Category Archives: Philosophy

Habitica has changed my life.

It makes no sense.

Habitica is a productivity website/app for organizing based on role playing game software.  Instead of a paper list of things to do which you cross off, with Habitica you create your to-do lists online, and when you click to check items off, you are rewarded with “points”.  These points build up until you achieve the next “level”.  Also, as you meet your real-life goals, you collect “money”, “pets”, and “food” to feed your pets.  Feeding the pets is not mandatory, like a Tamagotchi (thankfully).  The money buys accessories to jazz up your avatar.

My first mount, back when I was just a level 23Let me be clear – the points, levels, pets, and food are all completely virtual.  Imaginary.  Very low-fi pixellated graphics, at that.  The to-do lists you create are real – your own real life.

Totally meaningless “points” and pixellated tiny “pets”, yet somehow this is meaningful enough affirmative feedback to make a difference?  Yes. Yes it is.

It makes no sense, but it works.

I got into Habitica hesitantly; an Icelandic blogger mentioned it, and I thought “why not”.  Coincidentally, I then read the popular and amazing book by Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit.  The insights about how our brains, memory, and reward mechanisms function explain to me why Habitica works, so damn well.

The Power of Habit explains why Habitica works

There’s limited satisfaction in checking off or crossing off a to-do list item on paper.  One “should” feel satisfaction and accomplishment for having moved one step further towards the life one wants to live, right?  Our brains don’t work like that though.  The future big payoff is meaningless.  The very small incremental difference of checking off the same thing on Habitica, for an imaginary and slightly ludicrous reward? Well, that makes the brain sing.  Sometimes you’re tired, and you just can’t summon up the big picture in the context of which your tiny accomplishment today is in service of.  Click for points?  Satisfaction.  I’ll do it again tomorrow, and all the other tomorrows, until it’s a habit.  Automatic.

The key is there is a reward. Something just external enough to go beyond your own mental pat on the back, and it doesn’t matter that the “reward” is completely imaginary.

There is so much in The Powscreen-shot-2016-12-31-at-1-01-04-pmer of Habit, possibly the best book I read in 2016, that if you care about self-improvement and want to become more effective, just read it.  Forming habits takes work, willpower, and requires reward.  The brain wants to form habits all the time, because once an act is habitual, it takes less mental effort.  The hard part is directing the show, to form the habits that you want to have, that will lead to a more successful, fulfilling life.  The point is to automate the actions that you wish to repeat.  Habits that you want to have won’t form without intentionality.  Enter Habitica, intentionality in three columns.

Habitica’s basic format (the Tasks page) is well-designed and adaptable.  The three columns are: Habits (that you wish to build to increase points, or bad habits that will reduce your points- who would put those?), Dailies (if you fail to complete, your “life force” suffers), and To-Dos (projects and one-offs to tick off).  You can organize your lists with tags and headers, indicate the difficulty of each item, and set schedules or deadlines.  You can break tasks down to checklists, fiddle with the font size and categories (tags). Continue reading Habitica has changed my life.

It’s almost Earth Hour!

Since we live off grid now, that wonderful novelty of a power outage is rather quotidian for us.

However, I remember well the liberating thrill of the lights and various whirring hums powering down in an unexpected power failure.  Time to read by candlelight!

Earth hour is time to do it intentionally.

My favorite earth hour was years ago in B.C.  From my home with a view of half the town and the lake, I stood outside with my neighbours in front of our darkened houses and watched the lights around us wink out steadily.

A dozen  blazing sodium-vapour lights illuminating the grocery store parking lot down the hill from us stayed on.   Bright was an understatement, in contrast to the majority of homes darkened around them.

I ran inside and phoned them.  I got a manager on the line.  Was he aware of Earth Hour?  He was.

“Oh, no. ” he said immediately.   “Are we sticking out like a sore thumb?”

“Yes.”

In three or four minutes, we watched those piercing sodium lights pop and fade out, as we cheered.  Without that central feature blazing like an arena, the town looked like it might have historically, lit by gas lights, or candles.  A few windows were lit, some houses winked out a few minutes late, but the vast majority of houses were participating – an achievement of collective action.

A beautiful treat, to see the contrast between the usual and the possible, the present normal and probable past, and notice the volume of light pollution we generate together.

Lights out is fun!  And ever so quiet.  The peace is lovely.

 

This off-grid life

Off-grid is just the way we live, so I tend not to think about it at all, let alone how it’s different.

When I am struck by how living off-grid is different, however, is when I’m at someone’s else’s house, and I turn on the tap, and hot water comes out.  That startles me.  It’s that easy to just wash a dish?!  I’ve already forgotten.

Definitely, there are many ways to live off-grid that preserve many or most conveniences.   You can still have hot running water and plugs in the walls, but it has to be accomplished differently.  That’s not our way.  We prefer it to be really hard (joking).

We are on the very primitive end of the off-grid spectrum, partly because we are just getting started out here.

It’s a work-in-progress for us, trying to find a balance between livable convenience and dependence (on fuel/complex systems).

There’s a reason why ready electricity has become so pervasive it’s practically assumed to be a human right:

Electricity is damn convenient. 

Nearly everything runs on it.  Rarely does anyone think of having a home without electricity presumed to be part of it, just there, in the walls.  You’re really in trouble if you get so hard up they turn the power off- wow.

Other life supporting systems of the house depend on it – running water, heat, sump pumps.   And almost all the lifestyle supporting systems require power – fridge, stove, lights, freezer, telephone, tv, computer, tools.  Farm and industry absolutely depends on electricity, to water and milk livestock, run machines.

I had to sit here and think about that list just now – What are all the things assumed essential in modern life? – because we live without plugs in the walls and that presumption of electricity.   I forgot “lights” at first.

That means a compromise for every single thing.  It has to be done without or had from a  different source.

Different power sources:  

Mostly, batteries – stored potential electricity – are our number one alternative source.  Lights, phones, computers, the internet, all run off batteries.  These get charged off our solar panels, or the generator, or when they are plugged in other places in the world.  Rechargeable batteries are in constant rotation (Eneloops rock).

Tools other than cordless, like a table saw, need the amperage only the generator can supply.  Turning on the generator is a minor event.  It starts with one of us announcing the forthcoming use of the generator:  “I need to vacuum/charge my computer/make some cuts”.  Then all the things, and their associated wires, must be gathered up and plugged in in the charging area, to take advantage of the time that the generator is on.  Plans are made:  “Well if you’re going to have it on anyway, then I should vacuum, and transfer some files to my (AC dependent) external hard drive. ”  It’s not a bad thing, to have to turn on the genny once in awhile.  Every few days, it runs for an hour or two, maybe less.  We can go a long time without it during periods of sun.

So far so good.  We watch movies on our rechargeable laptops, don’t stint on the internet, use only cell phones and battery lowered lights.

Water and Electricity

Everything to do with water is where we get into the afore-mentioned primitive nature of our situation.  Water is heavy.  It takes a lot of energy to move it from place to place.  Exactly how much energy is quickly forgotten when it’s being done by cheap and readily available electricity, and quickly remembered once you start moving it around by hand.

First, pump it up out of the ground, an essential job usually done by friendly neighbourhood electrons.  Because lifting water through the air with a pump is an onerous job, rainfall is very abundant here, and the well usually goes dry briefly at the end of summer, I’ve become a nut about catching rainwater.  There are more elegant ways to do it, but I’m at stage 1- buckets and barrels.   This is not a good look. Buckets everywhere.  And it’s work- cleaning the buckets so the water stays clean, storing and readying them, filtering the water.  But less work, to catch water off a steel roof than carry it across a field.  In the winter, this turns to clean snow and ice collection, and melting.

We people use a lot of water.  Drinking, preparing food, washing the things, washing ourselves.  The chickens consume a lot of water.  Pigs, even more.  Cows drink huge quantities, transforming so much of it to milk.  When you are intimately involved with all the water that you use, because you catch, hold, transport, pump, heat, or melt every drop, you use one hell of a lot less than when it just flows past you from tap to drain while your mind wanders.

The other aspect of electricity and water is the hot water heater, which is generally forgotten in the basement until the bottom rusts out and it empties on the floor and you become glad you are renting, or wish you were.  Hot water an option with a flick of the wrist.  On-demand propane is an awesome alternative to that hot water heating behemoth, and the usual choice for the off-grid life.  We have an ideal one that we use for showers, but it is not yet integrated into daily life.  By that I mean, hanging it on a tree by the well, and one person showers while the other pumps, is not “well-integrated”.

I am definitely looking forward to moving up to stage 2 or 3 vis a vis water and hot water – more sophisticated water collection and supply – gravity feed, or solar, low volt pumps, and truly on-demand hot water.  It won’t be hard to get more sophisticated than buckets, but this bit of convenience requires an investment of work we have not yet had time for.

Doing without: 

At the moment we are doing without only the fridge and freezer.  While this means we have no problems with a superfluity of old half full condiment bottles cluttering a fridge, the lack of refrigeration in the summer is sort of tedious and I am very much looking forward to a root cellar. And a neighbour has given us a nook of space in his freezer.  That’s where the pesto is.

What are the costs of living like this?

Energy is a requirement for us furless people.  We need structures, warmth, to cook our food, and we’ve decided we like to communicate.   All of which require energy these days.  Our dependency on energy is immutable, but living off-grid, the dependency is shifted some from electricity to other.  Chiefly wood.  Our heat is 100% wood.  Next, propane, to cook, and to create electricity with the generator.

Our not-the-hydro-bill costs are fuel – a small amount of gasoline for the chainsaw to cut the firewood, infrastructure costs- the genny, the panels, charge controllers, batteries in the bank (these are all made elsewhere with energy from other sources), and propane.

Our propane costs, for cooking, water heating, and powering the generator, have averaged less than $35 a month.  I think that’s ok.

If we had to, we could live without these things too- go back to the axe and Swede saw, walk to someone’s house if we want to talk to them, but that would make life very, very different.  We would really no longer be living in the world the way it is now.  It would be hard to get a job, let alone show up to it, and communication with anyone outside of a 5 mile radius would be impossible, not least because you’d be too busy at home making candles.  That’s an extremity I’m really not interested in.  For a modest price, we can still mostly participate in the wide, evolving world.  Using less energy, from different sources, we still have the opportunity to get outraged at the Oscars and watch cat videos.

It’s amazing to think that not so long ago – all of that energy, for shelter, water, food, and communication, was ALL accomplished by the metabolism of food to physical energy.  Everything was made with hands – carried and chopped and hewn and grown and harvested, and communication was face to face.  First the harnessing of steam, then electricity and fossil fuels, and everything has changed, including the world, to the degree that the planet looks different from space.

Now, we think of the cost of physical movement and work as “time”.

Time is one of the costs of our off-grid life.  To do the dishes, I have to boil water first.  Every morning, I heat up water for the hens and move wood around.  I spend time messing around with things, daily, that many people never do.   That time is freed for them.  The electricity is in the wall and water in the tap.

There’s a lot of complexity behind the scenes required to deliver water to a tap- a different application of time, in my opinion.  Time to build and maintain the delivery system throughout house, property and municipality, time to build and maintain the grid that creates and  sends the energy from dam to meter, time spent working to pay the bill for both those things…

Comparing it, would some of us be better off to just carry the water?

The advantages are short and sweet.

No power bill.

The power never goes out.

No in the wall wiring, therefore zero risk of bad wiring, old wiring, or short circuits causing fires.

Quiet.  There is no ever present electric hum of appliances.

No poles, no wires looping through the scenery.

One less drop of energy consumed from coal or hydroelectric infrastructure.

Some might say there is no electromagnetic radiation from the constant movement of electrons through wires.

No power bill.  Ever.

seasonal rhythm

A random casual conversation tripped me up the other day.  “So, what are you guys up to these days?” like it was a mystery.  Uh, working?  I think I said.  “So, where’s your husband today?”  Working!?

Working at his full time farm job, which he commutes to by bicycle, adding hours to his day, while I meet the needs of at least four species (and that’s just the ones with eyes) plus us at our home farm and work at a third farm part-time, and try to keep up with preserving the deluge of food that rolls in at this time of year, because it’s harvest time!  Because it’s the busiest freaking time of year!  What do you think I’m doing these days!?  Playing solitaire?  My brain was sort of screaming but my mouth happily short-circuited and I had to run anyways because I was between three different things I had to do very quickly.

I realized, though, that if one is trapped in a 9-5 life and not outside most of the day, viscerally connected to the seasons, the shortening days, the building urgency, then one wouldn’t be in touch with what this time of year means.

It’s beautiful to be connected to the seasons.  There’s been times I wasn’t.   I’m grateful for it now, even if I am run off my feet and harvest has just begun.

 

Bees!

My brain is full.  I spent two days at a wonderful Introduction to Beekeeping course put on by the biodynamic apiarists of Bello Uccello, outside of Digby.  I feel tired with all the information, but also grateful, because workshops are not always so intense or packed full of knowledge.

-PHILOSOPHICAL TANGENT BEGINS- My favourite thing I learned is that bees like to work my favourite way to work.  They move around the hive, and do whatever comes to hand (antenna?) within their ability at that stage of their development (as they grow bees have distinct tasks that they capable of performing at a given age).  I get that!  The days that I’m able to work like that are the best.  Do what’s right in front of you, and keep slowly moving forward and doing what’s there, and then as you’re carrying something you run into something else to pick up and end up roaming back and forth all over, and not a thing gets done that you “planned” to do, but so very many things get done that needed to be done, and the experience of doing all that work, and usually working quite hard, is quite relaxing to the mind, and blissfully satisfying.

I have a private theory that there is a great and costly expenditure of energy that happens when you direct yourself to do something that “needs” to get done, that you’ve “decided” to do – to meet a deadline, or an appointment, because it is moving against what you feel like doing.  Again and again, experience bears out that moving with the feeling-like-doing produces better results.  Like this morning, for instance.  I popped up to run the dog earlier than I’d “planned” to, because I felt like it then and had the freedom to be flexible, and the moment we got back from our run the sky opened on us.  I hadn’t known if it was expected to rain.  Alas, there are so many deadlines, and appointments, and plans, to cope with.  We keep on making them.  It is very difficult to cooperate with even one other person (partner), let alone business hours, when following the feeling-like-doing can get you into zealously emptying the back shed instead of doing firewood together, as planned, or vacuuming out the truck at midnight when you have to go to town first thing in the morning.  However, the feeling of the work, which is supposed to be the important part, is so dramatically better when you work one thing to another until it’s time to sleep, and then if you’re lucky, get up again with energy and without an alarm to do it all over again.

My theory continues, to say that if you could continue in this mode A: everything would get done, including the things you have “planned” B: everything truly not important would fall away C: the rhythm of work to be done would come to match and balance the energy you have for it D: the pattern of work would become more consistent and come into alignment with natural patterns, like daylight, and sleep, and E: eventually you would come to harmony and knowledge of much larger and more subtle rhythms, like time to plant the potatoes, and it’s going to be a long winter.  To do this, I opine, would require making no commitments, ever, to anyone, including yourself, to ever show up to anything at a given time; accepting the consequences of all that (essentially not participating in society at all); and to have an extremely patient and accepting partner.   Until then, compromise.  I will revel in the lone days I am able to work like a bee, moving from one task to the next without the tyranny of a to-do list, and maybe in valuing those times, I can create more of them. -TANGENT ENDS-BACK TO THE BEES!-

Also literally tired, because after the second day of class I drove to pick up my bees in the late evening and then drove another two hours home.  I’d requested a nucleus (mated queen, couple hundred bees, and four frames of brood and honey) from Kevin Spicer, and he’d said he’d have one packed up for me (too late in the day to put them straight into my box).  I got to his place a little early, and saw a nucleus box, obviously mine, waiting on the porch.
2015-06-17 17.32.45
During the workshop we’d spent a lot of time interacting with the bees: observing their behaviour, inspecting the hive, standing in the apiary.  Klaus was notably affectionate with his bees, as a whole and as individuals, calling them “girls”, “sweetie”, touching them gently, and obviously always concerned about them.  “See this bee?” he would point out to us instructively.  “She’s [fanning/guarding/cleaning/transferring pollen]. Isn’t she cute?”

I was usually feeling anxious around his bees, impatient to get them put back in the box, concerned for all the jostling and noise that the great lumbering group of us crowded around the hive were causing.

When I saw that box of bees on the porch, though, my bees, I felt an overwhelming rush of love that I really was not expecting.  My bees, that were going to come home and be a part of our family, and I would have to take care of as best I could.

I went to sit by the box of bees and immediately bent over it for a deep inhale, to smell them.  Instantly, the bees just on the other side of the screen from my face buzzed angrily.  Hey!  Cut it out with the wind!  At the round entrance hole, where the tap would be if this was a box of wine, not bees, the bees there were desperately trying to push themselves through the wire screen stapled over the hole.  The whole box had a sound and attitude of frustration and panic.  I sat there with it, watching them, and noticed that some bees at the screened entrance were trying to push out clumps of garbage but were frustrated by the screen.  There was a pile of small crumbs they’d already pushed out, but they had bundles of fuzz, fibres and dirt larger than them that would not pass through the mesh and were starting to clog up their hole.

2015-06-18 20.27.22
I made a tiny wire hook and slowly teased out some of the garbage through the screen, while the sanitation bees pushed from the other side, and the more I pulled out, the more they brought to the door.  They’d only been in there for a few hours, but were already “This place needs sprucing up!” like a no-nonsense pioneer wife.  The bee box calmed down a lot while I sat there, happily bonding with them and helping with garbage extrication, New Caledonia crow style.

Two bees were on the outside of the box, crawling around on the screen on top.  They obviously believed they belonged inside, and I hoped they would stick it out until getting home when they could be reunited.

2015-06-18 23.19.53
Bees!

2015-06-18 20.27.03
Kevin arrived and promptly gave me a tour of his whole bee facility, and then I departed, just before dark, with my box of bees in the back seat, but only one of the two hitchhikers remained on top.

I drove off, then remembered I had to give them water.  Drove some more, remembered the bee on the outside had no access to fuel, so stopped to feed her.  I made it home before midnight, exhausted, wearily singing Tori Amos and K.D. Lang to stay awake.  I figured at least the bees’d get used to my voice.

At home HW unloaded the truck and I slowly carried the nuc box to the house.

2015-06-19 05.54.38
Bees!

Me: There’s a bee on the outside of the box, careful don’t squish her.  HW:  There’s a loose bee?

Inside, the frames were loose and swinging, so even though I tried to carry them like a glass of water, they were getting jostled and they weren’t happy about it.  Bump, bump.  Buzz, buzz.   They stayed in the house for the night because it was kind of a cool night.

In the morning I had to go out and place them in their new location and release them.  It was a cold rainy day, so it would not be transfer day.  I set the nuc box out on a milk crate and started pulling out the staples.  One staple, and it bent the wire mesh just enough for one bee to pop through the screen.  2015-06-19 06.02.33

Poppopopopopopop, a steady stream of bees flowed straight out of that hole, head to tail, did a little crowd walk around on the face of the box, and started taking off.  2015-06-19 06.03.21

About this time I noticed the “loose bee” was missing.  I went and found her in the house, sitting on one of HW’s shoes, and took her to the door and she slipped right into the box.  She made it!

Garbage in bloom

Garbage has been coming up from the ground ever since we got here.  It just sort of appears, rising out of the dirt.  One day you suddenly see the bill of an old ball cap, or a bail of a bucket.  We find the strangest things.  So far the most useful has been an old (true rubber) rubber ball, with a root growing straight through it.  The dog loves it, root and all.

IMGP0309
A bicycle rim

The chickens help, scratching around like accidental archeologists.  I’m convinced though, that garbage finds its way out somehow, although by logic it should get buried in the sediment of leaf litter becoming dirt, and so on and on.  More is appearing all the time.

I feel like I’ve been cleaning up plastic and glass for a year.  Plastic and broken glass.  Plastic and broken glass.   I’ve spent hours and hours picking it out of the dirt, and I could spend days and days.  I try to just tell myself that every session of glass collection is good and useful, although no, it may never be done.  It’s all over, one of the most insidious types of garbage around.  Plastic is dead useful, I get it.  I use a lot of it.  But left alone, it crumbles to flakes and mixes itself into the soil.  The chickens will helpfully eat it (Colourful!), just like styrofoam, which swiftly finds its way to its component spheres, a real chicken favorite (crunchy! Yum).

A seedling tray
A seedling tray

Continue reading Garbage in bloom

Early observations of Nova Scotia.

Wäsche an der Wäscheleine

Everyone has gardens.

Everyone has clotheslines.

The grass is so green.  Like crazy, shockingly green.  I don’t know what they do here, but Miracle Gro dreams of making lawns that green.

We’ve been soaking up our new province as we drive around (so far our opinions of the culture are mostly based on the view from the road).  I’m in love with it.  It reminds me very much of my childhood province, Newfoundland, yet contrasts very much with majestic, dynamic British Columbia, where I lived 20+ years.  The trees here are so very small.  But there are lots and lots of them.

Everyone has a box with a hinged lid for garbage at the end of their drive.  About the size of a chest freezer.  Sometimes the box IS a chest freezer.  Some boxes are fancier than others.

Mari-time seems to move a bit slower.  That’s not like Kootenay time, which just means everyone’s invariably late for any appointment and that’s kinda ok.  Mari-time just means people act like there’s enough time.  Always enough time for chatting, and moving without rushing.  I notice that while plenty of people drive the ubiquitous Canadian 10-over, plenty of people also drive 10-under, which is much more unusual to me.  That’s me these days, 10-under, rubbernecking gardens and the farmhouse architecture.  There just seems to be enough time, and that means enough time to not drive like a maniac.

When we were here a month ago and hitchhiked to Halifax I asked our driver for his advice to new residents.  He happened to be a 15-over guy but still he said “Slow down.  This isn’t Ontario.  Relax.”

People pile up a lot of firewood.

I get a general impression of self-reliance and resourcefulness.

There seems to be a higher percentage of older people.  Or maybe they’re just visible, because they’re outside.  Gardening, and raking, and building decks, and digging, and rummaging in sheds.  Looking healthy and moving sure and steady.  It feels good to have all that knowledge around.

H.W. was wondering why everyone has clotheslines (really, everyone has a clothesline, tidily strung with clothes; the first thing our neighbour insisted on giving us was a coil of clothesline); was it the wind?  I said well maybe it’s the economy and money-consciousness.  It makes sense to put clothes out when a dryer costs money.  I mean, of course it always makes sense to use a clothesline, but where people are wealthier the convenience may win over sense?  He burst out “Yeah, people do what makes sense here.  They have clotheslines, they have gardens, and they recycle.  We’re in the land of sense.”  which about sums it up.

My friend in Utah with a masters in civil engineering told me that Nova Scotia’s (and Edmonton’s and Scandinavia’s) waste management system is the envy of the world.  I believe it.  I remember being blown away by the local transfer station in 2010, with its meticulous required sorting.  One of the first things we noticed driving into Nova Scotia was the separated waste bin at Subway – compost, recyclable, trash.  Nothing generated by a Subway meal would go in the trash.  That and the driver who needlessly stopped for us to jaywalk made H.W. say “we live where there’s nice people, who recycle!” And then at Canadian Tire, and the gas station, and every public trash can anywhere – at least three slots.  Sometimes a fourth, for paper (which otherwise goes in the compost).  I really want to know how this province arrived at such a progressive, pervasive, successful operation.  Where did the political will come from?

At any rate, I’m so grateful to be here and love everything I see.

Photo from bartergreen.org

It’s all about the list

The real benefit to a structured Happiness Project, or at least the structured list, is that it measures balance.  A list of certain things to do each week requires that nothing gets neglected week after week. It’s so easy, especially when you’re busy, for time to all steamroll together, and the daily actions that make you what you are or want to be get put aside “just today”, again, and still again. Then you look up and days or weeks have passed without any attention to the things you want to do.

The list makes you look up more often.  Having a checklist to report to with all the truly important things on it is an ongoing feedback device that reminds you at a glance what is getting neglected.  I love my fancy weekly “nice list”, because I can tell instantly, where there is a gap between the stars, what I haven’t been paying enough attention to and voila, my attention turns that way.  It’s a natural balance meter.

My list has two sections: eight things I intend to do daily, and eleven things that I want to do 1-3x per week.  Of course it’s all jazzed up with bluebirds to make associations to the book, and inspirational quotes and colour graphics, on a half page sheet.
The daily things -mostly quick things that still need some reminding before they become natural habit -have their little grid where I can put checkmarks each day of the week.   The other, weekly things- naturally, bigger endeavours that take some time and effort – have little grey stars to indicate desired results.  When I execute one, I get to stick one of my fancy glitter stars over the hopeful little grey placeholder.  The satisfaction of doing this is all out of proportion.

My list of the week floats around and gets a bit crinkled over the week, then I make a week-end synopsis of what worked and didn’t and do a little review and analysis on the back of the sheet before I file it where I can occasionally see all those stars from weeks gone by.

Enough with my Happiness Project – next up: advancing with our fiberglass camper reno.

One week in:

Happiness Project assessment, one week in:

I found out that “write when I feel the urge” is easier than I thought it would be, judging by the complete row of checkmarks.  I only needed the validation of checkmarks by a list item to let myself seize those moments of inspiration.  That and the little warning flag I made to hang out for my husband to tell him to ignore me while I’m writing.  Which is working very well.

The only other new institution to have an unexpected 100% score is journalling.  While I write consistently overall, and sometimes I keep a journal, I never consistently keep a journal, and I would like to (I’ve begun to, as a matter of fact).  It seems the form was the key.  I got a dateless day planner with about an inch of space per day.  Thinking of it as a one sentence journal, although an inch will fit a few sentences if you write small, made it easy.  It takes about a minute to review the day.  So the secret is to make the task manageably small, which makes the bigger goal achievable.  This little journal reminds me now of the 92 year old woman who

Never was a list so serious

BluebirdTo kick off my Happiness Project, I made myself an official Happiness Project list.

Every project, before it can begin, requires a fancy supporting document, with at least a little colour, sometimes on the scale of a major arts and crafts event.  This one I wanted to do on my computer.

In a spectacular example of the wrong approach, I started the day with cookies, didn’t drink water, and spent nearly a day creating the list of my model Happiness plan.  The irony was not lost on me, as I flouted early entries ON the list, like hydrate; wrestled with text in a handwriting font when I could have written it by hand faster; and spent energy on an accessory, at best- creating a list instead of taking actions that were on the list.

I started out with a vision of digitally straight line tables and slick graphics, but never imagined it could take so long. I slaved away, using four different programs because I didn’t know how to make one do what I wanted, and got teeth-grindingly hungry and mad at the whole project.  I was too deep in it by then to give up, though.   There was probably a point of turn-around, where it would have made sense to write off the time already invested and not waste any more, but I missed it. Continue reading Never was a list so serious

Rules, Adages, or Guidelines for Happiness

Ok, maybe there is a place for “Rules, Adages, or Guidelines” (Read my last post first).

Some from the book that I like:
Buy anything you want at the grocery store; cooking is always cheaper than eating out.
Start where you are (an essential part of the Law of Attraction).
Talk to strangers.
Be polite and fair.
By doing a little bit each day, you can get a lot accomplished, and What you do every day matters more than what you do once in awhile.
First things first.  Definitely.  It’s all about getting priorities straight.  Drinking enough water is critical to having enough energy to finish the project you blaze into, and eating before you blood sugar dives is crucial to having a mood that permits politeness and forgiveness.  Similarly, like “the cook eats first”, one has to take care of oneself before being capable of going out in the world and giving.  You must be replete to be generous (therefore taking care to “fill the tank” is essentially unselfish).
If it takes less than a minute to put away, or do it right, do it now.  My corollary:  If it’s almost as fast to do it as it is to write it on a list, just do it.
Things that make you happy don’t always feel happy.  Damn skippy.  Challenging and threatening things that make you feel nauseous in the doing can the most rewarding to have done.  To wit:  marathons.

Here’s a few all my own:
If a system doesn’t function, change the system.  My husband gives me fantastic feedback on whether a system works (like, where things belong).  If it works, he puts things back where they “go”, because that’s the easiest, obvious place to put them.  If the system doesn’t work, he finds someplace else to drop them that displeases me, and I know my so-clever system isn’t functional and needs to be adapted.  You can’t force people to fit a system; only the system can be changed.  Whole design industries have grown out of this.

Continue reading Rules, Adages, or Guidelines for Happiness

My Happiness Project

Bluebird image from Gretchen Rubin's Happiness ProjectI’ve started a Happiness Project.  This has nothing to do with the new year, by the way, although it might have something to do with winter.   I’ve had a stretch of a scary bad time, so I figured it was time to recruit my natural list-making and determination selves for some change.

I pulled out Gretchen Rubin’s popular The Happiness Project for reference, and ended up reading it again.  It seemed more enlightening this time, and I found useful things that I didn’t remember seeing the first time.  For one thing, I’m married now, which makes a lot of her tips and experience in her marriage more relevant.

My husband has this amazing facility for change.  It seems that all it takes for him to make lasting behavioural changes is to notice and decide he wants to change it.  Much later I’ll notice that he doesn’t do that thing anymore.  He doesn’t write down intentions, make daily review sheets or success charts.  This amazes me, because I can’t imagine doing such a thing without paperwork.  This is where The Happiness Project really sings to me.  The whole plan is detailed and ultra-specific, she values the organization of physical environment to support goals, and everything revolves around a list.

That’s no exaggeration.   The book is really a riot of lists upon lists nested in lists, a perfect comfort for a certain type of person who’s into that, like me.  For example:  Resolutions (for example Sing in the Morning, Pursue a Passion), 12 Commandments (like Identify the Problem and Enjoy the Process), Secrets of Adulthood (like People actually prefer that you buy wedding gifts off their registry,  and If you can’t find something, clean up), True Rules (such as Whenever possible, choose vegetables), and Four Splendid Truths (The days are long, but the years are short).  Since they’re all sort of rules, intentions, or resolutions, they get confusing, barring the Splendid Truths, which are more philosophic Principles of happiness.  In fact, now there are 8 Splendid Truths.

Also, as she discovers over her year, the most important key to success was her Daily Resolution Chart.  I’ve known that for a while.  Reminding oneself of the goal, and some act of acknowledging when you succeed (like checking off a list, or writing down “celebrations”) tells a deeper part of your mind that that is what you want; that is the direction you want to change.  Then your sub-mind can easily create more of it.

I found that during the project design phase, I found that the things I wanted to do sifted into two categories:  vague intentions, such as to be nicer, say no less, and be healthy; and completable goals, like write a book.   In the second category, you know when you’ve done it.  Continue reading My Happiness Project

The wish notebook

I’d like to introduce you to my favorite wish fulfillment tool.  It’s modeled on and inspired by a number of systems, but the way I put it together is my own.  I just think it’s so simple, elegant, and functional that I’m so proud I have to talk about it.

It’s based on three principles:  What you focus on grows, appreciating what you like invites more of what you like, and changing/improving behavior and thoughts requires that you acknowledge and celebrate successes.

Each page is a little foldout, so that on each split there are three parts: designated Appreciation, Celebration, and Intention.  Every day -for me it’s on the way to bed – I take some time to list the things around me that I appreciate.  This is known to be transformative and it’s a standby tool for life coaches and self-help gurus galore.

Next, it’s the celebration page, to write down all the ways, even the tiny ways, that you moved in the direction of your goals that day.  Research shows that acknowledging movement in the direction of your intention reinforces and helps accelerate progress.

Continue reading The wish notebook

Women who stare at trees

I plan to lie in the sun in the woods until I feel like getting up.   Sleep, stare, read, lie like a starfish looking up at the branches.  This is the view that’s fixed me before.  Though maybe it’s not the view that heals, but the act of lying with your head at the roots of a tree.  I’ve spent some time doing that, every minute well spent.

Today I was holding a book over my face against a blazing sun when I noticed teensy pearls of light spiralling lazily down on me, less than half a dozen landing and evaporating instantly on my skin with a soft pinch.  They were bright like diamonds, only weightless, drifting slowly down like snowflakes out of a clear bright sky with barely a hint of white cotton candy in it.  It was the most amazing thing, and made no sense.  I’m not even sure it wasn’t snow, although the sun was so hot.  Ice crystals?  How could they possibly survive to the surface?  It lasted less than a minute, and was over.  And I thought, what else can you miss when you’re not lying in the woods?

Happiness II: happiness under duress

I’m trying to restrain myself from doing a Miltonesque Happiness Lost, Happiness Regained stunt, but I knew this was coming- the failure of the dam of habit, structure, and support; the inundation of stress.  I know that Happiness Recovered is coming too, thankfully, on the other side of Lost.

Due to reduced hours, awareness, and deliberate care, I’m hitting the wall in the last week of April instead of the first, but still, the wall is here.

It feels like I got a hoof in the chest, or I’m under water, with my rib cage squeezed so I can’t draw a full breath, which gets tedious day after day.   At work I fight vomiting half the day, and my inability to do simple math or focus on words on a page spawns horror at the mistakes I might be making and puts my last energy into concentration.  My woodpile scratches are not healing, and sometimes my throat gets sore and feels like it’s shutting, in a matter of seconds.  Kinda weird, how something that’s all emotional can play out so physical.

I swear, my stress-coping machinery has been savaged, god knows how or when, exactly, so I’m just not equipped to manage stress, real or imagined.  Knowing it’s imagined doesn’t help. Continue reading Happiness II: happiness under duress

In other words, Mom can’t relax yet

In order to make sure my birthday wouldn’t blend indistinguishably into every other work day, I climbed a small mountain in the dark with a bag and a bivysac and slept up there.  It was just unseasonal enough to be a slightly ridiculous endeavour for a weeknight, and therefore memorable.

Last year I spent the night on a raft adrift on a small lake, and that worked.  I remember that birthday.  A fantastic evening. Kind of set the tone for the whole year, actually.

There was  a point, though, when I was waist deep in freezing water in the dark with my feet that I could no longer feel sucking menacingly into the mud, wresting the raft out of the year’s logjam/jetsam into open water with great difficulty, fish fleeing out of their winter’s refuge around my legs, teeth chattering around laughter, when I thought it would probably go pretty badly if someone chanced on me right then.  *static crackles- crrsk*  Crazy person in the lake; approach with extreme caution *crrrk*  No one did.

Those are the best times, though, when you’re stuck someplace ridiculous, but still very dangerous, one slip, ankle twist or a blow to the head away from some ignominious accident, when you think, Okay, there is no possible room for failure here, because dying or maiming oneself when you’re up to something this silly just will not bear explanation.  So you end up laughing, shaking with laughter at the sad absurdity of where you got yourself stuck, clinging desperately to a rock in the middle of a slide (for instance), thinking of the tourist we were mocking just last week who had to get plucked out of the same predicament with a helicopter.  Perhaps that’s the wrong pronoun all over that paragraph;  I end up snickering maniacally while clinging to a rock, or tearing my abs in the effort to right myself in a treewell (for instance).
Continue reading In other words, Mom can’t relax yet

Rudderless

All I want to do now is play outside.  Aka, yardwork.  Cleanup, cleanup, cleanup, the Sisyphean job you inherit with a new place that lasts, oh, pretty much ’til you leave it.   I started out today raking up my “front lawn”, a bucolic task pleasantly accompanied by Saturday CBC.  But pretty soon I was digging out ancient plastic that was laid down at some point in the past in lieu of landscape fabric (I guess), then I stepped on a wire and discovered it was one protruding inch of 6’ of chicken wire under 6” of dirt, totally enmeshed with the roots of the tree it was by.   By the time I’d wrested that from the ground I was bleeding, sweating, and filthy, so I figured I’d just keep that theme going for the rest of the day, moving from random task to random task until the light and my energy finally fade.

As I’ve mentioned before, this is my favourite way to work.  It’s how I want to live, actually.  Barefoot until November and moving constantly from thing to thing as I’m inspired to do it. Continue reading Rudderless

Another year

My birthday is next week, and I think birthdays are more suited to the reflection, self-assessment, and resolutions normally saddled on the “New Year”. As I’ve said before, I’m pretty damn happy with myself and my life exactly where I am today. Maybe I wish I was a little bit younger with tougher joints and more money?….well really, no. I am where I am, and that’s an amazingly awesome, successful place. Since it’s not about the arrival, anyways, but enjoying the work towards something you care about. So what is there to work towards that I care about? What fronts of life?

Relationship? Dante Shepherd’s opinion notwithstanding, most of my experience with relationship can be succinctly summed up with the two words, “epic fail”. On the other hand, I love being alone; I revel in it. I care less than I ever have about having a man at my side. I think that means I’m stronger emotionally or something; that I stand alone more peacefully every day. I’ve certainly never been happier.

Money? Well, money flows through my life like a wide, fast river, but it doesn’t pool anywhere. I just don’t think I’m suited for RRSPs or savings accounts. I always seem to have enough, and I can always earn more when it runs out, but there’s never any in the bank. I fantasize about the feeling of “security” of savings, of plans, of always earning the money before I spend it, but in my imagination, that feeling is just not appealing enough to put off the things I want to do. When they become available to do, I seize the day, every time, and the dollar be damned. I know when I want to change this philosophy badly enough, I will put my shoulder to it like everything else and change it. But for now, I just don’t want to badly enough. So that can be filed (with relationship) under “would be nice; no investment of energy planned”. Continue reading Another year

Happiness

I started this post as an extended review of a book called The Happiness Project, that got my wheels turning over the active and determined pursuit of happiness.  Turned out that it was a much bigger topic and focus of my life than just one little essay.

Reading the book made me realize how happy I am right now, in my life exactly the way it is. I’m well aware that many other people would not at all be happy with this, perhaps would not even be able to endure it.  I’m often perched on the edge of broke, when I work for money it’s at a job I don’t love, I’m living in my very unfinished converted barn without running water, windows or constant heat.  But in downward comparison, I have more than some of the wealthiest Cubans have.  Cuba is much better off than a lot of Africa.  Relative poverty in Canada is still unattainable riches to the  third world, and the great thing (that I’m quite grateful for), is that I rarely forget it.  I feel rich, almost all the time.  I have an abundance of time, good credit, my health, the unflickering love of friends, wood to burn and a stove to start fires in, beautiful wheels, plenty of food, clean air and water. I live in one of the most beautiful chunks of the most beautiful countries, and I really love the things I do for free.

The few aspects of my life that aren’t ideal don’t bother me that they’re not ideal, and I think that that is the real definition of happiness.  The non-ideal elements don’t throw you off the balance.  One is never going to get every aspect of your life into total alignment with your ideal vision, certainly not living as small pieces of a greater whole that is collectively terribly out of ecological harmony.  At the very least, putting off happiness until arriving at some ideal is an unreasonable expectation.

I also realize I’ve done a huge amount of work to become what I think is pretty damn happy.  I am deeply proud of being in this place, now, with a quick backward glance at struggle that at times, I barely survived.  It is not an exaggeration to say I am lucky to be alive, several times over.  But beyond luck and endurance, I am here and happy, and that is my own doing.  It does take work, and deliberate attention, and that is the gold of this book.
Oh, there’s lots more

On homonyms and criticism.

I’m very critical of other authors.

My high expectations of grammar and spelling (even though I evade that spotlight myself doesn’t mean I don’t shine it on others) mean that I can sour on a book for just one wrong homonym, and my keen psychological insight (if I do say so myself) makes me interpret, say, the over-mentioning of a prior career, or a description of an altercation with the spouse, as: he/she still feels illegitimate as a writer, or he/she’s just trying (still!) to get the last word, in print.

Homonyms are my personal bugaboo, as a matter of fact.  One while for a wile or bore that should be a boor and my scalp crinkles.  It’s very, very common, and it makes me seethe inwardly.  I know there’s better things to seethe about, but for me, it’s homonyms.  I just am who I am.

This makes me feel hypocritical and uncharitable, because I haven’t done the work of producing a book from my heart, and if I get catty and review a book “honestly”, then really, the strongest effect that’s ever going to have is upsetting the author in question when they’re googling themselves.   That does not bring more love into the world.  Some books do just piss me right off, but did I have to finish them?  Do I have to publish exactly what I think?

On the other hand, I highly value the clear and unstinting expression of opinion.  Some of my favourite people spray insults as freely as Febreeze, and I love that you can always be sure exactly where you stand with them.  Not to mention, if all that you say is sugar, then it gets diluted.  Even the positive loses its credibility.  How to reconcile?

——–

“And all this time I thought Googling yourself meant that other thing!”  – Marge Simpson

Bad Day

The leaves have fallen from all the trees but the oak now.  More sky, more sun, more wind, and fewer tourists parking on the road to take pictures of the horse with a blazing background of red sugar maples.

I’m grateful for all the mulch, but I haven’t had time to pick it all up yet.  I made a city trip this weekend past, which was necessary and good, but provoked a minor mental collapse today.  I have endurance, and I have a healthy stress response, but my stress response has no endurance.

The city for three days stretched my stress capacity to its limit, and I found myself in a terrible place of being unable to cope with, well, life in general.  I feel helpless and incapable; the panic rises in my chest and feels like a fluttering bird trapped in there, and I can’t draw a satisfying breath.  Worst of all, I feel like my antennae are numb and I lose the sense of being connected to my guidance system, so I flounder around unsure of what is the right thing to do, and that leaves me feeling quite unsafe.

Bad day.

I have serious compassion for people for whom this is a chronic condition.  For me, losing my connection to soul and nature and my own spirit is terrifying and temporary.  But I think some people sleepwalk half their lives without that, feeling only a suspicion that there is something they’re missing, just off to the left.

I saw lots of them in the city.

It’s amazing to me that the larger “we” can collectively build these sprawling, sick, unhappy, disconnected organisms (cities) that really don’t nourish most of the citizens in them, and in fact the majority of the world’s population now lives in urban settings.  Ie., disconnected from the places where the food that feeds them is grown.  This is very very sad to me.  I am again, grateful for the luxury and personal opportunity I live in and the grand abundance of space and nature that Canada holds.

Canada rules.

Christmas embargo

Halloween’s been here, and now Christmas is about to hit us over the head.

I want a year off Xmas.  I want a Christmas moratorium this year.  I find it stressful and distracting- an obligation to get people stuff and go to gatherings I don’t really want to.      More turkeys are sacrificed needlessly and the psychic noise of credit card debt, guilt, inadequacy and stress escalates.

There are good things.  It’s nice to have a reason to get together with some people, and it’s nice to have a landmark for the year.  Otherwise, years could slide by fused together without distinction.  Eggnog is awesome, and those Cadbury’s oranges you have to smash apart are pretty exciting.  I love making things to give away.   I always enjoy Christmas when I spend it with my family, but this year I probably won’t.

It just seems like Christmas is too much.  And why is it such a big production every year?  It can be a big production, say, every three years, that would be cool.  And the other two years it can have one day of attention and you can kind of wave in Christmas in passing as you carry on getting stuff done and staying in bed watching movies.

I want to call a time out, or have some other anti-Xmas gesture that I can spring on anyone who wants to invite me over for turkey death that says unequivocally and non-verbally: “Temporary relief from Christmas now claimed!  Speak’st thou not of Yule!  This person is not participating in Christmas; find something else to talk about!”

Instead of something as neutral as pointing the fingers of one hand into the palm of the other, though, I would favour clutching one’s throat, making gagging sounds, rolling the eyes back in the head, and then falling forward to the knees and collapsing sideways, twitching.  That’s the universal anti-Xmas signal right there.  Let’s all adopt it!

Eventually

I had a big pre-snow afternoon.  The temperatures are hovering 2-5 degrees above zero at night now, and the snow is close enough now to be imagined covering everything, so now is the time to clean the yard of anything that you don’t want to have to deal when it melts next year.

My main goal of the day was to mulch the potatoes that I’m leaving in the ground, and also to take down my upside down tomatoes that were becoming very unsightly.

Here’s how that went.

First I need to put the trickle charger on my battery but before I move my truck I should load in the stuff I need tomorrow, and to do that I need to unhitch the trailer, and then I see the compost is full when I’m looking for a wrench to undo the battery. I might as well dump the compost on my way to the garden, and there’s also garbage; I might as well load that up too but the bags are ripping, and on my way to get more garbage bags I see some plastic by the side of the garage that should go to the dump too and then the whole side of the garage is piled with wood and ancient tires and garbage that were here when we moved in, and I sort and load all of that junk and move the wood into the scrap wood shed, and then I notice a snarl of fencing and barbed wire to drag to someplace better, and then when I move the tires to the tire pile, I see some more plastic in the woods and follow the trail of garbage that some bear dragged away and distributed long ago, and then if I’m loading up for the dump now I might as well address the old slash pile, and clean up the old wood and berry brambles on that, and after that, then I should move all the ash so the burn scar could rehab to grass, and for that I need the wheelbarrow.

That’s the first time I got near the garden, because that’s where the wheelbarrow was.
Continue reading Eventually

A small but valuable accomplishment: beginning.

Having an odd sense of non-emotion now around the potential purchase of property.  It’s not at the top of my mind, hardly a priority in my day, yet the process is sailing along ever more smoothly.  It looks like it’s going ahead, and we’ll be on the new 5 acres of digs in a month, with a horse.  Every so often I think, oh yeah, in no time I’ll probably be on some land and life will look completely different.  I’m sure I’ll be bursting with excitement as soon as I pull the camper into the barn, and start cleaning brush and designing gardens, lists flying everywhere, but until then, other things dominate my head.

Like writing!  Praise be, we’re writing.  My friend and I are both working on big projects that have stayed more in the realm of vision than reality for far too long.  Now together, we’re making them real.  We have a writing date, and both of us sit down and click and stare sternly at our pages, pausing over word choices and spelling.  The half hour we promise to do turns into an hour and half every time.

I’m familiar with the way that an idea is perfect and glowing, bursting with energy and perfection, but then you sit at the keyboard filled with intention, and the words don’t come out in nice sentences with the pop you imagined.  Three hours later you look up hungry, thinking you still have to finish it up, rewrite the beginning, and edit the whole thing, let alone format and post it.  I know that song.  That’s just what it takes to make something real instead of a fantasy.

As I plunge into the hitchhiking book it feels like I knew it would take time, but now I know how much.  The table of contents that flowed out of me on a break between rides on my last trip is a blessing.  It gives a structure and creates a list of topics.  Every day I’m tackling one little category and writing about it.  I’m sure every word will change in the edits that will be required, but right now I’m getting the ideas out in words.  It’s terrible, artless writing, but it’s out there now, and after all of it is “out” will come the stage of editing to make all those pieces readable and entertaining.  Then will come the stage of editing that will give it form and cohesion.  It’s a hell of a lot of work, and I “knew” that before, but now I KNOW.  And it’s underway, which is spectacular.  A small but valuable accomplishment: beginning.

Nothingness and emptiness

I’m falling into a comfortable hole of nothingness and emptiness.  I’ve been increasingly folding myself into a cocoon, craving more sleep, and choosing to do less and less.   I’ve been pushing all choices away from me as contemplating choice gives me heaves of anxiety, and I don’t trust myself to make them wisely, either.  I’m grateful for the luxury to take this break, to ignore time for the moment.  Also to recede and let myself do only what I feel capable of.  I’ve been spending lots of time with the kids, on kid routine. Continue reading Nothingness and emptiness

Health

The biggest goal of my life right now is health.  Turns out “health” is a very complex concept.  I want physical, financial, spiritual, mental health for myself, but seeing as I’m one organism in a giant ecosystem, that includes all species, and all beings, and all humans on this planet, then my health is inextricably linked to the health of the whole planet.  Racial violence, and war, and starvation, and habitat destruction, and species extinction- these are monumental tragedies and we are aware of that pain in our subtle bodies whether or not we wallow in news, or recycle, or grow organic gardens.  Try as we might, we are not insulated from any of it.

 

CIMG9710(1)
Can't wait for the pears. This is the first crop on a young tree.

 

I think the pervasive toxins and mega-germs and new strains of pests that get new names and chatted up in the media are a physical manifestation, or symbol, of this fact that we’ve collectively ignored for too long- that we share everything.  Can’t be ignored any more.  Can’t run to the hills, it rains acid there too.  Germs circulate the world, we breathe each others’ air, we ingest each others’ garbage.  An individual cannot hide from the whole.  The “everything” we notice we’re sharing tends to be bad, but joy, ecstasy, and prayer also circle the world and affect everyone, positively.

The question I always ask: “What can you get up tomorrow and do differently, knowing that?” Continue reading Health

Fools Rushing In

Well, we cant say no one warned us.  The verdict on small-scale farming is unanimous-”it’s F-ing hard work”.

I paraphrase.

CIMG9709(1)Everyone says they had rose-coloured visions of gazing at the sun-dappled pasture over the cooling jewel-coloured jelly jars, crafting, painting, reading…and the reality involves vomiting goats and falling into bed with brutalized muscles.

But, (you couldn’t see this coming)I want to do it anyway, and insist that “it’s gonna be different.”  I’m not yet 40; I make no claim to wisdom.

For me, leisure is a strong enough imperative now that I just might have the fortitude to safeguard it.  I’ve long thought of myself as a lazy person trapped in the body of an incredibly energetic and effective person.  I privately long to live like a cat, and I fantasize rapturously about sleep.

However, I now believe the trapped personality is a creative one, and creativity requires fallow time.  14% fallow time, by all accounts.  For that, I’m long, long overdue.

My primary focus of five years was improving a house to sell, working a real job, and trying to borrow enough money to keep working on house (rinse and repeat).  Continue reading Fools Rushing In

Stumbling towards sustainable

I am in an ultra-transitional time.

I’ve just finished a five year project restoring a derelict house to urban desirability, and sold it.  I made some money on the sale; which I am grateful for, which gives me choices.

These are my options for my sale proceeds, the way I see it:
a.  fire proof safe
b.  bank
c.  buy property
Only c seems intelligent.

I was planning my version of a caution-to-the-wind pleasure blitz, while we still have oil-soaked infrastructure fabric (an extensive BC camping/hiking tour, a trip to see Cuban sustainability initiatives, a healing retreat, a slow and thorough cross-Canada scamp on wheels), but I find that when the moment comes, it doesn’t feel right to bank the cash and have a good time.  Continue reading Stumbling towards sustainable