10 Facts I’ve learned About Myself

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My birthday passed (a while ago) and I didn’t say much to anyone. I think a handful of people wished me happy birthday and that was perfect enough for me. My parents forgot and so did my brothers. But that’s how we are. Since we’ve grown up, the only birthday anyone cares about is my son’s birthday.

Anyway, I felt like writing and this blog has been sitting in the draft section because I thought I would do it on my birthday and I sort of ended up staring at it, wondering what was even the point. So, I thought I’d fill it in today.

Originally I wanted to do 31 things I’ve learned about myself, but I kept it to 10. I’ll spare you the long, boring list.

1: 
I still sleep very little but still love napping. Child or no child, sleep has always evaded me. I have a busy mind with many personal ambitions. I remember when I was teaching myself photography I would get home from work around 7pm and stay up until 4am playing around with my camera and Photoshop. I see my grandma (who is 94) now, and she sleeps a lot. She used to be go, go, go. I know I will get my fair share of sleep when and if I make it to that age. Napping on the other hand… I love napping so much that when I get together with some of my best girl friends, that’s how we spend time together. You know who you are. This is how you know you’re lifers. Instead of partying, you nap.

2:
I love being alone. As I’ve gotten older, being alone is bliss. Maybe it’s because I have a toddler with me 90% of the time, but I think I’ve just really learned to love my own company and I am wise enough to know that I need alone time to recharge. When I was younger, I would try to fill in the gaps. But now I know I was just filling in a void in myself and that void was just my soul telling me I need to spend more time loving myself and less time trying to find someone else to love me.

3:
I write better than I can speak. When I speak sometimes words don’t happen. Sometimes I blame it on the fact that I often am translating in my mind between Filipino, French and English. The reality is that sometimes my brain works faster than my mouth and writing gives me the opportunity to sort out my thoughts so that it’s clearer. I’ve also accepted the fact that I’m a writer. My first journal I ever wrote in was over 20 years ago. I have a huge rubbermaid full of notebooks and I haven’t stopped filling notebooks up to this day. I seriously write better and communicate better through letters, words, sentences and paragraphs. Occasionally my paintings will tell you exactly how I am feeling and what I was going through, but more often than not I would rather just write. I think if I had no voice, I would be perfectly content with just having to write to communicate.

4:
I can’t see the world the same as I used to. Going zero waste was the best thing that ever happened to me. I see right through consumerism. I don’t care for material things but what I do have, I take care of so I don’t have to be wasteful and buy more. I learned about alternative living. I will never buy a house or make car payments. I learned about Veganism. I gained more compassion. I take better care of my health and it matters to me what I put into my body and on my skin. I see that a lot of what this world is based upon is just lies and that I don’t have to do what everyone else is doing.

5:
I accept that I am one of those people that need to give back to others or I suffer. Morally, it is my responsibility to help others. I believe that if I have an abundance of love, food, shelter, clothing – whatever – you name it, I have to give back. It’s honestly why I dream of becoming rich and why I continue to donate a lot of time and money, because I believe it’s the right thing to do: to help others in need and to share. There really is more than enough to go around in this world. I guess it helps that I come from a third world country and my family still lives there. It puts everything in perspective.

6:
I accept that I don’t fit in anywhere. I can connect with everyone but there are only a very, very small handful that make me feel at home. If that makes any sense. Not too long ago I used to wonder when I would find my “tribe” and now I realize that I’m like a lone wolf with the traits of a chameleon and I’m perfectly happy with that. I read that old souls feel this way.

7:
Having less makes me happier. I recently moved into a much larger apartment and my cupboards, shelves and closets are mostly empty. I enjoy this. Having a larger apartment means more cleaning. I do not enjoy this. I’ve downsized my closet dramatically, which I will post about later. I enjoy this. My art supplies seem to be in a constant overflowing heap in the corner because of the workshops I do. I do not enjoy this. I often have panic attacks when I walk into my parents gigantic single home and look around at all the rooms full of things. I’m happy with what I have now, but I am definitely still reducing and very much enjoying it.

8:
I am not perfectly zero waste. I recently made garbage because I had a ridiculous desire to cook Asian food. Why does all that vermicelli need to be in plastic? Why does NOWHERE sell vermicelli in bulk??

9:
I care less and less about what people think of me. Being judged on a daily can make one exhausted. I don’t go a single day without someone commenting on how young I look. EVERY DAY people are always judging me by my appearance and commenting on it! And it goes on. If I don’t help someone, then I’m not really the kind person I claim to be. If I don’t answer a phone call or text, then I’m considered rude, as if I need to be stuck to my phone to make someone else’s life happier. If I don’t see someone’s post or like something on social media, than I’m considered as not being interested in that person’s life. All of this makes me exhausted and so I just don’t care. The people who really care about me know that when we get together there is just the present moment. All of it guilt free. At the end of the day I know who I am and what my priorities are. That’s what I care about.

10:
I really enjoy the limitations I have for myself. I used to think the complete opposite and I didn’t think I could do it. Part of the limitations or restrictions is because I have to. For example, eating gluten-free, I have to. Shopping zero waste, I want to and for peace of mind, I also have to. Not eating or buying animal products, I want to and morally, I also have to. Not using chemicals in the house or on my body, I have to. A few years ago, I would just do it anyway and suffer the consequences after. These days, I have the will power and honestly, it’s just not worth it. It makes life simpler not to have to choose from much. Life isn’t a giant supermarket anymore where I’m just wandering up and down the aisles wondering what to choose from. It takes less time. I don’t feel terrible after and I know that I’m staying real to myself and my values.

Done.

Being 31 is fantastic. I’ve never loved myself or my body more than I do now. Getting off the gluten helped, but really – accepting myself for who I am is just the best.

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Updates, a ZW birthday and why I won’t write here again

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It’s 3am. My app just told me sunrise is in 3 hours.

I have a confession to make, though you may already be getting prepared for it: I won’t be writing here as much. I have a post to do about my families soup and then after that I either may appear here once or twice a month or maybe never again. The reason being because I’m writing a lot elsewhere. Working on projects that aren’t meant to be publicized until they are ready and I don’t want to be writing here because it takes up my writing time for those projects.

This site was always meant to be one year, which because of this, has now turned into an online business and me speaking to kids in schools about reducing waste. Which by the way, is incredibly amazing. My first one took place a few months ago via Skype to a class in Pemberton, British Columbia. They had my face on a giant screen in their classroom. Apparently, they loved it so much the kids ask if I’ll be Skyping with them again.

Anyway.

Let’s give you a quick update shall we?

1. We’re finally launching A Dream Lived Greener on Earth Day – April 22. THIS FRIDAY. My friend and I believe in creating less waste and so we wanted to make it easy for others. Everything has been up and ready for a while, since we were supposed to launch in March. But Life in between the busy-ness of business, clients and Mama-ing can get in the way. There’s a lot off screen that happens that I never share with anyone.

2. But I will soon. These projects that I’m working on will share a lot. Some in more in-depth detail that I ever thought I could or would want to do but that I know I have to do as part of therapy. Want to know what they are?

If you don’t, oh well.

– A book about the lessons life has taught me. It’s my biography and will feature stories on how I survived child abuse, my struggles with depression and suicidal attempts/thoughts, my divorce (to name a few) and how I used art as a way to cope with many traumatic experiences. A book about learning self-love and forgiveness.

– A poetry and art book. I’ve been writing since I could pick up a pencil. I have at least two bins full of notebooks, diaries and letters. One of my best friends can attest to this because she had to pack them up when I decided not to come back from the Philippines in 2010. I write because I have to. Just like I painted because I had to. I’m an artist and over the last few years, I’ve finally accepted the title. The first time someone ever addressed me as an artist without batting an eye, was on the plane to Chicago a few weeks ago. She is a well known Canadian TV producer (look up Flashpoint) and I hope she looks me up like she told me she would because I’ll remember her forever. Some people do that to you. Anyway, I told her what I did; photographer, videograph.. and she before I was even done, she said, “Oh, so you’re an artist.”

And for once, I just confidently said, “Yes.”

Instead of… “well, yeah… I mean.. uh.. well, yeah, kind of.”

This book will be where I will have pieces of writing and art from my childhood and youth years, mixed in with pieces of writing and art with work that I’ve done in the last decade. I’m so excited about this one.

– A Zero Waste Guidebook. I’ll be giving this one away for free. Or maybe ask donations for it, which I will put towards A.R.T. In Action (where we fund free art workshops for youth facing barriers). I haven’t decided.

What do you think?

You want it to be free right?

– And lastly, a screenplay. This one I was hired for. And I can’t share much more information other than it is based on a true story. A week before I got hired to write this, I told the Universe I wanted to be a writer (as if I wasn’t already) and out of the blue, this came flying onto my lap. If that’s not a sign, I don’t know what is.

When will these come out?

When they are ready, but I have ten days to myself at the end of this month and I am writing. Doing nothing but writing, sleeping and eating. The zero waste guidebook will be the first. Then the art book. Then the biography. Then the screenplay. Good things take time. I’ve always wanted to write books since I was a kid. Writing was my first art form and so two decades later, I am finally making that dream a reality. I’ll be sharing my progress in the visual diary on my social enterprise, Dream Love Grow.

Follow Your Dream. Do What You Love. Continue to Grow. Words I live by and it only makes sense to track the progress there.

So that’s that. On to the last.

An Almost Zero Waste Birthday

Let’s share with you how I managed to make my son’s birthday party and birthday as zero waste as possible.

1. I asked for no presents from any of the guests. Other than someone bringing something that my son needed, everyone listened! My parents got him a toolbox, but he reallllllllly loved it. I don’t buy my son anything. Maybe every few months it’s penny candy. It’s the only candy that they sell at the Quickie for .5 a piece still and doesn’t come in plastic. He buys that with his money he saves.

2. I didn’t decorate. No balloons. No streamers. Nothing. My friends brought him a balloon that they had in their house, but other than that, I really tried not to have anything that I would end up throwing out.

3. Reusable cups borrowed from a friend. Paper bowls. Although these were put in the green bin by my Dad, they shouldn’t have been. They were printed on and I think were probably coated. So I failed there. My friend brought these and I brought over some reusable plates that we could wash. I also fought my Mom not to have plastic cutlery because she has tons of metal cutlery, but I got tired of arguing (I mean I was already going to a funeral so what the fuck did I care about anything?) and so we ended up using her plastic cutlery and we washed them all at the end and they are now back in her storage. Just like we would have washed all the metal cutlery. So I don’t get it, but whatever.

4. I created one thing of garbage and it was an egg roll wrapper packaging that I had from before zero waste life. We cooked filipino food and I managed to get everything sans garbage at T&T and Produce Depot. Although less waste was created, there was still some, my friend cooked a dish at home and made the cake, my Mom made two dishes and my son needed “pancit mushrooms” aka black fungus (which only comes in plastic), otherwise pancit is not pancit to him. And I just didn’t want him to cry. He cries if it’s not in the pancit. Pancit is a traditional filipino food that we eat at celebrations.

5. The cake was also reinvented for the day of his birthday. My friend made this cake and it had Optimus Prime on it. And we kept it at my parents house, slowly eating it. The birthday party was on a Saturday. His birthday was on a Tuesday. Anyway, my Mom scraped the fondant off of it, iced it with chocolate, covered it with sprinkles and brought it out for my son again on his actual birthday. On his actual birthday we do something just as a family. The candles – they are reused every year. I swear they are the same ones that we blew out as kids growing up. I’ve never bought candles.

6. No party favours. I’m not sorry that no one got sent home with anything. Two years ago I made body butter for everyone and that was the party favour. Last year we didn’t do any party favours either. We gave out hugs and thank you’s and that is more than enough. No plastic dollar store toys. Nothing that will break. Just nothing.

So in the end?

It didn’t take very long to clean up. We barely threw anything in the garbage and in the end we were all happy.

As you all know, it’s hard to be zero waste. It’s hard to cook what you want to cook, especially filipino food, zero waste. It’s just hard. But you try. You try anyway. Because that’s what matters.

I get that not everyone strives to make birthdays simple. But I do. he doesn’t need it to be fancy. He doesn’t need lots of toys or anything extravagant. All I want him to know is that there are people that love him and that being with his family and making memories together, is the most important thing in the world.

The sun is rising now. It’s time for me to go back to bed.

Until the next time – thank you for reading this. If you want to stay in the loop, I’d suggest sending me a message or subscribing at Dream Love Grow.

Much love,
Mai

 

What I use instead of saran wrap

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I know that I mentioned this in passing on my 1 year zero waste recap, but I figured I’d devote a blog to it since I couldn’t be anymore exciting in life. And I know you probably already know this because of all this zero waste knowledge being poured out into the world, so if you’re bored or doing the “yeah, yeah whatever” thing – just move along.

So what do I use instead of saran wrap?
Beeswax wrap. For you hardcore vegan and bee lovers, I’m sorry. I really do care about the bees and you can trust I won’t be buying this again just because I don’t need to ever buy it again. (Also – factory farmed bees are treated shitty. Go local and small).

Anyway. I could probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve been in a position in the last year where I needed saran wrap so to be honest, it may be something that you actually don’t need. Just keep note on what you think you’d need it for. If you’re a saran wrap junkie, you may consider switching.

Normally I just put any leftovers in my mason jars. And if you took a look in my fridge you’d think we never ate anything because there’s hardly anything in there. Could be because I learned well from my Mama, but we try really hard not to waste food. Everything gets eaten the next day or gets turned into something else or at the very least, gets frozen to be turned into the weekly soup. I can remember weekend soups made with the weeks leftovers growing up as a kid. And I swear to this day, they are the best soups I’ve ever eaten.

But seriously, my fridge. This is my fridge normally, and even this is kind of “full.”

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Anyway, I got my beeswax wrap from Life Without Plastic but I think you could find some at Terra20 and I recently discovered I can get something similar from Mother Earth Natural Health. I think the only issue with Terra20 was that it came in plastic and at MENH, it was more like a paper thing but I wasn’t really paying attention so you could just call.

With these wraps, I wouldn’t recommend wrapping meat unless you plan to use it only for meat and the meat has already been cooked. I wouldn’t know, I’ve never done it but it’s been said that the meat juice can stay in the pores of the wrap and that itself sounds disgusting.

You can wash these wraps and reuse them. I’ve had my giant flat, which I cut into three pieces and gave one away, for almost a year. You only need the heat from your hands to make them seal to glass or around things. I’ve wrapped bread in them. Covered a half cut melon. I’ve covered a glass container that had no lid with this. I’ve used it over a bowl once. And that’s about all the times I’ve ever used it. Funny how life is when you don’t make garbage.

Also, you can be brave and try to make it yourself like this Mommy did. The cloth needs to be thin and for zero wasters, choose 100% cotton muslin. Also, be prepared to make a mess. Don’t be fooled by pretty pictures, beeswax melted down is a bitch to clean up and because you’re using nature’s precious gold, I’d recommend you make sure you know what you’re doing so you don’t waste a drop.

 

Midnight musings | On depression and being thankful

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I’m thankful for everyone who donated to the online auction for A.R.T. In Action. Bidding starts March 18 @ 12PM until March 24 @9PM

I’ve had a wonderful evening. Currently I’m writing while listening to reruns of The Signal on CBC Radio 2. Which I only would have discovered because of my wonderful evening and then having to drive home from it. I heard it on the drive and then immediately had to come home to search for it online, listen to the end of it and then find replays because it’s that good. Laurie Brown just makes me want to be her friend. Her show is beautifully done.

I’m a huge fan of CBC Radio, I’ve grown up listening to it and it joins me on the car rides, but have I been living under a rock for so long that I’ve never listened to The Signal?

Ok, so maybe not a rock as much as just a lot of work both for Dream Love Grow and A.R.T. In Action. And of course my son full-time and all of my passion projects.

Who has time for radio and wonderful evenings?

Ok enough plugging CBC.

I’m really here because the music made me. It’s inspired me to share some words with you that only someone at 1AM could do.

It has to do with: Gratitude.

It’s that annoying word that comes with phrases like:

gratitude
Image Credit.

 

I say annoying because if you aren’t ready to hear things like this and you don’t really understand what this means, it sounds like a bunch of hippy dippy stuff that you feel like rolling your eyes at, forever ignoring it and in spite of it, do the opposite. Maybe it might make you want to punch something.

If I’m the only one that’s ever felt this way, well fuck. No wonder I spend a lot of time alone.

If you know what I mean, high five. You’re normal. Yes I, no garbage girl who likes to self-loathe from time to time, am telling you it’s normal.

When you’re depressed, way down the dark hole, the last thing you want to hear is (insert weird voice here) “Well, all you have to do is think positively. You know. Just practice gratitude. Be thankful and you know, life will just get better. It’s all about the right frame of mind.”

When people tell you this, ask them if they’ve ever known the feeling. The kind of feeling where nothing matters. No matter how hard you try. No matter how much you force yourself to get up. No matter how much you can’t get up. Ask those people about their experiences and have a discussion about it. Because chances are no one wants to talk about it. At least not willingly.

No one wants to be that person. Who wants to be considered an Eeyore? No, people like us stay quiet. We pretend things are good. We hide scars on our bodies. We hide tears in the darkness of the night. We cry into pillows shaped like squares with arms, legs and eyes that are affectionately labelled Mike with an orange marker.

Ok, so maybe that was just me when I was little.

The reality is there are millions of us. All ages. All races. We’re humans with a wide range of emotions, experiences, traumas, baggage, desires, hopes and dreams.

Some of us choose to hide their feelings and bury them. Others create with it, much like I do (writing is a huge part of it) and others, the feelings consume them and they take over their whole soul, sucking the life literally right out of them.

I know this because I live it. I did all of the above. Including trying to end it all so I’d never have to feel it again.

The big difference between then and now, is that now not only do I live it but I’ve somehow managed to be one of those that work towards not changing those feelings, but simply accepting them. Because healing from trauma and abuse isn’t something that just happens one day. You don’t just snap your fingers and say YA! I’m good. Life’s good! And it stays that way.

No.

It’s a lifelong process. It requires practice in every moment you can practice it. You can make the decision, which is the first step, but that process of change is a different process and a different time frame for everyone. Every day looks and feels different.

I, somehow with the help of art, learned this. I’m one of the lucky ones that got out alive and have fortunately found the space within myself for self-love and the found the strength to practice the mental tools that I’ve worked hard to acquire.

I remember the day that I decided I wanted to change. I was 19. 

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Image credit. Unknown Author.

While it did feel like I sort of just woke up – it wasn’t in the literal sense that I woke up out of bed. I had had a fight with my Mom on the phone about what, I have no clue, but it ended miserably with me hanging up on her. Normally something like this would have just been ignored and then we’d end up having tense, silent treatment moments for months if we saw each other in person.

At that moment I remember thinking and reflecting:

“I’m so angry. All of the time. I’m angry with what she did to me. I’m angry with her. I’m angry with myself. I’m just angry all of the time. At everything. At Life. And she probably doesn’t even know and doesn’t even care. I’m spending all of this time and energy being so angry at her, it’s reflecting in my life, I’m not happy, I’m angry and for what? My unhappiness or anger is not affecting her Life one bit. It’s affecting mine. Do I really want to be unhappy and angry all of the time?”

And then at that moment I remembered what I wrote when I was a little girl in one of (what seems like hundreds) of my diaries.

I JUST WANT TO BE HAPPY.

And just like that. That little girl inside me woke up. I returned back to the present moment, picked up the phone and called my Mom and just said:

“I’m sorry. I don’t want to fight. I’m sorry.”

I won’t get into the details of my relationship with my Mom because it’s long enough to be it’s own novel and is complicated, but that moment was incredibly significant and marked the beginning of what would be my lifelong, uphill climb to self-love, forgiveness, healing and happiness.

That was almost 12 years ago.

I’m putting in the work.

I can’t describe the feeling of what happened exactly to make that shift inside of me but I’m so thankful it did. Which brings me to the that annoying word I mentioned: Gratitude.

It’s been my crutch on the uphill (and downhill) journey but it is one of my main rules I follow in Life.

BE THANKFUL.

I learned this when I picked up painting. I can go back through some of my paintings and pinpoint exactly which ones marked significant moments of change in my mind. I painted like a mad person. To find inspiration for paintings and to help myself heal, I’d scour the internet and search words like:

“inner peace”
“healing”
“how to forgive”
“love yourself”
“how to be thankful”
“impacts of child abuse”

I found writers like Eckharte Tolle. Dr. Wayne Dyer. Don Miguel Ruiz. I studied Buddhism, read Free Will Astrology, learned about energies, chakras, the pain body and became inspired. I painted. When I painted I focused on only the task at hand. I breathed deeply. I had no thought and every thought. I found peace in the moment.

I submersed myself in all of the ways I could think of for me to become better. I’d read quotes and write them down. I did whatever I could do to become a happier person. I kept painting. I practiced what I learned every day and I’d do things like tell myself:

OK. For every shitty thought, you have to say two things that you are grateful for. 

I hate work.
I am thankful for the fact that I can work.
I am thankful for the money that I am able to earn to pay rent, food and bills.

My painting sucks.
I am thankful for the fact that I can look at something and paint it.
I am thankful for the fact that I have money to buy paint and that I can just paint.

And the more I did this. The more it became habit. Every shitty thought came two good ones. Eventually there were more than two. I’d write them down where I could. I have a Gratitude jar that I wrote on a piece of paper something that I was thankful for every day for the last two years. Now that I’m zero waste, I’m trying to keep it all in one journal. I write what I am thankful for either in the morning or before bed. I don’t limit it to just one or two things, if I’m on a roll, I’ll keep going.

Why do I do this?

Because it’s the easiest way for me to do that one thing. Take that one step. Even if I don’t believe it at the time. I’ll write it anyway. I’ll say something out loud that I am so happy for. I do it because I believe that your thoughts dictate your world. I was taught that in every self-help book I’ve read.

And you know what? It does work.

I’m not going to preach about all the ways that is has improved my Self, my outlook on life, the Love that I have in my life, the ways it has helped me be better as a parent and just overall, my life in general. That won’t help anyone who isn’t ready to hear it. And it sounds like I’m being all braggy brag.

All I want to say is that I am proof (at least to myself) that when you put in the work to change your thoughts, you can actually change your life. It does work. But you have to put in the work. It won’t work if you don’t.

Just the same way that you won’t win the jackpot if you don’t buy a lottery ticket.

This doesn’t mean the feelings will disappear.

I told you I’ve been working on it for 12 years.

And clearly they haven’t – you’ve read some of the deepest rawest things I’ve shared on the interwebs. Happiness is not something that you can obtain and keep. It’s not easy. Not for souls like us. Not like it was for Charlie (RIP). I’m just saying, the dark feelings are easier to manage when you can get into the habit of seeing good things.

Just like shopping zero waste is easier when you get into the habit of bringing your bags and jars.

The dark days are easier to go through when you accept the darkness. When you accept that all of dark is just part of the healing.

Like the lotus that grows in the mud.

The feelings are there. They come and go, ebb and flow like the tides in the ocean.

It makes me think of the the Cherokee story of the wolves. It goes something like this:

One evening, an elderly Cherokee brave told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.

He said, “my son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all. One is evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is good. It is joy, peace love, hope serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.”

The grandson though about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “which wolf wins?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “the one that you feed.”

But there was another version of this that I found somewhere (I think it was in The Women Who Run With the Wolves) that actually mentioned you should be feeding both sides.

Because one does not exist without the other. And if you ignore the negative feelings, they can never complete their cycle. They get cut off and have no place to go. So you must pay attention to the dark side and nurture it, accept it and also send the darkest parts of you love. That side, after all, is still a part of you. To ignore a part of you is to ignore all of you.

Which is why when I have a negative thought, I listen to it. I let it play out. It’s been heard. It’s been felt. And then after it’s good and done, I move on to a positive one.

I look ugly.
I am thankful that I have eyes to see my face.
I am thankful that someone I love thinks I look beautiful.

It’s hard work. And this, what I’ve shared is only one part of the rest of the hard, daily work I put in to being a better version of me. It is only one aspect of what I do to fulfilling that little girl’s wish in her diary:

I JUST WANT TO BE HAPPY. 

Just remember it’s been 12 years of this for me. And counting.

If you know what I’m talking about in this blog and you haven’t started, start now. Do the work every day. I’m here with you along with hundreds of thousands of others.

Take your journey to happiness, zero waste style: in small steps, one situation at a time, one day at a time and give yourself the room to make mistakes and learn from them.

 

 

on the road realities and finding peace

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Look. Let’s be honest here.

I could never be the poster girl for zero waste like Bea J. or Lauren can.

My blog isn’t all roses to make you think I’m perfect, as I’m sure you’ve realized reading through my shenanigans. I’ve dissed restaurants when I was completely frustrated, which is totally not nice. I’ve questioned my own existence in my own little privileged life. I often sit teetering in the space between feeling like the richest human on the face of the planet and somewhere that isn’t the poorest but isn’t necessarily making all my dreams come true because I don’t have all the money in the world I want to really achieve everything I want. Yet. At least not yet.

I could never be the poster girl because zero waste, while a beautiful sounding term, is impossible. I’ve mentioned this before. This isn’t new. And if it is for you, sorry to burst your bubble. In this world that was somehow designed to make people think that the best option is eating out and buying out of convenience and ease, going completely zero waste and plastic free completely is impossible unless you:

Are dead. You just need to be dead to be completely zero waste.

I should just be calling myself… two waste. I’m not zero. No one is. So I will tell people I live a two waste life.

Because that makes so much sense.

Not.

Living zero waste is easy when you have a routine, places you know you can zero waste shop at that are close by you and a stove to cook on in your home. Zero waste is easy when you live alone and you have absolutely no contact with the outside world. Ever. Zero waste is easy if you’ve been doing it for a long time. Zero waste is easy when you are an ant. Basically any animal. You just have to not be human.

Zero waste is easy when you’re in one place and you’ve settled down. When you’re in one place for periods of time longer than a night or a day.

Zero waste is not easy when you’re attending conferences that feed you food in plastic and there is no where to cook a meal. It is not easy if you’re a business that ships plastic products wrapped in plastic. It is not easy if you have twin girls and a toddler. And it’s not easy when you’re on a surprise road trip with a partner who loves life and believes that indulging is fun and that life is really too short to practice restraint all the time, every waking hour, like them Buddhist monks do.

I don’t see them making any garbage.

Travel. It is the one thing I have not mastered yet because I haven’t travelled too much since zero waste began. How can I master something if I don’t do it enough??

Universe. Are you listening? I need to master traveling zero waste.. aka two waste… so I can be better at it. Thanks for listening Universe.

And also, travelling alone is different from when you’re travelling with someone else.

I had to give myself a break so I agreed to go on an adventure. Too much work makes me angry. Too much being “on” and being a professional makes me hate life. Too much of being a mother with not enough sleep makes me the worst possible human being to be around. Too much being zero waste and seeing all the garbage out there with no end in sight makes me tired. Too much of being too much, is too much.

I want to not give a flying fuck sometimes. I am after all a human being that falters and makes mistakes and yes, I know it. I sure as hell make mistakes as a Mommy. I mean, how do you ever know if anything you’re doing is the right thing for a little child?

I never want anyone reading this blog to think I’m a perfect person that perfectly practices living zero waste like a zero waste goddess. That would be even worse than being the worst human being on the face of the planet. Who the hell is perfect? Besides Angelina Jolie of course.

All this to say, I perfectly did not practice zero waste on this adventure.

Let’s just get to confessions ok? So we can get it over with.

Confession number 1: During my little offline road adventure, I had coffee twice. With creamers. Yeah. I used those stupid plastic creamer things because I wasn’t the one paying for the meal and I was not about to waste $3 more on a kids milk. So I used creamers and do you know what I did?

I loved every minute of those two coffees.

Next confession. I used a plastic cup to mix a gin and tonic in the hotel because how the hell did I not think to call the hotel in advance and ask them if they had glass cups? How the hell did I NOT THINK OF THAT DURING A FUN TRIP? That’s what NORMAL people do right? Right?

I did not pack a drinking cup with me in my suitcase either because I was not thinking about mixing gin and tonic at the time. Although now looking back, I could have ditched the water in my stainless steel water bottle and used my water bottle for all the wrong reasons. Because that’s the right idea.

Next confession. You know those mint candies you get after a meal at some places? I hate them. But for some reason I ate one and then I spit it out after. It had a wrapper, which is now in my jar.

Lastly. One night I forgot to yell “no straw” to the bartenders who were making me vodka sodas. Which did, to my happiness, come in a reusable cup. But the amount of straws that came in my drinks (not just alcoholic ones) that were not used during this trip was.. 6? I think it was 6.

6 plastic straws.

While it’s not an excuse really, I actually wasn’t the captain of this trip. I didn’t do any of the planning, or driving. I was spoiled. I am however, the captain of my own choices and I readily admit that this captain chose to relax rather than trying to complicate something that was meant to be special and fun. And this captain did actually try to do the best with where she was even when she had no idea where she was going.

At the end of the day my values are still my values. Just because I had a few moments where I slipped doesn’t mean I’m going to keep sliding and make any excuse just so I can gleefully make garbage with reckless abandon. No. I did just came back from doing groceries and not one single item in my cart made any garbage, so I’m not spiralling out of control.

Look.

I get why I’m living zero waste. I get it. I really get it. Obviously. I believe everyone should be trying to reduce their waste wherever they are especially if you know better and you can be doing it.

But at the same time, Life is too short to waste a perfectly good trip hating yourself for every little non-zero waste “mistake.” If you’re given an opportunity to have fun with someone, don’t spend it fighting over plastic. Just make your choices separately and be zero waste where you can.

Sometimes you don’t know that hotels are going to have plastic cups. Sometimes you know that the people you are travelling with are not going to give a flying rats ass about how much garbage they’ve made. Sometimes the only choice you have is to eat greasy diner food with coffee, and you’re going to have to learn how to enjoy every second of it. Sometimes you’re going to forget to say no straw.

And that’s ok.

Of course, I really do wish that the entire world would just be easier to live this life. So zero wasters could stop feeling frustrated or guilty when they are put in situations where garbage is inevitable. I really wish that zero waste was normal, that plastic didn’t exist as an option and restaurants only had cream in cartons and not small stupid, plastic cups. I wish it was easier to make less garbage. I wish it was normal.

But until this happens, I do believe this: that the purpose of living zero waste is not to be the best. Or the most perfect. Or pretend to be. It’s about the fact that you’re even trying to practice living zero waste. Trying with where ever you are and where ever you can. But most importantly, to have fun even while you’re trying to do it.

We really are only here for a short period of time. And while I do reallllllly care about the environment and leaving this place better than I came especially for the next generation – I also care about myself enough to choose to have fun with important people, be present in the moment and find peace with any situation.

Even if the situation isn’t garbage free.