Starting Over – Letting Go of the Shame

Everyone is doing the best they can with what they know, and we are all here to learn and grow.
— Alaric Hutchinson, Living Peace
***
A couple of years ago I was feeling very passionate about helping the planet. Diving straight in, I attempted to produce as little trash as possible. I would regularly drive with my mom up to Fort Collins, CO to hit up stores so that I could get certain unpackaged products. I even attempted to get cheese and meat put into jars. Didn’t happen.
***
I had become friends with a woman at a cheese counter and had told her about my aspirations on living Zero Waste, which is basically to refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle or rot anything you can to avoid throwing it away. By now I had purchased a few items like mason jars, cloth bags, reusable cotton rounds to remove makeup, some hankies, a bamboo toothbrush. I had also scouted out some bulk bins. I had seen founders of the Zero Waste movement fitting several years’ worth of trash in a single jar! I figured, if they can do it, I can do it; but I missed that they had to go through the same process that any newbie has to go through. It takes time to learn, to find resources, to acquire a few necessary tools, and to start a few new habits.
***
I had attempted to change everything at once. In the end, this made me resent such a radical life-change. A radical change leaves no time to adjust to new habits. So I gave up and went straight back to what I had always done and hardly tried for 2 years!!! Sheesh. Talk about all or nothing! I felt an immense amount of guilt and shame. I had announced to people my intentions and now I had given up. I’ve felt so guilty that I avoid the cheese lady like the plague when I go to that particular store. I’ve purposefully avoided the cheese counter, and when I see the her throughout the store, I’ve even dodged between isles, hoping she didn’t see me! Don’t get me wrong, she has always been super sweet and kind, but this experience has taught me what deep shame can do to a person.
***
You will never find shame or blame on this blog, only encouragement to do what you can. If you already know how to recycle and just haven’t gotten around to it, start there. If all you do for now is refuse a straw at a restaurant, great!
***
“Everyone is doing the best they can with what they know, and we are all here to learn and grow.”
***
Note to self:
  • It’s ok to go slowly. Be kind to yourself. Anything you do is awesome. Be DANG PROUD of any little thing you do! This experience has been the inspiration for my blog, to show others the little steps it takes to create less waste. Living sustainably can to be sustainable for you. It is entirely possible for almost everyone in the world to significantly lower their footprint, but it takes a little time.
  • Let go of the shame and go talk to the cheese lady.

Small Stones

“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.”
-Confucius
***
    This time of year inspires varied reactions. Some people feel inspired to, once again, take a shot at changing their life. Others may feel that it is a hopeless pursuit. Still others could care less about resolving something new. This may stem from the fact that many people think they need to do something grandiose or radical.
***
    Personally, I never give up the opportunity to write a new goal – especially during a time of new beginnings. New seasons, new years, birthdays are all ideal times to recreate ourselves. Having new projects or habits keeps us excited about life! It keeps us in wonder mode. It’s fascinating to think, what would happen if I actually stuck to something new? How would my life be different?
***
    Almost two years ago I was fed up! I had been struggling to do my dishes. I was in the habit of leaving my dishes on the counter for days until I had no dishes left. I was miserable and my house looked like a pothole. I had finally had enough and decided that I was NOT going to have this problem the rest of my life! So I decided to create a note page on my computer to begin tracking my daily dish routine. A month later, my mom decided to do the same. My first goal was to hit 67 days – no misses! – because I had read that it actually takes 67 days to create a new habit. The day I started was exactly 679 days ago and I haven’t missed a single day. Every dish is washed before I hit the sack. I don’t ever give myself the luxury of a day off. (Habits are powerful, but fragile.) Such a simple change has dramatically changed my life. On the nights when doing the dishes feels impossible, it’s become a joke between my mom and I to say, “its ok, we’re building character.”
***
    One lesson I’ve learned from experimenting with habits (and reading lots of books) is to make habit goals – not ending goals. For example, instead of making a goal to lose 20 pounds this year, make a habit of exercising for 10 minutes every morning. Unfortunately, you are not in control of whether your body will let go of the fat or not. What you are in control of is your choices. Choosing to create a new habit that works toward your goal, makes you less likely to give up when you don’ t reach a certain milestone because you have instead made your focus to build a healthy habit.
***
    A few keys I’ve found to changing a habit is to keep it simple, make it specifictrack it, and only work on ONE new habit at a time. It is honestly not crazy to work on just one new habit for 6 months or an entire year. Also, pick habits that are worth doing for the rest of your life. Don’t waste your time on temporary habits – make it for life!
***
    My personal New Years resolution is to get up at 6:00 every day, which is just 30 minutes earlier than normal, to write about things I care about. At this time, my writing will be for Honey&Loam where I’ll be tracking my journey to simpler and more sustainable living; but at some point, it may be for a book or just for personal reflection. No pressure, everything I write doesn’t have to be life changing. Just write. I would encourage you to create a New Year’s resolution. What better time to make a change?
***
What would your life look like in a year if you stuck to it? How might your life be different when you are 80 if you stuck to it?
***