Sunday, December 20, 2009

Reminder and Farewell

All, don't forget to go and lend some money at How cool it is to have an opportunity to help global brothers and sisters become self-sustaining!

On a separate note, I have decided to stop writing this blog after 5+ years. It's been a blast and given me a much needed outlet for my writing and thoughts. However, for several months, I have felt called to start a new blog focused on living simply and how we might be able to end poverty if we all take only our share and relearn what it means to have enough. As such, I have decided to stop writing here.

If you are a friend/family, I'll see you on Facebook. If I don't know you, but you enjoy my writing, please follow my new blog here:

Have a blessed and relaxing holiday! Remember those who have less than you and keep your friends and family near.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Blog with Heart

I was thrilled to read a post on this afternoon with the title "How We Can Help Alleviate World Poverty in Three Easy Steps." As you know, this topic is near and dear to my heart. In fact, the topic of this blog is slowly morphing into living simply so others can have enough. It's a simple concept, really.

Anyway, the blog post mentioned the "Blog with Heart" challenge, which is a great opportunity to lend a helping hand. This is a challenge to blog communities to lend money though during the month of December. You may recall that I tried this micro lending site out back in September.

So, of course I'll be one of the first to jump on the bandwagon. Go to the tablog team and lend a hand to an entrepreneur in need:

Note: Picture courtesy of Agnieszka Bialobrzeska at stock.xchng.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Reflections on My Internet Fast

As you may or may not know, I took the month of October off from the Internet. Well, not completely off, of course. It would be hard to do my job otherwise. I also allowed activities like getting directions, checking email (on occasion), paying bills, and looking up vital information (like how to toast pumpkin seeds).

But I didn't write blog posts, read blogs or other articles, participate in any form of social networking, or shop online.

The motivation: more time, less stress, and just to get away.

I have to say, I didn't miss it a bit. Well, I missed writing, but that was about it. I had some good blog post ideas in October, but I just let them go. Productivity was fantastic. Think about it...

You get to work early (to get things done) and turn on the computer. What is the first thing you do? Work? Probably not. You likely glance at the news headlines, and potentially get sidetracked into an interesting story. You then move on to email where you find a dozen notifications from Facebook, which leads you to that time-sucking site. You see an update from an old friend and go to her profile to see what else is going on in her world and who her friends are. You see a common acquaintance who is not yet your friend, so you send a friend request. Before you know it, it's 9 o'clock, time for your first meeting of the morning and your day is shot.

During my Internet fast, my morning started with my MITs (most important tasks) and allowed me to feel good about my accomplishments by the time 9 AM rolled around. I'm trying hard to maintain this discipline.

I also enjoyed being disconnected for a while. Checking Facebook, especially, can become quite addictive. It's not like I was on there all the time before the fast, but I felt like it was almost a duty to check in several times a day. What if somebody had a baby? What if a good friend was sick? What if, what if, what if...? Like Facebook is now the only socially acceptable form of communication?

The best part was that friends really appreciated what I was doing. Almost like, "wow, I wish I could do that..." Well, you can. It's pretty easy. Even now, 14 days into the world of Internet again, I find myself not using it at all as much. I check personal email once a day. I check Facebook when I feel like it and not out of some weird 21st century cyber duty. I read blog posts when I see a title that looks really, really intriguing, maybe one or two daily.

My fast allowed me to detach from the Internet and find out that it is okay. The world will not end if I don't show up on Twitter for a month (or two).


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What Needs to Happen to Save our Planet?

As I was going through my notebooks this morning, making sure that I had captured all my "todos" in a safe place (aka OneNote), I found a page that I had written a while back.

It was titled: "What needs to happen in order to save the planet?"

I am certainly no expert in the field of "Earth Saving," but I do ponder this topic a lot. Our planet is in real danger. We have abused it to no end over the past several hundred years. Things need to change and we know what changes are needed. Yet, we fail to take the steps to make it happen.

So, with no further ado, here is the list from my notebook:

  • Americans & Europeans need to stop taking more than their share. (This includes housing, transportation, stuff, food, etc)
  • Stop making poor-quality products that end up in landfills.
  • Manufacturers must be held responsible for the recycling of their products.
  • Organic farming must become the norm. (I would add that we should go back to eating local and seasonal food.)
  • Create sustainable villages where people can bike and walk. (and work!)

I think this is a good start. If we did the above, the planet (and its inhabitants) would have a fighting chance.

Want to help?

  • Buy only what you need. (This year, I started with clothes... It has been liberating indeed.)
  • Reward manufacturers of high-quality, low impact products.
  • Eat organic/local/seasonal and cut down on meat.
  • Live within walking/biking distance to work/shops/dining.

If this sounds hard and boring, it isn't. It's actually quite a fun adventure to figure out how to live sustainably. And it's amazing to discover how little you really need. Make one small change today, another tomorrow, and pass it on. We need to change our ways to save planet Earth.

It's the only home we've got...

Note: Picture courtesy of Horton Group at stock.xchng.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

IKEA and Thoughts on Cheap Food

I visited IKEA, Shaumberg, IL today. We arrived right around lunch time and headed straight for the restaurant. Todd was excited about meatballs. I was excited about dessert (since I'm not eating meat this year). We marveled over the cheapness of the food ($15 for the two of us) and wondered (once again) how they manage to keep it so cheap. Knowing IKEA's "socially responsible" take on things, I fervently hoped that the beef in the meatballs came from "happy cows" and that my salmon had been caught in the wild (and especially not raised on corn). However, one can never be sure...

So what is a closet food activist to do? Never eat out? Eat only at "Certified Green" restaurants? (Guess how many there are in Wisconsin... One: Cafe Manna)

Well, at least one can try to avoid cheap food (unless it's at IKEA...). Cheap means highly subsidised which means big company which means industrial which means hidden costs. Let's take a McDonald's burger... Imagine the energy and water that was required to produce that burger. Think about the health care costs we incur to treat people who've had one to many burgers and now suffer from diabetes and heart problems. And what about the salaries of the people serving the food so that you can have a $4.00 Big Mac? Not enough to make it above the official poverty line... Cheap food doesn't work.

A complimentary strategy is to support grocery stores and restaurants that are socially conscious and buy local food and meat from farmers who treat their animals humanely. CSAs are another good option for supporting local agriculture.

It's not going to be cheap up front, but you will feel good about putting your money where you're heart is. In addition, your money will help stop the insanity of the cheap food and hidden costs which ultimately ends up costing society more than if we had just stuck with the original small-scale, sustainable, local food economy.

Eat like food matters.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Sugar Addiction

Sugar makes my stomach hurt... Why, oh why did I have that piece of cake? (Because it was in the hallway and I am addicted to sugar.)

Per "The End of Overeating," I need some cognitive behavioral therapy such as repeating to myself: "This will make me feel sick."

It's good to be back in the blogosphere!


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Taking an Internet Fast

I like the Internet. I think it's really cool how it allows people from across the world to connect in seconds (or less). However, at this point in time, I have a strong feeling that I should take a month break from this virtual world and do some more living in the physical world.

What I'm thinking here is no reading blogs, no writing blogs, no Facebook, no mindless surfing, no Twitter, etc. I will check my personal email once a week, just in case. I will also use the Internet for things like buying plane tickets and look-ups that would require a phone book (since I don't have one).

I've unsubscribed to a bunch of emails, set filters for the rest, turned off notifications from Facebook and other such sites so as to avoid inbox pollution.

I'm super psyched about this experiment and hope that you check back in November to read all about it.

Until we "meet" again...