Tuesday, November 29, 2011

How To Eat An Elephant

When it's time to clean my son's room, he gets overwhelmed. I try to give him one small step at a time, instead of just saying, "Clean your room!" and leaving him to anxiety attacks. One day he asked me to tell him all the steps at the beginning, which I did, and he looked tired just hearing about what he had to do. So I asked him, "How do you eat an elephant?" (My son has Asperger's Syndrome and has a tendency to take things literally, so the look on his face was priceless). When I answered my own question with, "One bite at a time!" he understood the metaphor and now he uses it whenever we have a big project at hand (or several pages of homework).

I bring this up because I have been trying to change my life, a bite at a time. It started with wanting to live more in line with my Earth -based spirituality. I read Starhawk's The Earth Path and realized just how disconnected from nature I really was. On an average day I couldn't tell you what phase the moon was in, and that's supposed to be a big part of this path.  So I bought a worm farm, and tried my hand at gardening, failing miserably at my first attempt. Fast forward a year, and I've successfully grown and eaten  2 cucumbers, some leaf lettuce, and about 60 green beans! Not a lot of food, but hey, a bite at a time, right?

I've also learned how to bake bread, make pasta, make tomato sauce and soft cheeses and raise hogs from 1 day old (bottle-fed, a story for another post). One thing I've learned about learning new things, it's empowering! You go through your whole life thinking you can't do something, and then you do it, and it's like, wow…that was easy! Why have I been paying for this again? (Ok, so the pigs weren't exactly easy…but they were fun!)

As I said in my bio, I am a hippie who married a punk. Lately, it seems I'm rubbing off on him. He's suddenly concerned with all of the chemicals that seem to be everywhere. I'm sure that my reading articles to him about the carcinogens in dryer exhaust and the demetia-causing aluminum in deodorant doesn't help, or the fact that we now have the Documentary Channel, and he's been watching films like Food, Inc and Gasland.  So he is completely on board with my homemade laundry soap, homemade vinegar and orange peel cleaner, and bentonite-clay based homemade deodorant. Plus the whole punk-don't-be-a-good-consumer-thing fits in nicely.
So now I find myself cringing at the smell of Fabreze as it wafts from my neighbor's a/c unit. I want to cut out all of the nasty chemicals, right now! I want to make my own toothpaste and shampoo bar and facial cleanser and figure out how to dye my hair without chemicals and use natural make-up and get rid of all the plastic in my house and eat local, real food and…and…remember, a bite at a time.

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