Monday, May 30, 2016
I dare say that being a minimalist as a single person is much, much easier than following this path as a parent. Granted, parents set the tone in the household. But kids? They aren't "there" yet. They don't understand what having "too many toys," means. That's where our adult "wisdom" comes in. Our little one is obsessed with acquiring. I'm not sure where she gets it from because both my husband and I aren't much for compulsive shopping or anything. But, she absolutely loves new shiny toys. Then again, what kid doesn't? Right? Am I a complete stickler that won't buy her anything? No. Absolutely not. I just simply set rules. When we go to the toy store (a really nifty and affordable consignment toy store up the street from us), she's allowed no more than 2 toys. The catch? She must donate 2 toys from home to children who don't have any toys. As soon as we get home, she must choose 2 toys she no longer plays with and put them in bags. Those bags go in my car and the 2 "new" toys can come in. We then go together to the nearby Salvation Army and donate her old toys. The rule is simple. If you bring something in, it's going to cost you something. In other words... for every item you let in the house, you MUST dispose of something else. Of course, this summer we will be purging a lot! And NO, I will not be replacing what we purge! But, the idea is to set the tone, debrief them on the rules, explain the reason and logic behind it and then watch your kids treat it as absolute musts. Our little one sticks to the 1 or 2 "new" toy rule like it's a religion. She does not even dare ask for a third. She doesn't know she can! It's simply... 1 or 2 and that's that. When it comes to price? I set the same standard. This is how much we have to spend. If the toy falls within the price range, we get it. If not, we don't. Sometimes she wins, sometimes she doesn't. But, she's okay every time. Why? Because rules are rules. Believe it or not... kids thrive on structure. I teach teenagers. Over the years, my kids are the happiest in classrooms that have structure and consistency with the rules. They go crazy and act out in those classrooms in which the teacher is their "friend," and throws rules out the window. Works very much the same with parenting.
So, plant a seed of boundaries in your children when it comes to acquiring. Of course, the most important seed is to teach them that "stuff" doesn't validate our existence. "Stuff" comes and goes. We should not get attached. Generosity should come easily. But, children learn from our very own actions a lot more than they do our commands. BE the example. Let's give our stuff away alongside theirs. Then they will see rules in action and that will make all the difference.
Wednesday, May 25, 2016
Being outside. Something that is so easily accessible to most of us, but also something we, unfortunately, take for granted and don't often take advantage of. This past week, my hubby's truck gave out and he had to take my car to work. Thus, my little munchkin and I walked to work. It's only a 2 1/2 block walk, which translates into only about 9 minutes. But, let me tell ya, it was awesome. She loved it. I loved it. It was wonderful. Typically our drive to school/work (I work where she attends school) is literally ONE minute. So, we lose that conversation time. But, with our walk... we talked and talked and talked. It was just awesome. All meanwhile enjoying the beauty of the outside. In fact, we loved it so much, we plan to continue walking, even though we I got my car back. Less of a carbon footprint, more family time, more time outside. It's a win-win. When's the last time you walked somewhere and skipped out on the car? Have a beautiful Wednesday!
Monday, May 23, 2016
Community. So often many of us are in our little bubble of home to work and work to home. We rarely get out into our own community and discover the beauty that is in our very own backyard. We also become so self-involved that we neglect to see the needs of our community. We fail to make connections with our community. How can we go about doing so? Join volunteer organizations, become more active in your local church or attend a community event, such as the Indie Flea in Tampa, which supports local makers and vendors. Another way to become part of your community is to shop locally and visit weekend farmer's markets.
Let's get out there this weekend and get connected. I promise you, it's worth it and rewarding.
Monday, May 16, 2016
In 2006 I made a life changing decision to go vegetarian. At the time I did it solely for animal rights and nothing more. For a few years between 2008 and now, I deviated from vegetarianism where I would eat meat when out and about, if offered at parties and such. However, years later I decided to truly stick to what I fundamentally believe and take the next step and go vegan. People always wonder the "why" of my decision. They all suddenly become quite concerned for my health and immediately jump into all of the usual questions vegans get... "Where do you get your protein?," "Is that healthy for you?," "You'll be nutrient deficient!" and on and on. My answer is typically, "don't worry. I'm okay." Below are the top 10 reasons why I choose a compassionate diet and lifestyle. This is not meant to look down on anyone else's diet. But, simply as a seed of thought to give people something to ponder on.
1. It's healthy for my body. Our bodies are not built to digest animal products, but rather, plants. The top fifteen killers in the United States are all linked to the consumption of animal products. Watch more about that here.
2. It's great for the environment. The water consumption and land degradation involved in raising and feeding livestock is outrageous and completely unnecessary. More on that topic... here.
3. It contributes to minimizing world hunger. There IS enough grain in the world to comfortably feed over 9 billion people. With only 7 billion inhabitants currently, nobody should be going hungry. But, because most of that grain is being used to feed livestock, it is detoured from human consumption to animal consumption and that is just wrong and sad. More information here.
4. I believe that all living beings deserve love, compassion and respect. Animals are not ours to mistreat or eat. Rather, we are to care for them. Read up on how these animals are treated... here.
5. I say no to dairy and eggs. Why? Because drinking the milk of another species is simply twisted to me. Plus... dairy contains small quantities of pus. Eeew. In addition to that? Milk consumption actually takes calcium away from our bodies and not the other way around, as we have been repeatedly taught by the dairy industry controlled media. More on that... here. In fact, plenty of vegan options provide the calcium our bodies need. Look here. And eggs? Well... eggs are the unfertilized eggs of hens. In other words? It's their period. That's just disgusting. More on that... here.
6. You think free-range is okay? Think again. It's not much different. More on that here.
7. Animal products are NOT the only sources of protein... nor the best. Here are plenty of vegan options that give our bodies the protein without the animal cruelty. Besides, animal products contain protein because they are fed a plant based diet. Why not cut out the "middleman" and go straight to the protein source? Makes sense to me.
8. My body was not created to be a graveyard for other living beings.
9. Before I hear the argument that plants are sentient beings... let me assure you that they are not. They do not have a brain or a nervous system with which to feel.
10. If there is an alternative way for us to get all the nutrients we need that excludes animal suffering, pain, cruelty and exploitation... then why not do it?
As one of my favorite YouTubers always say... "Being vegan is not the most we can do, it's the least we can do." Check out That Vegan Couple for awesome videos on this topic.
I also recommend you watch the following YouTube video for an outstanding speech on this topic... click here.
Hopefully these resources will answer any curiosity you may have when meeting a vegan. They'll appreciate your open mind and knowledge on their way of life. If you choose to remain consuming animal products after knowing the facts, then you are at the very least an informed meat eater. But, there's nothing worse than someone judging someone else and not understanding the facts. Ignorance is not bliss. At least not for our Earth, the animals or the people currently suffering from world hunger.
Thanks for reading!
Friday, May 13, 2016
In the past two months I've had trouble practicing what I preach. I write about living simply and we definitely do that as a family. But, I've been guilty of over scheduling myself in the past couple of months. Yesterday, my body and mind had finally "had it." Although all of the activities I'm involved in are fun and enjoyable, sometimes, too much is just too much. My body aches and my head feels just plain ole' tired. What to do... what to do? Pause. Look around and step back. This is precisely what I did last night to calm my nerves and it worked like a charm. Yes. I shouldn't have committed myself to so many different things. However, if we didn't live simply, I wouldn't even be able to be a part of so many wonderful activities. And so... my thought today? Instead of feeling overwhelmed, let me learn from this, understand my limits and enjoy the blessings. Let me just... pause. Have a lovely weekend everyone.
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
A lifestyle of minimalism encompasses every aspect of life. From what we eat in the morning to the products we purchase for everyday use. The goal of a minimalist lifestyle is to leave as little of a carbon footprint upon our earth, whilst causing the least harm to other living beings, meanwhile resulting in a simple and peaceful existence. Yes. Eat clean and simple. Dress simply. Create and live in a simple space. Shop simply and based on need. Be a mindful shopper and purchase items that are cruelty-free and fairly traded. Spend time doing that which matters most. Prioritize.
It really is that simple. Let's take a look at our lives with a keen eye today. Where can we improve? Where can we make a mindful change? Could we switch our cleaning products to those that are environmentally sound and cruelty-free? Could we purchase more fruits and vegetables this week and actually consume them? Could we take our own cloth bags to the grocery store instead of consuming harmful plastic bags? It's simply a matter of leaving an imprint in this world that sends a message of love and kindness. Love for ourselves, each other, other beings and our planet. Let's stay mindful.
Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Life can be so insanely fast paced at times that we forget to just stop and "smell the roses," as they say. Truth is, happiness, joy and peace are all tucked into the little details of our daily lives. It's in the hug our child gives us in the morning or the tug-of-war game we play with our dog. It's in the early morning sunshine and the smell of honeydew in the air. It's those little things we fail to notice because we're in such a hurry to get to the next thing.
Let's stop today and notice the details.
Monday, May 2, 2016
How many of us have looked through old pictures and, in that moment, re-lived a past experience through our memories? I'd dare say, most of us have done this. It's natural to look back on a "freer" time with nostalgia and wish we could re-live a particular day or moment for just an instance. But, how destructive is this pattern of behavior when we indulge in it day after day? I understand "destructive" is a powerful word. But, let's ponder it for a moment. If what we're re-living is a past relationship... what effect does it have on our current one? If we're re-living our younger years, what does that do to our current view of ourselves? If we're re-living a previous career, what does that, in turn, do to our current one? It's destructive because it takes attention away from the "now," and directs it to the "non-existent" past. It nurtures a past (person, self, career, etc...) that no longer exists and neglects the current one that sits right in front of us. In other words, it isn't fair to our present.
Hanging on to clutter is just a physical way that we do this. We hang on to that old love letter because it takes us back to a first love. Or perhaps we hang on to our old work papers because it reminds us of our last job. Maybe we're hanging on to old running shoes because it brings back memories of a younger, more active us.
Whatever it is we're hanging on to today for the sake of "memories," let's let them go. Let us make memories right now and enjoy each and every second of them. For this moment will become the memory of tomorrow. Do we want to look back with love or with regret? Let's make today count.