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Friday, October 19, 2018

Practical steps toward eco-consciousness

by Mert Guller



Did you know minimalism is eco-friendly?  The anti-consumerism mindset is one of my favorite things about the lifestyle, and this year I've picked up a couple new ways to practice.  These are low-barrier, low-cost ways to help the planet, and I hope you're inspired to try some of these out with me.

#1 No more straws
I got this one from Erin at Reading My Tea Leaves.  The girl actually has metal straws that she uses when they're absolutely needed, but they're rarely necessary, so why use them when you don't need to?  And those plastic cups?  Just keep a thermos in your car or bag.  I love how Starbucks and others encourage us to make eco-conscious choices by giving a small discount when you opt out of plastic.

#2 Reef-safe sunscreen
I'm excited Hawaii has prioritized reef-safe sunscreen, but don't think that just because you don't live on an island, your sunscreen has no effect on the environment.  Reef-safe sunscreen is important for everyone to use.  Watch this 11-minute documentary for the details.

Skin absorbs the hormones and such in sunscreen and the human body expels these things via urine. Nemo taught us all drains lead to the ocean, and during hurricane flooding, inland sewage reaches the ocean even faster and in higher concentration. Take a look at this visualization of the flooding on the Eastern American coast from this year's hurricane season.

I bought my first reef-safe sunscreen this month from Thinksport (which smells like fruit loops) but there are many options!

#3 Control the thermostat and automatic lights
This may be the natural first step toward loving the planet with your choices, but in case you don't already, turn off your motion lights and porch lights when you wake up.  Adjust your thermostat so it's not heating or cooling your home with no one there.  Wear cooler clothes or a sweater if you need that extra comfort instead of using extra electricity.

#4 Bar soap and shampoo
Why buy another plastic bottle when you can get your soap, shampoo, and conditioners in bar form?  You can get body soap almost anywhere, and if you're looking to try out bar shampoo, try Chagrin Valley, Apple Valley, or J.R. Liggetts.  (Each of these are produced in the USA and Apple Valley and J.R. Liggetts don't use any palm oil.  Chagrin Valley uses organic sustainable palm oil.)

#5 Secondhand shopping
 With so many options catering to different preferences, there's no reason left to not try out secondhand shopping.  Thredup, Poshmark, yard sales, Facebook marketplace, quirky consignment shops, and good ole Goodwill.  Start small if you need to, but take advantage of these resources.  Not only are you helping your local economy, but you're reducing the demand for new materials, a crucial first step to keeping stuff out of our landfills.

#6 Stretch goals
I haven't fully incorporate these habits yet, but these are things I want to do more of.  What else would you add to the list?
  • Use Amazon sparingly to cut down on transportation's carbon footprint.
  • Reduce international shipping and buy products made in my country.
  • Eat less meat and especially less beef.
  • Gift more food and experiences and less stuff.

What would happen if you started doing these things?  What conversations might come up with others who comment about your weird metal straw?  What if we're the early adopters and the rest of the world needs us to jump first?

Jump with me!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Faith deconstruction resources

Picture of a lonely church
by Adam Morse

 (I did expect to have published more posts this year than this, and I still hope to flesh out more of my series on social media, but before much more time goes by, I want to share this.)

Faith transitions are hard.  It's called a deconstruction by the community for a reason.  For most and for me, it's felt like a ruthless demolition of all I held dear.  When the walls started falling around me, I was terrified because I didn't know when it would end, if it would end, or what would be left standing.

I've talked with many who had to go to the very, very bottom before they saw any hope for a rebuilding phase, which then brought its own worries.  What if my new set of beliefs don't match up with anyone else's?  What if my church doesn't accept me?  What will my family think?

If you've had any of these questions, this post is for you.  You're not alone, there are tens of thousands of us wading in the murk, stretching out our hands to blindly feel for what we hope will bring clarity and comfort.  My own outstretched hands have been grasped by others pulling me upward to where I can see just a little better.  The community of searchers I've bumped into and the resources they've pointed me to have been a saving grace, and I want to share these things in case you need it, too.

Movies
  • Come Sunday  :  the true story of a Charismatic pastor's changing theology
  • Silence  :   the true story of Jesuit missionaries trying to find God in Japan
  • I am Michael  :   the true story of a young gay man who transitioned to an anti-gay pastor
  • Bonus TV show  :  Queer Eye on Netflix  :  true stories of gay guys making the world a better place
 
Podcasts

Books
  • Falling Upward  :  by Richard Rohr, about the 2 halves of life
  • Finding God in the Waves  :  by Mike McHargue, about his deconstruction story
  • The Bible Tells Me So  :  by Peter Enns, about making sense of the Bible
  • Inspired  :  book by Rachel Held Evans, about making sense of the Bible, but this time with more creativity

 Songs
  
Women in the Church resources

Enneagram resources

A little update on me - I am really happy with where my faith currently is.  The fear of not knowing has been shrinking fast this year, and I'm comfortable being in the in between.  There's not a common term for where I'm at, but I've used "agnostic Christian," "hopeful agnostic Christian," "progressive Christian," and I've joked saying I'm a "bad Christian."

If you'd asked 2010 Lindsay if 2018 Lindsay is a Christian, she'd probably say no.  I don't fit into the usual definition.  I don't think there's a literal hell, I don't believe the Bible is inerrant, I don't know if Adam and Eve were real people, and I don't really care either way.  What I care about is living like Jesus' example, caring about what He cares about, and bringing that goodness to the world more fully.  I hope there's some kind of reward at the end of all this, but even if the lights just go out at the end, bettering this world in the way Jesus did is how I've chosen to live.

I sometimes pray.  I sometimes read the Bible.  I love learning about the Bible and about what the authors really meant.  (I currently have 15+ pages of a paper I'm writing about how women should be teaching and preaching and leading in the church, and it's all based on research from the Bible, its history and the culture of the original audience.  If you're interested in seeing the final product, let me know.)

There are still some areas of tension, but most of them occur when I'm interacting with more traditional Christian ideas and the people who hold them.  Being different isn't easy, especially when religion is involved, and I'm uncomfortable in some church environments due to things the preacher may say or the song lyrics or the Sunday Morning Face™ I never liked.  (Does anyone like that?)

I'm glad to be where I am.  I'm glad I didn't throw it all away when my doubts came in pronounced.  I'd been brought by my schooling to believe that doubt was opposite of faith, but I've found that's not true.  Certainty is the opposite of faith.  Doubt is more than welcome to join the dance, and having doubt doesn't make you any less of a Christian, however you choose to define that term.

With love.

Friday, May 4, 2018

How to cull your social media feeds

Last we talked about social media, I touched on a few of the risks paired with living life on social.  I've had a smart phone for only 4 years, I've been on social for 8, and in that little bit of time I've fallen for many of the false promises social media offers.  I can't imagine growing up on smartphones and not having a framework for life without social media.  Just like with friends and ice cream, in order to enjoy social media best, you need healthy boundaries in place.

While it's possible to break from the norm and go off grid, it's not viable or even attractive to everyone.  I get value from the community and inspiration social media opens up to me, but since real life happens off grid, I want to spend as little time on my phone as possible.  My personal compromise is to carefully judge what I keep in my feeds.  If content is good for me, it stays.  If it’s bad or even neutral for me, it goes.  This lets me consume what brings me value while not wasting time on the filler stuff.

Here are some questions I ask myself as I determine which feeds to follow and which to skip:

  •  How does this content make me feel?  Does it ignite jealousy or unhealthy self criticism?  Do I find it delightful or encouraging?

  • How does this content make me think?  
Does it challenge me and encourage critical thinking?  Does it create an echo chamber?

  • Is this content redundant?  Do I need to follow this account and these twelve others?  Which ones are most worth my time?  Also, do I need to keep following this feed or have I already seen what they’re about?

  • What would change if I unfollow this account?  (Hint: if the answer is "nothing," it's not worth my time.)

What are you thinking?  What do these questions stir up for you?  And further - what effects have you noticed in your life from social media?  What questions would you add to the list?

If you want to keep Facebook around for Facebook messenger or because you want to look back on your photo albums, check out the News Feed Eradicator for Facebook.  You can still access all your friends’ material and add your own, but you won’t see the news feed on your home page.  You’ll only see what you intentionally seek out.

I also recommend checking out this Twitter thread for more thoughts on our social media behaviors and how to be a good human being when interacting with people through our screens.

I encourage you to take a moment to reflect on how you're using social media and how it's using you.  I often need to reevaluate every few months.  Each time, I find that flushing out the content that doesn't serve me encourages me to view what's left, what truly brings me value, with more appreciation.  I hope the same happens for you.


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Keep an eye on this space.  More is coming to this social media series.  And please comment below about your thoughts, your journey, and your challenge to me to keep to my boundaries!

Friday, April 27, 2018

Recommended with April

I'm not sure you hang out with in real life, but if you're around any Southerners, you probably hear them complain about the back and forth spring weather every year.  But this year!  This year, it's been wilder than usual.  Chaco weather, then 30 degrees, then shorts and Chacos again, and back to "where's my parka?"  I've heard it better said that we're dealing with "global wierding" rather than "global warming," and I'm becoming more and more of a believer.

Anywhere, here's a peppy, fun, girl-power song to encourage the peppy, fun weather to stick around!  I found it on a Spotify playlist they put out on International Women's Day, and this song is more family friendly than these two others I came across on the playlist and can't stop listening to, either... they're just so catchy!  Anyway, I hope you like at least one of these (let me know in the comments!) and if not, check out the playlist to listen to women from around the world and find something new.



For starters, here is some beautiful and deep encouragement for your week.

This new system could help you read at crazy speeds.

Can't decide between two movies?  Try a blend of both!  Date Night Movies gives you a third option that finds the middle ground.  I think this app is brilliant.

It's a dramatic title, but it's not inaccurate.  Take a look at this post about how buying one thing can change ruin life.

Check out these retro posters for US national parks, I love them!  Remember the retro NASA posters, too?

I didn't get to see the Northern Lights when I was in Norway, but watching this video almost makes up for it.

There are a lot of things I'd recommend to every woman, but just one for now, get a bra that fits.  (Spoiler alert: you're probably not wearing a bra that fits right now.)

And your happy gif of the week: A dog waiting for the ice cream man

This lady started a lovely flower truck business in Nashville!  How charming.

No, this is the craziest birth story.  (told in Twitter thread format)

A delightful adventure to find a mysterious point on a map, told through Twitter.

Check out these beautiful floral creations.  Not quite the same as a flower truck, petals are used to create all kinds of beautiful scenes.  My favorites: FirebirdGeishaStag, and Quail Family.

Have a lovely weekend!

Friday, April 6, 2018

The good and evil of social

In the spring of 2006, when I was just accepted to college, my high school senior classmates suggested I sign up for Facebook.com.  (Facebook dot com.)  Way cooler than MySpace, Facebook needed a .edu email address to join, and it was the cool new place for college kids to be.

By 2011, after collecting hundreds and hundreds of Facebook friends, I grew tired of the superficiality of those internet connections.  What used to be life updates and real-time invitations to dorm events changed to shared news stories, memes, game play requests, and invitations to buy multi level marketing products I am definitely not interested in trying.

Facebook wasn’t a collection of friendships anymore, not really.  It was a collection of acquaintanceships, and when I realized that’s all they were, it dawned on me that I didn’t have to keep them.  Superficial relationships aren’t bad, but they also aren’t something I want to spend my online time on.  I’d rather invest my time in something that invests in me.

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Here’s where it gets real.

Your social media activity triggers your body to release the chemical rewards your brain gets when you have positive interactions, when you accomplish something, or when sharing physical contact with another human.  When you have a positive interaction with social media, you get the same physiological rush that comes from interacting with people in real life without interacting with people in real life.  It’s basically the crappy, fake porn version of sex, but for your social life.

Call me traditional, but this doesn’t seem like a good thing.  The science behind the legitimate addiction people develop is real, and precautions should be considered to make the time we spend on social media thoughtful and intentional instead of compulsory and constant.  The key is to use these tools as tools, not as pacifiers, escapes, or indicators of personal worth.  (Awareness of your own addiction levels helps, too.)  I appreciate how Facebook helps me find interesting events to attend, how Instagram helps me learn most of my foraging skills, and how Pinterest helps me collect creative inspiration for my home, but once my social media goals become social media-focused, I’ve missed the point.

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This past week, I joined The Plywood People for a talk about platforms.  Eric Brown, founder of Whiteboard.is, shared his thoughts on using social well and using it poorly.  Social media was originally designed to facilitate real life, not to be real life.  The goal of social was always to enhance real relationships, connect people who live far from one another, and to better the tangible.  If we forsake the tangible (real life) in favor if the intangible (social media), we’re doing it wrong.  We’re missing out on the purpose of living.  We’re choosing hollow rewards over fulfilling relationships and experiences.  And in that way, we’re actually contributing to making the world a darker place.

Focus on tangible wins.  Keep this in mind the next time you tap “Follow.”  Lives aren’t changed by retweets or drip campaign emails.  Invest your time wisely in something that invests back in you.

Friday, March 30, 2018

When friendships change

How to handle the reality of friendships changing
I never had much success making friends growing up.  We moved three times before settling in Georgia in 4th grade.  I remember ferociously praying for a best friend friend, but instead I got bullied on an off until senior year of high school.  It wasn’t until college that I met girls (and guys) who truly cared about me. They invested in me, shared with me, challenged me, and ran around campus dressed as ninjas with me (yes, we were those freshmen).  Spending time with them changed me and how I related to others for the better, and being with them was my new home. Finally, I started to feel secure in my friendships and in the community we had.

Senior year, Lydia, one of my core friends, started spending more time with a different group.  She was finishing up classes for her major that year, and she naturally became closer with the folks in the same courses.  Logistics be damned, I quickly became jealous and internalized the hurt. I reverted back to my middle school mindset and couldn’t understand why Lydia didn’t want to be my friend anymore.
Years later, Megan was a new girl at work.  She was the exuberant kind of person you instantly love.  The time we spent together was always good and deep and real, and when she got a new job at a different company, I was certain our friendship would transcend the situation.  She seemed to agree, and her verbal invitation to a rooftop dinner party (date and time TBD) kept me hopeful. Soon after, she stopped responding to my texts. I was perplexed and crushed.
Around the same time, Jasmine and I were in a tight knit tell-each-other-everything small group together and in an awkward group shift, our third member separated from the group and just Jasmine and I were left.  I reached out to her to see what her thoughts were and if she’d like to keep getting together. Despite my repeated messages, she didn’t respond for an entire semester. I’ll spare you the embarrassing details, but I did not handle it well as I waited.

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I always thought adults didn’t have to deal with the emotional baggage of friendship break ups, but I’m just now starting to identify and explore my struggle and how I can do better.  Here’s where I am so far.

Social media presents this idea that we’ll be friends forever, but that’s not true.
I was in one of the first groups of Facebook users, and back in 2006, it was a place to connect with friends.  But people aren’t time capsules. They change and grow. Never before has humanity had this social media glue to keep people together when they’d naturally fall apart, but the glue isn’t strong enough to maintain deep relationships in our transient, short-term society.  Long distance, new commitments, and shifting interests make a difference to friendships that Facebook can’t completely bridge.

You don’t deserve people’s attention.
This is a harsh one, but hear me out.  Placing expectations and demands on the time and attention of others isn’t love.  If that’s your main idea of friendship, you’re not being a good friend. Yes, committed relationships are worth fighting for, but if the other person has already checked out or has other opportunities they’re moving toward, don’t allow yourself to be someone who holds others back.

If you place your worth in the people around you, you’re gonna have a bad time.
It wasn’t until I admitted and owned the struggle of my past friendship vacuum that I realized I needed to figure out how to fill the need with something that isn’t dependent on others.  As much as I joke about needing handcuffs so my friends can’t leave me (never out loud, of course), life is change that doesn’t ask for permission. Finding security and love within myself and other stable places (family, faith, nature, etc.) is proving to be one of the best antidotes to my white knuckled grip on others and their opinions of me.

When someone no longer wants to invest in the friendship, know when it’s time to let go.
When my friendships changed, I interpreted it as rejection.  This led to feeling devalued and worrying that something was “wrong with me,” which bred insecurity I still carry now.  Don’t do this. Don’t fixate on where to place the blame. Don’t grasp for reasons that might not be there. There’s no nice way to put this, but sometimes people just aren’t that into you, and that’s okay.  You’re okay. Every relationship is not meant to last, and obsessing over the ones that are sunsetting could keep you from seeing the sunrises. You have value and goodness and beauty to share with the world.  Not everyone’s going to recognize it, but the ones who do are absolutely worth your time. The ones who don’t simply aren’t.

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Self awareness has been the first step to recovery, and If you have any other wisdom to add, I am all ears!  I have many years ahead of me still (I hope), and I’m sure I’ll go through plenty more ups and downs. My goal is to treat others and myself with grace and understanding.  To release control over my life and to not strive to change the things I have no power over. To be thankful for the friends I do have and to not waste my time on the people who aren’t interested in a two-way relationship.  In the end, that's the best way I can respect myself, and I hope my true friends keep me to it.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Recommended with March

In the spirit of the super-early spring we've had here in Atlanta, here's a song I discovered recently that makes me want to walk in the woods or drive with the windows down.  If you're a Mumford and Sons fan, you're going to love it.



And now for some links worth sharing...

I absolutely love this.  What you say to yourself, in your mind and in secret, is so important.  Check out these 18 quotes that will change how you treat yourself.

Here's what fruits and vegetables looked like before we domesticated them!  Banana, is that you?  And dang, carrots and corn have come a long way!

This Korean indie film about an elderly couple looks so sweet but poignant.  It's called My Love, Don't Cross That River, for heaven's sake.

YES:  A Stanford dean on adult skills every 18-year-old should have

On the impact of giving positive feedback ~ "It’ll make our virtual neighborhood an overall better place.  One kind word at a time."

These photos of homeless people are stunning.

For a healthier and happier body: Wellness trends that are (actually) worth your time

Yes, yes, yes.  What teen magazines should really look like.  Oh my word, how I wish society could get a grip on making the world better instead of making money by selling what sells.

And for something a bit lighter, this corgi loves to take showers.  Enjoy!