Zero Waste

As part of settling back down here is Sonoma County I have been plugging into local networks.  One great resource is Wacco Bulletin Board.  It is sort of like a craigslist, but with the intent of connecting conscious community.

About a week ago, I saw a post by someone asking for people’s opinion regarding zero waste.  He posted this video:

The idea of zero waste lifestyle is not new to me, and I’ve seen other people talk about their experience.  The idea intrigues me.  It fits right in with my values.  Might not be too hard to do; I am already a small waste generator.  For instance, it has been about two months since I’ve been to the dump (Yup, no mandatory garbage pick up here.) and I’ve got just a can of garbage – which is about half the size of those large cans I used to have in Phoenix.

I have been asking myself, “What would it take for our household to go zero waste by 2018?”

Very thought provoking.  What would your life look like if you went zero waste?  Are there changes that would be easy? and others that would be impossible?

Bea Johnson gives these guidelines for creating zero waste:

  1. Refuse
  2. Reduce
  3. Reuse
  4. Recycle
  5. Rot

The first big step is “refuse” things that will just end up in the waste stream.  This means I need to change where I shop.  In Phoenix, I got into the habit of shopping at Trader Joes.  They use tons of packaging on their vegetables!  It is easy enough for me to refuse that packaging by switching to purchasing my vegetables from one of the local produce stands.

What else would I need to refuse to eliminate waste?  Would I be willing to do it?  Could it be fun?

I think it is important to be aware of what we are doing and the consequences of our actions.  Generating waste is not just about having trash to get rid of, it is about the resources that go into the creation of that piece of plastic in the first place.

A zero waste lifestyle is also an excellent exercise in mindfulness.  Could refusing one plastic to-go container ultimately impact our health and the health of our children and the planet?  In how many different ways?  In my blog post, temptations, I illustrate my process of refusing to buy something inexpensive that I really wanted after I thought through the consequences of my actions.

So why wait until 2018 to go zero waste?  First, there is a lot of trash inside and outside of the house and at the farm that has accumulated.  I am waiting for summer to really clear the property.  Second, it is going to take me awhile to switch the stores I buy food from and set up the systems for a zero waste lifestyle.  Third, I am not sure I am 100% committed to the change.  I want to give myself sometime to ease into it.

The final question is, “Why would anyone adopt a zero waste lifestyle?”

While some people may be motivated by the lifestyle as an ideal, that is not me.  I wouldn’t feel like a failure if I got down to one garbage can full a year or even generated more.  I am more motivated by the challenge.  I think it will be fun to see how much waste I can eliminate.

Settling In

My partner and I are finally settling down.

Last May we relocated to Oakland, California from Phoenix, Arizona.  I had always wanted to live on Lake Merritt in Oakland and was happy to get my chance.  Just two blocks from the water, we enjoyed a lot of walks around the lake.  However, as nice as the area was, it just wasn’t working for us.

We decided to move north to Sonoma County and take on the care of a family property.  Actually there are two properties that we are care for.  The first is a 10 acre fruit farm.  You can read more about our work on that property here:  New Farm Project

The second parcel is where we live.  The house is nestled into 6 acres of redwoods. When we moved in, it had been neglected and I spent a couple months cleaning, painting, carpeting, and doing other repairs.  Then winter was upon us and the past couple of months have been devoted to cutting wood down to feed the wood stove.

Finally spring is here, at least in Northern California, and I am switching into garden mode.  The work seems endless, but I am beginning to have more space in my schedule for writing again.

One of the things I’ve been pondering is TESLI.  The Enlightenment & Simple Living Institute was created in Phoenix and I am not sure yet if she made the move with us.  What moved with me?  What stayed?  What will be created new?

I know that I left my practice as a massage therapist behind in Arizona.  I am also letting go of teaching the healing modalities I used to teach.  I am pruning my life to encourage new growth.  I get a sense that a new line of teaching is coming.  Perhaps it will be based on my new book, which has been very well received since it’s release in February.

Yes, after an eight year absence from Sonoma County, I am settling back in.  Many friends to reconnect with.  Relearning where to shop and creating new connections too.  Feels good to be back home.


My Money Reality

In the late 80’s my average monthly expenses after housing (rent/mortgage) was about $1200 a month.  Thirty-five years later that number was about $1600.  Since the cost of living had gone up, and my expenditures had not, that meant my standard of living had dropped significantly.  The cost of living calculator reports $1200 in 1989 would be the equivalent of $2313 in 2016.

Although I have always lived frugally, I found myself skimping on the quality of the food, household furnishings, and clothes I bought.  I was saddened that I was compromising my values in order to live within my means.  I accepted the compromise, since during the period of 2009 to 2014 my focus was primarily on my meditative practice.  I worked just enough to support myself during the periods where I was primarily meditating.money2

Part of my money story includes making a decision in 1995 to never be driven to do any activity because I felt financial pressure.  I had heard maxims that included “the universe will support us” and that if you “do what you love the money will follow”.  In my thirties, with a small nest egg, I felt secure enough to test out these tenets. I figured if they were wrong I still had time to recoup and if they were right I wouldn’t waste my life doing work that I wasn’t completely thrilled about.

My experiment resulted in me enjoying lots of leisure time, only doing work I loved, and always having enough money.  I have never been in debt, except for home mortgages.  I felt I was blessed by a stinginess with money that allowed me to enjoy saving more than spending.

That perspective on saving changed after my nest egg disappeared in 2000 during the stock market crash.  When I looked back on the money I could have spent and enjoyed – maybe on something frivolous like travel or entertainment – and saw that it had just evaporated with no benefit to me, I decided to put more value on using my money for me rather than saving it for later.  I learned that “later” might never come.

I started asking myself, “Do you want that?”  I made of point of getting myself everything I wanted.  I never told my self I could not afford something.  I knew that line was a lie.  I knew that it was always a choice.  Even towards the end of my “retreat”, when my standard of living was dropping, I was aware that I was choosing to spend my money on free time and valued that more than I did fancy organic food.

When I started to reenter the world in 2014 two questions came up.

What would I like to create?


How can I get the resources to create bigger than I have ever before?

To answer the first question I began exploring what was valuable to me.  Of course simple living and peace were the first things to come to mind.  My personal drive for freedom (enlightenment) is not something shared by many people.  Perhaps Mahatma Gandhi sums it up best:

There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.

Most people are not interested in ultimate peace, but they are interested in financial peace of mind, peace in their relationships, freedom from excess weight, freedom from unpleasant experiences, and more ease and joy.  I could see there were a large variety of ways I could contribute to people leading regular lives and offer people freedom.  It took me awhile to pick where I wanted to focus; that is another story.

The second question was about stretching beyond the money reality I was living in.  I knew I had a poverty mentality.  I lived in the ghetto and was comfortable there.  The values of my parents, the decrease in my standard of living, the money choices I was making, all contributed to a life of lack.  I was aware my vision of what to create was small and my financial vision was even smaller. I was also aware that I was capable of something bigger.  I seemed unable to stretch my vision bigger.

I entertained the questions:  What would it take for me to be like those people that produce big conventions or create big healing centers?  What would it take for me to be willing to “waste” money to create more?  What would it be like to be wealthy?  What would it be like to not worry when I throw out a plastic container that could be reused or recycled?  What would it be like to have employees and let them just do their job?

I was choosing to get beyond what my money reality had been.  I was willing to step away from all my judgments and conclusions around money and work.  With this choice and willingness I discovered tools that would assist me in the process of expanding my possibilities around money.  I got the most benefit from using the Access Consciousness tools that I picked up from classes, books and friends.

I have taken the advice of Gary Douglas that I heard on a radio show.  He told a listener that had phoned in about money issues that having money and wealth is just a choice.  If you desire to have money (or anything else you lack) then you have to tell yourself, “I am going to learn how to have money.”  Here is a blog where he gives similar advice:

I am still in the process of changing my money reality.  I am learning how to have money and how to be wealthy.  Part of my process is contributing to others that would also like to change their money reality.  So many times I hear people turn down opportunities (classes, vacations, and treatments) that would benefit them because “they don’t have enough money”.  I have done the same thing myself in the past without realizing just how much more ease the things I was refusing could have brought me.  I was asking the question “Do I want this?” and coming up with a “No” when better questions would have been, “Will this contribute to my life?”  “Will this make me more money?” or “What will my life be like in five years if I choose this?”

Would you like a different reality with money? What would it take for you to have more money than you have been able to imagine?  What if it was easier than you think?

Check out my upcoming How to Change Your Money Reality workshop.  Workshops can be attended in person or live-streamed from anywhere.  Only $36 so all you penny-pinchers can join also.


Access Consciousness Radio Show

Money Isn’t the Problem, You Are by Gary Douglas

How To Become Money Workbook by Gary Douglas