Monday, September 29, 2008

Baby steps

I have to tell you about a guest post I recently found over at Keeper of the Home. The writer, Katie, describes her baby steps towards more natural living, and I identified with much of what she said. In the intro, Katie confesses that she wants to be more natural, but admits she sometimes makes Jello and dyes her hair. I can so relate to that push-pull: wanting to do better but often falling back to "convenience items."

Here are the paragraphs that made me nod my head vigorously in agreement:

"It's not that I'm not convinced that there is a better option. I know there are better options. It's that I'm overwhelmed with information. What's worse, I'm often paralyzed. And perhaps a little rebellious. I have limited time and resources. I'm sure you can relate. I'd be hard pressed to find one person out there who can't think of one thing they could be doing to be a better steward of their time, their finances or their home. I can personally think of a plethora of things I wish I were doing to be a better steward.

However, I've also recently discovered that the first step is so important. I can choose to be immobilized, or I can make small changes now. I probably won't ever be an entirely natural person. I am overwhelmed when I think of how enormously I would have to change in order to address every component of natural living. However, there are several steps my husband and I have implemented in the past few years that have really added up."

Katie then shares a list of things she and her husband are doing to make small steps towards more natural living. I appreciate hearing from a perspective like this--someone who's kind of in the same "place" as me. To be honest, I am easily intimidated by people who are *really* into natural living (soaking grains is one example that comes to mind) and I can be too easily critical of those who don't seem to care a hoot about these issues. So that's me. (Maybe I should start a natural living babystepper's club--to help keep me motivated without the guilt or "paralysis" Katie referred to in her post.)

If you're someone who does give a hoot about natural living, I hope you'll click over to read the post. And by the way, let me know if you want to be in the NLB club! =)


mom said...

Natural living baby steps -- I like that idea! Like most things, my attempts at natural living are not perfect -- but moving forward even with baby steps is progress! My bigger focus at this season in my life is simplifying -- which sometimes means the "natural" choice is out (like the one you mention of soaking grains). Thanks for sharing! Love you, Mom

Hayley said...

Okay, I had to laugh when I read the word "plethora". Do you remember when that was the word of the week?? LOL! That is so funny!! Anyway, I've never given much thought about natural living, but I am intrigued by your post, and will have to check out the blog you are referring to. I agree with you Mom in that I should work on SIMPLIFYING things in my life. That would be a HUGE baby step for me!!

thehomespunheart said...

I'm in between - I like the idea of natural living. But, in my current season find that it isn't the most practical of ideas. Or maybe it is because things like crafting and hospitality are bigger priorities? I like the idea of baby steps because as Mom said even a baby step is progress! I think that for us, picking the "natural" things that work and going with those is simplest for our life. I love taking my shopping bags when I go to the store and cutting our own hair and having a garden, etc... I know I can't go whole hog - but every little bit helps!

debra said...

I loved that post too. And I have to say that I felt better after I read it. I am not alone in wondering if I am doing enough but doing the best I can. I do think it is all about baby steps. And sometimes there are things that are not the most natural thing but work for you right now - conveniences I guess you would say. I did just color my hair yesterday-in my defense it is to cover the grey- not to go from brunette to blond. There comes a time when you do what you have to do! :) I do like the idea of a NLB Club - count me in if you decide to do it.

autumnesf said...

Sign me up.

You know there was an article that made the rounds in the papers last week about how those that are the most educated about being green and most likely to use green practices at home were also the ones that took vacations by airplane and caused so much damage with those trips. All I could think of is that the good they are doing is NOT wiped out by the airplane trips. They are still doing what they can at home. Should they stop being green at home because they use airplanes to vacation (one of the worst pollutants out there)? Nobody is going to "do it all" unless you are Grizzly Adams or some other mountain man. And even then wood puts out soot which is a polluter. So how you gonna keep warm?????

Mom2fur said...

Nobody says you have to do everything! Each little bit we do to live more naturally helps. But that doesn't mean giving up all the modern 'fun' things, either. I use cloth napkins and rags for cleaning instead of paper towels. I try to make my own mixes. I line-dry my clothes whenever possible. But...I won't be giving up my Excellence by L'Oreal any time soon, thank you.
Do what works for you and your family and don't pay any attention to people who walk barefoot and use diapers made from crushed bamboo pods. (I'm kidding about the crushed bamboo pods, although bamboo fabric is beautiful!)

Amy said...

That is how I am living right now. I take some steps forward and sometimes I take some steps backward. I just try and do the best I can with my time & resources, but I hope that I will be able to do more and more each year.

Great topic!

loavesandfishes said...

I need a Natural Living Babysteppers club!!!

Mary Ann said...

I'm with Monica and Amy. Kinda in the middle. I like the idea of natural living but I also like to keep things very practical and simple.

I do the best I can with what I have. Sometimes everything is natural and crunchy and other days we eat hot dogs and potato chips for dinner.:-)

I would like to try soaking grains for bread and stuff. I think I'm mainly overwhelmed with the idea of having to change my tried and true recipes to accommodating the soaking process. I did try soaking oatmeal for a while last winter. It was OK, but something we would have to really get used to.

Vanessa said...

I also enjoyed that post and related to it. I have found this immobilizing reaction to different areas in my life, including natural living. In myself, I have deemed it part of a supressed perfectionism - I don't even want to attempt it unless I can accomplish it to my full satisfaction.

I would be up for joining a babysteps to natural living club! :) Also, just for the record, your blog has inspired me in natural living and being a good steward of what the Lord's given me already!

Take care!
- Nessa

Susan said...

I would love to sign up. I am all about natural living, but many times feel overwhelmed myself. Everyone around me is really natural and vegetarian and unsure how to start from here to there!

gail said...

great topic for discussion. when we were first married, we were very into "back to the land" living. we dreamed of having 5 acres, a huge garden and orchard, chickens, sheep, a woodlot and all the hard work that goes with it. we never got our 5 acres but along the way we have done the garden thing regularly, along with canning, dehydrating, freezing; raising chickens for eggs and meat, heating our home solely with wood, cooking on the woodstove occasionally (never did get the hang of it) and lots more. we devoured each issue of mother earth news, backhome woods and the like. we had friends who were all of the same mind.

then when my hubby had his accident our whole life changed. we had to sell our home on one acre, leaving our woodlot, garden and blackberry bushes to someone else. our chickens were gone by that time so we were ok there. since moving to the univ apts we have given away or sold off all our gardening stuff, chainsaw and landscaping tools, etc

our lives are completely different from where we were 2 decades ago, but you know what? that's ok.

i have made a few choices i can do by myself to be simple and green, such as baking my own bread. i would like to grind my own grains, but that may have to wait. i use cloth napkins and reuse alot. i have a tote bag pattern picked out to make for my shopping trips, and we are into walking now that we are so close to everything. we will be buying bikes for transportation and recreation too when the funds show up!

i guess i write this to you, carrie, to encourage you to do what you can and what you want to, and let the rest go. as you pray and ponder and talk with your hubby, you'll know what to go with and what is just guilt. we each have to make decisions as to what we can do in the season of life we find ourselves.

ex: monica made a great point. with 3 babies/toddlers she can only do so much. when josiah was born i loved using cloth diapers. but since finding out about his disability and now at 10 he's still not potty trained at night we use pullups. i make no apologies. and i hope you don't hate me for that. but i couldn't cope with cloth with a 10 yr old and a 10 yr olds bladder. we hope that at some point he will be totally potty trained, but we don't have that assurance ...

sorry to make this a novelette!
good post. and yes, babysteps are great.

Amy A. said...

Sign me up. I'm definitely a baby-stepper.

Have you looked at the book Gorgeously Green? It's at the library and there was a lot of information in there that helped me make some choices about personal care items and household stuff. I took what I wanted, but I thought it was a good stepping off point for someone with no clue, like myself! You are way beyond what this book has to offer, but you never know, you might see something new!

Mind, it's not so much about stewardship as it is about the environment, but I did learn some good things in it.

Linds said...

So true Carrie! The part about choosing to be immobilized or choosing to make a small change is so true! I learned that myself the hard way. I don't need to do it all at once, or all of it ever. I feel like it's more of a journey than a destination.

mer@lifeat7000feet said...

I up for the NLBClub...sign me up please!

Katie said...

I have slowly begun trying to improve different areas...reading that one book "Serve God, Save the Planet" was a real eye-opener to this issue. I've been inspired by many ideas I've seen here in the blogosphere too. I'm all about baby steps...I think that's how I go about improving many areas of my life! :-) Count me in the NLB club if it's a go! Great idea and motivator!

Amanda said...

I'm definitely in the baby step club. I'm always thinking what else I could do, but focusing on one change at a time is a beautiful start to something great... a journey of change that is motivated by integrity and a teachable spirit.
Thanks, and I read the other post too, it was great.

Kentucky Kate said...

Hey, thanks. Can I join ;)

Ewokgirl said...

I'll just say it: I'm a mess. I get on these crusader kicks after reading stuff. (I won't buy things made in China, I'll only buy meat that came from animals that were treated properly, I'll consume less...) I do well for a little while, but then reality sets in. I can't avoid things made in China; practically everything on the market was made there! Etc. etc.

There's always an excuse for everything, I've found. I want to live mindfully. I love the idea of being more natural and getting away from chemicals and pollutants. But too often cost or convenience or just flat-out being overwhelmed by all the choices out there wins out. I often become paralyzed by too much information or too many choices. So, I unashamedly say that I do what I can when I can and try not to worry about the rest.

Kendra said...

Carrie - I'd be interested in the baby steps group. Great idea! It's always a good reminder to think through what we're doing, rather than walk aimlessly through all the motions.

Carrie said...

I'll join too Carrie! Nice post, I enjoyed Kate's essay too! Makes me feel better! We do many green things, but I always feel like it's never enough... I think letting go of the guilt is a good thing!

Carrie @ Heart of a Servant