Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Wordless Wednesday #10--Lone Walker

For another one of my Wordless Wednesday photos, see my other blog. For other people's see

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Improg word: Underwear

*For those of you wondering what the heck an improg is, it’s an improvisational blog entry. My improg partner, Hayley, came up with the idea of sending each other an envelope full of words. Once a week, we each pull out a word and write something about it.

You can be part of the fun! Leave a comment, submit a word (see Hayley’s post
here for instructions), or—if you’re really brave—you might even like to become an improgger yourself. We’d be happy to have you join us!

Thanks so much, Hayley, for including underwear in your envelope of words.

I have nothing interesting or funny to say about my own underwear. Nor do I have pictures to share. I can hear your collective sigh of relief.

The interesting thing about underwear is that what people wear under their clothes may have little to do with the image they present to the world. Maybe that mom in the grocery store is sporting silk and lace under her sweats. Maybe that tired-looking woman with the bad haircut you see on the bus every day wears leopard-print thongs. Maybe the hot young thing down the street favors granny panties. Maybe your boss wears no underwear at all under his three-piece suit. (I had such a boss many years ago. Unfortunately, his lack of support in the nether regions was all too obvious.)

What the world sees on the surface might not be a complete representation of who we are. That busy, efficient woman you admire so much, who seems so organized, so together? Maybe underneath she’s clinging on for dear life. That near-perfect family next door? Maybe behind their front door is a house full of cold silence and repressed anger. That guy who works at the convenience store? Maybe in his home country he was a brain surgeon and inside his head is the knowledge needed to save lives, if only he could use it here. And that tired looking woman on the bus? Maybe she’s so tired because she moonlights as a belly dancer.

People often dress themselves—both figuratively and literally—in what others expect them to wear. We moved across town when I was a teenager and my friends at my new school—a rather unwild bunch—would have been shocked to know the shenanigans I got up to with my friends from my old neighborhood after church. When I decided to go to university after a couple of years working for the inadequately clad boss, a lot of the people I worked with were surprised, thinking of me as a ditzy blonde waitress with a fondness for parties. During my (ridiculous number of) years at university, some people were surprised to hear of the trouble I got into during high school, thinking of me as a brainy, hippy-type academic.

The people I know now are surprised about both my colorful past and my (ridiculous number of) years at university. And, yes, they’ve even been surprised by my underwear. At Brownie camp a couple of years ago, as the other leaders and I got ready for bed, one exclaimed at what was under my jeans. Although it wasn’t particularly racy (this was Brownie camp, after all), I guess it wasn’t what she expected me to be wearing. All this surprise over the idea that I had adventures in my youth or was an academic or wore black bikinis with white polka dots makes me wonder just what image I’m currently projecting—boring, not very smart, someone who wears white briefs up to her armpits?

I told Hayley that I probably wasn’t going to do an improg entry this week because I’ve been having some hard days lately. I used to frequent a dark hole of depression, sometimes bringing along enough camping equipment and food to stay there for weeks. In the past several years, I’ve teetered on the edge at times, but for the most part I’ve kept my footing. A few days ago I fell in head first. I’ve been sitting here in the dark (illuminated yesterday by a brilliant ray of sunshine in the form of an email from Margerie’s daughter, who invited me to her birthday party), eating cookies and not feeling like doing much of anything.

But then I pulled out this ridiculous word from Hayley’s envelope, and in between my regular chauffeuring duties and work, I’ve sat here in the dark hole thinking about it. And I’ve realized that I might look okay on the outside—a little frumpy, maybe, and in desperate need of a haircut, but still okay—but on the inside my emotional underwear is tattered and torn. I’ve been trying to patch it up, with a stitch here and a stitch there and a safety pin in the elastic, but it’s not working anymore. (Oh, and just so you know, my actual, physical underwear is not in such bad shape.)

I’ve been working really hard to improve things in my life this year, but, just like with clothes, no matter how nice the stuff on the outside, I won’t feel truly comfortable or confident if I’m wearing worn-out underwear that’s threatening to fall down around my knees.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Green Friday: Buried in junk mail, part 1--catalogues

I, as you might know, am postally obsessed, but even I hate getting junk mail.

Twenty or so years ago, when environmentalists were seen as long-haired, wacky university students, my husband and I (who were long-haired university students) did some wacky things to slow the flow of junk mail coming through our mail slot. We stuffed it into postage-paid envelopes and sent it back. We regularly sent huge envelopes of it to the federal minister of the environment, asking for regulations or programs to be set up to reduce unwanted mail. Glossy paper wasn’t recyclable then, so I would call companies that sent glossy advertisements and (politely) berate them.

It’s gotten a bit easier to say no to junk mail. In this post I’m going to talk about the fattest, heaviest form of junk mail there is: the mail-order catalog.

According to Catalog Choice, producing the 19 billion catalogues mailed to U.S. households each year uses 3.6 million tons of paper made from 53 million trees. The energy used to make this paper is enough to power 1.2 million homes for a year; 5.2 million tons of carbon dioxide are emitted (that’s equivalent to a year’s worth of emissions from 2 million cars) and 53 billion gallons of waster water are produced (that’s 81,000 Olympic-sized pools).

Yikes! How much of those resources is going straight from the forest and factory into the garbage without serving any useful purpose?

Of all the catalogues that get crammed into our dinky mailbox, only one ever gets read: my daughter spends hours poring over her American Girl catalogue four times a year. The rest get a cursory glance to see if there are any pages that would be good for making envelopes or for a craft project, and then they go straight into the recycling box (well, truth be told, more often than not they sit around on my office floor for quite a while before that cursory glance).

If I want to browse a retailer’s catalogue, I do it online. It’s true that you can’t curl up on the couch with a cup of tea and an online catalogue the way you can with a print one, or bring it into the bathroom with you. But it saves resources and I spend less money. Instead of a beautiful glossy catalogue arriving unexpectedly in the mail to tempt me to buy things I wouldn’t otherwise have thought of buying, I go online when I need something.

Even though we don’t read them, we still receive a lot of catalogues. We even get them addressed to people who lived here years ago. Since this is “Enough garbage, already” month for me, I’m adding another step to my glance-and-toss catalogue processing routine: finding out how to stop them from arriving at all. As each one arrives, I contact the company and ask to get off their mailing list.

If you live in the United States, there’s an easy way to stop receiving catalogues you don’t want or duplicates. At Catalog Choice, you can ask to be removed from the mailing lists of approximately 200 merchants who have pledged to honor your request (thanks, Hayley, for this information).

Keep in mind that merchants don’t want to give up your address, especially if you have purchased from them in the past. It may take some time and perseverance to get off those mailing lists. But more and more retailers are waking up to the fact that sending catalogues to people who don’t want them is a waste of resources and money.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Wordless Wednesday #9: Ready, Set, . . .

For another one of my Wordless Wednesday photos, see my other blog. For other people's see

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Improg word: Complete

For those of you wondering what the heck an improg is, it’s an improvisational blog entry. My improg partner, Hayley, came up with the idea of sending each other an envelope full of words. Once a week, we each pull out a word and write something about it.

You can be part of the fun! Leave a comment, submit a word (see Hayley’s post
here for instructions), or—if you’re really brave—you might even like to become an improgger yourself. We’d be happy to have you join us!

The word I pulled today is complete. Now, Hayley hasn’t specified if this is the adjective or the verb, so I guess it’s up to me to decide. Complete (v.) has actually been on my mind lately, so I’ll go with that.

For several years now I’ve had trouble completing things. As far as I can remember, this was not a problem I had when I was a kid, probably because in our house it wasn’t allowed to be a problem. We had to complete things. If we took a toy out, we had to put it back before we took out another one. Chores had to be done first—and that meant done, complete, finished. No forgetting to put the vacuum back in the closet or leaving a fork unwashed at the side of the sink.

So as a kid and a teenager and a young adult, I finished what I started. I read one book before starting the next one. I even finished one craft project before starting the next one (yes, I really did). When I went back to school, I completed assignments days ahead of the due date. That was just the way I lived.

And then I moved in with my husband. He is not a natural finisher, nor does he do things in a linear manner. We once shared a community garden plot with friends of ours, one of whom had a very rigid way of doing things. When we broke the sod on the plot, she worked in completely straight lines, left to right, left to right; my husband worked a bit over here and then a bit over there and then somewhere else entirely. When we planted, she drew straight furrows in the dirt and measured out planting holes according to the distance recommended on the package; he was happy to scatter the seeds in a vague line. He drove her nuts.

So when I moved in with him, I relaxed a bit. Well, a lot. I still got my assignments done on time, but rarely early. I soon had several craft projects on the go at all times. I no longer lived by a strict get-this-done-before-you-start-that rule.

Once I had kids, my problems with completion really grew. Over the next few years, between being sleep deprived and constantly having to change a diaper or clean up regurgitated milk or answer a question like “Where do the stars come from?” or watch impromptu concerts and plays, I really didn’t have time to finish anything in one go. I did manage to complete some things, most notably two degrees, just not very efficiently. And many, many things went unfinished. But I thought that the problem would resolve itself once my children went to school.

Alas, no. They've been in school for years now and I still don't complete things. My life is still full of interruptions. Worse than that, somewhere in all those loads of laundry I seem to have misplaced my ability to focus on the task at hand (it’s probably with all those socks that go missing in the dryer). I dither. I dilly-dally. I take on too much and flit from one thing to another. I have the attention span of a toddler.

One of my goals in my Year of Living Differently is to rediscover my ability to complete what I start and to learn to let go of things that I really don’t want to be doing. I don’t want to live by an inflexible rule—there’s a lot to be said for having 15 projects to choose from at any one time. But I do want to complete the things that are important to me.

As for the adjective, I hope I never feel truly complete. If I were to die in an avalanche of dust balls as I opened the hall closet one day, I would like to feel satisfied with my life. The quest for that feeling of satisfaction is what’s driving me in this year-long project. But I don’t want to feel like I’ve done all I want to do, been all I want to be, read everything I want to read, seen everything I want to see. I don’t want to get to the point where the world isn’t interesting to me anymore, where I feel like I’ve done it all.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Green Friday: Disposing of Medications

Due to popular demand (well, Margerie), on Fridays I share some ideas for how to lessen our impact on the environment. But I don't have a PhD in this, so please share your own ideas with me!

As part of my “Enough garbage, already!” month, I weeded our medicine box of expired medications. This brings up the question of what to do with them. We used to be told to mush them up and put them in the garbage or to flush them down the toilet so no kids or animals would accidentally ingest them.

However, recent studies have found traces of medications in the water of cities all over North America. In fact, although this has been big news lately, it’s not new news. Back in 2004, the Vancouver Sun reported on a study that found traces of nine drugs, including Prozac, in drinking water plants in Ontario, and mentioned that the US and European countries had been studying this issue longer than Canada had.

Nobody knows what effects the long-term exposure to traces of medications in the water, soil, and, potentially, the food supply could have on our health, not to mention on the health of wildlife, or whether throwing antibiotics away could contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Some experts say there’s no need to worry, but we’ve heard that about pesticides, hormones, and plastic, all of which are a cause for concern now. So, to me, it makes sense to look for safer ways to get rid of those bottles that have been collecting in the back of your medicine cabinet.

This year, the 21 municipalities of the Metro Vancouver area banned the disposal of any kind of medications in the garbage. Here in BC, we’ve been lucky enough to have a free medication return program since the 1990s. You can bring expired or unused prescription and over-the-counter medications to almost any pharmacy (95% of the province’s pharmacies participate) for safe disposal. In 2006, almost 20 tons of medication were kept out of the landfills and the water through this program. I bet the potential is much higher, since a lot of people here don’t even know the program exists.

When we lived in California for a few years, I assumed I could do the same thing there, but when I asked, the pharmacists looked at me like I was crazy (I'm sure I looked crazy, since I'd just finished grocery shopping with a toddler and a baby in tow) and told me to flush them. Things are changing, though, and medication return programs like this one are popping up all over. If you don’t have a program in your area, find out if you can dispose of medications through your city’s hazardous waste program. If you live in Canada, you can find information on how to dispose of medications at the Medications Return Program website.

If you want to read more about this issue, here are a couple of resources:
US Environmental Protection Agency: Pharmaceutical and Personal Care Products
Health Canada: Proper Use and Disposal of Medication

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Wordless Wednesday #8: View through the gap

For another one of my Wordless Wednesday photos, see my other blog. For other people's see

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Improg word: Jungle

It’s a jungle out there, they say. But what I’d really like is for it to be a jungle in here.

I used to be surrounded by plants. I bought the little spindly ones that nobody wanted and nursed them to health. I watered, I fed, I trimmed. I rooted dozens of geranium cuttings every winter. I planted seeds. I forced bulbs so that I could have a little bit of spring in my house in the winter.

And then this guy came into my life:


Who knew that when I chose this innocent-looking kitten from the shelter two and half years ago, I was sentencing myself to years of empty pots and vases?

He may look cute, but plants tremble at the mere sight of him. And he’s not interested in eating the plants. No, his crimes are senseless and twisted. He’s been known to bite the heads of gerbera daisies for the sheer fun of it, leaving the poor flowers dying in the soil as he runs off to find his next victim. He scaled the yucca cane plant to tear the leaves apart with his bare teeth. He will climb onto any perch, no matter how precarious, to wreak havoc.

He is sometimes aided and abetted by this terror:


Doesn't she look fierce? At least she seems to be driven by that strange cat instinct to eat plants and then throw them up. If we keep a healthy crop of cat grass growing, she’ll usually leave the other plants alone. Jamie isn’t interested in that grass stuff. It poses no challenge to his criminal mind.

There are three plants (besides the cat grass) left in our house: a lonely spider plant hanging in my office, with every tip that's within reach of a cat standing on the bookcase or filing cabinet gnawed off, and two pokey cacti. Every other plant has either met a grisly death or has been placed, for its own protection, outside. Few of those have survived our winter temperatures.

Spraying Jamie with water works temporarily, but as soon as our backs are turned he strikes again. The same with shouting or banging on pots. The pet store owner recommended a bitter-tasting spray, but within minutes of my spraying the plants, the Plant Slayer was at work again. Thinking there was something wrong with the spray, I tasted the teeniest tiniest littlest bit, and then spent the next hour brushing my teeth and spitting to get the taste out of my mouth.

On the rare occassions when someone sends me flowers, I can’t keep them inside. One unexpected benefit of living with the Plant Slayer is the discovery that flower arrangements placed outside the kitchen window in the cold weather last for weeks.

When we bought this house with its huge yard, I thought I would finally achieve my goal of having a beautiful cutting garden and a house full of flowers all summer—my reward for living in the gloomy gray rain for an average of 154.5 days of the year. And I thought the big windows would be perfect for the jungle of houseplants that would brighten those rainy days. But that’s not to be.

I bought an outside plant cart with a little greenhouse cover, which will hopefully protect our seedlings enough to get them through any late frosts. Now I’m planning to build some window boxes and I’m collecting interesting glass jars to use as outdoor vases during the summer.

It’s funny—I’ve found lots of resources on how to protect your cats from poisonous plants, but I can’t find anything to tell me how to protect my plants from the cats. I would love to have my jungle back. It’s good for the air quality in the house, but more importantly, it’s good for my soul. If you have any ideas, leave a comment!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Green Friday: Tea for one, not two (or twenty-two)

Due to popular demand (well, Margerie), on Fridays I share some ideas for how to lessen our impact on the environment. But I don't have a PhD in this, so please share your own ideas with me!

This is how I used to make tea: Working diligently on a client’s manuscript, I’d come across an especially disorganized section or a sentence that made me want to bang my head on the keyboard. I’d think, “I need a cup of tea” (procrastination by tea). As I looked out the window or tried to reach the cookie jar with my other hand, I’d stick the kettle under the tap, and then I’d plug it in and wander away. I would come back five or ten minutes later, discover that the water had already started to cool off, turn the kettle back on, and wander off again. Sometimes it took me three tries to make a cup of tea.

Then one day as I was wandering around in Blogland (procrastination by blog reading), I came across Green Me’s post on tea kettles. And I started paying attention to what I was doing.

I regularly filled the kettle with enough water for a whole pot of tea. Combine that with the mineral deposits in my kettle and my apparent inability to keep a thought in my head for the time it took the kettle to boil, and I was using enough energy for the Mad Hatter’s tea party just to make a single cup.

Now I fill the kettle only to the minimum line and I stick around while it boils. As a side benefit, I’ve cleaned out the fridge, perused forgotten recipe books, and started decluttering the cabinets—all a few minutes at a time.

I also keep my kettle clean. Before, I descaled my kettle (removed the mineral deposits) intermittently, meaning once or twice a year. Green Me gives instructions for descaling, but this is how I’ve always done it (when I’ve actually gotten around to doing it): Fill the scaly part of the kettle with straight white vinegar and boil it. Rinse the kettle well, fill it to the same level with clean water, boil it again, and give it one more rinse. If it’s that easy, why didn’t I do it more often?

Being the procrastinator I am, I drink a lot of tea. I look for fair trade brands without envelopes, strings, and tags. A reusable box or tin gets bonus points. I buy organic and loose tea whenever possible. Once in a while I buy teabags that are individually wrapped if that’s the only way I can get a certain kind or if I’m going to share it with a far-away friend. Nice people send me tea, too. I save all the envelopes to use in as-yet-in-my-head craft projects or to send to someone I know who collects them, or, at the very least, I recycle them. The tea itself goes in the compost.

I don’t drink coffee (yuck!), but you could apply the same principle of awareness to making that awful drink. Are you brewing a pot when you’ll drink only a cup or two? And how about when you boil water for pasta or fill the sink to do dishes or run the bath for you kids? Do you really need that much or could you make do with a little less? Now that I’m paying attention when I turn on the tap, I’m using less water and less energy. And since I’m not boiling the kettle three times for each cup, I have more time to procrastinate by blogging.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Wordless Wednesday #7

For another one of my Wordless Wednesday photos, see my other blog. For other people's see

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Improg word: Shimmery

This word makes me think of romance and glamour: A dinner in a fancy restaurant, with diamonds sparkling in the shimmering candlelight. A bride wearing a shimmery veil. Evenings spent in front a flickering fire. Lying on a warm beach near the blue shimmery water.

I write about romance and glamour in the same way I would write about quantum physics. To me, they’re theoretical concepts, things of which I have little direct experience.

The only time I see candlelight is when the power goes out. I have no diamonds (we were both broke undergrads when we decided to get married, so I have a thin gold wedding band, the cheapest the jewelry store had). I wore a cotton dress bought three days before my wedding (and I would have worn my jeans if I could have gotten away with it)—no shimmery fabric or veil. The chimney hasn’t been cleaned in years, so we have no fires casting their shimmering light in our living room. And at this time of year the only shimmery water I see is a puddle with an oil slick in it.

I didn’t write this improg yesterday morning because, moments after pulling the word out of Hayley’s envelope, I noticed that one of the cats had thrown up on the stair rail, over the edge of the stair rail, and into the basket of library books. As I cleaned each book page by page—I have been the recipient of gross surprises in library books and I didn’t want anyone else to have that traumatic experience—I thought about this romantic and glamorous word and I had to laugh. There is no shimmer in my life.

This doesn’t mean that my life isn’t filled with light. The flash of coins on hip scarves at my dance class. The stage lights at my kids’ performances. The soft light that I’ve spent countless hours reading to them by. The nightlight I leave on to guide sleepy feet to the bathroom. The light of my computer screen, which connects me to far-away family and friends. The brilliant sunshine which, when it finally breaks through the clouds, turns this grey, gloomy city into one of the most beautiful in the world.

My life is full of light—it’s just not the shimmery kind. And that's fine with me.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Green Friday--Driven to distraction

As I sit down to write my first Green Friday post, as suggested by Margerie, I feel like a big fraud. I’m no expert on this stuff—who do I think I am, anyway?

But I know that I can use regular reminding of how to live in a more environmentally responsible way, and I bet that’s true for other people. Maybe you’ll read something here that you didn’t know and you’ll share ideas with me that I didn’t know. At the very least, these posts will make me accountable for my own behavior. I know that you can’t see me and wouldn’t have a clue if I threw away a whole ream of paper or started driving a Hummer, but I’ll behave better thinking that you’re keeping an eye on me.

While not old enough to have been official hippies, my husband and I have had the reputation of being hippie-ish, especially since we spent a ridiculous number of years in university, living in apartments with brick-and-board bookcases, wearing big wool sweaters from Guatemala, and carting around our own mugs long before it became the thing to do. Although global warming wasn’t in the news back then, we tried to live in an environmentally friendly way. Our lifestyle didn’t seem extreme to us or our friends, although I think it did to our families. We didn’t give up everything but granola or anything like that. It just made sense to try to have a smaller impact on the planet. Plus it was cheaper to live that way and we didn’t have a lot of money (see “we spent a ridiculous number of years in university” above).

One of the big changes in our lives since then is how much we drive. Before we had kids, we spent some years riding a motorcycle, some years driving various on-their-last-leg cars, and some years with no vehicle at all. Even when we had wheels, we often took the bus (motorcycle + BC weather = sitting in class in wet jeans = extreme discomfort) or walked. Although I got my license when I was 19 (just barely managing to pass the driving test), I didn’t actually start driving until I was 30 and pregnant and saw a woman trying to board the bus in the pouring rain with an unhappy baby, a stroller, an umbrella, a diaper bag and two bags of groceries.

Even after I started driving, I walked to the grocery store, the library, the fabric store, the park—many of the place I went to regularly. But then we moved to California and driving took on a new importance. Nothing, not even Child One’s school, was within walking distance of our subdivision.

Now, back in BC, our days include kids’ activities that we have to drive to. The library is not within easy walking distance (nor is the fabric store) and it’s not so easy to get the groceries without the car. My mom needs to be driven places she’s not confident getting to on her own. All of this means that my car could be my second home.

When the kids were small, we had to stick around at their activities in case of bathroom breaks or sudden I-hate-ballet/art/soccer tantrums. Now that they’re old enough to go to the bathroom on their own, we still stay, now in order to cut down on our driving. I might run an errand close by, go for a walk, hang out with mom-friends (and have conversations that don’t involve bathroom humor), or bring something to do while I’m waiting. I actually look forward to these breaks.

But until recently I was still spending a huge amount of time going here and there, doing this and that. Not only did this completely fragment my work day, but it involved a great deal of driving. Now I try to group my errands and get as many as possible done in one trip. This has drastically reduced my driving and saved me a ton of time and gas money.

It’s had other benefits too. One of the reasons I was always running around was because I work at home and my work can be mentally intense—sometimes I just need a break or a change of scenery. Now, instead of thinking, “Hey, I can go buy milk,” I work in the garden for a few minutes, go for a walk, knit a few rows, or even do the vacuuming (imagine that!). I get the break I need in a shorter time, and I spend that time doing some of the things I never seemed to have time to do before.

Another reason for my chicken-with-her-head-cut-off behavior is that when it occurs to me that, say, I need something at the store, that idea stays in the front of my mind, taunting me until I get it done. Paradoxically, this feeds right into my tendency to procrastinate. There I am, working on something boring or difficult and a thought pops into my head: “My washout fabric marker ran out last week. I need a new one, right now.” I try to ignore it, but it keeps coming back. So I leave the job I don’t really want to be doing anyway, telling myself that I have errands to run.

Now I say to myself, “Self, you know you don’t really need a new washout marker at 1:00 on a Tuesday afternoon. It can wait. You won’t even be able to use it until this never-ending job is done. This is just a ruse to get out of working.” And I sigh and get back to work. I keep a list in my purse of these needs and take care of them while I’m running other errands in the same area. I get more work done (well, when I'm not reading blogs) and save time. Sometimes I realize that I don’t really need or want whatever it was, so I save money, too.

But the biggest benefit—in addition to the environmental ones, of course—is that my days seem less urgent and I feel more in control. A little thought, a little planning, and I get things done in fewer trips and I don’t feel like I’m constantly rushing around.

This post turned out longer than I meant it to. Procrastinating through blogging seems to have replaced procrastinating through driving.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Wordless Wednesday #6

For another one of my Wordless Wednesday photos, see my other blog. For other people's see

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Enough, already!—Month two

Last month, in a flash of insight probably induced by eating (rather than selling) too many of my son’s choir’s fundraising chocolate bars, I decided to declare “Enough, already!” to the things that I have too much of or that are zapping my energy, in order to make room and time for the things I want more of. So that I can actually remember that I’ve decided to do this, I’ve planned to give each month a theme.

Last month it was “Enough procrastination, already!” I made a list of five things I’d been procrastinating about and did four of them. The fifth required input from someone else who obviously didn’t get as jazzed about my catchy theme as I did. That’s okay, though, because this isn’t about perfection (I keep telling myself), and I got several other left-on-the-back-burner things done as well. I’ve also become more aware of when I’m about to procrastinate and why I do it. For example, I put off preparing my invoices because (a) I usually feel like a big faker who can’t possibly deserve being paid and (b) I hate asking people for money. So now I’m on the road to improving my procrastination habit.

This month my theme is “Enough garbage, already!” I recently took a trip to the local dump, which was surprisingly—both to me and to the people who saw me cry—traumatic. I’m not sure why I reacted so strongly. I grew up close enough to my hometown dump that we could hear the hum of the bulldozers (when the hum of the freeway and the roar of the airplanes overhead weren’t too loud). I used to go there periodically with my dad and, as far as I remember, I didn’t cry then. And it’s not like I’m unaware that people throw things away. But for whatever reason, this trip got me to thinking about garbage in a serious way.

For this month’s “Enough, already!” I’m going to interpret the theme of garbage broadly. First, there’s the physical garbage—what we bring into our house and what we get rid of (and how we do it). Second, there’s the garbage I put into my body (see “empty box of fundraising chocolate bars” above). While it’s not entirely the same kind of garbage I put into my body in my youth, it’s still not good for me. And third, there’s emotional garbage taking up too much room in my life. Some of it has been rotting for years and new stuff gets produced regularly. It’s time for it to go.

After reading my post on going to the dump, Margerie emailed me to suggest that I start a “Green Friday” post of environmental tips. She said she could sense my passion for the subject, which might have been a diplomatic way of saying, “It’s not normal to cry at the dump, you dork!” I love this idea, but as I said in that post, even though we’ve been trying to live in an environmentally friendly way for decades (ouch), I’m no expert. So maybe you all can help me by posting your own tips or sending me suggestions. Not one to procrastinate (ha!), I will start this Friday.