Thursday, June 11, 2009

I found it! I found it!

My higher purpose, that is.  

I kept thinking it was something other than what I am currently doing.  I thought maybe it was that I should be a chef. Or the owner of a juice bar and cafe, serving foods that nourish the body and the soul.  Or was it that I should be more seriously pursuing a living as a doula, supporting mothers as they transition into a new role with the new little spirit who chose them as a guide.  Or maybe I missed my higher purpose when I didn't go to Berklee College of Music. I stop just short of calling it a 'regret' but it is by far the biggest "what if" of my life.  Or maybe its growing spiritually by studying homeopathy.  Or maybe it is that I should be practicing homeopathy and helping others.  So much time pondering, wondering and being open to what it is I am supposed to be doing that serves myself and others in some divine way. Waiting for the light to shine and show me the way to my path of service. So much time has been spent trying this and that and then feeling like I wasn't doing enough, like I should be doing more or something different.

And then yesterday, I found it.  In one not-so-extravagant moment, it occurred to me.  I am already doing it.   I am blessed to be able to stay home and guide my child and help him grow. I am lucky enough to be here to create a home we can all enjoy, which sounds esoteric but is in reality laundry, meal preparation, errands and other various and sundry household activities.  I am the reason my husband can go out into the world and earn a living as much as he is the reason I am able to stay home and nurture our child.  I can't believe I wasted so much time, energy and money trying to find something that was right under my nose.  I am a mother. I am a wife. I am a thousand different things everyday.  And when I am not distracted by trying to find "what I am supposed to be doing,"  I love doing it too. 

So today I let go of things that pull me from this center. As time moves forward, and my family grows, and I evolve,  I expect that my high purpose will evolve too.   But for now, THIS is what I am doing.  It's a welcome relief to stop looking outside for something that is already here. Everything I need, I already have.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Today our Natural Moms group met to tour the Johnston Landfill and Recycling Center.  It was very educational for both the kids and the adults.  The main recycling facility has a learning center with activities for the kids, very children's museum-esque.  After bit of a lecture on recycling we went upstairs to watch the massive quantities of recyclables being picked through, sorted, and packaged up for resale to manufacturers.  Next we went on a bus tour of the landfill, which is an enormous grassy mountain covered in wildflowers. We learned all about how the run off water is filtered, cleaned and then brought back to cool the turbines that process the methane gas which is also captured and burned to generate electricity that supplies both the landfill and the remainder is sold back to the grid.   It was really an amazing facility and process to see as well as to really feel the impact of our consumerist society and the importance of minimizing our waste.  The tour guide did point out that the landfill also feels the effect of the recession because their traffic reflects our economy and how much the consumers are buying both by the amount of trash coming in and the amount of recyclables being bought.

Here were the main take away messages:
1. We all know this one, but please, if you don't already use reusable bags, then start. The single biggest problem for the environment are those stupid plastic bags that are illegal in many forward thinking countries.  I seriously hope our new government heavily taxes their use on the way to a complete ban.  If you do use them, we all forget sometimes or don't have enough, then use them for trash to weigh them down. The landfill has dozens of fences to catch them because the biggest issue they have is those bags flying around everywhere.
2. You can recycle milk and juice cartons but they recycle as an aluminum. (Pretty sure I heard that correctly.)
3. You cannot recycle pizza box bottoms (grease = contamination), soda/frozen food boxes that are shiny. They must go in the trash, or better yet reduce buying them.
4. Only #1 and 2 plastics are recyclable in RI. CT and MA recycle plastics #1-7. RI should start recycling all plastics by 2012.  The state goal is for RI to recycle 70% of its trash.  We are currently at 19% as a state.
5. Reuse as much as you can as often as you can. If it can be reused, pass it along if you have no need. Repair it. Try to reduce your portion of the 375 tons of trash per day (in RI alone!)
6. Compost as much as you can.  Whatever your current trash production for your house is, work on reducing it as much as possible by living life by the three R's as well as by composting.

What surprised me most about this learning expedition was how much Ian understood of it. He was very attentive and can tell you in his own way now what happens to the bottles and boxes he helps us put in our recycling bins.  

RI Resource and Recovery Center
Johnston, RI

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Our Little Garden

Last year we tried a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).  Our closest one was a bit pricey and split their farm shares into three seasons: 6 weeks spring, 12 weeks summer, and 8 weeks fall.  We bought a half share for spring and then a full share for summer.  While the farm was lovely, the people friendly and the produce organic, I was pretty much disappointed with it every week until the last four in August when the tomatoes started coming.   It seemed like every week I got way too much of things I didn't really care about.  Endless weeks of abundant Swiss Chard, which we don't really like. Lots of Kohlrabi that we tried for the first time and while good, got boring. And a good solid 4 weeks of rhubarb, which we don't care for. One strawberry rhubarb pie a season is enough, after that rhubarb is pretty useless to me.   I very much enjoyed hitting the Farmer's Market on Thursdays with Ian as our little ritual. Picking out fresh veggies for our weekend meals.  We would always get a pint of little orange tomatoes to eat on the way home.  Needles to say this year we opted not to join a CSA.  I like to do the choosing and not just getting what I get. 

Ever since we moved to this house we have debated having a garden. I have a notorious black, thumb and don't often grow things of the botanical variety well. I can raise animals, but not plants.  I also don't, as a rule, enjoy nature and getting dirty.  I'm pretty reluctant when it comes to physical labor too.  Evan has long gotten used to daggers that shoot from my eye sockets when he asks me to help him in the yard.  Asking me to help cut down trees or rake the yard sounds about as appealing to me as being asked to clean prison toilets. Give me my deck, some sunglasses, and a beach chair is about how immersed in nature I like to be.  (Note: when I say we are going "camping" what I mean is we are taking an RV with beds, a fully appointed kitchen,  and bathroom to a campground with water, electric, sewer and cable hookups.)

We tried one year to plant some vegetables in pots. They did ok, but pots dry out too fast. At least they could get the right amount of sun.  Another time I planted some tomatoes but they didn't get enough sun and I didn't end up with very many edible tomatoes.  Our house faces east/west and we have very little real estate to the south of our house so finding a good garden spot is a challenge.  

This year I started really putting a lot of energy into daydreaming our garden.  But I quickly talked myself right out of it on a number of occasions.  

This place doesn't get enough sun.
This place over here is too far from the house, I won't tend it.
This place is too close to the front and would be an eye sore.

and then...

Then we need a fence. Should we do raised beds? How do I fertilize? What about the bunnies in our yard?  Then the thought of ALL it would take to make a successful garden sounded like more work than I could handle and I was overwhelmed.

Soon enough I had more reasons than not to stick to a farmers market, but something was nagging at me.  Our house needs a garden to make it really feel like home.  Here is where the essence of my problems in life reared its head.  

Good vs. Perfect 

As Kirsten so often reminds me when needed, I was letting the idea of perfect be the enemy of the good.  

So one beautiful sunny day I was feeling particularly energetic and I picked a spot behind our deck that gets a solid 6-7 hours of sun and decided I would just try a small plot with tomatoes and basil.   Ian and I thoroughly enjoyed picking out our plants and doing our project together.
After about 1 hour of sweat equity, we had cleared a small 3.5 x 7 ' rectangle, delineated it with scrap boards from the garage and planted our tomatoes.  We were both so proud.  It was definitely the highlight of our day.

The next few days, every time I caught a glimpse of our little garden plot I smiled. It was perfect with all its imperfections.  I liked it so much I started thinking I wanted more. Ian heartily agreed. "Cucumbers and parsley,"  he requested.  So we made another plot for cucumbers, parsley, cilantro and red bell peppers.   

And now that we have gone this far, I am already considering quickly adding another one or two beds for squash, cut flowers, and to save some room for cool weather greens.

This whole project has been such fun to do with Ian. I really hope it "works" and we get to enjoy our own fresh vegetables in a couple months. 

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Orange Julius Smoothie

I re-created the mall classic Orange Julius in raw, vegan, processed sugar-free form.  It's my new favorite and it keeps well (actually gets better!) sitting in the fridge so I make a huge batch. It only lasts us about 2 days though.

2 cups of fresh squeezed orange juice
2 oz irish moss (cleaned well, soaked, rinsed, and drained)
1/4 cup of macademia nuts 
2 oranges, peeled
1/2 banana
6 TBSP vanilla water*
2 TBSP agave nectar (to taste) -optional

Blend the irish moss with 1 cup of OJ until smooth and creamy. Then add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.

Vanilla water is 3 fresh (soft) whole vanilla beans blended with 1 cup of water.  I make this up and it lasts me at least a month in the fridge.  You could use vanilla extract or scrape a vanilla bean, but you'd need to experiment with the amounts. I like my Orange Julius very vanilla and I love seeing the little vanilla speckles in it.

I enjoy mine over ice with a straw for an authentic "hanging at the mall when I was 16" experience.