Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Story of Stuff

A simple, yet effective video about how our consumer society is impacting the world. (Thank you Rachel for bringing it to my attention!)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Haves and Have Nots

I've had a lot of mental conflicts since returning from Haiti.  I find myself in stores, picking up things I *need*, paying for them, bringing them home, and then feeling guilty.  Because I've seen real needs.  They're not the things that we in the industrialized world see as needs.  I don't really need a new blouse or a new pillow as the ones I own are perfectly acceptable and functional.  Some things I can somewhat justify:  I need a new pair of running shoes so that I don't damage my feet or knees.  And running is important because it's a way for me to keep healthy in a couch potato world.  However, real needs include clean drinking water, sufficient food to fuel our bodies, clothing to protect our bodies from the elements, shelter over our heads, access to education, and affordable health care.  I already have all of those things.

I understand why it's such a struggle to separate needs from wants.  Several years ago, I read a book called Why We Buy:  The Science of Shopping by Paco Underhill.  It's a frightening read and makes one understand the irrisistable need to buy, buy, buy.  You see, the marketeeers know us better than we know ourselves.  They use psychological tricks to get into our heads, to make it impossible to venture into a store or mall and leave either without buying anything or with just what we set out to buy in the first place.  It takes superhuman strength to overcome some of the tricks utilized to turn on the desire to acquire things.  

For many years, I've strived to live a simple life and avoided acquiring a lot of stuff.  But now, I'm finding simple, everyday purchases as suspect.  When I think about the fact that a casual purchase at the mall could instead be turned into an opportunity for a child to go to school and eat for a monthy,well, it changes everything.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

No Impact Man

I have to admit, although I've heard of No Impact Man, I really haven't been following his blog.  Recently I learned that he has now published a book about his experience in trying to live extremely lightly on the earth.  In addition to his book, there's a movie by the same name.  Unfortunately, I'll have to wait until it comes out on DVD because it's not going to be playing anywhere near my house.  For those of you interested in seeing the film, here's the site:  In the meantime, I'm going to try to get my hands on the book.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Breath of Fresh Air

Last night I attended a new book club meeting.  And what a fabulous evening I had.  Although the premise was to discuss the book we had all read, we ended up spending most of the time talking and sharing.  It was a small group, six of us, and we came from all walks of life.  But it was one of the most open, honest experiences I've had in the last few years.  The discussion touched on various aspects of our lives but the common thread was that all but one of us was fairly new to this part of the world.  We were all independent-minded women living in an ultra-conservative world.  It was one of the few times that I sensed I could honestly discuss my views without feeling that I was looked upon as someone with a third eye in the middle of my forehead.  And without fear that my house would soon be firebombed.  I'm looking forward to next month's meeting and hoping that it will continue in the same vein.  It's a pity I have to drive over an hour to attend but I'm thinking it will be well worth it.

Monday, September 21, 2009


Today is International Day of Peace

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Quote for the Day

"Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it."
~Helen Keller

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tis the Season

Just a few more days and summer will be officially over.  It seems everyone is already talking about how the weather has changed.  It's gotten slightly chilly here but at least the sun has been shining.  Well, no more.  Family and friends to the west of us have said it's been raining for several days.  Looks like it's moved in our direction.  Those of us who tend to suffer from S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder) need to prepare ourselves for the upcoming season.  I've accumulated some (I hope) good books to read and am loading my ipod with some fun music and intriguing audio books.  I'll have to force myself to get outside on the days the sun does shine (despite the cold temperature) and make sure to take vitamin D supplements on a daily basis.  I rejoined the gym and am training to run a 5K in November.  Of course, a couple of trips to Florida always seems to be the right cure for S.A.D.!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Facebook Breakup

Be careful out there.

Monday, September 14, 2009

This is an Emergency

The missionaries and staff at Danita's Children are working miracles every day....

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Quote for the Day

"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. Each of us must learn to work not just for oneself, one's own family or nation, but for the benefit of all humankind. Universal responsibility is the key to human survival. It is the best foundation for world peace."

~The Dalai Lama

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Last month I spent trying to avoid plastic shopping bags when making purchases.  I'm continuing to say no to plastic bags but I've been guilty of something worse.  I buy iced tea at Starbucks.  And I don't bring my own cup.  I've tried to justify it by telling myself that I reuse the cups several times before I finally discard them.  But those plastic cup are forever - they don't go *away* and reusing them doesn't change this fact.  Since we live so far from town I'm usually away from home for long periods of time and a girl just gets thirsty!  I'm an iced tea maniac and try to bring a cup with me (usually in the above-mentioned reused Starbucks cup) but I always seem to run out.  Now that my little dirty secret is public, I'm going to have to change my ways.  For the rest of this month, I'm going to pack a cooler with iced tea AND keep an extra reusable cup in my car for those times that I absolutely, positively have to buy more tea. 

Monday, September 7, 2009

Psych 101

Lately I've been thinking a lot about Maslow's theory on the hierarchy of needs and self-actualization. According to Maslow’s theory, there are five levels of basic needs that must be met before we can self-actualize, that is, reach our full potential as human beings. The basic needs are: physiological, safety, love, self-esteem, and self-actualization. Once we meet the first four needs, we can begin to focus on more intellectual and spiritual pursuits to become the person we were made to be.

Most of the physiological needs must be met or life cannot exist. We need oxygen, food, water, shelter, etc. Next we need to be in secure surroundings. These two levels ensure our physical well-being. Love and then self-esteem keep our minds healthy.

Visiting Haiti last month has triggered my interest in this theory. Anyone reading my blog knows that for most Haitians, their basic needs are not met – some yes, but not most of them. Many don’t have daily meals; some resort to making a kind of mud cake to keep their stomach full when food is unavailable. Shelter is also an issue – not everyone has a place they can call home; sometimes they only have a place where they are allowed to sleep (but not always). Of course, under such conditions, safety is not guaranteed. With a poor, unstable government, the police force is almost nonexistent. Crime is rampant. There is love in Haiti but with most individuals trying to eek out a living, the philosophy is every man for himself. It is hard to love under those conditions.

And it’s hard for me to look at our society here in the United States. For the vast majority of us, all of our basic needs are met. So, according to Maslow’s theory, we should all be focused on being the best people we can be. But that doesn’t appear to be happening. The problem, as I see it, is that we keep raising the bar on what constitutes “basic” needs. The size of our homes continues to increase; we own more cars than any other country; we are weighted down with all the latest electronic gadgets; we are the most obese nation on the planet.

Talking to people, I hear that times are tough, money is tight. Many would like to help others, but they say there’s no money in their budget. But I notice the family eats out on a regular basis; mom has her hair colored and highlighted and gets regular manicures; dad spends Saturday on the golf course; and the kids have their own cell phones. I suppose they don’t realize that sometimes the lack of $20 a month keeps a child from attending school or that a dollar a day can make the difference between living and starvation.

This post isn’t just about Haiti; it’s about human beings around the world who don’t have their basic needs met. Millions of people are dying each year of starvation and preventable diseases. And yet we continue on, raising the bar on what we feel we’re entitled to, what we consider basics. My heart breaks when I think about the suffering that is going on right now as I type this entry. In this country, what we call suffering is usually just discomfort or inconvenience. Not so for the vast majority of other nations.

I’m hoping that this rambling post will make my readers realize that their needs really are met and that we all need to move on to self-actualization, to making the world a better place. Please, take a few minutes to do research on conditions in other parts of the world and then think about what you can do to help.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Quote for the Day

"You and I, we are the Church, no? We have to share with our people. Suffering today is because people are hoarding, not giving, not sharing.  Jesus made it very clear. Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do it to me.  Give a glass of water, you give it to me. Receive a little child, you receive me... "
~Mother Teresa

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Goat Wrangling and New Goats

Today hubby and I spent some time managing our herd.  Our latest babies were old enough to be separated from their mothers which meant the boys were taken to the market to be sold (I don't like to think about it) and the mothers moved into another pasture, away from the lone female.  We have to do this because the babies will continue to nurse long after it's necessary for their survival.  It's not easy to move the goats.  We have to load them into a cage in the back of the pickup truck and drive them to the other pasture.  In the meantime, the guard dog and the remaining goats want to run out as soon as we open the gate.  We're trying to come up with a better system - maybe a ramp so we don't have to lift the goats and so we don't have to worry about accidents involving us and their powerful horns. 

In the meantime, while hubby was at the market, a friend called about some female goats he was taking to market and asked if we were interested.  After several calls back and forth, three beautiful young female goats were delivered to our farm.  As is my custom, I had to have a *christening ceremony.*  I spent some time deciding on names and then went out to the barn to determine which name was suitable for each goat.  Thus, we now have:  Angie, Jolene, and Wendy (From left to right:  Jolene, Wendy, and Angie).

The new goats are a bit skittish right now (can't say I blame them) but I think they'll settle down and make a nice addition to White Flint Farm.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Bag Challenge Finale

Last month I challenged myself to not use any plastic shopping bags.  I think I did pretty well.  The first week I was given a bag even after I specifically requested no bag.  I know that such bags are disposed of when rejected, so I went ahead and took it home, knowing I'd at least reuse it.  On several occasions, I found myself in a store without my bag.  If I had several purchases, like groceries, I would run out to my car to retrieve my own bags.  If it was just one or two items, I would just leave the store with purchases in hand.  There were two instances when I didn't use my own bags but allowed the purchases to be dropped into platic shopping bags:  when I was college shopping for my kids.  When I shopped for my son, we were in his college town and I didn't even have reusable bags in my car.  I reasoned he could use the bags for his trash cans.  Same with my daughter; although we did shop locally, I knew she would need a few bags for lining her trash can as well.  So, over all, I think I succeeded in my self-challenge and instilled some good habits.  Just because the challenge is over, though, doesn't mean I will slide back into the bag habit.

To help keep me and my readers aware of the unbelievable number of plastic bags consumed on this planet, I've added a counter on the left side of my blog, courtesy of reusable

If you have a second, I'd like to hear about your own bag-free experiences.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

24th Annual Coastal Cleanup

September 19th is International Coastal Cleanup Day. Towns and cities across the United States and throughout the world have cleanup activities planned throughout September and October. You don't have to live on the coast to participate; the cleanup includes all kinds of beaches and waterways. My kids and I have participated in this effort in the past and found it very rewarding. Go to the Ocean Conservancy web site to sign up at a location near you.