to fit my needs.

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A lot of folks start the year with Dry January. It makes sense considering the overindulgence of the holidays but I wanted to start the year off on a different foot. With only a few weeks left in my maternity leave, I wanted to focus on just enjoying it and relaxing as much as possible before it was back to the grind. Thus Self-Care January.

Self-care on maternity leave (especially at the end of one without pay) is not spa days or days alone in self-reflection or girls weekends. It is a 30 minute bath at the end of the day with a magazine. It is going to the grocery store alone and walking the aisles very slowly. It is choosing not to fold the laundry and painting my toenails instead. It is getting outside everyday.

Having a reminder that I needed to make time for myself was really helpful as I faced going back to work. The prospect of going back to work has, in my experience, been worse than the actual return but it’s still painful.

It’s hard to be present even in the parts of my job that I enjoy (which is the majority to be fair) when I’m aware of all the things I’m missing at home. Is he smiling right now? Is he cooing? Is he thinking about rolling over? (Yes, yes and not yet.) I race home to divide my time between two amazing, demanding children. One who wants cuddles and to be nursed. Another who wants to read books or tell me things like “I ride in Dada’s truck” (it’s not fascinating but it’s still cute). On my first week back of work, Haines was sent home from daycare with a fever and I was ecstatic to spend the following day with him. With Austin safely tucked away at my mom’s, we watched a movie, took walks and played hard. I loved it.

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Still at the end of the day, I was ready for a moment of me. I went to bed at 8. Best self-care decision ever.

February’s challenge is Snail Mail which I’m really looking forward to. I used to be an excellent pen pal but now I’m incredibly inconsistent. This month is going to be an opportunity to get back into one of my favorite activities.

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Live with Focus

There are a million things I’d like to accomplish this year. I’d like to get outside more, save all my money, make all my food from scratch, establish a thriving garden, excell at my job, concentrate on making my time at home quality time with my family, write more often, put myself out of my comfort zone, go hiking, get back in shape, travel to new places and so on. But let’s get real. A year may seem like a long time but days and weeks pass by in the blink of an eye. The year that we have a brand new baby is not the year for lofty goals. It is not the year I’ll hike the Applachian Trail or start making my own pasta. It’s a year to soak in this time with baby Haines and survive our lack of sleep.

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But how do I stop making pies?!

 

Regardless I am the time of person who creates goals. I need focus and plans to guide me. This is most likely a fault that speaks to me being a control freak but…one thing at a time. This year we spent New Year’s Eve in the hospital so it was not a time for a resolutions (although how about no more trips to the hospital in 2017?!). My time at home on maternity leave was a foggy blur of sleeplessness and long walks. I’m back at work and back in a routine and starting to find a tiny sense of focus.

I really just want to use my time wisely and purposely. I don’t mean that I won’t watch TV or check my Instagram feed (FYI- taking Facebook off my phone was a great choice) but I don’t want to let myself get lost in it. I’m going to make my lunch for work at night so I can enjoy my baby cuddles in the morning without stressing. I’m going to go out with friends or go off by myself so that I can come back and better appreciate and be more present in my time with my family.

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This guy is pretty hard to resist.

 

To keep my focus I’ve determined 4 activities/goals.

Me: Be Patient

It starts with me. I want to have more patience with myself and others. I don’t need to accomplish everything today. Like many women, I put an unreasonable amount of pressure on myself to excel and worse, be perfect. It’s past time to get rid of that inclination. Time to slow down, communicate more often and more kindly.

Community: Get Involved

Contributing to  my community has always been important to me but often it gets pushed to the back burner. I need to move this up the priority list. It’s a value that I want to impart onto Haines and there’s only one way to do that.

Finance: Reduce Debt, Reduce Stress

It’s well known in my family that I put a large focus on financial security (some might say too much…) and I’ve let it cause my unnecessary stress in the past. While I don’t want to do that I do want to get to the point where we are making more strategic decisions when it comes to our finances and reducing our debt.

Travel:

This isn’t a deep and life-changing goal but getting outside my immediate surroundings has always proved to be key for my sanity. The one thing I’ve wanted to do since returning to North Carolina was visit the mountains in the fall. So far two falls have passed and we haven’t made it. This is the year! Fall leaves, I won’t miss you this time! It’s also a part of my home state that Haines won’t get as much exposure to in our beach town and I want him to see all the beauty of our state.

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Winter in Wilmington, NC

My Lofty and Unrealistic Goals for 2015

Resolutions are pretty ridiculous but I love lists. I have lists everywhere. I rewrite lists in different places and different ways in case it makes them more effective. It doesn’t, just FYI. I also love goals. I rarely meet them but that doesn’t mean they’re not worth setting!

  • Cook more- with cookbooks: When I first starting cooking I was living in Wyoming without Internet. I fell in love with big, beautiful old cookbooks and now I have quite a collection. I rarely use them though. When you have the Internet, it’s hard not to refer to it. If I want to keep cooking and become better at it, then I need to use these cookbooks! I’m hoping for one new recipe a week but we’ll see how that goes…

    This is only a small portion of the cookbooks I own.

    This is only a small portion of the cookbooks I own.

  • Read more. Specifically I want to start working my way through the stacks of books I already have instead of continuing to purchase new ones. It’s an issue. I have stacks of unread or partially read books staring me down as we speak.

    I've read a couple of these...long way to go...

    I’ve read a couple of these…long way to go…

  • Get my finances in order. I’m pretty good about not spending too much money but my credit isn’t where it should be and with an indefinite period of unemployment looking my way, I need to start being savvy.
  • Be outgoing: Being in a new place tests my social anxiety limits but I’m going to need to go out of my way to make friends and introduce myself. That’s going to be the only way to build a community for myself here… and get a job.
  • Hike: This year I want to start hiking more. In the next year or two I want to hike a significant portion of the Appalachian Trail and prepare to do the Camino de Santiago. I need to start off with day hikes and research. Let’s go!

Happy New Year everyone! Any goals for 2015?

Welcome 2011!

It’s a brand new year ladies and gentlemen! (Ha!, like there’s multiple reading this blog.)

I rang in the new year at a party with friends and strangers alike. Keeping with my new year’s tradition (this is not my choice, simply my bad luck) of not kissing at midnight I cheers-ed my neighbors with champagne in plastic cups and felt the promise of new possibilities that 2011 could bring.

Just kidding. At midnight obviously I was drunk and headed outside to get a cigarette even though I quit smoking a couple years ago. But let’s be honest, who brings in the new year with good habits? It’s the holidays. Your family stressed you out. You ate way too much. You didn’t exercise once. And your liver is screaming, “You’re going to regret this tomorrow!!” Ssshh liver. It’s New Year’s Eve. Who cares!?

Fast forward to January 2nd. Hangover is over. Sleep deprivation is dealt with. The replaying and reenacting of all bad choices and party’s hilarious events is pretty much played out. Time to get serious.

Time to go the gym, spend more time outside, quit smoking, rid your house of junk food, and remember to call your mother. Or whatever it is you’ve “resolved” to do this year.

I personally hate New Years Resolutions the way I hate diets. It’s all done insincerely, without much determination and certainly without the dedication to see those resolutions past a couple weeks. Don’t diet, change your lifestyle. Don’t just write a resolution, mean it, want it, want to change your life. Reinvent yourself.

But alas, as happens with most fads, I end up participating in some way. And certainly the start of a new year is as good time as any to reconsider the way I live my life and question the path I’m on. What can I do to to improve my life, better my perspective, make my life more meaningful?

So here am I again, going with the grain, being a sheep and all that and writing myself not resolutions but goals.

Goals for 2011:

Write: I should be blogging or writing in some form at least 5 days a week. If I want to really get better than this is the only way.

Explore: Pick something about Austin each week to explore. This is obviously also part of the whole blogging thing but some things need to be reinforced or reminded.

Put Myself Out There: Accept invitations. Invite new friends to dinner. Find somewhere to volunteer. Join a book club. Talk to people at yoga. Keep in touch with old and new friends.

Exercise: Find more ways to be outdoor. Do more yoga. Push the limits. Bike more.

Find a gosh darn job.

What are your goals for 2011?