Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Retail abstinence

This is day 20, and it's still going strong. Maybe not entirely happily, but strongly. I have not wavered, even when very depressed and profoundly yearning for a latte. I didn't want to break my vow.

I realize my spending is now on line with many, many other people's, who don't spend because they cannot, not because they are choosing to. Some of the challenges I've faced I've met with gifts and loans, and just saying no. I almost bought a latte Sunday, when I was working, but I found free regular coffee and went that way instead. And I am learning to knit, and my daughter is lending me her needles and yarn, as is my knitting teacher.

Nine more days until I leave for the Quaker silent weekend retreat. I am confident I will have a rich internal dialogue to process the month of abstinence, and I will figure out what this means for life (and spending) after January 31. I don't think I want to go back to my old thoughtless if somewhat thrifty ways.

One thing I did allow myself this month is to be generous to charities. So I have not spent on myself but have given our money to good causes. Felt great.

Peace, y'all


Friday, January 15, 2010

On Haiti

Poor Haiti. Literally and figuratively.

Haiti is the poorest nation in our hemisphere, in the shadow (literally and figuratively) of the hemisphere's and the planet's richest nation.

It thrills me and relieves me and puzzles me to learn of the millions of dollars and euros pledged to help Haiti. The world is mobilizing, and in a peaceful and (mostly) nonpartisan way. It's amazing how quickly the richer nations opened their checkbooks, so to speak. That's the thrill and relief.

Now the puzzle. How far will the rich nations go to make Haiti whole?

When there is order in the streets? When there is running water? When the port is restored? When the prison is fixed and the prisoners rounded up? When the UN and government ministries are rebuilt? When there is enough infrastructure to allow the citizens of Haiti the rights in the UN's universal declaration?

or just when the rubble is cleared?

And how will each nation decide when to stop? I think public opinion is part of the answer.

I want my nation to help make Haiti whole.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Gays in the military, Southern Christian leadership Conference

Not feeling terribly inspired today so I'll just share a few facts and ideas.

Fact: On this day in 2000, England lifted its ban on gays in the military. Good for them! I haven't heard that the earth stopped spinning or that the mililtary has fallen apart (though come to think of it, I wouldn't really mind if it did).

On this day in 1957, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference was founded in Atlanta. This group focused first and foremost on civil rights through the use of non-violence. Boycotts. Marches. Voter registration. All good things, and just as relevant today.

So I ask: do you walk your talk? Do your purchases align with your values? Do you chose recreation that fosters your spirit and helps improve the world?

Off my soap box. I wonder when I'll get my next chance to register voters?

Thanks to the great folks at Nebraskans for Peace, who produce the Cat Lovers Against the Bomb calendar with the facts that almost inspired me today. And maybe gave you a thing or two to think about, as well

peace, y'all


Monday, January 11, 2010

Learning from the World Community

Small epiphany today. If we visit a poor country and see the poverty, we would first feel shock, then get ideas on how to help.

So, it is as well when people from poor countries, or European countries (where the standard of living is high but by using far fewer resources) visit us.

They're amazed (to put it politely) at the amount we waste. The packaging. The food. The driving everywhere. They are impressed (and not in a good way) at the shocking majority of us who are overweight. They see our big cars, our drive-throughs, our big houses and huge grocery stores too big and far apart to get to any other way but driving. They see our huge closets, just bursting with stuff. They see our self-storage cottage industry.

We can share education, infrastructure, sanitation, and public health resources with the others in the world, and they can show us how to live joyfully on far, far less.

Today I viewed my world through the eyes of someone from another country, and didn't like what I saw.

The retail abstinence continues. Day 11. I find I enjoy browsing in catalogs and don't mind stores too much. It's getting easier! I realized today we are saving a LOT of $$ by not going out to eat at all.

We hosted a nice dinner last night for two women friends and their daughters. I opened a bottle of wine (didn't finish it), but also received one, so I think I broke even on that expense. I bought very little for this meal. I had the pork and the bacon (local!), I had the potatoes from the CSA, I had the pears from the CSA. Need to buy the cresent rolls, nuts, brussels sprouts, cheese. That wasnt' too much.

I entertained the daughters with my cats and then with learning to fold cranes. They both embraced it quicky and happily. It gave me happiness as well to share my interest.

In the interest of promoting peace, I shared with the two women issues of the newsletter from Right Sharing for World Resources. Perhaps RSWR will get their moral support (likely) and financial support (I hope).

Hoping to make the world a better place.....

Peace, y'all


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Who would Jesus bomb?

Day 10 of the retail abstinence. Either 21, 18, or 11 days to go, depending on trips during which I'll need to buy food on the road and could get a latte as well (milk plus buzz--why ever not?).

I am encouraged. I am at worst, 1/3 through this and the only hard part is lattes. The rest is a snap. I think I could easily go retail-free every other day, or weeks at a time, besides the coffee element.

I have wondered what I would turn TOWARD as I said no to most retail temptation (I still buy gas, bread, milk, meds). I am still asking. I know I'm enjoying my regular coffee more and I think I have more time and am getting more done. That's about it. So far.

I browsed in a catalog from Northen Sun, just packed with T shirts, posters, buttons and bumperstickers that say YES to me. A few really resonated, such as the one where people were worshipping the coffee cup, and the How-to-make-community posters, and the "Who would Jesus Bomb?" bumpersticker.

Who would Jesus bomb? Dear God, what a question. I think the answer is "no one, today." I don't know about the past or future. But Jesus represents love and forgiveness to me, and nothing about love and forgiveness supports bombing.

I moved through yesterday thinking "what can I do today to make the world a better place?" And I came up with a few answers. I turned down the thermostat. I smiled at people. I didn't rise (or sink) into the arguments my spouse was throwing my way.

And I didnt' bomb anyone.

Peace, y'all


Saturday, January 9, 2010

a little at a time

Last night's peace offering went well, and my retail abstinence continues but I can't say it goes well. I miss my lattes!

The group at the youth center had what they call "check in," in which each person says their name, their age, astrological sign, orientation, preferred pronoun, a good thing that happened this week, a bad thing that happened this week, answer to a silly question (if you were a piece of clothing, what would you be, and why) and a serious question (what could you do tomorrow to make the world a better place?")

I proposed the serious question. It inspired me to frame my fairly unplanned day. So far I have met a new neighbor and given out voter registration forms, and have loved up my kitties and trimmed claws on 3 of them.

I will go now and turn down the thermostat and restore order to my home.

Peace, y'all

Friday, January 8, 2010

Today's peace offering

As I write, my husband is grating the cheese and this afternoon we'll make a huge batch of mac and cheese for tonight. This is the peace offering. We, along with two of my coworkers, are preparing dinner for up to 12 lbtq's - teens who are lesbian, bisexual, trans-something, or queer. I pronounce this liberty-Q's. Mayba Gliberty'Q, if I add gay to the front of this.

As hard as it must be to not align with the preponderance of popular culture, face bullying, hatred, and discrimination, it would be harder still to go through the difficult teen years that way. So we want to show and give support to these teens, to accept them unconditionally and have a fine and really fun game of Apples to Apples and Cranium.

Fun and tasty peace offering, I think.

Peace, y'all


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Do Justice

While I await inspiration and energy, I want to share the day's entry on the perpetual calendar from Alternatives for Simple Living (800-821-6153).

The first principle is not "Think about Justice," or even "Believe in Justice." it's "Do Justice!" Besides our prayers, our contributions, and our pressure on governments, we help the world's poor by consuming less, thereby making more available for others. Biblical Justice reflects God's great love for the poor and our parallel call to live in a way that positively responds to their needs."

So concise and right!

I am consuming less this month by declining to buy. I am having a month of retail abstinence. The hard part is staying away from lattes. The rest is not too bad. Last night we went to Costco to buy a few things on our grocery list. I felt interest but no temptation from all the other stuff there.

More on justice. Just a brief pause to consider it gave me an idea. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals just ruled that felons in prison have a right to vote. My local newspaper deplored this but I embrace it. The disenfranchised in our culture are the ones who suffer injustice - children, illegal aliens, plants and animals, air and water, the poor. Isn't it justice enough to lock up those folks?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Cat Lovers Against the Bomb tells me that on this day in 1941, President Roosevelt gave his 4 freedoms speech. (

It also tells me today is Epiphany. For a mainstream American, this is a quaint old holiday that our culture barely recognizes. Out of fashion, as it were. Probably we are all just nursing our holiday hangovers and need to burrow into our homes and work till the days get longer and the earth renews.

In Catholic countries, especially Eastern Orthodox ones, ephiphany is a much bigger deal. Significantly for Americans, especially in the South, it's the kickoff of the carnival season and the beginning of the festivities that culminate on Fat Tuesday. The king cakes related to Mardi Gras actually relate to Epiphany,which is the date Christians celebrate the visits to the baby Jesus by the 3 kings, or magi.

My retail hangover hurts. I don't mind the lack of shopping but the cold turkey approach to lattes is sad.

Pathetically yours


Monday, January 4, 2010

a bit of preaching

The AltSimLiv calendar has introductory-type info for the first few days. Today's message resonates with me and perhaps with you, whoever you are.

"Living more simply may mean dealing with our own resentment when others don't "get it." When we are making corrections to lieve more responsibly, and others don't seem to have the slightest inclination to change their wasteful ways, we may feel angry. We can be living testimonials. We are not judgmental but we speak up whenever we have the chance." Alternatives fo Simple Living, 800-821-6153.

I try not to feel angry at others who are behind me on the path to simple and sustainable living. I love the idea of being a living testimonial. At the same time, no sense in hiding our light under a bushel!

So I'll try harder not to judge all the single-occupant cars that pass me when I wait at the bus stop, especially since many times I am one of those drivers!

The other thing that gets to me are engine idlers. In 2008 I stopped using drive-throughs and no longer idle the car except at traffic lights. (and sometimes not then eithe!) How do I be a living testimonial of something I'm NOT doing anymore?

I am led to distribute propaganda supporting the anti-idling message to idlers I encounter. But I fear this is too judgmental, presumptious, arrogant, etc. I'm not ready yet to go forward with this.

The last two sentences of the AltSimLiv message make me think about the sins of pride and the others (lust, sloth, gluttony, greed? I don't recall) Pride is my challenge.

My retail abstinence is going alright. But the month is young.

Peace, y'all


Sunday, January 3, 2010

Peace is non-linear and today it's circular

The path to peace is not linear, and today I'm seeing this quite clearly. My decision to reuse my eternal calendar from the good people at Alternatives for Simple Living ( lead me back to Doris Janzen Longacre's Living more with Less.

Alternatives for Simple Living is a non-profit organization that equips people of faith to challenge consumerism, live justly and create meaningful celebrations (cut and pasted straight from their web site). It's Christian in a gentle and practical way.

Doris Janzen Longacre was a Mennonite, and this book is part of the Mennonite Central Committee's work to meet human needs world wide. It's nourishing. Like hors d'ourves rather than a 3-course dinner. Her categories are

Do Justice

Learn from the World Community

Nurture People

Cherish the Natural Order

Nonconform freely

Yummy! It comforts me to organize my own activities along these lines. Is my food donation today a "nurture people" and "do justice" ??? Is my party tonight to make it fun to take down the Christmas tree sort of "nonconform freely?" Am I doing a bit to cherish the natural order when I recycle?

As I drink coffee grown and processed by Gustavo in Turriabla Costa Rica I feel pretty good. I honor the memory of Doris Janzen Longacre.

Back to circular. I got this book years and years ago and it has rested quietly on my bookshelf for quite a while. It's practically new to me once more.

I did some work with AltSimLiv years ago too. And I am led there once more. (More on this in Sept or October 2010.)

Peace, y'all


Saturday, January 2, 2010

Retail abstinence

I decided last week to have a moratorium for shopping in January. No retail, besides groceries, medicines, stuff for cats, toothpaste, stuff like that. No restaurants either, unless I'm traveling. The very hardest part of this for me is staying away from Starbucks, Coffee Bean, etc.

I am eager to learn what I will say YES to while saying NO to shopping. I am also eager to compare expenditures in January from those say, last September.

This is like the polar bear dip, I think. January is the longest, darkest, coldest month (beside December, which is full of activity and lights).

This is my way of deepening faith and practice, to have a new approach to daily living. I think when it is over I will have learned to spend less, and more wisely.

Peace, y'all