Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Let's pause a little...

This post is about taking a break.  Specifically a break from blogging.  I have made the decision to put Spinster Jane on hold for the month of May.  Why am I doing this?  The short answer is time.

Time is the reason for a lot of my life decisions; mainly because like many of us I don't have enough of it.  I made the choice a few years ago to live a creative life.  I wanted to dedicate myself to being an artist in whatever form my art may take.  And it takes a lot of forms:  writing, dancing, choreographing, sewing, crocheting, drumming and teaching.

Currently my endeavors include:

  • writing this blog
  • managing and directing a performance troupe
  • performing with said troupe as dancer, MC and musician
  • a separate solo dance path
  • bettering my drumming skills
  • teaching workshops on live music dance performance
  • teaching a weekly dance class
  • forming a student dance troupe
  • custom crochet work
I also of course work a day job and attend school full time.  Today I am face to face with the fact that I don't have enough time to do all of it - at least not now - which leaves me with the options of finding a way to better manage my time or making the choice to let go of something. 

And I truly don't want to let go of any of it. 

Some choices are easy; I have to keep my job and school has an end date so I keep both of those.  I won't give up teaching classes and workshops as it consistently brings me great joy and I learn just as much from my students as I teach them.  It is also just beginning to become a reliable source of income.  The crochet work I only take when I know I have the time.   Actually if I kept going I'd likely find justification for keeing all of it. 

...and that is where the struggle is. 

And thus the break from blogging.  I've not been able to keep up with it regularly anyway and so I might as well make it official so that I at least I'll stop feeling bad about not doing it.  Hopefully over the next month I'll have at least a few moments to give some thought to whether or not to keep Spinster Jane alive. 

In the meantime, enjoy the rest of spring and I'll see you in June.  

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

30 Days of...ooops.

My 30 days of blogging about sustainability was derailed by five days of sickness and three days of recovery and catching up.  While I am pretty close to being up to date on work, school related business and performance matters I am not sure I will catch up on the blogging.

I will however complete the four part series mentioned in the prior post!

Stay tuned!!!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Day 7 - Use it up, Wear it Out, Make it Do or Do Without

"Use it up,
Wear it out, 
Make it do,
Or do without."

- Anonymous

Often used in reference to "Yankee frugality" the origins of the phrase are unclear.  It was popularized in the United States during the rationing years of World War II. Whatever the original source of the saying today it could serve just as well as a slogan for seeking to live a sustainable life in our consumption focused culture and economy.

This week I'll be writing a four part series focusing on each line of the saying and  answer the question of how we can make this old adage apply to our lives today.

Have you heard this saying before?  Do you apply it to your life today?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Day 6 - Buy Local

The buy local movement has been growing rapidly across the country.  Nearly every city has an organization to promote local business.  Here in Portland, Maine e we have Portland Buy Local that promotes local businesses.

There are numerous benefits to buying local.  The Portland Buy Local website lists several including...

...keeping your dollars local (studies have shown higher percentage of each dollar spent at a locally owned businesses stay within the community than those spent at national chains);

...environmental sustainability (aside from the shorter distance you may drive, or better yet walk, locally produced goods, especially food, have a lower environmental impact);

...supporting entrepreneurship;

...keeping your local neighborhood unique and diverse;

...and much more.

If you'd like to learn more about buying local in your community the American Independent Business Alliance can help you connect.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Day 5 - Walking

According to many estimates the average person gets the equivalent of 75 miles per gallon when walking. Compared to the average 24.6 miles per gallon of cars in the U.S. and the fact that walking is a zero emissions mode of transportation**, walking seems a pretty good environmental deal, and it is, but there are other sustainability related benefits to leaving the car parked.

Getting to know your community.  - Walking allows you to see your neighborhood up close and personal in a way that you simply can't do when passing through at 15 - 50 miles per hour.  You can get to know local plants and wildlife (yes, even in the city there is wildlife), frequent local business and say hello to your neighbors.

Health Benefits - Walking is good for you.  I'm pretty lazy about exercise.  I'm not the type to go to the gym or take an aerobics class.  With my feet as my transportation I usually walk at least a few miles per day just doing the activities of day to day life.  That's right a few miles.  Which means I'm getting quite a bit of exercise without any real extra effort.

** Human's don't have tailpipes but where we get our "fuel" is still important.  Farming in our country is very much tied to fossil fuel use.  Buying local and organic can greatly reduce the environmental impact of our human fuel intake.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Day 4 - Individual Sustainability

A video about individual sustainability.  It is an interesting approach to a sustainable life. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Day 3 - Energy Efficiency

I don't believe energy efficiency can be explained in 90 seconds as this video claims but, it does make the point that we can do a lot to reduce fossil fuel use through conservation.  Every light you turn off, every energy efficient appliance you use, ever inch of insulation you add to your home, every degree you turn down your thermostat results in lower energy use.  The less energy we use, the less fossil fuels we burn to produce power. 

While changing our power supply over to renewable sources is an admirable goal and one I hope to see achieved one day, energy conservation is something we can all do right now, today.  If every individual took steps to reduce their energy use it could have a great impact in reducing the environmental impact of energy production, and we'd all save a bit of money as well.  

Who is she (this impossible me)?

Other thoughts...

In my mind I have a vision of the person I want to be. In this vision she is always solitary...independent, though often standing in the midst of chaos - a busy office, back stage before a show, on a crowded sidewalk, she is calm and somehow apart from it all.  On her feet she wears stylish but sensible shoes.  She always looks well put together because she enjoys wearing things that make her feel beautiful.

She is strong, physically and mentally.  Taking care of herself is a part of daily life.  She is always well rested. While she has doubts about life they don't dominate her thinking. When she is in emotional turmoil she is able to set it aside so that she can take care of whatever immediate task life has put before her.  She is never overwhelmed because she knows her limits  She is passionate about many things.  She knows what she wants and she is not afraid of the hard work it may take to accomplish her desires.  

She is compassionate, offering a hand when others are in need.  She wants to save the world but knows she can only do the work of one person.  She attempts as best she can to live in a manner that lessens her impact on the earth.  

She wants to leave this earth having somehow made it a better place.

Lately I think of her and wonder, almost with a laugh, how I ever thought I could be this person? Yes, we are similar in many ways, passionate about what we do and about wanting to improve the world. I attempt to be compassionate but I stumble over jealousy, hurt and anger as most of us to.   I'm tired more days than I am not and I definitely fail frequently in the self care department.  I am overly emotional with some regularity and I struggle daily with self doubt.

I guess it's okay that I am not her.  It does seem like it would be a whole lot of work to be her and I'm not sure I'm really up to the task.  Maybe instead of seeing her as the me that I am not, I'll think of her as a sister or close friend because, even if she isn't me, when think of her I do feel a bit stronger and a little more capable.  It would be nice to know even if I am not her, that I at least have her on my side.

Note: I think there might have been a day, sometime in the spring of 2011, that I came as close to being her as I've ever been.  I should have noted the date but I was probably too busy being wonderful. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

30 Days of Earth Day: (Day 2) Know your recycling...

Many cities across the country have curbside recycling which makes it very easy to do something good for the environment. However each city and town's regulations are not the same.  For instance while nearly every program takes paper, glass and aluminium when it comes to plastics things can get tricky.

For instance, not all programs accept No. 2 plastic, some accept plastic grocery bags and others do not. Often a visit to your local public works website will help you determine what plastics your towns program accepts.  You may find that you what you thought was recyclable isn't or better yet find that your town has expanded your program and now accepts more than you expected.

Why is this important? If you place non-recyclable materials in your recycle bin these items will generally be removed during the facility's sorting process and still end up in a landfill or burned in an incinerator.  If you know that your town doesn't accept a certain kind of plastic you can make an effort to buy products that do not use that form of plastic which prevents it from ending up as just one more piece of trash.

If you want to learn more about plastics and how to identify the different types the EPA has an informative page which you can visit by clicking here.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

30 Days of Earth Day: Day 1

April 22 is Earth Day.  It is the day intended to bring attention to protecting the environment and keeping our planet a livable place for all.  Of course while Earth Day serves an important educational function if we are to keep this planet clean, safe and a generally enjoyable place for all living thing well, though it might be on it's way to sounding cliche, every day needs to be Earth Day.

In the spirit of this I plan to share with you something I do each day in my efforts to lessen my environmental impact and help create a more sustainable world.  

I don't usually eat a lot of take out for two reasons: 1) I usually can't afford it and 2) it usually involves a lot of disposable packaging.

Today however, due to a busy morning, I found that I had reached about 1:30 PM without eating anything.  I was on my way to an afternoon appointment when I started to feel the effects of a drop in blood sugar so I stopped in at the grocery store and bought a small serving of soup from the food bar. It was a lovely day, about 50 degrees and sunny, so I sat on a bench to eat.

After I was done instead of tossing it into the nearest trash can, I put the cardboard soup container back in the paper bag and tucked it away in my purse to be added to the recycle bin at home.

While disposable containers are never my first choice a lot of places that serve takeout are switching to recyclable packaging.  This is great but it only works if we are willing to take the extra step to actually make sure it gets into the proper receptacle.