How I Transformed In 365 Days of Taking Habit Out and Letting Life In

A Year has passed.

This morning, I woke happy. I brushed my teeth with my homemade toothpaste; it dribbled from my mouth when I noticed sunlight speckling in through the window and smiled too wide in response. Mitra and I took to the streets and I let her lead us on an unfamiliar route. I snuggled dogs I’d never met before and complimented a stranger’s shirt. We lazily wound our way home. It’s my hood’s composting day, so I pulled the bin of scraps from my freezer. To it, I added coffee grounds. I blended and pressed the almonds I’ve had soaking for two days into milk, then added their sticky pulp, too. We headed out again, dropped off the bag, I returned to my desk, and I started editing audio for a new client.

This morning was completely unrecognizable from June 20th one Year ago today.

My Year of Abstinence has ended.

A Year of studying habit removal. Of saying “no”. Of taking out to see what comes in.

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Friendship — Like a Vacuum Cleaner — Is Not Easily Disposable

On Day One of this Challenge, while pondering why I wanted to give up product packaging for sixty days, I wrote:

Side note: I think this also comes from an emotionally-rooted issue of worrying that I’m a disposable person — that I don’t matter to others and so they feel they can easily dispose of me. I don’t want to be that. I want to be a person of value. I want to matter so that people think twice about losing me. Ouch. That’s a big thing to admit.

Last night, fifty-five days in, I sat on my bed and opened up a journal I’d started eighteen years ago. Folded inside of it, I discovered a seventeen-year-old letter from Ben, who’s still a dear friend and now my radio co-host. Lost somewhere on the second page, I found the following sentence:

“…You are 300% wrong about being replaceable…. There will never be another you.”
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Super Easy 3-Ingredient Toothpaste

It shouldn’t have taken a Zero Waste Challenge to make mixing toothpaste from oil, baking soda, and essential oils happen. But it did.

I don’t like sweet toothpaste. I’ve been Tom’s of Maine gal for a long, long while — and, like, the Propolis and Myrrh flavor when I can find it, so the hippy-dippiest of the lot. Anything loaded with sweet stuff,  fake stuff, bright blue dye, and sparkles? Gag.

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Zero Waste Revelation: It’s Not Just About Plastic

I’m finally feeling a bit better, and the world feels a magical place again!

I put my body through a marathon so that I could sit in this moment: Monday, the radio show, home to pack, butcher shop, grocers for bulk this-and-that, crossing state lines, picking up Mitra from my brother, and finally landing at home. Tuesday: two stories turned in, a phone interview for print, another for radio, all as snow fell thick and white.

I’m thankful. That’s a lot for two days, considering this body has done so little for weeks now. I’m with the trees. Continue reading

Garbage Cold

Cold is back. Came Sunday as a dry throat — again. I can’t drive, and so Tuesday my dad picked me up and brought me to a clinic, then my brother to the pharmacy and all the way back home. Just a cold, but since this has lingered since January they gave me antibiotics in case. Three times in that last five weeks.

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Happy Despite!

I can’t stop smiling on the inside today. Which seems silly, considering that nothing has changed .I’m still sick, single, and broke.

I still had a breakdown last week, accepting how sick I am now. I canceled going to yoga three days in a row because of how much pain I had to manage, and how exhausting managing it was. I’m scarily behind on deadlines.

But I’m smiling. Continue reading

The Minimalist Pantry

There seems to be a lapse in thinking between the ideas of minimalism and food.

Minimalism can quickly get associated with high-brow ethos: we tag vegetariansim, a gluten-free diet, only buying organics or non-GMO’s etc. onto the idea. But if there’s anything I’ve learned from this Year of habit study, it’s this: self-improvement only works when we really want it to. If we don’t want to be vegetarian / organic-only / gluten-free etc., we’ll eventually drop the ball and, in shame, return fully to whatever habits we had before.

If we don’t really want to live in a space with almost no stuff, we’ll go back to filling it.

I’d rather just rid my space of the fluff, and keep what I truly love and utilize. That way I get the best of both worlds.

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This is a SELF-Self Help Plan

This is my year of abstinence. The rules are bendable. I can adapt them as I go.

I’m reminding myself of this fact because I need to do that right now.

My body hurts. In a moment of awareness, yesterday I broke down and accepted that I’m ill in a way that’s far from my baseline of “chronic illness.” It’s applicable to my current study of Zero Waste in that it’s just too hard to get enough food into my home right now by the rules I set for myself two weeks ago. So, I’m adjusting them. Continue reading

Zero Waste Week Two: What Goes Out Must Come… DAMMIT!

I once dated this guy. His name is Captain America.

Okay, his name is not Captain America. But he was a captain in the Army and he’s just as cute as Chris Evans, so that’s the nom de plume he’s been awarded. Captain America and I now friends… but that’s a story for another day. Yesterday he picked me up for lunch and a few hours in Fort Tryon Park… but that’s a story for tomorrow or whenever I have time to finish writing it out.  But part of our conversation centered on figuring out how this current Zero Waste Challenge fits into the greater ethos of my life. And I have some pretty major revelations about this particular Challenge and how it fits into this Year of study overall only two weeks in.

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Practicing Zero Waste… In a Body With Zero

On an alternative plane of time and space, I see myself handwashing delicate handkerchiefs inherited from my mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. The sun shines through them where they hang, and I smile. I blend almonds and water into milk; my face erect, my movements quick and determined. I spend an afternoon easefully popping into one store and another, stocking up on meat, and produce, and coffee, exploring cheerily with energy and gusto.

I see her — that other me — through the thin veil that barely separates us and the worlds in which we move Continue reading

Zero Waste – Week One

So far, so good!

I’ve decided already that thirty days is too short a Challenge to truly study removing excess waste from my life and space, so I’m extending this to a sixty-day Challenge! Because here’s the thing about this first week: throwing out plasticky-things without using them is wasteful and against the purpose of this Challenge. This is not about going to Zero in a day–it’s about assessing for lasting change. So I’m not going to not finish the frozen meat in my freezer, the pasta in my cabinet, and the products in my pantry and closet for no good reason. Instead, I’ll spend some time observing my packaging habits as I finish things, and then replace them with Zero Waste options as I go… or nothing at all. Continue reading