Monday, November 30, 2009

We don't need more stuff!


It is experinces, not things that are important. We all know this yet sometimes we forget this concept. I admit I have. Usually in the rush of activity and the mind-set of keeping up, what I forget is that it is not about getting the most stuff, it is about enjoying what I already have. I know I am preaching to the choir a bit here. Most of the people I know (and love) feel this way too. In fact, I can say there isn't a person that I don't know that wouldn't give me the shirt right off his/her back if I asked for it. That is something to be thankful for. When a person knows more good, kind, helpful people than selfish, negative, mean ones, it's safe to say.......... she is blessed!

Maybe that is why I am looking at things differently now? I am at a place in my life where getting more is no longer appealing, I'm actually going the opposite way. I am trying to figure out how to downsize certain aspects of my lifestyle. I've been reading a lot about frugality, voluntary simplicity and reduction on many levels. Right now I am reading a book called No-Impact Man by Collin Beavan. It is interesting and enlightenting look into Beavan's experiment of seeing what it takes live an environmentally supportive lifestyle. I first saw him on the news a while back. I remember what caught my attention when the clip aired,he and his wife were not using toilet paper! ummmmm hummmmm!!!!!!

I do agree that changes need to be made to make less of an impact on the environment. I do not consider myself an enviornmentalist or a politician for that matter, though I do feel we can make more positive, personal choices. I do not buy into fear and as of yet I don't even know about global warming, there's a lot of conflicting reports out there. Many of the ideas in Beavan's book are inspirational, though for people in the midwest, far from the throes of NYC, it will seem pretty far away, even in theory! His insights do coincide with my desires to pare down and live on less though, that's what I found appealing. I especially like the idea of getting away from processed, packaged food, in addtion to trash reduction it would be much healthier. This would be a huge hurdle for anyone, no matter where you find yourself living.

I believe, like many ideas, it is easer to talk about and read about, yet another feat altogether to live this way. So I do admire him for what he's doing and the positive changes that he and his family are inspiring others to make. If I lived in a large city I would definitely give it a go. In comparison, I am about as far on the opposite end of the spectrum as I could be.

*I don't live in a city~I live in the country, 60 miles round trip from any fancy food joints. My version of fast food is in jar that I canned this summer and set on a shelf.
*I don't have a year-round, fresh food farmer's market that I can go to once a week for my produce, but I do raise my own garden and preserve its bounty.
*We don't have much in the way of entertainment though it can be amusing to watch the horses run up and down the canyon bank, or watch my kids try to figure out how to ride their bikes on our dirt road. There are no outdoor concerts but the moon is beautiful to watch.
*There isn't a Starbucks on my block but I can make make a cup of hot Joe for my old plaid thermos.
*I could ride my bike to get groceries but it may take a while to get there and it will be pretty cold this time of year. A horse might be faster?

Though I am having a little fun here, I have to say that the book has been great in getting me to think about my own habits and the positive changes that I want to make. My goal, becoming more clear each day, is to reduce needless spending, to live within my means and to take care of my family. I am ready to be debt free and live a more self-sufficient lifestyle and changes are needed to bring that through.

Prior to reading this book I found a group called The Compact. The Compact has several aims which include:
"•To go beyond recycling in trying to counteract the negative global environmental and socioeconomic impacts of disposable consumer culture and to support local businesses, farms, etc. -- a step that, we hope, inherits the revolutionary impulse of the Mayflower Compact.
•To reduce clutter and waste in our homes (as in trash Compact-er).
•To simplify our lives (as in Calm-pact)
We've agreed to follow two principles #1 Don't buy new products of any kind (from stores, web sites, etc.)
#2 Borrow, barter, or buy used."

Ok. I joined. There I said it. And again, it is so much easier said than done! I actually thought it would be easy since I don't consider myself much of a shopper. What I wasn't prepared for was seeing all the sale flyers and invitations to buy, buy, buy. I was, quite frankly, shocked at my temptation.

I have realized, after being part of this group for a couple of months now that a total revolution of my spending habits and choices is necessary. Everything is up for review. I have made some personal exceptions because sometimes buying new is necessary and sometimes a better deal can be found. I am seeing the benefits of being a more Conscious Consumer, knowing what I am buying, why I am buying it, where my money is going and how this item will support me down the road.

I've stopped buying holiday decorations, purses, jewelry and shoes so that's a start! I know that I have a serious book addiction and I'm not even strong enough right now to talk about lattes (when I am in town to buy them!) I do know that as we begin another holiday season, I am going into this one with my eyes a bit more open than in previous years. I am intent on spending less in the way of material goods while richly increasing and enhancing my experiences with family and friends. I don't know where this path will lead next but I can say, I am enjoying where it is taking me now!
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Friday, November 27, 2009

It is really quite simple...........

I am at my mom and dad's right now, totally enjoying the slower rhythms that come when I am away from my familiar responsibilities. This is certainly where I come to get away from the world, relax, unwind and recalibrate.

I can't get cell phone service here so my connection with the outerworld is internet. I like it though, my system needs this break. I have been working in ki readings in the quiet times and taking walks on my favorite road. So many memories are here. It doesn't seem like work to pitch in and help either. So last night, when I asked my dad what was on his list for the following day, he said he had to clean out the grain bin. I shared that I would be glad to help. He said he'd pay me. "Sure" I said, "I'll do anything for a little money"! My middle son piped up and said, "Mom loves making money" and the other one said "and she likes to spend it". I never thought of my young children making these observations but obviously they have!

So after helping dad clean out the grain bin, Parker and I went for a walk. "Mom did get paid yet!?" Amused, I shared that I helped Papa because I wanted to, not because I was getting paid to. I knew Papa needed and appreciated the help and it had nothing to do with getting paid.

He looked at me with a puzzled expression. I thought you loved making money?! I do I shared but it is not the most important thing to me. I love you and your siblings and our family and friends more than anything. "Well," asked Parker, "How would we ever make it if we didn't didn't get paid? How would we eat? How would we live. Would we die?!!!!!" (I guess I hadn't thought about it like this?!)

I explained that we use money as a form of exchange to buy things we need and/or want. We do use it to buy our food, clothes and pay for gas so that we can visit our family. It is nice to have money, its good that we can earn it and if we had to, we would be fine without it. "Well if we didn't have money to buy gas, we could just ride our horses" and off he skipped!

I love seeing perspectives through the eyes of a child. Sometimes the things we think are so complicated are really quite simple. If one way isn't working, we can just try another. Sometimes, it IS that easy!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving


It the beginning of a wonderful holiday season. Most of my readers already know that I am not a fan of the cold however, I am a HUGE fan of family, friends, hearth and home! This is one of the most magical times of year to honor those connections and offer thanks for an abundance of blessings.

We're just about ready to hit the road, bags are packed and kids are anxious. I getting ready to record a guided meditation for the Dynamic U class and then we'll be off. I do love to see my family and am really looking forward to those country roads taking me home, though I have to say, I am just as "cozy" right where I am at. Those are words that I never thought I would write! It has taken me nearly 15 years for this area to feel like home to me. I am not sure exactly when the shift took place or if there were any particular scenes that cemented it into my consicousness. It did though and that is what matters!

We'll be away for a few days and then right back here to begin the fantastic holiday preparations. There's so much to do and so much to look forward to! Excitment is in the air! I do belive we'll be fetching a tree by Sunday!

Wishing you a splended, warm and joyous Thanksgiving!
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Monday, November 16, 2009

To All My Angels


Angles. We all have them. Sometimes we see them, sometimes we just notice a feather that has been left on our path. I am certain of their existence.

We all lead busy lives and it is easy to feel separate and isolated. When I get busy, I tend to forget that there are thousands of people, just like me, that are experiencing challenges too. It is easy to focus on all that is going wrong or at least see more of the negative evidence than the positive. Putting things in proper perspective can shift our focus helping us to realize that we are continually supported. Through internet, email and Facebook, we can support others and be supported no matter if we live next door, half-a-state away or in another country! This truly is an amazing time of technological advancement.

Today, I realized just what a supportive tool that FB can be. I took a moment to check emails and surf while waiting for Pryce to eat. My status this morning was about the marathon week that I am experiencing. Let me tell you I could have jumped for JOY when I read the sweet comments of support! I had tears in my eyes (yes I am deeply sentimental!) I felt those pats on the back distantly and it was the boost that I needed to get through the morning of errands, a rental car, and a cranky- stubborn, preschool child! I do believe a few supportive words of encouragement, such simple, authentic gestures are the greatest gifts we can give and receive. Thank you to ALL of my angles today!

Without going into boring details we’ll just say that I covered a lot of ground so far and I have even more to go and its only a little after 9 pm. I’ve played many roles today, some that I love and some that I loathe. I have two piles of laundry that have been successfully ignored and a stack of papers and mail that are about to consume my once spacious kitchen desk. I am continually amazed how some weeks appear to be wide open and the next I can’t pack one more to-do in if I tried! That’s the ebb and flow of life and so I fully embrace it!

Tomorrow is a full day at the computer. On-line coaching, newsletter writing, cooking, laundry, desk work, bill paying, organizing just to name a few to-dos. We’ll be drawing for the Bag It winner too. (I have a helper who is very excited to pick out that name.)

So for all of you supporting me, I send a big hug your way! Thank you for the reminder that the best things in life aren’t things, they are people! No matter how busy we think we are or how much we have to do, we can set it all aside and really be someone's angel today. We are ALL blessed and we are ALL a blessing for others.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Day in the Kitchen


runza fixings!


finished product!


homemade pretzels


Apple Streusel

Yesterday was a productive and exhausting day. I am learning to consolidate my time in the kitchen by making double batches of everything. In the end, the results are worth it but during the process I do wonder! During the runza making, I chopped extra cabbage and onions so the next time will go a bit faster. I browned four pounds of hamburger and set out another one to thaw for salisbury steaks tomorrow night. A friend gave us some carrots from her garden so with that and sqaush we raised, we'll be set for the next couple of meals. (I am getting better at this thinking ahead thing, still not an A, just right at B+!) I did have to stop in the middle of the process to clean up the kitchen and do dishes as the counter space was completely covered. Took a slight break to watch the Huskers and then returned to make the Struesel and pretzels. I went to bed totally exhausted and thrilled that I didn't have to cook today. Chad treated us with a with Sunday dinner out. We ran some errands and did some Christmas present scouting. We're going to try to make as many gifts as we can; I come up with the ideas, he puts his skills to use! He can make just about anything, the challenge for him is time. Funny I can make the time, I don't always have the necessary skills. I guess we do make a pretty good team!
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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Bag It!


I don't consider myself to be overly crafty. I am always on the lookout for great ideas and I can whip out a few easy crafts but I know my limitations. If I am going to make something it HAS to be easy and I prefer that it not involve a lot of precise measurements or sewing (although I do want to learn how to operate a sewing machine!)

One look in my closet will tell you that I am a recovering purse and shoe addict.I have enough that I will never wear out what I already have and have enough that I can continue to switch through the seasons. Part of my purse swtiching was based on the fact that none lived up to my standards. I want a purse with lots of compartments to easily find phone, itouch, lip balm, sunglasses, keys, etc. Though I has sworn of any further purse purchases,a search turned up a Haiku to-go bag. It met my list of requirements of more than adequate space, plenty of pockets, durable, stylish and not too heavy. I've used my Haiku bag daily since June. No other purse has stayed with me this long! Its a keeper.

In addition to a good purse, I usually walk out the door with a larger bag. This is essential for hauling around the necessities that come with having children. On any given outing I pack a camera, tissues, water, food/snacks, reading material, gloves, caps, sunscreen toys and always one or two stuffed animals for my daughter. We live pretty far away from conveniences so I like to be prepared. This spring when I came across a DIY bag making book I was hooked. Though most of the patterns are advanced for my simple skills, there is one that I managed to knock out and after three trials I am starting to get the hang of it!

The picture above is my latest creation. I always seem to have a steady supply of old t-shirts around. I wasn't wearing this one any more and as you can tell, its made a lovely bag. A little duct tape and staples were the only other materials used! (This is my kind of craft!) I've tested them out and amazingly enough, they seem to be quite sturdy; I've hauled my lunch, taken supplies to the caynon on horse back and used it as an overnight bag.

I come up with a Christmas Craft every year, something simple, fun and (hopefully) non-tacky! I spot ideas that I most like and the winner is made into several versions for friends. Previous winners were placemat organizers, fork recipie holders, wire ornaments, and welcome signs to name a few.

Would you like a t-shirt bag? I'll host a drawing for anyone that reads this! Send me a short description of your favorite Christmas craft, either that you make or that you've received. I'll put the names in a hat and let Pryce choose one and we'll whip up a bag just for you. We can provide the t-shirt of if you have one that you really love send it my way and I'll "bag it" for you!
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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Robyn's Requirements for Gift Giving


That's 8. Count 'em 8 catalogues in the mail today. Ok. The one in the middle is PSN. It got mixed up with the Land's End selection that was promptly tossed to the side to capture this moment in history. But still?!

I belive the season has arrived. The question is are we buying into this part of it? My personal quest this year has become to buy intentionally. That means my requirements for gifting are as follows: 1. It has to be thoughtful and meaningful to the person that I am buying it for 2. It has to in some way fill a need/use. I have been know to buy beer and it was well received. And yes, books count, especially when buying for younger children~they NEED to learn to read! 3. It should be fitting and something the receiver will enjoy. For example don't make a scarf just because you can and send it to a cousin living in Hawaii! 4. It has to be Non-tacky (and we should add non-toxic, so maybe the beer is out this year?) Everyone knows what gifts I am talking about here! I love sincere gifts, even if it is a simple kiss and a hug! As bad as it sounds, I'd rather go without than receive something just because someone felt obligated to buy for me. 5. Ideally it should be a reasonable price. It probably would be if I started my shoppoing early in the year. I have a few gifts found, not all though. My ideal would be to done in July. Is that too early?!

I am all about a good deal but I am so tired of receiving coupons for "free shipping with any $50 purchase". Please. I have no intention of spending $10 (unless you are Prarie Berry Winery.......I welcome your wonderful little note cards and just wished I lived closer). In my effort to tightent the purse straps I am becoming keenly aware of marketing strategies to get me in a store where I will somehow loose consciousness and blow my budget. Nope. Not this year. Sorry for all the folks whose name I drew! Don't worry though, with the aforementioned requirements, I assure you that the gift you receive will have been researched, searched for deliberately, pondered, prayed over, and purchased with love. It may not have a name brand but you can bet it was hand-selected or hand-made just for you.

And just out of curiousity............what is the tackiest gift you've received?
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Something About That Glow


One of my favorite rituals this time of year is to light my oil lamps. Though it is a small flicker it reminds me of summer campfires, past and future. The days are cooler and nights are certainly coming sooner. Lamp lighting marks my official retreat, a turning inward. I LOVE summer. I love hot days and warm night. I think I could sit by the light of a campfire every night and still feel an appreciation for those flames, the crackling and popping and delicious wood smell.

I know a lot of people are talking about the economy, saving money, cutting energy expenses, "greening their homes and cars." I'm happy to do my part. I recycle, I try to be consicous about what I am buying and where. I shut off lights when I am not in a room. I am a chronic "un-plugger" and very committed to living a simple happy life. I also appreciate luxury of modern appliances like the fridge, washing machine, diswashwer and vacuume cleaner. Let's not forget the convenience of running (hot) water and indoor plumping! I use oil lamps not because I have to, or because it may cut down on electricity I use them simply because there is something magical and deeply comfortable about that glow.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Is it Going To Get Worse?


Yesterday while running my marathon of errands in town, I heard an interesting comment. In my effort to shop locally I am distributing my wealth in as many locations as I can rather than just that one stop-convenience place that has a ton of cars in its parking lot and even longer lines!

I don’t mind this place early in the morning, I even have some friends that work there but I am really clear that I want to support those in my community first. This is a matter of choice over convenience. Sometimes it requires willingness to make several stops, to enjoy the journey not just the feat of getting everything found, bought, loaded and unpacked at home.

So back to the comment: in this store that shall remain nameless, one very sweet employee shared that the Halloween isle was 90% off! I only came to this store to grab a package of name brand yeast that I had a coupon for and flavored coffee. Two things,that was it. Of coarse I was curious so I checked it out. What I saw surprised me. It was as if nothing had been touched! The isle was full of trick-or-treat goods. As I was looking around, the only other shopper in the isle said, “It must be going to be really bad if no one is out here buying this stuff.” Lightening Bolt!

Her comment zapped my attention and like it does in movies where the screen zeros in on a frozen second in time, my thoughts ceased. There was no panic, no fear it was simply an observation. Hummmm.

And so the questions is here? Do others think things are going to get really bad? What will happen if they do? My initiall thought was would be so bad if people aren’t spending money on useless Halloween items that are made so cheaply that they’ll last for a few sword fighting sessions and then end up in the dump? Would it be bad if we were to go back to our roots, doing and making more things for ourselves and our families? Would it be so bad if we spent quality time instead of money? Could we be more cre8tive with our lifestyle and entertainment choices and ways of meeting our needs? What if we were “forced” to change our ways and spend less? Silly question that one is, huh? I guess the difference for me is that I’ve always looked at where I am as a matter of choice not because I feel that someone or something placed me in this situation. I don't blame the economy or anyone in it. I am where I am due to the past choices that I've made. If I don't like how things are, then it is up to me to change that. Blame does nothing.

My income varies anyway but I can tell there’s been a drastic reduction in the number of clients that contact me. As a Licensed Spiritual Health Coach, I am in the business of helping others find their way. The exchange for my services, insight and guidance is secondary to the amount of disposable income that someone feels he/she has. I am deeply grateful that there are people who value what I offer and are willing to make that exchange. The work we do together creates a vital foundation for getting through rough times such as the one we are already in. I encourage everyone to look at what is being presented to us as a choice, an invitation.

Our parents, grandparents and previous generations knew how to survive. I believe that we are here to take it one step further not only survive but to thrive! Countless men and women have made sacrifices on our behalf. Faces and names we’ll never know personally. Yet the foundation of truth, hope and peace are still present. Perhaps this is a time of redefining our values and our goals. This has certainly been the case in my family. We've deleted a lot but instead of feeling deprived and lacking we feel abundantly blessed. We don’t look at all we’ve given up instead we look at how much we already have in front of us.

So what if we are headed for leaner times? What does that really mean for us? If we are connected to our truth and we still have the freedom to choose, it may just be ok. What some of us forget is that there is and always has been a natural ebb and flow. Nothing stays the same, it’s impossible. The bad times may not last if we can change how we look at uncomfortable situations. Yes, we know it can always get worse but it does go the other way too, things can always get better! Good times and good things can arise out of adversity. We have the power to change. We just have to remember it!

Did I buy useless Halloween items? I’d love to report that I just walked about but gosh, who can refuse a cute shirt for an adorable little girl for a buck? I paid 25 cents so that each kid could have his/her own pumpkin carver, threw in another 50 cents for leopard headband, tie and tail (bb game mascot and future costume) and 25 cents for face paint that can be cre8tively pulled out when we get a little bored this winter (remember we don't have cable!) Who knows, maybe I saved a few of these items from an early landfill death? By the way, does anyone know where the excess stuff goes when it doesn’t sell for 90% off? I’d love to know!
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Monday, November 9, 2009

Note To Self


Well this pretty much sums up my evening! If there were a place where I could have plucked my head in the ground I just may have. We had a full afternoon of back-to-back appointments which, by myself would have probably have gone off without a hitch. However, I had my three wonderful children along and they were hungry. I had a fleeting thought that I should pack some snacks but alas, I did not! I didn't take the time and just passed the idea with "oh we'll just grab something in town." Wrong, very wrong. In the summer time we seldom leave the house without a snack bag, but its fall, and I'm out of practice.

I am not a huge McDonalds fan, that's no secret. It doesn't mean that I don't occassionally pull in to grab something quick, but it is always against my better judgment and this is supported because I rarely leave the drive through in a speedy manner or with all the items that I ordered. I've lost count of how many times this has happened. Today I learned a major lesson. We sat in line for a very long time. I ordered and then silence. No explanation of what happend, here's your order here's the total, please full forward. Silence for an unreasonable amount of I pulled ahead. Ok. I get it. Thanks Universe, fast food isn't always fast, especially when I am in a hurry! I don't blame anyone; not the girl with the blank look that answered now when I pulled up and asked if she got my order, not the kid at the next window that asked me to pull forward it would only be about 10 more minutes to get those nuggest out. I asked for my money back.

I was frustated but I got it. I needed to listen to that little voice and pay attention to it. I should have packed a lunch! I sometimes rely on the convenience of a drive through when I'm in town, even though I had food at home. I don't have a drive through in the canyon, I take food and drink for everyone! I learned something here tonight; if we leave the house for more than two hours, we need to have backup beverages and treats! Since this was a teachable moment, I clued the kids in too, they just as well help me remember. A team effort will go far. Had we gone to the grocery store we could have possibly spent a load!

Had I listened to this simple insight, we would have had enough time to have a little car picnic and would have had healthier options. It would have saved us from sitting in a drive through for nearly 30 minutes and still have nothing to eat! The kids were troopers I tell you. They did not whine at all as they waited for Pake's apointment. I was very proud of them.

My patience has been fully tested today and though I completely feel like exploding I haven't. My head is still on my shoulders so that is good news. We had a bit of a melt-down on the way home when Pryce realized Shamu had been left behind, though we hope to recover on the next town trip. Nights like this it is easy feel like a tattered leaf trying to hold on to a tree. I feel stretched trying to meet the needs of three beautiful beings, each with his/her own needs and styles. Diversity is nice sometimes not convenient for one tired mother! Tonight was not comfortable but it was a teachable moment. I hope I modeled the importance of listening to one's inner wisdom and how we can look at challenges as opportunites to change. We'll definitely be packing food with us next time!

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

"Green Decorating"



I have a strong love for decorating. I’m pretty sure it’s genetic. I remember my Mom Grandma Ruth and decorating their homes in accordance to the season. This is possibly what led me to discover Feng Shui (the art of placement) nearly 10 years ago. This philosophy has done great things in my life and I’d like to hope in those of my clients as well.

The premise of this concept is to create a balance, harmony and wholeness in every environment. Clutter is simply not part of that equation, though very few homes escape it! When we began our home transformation last year, I had no idea the amount of clutter that we housed. Its very easy to toss it in a room, storage container or some other out-of-sight-out-of-mind location (my kids prefer the dark zone between their bed and the floor!) I’ve become keenly aware of how easy it is to collect too. One has to keep a very watchful eye otherwise those empty spaces are ready to breed and multiply again (toys are the worst!)

This year, I set a clear goal for myself, no holiday decorations no matter how cute or how fun they appeared in the store. Oh, and nothing PLASTIC! I’ve tightened the strings and changed the ropes on the way I do a lot of things. Everything from my shopping/spending habits have been up for review, everything. The tendency to buy, buy, buy is always present and I am learning not to act on it!

In my personal war against useless spending, I’ve counted a major coup! The only store-bought decoration item brought into our home this fall was…………….ribbon. Drum roll please! I incorporated the “use what you already have” with a few natural pieces gleaned from the outdoors; my favorite new item………milkweed pods! The gourds, pumpkins and cornstalks came out of our garden.

The best thing about these decorative items is that when we done all I’ll do is roll up the ribbon to use next year. We’ll then eat the pumpkins, make the gourds into candleholders compost the corn stalks and viola………..we’re done!

What creative decorations are in your home this season? I’d love to hear about them

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