Living Your Life: You Gotta Do Your chores

As I’ve said in earlier posts, I’m currently living with one of my childhood caregivers. This wasn’t an easy decision to make, but it’s one where I didn’t have a lot of other options to choose from. All in all it’s been a good decision. We’ve gotten a second chance to reconnect and learn what it means to be a family. So with that in mind, the subject of this blog post wasn’t in the initial outlined plan, but it certainly fits with the theme of this series of posts and is one that I’ve come to realize after cohabitating with people I’ve come to rely on in our living space. After all, taking care of your living space is essential to your overall happiness and speaks a great deal to how we feel about ourselves.

Lately I’ve been feeling a bit uneasy when I’ve been in my bathroom. I wasn’t entirely sure why at first, but as the weeks went by I couldn’t help but to notice that the unease I was feeling would not subside. The bathroom has been left unfinished for many years now and that has something to do with the feeling, but there was something more to it than that. Something that was growing more tangible with each visit.

So last week I decided that the bathroom needed new bath mats. I made a plan to go to a local home furnishings store and get a few to replace the ones already in use, after my shift at work. As I was going to the store, during my commute home, I made plans to clean the bathroom after getting the new mats. I wanted the feeling of walking into a freshly cleaned bathroom, crisp and new, after I was done with cleaning it. So when I got home from the store, I lighted a pine tree scented candle, rolled up my sleeves and got to the task of cleaning my bathroom.

It was dirty. I had swept up a sizeable hairball from all the dust that had accumulated for however long, maybe the size of a salad bowl, and the shower curtains were in the same shape as the bathmats. It was in such bad shape that the plastic lining was flaking off and the bottom was discolored from the mold that was lining it. The plunger was cracked and the cabinets needed a good purging as well. It was at that point I realized that the bathroom looked an awful lot like one of the bathrooms in my first apartments and that’s what was making me feel so uneasy.

To give you some context as to what my bathrooms used to look like, there was a constant layer of mold on and around the bathtub, sink and floor. There was trash plastered to the floor and walls, and the floor was missing pieces of tile in strategic places showing the subflooring. Once, for a period of about a month, maybe longer, there was vomit on the wall from one night where I ate a whole pizza, then got into a shot contest where I took a shot of tequila that had a cigarette butt in it. Let’s just say I missed the intended receptacle.

This was a shock for sure. Everyone in the house is an adult, we should be on top of this type of thing. The bathroom wasn’t in as bad shape as my early apartments were, but sadly, things had been left unattended by pretty much everyone. We had been treating our living space the ways we had been treated, with neglect instead of care.

Not only that, but we were shirking the shared sense of responsibility of keeping something alive, the household. We were collectively avoiding cleaning as one way to make our house feel more like a home. There are other things that bring people together to feel more connected as a family as well. Such as shared experiences and meals to name a few, but making your living space a place you want to be in, surrounded by things and a feeling of cleanliness, is a huge part of feeling at home. Comfortable. This is what we were missing from our shared time together. A feeling of shared responsibility and comfort in knowing that we are taking care of one another by taking care of our dwelling.

After I made this realization, I shared it with my childhood caregiver and their spouse, and it all started making much more sense to me. I had been feeling as though I wasn’t really part of the family. There were only certain areas of the house I felt comfortable in. My bedroom and the kitchen being two of them, and the rest felt like it was off limits. Add the fact that we are all too polite to ask one another to do something for one another, like helping clean the bathroom, and you have a pretty cold environment. One definitely hostile towards forming tight bonds.

The act of buying something for the house, even something so small as a couple of bath mats, or a basil scented candle for the kitchen, made me feel more secure as a member of the family. I felt as though I were trying to create a more home-like environment by taking care of those I live with, while also taking care of my own needs. And I have to say, it feels good.

I also spoke with them about putting candles in the bathroom for when I shower at night. It’s a way I help myself to decompress from the stress of the day. But this is also a way for me to express myself and a part of my personality in our shared space. More ways of feeling connected on a more intimate level. We all felt more connected after the talk and the conversation flowed a little more freely. They agreed that they had been a little lax about some of the cleaning responsibilities and I agreed I could have been doing more to help out.

So I decided to make doing chores more of a routine. The same way I meal prep for myself, I am creating a schedule and a general maintenance list for the house. This way we can create our home together, by sharing the work of caring for each other by caring for our shared spaces.

I divided the house into two parts, with the two most important rooms in the house as focal points. The first is the upstairs, with the focus being in the bathroom. The second part being the kitchen and downstairs. I will switch off doing these two parts every week with someone else in the house, and the alternate week will be the time where I’ll do the part previously undone the week before and someone else will do the part I had previously done.

With any luck, the house will begin to feel more like a warm and welcoming place. One where we want to create memories and cook meals in together, instead of the cold and somewhat distant place it has been for so long. We will learn to rely on each other, and feel comfortable just inhabiting our shared space together. We’ll start feeling like a family again. Only a healthy version. One without the untrusting attitudes and unhealthy boundaries we had previously been used to. Let’s get into the “how” in what I did to create a sense of shared responsibility among the household.

I began with a quick mental checklist of what needs cleaning in the house. I started with the two most important areas of the house (for me) and radiated out from there. The two rooms I chose are the bathroom and the kitchen. After I chose these rooms, I created two zones in the house around these rooms that could be cleaned and cared for in one cleaning session that would last maybe one to two hours, depending on the level of clutter or mess.

I then went through the zone, and took down another list of the specific tasks that need doing. For example, the bathroom zone needed to be cleared of general clutter, dusted, the bathtub and toilet needed a scrubbing and the floor needed a sweep and mop. Then the hallway just outside the bathroom needed to be swept and vacuumed, and the stairway needed to be swept and dusted as well.

After making these more specific lists of tasks, I now have a jumping off point where I can start cleaning. So when each week comes around, we have a set routine where we know what needs to be taken care of and how to approach the job.

This past week I spent a good portion of time doing a deep clean of the two most important rooms in the house. I didn’t get to all the tasks on my mental checklist, but the job definitely feels more manageable, knowing that I’ve already done the more labor and time intensive tasks. Now when we begin our cleaning routine, it will be that much easier to keep up with. As long as we keep up with the tasks, there shouldn’t be an overwhelming amount of work to do. This may not make the work a joy to do, but it will make the tasks a little easier to accomplish. But if you’re like me, I get a little excited about the idea of cleaning and organizing something. So who knows, maybe it will spark some joy : )

I’ve also started a list of general maintenance items that need to be done around the house as well. This includes items that need to be replaced or small jobs that need our attention. For example, I put a list of items I need to replace for both the bathroom and general cleaning supplies for the house. This way we can keep our place looking and feeling as clean and organized as possible while keeping on top of the tasks and items we need to pick up.

This also has the added bonus of allowing us to bond as a family by planning trips to the local hardware store. Also making a collective effort to add input on what we feel needs attention. If you are anything like we are, you may find that after you do a deep clean and organize some of your belongings, that you have an embarrassing amount of extra or duplicate items that you may not have touched in months or years. This would be a good time to take stock of what you do have, what you use, how often you use it, and what you could you do without.

For us, we have two sets of pots, one brand new and the other just sitting around waiting to be recycled or donated. The initial plan was to get rid of them, but they are still around, haunting or living space. This wouldn’t be so bad if they weren’t taking up valuable cabinet space. I like to view extra items in the kitchen, the same way I view unintended plants in the garden. Sure you may have a tomato plant that sprang up in the eggplant bed, but if it’s not an eggplant, then it’s a weed. The old pots are still mostly functional, but we have a new set and planned on getting rid of the old ones. So in my book, the old ones are a weed.

I also have about 15-20 mason jars collecting dust on our shelves. I got them to store my dry goods in. But if you’ve read my post on shopping from your pantry first, you’ll know that the food I bought mostly just sat around in these jars for months, if not years! They looked good all lined up in their storage containers, but they were definitely being underutilized. As I’ve been shopping from my pantry first, I’ve been freeing up a lot of space since I haven’t been replacing the items, and have ended up with an awful lot of empty mason jars.

I use them to store the meals that I batch cook in, but there are only so many meals I can store in the fridge at one time. The rest need to either be repurposed, or recycled. And this isn’t always an easy task to do. I know I’ve developed some sentimental attachments to inanimate objects over the years. And it seems the longer you have an item around, the fonder you become of it! I feel like this is where it enters your comfort zone. You’re just so used to seeing it around, that you recognize it as one of the family.

And of course this is a little different for some items over others. Such as, you wouldn’t want to throw away a pan your grandmother gave you that she made your favorite brownies in. But in the end, things are just that, things. Besides, it’s not the pan that you love, it’s the memories of your Nana’s brownies. But tossing a peanut butter jar you used to store tea in is a no-brainer. Marie Condo is a great resource for just this type of letting go. If it sparks joy, keep it and use it lovingly. If not, thank it for its service in supporting you in your life and donate it or let it go.

This should work to make your living space a more inviting dwelling for everyone. One where you’ll enjoy the time spent in it, together. And as a friend of mine said, we attuning to each other, by paying attention to each other’s surroundings. This is how you build the foundations of a caring family. This is where we really begin to understand what it means to be together, united.

I hope this post serves you on your path. It isn’t always an easy task, coming together to make something, from what sometimes seems like out of nothing. But when people, friends and family all chip in and lend a helping hand, it’s amazing what we are able to accomplish. Peace : ) and thanks for reading.

Image Credits: “Amelia Cleaning” by donnierayjones is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Self-Care, Self-Image: How Taking Care of Our Basic Needs for Clothes Can Help Reverse the Ways We’ve Been Neglected by Others and Ourselves

“Use it Up, Wear it Out, Make it Do or Do Without” by AlyssssylA is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

About two weeks ago I got it in me that I wanted to throw away two sweatshirts that I’ve been holding on to for almost two decades. I had just bought a pair of hiking boots for the winter weather we’ve finally got up in the Northeastern part of the States, and I was thinking about what else I needed to replace. I had just bought some wool socks and work shirts not too long ago, so I thought I’d just toss the sweatshirts and a few other items and that would be that.

First I went for the sweatshirts. There were two, one was from a private school I never went to, and the second was from a Pawsocks game I saw in 2004. They had sentimental value for certain. The private school, cross-country club sweatshirt I got from a good friend when we used to work at a Mexican takeout place together located next to a print shop. He had traded a couple of burritos for the sweatshirts, and gave one to me. We were counterfeit brothers in sweatshirts from a school we never went to, or could afford.

The second was from a Pawsocks game I went to that reminded me of my childhood, going to Red Socks games. When I took the sweatshirts out to examine them, they had so many holes in them that they were literally falling apart in my hands. I was sad at first. It felt as though my memories were directly connected with the condition I kept these particular sweatshirts in. The good times I had with my friend, riding longboards around the city while drinking 22’s of beer. Or the time I spent helping to paint my niece’s bedroom before she came home from the hospital. If I let go of these memory’s physical counterpart, the entire package may be lost, and worse yet they were falling apart on their own. Which meant it was only a matter of time before I lost everything.

I thought about keeping them, but I felt like I was being held back by gripping these memories too tightly. I felt stagnant, like I was refusing to leave that part of my past. And there were good times for sure, but there was also a lot of fear, anxiety and insecurity. I wouldn’t go back to that time or way of being now and in fact, a lot of the people I made those memories with I don’t speak with anymore.

So there I was, in front of my dresser, holding two sweatshirts that had been past their prime for 14 plus years and riddled with so many holes they were barely discernible as garments, and with those whose memories they were tied to I no longer spoke with. The absurdity of the situation, which had been lurking in my mind for some time, finally made it to the forefront. I got a few bags, thanked the sweatshirts for their service in Mari Kondo fashion, and began the process of sorting through my clothing.

The further I got into the process, the greater my realization that most of my clothes resembled the original two articles of clothing I had finally mustered the nerve to toss. I was holding on to pairs of socks that had sizeable holes in them, one long sleeve tee that was in worse condition than the two sweatshirts, if that was even possible, and dozens of other articles that I had been putting up with for no reason other than I just assumed that’s how things are, were supposed to be.

I had been living with the discomfort of not having my basic needs for clothing met for so long, due to the neglect I experienced around how I wasn’t taught most basic life skills, coupled with my family’s inability to discern self-worth from the things they buy, that I had become the embodiment of my family’s polar opposite, while staying loyal to the legacy of neglect I learned from my care-givers. If No Labels Living had a thesis, this would be it.

So with this new knowledge, and about half my clothes, most of which were headed for the garbage and the few pieces that were in good enough condition to be donated, I made a plan to get some new clothes.

I made a list of what I needed and set aside some money that wasn’t in the budget, because if not having enough clothes to wear isn’t an emergency I’m not sure what is, and struck off to the local thrift shop to get some new threads. I’ve since replaced a good portion of my clothing, but the more I focused on this mindset of letting my basic needs be left unattended as a form of neglect, I started noticing it in all aspects of my life.

My pantry for example. I have dried beans and pasta, some teas and a few other items that have been there for up to 5 years! I had been treating my pantry as you would curate pieces for a museum, not to make meals from. And the shower caddy in my bathroom was so old that it had rusted around the edges. The reason I even thought to check was because I had boughten four new towels and wash clothes to replace the two towels and plastic luffa I had been clinging to for the past four years which I didn’t, and never did, like all that much to begin with!

And what held it all together was a feeling of self pity, empathy for inanimate objects and feeling as though I somehow deserved to live a life filled with discomfort and feeling unworthy of something better. What I realized was that my caregivers had been living life the same ways I had been living, and they inadvertently made me feel as though I were judging them as inferior just for wanting something better than I was taught. Like I was betraying them for feeling like there was something more than what I had been taught. I was afraid to let go of these things and lessons because letting go meant losing one more thing in a life’s time worth of loss and feeling neglected.

My family also has a legacy of poor boundaries so discerning whom was feeling what was a confusing endeavor. But I’ve since made plans to begin replacing all the things I’ve been neglecting in my life, keeping in mind that I want items that will last and are made sustainably. For example I’m looking into buying alpaca throw blankets and sweaters, because when treated with care, they not only keep you warm but could be handed down to the next generation

I’ve also been shopping for clothes at thrift shops instead of buying them new and saving a ton of money to boot. For instance, at my local Savers I spent 90$ for two pairs of jeans and eight shirts that would have probably cost me around 400$ retail. And I’m also recycling at the same time as taking care of myself. That’s a win in my book.

And knowing that I’m comfortable in my own clothes, and I can replace the things that aren’t working in my life is empowering, and a source of confidence. Knowing that I care enough about myself to take care of myself has been a real resource for my emotional well being. I’m worth my time and the effort it takes to make my life better, worth being a part of. And it all started from tossing a couple of old sweatshirts!

Neglecting ourselves can take a lot of forms, clothing is only one. Next time you’re cleaning or doing laundry, take a look around at the items you’ve collected. Are there some that you don’t like but put up with just because? Is there a particular towel or set of sheets you dread using. Ask yourself why are you holding on to these? Especially if they cost less than 20$ or 30$ dollars to replace. Is the discomfort and dis-ease worth putting up with for something that could be replaced so easily? Why or why not? And stay curious. It doesn’t help to be forceful or judgemental. Be kind to yourself while you listen.

I hope this has been of some use. I know it’s not easy making changes, especially those that take some self introspection and are connected with our basic needs. But making the change can be an incredible source of strength. So take heart, and know you are not alone! Peace, and thanks for reading :]

Image Credits: “Use it Up, Wear it Out, Make it Do or Do Without” by AlyssssylA is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Finding Emotional Language in an Emotionless Family: What Happens When They are not Only Taboo, but Just Plain Feared

I was having breakfast with a friend a few days ago, and I found myself feeling very uncomfortable. I wasn’t sure why at first, but then it came to me after I had left the coffee shop to go for a walk in the woods. He was talking about vulnerability and how self compassion was different from self confidence. At the time, this seemed reasonable enough. His wife had just sent him an article about self-compassion and how it leads to success. But the language he was using was making me feel a little frightened.

This seemed strange to me. I often explore my own emotional states, why should talking about them bring up such a reaction? I tried searching my memories for other times I felt uncomfortable discussing emotionally charged topics and realized, I don’t talk about emotions, with my family at all, and friends very seldom. I was stunned.

Growing up in my family, we never spoke about how we were feeling, or how a certain situation had an affect on us. I actually only recently found out there was a difference between the words affect and effect! So it was no surprise that I was as uncomfortable as I was, my friend was speaking another language completely.

And I’m learning now looking back, that in my family emotions were something to be used, or manipulated to get something from someone. This bred distrust and fear of emotions, especially vulnerability. It was like opening a wound over and over again to get whatever was inside and leaving the person to bleed out. It was uncomfortable to say the least.

And with this type emotional practice between “loved ones”, it’s amazing that any of us were able to feel anything at all. We were all so hyper-vigilant about what the other person was going to say of or about us, that it was close to impossible to build trust and love in the relationship. Fear and resentment were bi-products of this type of environment. I also remember feeling like I was never adding up to their expectations.

So, in lieu of love and understanding, my family fell back on the old standby of drinking and other forms of distraction to numb the pain of not feeling accepted or belonging to the family as we were. Shopping was also another way we chose to numb. By fitting into whatever trend was popular, maybe we could feel the acceptance we were lacking from those closest to us.

Though neither method worked to ease the pain of not feeling belonging, drinking worked to make us mean. Something my family excelled at. Drinking was a way for us to turn off our “filters”, so we could say how we were feeling, but in a way that would make the other person feel as unloved and afraid as we had felt. And how we felt was cut apart. If you’ve ever seen a copy of Bacon’s “Man with Meat“, it was akin to feeling split wide, tender and vulnerable.

Shopping was a way to make us feel as though we had worth. As though fitting in with whatever trend was happening, and how we were seen by others, would compensate for our lack of feeling self worth, fostered by the ways we were treating each other and ourselves. It’s a wonder we were able to feel anything at all!

And as I’ve said in previous posts, I didn’t know what feelings were until my early thirties. A large part of that had to do with the traumatic events that happened to me, and there were plenty. This left me in emotional shock, but what is a life’s time worth of critical, cutting and mean natured remarks, intended to wound on impact, if not traumatic?

With this quality of relationship between family members, it’s no wonder that we were so afraid of ours, and others emotions! Why would you want to explore the areas of yourself that have been so thoroughly rejected, abused and manipulated, with so much prejudice by those who were supposed to love and support us? This is how I learned to abandon and neglect my emotional self.

Everytime I had an emotion that reminded me of the ways that I cared for my family, fear came up, front and center, and larger than life. This made it almost impossible to feel comfort or care for myself. Because anytime those feelings would come around, I would then be bowled over by fear for not feeling like I was worthy of self-care and love. But also, I had few memories of what it meant to feel loved by those who were supposed to show me how.

My job then, became learning the language of my emotions, especially those closest related to love and care, without knowing what they were. It was like trying to give shape and names to what was right in front of me, but hidden from my senses. It was maddening.

But I made the journey regardless of how difficult it seemed, having faith that things would work out. And I had a lot of help along the way, without which I don’t like to think about where I would be. But my journey began with giving up what Tara Brach calls, the false refuges. One of the biggest ones for me was drinking, because that’s when I was most self-destructive, mean spirited and critical of others.

I now have a beer with my Self-Care Sunday dinner, and once and a while when I’m out with friends. But the difference between now and then is, now I’ve set healthy boundaries with my drinking and I only have one or two. I also check in with how I’m feeling while drinking because my boundaries were so poor and self-destructive, that in a way, I need to regain some trust in myself to do the right thing when it comes to the areas of my life I had abandoned for so long, i.e. my emotional life.

And it was jarring. Reawakening to my emotional life was strange, scary, and at times just plane terrifying. And it took time. It wasn’t a one shot where I felt loving and gentle to myself and others, and never felt fear or re-lived past traumas again. It takes time. Because healing is a process. There’s a phrase in the meditation community that goes, “sit, stay, heal,” which encompasses this sentiment with accuracy.

Learning how to be patient with myself was probably the turning point for helping me to learn and give name to my emotional life. It was the one tool that helped me to allow the emotion to just be, without using something to push it away, long enough for me to give it name and know it’s presence. It was then that I was able to recognize them for the emotions they were, and not the fear provoking trauma they were attached to.

And finally, it taught me to go slow. Emotions can be overwhelming, so when in doubt, stand back and give yourself some space to see a little more clearly. So if you’re on your own healing journey, be kind and go slow. It takes time to learn to love again. Peace, and thanks for reading :]

Image Credits: “Closeup on the Linen Book/Mummy Wrappings of the Lost Etruscan Language” by Curious Expeditions is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Reparenting: How We Can Give Ourselves the Guidance We Need From Our Loving Hearts.

It’s tough being people. We’re emotional, irrational at times, and make bad decisions. But at least we’re doing it together? It’s no secret that the state of the human condition can and has been scary. With all the violence and oppression we are imposing on one another it’s hard to remember that there are even greater problems that we are in the midst of dealing with. That are threatening our survival as a species. It seems like things are going from bad, to worse.

With what seems to be a pretty bleak outlook on our collective futures the big question would seem to be, “what can we do about it?” Most of us are wrapped up in the same cycle of uncertainty, fear and anxiety that perpetuate the emotional states that we end up taking out on one another. But maybe if we take a closer look at how we’ve cultivated these states and find out where the source is we can begin to create a healthier approach to how we respond to ourselves and our emotions. And in turn how we relate to one another. Maybe along the way we can extend our healthier habits to include our world, animals and natural resources as well.

So it is in this vein that the focus of the next few posts will explore ways that we can change the unhealthy cycles we’ve cultivated. I’ll be referring to these changes as reparenting. From my experience we’re not born fearing the uncertainty that creates these anxiety provoking cycles. It’s usually inherited from our caregivers. I inherited a mountain of toxic lessons that were meant to arm me for my future. But instead left me emotionally unstable and unable to care for myself.

But it wasn’t my care-givers faults either. They themselves were taught these toxic lessons that they in turn handed down to me like a cursed family heirloom of sorts. Something that would imbue the holder with the inability to cope with the stress that happens to us all in life. Leaving me/us emotionally unable to deal. And without healthy lessons we’ll turn to pretty much whatever seems right or whatever looks good to us at the time. Not knowing the price we may have to pay down the line or the ramifications for our actions. We free float in an area of moral ambiguity. Where every decision has a hazy outlook accompanied by the question, is this okay for me to do?

I’ll be focusing on a broad spectrum of areas that we all come in contact with day to day (the short list I haven’t exactly settled on yet). Where without a strong sense of healthy boundaries we could easily get waylaid by whatever seems easy or appealing at the time. One of the areas I’ll be exploring is budgeting money.

Which is an apt analogy for creating healthy boundaries because so much of what we chose to do day to day involves some sort of budgeting or self-restraint. Should I have another serving of fried chicken, or maybe I can skip this run just this once… I’m not saying that there aren’t going to be times to enjoy the occasional indulgence or take a much deserved break from the everyday routine. But if your goal is to lose weight and you indulge in soda every time you get thirsty, you’re going to have difficulty reaching your goals. And put yourself through unnecessary frustrations.

In the next few posts I’ll be sharing with you my experiences of the ways I used to do things. Using the unhealthy lessons and boundaries I used to operate under. I’ll compare them to similar times in the present where I’ve gone a different route and the tools I used to get there. But more importantly how I developed the tools I used. Because it is ultimately about the ways we get to our destination and the intention behind the outcome that really defines our character and personality.

We all have had some times in our lives where we could have used a little more guidance. Some of us have not been so lucky as others when it comes to having thoughtful and loving guidance from an adult role-model. One who had our best interests at heart. But whether we need a little more healthy influence in our lives, or a complete overhaul, we can always make time to give ourselves the resources, love and wisdom we need to move forward in a healthier direction.

It may be a bit of a struggle at first when we decide to step out onto the path. But it’s one that gets easier with practice and I hope you’ll find as I did there are loads of resources available to those who make the endeavor. I’ll be listing the resources I reference in my posts on my Community page along with other sites that I’ve found to be useful in some way. As always, I encourage your feedback and would love to hear of any resources you have found useful on your path. Together we can carry each other through the good times and the bad.

Image Credits: “‘Parenting'” by Carol (vanhookc) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Self-Care: Step One; Wash, Rinse, Repeat

Self-care. It’s not easy for some. That’s why the next few articles I’ll be posting are going to be on just that. But looking at self-care through a slightly different refrain.

Self-care starts with the self but it always extends beyond the boundaries of our personal borders. For instance how we treat ourselves directly affects how we interact with others and our immediate environments. If you think you’re not worth the time and effort you are going to overlook your effect of your actions on your immediate environment. If you treat your apartment like a giant trash bin you will also most likely treat your green spaces the same way. And more than likely you won’t find time to fulfill some basic responsibilities we all need to get after in order to heal the world we live in. Like recycling and composting or shopping sustainably.

So with these ideas in mind I’m going to be writing articles steeped in these values as I explore the boundaries between care of the self and where the self really ends or begins. And what to do to mend, heal and engage more fully in the care of ourselves and our world. Start small, act big.

The goal is to create a list of areas and corresponding actionable items to execute to further the care of ourselves, our spaces and our communities. The more we work together the greater the network of care-giving becomes. And hopefully we will all benefit from our change of perspective to a kinder, more forgiving and accepting nature.

These are some lofty goals. And I’m not trying to imply that there is some magic bullet that will cure all persons particular outlook of self and how we interact with the world. But it sure starts with taking responsibility for ourselves and our actions. And hopefully this exploration of self-care will give those looking the jolt of a confidence boost. To start the process in taking themselves into account and becoming part of the solution instead of adding to the unrest. The disquiet that has currently taken hold of so many in our constant growth, consumer driven economy and power structures.

The outline of the articles will focus on specific areas and actions taken in these areas to obtain a more whole concept of self. And how this concept translates into a physical action. Also how it impacts our immediate environments and communities. The areas of focus will include, Physical, Psychological, Emotional, Spiritual, Personal, and Professional.

Using the above areas as a starting point, I will cover everything from where to buy clothing to our roles in cleaning up the streets in our neighborhoods and towns. Getting involved in healthy eating habits by starting, or joining a community garden and how to transform unused community space into a bee refuge and public gardens to feed the homeless.

So here is the part of the post where I write a call to action. Something like, together we can make a difference. And that’s true. Together we really can make a difference towards the loving and understanding that’s strong enough to bolster a community rich in interconnected ties. One that is steeped in values that provide acceptance and understanding. But it starts here. Within each of us. Some of us have more internal cleaning to do. In fact it may look like a complete renovation. But it’s possible. Not only is it possible, but we can have fun along the way as well.

That being said it may not be an easy row to hoe, but it will yield gratifying fruits. And don’t forget, you’re not alone!