It's that time again. When I try to think of ways that I can improve myself and do things even better than last year.
Inspired by the minimalist blog, Rowdy Kittens, here's my year in review of the good as well as the not-so-good.
Our health. With the exception of Jim's mysterious upper back pain that won't go away, we continue our vegan lifestyle of good eating! We've made inroads in eating more raw but for now, we've decided we just love our bread too much to give that up. So we will continue to incorporate green smoothies and other raw foods into our diets. I plan to check out the cookbook, Ani's Raw Food Kitchen, and use her recipes as I've been doing with the vegan cookbooks.
I've decided to stop buying (and, thus, eating), processed snacks, specifically my old favorite, potato chips. I've always loved them but they are not good for me. And the last few times I've eaten them, I've been disappointed; they taste processed. My taste buds are still changing so that could be a large part of it.
Jim asked where I'll get that crunch I love when I eat a sandwich; I'll eat raw vegetables, such as celery, carrots, radishes, and cucumbers, all of which are very crunchy. Plus I'll lose those calories that potato chips have.
I'm still drinking green smoothies, but several times a week instead of daily. I make them when I feel like it, be it morning or afternoon, and I'm not so stringent on the one quart requirement either. Sometimes I just don't have all the greens I need in the house and, in the winter, it's not always easy or convenient to get them for smoothies. So I eat my greens as part of my meals instead.
Our carbon footprint. Last year, you may remember, we began making a concerted effort to reduce our trash. We replaced tissue with cotton handkerchiefs and we stopped buying paper towels & now use washable rags instead. We make our own tortillas, granola, muesli, peanut butter, and bread instead of buying them in packages (and we buy the ingredients in bulk).
The quest for reducing trash continues. Besides all the decluttering and drastic reduction of our possessions, I'm eliminating cotton balls once the stash is gone. Since I no longer use shower gel (because I don't want to buy & recycle a plastic bottle) I don't need the knitted wash cloths for that purpose; instead, I will use the cloths in place of cotton balls.
Jim & I are also checking out reusable produce bags; we already use cotton muslin bags for buying food in bulk (from papermart.com). We are tired of the waste of plastic produce bags and want to find an alternative.
The only waste we really throw out now is food scraps (stems, pits, skins etc.). We are thinking of getting an indoor food composter. Gardeners Supply Company sells one. In our last house, we used a worm composter but it was kind of a pain to bring indoors for the winter & we couldn't really use it indoors because of the fruit flies it attracted.
We also sold Jim's car because he now takes either the incline or the bus downtown to work. So we only have insurance and other expenses on one vehicle instead of two.
Moving. This has been a very intense and stressful year with an out-of-state move to Pittsburgh from Michigan. I am very homesick and I miss my friends and family. I also miss the comfort of my routines, being in a concert band, and playing in a flute choir. Hopefully, I will come to peace with all this. But, on the good side, it has taught me what's most important: relationships, and that is allowing me to let go of a large part of my possessions.
Losing my job. Because of the move, I had to leave my beloved job. In addition to all of that, the library where I worked, Troy Public Library, is slated to close its doors to the public by April 30, 2010. This has been heartbreaking to me; I am still mourning. I'm mourning both the loss of my job still as well as possibly the loss of my profession. But perhaps it will be a reinvention? Who knows? I would eventually have lost this job anyway when the library closed, but I now wish I had stayed longer, at least until I found something here.
On the flip side of this, we are fortunate that Jim got a wonderful job offer and that the company is paying for his MBA. Otherwise, he would be collecting severance and unemployment.
We are also fortunate that we live so frugally; my unemployment is not the crisis that it might otherwise be. We are still saving money every month and I'm very grateful that we are both on the same page about this aspect of our lives.
It's funny. As I was going through my things, I came across a journal I kept in early 2001 and in it I said "I don't want to have a lot of THINGS anymore. I feel dragged down by too many possessions. What's going on?" This was long before I got so drastic about getting rid of my stuff and, back then, I questioned my desire. Not anymore. So this has been a long time coming but I guess it has always been with me.
For the first time, I'm actually seeing NOTHING I wish to buy in stores. It seems like such a waste to me. Pretty much the only shopping I do now is for groceries and cat supplies (food, litter). Jim got a gift card to Borders for his birthday over Thanksgiving weekend and we wandered aimlessly through the store completely uninterested in buying anything. What he finally decided to do was to get some coffee beans, which we will definitely use! I am just tuned out of the mass acquisition of things. I don't want to buy anything that I can't use or do not need. This is why we have opted out of gifts for Christmas and that includes cards. I prefer to spend valuable time with my friends and family eating out, meeting for coffee, and just talking. That means more to me now than anything.
I like this minimalist blog and especially this post at this time of the year. Maybe it will inspire you, too. Happy New Year!