Archive for ‘Mindful Living’

November 9, 2017

My Authentic Self

In the past week I have been told four times that I am authentic. Four times! And that people like me for it! Prior to this I’m not sure I’ve ever been told that.

The funny thing is that just before each person told me that I am authentic, I had been feeling extremely self-conscious for what I had just gotten done saying.

Then I realized, with each of those situations, I had exposed myself, not literally, but figuratively. I had put it all out there and then envisioned myself ducking out of the way, sheepishly looking in people’s eyes for their disapproval, only to be met with smiles and the words “you are authentic”. Each time I took it as a compliment, but couldn’t help but wonder, why now? Am I not always being my authentic self? Maybe.

Growing up, I was shy. An introvert. (Still am.) I didn’t really put myself out there. I didn’t express my thoughts and opinions on most subjects with anyone other than family and close friends. I was afraid to. I was afraid people wouldn’t like me for those thoughts and opinions and I carried this with me for a long time.

People who were in my inner circles have always known the real me, but people on the periphery? I let them believe whatever their preconceived notion was.

A few years ago (that’s Kate-speak for I have absolutely no recollection when, but know it wasn’t in the recent past) I read something that highlighted the irony of what I’d been doing. I had been sheltering my real thoughts and feelings from most people I would meet, fearing if they knew what I really thought, they wouldn’t like me. I know I said this earlier, but I’m saying it again because the thought is ridiculous. If I was afraid they wouldn’t like me for who I was, why did I want to connect with them in the first place? By doing this, every conversation was uncomfortable because I didn’t say what I really thought, others made assumptions as to what I thought because I hadn’t expressed a difference in opinion in prior conversations and then they made more assumptions that I agreed with everything they said.

At one point in time this happened with my boss. She made assumptions about me, my thoughts and opinions, even my political viewpoints and assumed they were the same as hers, when in reality, I was pretty much on the opposite side of the spectrum, but afraid to speak my mind because I was afraid those differences could effect my relationship with her and ultimately my job. So I let it go on. Until one day I couldn’t. Unfortunately my timing stunk because another co-worker of mine was with us. I probably should have said something when it was just the two of us, but I didn’t. Lunch was going fine until the conversation turned to polítics. This was in the time frame when a woman from Alaska was running for office. My boss thought she was awesome. Me? Not so much. Although I was excited for a woman to be running for office, I thought she had just fallen off the crazy train and I didn’t want her representing me as a woman. So I voiced that. And my boss looked at me as though I had betrayed her. She thought, and assumed, that because I was a woman and because I hadn’t said anything differently in previous conversations, that I was in support of Crazy Train too. It wasn’t true. And I finally spoke my truth. I’m not sure why I waited for that moment. Maybe because my friend was with us, maybe because my soul had been screaming for so long that it couldn’t be silenced any longer, whatever the reason, it came out of me like a cat in a bathtub. And then I felt guilty. Guilty for not saying something earlier, guilty for having what I didn’t say, be a betrayal of friendship and good working relationship. Guilty for not being authentic from the beginning.

That may have been the turning point for me to always honor myself. I would love to say it was a conscious decision, but the reality is that it is something that evolved over time and that particular story had been sitting on a shelf, covered in cobwebs in the back of my mind until I started writing this.

Now I try to be conscious to share my thoughts and opinions and honor who I am, not only with my inner circle, but with everyone.

Being authentic is tough sometimes. It means exposing myself when I don’t know my audience and how they will respond. It means talking when sometimes I would rather not. But it also means I am at peace with myself. I’m being me. Authentically me and that feels good.

Kate

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May 13, 2015

Before you spray…

A Scott’s sales rep came to the door yesterday telling me he could spray to kill all of the dandelions and other weeds in our yard, fertilize the lawn and spray to get rid of all of the mosquitoes. I politely told him, “No thank you. I don’t mind them and am actually growing plants to attract insects and pollinators instead of kill them.” He then offered to use their organic line and estimated that it would be $56 to “take care of” our yard. Again, I smiled and said, “No, thank you. We’re not interested.” at which point he offered me his business card, told me he was also a realtor and offered to do a property value estimate if I’m ever interested.

We have no plans of moving.  Part of why we bought this house is because it’s just behind the nature center which has a lake. Mosquitoes, whether we like it or not, come with the territory.

Don’t get me wrong, I hate mosquitoes just as much as the next person, but the SPRAYS they use ARE NOT SELECTIVE. That means they don’t just kill mosquitoes, they also kill everything else including bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects.

I realize a lot of people don’t like insects, but we NEED these insects. Our food system relies on them. I don’t think most people know or understand the impact that spraying their yard for mosquitoes has on our food system.

Yes, I’m a gardener and every year I hope for an abundant harvest from my garden, but this isn’t about my garden. This is effecting food on a much larger scale. This is about the food on everyone’s table.

Our pollinators are disappearing at alarming rates and our food is going to follow. This isn’t something we can ignore or pretend isn’t happening. It’s not going to be okay or correct itself on its own.

This time of the year, when everything is in bloom, my yard is typically abuzz with bees and other insects feeding on the nectar and pollen from dandelions, creeping charlie, flowering crabs and dogwoods. This year I have seen a couple of wasps pass through and a handful of flies. That’s it.

It would be so easy to blow it off and try to reason our way out of why I don’t see them in my yard, but the truth of the matter is that I work to create a bee, butterfly and insect friendly yard and they are not here. My yard is a minute sample of the greater picture. Looking at my yard is like looking through a sample under a microscope. If the insects aren’t in my yard, that means they aren’t around.

Am I worried that the fruits and vegetables in my yard won’t get pollinated and will produce less fruit? Of course. But what really bothers me is that the fruits and vegetables on a greater scale aren’t getting pollinated,  which is a much larger problem.

All of this makes me so sad. They are making it so fast, cheap and easy to kill-off the insects that we think are a nuisance but fail to tell people that they are also killing off insects  that pollinate the plants that give us our food.

We have smoking policies in place to protect people who don’t smoke from breathing in second hand smoke.

Spraying our yards doesn’t work the same way. If we spray, we are not just impacting our yard and our neighbors, we are impacting life on the larger scale.

We need to stop pretending that what we do in our yard is our choice and that it doesn’t impact anyone else, because it does. It impacts EVERYONE else.

The next time you go to buy groceries, look at the produce section and imagine it empty or sparce with extremely expensive produce. Imagine coffee so expensive that it becomes a luxury. Do you hate spending so much money on groceries? It’s going to continue to get more and more expensive and we will have less and less available if we don’t change what we are doing.

We need to fix our system, fast. Some states are banning neonicotinoide pesticides. A couple of cities in the Twin Cities metro area have also banned them. But until they are fully non-existent we need to be our own advocates.

That’s not to mention the detrimental effects directly on people. Pesticides are also hormone – altering (endocrine disruptors) which alter the natural function of our bodies in many, many dangerous ways.

If our world were balanced, it should be ungodly expensive to spray both herbicides and pesticides because the effects are damaging on a global level. Damaging to our health, damaging to our food system, not to mention damaging to the soil, water and air we breathe.

It shouldn’t cost $59 to kill everything that lives in a 1/3 of an acre lot, it should cost at lot more than that because in reality, it does.

March 11, 2014

Renegotiating Environmindful Monday and Tip #14: Why You Don’t Want To Use Fabric Softener

You may have wondered what happened to Environmindful Mondays.  Well, quite honestly, I did too. After doing a little reflecting I realized that the reason I haven’t been posting isn’t because I ran out of environmental posts but instead because I realized that with some of the posts and things I’ve been doing in my home, I realized I was missing pieces of the puzzle to be able to fully explain why some of these topics are important, which I think is crucial to making change.

If we make a change in our lives just because someone told us we should but we don’t understand why we are doing it, chances are it won’t last.  On the other hand, if we understand a situation/problem and understand how we fit into or contribute to that situation/problem, then it makes it easier to understand why we should change and what the impact is if we choose not to.

For example, let’s say a friend says, “You should really stop using fabric softener.”  You ask why and the response is, “Because I heard it’s bad.”  At first you think, “Oh, geeze. Okay, my friend says fabric softener is bad. I’d better stop using it.”  So you do.  Time goes by and you forget the conversation with your friend.  You forget the details (because there weren’t any).  Over time you start to miss the scent of freshly washed clothes and start getting annoyed with static.  Or, maybe your spouse asks, “What’s so bad about it?”  You can’t remember.  You can’t justify your decision, so chances are you’re going to buy fabric softener and start using it again.

Environmindful Monday Tip #14: Why You Don’t Want to Use Fabric Softener

On the other hand if your friend says, “You might want to reconsider using fabric softener.”  You ask why and the response is, “There are a lot of dangerous, and even, toxic chemicals in them.  Some cause asthma, some are hormone disruptors (meaning they can cause birth defects) to both people and wildlife, and the scents you smell are typically carcinogens, which are toxic chemicals linked to cancer.  This stuff isn’t just bad for the people who use it either.  All of these toxins are in our air from our dryer vents and they are even finding it in our ground water and drinking water from using liquid fabric softeners in our washers.”  You try to justify your fabric softener addiction for a minute and say, “But I hate static.”  Your friend says, “Oh, then you’re just over-drying your clothes.  Don’t dry them so long.  You won’t have static.”  If you’re like me, when I first heard all the information on fabric softener I had to hold onto my stomach.  At the time, my son was about 3 years old.  When I realized I was putting all of these chemicals directly on his skin via his clothes, into the air and into our water I felt sick.  But you know what?  It made an impact.  I stopped using fabric softener immediately.  I also haven’t forgotten the dangers these chemicals pose to myself, my family, our air, our water and the rest of the environment.  And I definitely have not had any sort of urge to use fabric softener, in any form, in my home since.

I still want to honor the commitment I made to Norwex and the Norwex R.A.C.E., myself and you, as my readers to continue to share environmental posts, but I am renegotiating with myself (and you), to make sure I honor that commitment in the best way possible, therefore, you will continue to see Environmindful Monday posts, maybe not every Monday, but on Mondays that I believe I have content that is worth sharing and that I am clear on why these topics are important and why we should all be committed to making a change.

Oh, and yes. I’m aware that this Environmindful Monday post is coming to you on Tuesday.  I’m working on that too. 😉

May you have a clean and healthy day filled with fresh scents of a real spring breeze.

Kate

February 3, 2014

Environmindful Monday Tip #13: Wash Your Hands of Antibacterial Soap

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Everyday we get up, we fight a battle.  Our enemies surround us, yet we can’t see them.
We’re told that they are there. We’re told they will get us when we’re down. We’re told they can make us sick… or worse.
How on Earth are we supposed to fight an enemy we can’t see? “Use this!” they say. So we do. And we use and we use, but since we can’t see the enemy to begin with we don’t really know if it’s working or not.
Years go by and we come to find out that the weapons they gave us to kill our enemies didn’t kill them after all. It killed some, but not all. The ones we left behind got more and more powerful, so strong they now have super strength, because you know what they say, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. ”
What’s worse, is the weapons we chose, instead of killing them, are killing us.
This could be the plot of any science fiction movie, but instead it’s the state of what we have done in our battle against bacteria.
Triclosan, the word might not roll off your tongue, but trust me, you know what it does, or shall I say, what it was supposed to do. Triclosan is the chemical in antibacterial soaps, dish soaps, and yes, even toothpaste. And Triclosan is the weapon we chose to fight bacteria.   It’s time to lay that weapon down. It’s not working and studies are finding that it’s doing more harm than good.
I know, it seems scary at first, to let go of that antibacterial soap we’ve become so accustomed to using. It feels like you’re saying,  “Hey, Bacteria! Yeah,  you, look here, I put my weapons down. I’m defenseless!” but the reality is, we’re not.
By choosing not to use products labeled antibacterial,  we are choosing to take our lives back. We are choosing to take the super powers away from the bacteria and leave them simply as bacteria. And when we choose not to buy antibacterial products with Triclosan,  we are choosing to take our lives back from Cancer, from infertility and from many other diseases that sound way worse than bacteria if you ask me.
So the tip for the week?
Environmindful Monday Tip #13: Wash Your Hands of Antibacterial Soap and go back to regular soap and water. Wash your hands. Wash them well, for at least 20 – 30 seconds, scrubbing the germs off and then rinse them down the drain. When you’re done, wipe your hands on a towel to grab any stragglers that may have gotten missed.
The simple act of washing our hands is just as effective as Triclosan and way less detrimental to our health.

Be healthy,  be safe,  be well.
Kate