Hiatus

May 4, 2013

I’m taking a Hiatus from vlogging for a few days. Why? Because:

I’ve run out of room.

I’m halfway through a 30-day decluttering/minimizing challenge and my hard drive is so full that I can no longer download the videos from my camera.

Oh, the irony!!!*

This is like the chubbly 'before' picture...

This is like the chubbly ‘before’ picture… still working my way towards minimalism!

So I’m in the process of transferring all my thousands of photos and videos to my terrabyte external drive…which is over halfway full.

I’ve been trying to manually transfer photos in batches the last few weeks, organizing them in the old labelled folder system (hey, I was on PCs from age 12 to 32 – 20 years!) and right this second iPhoto says I still have…11,656 photos and videos to go. *sigh*

With 11,656 photos to go (I think I started around 15,000) this manual thing is gonna take waaay too long.

So I’m gonna figure out how to do this the right, simple, easy way! And I’ll let you know (if you ALREADY know, you can leave me a message in the comments – help a sister out!). From a few seconds of checking with Guru Googleji it looks like I might just be able to drag-n-drop my iPhoto Library on to the eternal… but I want to have some on my computer too, and I don’t want to always have to have my eternal drive plugged in.

I was thinking about this topic earlier: I didn’t get the souped-up speakers or the extra hard drive because I allowed the men I was asking for advice to talk me out of it. “You don’t need that much storage!” “You can add memory!” “You can get some good speakers!” Wrong on #1, that’s really implausible on #2, and #3, As a nomad/aspiring minimalist I really don’t like to have to have things plugged into my computer – external hard drives OR speakers.

So, next time, I’m going big and getting my computer tricked out EXACTLY how I want it! Considering I spend hardly anything on shoes, clothing, makeup or hairstyling products, an extra grand or two once every few years on a swanky Macbook or Air seems totally reasonable to me.

I’m off to sort out the photo stuff so I can continue bringing you more videos and photos.

In the meantime check out the thunderheads we had today!

Mashed potato clouds!!!

 

*(modern Alanis definition of irony)

Yesterday’s video was accidentally set on private; sorry about that! It’s now public so check it out:

And here’s today’s video, Day 7:

(Check out the beautiful Italian clouds!!!)

The Three Keeps List:

1. Black Vibrams – I’ve been wearing Vibrams for three or four years now. I love them so much I can’t imagine life without them. Well, I could, but it would be really blistery. I really should be sponsored by Vibram, considering how many people I’ve prosthelytized to over the years and around the world (Argentina REALLY wants Vibrams!).

2. Inspiration book 2009 – I started making these little books in 2006. They’re part inspiring quotes and photos, part mini vision board, part life tips, part happy memories.

3. Inspiration book 2010 – Out of one of these books I read the 12 Keys to Happiness from scientist Sonja Lyubomirsky’s book The How of Happiness – These are keepers too! 

1. Expressing Gratitude

2. Cultivating Optimism

3. Avoiding Overthinking and Social Comparison

4. Practicing Acts of Kindness

5. Nurturing Social Relationships

6. Developing Strategies for Coping

7. Learning to Forgive

8. Increasing Flow Experiences

9. Savoring Life’s Joys

10. Committing to Your Goals

11. Practicing Religion and Spirituality

12. Taking Care of Your Body: Meditation + Physical Activity + Acting Like a Happy Person

Yep. That’s pretty much it. I think I’ve got these covered! (At least, I work on them all every day. Still fine tuning, of course.) I origionally heard about Sonja’s book from Philosophers Notes, one of my favorite things ever – all the best personal growth/spirituality books summarized into 20 minute audio bites and 6-page PDFs. Highly recommended.

The Five Releases List:

1. X-mini MAX speaker – I did a TON of research when trying to find good portable travel speakers (I always obsessively research any electronics pre-purchasing) and I finally went with these guys. Not only is the sound excellent for their size, they’re not outrageously expensive, they charge via USB (no need to buy batteries) AND they run for 4-5 hours without being plugged in – perfection! I ordered these while I was living in Argentina and had a friend from the States bring them down as it’s quite difficult/expensive to get electronics with Argentina’s closed economy… they lasted for about 6 months until someone else broke one; then I used the single one for another 6 months until this one fritzed out too. Damned planned obsolescence.

2. Cannon charger – Also while in Argentina I had my friend bring me a new Cannon camera to replace the old Panasonic Lumix (which I’ve been recording most of these videos on). The Lumix stops working occasionally – ever since I took it to Burning Man and it got playa dust inside the lens – hence those spots that show up in most of my videos. Anyways, after more obsessive electronics researching, I got the Canon Powershot ELPH 300. It was my very favorite camera ever. Super compact, clear bright colors… the Lumix’s High def video and wide lens is a bit better for video but the ELPH definitely too better photos. And then, one day, I was hiking in some mountains in Patagonia, and somewhere during an off-trail 3 hour hike, my camera disappeared. Poof. I did the extremely steep 3 hour trail every day for the next 7 days, until it rained. Then I gave up. I never did find the camera. I hope some gaucho found it while he was horseback riding and was able to see the video of me and my friend Anne standing at the top of the mountain in high wind, screaming. Anyways, the camera was claimed by mother earth, and I no longer have any need for this charger. Why do I still have this charger one full year after losing that camera? No idea.

3. Art Eraser – I thought I lost my Faber-Castell eraser (oh, that name makes me feel like I’m back in art school). But then I found it. Donating this to the Academy!

4. Mystery key – I hate having old mystery keys. It torments me.

5. Brown hat – I was given this very good Wallaroo hat by a friend shortly before I left LA. I’ve worn it maybe twice in the past two years. They’re really good quality hats, but I just never wear it.

I ran across this Anais Nin quote that I love:

“There are very few human beings who receive the truth, complete and staggering, by instant illumination. Most of them acquire it fragment by fragment, on a small scale, by successive developments, cellularly, like a laborious mosaic.”

I feel like this challenge is slowing putting a few mosaic squares in every day… gradual change, transformation, unfolding. I’m really enjoying this challenge, but I’m not sure how I’ll still have stuff to get rid of at Day 30. We’ll see…

“Be as simple as you can be; you will be astonished to see how uncomplicated and happy your life can become.”  – Paramahansa Yogananda

“Sometimes letting things go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on.”    – Eckhart Tolle

“You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor.”  -Aristotle

“Every artist was first an amateur.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

A year ago I had lunch with one of the first geneticists to come out against GMOs in the ’90s, a little spitfire of a woman named Dr. Mae-Won Ho. After releasing a  report criticizing GMOs, her funding was revoked, her lab was shut down, and she was removed from her position.

Unfortunately this sort of thing happens much more frequently than you’d think would be possible in what is supposed to be an ‘objective’ discipline.

I was reminded of this today while watching climate scientist’s James Hansen’s TED talk today:

“[White House] Energy Policies continued to focus on finding more fossil fuels… I decided to give a public talk criticizing the lack of an appropriate energy policy. This led to calls from the White House to NASA headquarters and I was told that I could not give any talks or speak to the media without prior explicit approval by NASA headquarters.”

‘Science’ is not necessarily objective. It is political, and above all, it is commercial, paid for by people motivated by profit. Though I suppose it’s silly to separate the political from the commercial anymore.

Those scientists who speak out against the general consensus and status quo are often censored or alienated; in that way today is not much different from Galileo’s age, were it not for the existence of a free internet (for now) through which people can much more quickly share and access the truth. Ok well that and the fact that it’s no longer legal to set someone aflame for heresy. 🙂

Why am I writing about this? I generally espouse the belief that we create our own realities through our focus, and that it is pointless to waste energy on negativity.

So maybe it’s pride, I-told-you-so, yet another story that illustrates the views I’ve presented on this blog, on Facebook, and in conversations over the last few years.

Maybe it’s awareness – if you are aware of what’s behind the illusions and lies of this material world, you can choose something different. The contrast between what is and what you want can give you the power/energy/motivation to get active in creating what you want.

Where I take issue is with focusing on all of the negativity in the world, posting articles and rants and missives, but not DOING anything about it in one’s own life.

I am trying to live in a way that is aligned with my values, and the strongest of which is living in alignment with the natural world, both for selfish and altruistic reasons. I decided a few weeks ago that I would prefer to live somewhere without cars. At first I was researching intentionally or historically car-free cities; and then the opportunity to live on a ranch in Patagonia popped up, so I took it.

If health and beauty and nature and the environment are important to you, as they are to me, what actions can you take, wherever you’re at, to live in ways that align with your beliefs? Can you ride your bike somewhere instead of driving? Can you make an adventure out of navigating the public transportation system in your city? Can you begin to minimize your consumption of products in general, ALL of which indirectly consume oil via plastic and shipping, and contribute to the destruction of our planet?

I suppose that my reason for focusing on the discouraging yet inspiring stories of people like Dr. Mae-Won Ho and James Hansen is to see what exists now, clarify what I want for myself and my world, and begin to take action that will move me in that direction.

So: What do you want your world to be like? And what choices can you start making that will take you there?

Day 9 Sugar-Free

February 22, 2012

Somewhere between Argentina and Uruguay, Jan 2012. Photo by Michelle Perry.

Along with giving up sugar (and, I just realized, all other intoxicants, ie coffee) I’ve decided to give up commitments, obligations, guilt and shame.

It’s been magical. Yesterday was one of the best days of my life.

More to come – I’m working on a couple of drafts simultaneously – but I had to share these quotes I found on a website that details how to live on a boat:

One of the most tragic things
I know about human nature
is that all of us tend to put off living.
We are all dreaming of some
magical rose garden over the horizon
instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming
outside our windows today.
– Dale Carnegie

I like to walk about among
the beautiful things that adorn the world;
but private wealth I should decline,
or any sort of personal possessions,
because they would take away my liberty.
– George Santayana

 

30-Day No Sugar Challenge

February 13, 2012

Photo by Lauri Andler from Wiki

 

I am addicted to sugar. I never felt truly addicted to smoking or alcohol or drugs – none of which I put in my body anymore – but sugar still kicks my ass. Anyone who’s followed my blog these last few years has read about my trails and tribulations with sugar many, many times.

I am also allergic to sugar. It makes my system acidic, causing inflammation, which makes me break out (little tiny pimples all over my face) and contributes to flare-ups of psoriasis. I’ve had psoriasis consistently for almost two years now.

I’ve given up sugar a few times in the past, but never made it longer than a few weeks. I tried again at the beginning of 2012, but after 6 days (during which I felt amazing) I caved and went back to my cycle of sugar binging.

So this time, I’ve decided to place a wager. I’ve bet my friend China Brooks that I can go 30 days without eating refined sugar, starting today. She also is going sugar-free, and if either of us give into temptation during the 30 days, we have to Paypal the other $25. I don’t generally make bets but I’m pretty sure I’m too proud and stubborn to lose one. 😉

Many people are unaware of the truth about sugar – how addictive it is, how toxic it is, and how prevalent it is in processed foods. I’ve experienced the physical, emotional and spiritual gains that come with giving it up. I’ll be exploring these over the next 30 days as I share my experiences and struggles and, hopefully, win my bet.

 

 

What’s In Your Fish?!

November 14, 2011

I’ve been learning some awful things about seafood lately. For example:

The U.S. inspects only TWO PERCENT of all imported seafood.

What percentage of all seafood in the U.S. is imported?

EIGHTY FIVE PERCENT.

Of that two percent that’s actually tested, FORTY PERCENT of seafood tests “positive for banned drugs that are not safe for human health,” carcinogens like nitrofuran and and malachite green. And there are many, many more chemicals aren’t even tested for.

On top of that, half of the world’s seafood is raised in farms, and antibiotics are liberally dumped into the water of farmed fish.

Most people consider fish to be the healthiest of meats. But considering the carcinogens, chemicals and antibiotics that come along with the fish, it’s looking like this belief is incorrect.

On to the environmental consequences of seafood: did you know that for about 7-8 shrimp caught by commercial fishing, TEN POUNDS of ‘trash fish’ are killed and thrown, dead, as trash, back into the ocean?? I learned that fun fact from this TED talk by Brian Skerry, a man who’s been photographing the seas for the last 30 years.  He’s witnessed the changes that have happened  in that brief timespan, and shares some incredibly beautiful, and incredibly awful, underwater photos.

In this fish-related article, which you should read, since it’s by one of my favorite writers Mark Morford, Morford vacillates between hope and despondency when faced with the reality of running out of tuna. There are a mere 9,000 bluefin tuna left in the Gulf, now surely many fewer after the BP spill and the dispersal chemicals the company dumped into the ocean – which turn out to be even more toxic than the oil itself.

“Destroy them, and we destroy more than just another everyday, “disposable” species. Their destruction will be a profound marker, a signifier of something far larger and more ominous. Like the honeybees, like the drowning polar bears, like the fresh water crisis, the end of tuna will be of those epic fails we look back upon in a few years and say, “There. Right there. That was one of the signs.” We don’t get many more.

My Republican moment came as I was nearing the end of the piece, feeling sickened and increasingly depressed, to the point where a sense of abject fatalism finally struck, a sense of just giving up, that wickedly painful moment where the heart has to step away from the scene before it implodes, and the survivalist/capitalist mind takes over and just powers through the nightmare, greedily gabbing on to whatever bits of gristle it can suckle.”

Our oceans, aside from being poisoned with runoff and heat and acid and chemical pollution and oil spills and dispersals, are being fished to the point of emptiness. From overfishing.org:

Worldwide, about 90% of the stocks of large predatory fish are already gone.

In 1900 our oceans contained at least six times more fish than they do in 2009.

I could go on, but I’m sure you’re already getting depressed.

While I love seafood, I cut way back a few years ago after my Ayurvedic doctor counseled me against consuming it. He says that seafood rots quickly in your digestive system and contributes to acidity; I tend towards acidity anyways, so it’s something I should avoid (this may or may not be true for other people, though the American diet is heavily acidic).

I am planning on attending one last high-end sushi dinner at a closed-door restaurant here in Buenos Aires in December, but after learning all of the above, after that I am considering giving up seafood entirely; for my own health and the health of the planet. We’ve all heard the Gandhi’s quote, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Well, the change I wish to see is the end of the destruction of our oceans, and I definitely wish not to get cancer. So if giving up seafood is a step in those directions, that’s what I choose to do.

How to Create Energy

February 5, 2011

A friend asked me the other day what I do to get so much energy.

There are probably 100 factors but here are a few I feel I have control over right now:

1. Eating Clean

I’m 36 days into my Clean Eating Challenge. I’ve dropped intoxicants (alcohol, caffeine) and severely limited refined sugars, processed foods (including bread), dairy, and meat (when I do eat meat, it’s chicken). I really feel like my body needs less sleep now – I’m guessing less recovery time from the stress you create in your body by eating foods your body isn’t made to process. My skin is so much softer and clearer. My memory is better – I realized recently that I now remember people’s names after hearing them one time (that one’s pretty strange), and I find I can remember everything without having to write it down (I’ve started shopping without grocery lists). My sense of smell is sharper. I have fewer emotional lows. My psoriasis is fading. The pea-sized subcutaneous cyst that I’ve had on my neck for a few years is almost entirely gone (when I put the paste my Ayurvedic doctor gave me on it it shrinks, but I have to keep that up or it returns).

What I AM eating is foods from Farmer’s Markets. I no longer shop at Whole Foods due to their policies on Genetically Modified Organisms and Monsanto, and I’ve been to Trader Joe’s about 3 times this year. I’ve started to get to know my Farmer’s Market vendors in Santa Monica and Beverly Hills and Culver City, and they’ve started cutting me deals! Last weekend I made my Leek, Sweet Potato and Pear soup, with Ginger Asparagus Quinoa with a Carrot Ginger sauce on top of that.  I’m also eating a lot of Bolani (available at both the CC and BH markets). Bolani is my new favorite thing – it’s like a quesadilla made with super-thin naan-like tortillas, and instead of cheese it’s stuffed with lentils or pumpkin or spinach or potato (the first two are my favorites). When I need a sugar fix, I eat fresh melt-in-your-mouth dates. If you have a sweet tooth and you’ve never had fresh dates, you need to try them.

2. Meditating

Last year I meditated about 6 days a week; on the 1st of 2011 I made a 100% commitment to daily meditation, and intend to keep that for the rest of my life. Some days it’s 15 minutes, and some days it’s an hour. Some days it’s in my room, some days it’s on my porch, some days it’s on the beach. Like eating clean is clearing out my body, I feel like meditating is clearing out my mind.  Science is proving that meditating is exactly like working out. Your brain is a muscle, but instead of physical strength you’re building focus and clarity. Ideas flowing to me.

3. Exercising

I do yoga two days a week; I run a few days a week as training for a 1/2 marathon I intend to complete in May; I try to talk a walk every day either during lunch or after dinner, and I try to hike on the weekends. We all know that, paradoxically, exercise energizes you.

4. Saying No

In 2011 I’ve been practicing saying No to energy drains. Energy drains like intoxicants  and refined sugar and sub-optimal foods, but also energy drains like people, or like doing things I don’t REALLY want to do. I’m simply being honest with people – everyone – including my boss. If I don’t want to do something, I tell them. If I’m not available to talk to them on the phone about their problems, I tell them. I make it clear that it’s not personal and my saying no is not a reflection of how much I do or don’t value them as a person or as a friend; but I’m just getting more real. It’s so refreshing, and I’m finding out that it works better for everyone.

5. Doing what I love

I wake up crazy early because I’m EXCITED to get up!!! I want to meditate and write and create! I want to read empowering and inspirational quotes on Twitter! I want to come up with ideas and work on co-creative projects with people I love working with! That could be #6: co-creative projects. I am working on awesome, fun, inspiring projects, (outside of my day job) with about 6 different partners right now. These are projects I’m doing just because I WANT TO, but working with another person keeps me moving forward when, if I were trying to do it by myself, I might give up. I’m hoping that eventually I will be able to support myself I know that soon I will be able to support myself doing things I love with people I love. That’s my #1 goal. Create my perfect day, every day. And with these small steps, create my ideal life.

So,  this is where I think I’m getting all this energy. Join me?

 

“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.”

– Alexander Graham Bell

“One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power.”

– Tony Robbins

[quotes shared by the awesome Mastin Kipp at TheDailyLove.com ]

Have you ever looked at what you’re eating (or drinking) and thought, “What’s in this??” A lot of what we choose to put into our mouths ends up making us sick.

For the month of May I’m attempting not to eat any processed food, refined sugar, caffeine, alcohol, or any other intoxicants (I hadn’t thought of sugar as an intoxicant until someone pointed it out…but it does affect your mood!). Also, no dairy, except for goat milk. I’ve been seeing an Ayurvedic doctor for a few years – he practically cured my mother’s Multiple Sclerosis, and I went to him for recurring sinusitis/bronchitis. I don’t get either of those anymore.

I’d need to spend a few hours going into detail about Ayurveda, but I like to describe it as the Indian version of Chinese medicine. Ayurveda is all about keeping your body in balance by eating the right foods for your system. Imbalances cause disease. The whole premise is that if you eat right and keep your body in balance, you don’t need doctors. In the same way that Western Medicine/science is finally figuring out why Buddhists have been meditating for thousands of years (thickens your brain & gives you all kinds of emotional benefits – that’s a whole ‘nother blog post too), scientific research is finally starting to back up the things that Ayurvedic wisdom figured out 5,000 years ago…when people didn’t have anything else to do besides sit around and figure the best things to eat for your system.  🙂

Anyways, here’s what I’ll be eating for this month, according to the diet perscribed to me (it’s different for everyone, and the diet gets less restrictive as you get more in balance). I’ve tried to roughly stick to these guidelines for the past few years, but I’ve never tried it 100%. It’s not about eating vegan, or even raw – for me, everything’s supposed to be cooked (though I don’t cook my fruit…):

Spinach, Green Leafy Veggies, Carrot, Celery, Cucumber, Zucchini, Green Peas, Leek, Beets, Asparagus, Squashes, Sweet Potatoes, Endive, Artichoke, Kale, Eggplant, Radish, Sprouts, Turnips, Onion (cooked), Bittergourd, Cilantro, Dandelion

Apples, Pears, Persimmons, Dates, Figs

Almonds, Almond Milk, Hot Low-Fat Goat Milk, Honey

Kidney Beans, Lentil, Mung Beans, Masoor Beans

Chicken, Turkey

Garlic, Ginger, Basil, Pepper, Sage, Salt, Thyme, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Clove, Coriander, Cumin, Dill, Fennel, Fenugreek, Mint, Mustard Seed, Nutmeg, Oregano, Parsley, Turmeric

Whole Wheat, White rice (basmati), Brown Rice, Corn, Oats, Spelt, Kamut, Barley, Buckwheat, Millet, Rye

Olive Oil, Canola Oil, Corn Oil

Popcorn, Puff Wheat, Rice Cakes, Rice Chewies

Tea: Ginger, Peppermint, Black Tea, Breath Easy, Burdock, Chamomile, Dandelion, Eucalyptus, EMR, Eyebright, Fenugreek, Licorice, Mint, Sarsaparilla, Throat Coat, Uva Ursi, Valerian

Read this Dan Millman quote today:

“You are the expert on your body and life — who knows it better? Listen to others’ views — then find out what works best for you. Life is an ongoing experiment. We only reach a conclusion when we get tired of thinking.”

So, I’m experimenting.  I got a psoriasis flare-up around Coachella; scientists don’t know what causes psoriasis but lack of sleep and acidic food/drink (coffee and alcohol) can be triggers. I’ve tried to make some small adjustments to my diet in the last few weeks but the psoriasis is sticking around. We’ll see if a month of this helps!

Consumer Fast – Day 2

January 6, 2010

I succeeded in not buying anything on Day 1 of my challenge—and I even bartered my way out of paying for pre-existing dinner plans!

Friends at Catalyst Art Collective downtown are doing a fun little experiment in which you can come over for five days of nommy homemade vegetarian dinners at $5 a pop, or buy individual meals for $7. I’d already committed to Tuesday (Pesto Calzones) and Thursday (The Legendary Peace Patties) before starting the Consumer Fast. So I had my $7 ready last night. Fortuitously, one of my friends jokingly offered to pay me $5 to perform what he considers a loathsome chore—folding laundry. I bargained up to $7 and viola—free dinner! Woohoo for archaic nonmonetary exchange systems!

 This morning, I planned to get up early and do some reading for a project I’m working on. Whenever I get up early, especially to read or write, I always want coffee. I love coffee but have cut back considerably, since I’m pretty sure it contributes to my psoriasis flare-ups. On Day 1 of the CFC, I brewed my own coffee at home in my French press. But…it didn’t taste very good. It wasn’t…fulfilling. That might be because the bag of Peet’s I have has been sitting in my cupboard for a very long time. So I didn’t want to brew at home this morning. I decided (rationalized) that since I’d saved $7 the night before, it would be ok for me to spend two of those dollars on a cup of coffee on Day 2. But I was torn…was I already breaking the fast after only 24 hours?!?

 My plan was to walk down to Organics To Go (makers of the best cuppa coffee in Los Angeles, according to me), take my coffee and my Kindle to Hancock Park (home of the La Brea Tarpits), find a sunny spot on a bench, and read for a few hours. Still feeling guilty about spending $2 on coffee on the second day of my fast, I dug around in my wallet to see if I had any “frequent drinker” coffee cards from Organics To Go. You know, the ones where you get 10 punches and the 11th cup is free. Well guess what—I did. I had a card with 10 punches. WIN! I got free dinner the night before, and I could get free coffee this morning!!!!!! I was ecstatic!!! I pulled on my Vibram FiveFinger shoes (see prior blogs) and strolled down to Organics…but…the tables weren’t set out in front. Maybe the barista had gotten to work late…well, at least the doors are open…but…where is the coffee station? Where is the salad bar that was built into the wall? NOOOO! OUT OF BUSINESS!!! GONE! FAIL!      

 So that sums up my morning: pride (bartering the night before), guilt (wanting to buy a $2 cup of coffee), elation (surprise free coffee card in wallet), redemption (not spending the $2 and sticking to the fast), devastation (favorite coffee shop in Los Angeles is closed. No coffee).

 *sigh*

So I went back home, made a cup of plain Irish Breakfast Tea, which wasn’t bad or good…but had a little bit of caffeine in it, I suppose.  

I was also going through old emails last night and, oddly enough, ran across this DailyOm from Dec 31st:

 >>>
Filling Imaginary Voids – DailyOm.com
“Consuming To Heal: In our culture today, we are constantly encouraged to consume. This includes food as well as purchasing ever newer items that we may not need, often using money that we may not actually have. It could be that we are trying to fill a void we feel within ourselves, but if we take the time to examine it, we know deep inside that this is not the solution. We may notice how quickly the joy fades after our purchase or once the food we’ve enjoyed is gone, and how soon we feel the urge to do so again. This is a symptom of disconnection from our true selves, so the first step toward balance is connection to our center.

When we connect to our center, we access the fullness of who we are as an individual spirit. We also connect to the energy source of the universe, from which nothing can be lacking. It could be that we have been energetically starving ourselves but trying to feed the need physically, outwardly. Once we make the decision to reconnect, we have the ability to examine the behavior from a higher place within ourselves. We can look, without judgment, at the thoughts and feelings that occur before and after our indulgences to find a pattern. We may want to keep track of these observations in a journal so that we can go back if we lose our way.

Often boredom is the main cause for the desire to eat or shop. But when we connect to our center, our intuition can more clearly guide us to the places where our energy can best be used. We can replace the boredom with a meditation practice, a class, a project, seeking a new job, or getting involved in a charity. We may even want to begin planning an adventurous trip. Whatever inspires us tells us the direction we should go. When we find the place we are meant to be, we become so consumed by its constant creation that the frivolous filling of an imaginary void becomes a thing of the past.”  – www.DailyOm.com

>>> 

I didn’t actually read the email above until after I’d started the Fast, but this is exactly why I’m doing it. Getting more connected with the Whys of what I do by breaking habits and patterns and modes of thought that aren’t the best for me. Instead of drinking coffee,  maybe I need to let go of the belief that coffee will help me focus, thus making me a better writer/reader/whatever. Maybe I just need to listen to my body more and get more sleep so I don’t feel the need for it, or energize myself through healthier ways, like exercise and apples. 

Something else that popped into my mind was an article about how humans like rituals. Going to your coffee shop to buy your cuppa and then pouring in your specific amounts of creamer and sugar are definitely ritualistic. The article mentioned that this is probably why Corona beer is so popular—the lime ritual. Maybe it’s time to form rituals that don’t include some kind of intoxicant…caffeine, alcohol, nicotine? Smoking is definitely ritualistic. And people always say it’s the simple habit of having that smoke after dinner that’s the hardest part to change. In our science-based society, where magical or shamanic rituals are no longer accepted, and even religious rituals are falling by the wayside, all we’ve got left is sugaring our Starbucks, liming our Coronas, lighting our Marlboros. Rituals of consumption… How sad.

In addition to my 30 Day Consumer Fast, I’m also forming two new rituals—20 minutes of meditation per day, and 10 minutes of writing (which, as you can tell from this post, tends to turn into way more than 10 minutes). What kind of rituals do you want in your life?

By the way, if you don’t subscribe to DailyOm.com, I highly recommend you do. You will only ever see me use the phrase “highly recommend” when I’m referring to something excellent, so trust me. DailyOm sends out insightful and sometimes jarringly relevant emails Monday-Friday. Hey, new ritual? 😉

Today is the first day of my 30-day Consumer Fast Challenge.

The point is to break habits of consumption. Like a regular fast, denying yourself your normal activities – going out for coffee, downloading albums from iTunes, dropping $40 on crap at Rite-Aid you don’t really need – tends to make you more aware of what you’re doing. I, like many, have issues with spending money unconsciously and recklessly. So I’m working on changing those habits.

Here are the rules that I’m going by; feel free to come up with your own if you want to try it:

Things that are OK to buy: Essentials (groceries, gas, toilet paper). If you run out of shampoo but have some sample ones at home, you gotta use those first. Of course “essentials” can be widely defined, but the point is to not spend money, so I’m going to be very strict with myself.

Not to buy: Books, music, clothing, magazines, cosmetics, knick knacks, convenience foods (coffee, restaurants, bars, etc). No eating out at restaurants!

Exeptions: Existing plans that fall within the 30 days (going to see Avatar with a friend, going out to lunch with another) are acceptable, but you can’t make any new plans to spend money.

Two other 30-day challenges that I’m doing are to meditate 20 minutes every day (I meditate sporadically now), and to write for 10 minutes every day. So I’ll meditate on how the Consumer Fast is going, and then I’ll blog about it for you!   😉