Sustainable living and the ‘normal’ person

I aspire to live a sustainable, eco-friendly life, but struggle with the day-to-day mechanics of this, so this blog post at Dark Purple Moon really resonated with me – thanks, Jen.

For example, I need to buy new sheets for my kids’ beds.  If I could find organic, fair trade sheets at all, especially ones I could afford, I would buy those.  So far, not good.  My main choices appear to be between cheap sweatshop sheets and expensive sweatshop sheets (and I daren’t even think about the manufacturing processes).  Budgetary constraints have me coming down on the side of the cheap ones at present – and my inner excessively-hopeful subversive notes that at least the capitalists won’t be making as big a profit on these (well, I can hope).

Or there’s the whole self-producing thing – ‘the grow your own fruit and vege and preseve them’ thing – which I also aspire to.    The problem is finding the time and the will.  My garden is currently fairly ‘fallow’ or ‘underdeveloped’ – that is, I don’t do anything like enough gardening.  I do enjoy gardening and growing my own herbs, fruit and vege.  However, fitting it in around family life remains a constant struggle – and I know I ‘should’ be introducing my children to the delights of growing their own, but mostly they want to ride their bikes through everything or else dig up everything (and I do mean everything!)  And I’m not very good at ‘shoulds’ at the best of times.  Then there’s my terrible track record with harvesting – I’m actually quite good at preparing, planting and tending, but remembering to pick the stuff is another matter. Oh well, at least the birds keep happy!

So most of my good intentions get put aside for ‘when the kids are older/leave home’.   I do try to limit my consumption, buy things without much packaging, use eco-bags, recycle and all the rest of it – but it just doesn’t seem like enough most days.

There are just so many different angles to consider when you start breaking the supply chain down: e.g. organic growing, air miles, processing methods, treatment of people doing the growing, treatment of people doing the making, packaging…

However I have made some decisions (in no particular order):

  • (the biggie) to not buy stuff unless I need to (although ‘need’ is fairly broadly defined) 🙂
  • to stop buying beads, use what I already have and buy any other jewellery from stores like Trade Aid
  • to buy yarn that is eco-friendly or fair trade, preferably both
  • to limit my orders from overseas websites

There will be more later.

In the meantime, I’ll try and stop beating myself up for not being good enough 🙂


Dancing with joy – or, rather, Ariellah

Today I am a happy dancer!

I arrived home after an exciting morning helping a friend clear up her flooded basement sewing room to a parcel from Amazon – about a week earlier than expected.  In it were two belly dance DVDs of the style I want to learn (yep, I ordered something I wanted – go figure!)*

So, I have postponed answering my dilemma for now, as an initial quick go has confirmed that I have plenty to learn from these DVDs (and plenty of muscles to ache as well!).

Now all I have to figure out is how to do it while working around my sons’ railway layouts.  Trust me – disassembling is NOT an option.

M's track

Further thoughts on my earlier dilemma (with thanks for the helpful comments): convince one or two others to carpool for the night time class, or attend the day time class once a month (maybe even twice a month sometimes).

*For those who are interested, the DVDs are by Ariellah and Asharah.  I’ve started working with Ariellah’s one – I’m hoping to last through the entirety of the drills by the end of this coming month.  My body went on strike today after half an hour.  I’ll worry about the rest of the DVD later!

Friday Foto

Or should that be Phriday Photo?

This week –  a kitty pic.

Matai the Magnificent (aka Fluffball) enjoys a snuggle with my SO.
Matai relaxes

Dance class dilemma

I have finally found a belly-dance class I want to go to.

For the last 7 or 8 years of my 10+ years dancing (I refuse to calculate more accurately – I don’t like feeling old), I have not gone to classes.  I’ve read books and articles.  I’ve practised at home on my own.  I’ve occasionally swapped moves with other dancers or seen dance performances.  But I have not gone to classes.

This is because the only classes a available were offered by dance teachers focusing on a cabaret style (all those sequinned bras and bejewelled hips) and that is not my style.  I have taken classes with this kind of teacher before.  Excellent for learning the basics and even the not-so-basics, but not good for helping me dance like I want to.

For a long time I didn’t even know that other dancers felt like this and that there was a whole world of dancers (men as well as women) dancing the way I wanted to.  Through the wonders of broadband, I have discovered this world and I now have a name for my kind of dancing: not cabaret, but ‘tribal’.

The next step was to find somewhere to learn and practice my kind of dancing.  I was so desperate to dance with others that I started a club in my home suburb. Not a class because I do not yet feel qualified to call myself a teacher – even though I do teach newcomers the basics and some extras.  Not a class because so many of the women I knew who wanted to try dancing had neither time nor money to commit to a class.   A club – which is blossoming as we speak, from chance conversations and one solitary poster in the local library.  There are many women out there with the desire to dance.

And so my excitement when a chance ‘Trade Me’ purchase (our local version of eBay) led to an email conversation with a tribal dance teacher a few hundred kilometres away who knew a teacher in Wellington, my home city.

Now the dilemma.

The classes are in the centre of the city, 20 minutes walk away from the railway station or 5 to 10 minutes from parking.

The classes run on Tuesdays until 9:30pm or on Sundays during the day.

Sounds straightforward, but it isn’t.  I have to choose between compromising my personal safety walking round town at night or feeling guilty for disrupting family time on the weekend.  I could take a friend to travel with, but why should I have to.

And if I do chose to go at night (with or without a friend), do I risk wearing my dance gear (much like yoga gear) or should I take a change of clothes with me to help keep me safe?

Or should I ‘just’ not go to the class?

I am sick of having to spend my life considering this stuff.  There is so much I haven’t done because of guarding my personal safety.   I’m seriously not keen about the idea of getting raped or mugged, but I am so tired of feeling like I’m the one who has to ‘play it safe’.

I want to live in a world where I can go to a night class in town on public transport without having to worry about being attacked.

I want to live in a world where, if I do suffer an attack, it’s not somehow MY fault for daring to walk down the street, but the blame is placed fairly and squarely on the bad guys (or gals) who do these stupid and violent things.

But I don’t.

On violence

I didn’t mean to get heavy so soon in the life of this blog, however, reading the news this morning there was something I couldn’t ignore: the NZ Herald (one of our largest papers) ran a story with this headline “Women who strike fear into their partners”.  The article goes onto describe how, according to a recently released NZ government report, NZ men are more likely to experience emotional and psychological abuse than NZ women.  Interesting.  Informative.  Highlights an issue I have a strong personal interest in.  What’s my problem?

This is.

A different story based on the same page of the same report: “One-in-3 women face violence”

Is it just me or do these two headlines present quite a different picture?  Or am I just reading too much feminist theory right now?

Because, quite frankly, I find it offensive that the physical violence one in every three women in NZ experiences in their lifetime (as documented in the report) is ignored in the Herald article, because the fact 14% of men say their partner gets angry if they talk to other women is more newsworthy.

I wholeheartedly agree that psychological abuse is a real problem – I’ve experienced it myself.  But physical violence to a third of our female population concerns me one heck of a lot more.  The physical violence experienced by one in five men during their life bothers me an awful lot, too.

Why are we so violent with each other?

How do we find a better way?

The thrill – or fear – of the first post

A blank blog to fill.  How beautiful!  How terrifying!

Well, I suppose that’s a start.

One of my chief reasons for beginning a blog is not to achieve fame, notoriety or wealth, but to ensure that I actually write stuff.   I would like to be some kind of writer (beyond university essays and civil service reports), but my deep-seated fear of blank pages keeps defeating me.  So, I have turned to the wonders of the computer age and started a blog.

I do not expect this blog to be always insightful, funny, intelligent, thought-provoking or focused (especially the focused).  I do hope it will be some of these at least some of the time.  And I am certain that you, dear reader, will have plenty of comment to inform me when I fail at all of the above!

A note for commenters: I have many-and-varied interests and many-and-varied opinions.  If you are looking for a blog that sticks to a particular topic, this isn’t a good place to start.  If you are looking for a blog that keeps its opinions to itself, its mouth shut and its head down, this isn’t a good place to start.  Don’t get all upset if I disagree with your worldview or if I discuss topics that don’t interest you.  It’s nothing personal!  And remember, you don’t have to read every post.  Do feel free to disagree with me and tell me about – but try to keep it intelligent and witty, and I’ll try and keep my responses the same.  🙂