Crazy times… I know. We have felt so in control, so powerful. I have felt I had made so much progress in my less wasteful lifestyle and then… COVID-19 set in. I have been forced to make choices that went in the opposite direction of my lifestyle. I was pushed to let go of my “environmental values” and adapt to the situation. I had to avoid bulk stores and order online products that came wrapped in plastic, I had to stay in and change my consuming habits. I realized that it was a moment that I had to put the community, my family and myself first and that consequently would place my environmental values in second position. I have created more trash this past month than ever before.
After a couple of days of meditating, I started wondering what my true values were. Who am I making this earth a better place for? Making this earth a better place but for who? We need to include humans in this equation of sustainability and I am committed not only to the environment and the world but the humans that live in it.
This moment of change has pushed us all to live in the present. We have been forced to plan less and understand that money won’t buy us all, I now understand that we need each other. I have seen communities, entire cities and whole countries changing the ME to a WE and supporting each other. Maybe this blog won’t be much around eco friendly options or actions to help the planet but more of the focus on helping YOURSELF as if you were the “EARTH” you live in. Look inside to organize and unpack some thoughts, feelings and actions that have been evident and repetitive in your life that are keeping you away from feeling productive, helpful or enough.
More than ever, I realize that I can not control the world, the virus, other humans or even my money/saving/traveling. The only certainty I have is the control and power I have over my thoughts, my words, my choices, my actions and my reactions. As a teacher, mom, sister and wife I choose to work on what is under my control. I will share my perspective and please do not hesitate to share your opinion and let’s grow together now that we have time to dig deeper into our OWN WORLD.
I believe that when humans master their thoughts and emotions they are in greater possibility to master their actions. Observing my thoughts and trying to shape them to serve me the best way possible is not easy. It is human nature to save energy. Researchers have discovered that the brain saves energy by predicting what would happen next. But what if we do not know what will happen tomorrow? What will happen with my job, my savings, my traveling, my health? According to scientists in the Department of Psychology at the University of Glasgow in collaboration with the Max-Planck Institute of Brain Research, Frankfurt, Germany, the visual cortex does not simply react to visual stimuli but proactively predicts what is likely to see in any given context. By doing so it uses less energy to process images, but if something unexpected were to appear in that familiar environment, the visual cortex becomes more active in order to process this information. This can be tiring and exhausting. I am planning my life and all of a sudden the environment I am used to moving around changes and it is unpredictable. I booked a holiday at the beach and a trip to Kuala Lumpur to visit earthmama Clarrissa for these two weeks and that all was canceled. It is SO hard to have no control and know nothing about the future. That does not mean that I will stop trying. I still have lots of work to do. I know that my interpretation of the reality around me is affected by my thoughts and perceptions so I DO have a choice here. I am in control here. I have decided to see things around me with compassion and with hope. I know that we are all growing and trying our best. I am using my thoughts to shape my day and to change my energy during these uncertain times. The culture and environment that surrounds us gives us information and it is our job to find the knowledge and perspective in these surroundings. We choose to have personal responsibility or collective responsibility. This time in life more than ever I choose the collective responsibility. This is what drives me, thinking we are all in this together, we are here to help each other and that is ok to feel what we feel. I am my planet. I choose to control MY thoughts and my inner planet (ME) to be able to help the planet Earth later.
We have all heard that words are powerful. We have heard that the emotions we feel, the perception of the events we experience and our ability to interact with other humans are all controlled by language. If humans want to gain control and agency in their lives they need to understand the potential power in what they say to themselves and to others. We have control over our words we use to describe the environment around us. Never denying that the world has both sides, positive and negative, black and white, good and bad, and all of those are welcome in our everyday life. Allowing the “negative” feelings, like fear, to show up is totally natural and necessary. I have been fearful of what would happen to us in June. We are planning to move back to Mexico and now with all these happening we are fearful that it might not happen. We are fearful of our country as the virus just got there and the cases will increase rapidly. In these times of uncertainty we need to allow ourselves and others to express their fears and anxious feelings. Your words are shaping your NOW. Your words are supporting someone. Your words are encouraging someone. Allow yourself and others to share their words with you and find a support group that is open for you to share your words with them. As you share your thinking in a journal, with friends, with family or writing a blog post like me remember that this information is valuable and will change your perspective for ever. I am my planet. I choose to control MY words and my inner planet (ME) to be able to help the planet Earth later.
Choices, choices, choices. So many choices. Barry Schwartz describes the official dogma (a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true) of western industrial societies by saying that “if we are interested in maximizing the welfare of our citizens the way to do it is to maximize individual freedom. If we have freedom we will be able to choose.” This official dogma explains that the more choices we have the more freedom we will feel. The book The Paradox of Choice proposes a different way of thinking. It explains that this unlimited amount of options might be creating more stressful than liberating feelings in humans. He gives an example by saying that 40 years ago stores would sell only one type of jeans. You would purchase that one pair and leave the store knowing that it was a good choice because it was your ONLY option. Nowadays you have more than 15 different types of jeans to choose from and this many options more than liberating us is producing uncertainty in ourselves because we wonder if the choice we made was the best.
Should we thank the coronavirus now? This pandemic has brought us back to have limited choices. My initial reaction was stress because I have less “freedom” less “choices” to make. But after thinking about it I choose to take this opportunity and transform this to freedom. I decide to observe the freedom this is bringing. Less choices + less expectations = happiness.
I choose to take care of my social media habits. Worried, stressed, overwhelmed are ways that I feel after long hours in social media. As earthmama Clarrissa mentions in her blog post Building Your “Bubble”. I choose to:
- Surround myself with people who WANT to be better and want to grow with me. Motivate me and support me through my journey struggles, in life or with my less wasteful lifestyle.
- Follow only social media accounts that align with my goals and values. Accounts that teach and motivate me to be better.
- UNFOLLOW accounts that do not align with me at this moment.
Other choices that have helped me have been:
- Stay active. Once a day for at least 30 min move. Dance, yoga, run, jump. Andre is enjoying COSMIC YOGA youtube channel.
- Meditate. Once a day for at least 10 min meditation time. Lots of great accounts to follow online.
- Acroyoga. We have tried to do some acroyoga together. Enjoy each other’s company and laughing together is important.
I am my planet. I choose to control MY choices and my inner planet (ME) to be able to help the planet Earth later.
Everyone is now at home for longer periods of time. That means we are reading more, cooking more and organizing those cupboards or closets that we waiting for time, well now we have time. I am doing all of the above plus other actions that help the planet.
I started my worm farm almost 6 months ago, so I am keeping up. Andre is involved and feeds the worms when ever possible. I collect my food scraps for a day or two in the fridge and then we dump them to the worm farm. If you feel that you are ready to start a compost read A Novice Navigates Backyard Composting : Just do it!
- LESS FOOD WASTE
I have always been mindful of what I buy to avoid food waste but with this quarantine we have to pay closer attention to what we purchase and we eat everything in the fridge before visiting the grocery store again. Need some inspiration? Read the “Food waste” recipes that earthmama Heather shared in this blog post. Eat everything you have before you purchase more could be hard but with all this time I have become more creative exploring new recipes and dishes that I have never tried before.
- READ, LISTEN, WATCH and CLEAN
I choose to follow earthmama Heather’s suggestion on what to Read, Listen, Watch, Follow: The Climate Change edition. Find what works for you and read, listen and watch something that keeps you motivated and that encourages you to stay active to support others with the planet in mind. Another thing you can do around your phone or laptop, is to clean up your drive, pictures and/or files. Earthmama Natalie is preparing a blog post around the impact of our desorganize drive or online files. Did you know that there is an environmental impact with this lack of organization? Well wait for the blog post to find more about it.
- BUY LESS
We have been here in Singapore for almost two years without buying as much as we did back in Mexico. Back in Mexico I would have a closet full of clothes that I used to call “just in case clothes”, clothes that I did not wear or did not spark joy. When we left Mexico I had to pack my whole closet in two suitcases and that forced me to choose only clothes that brought joy to me and those became my essentials. You might be in the same position as us. This is the perfect time to change our consuming behaviors and reevaluate our priorities. There are things that you will have to buy no matter how much you want to avoid them. In that case buy local, find local stores and shops to make those purchases. Earthmama Lindi is preparing a blog post around this topic so, again, wait for it.
- HELP OTHERS
We are in this together. Earthmama Clarissa gave great suggestions that she has used to Easing Anxiety with Action. It is as simple as that, take action. She mentions simple and easy ways to build community and support each other.
– Share your Expertise and Passions
– Be a motivator
– Start a movement
– Share your Extras
– Reach out
– Appreciate people (privately or publicly)
– Spend your Money Thoughtfully
Read more about it Easing Anxiety with Action.
I am my planet. I choose to control MY actions and my inner planet (ME) to be able to help the planet Earth later.
As you see, this past week I have been working more on myself than in the outside planet Earth. I know my environmental values are strong and I will continue with less wasteful life style soon. I remind myself that I am only in control of my thoughts, my words, my choices, and my actions. I hope this blog post inspire you to stay aware of the things you can control and please share with us your coping mechanisms so that we can learn together.