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Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Misfits

Back in high school, I did not fit any of the cliques.  I was smart, but the smart kids at my school also happened to be the cool kids and I did not have the looks or the outgoing personality for that group.  I definitely wasn't a jock - no athletic skill or coordination.  I stayed out of trouble and had no 'clique-worthy' skills.  I did play the clarinet, but I wasn't in marching band which defined that group. 

I found myself in an eclectic group of left overs who also didn't fit elsewhere.  Later in life I named us the misfits.  In that group I found acceptance.  We were all different and we appreciated those differences.  Some were smart, some were musical, and most of us did not care about social status.  We just wanted to be friends and hang out.  I loved it.

Adults like to think we are more evolved than teenagers, but most of our social groups are still cliquish.  Even in churches you can see the cool kids, the jocks, the leaders, and the trouble makers.  Most of them are friendly, but I still don't fit there.  I almost forgot to look for and embrace my misfits.  They aren't the best dressed or the smartest or even the most involved, but they are kind and loving and accepting.  Sometimes they are the outcasts.  Sometimes they look like the folks Jesus hung out with and got criticized for.  They are my peeps and I love them. 

Happy to be a misfit! =)

PS  - Further pondering - maybe we are all misfits hiding behind various masks looking for acceptance.  I can't let those artificial walls define my friendships.  There are kindred spirits all around.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Journey of 100 Bags - Chapter 4

Chapter 4 – Christmas


            The next break and the next big projects came at Christmas time.  I tackled the linen closet which was overflowing and sloppy looking.  Anything stained or torn went out.  Then I sorted the sheets by size and kept only 2-3 for each bed in the house.  Then I kept however many towels fit in the remaining space.  This is called the container concept, another idea from Nony the Slob.  You set a space for certain items whether it’s a shelf, a closet, or a drawer and you keep however many items fit in the space.  This forces you to choose between good, better, and best.  I think I still have too many towels, but at least they all fit neatly in the closet.

            I also used the container concept when I tackled the craft room.  My mom had been an artist and craft collector.  When she died I sorted through her large craft room and shed giving away any items that I felt I would never use, but I kept everything I thought my daughters or I would ever possibly want which amounted to a large collection of stuff.  As I looked at the over 100 cross-stitch kits I owned, I decided to keep only as many as fit in a certain drawer and only if I felt I might truly want to complete them one day.  The rest I sat aside to sell.  Then I looked at my two large overflowing tubs of yarn.  I sorted them down to one tub.  I continued this process as I made my way around the room.  I also eliminated excessive multiples.   I decided, for instance, that five watercolor sets was enough and donated the rest.  As you can see I still kept plenty of supplies to keep my girls happily creating art for years to come.  This room took about four days and I donated at least eight bags.  I also sorted out things to sell.  I am not a big fan of selling my stuff.  I don’t like all the work involved, but I decided to put things in groups and list them on a local website.  I did get a little spending cash this way. My youngest daughter helped me put the finishing touches on the art room as we labeled drawers and shelves in hopes that things would be easier to find and put back away.  As soon as we were done she dove into a new art project.  As it turns out a clean space is more inspiring than a messy one.

            The next project turned out to be totally fun.  I decided it was time to tackle my oldest daughter’s room.  She has the smallest bedroom and it was crammed with toys, clothes, and books.  On top of this, she loves her stuff.   This time I used an idea from “The Minimalists” and we held a packing party.  I told my daughter that we were going to pretend she was moving to a new house and we had to pack up all of her stuff.  I had her take everything out of one drawer or shelf at a time.  I added my own twist to the idea by having her put each item into either a box labeled ‘love it’, a box labeled ‘like it’, a bag for give away, or the trash can.  Most items went into the first two boxes (and more boxes with the same labels) but she did collect one bag to give away and we found some trash.  When she took a break I worked extra hard and pre-sorted some items for her.  I eliminated unnecessary multiples, toys that never saw the light of day, and old school papers.  I also sorted through her bookshelves myself since this was too emotional for her.  I moved some books to her younger sister’s room and some to a local program for teen parents.  As we worked I found lots of stuff that did not belong in her room.  I had stored memorabilia including her baby book in her closet.  Her sister had numerous clothes and toys hidden here and there.  All these items were relocated.  When we started this project I anticipated that we would put all the ‘love it’ items back and then make choices about what ‘like it’ stuff would fit.  As it turned out, we were able to find places for everything that was left.  I sorted toys into semi-logical groups and put like items together.  We even labeled the drawers and shelves.  The end result was amazing!  Her room no longer looked like a thrift store had blown up.  Now it was roomy, organized, and ready to use.  My daughter loved her new room. My younger daughter thought it looked like fun so we followed the same procedure in her room and created a new, play-friendly place there as well.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

OA - Steps 5, 6, and 7

Back to my Overeater's Anonymous journey.  After making the searching and fearless moral inventory in step 4, it was time to share it and allow God to heal my character defects.

Step 5 - Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Step 6 - Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

Step 7 - Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

I approached step five with some trepidation.  I had been thorough and truthful in my inventory and I was not sure I could share it with another person.  You see, I have always believed that if people really knew me they would reject me.  Some in my life already had.  Still, I had already seen and felt the healing that comes from this journey and I knew I needed more.  Because my sponsor was not local, we did the inventory electronically.  I was able to tell her things one at a time and discuss them before moving on to the next item.  I started little and built up trust.  I learned that my sponsor had the gift of wisdom.  She often saw things I did not and was able to unearth further character defects.  I'll never forget the day she told me I was selfish.   I was so angry.  I thought 'you don't know me.  I'm a kind person.'  Then I looked at her evidence and had to admit she was right. I was trying to run the world and angry when people didn't do things my way (since I always knew best).  I was selfish.  Her vision and wisdom where a gift.  More than that, though, her love was a gift.  You see, when you give your step five to someone who understands the program they give you the gift of loving acceptance.  Nothing I could say drove her away.  Instead she put her cyber-arm around me and told me we all had these issues and we were all on the path to getting them healed.  We are in this together.  That is the strength of the program.

Step six involves deciding if I was ready to get rid of all this spiritual sludge in my life.  Sometimes this is difficult.  We know that the way we are facing life is causing us pain.  It isn't working, but it is comfortable and familiar.  It may have even served us in the past as coping strategies for traumatic circumstances.  Facing the unknown and doing something new can be scary.  I had the gift of desperation.  I knew the path I was on was self-destructive.  I had to try a different way. 

Step 7 involves praying for God to do something we can never do ourselves - to remove our character defects.  Here is the prayer OA offers:

My creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good or bad.  I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows.  Grant me the strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding.  Amen

I did not immediately become perfect when I prayed this prayer.  I spent time praying over each defect/sin I had uncovered.  I spent time talking to my sponsor about different ways to cope with situations in my life.  Growth and change are a process.  I still stumble, I still hurt people, I still hold grudges, but I admit and change a lot faster.  I apologize sooner, and as a result....

I walk in so much joy and peace, it is hard to imagine I ever carried all that junk around.

Wishing you joy in the journey - Jaki

Monday, May 25, 2015

I ate an artichoke - sort of.

Well food adventures continue.  Two weeks ago I bought an artichoke at the famer's market.  I asked friends what in the world I should do with it.  Then I got scared and let it sit on my counter looking interesting.  (Little did I know it should have been refrigerated)  My fear lasted longer than the poor veggie.  It dried up and found it's final destiny in the trash can. =(

Out of guilt I got another one (actually two the farm guy gave me a 2 for 1 deal).  This time I put them in the fridge, and today I got up my nerve to eat one.  I boiled it as advised and prepared a few dipping choices - butter, mayo, and a salad dressing I like.  I pulled off a 'leaf' as instructed and scraped the innards out with my teeth. Somehow I was not ready for how tiny this edible morsel was.  It seemed like almost a waste- all that 'handle' part and a speck of food.  Also, it was a little annoying to work so hard for such a tiny speck of food.  I was glad that it wasn't mushy or disgusting.  I didn't mind the taste - pretty mild actually. 

Eventually I gave up on the leaves and decided to go for the heart.  I kept pulling off the leaves as instructed.  They got smaller and softer.  Eventually I ran into a bunch of fuzzy stuff.  Too late I realized I had dismantled the heart instead of eating it.  At least, I think that's what happened. 

So - I think I failed at eating artichoke, but I did face my fear and try something new.  That is a victory.  Now I just have to figure out what to do with the remaining artichoke.  (My daughter, Stephanie, recommends feeding it to the guinea pigs.)

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Journey of 100 Bags - Chapter 3

Chapter 3 – Maintenance

            By the time summer was over I had worked through the entryway, kitchen, both bathrooms and part of the living room.  I knew that these major projects would have to be put on hold while I returned to full-time teaching.  A wise friend suggested I focus on maintaining the progress I had made and push forward on breaks.  I realized that in the kitchen especially, maintenance was a huge issue for me.  Most weeks I ignored the dishes until both sides of the sink were full or until something I needed was dirty.  I picked up an important tip from Nony the Slob’s blog – wash the dishes every day.  This seemingly obvious concept had never been a reality for me.  I decided to try it out.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered that it was so much easier and took so much less time to wash one day’s worth of dishes than it had to do a week’s worth.  I also discovered that all my glasses did not fit on the shelf at one time!  I even discovered the joy of a clean sink and sparkling counters.

            Another problem area was the living room.  It was littered with toys, tools, clothes, and anything else we happened to drop there.  I worked together with the family to establish a daily ‘quick clean’ time right after dinner.  Each of my girls gets a laundry basket and fills it with any of her belongings that have migrated to the living room.  My husband and I gather our stuff.  Actually most of the time I gather his stuff and put it in his ‘man cave’ for him to deal with.  This has not been a smooth road for any of us.  The girls would often argue over whose stuff belonged to who and who had to return jointly-owned items like art supplies.  Also, there was the problem of items on the floor that no one claimed ownership to.  This one I could usually resolve by offering to put the item in the giveaway bag.  Someone usually claimed it.  Still the ‘quick clean’ has never become popular.  As with many things in my life, this is a journey of progress rather than perfection.

            One accomplishment I am proud of is teaching my children to clean the bathroom.  First we did it together and I led them through each step.  Then I turned them loose to try it alone.  Arguments about who would do what ensued.  I tried an experiment.  I wrote all the various jobs on separate slips of paper – clear off and wipe the counter, scrub the bathtub, etc.  Then I called the girls together planning to have them draw for jobs.  Surprisingly, they grabbed the papers and split them up themselves without complaint.  Then off they went to make the bathroom sparkle.  I am amazed at how well this strategy worked.

            For most of the summer we kept the main living areas of the house clean and usable.  It was a great accomplishment.  We also passed the fifty bag mark for removing stuff from the house.

            Then school started.  Suddenly we were all busy and tired at night.  I came home and collapsed on the couch.  It was enough to fix dinner, oversee homework and piano practice, and prepare for the next day.  I had no desire and seemingly no energy to clean.  The dishes piled up.  The clutter crept back into the living room.  I would vow to get back on track, but it didn’t happen.  I felt stuck.

            One day I was listening to an audio book about procrastination and habits.  It discussed rewards and gave the example of parents letting their kids play outside after school before doing their homework. Of course, this works for some families, but for some kids this is giving them their reward first and removing any willingness to go back and do their necessary work.  I suddenly realized this is exactly what I was doing for myself.  I came home and sank into my comfortable couch and disappeared into the internet.  My selfish psyche had no reason to leave this nest and go clean.  I tried setting a time limit, but this did not work for me either.  I just didn’t want to get up once I settled in for the night.  The only solution I could come up with was not to sit down when I got home.  Anything I wanted to get done had to be done before I sat down.  It sounds crazy but it worked.  I started coming home and throwing in some laundry or reloading the dishwasher while I was making supper.  Then after supper I could relax guilt-free.  Also, I created a reward while I was working.  I enjoy listening to audio books and you tube videos, so I started playing these while I was working.  It made my chores so much more enjoyable.  I guess my mind just got bored when doing menial tasks.  Having something to think about during the process helped immensely.

            My cleaning routine is far from perfect, but it is also far better than it was in the past.

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Journey of 100 Bags - Chapter 2

Chapter 2 – The Summer of Progress

            This first victory spurred me on to tackle other areas of the house one by one.  I next went to the kitchen which most professional organizers will tell you is a mistake.  The kitchen is not for amateurs.  It is a big complicated area.  However, in this case, ignorance worked for me.  Getting the kitchen under control was a foundational piece for me to conquer.  I broke the area into smaller goals and used the same process – take everything out, sort, purge, put things in other rooms, clean, and put items back.  At this point I found it very helpful to seek out support.  I joined a facebook group based around decluttering.  I began to share my journey with pictures, comments, and questions.  People were very affirming of my efforts.  I got tons of pats on the back and lots of great advice.  This spurred me on.

            As I worked on in the kitchen I was not just sorting my own items.  I had numerous pans and gadgets that had belonged to my mom when she lived with us several years back.  When she died, I gave away a lot of her stuff but held on to some things “in case I needed them” or “until I find someone who can use it”.  Now I had to overcome these two very common reasons for holding on to stuff.  First I admitted that ‘in case of’ had not happened in five years so chances were it wouldn’t.  If I ever needed those items I could borrow or repurchase them.  I could not save everything and have a calm, clean, workable space.  I had to choose.  I chose peace.  The second realization was that I might not find that perfect person who needed my items.  However, if I donated them the universe might make a connection that certainly was not going to happen with the item hiding in my cabinet.  Once I was able to overcome these roadblocks I received a joyous surprise.  I loved giving things away!  Every bag I took to a thrift store or shelter made me smile.  I enjoyed knowing that now people who needed these items could get them for free or a reduced price.  I felt like it was a service to humanity.  I began to count the bags.  I was curious how many 13-gallon trash bags of unused stuff I could remove from my house.  That summer the bags piled up quickly and each one gone created more breathing room in my home.

            One day I sorted out some cut glass serving platters I had never used.  They were pretty and I valued them but truthfully, they were doing me no good.  I decided to take them to church and give them away.  I knew several ladies who do fancy dinners and I thought they would be overjoyed to receive my gifts.  One or two of the dishes were picked up quickly but the last one almost didn’t find a home.  That day I learned a lesson about objects – not everyone will love my stuff or even the same stuff as I do.  In fact, stuff is just stuff.  It was a pretty plate, but it was just a thing.  In that moment I let go a little more of my attachment to things.

            Each time I got to the ‘put it back’ stage of my process it was like a puzzle.  I had to figure out how to best make the pieces fit.  I used certain guidelines.  First of all I put like items together.  Then I considered easy access and visibility.  My husband has the “out of sight, out of mind” concept embedded in his psyche.  If he can’t see an item or find it quickly, he buys another one.  So, I had to put things he uses in visible or easily accessed places.  This makes my kitchen counter more cluttered than I would prefer, but it does keep peace in the household.

            As I was organizing I also incorporated another concept from The House That Cleans Itself.  It’s called creating stations.  My family has a problem. We have spent countless hours looking (often unsuccessfully) for one of the twenty plus pairs of scissors I know we own.  The author suggests creating groups of items near where they will be used.  For instance tape, wrapping paper, tags, and scissors should all be together in the room you most often wrap presents.  In this way some duplicate items are helpful.  For instance I now keep scissors in a kitchen drawer, at my desk, and at the girls’ homework area.  However, too many duplicates is just clutter.  Over the years I made the mistake of keeping anything I thought was useful.  As I purged this time I acknowledged that no house needed hundreds of pens and pencils.  I filled stations in various rooms and donated the rest.  I might need them in the far-distant future, but someone else could use them today. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Jouney of 100 Bags - Chapter 1

Chapter 1 – The Beginning

            It all started one summer day.  I looked around my cluttered, messy house and felt like I couldn’t breathe.  The walls were creeping in and I couldn’t find things.  I decided in that moment that something had to change.  My mental stability and joy were on the line.

            I did what I always do when my life takes a new course – I bought a book.  (Eventually I bought several books.)  The book, The House That Cleans Itself by Mindy Starns Clark was recommended to me by a good friend who also struggled with housekeeping and clutter.  As it turns out, the title was a little misleading, but it was a wonderful book with a clearly laid out plan that appealed to my logical brain.

            I began with a small space that was not in too bad of condition – the entryway.  I took before pictures, a very helpful strategy, and wrote notes about what I wanted to change.  Then I took everything out, and held every object in that area from coats to junk collecting dust on a small bookcase.  I sorted those items into categories: belongs here, belongs somewhere else in the house, trash, and give away.  During these early days I did not try to sell anything.  I did not want to slow the process of things getting out of the house.  I filled my first two give away bags just in this small area.  Then I deep-cleaned this area.  As a final touch, I rolled up the area rug that I usually just vacuum.  I took a picture of the dirt underneath, but that picture will not be published! As I took the items that belonged in other rooms to those places, I did not obsess about where to put them.  I just delivered them to the correct room.  I chose to focus on one area at a time which allowed me to see faster and more vivid results.

            The entryway was gorgeous!  I took after pictures and could not believe the difference.  It felt clean, open, even pretty.  We have a small bench for the children to sit on and take off their shoes.  Of course it was always covered in stuff and unusable, so when I was done I posted a sign: “This bench is for sitting people, not stuff.”  It made us all smile and reminded us not to drop our stuff there.

I vacuumed!

It's the last week of school - a busy and stressful time.  Tonight after dinner out I came home and every bone in my body wanted to sit down and vegetate.  Instead, I vacuumed.  This is a big accomplishment for a partially-reformed messy house-keeper.  (of course it's needed done for several days, so don't be too impressed)

In the last year I have put a lot of effort into cleaning and decluttering my house.  It's far from perfect, but much better on any given day than it was a year ago.  I even wrote a mini-book about it.  It's called The Journey of 100 Bags because I have eliminated one hundred kitchen-sized trash bags of stuff, not including trash and recyclables, from my house in the last year.   It's been an amazing journey.

I wasn't always messy.  I grew up in a cluttered house, but I was usually the one cleaning it.  I'm pretty sure my college roommates would attest that I kept my areas fairly neat and clean.  Even during the early years of my married life I had a cleaning schedule.  I think things began to spiral out of control when my first daughter was born.  It wasn't her toys or clothes or supplies that caused the problem.  It was my desire to spend every waking second with her.  In my mind bonding with my child was ever so much more important than cleaning house.  This seemed like a noble sentiment at the time, but in retrospect I could have used more balance.

I'm going to share one chapter at a time from the book I am writing.  I hope some of you find it helpful or at least entertaining.  I look forward to discussing it with others.

PS - Some of you are wondering why I am mixing everything up instead of writing separate blogs for OA, food, environmental concerns, and now cleaning.  The truth is that all these developments have entered my life in the last year and somehow they all fit together.  I think.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

OA - Step 4 - where the work begins

A lot of people settle in with steps 1-3.  They become comfortable with the ideas that we have a problem and we have a Higher Power who can solve it.  However, that solution does not come without work.  That is where step 4 comes in.

Step 4 - Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

To me addiction is like an iceberg.  The part we see is the actual action (be it binging, drinking, gambling, etc.)  The unseen part of the iceberg represents all the reasons we indulge in our chosen addiction.  My trouble with food rested on many underlying causes and these had to be rooted out and dealt with in order to find healing.

The process recommended by OA looks at a couple areas. I'm going to discuss two of these.  First I analyzed my resentments.  I listed everything that made me angry.  It was a long list.  Most of my life I have been a pretty calm person, but when I 'put down the food' I was flooded with ugly emotions.  It was like PMS on steroids!  People explained to me that this was a result of all my undealt with emotions bubbling up.  I had bought peace with food for so many years and all those pains wanted a turn to get some attention.  So, I listed each person, situation, and anything else that upset me.  Then I analyzed why it made me angry and how it hurt me.  Lastly, I had to admit where I had been to blame in each situation.  Had I been selfish, dishonest, frightened, or inconsiderate?  As I learned, even when I was the victim, I usually had some negative response that had only served to make the situation worse.  I had to own up to my part of my own pain. 

For example, I was angry at my children because they were arguing and bossy at times and they didn't listen to what I told them to do.  I realized that I was allowing their very normal behavior to make me feel like a failure as a parent.  I thought they were making me look bad.  I was afraid they would turn out to be terrible people and it would be all my fault.  So, where was I to blame?  First of all I was indulging in perfectionism.  I was holding them and myself to unreasonable expectations.  Also, I was allowing myself to worry.  These are both self-damaging behaviors. 

In other situations where I was angry at someone I felt had deliberately treated me wrongly I found the resentment prayer to be helpful.  "(name) is spiritually sick.  God, please help me show the same tolerance, pity, and patience I would cheerfully grant a sick friend."  I was reminded that 'hurt people hurt people'.  If I could feel pity and compassion for someone who hurt me, it usually washed away the anger and paved the road for forgiveness.

The second big area to look at is fears.  I was instructed to list anything I was fearful about.  At first this confused me because I thought fear was a natural human response, not something to be rid of.  Eventually I realized that the danger of fear is that it keeps us from faith and action and leads to worry.  After listing the fears, I looked at why I had each fear and how it was affecting me.  I admitted that I was trusting myself instead of trusting God.  I prayed the fear prayer for each individual situation: "God please remove my fear of _______ and direct my attention towards what you would have me to be."  Fear turns our vision inward toward our own problems.  We need God to turn our vision back to him and toward our fellow man so the final step is to look at what God would have us be. 

Example - This year I had a fear of losing my job.  (This was not random.  There were things happening that made my position unstable.)  The 'why' of this fear was that I was afraid of financial ruin and I was basing my reputation/value on my job performance.  Also, I was afraid of being a failure as a teacher.  I prayed the fear prayer and looked for what God wanted me to be.  I realized that fear and worry would not help me keep my job.  I could apply the serenity prayer by making improvements in my classroom and then putting the future in God's hands.  I decided that if I should loose my job, then I would trust God to provide our needs in another way.

Some people find step 4 daunting.  In fact, many people turn away from OA at this point.  It's not easy to face your inner demons.  For me, step 4 was an intriguing journey of self-discovery.  It was not easy or fun, but it was interesting and it gave me a taste of the healing and freedom this journey promises. 

To anyone beginning this step I encourage you to press on at all costs.  The best is yet to come!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Why all the green?

I thought I might take a minute to try to explain why I've gone all eco-friendly lately.

Most of my life I was not too concerned with the environment.  I wrapped my babies in plastic diapers and didn't even recycle.  It just was not on my radar.  I thought that was fine for some people but not really necessary.  (In my defense, I lived in an area for 13 years that had no recycling collection available.)

So, what is all this 'green' effort lately? 

Well, it started when I was cleaning and organizing the art room.  I found myself throwing out bags of paper - old projects and ruined supplies.  A little paper here and there had never bothered me, but this seemed like a lot of waste.  It could be recycled and reused.  It was kind of like throwing away money or being ungrateful for my resources.  It took a little research to figure out what can and can't be recycled and what is available in my area, but we now save paper, plastic, glass, tin cans, cardboard, aluminum, and paperboard. 

So, recycling is pretty normal, but what's with all the reducing trash, cloth napkins, and considering a worm farm?

As I was researching and listening to youtube videos, I discovered that the average American produces 3 pounds of trash a day after recycling.  Also, we are 5% of the world's population but we consume 30% of the world's goods.  That is a lot of stuff and tons of it gets trashed way before its usefulness is gone. 

I ran across a group of people called zero-wasters.  There goal is to produce no trash.  They don't use disposable items, avoid overpackaged stuff, buy from bulk bins, and make homemade.  Again the questions of why comes up.  First of all trash is wasted money and resources.  Also, it goes to a landfill.  I used to think that meant all my trash got buried and eventually 'returned to the earth'.  (of course I knew it took forever for plastic to degrade, but I saw that as a necessary evil.)  What I learned is that our degrading trash is so toxic that modern landfills have to have liners to keep the ooey gooey juices out of the ground.  Also, it produces dangerous methane gas which has to be collected and dealt with.  I also learned that these protections do fail and they were not part of many landfills in the past.  So, landfills are problematic and from what  read incinerating is even worse. 

Recycling helps but it is an imperfect solution too.  Some items, like plastic, only downcycle into less complex substances.  Also, much of our trash is sent overseas since we don't have the resources to deal with it here.  (That gives me pause to think too.  America exports trash.  Weird.)  So, it's much more efficient to not make the trash in the first place. 

So, it's really the idea of waste that got me started, but of course global warming, the ozone, the ideas of plastic in our urine; these all factor in too.  Oh, and don't forget the lovely Pacific Garbage Patch.  Just the thought of that has me picking up litter. 

Well, those are the reasons I'm making my own bagels, washing and reusing the plastic bags I have, using cloth grocery bags, and a bunch of other changes.  So far I haven't driven my family over the edge.  It's like one big experiment.  Some things I like and others I write off as failures, but that's ok too.  I like moving in a new direction that just might be better for me, my family, and the planet.