Changing Perspective and a Giveaway

Yesterday I shared with you some good news from around the world and while I try to keep things positive there comes a time when reality must sink in.  Burying our heads in the sand won’t change things.  Facing the problems head on and making plans to get through the rough times will do more for us and our families.

My daffodils are nearly ready to open!

My daffodils are nearly ready to open!

Let me give you and overview of the situation as I see it along with possible solutions that may work for you and your family.  Finally, if the news depresses you I have a give away today which will help you keep a positive attitude in the face of our changing times.

Food

  • USDA reported increased prices on food for the month of March which pretty much covered every category.  Don’t expect prices to fall any time soon instead expect to see a continued increase in what you will pay for food.
  • Things are so bad in Venezuela the government is issuing new cards (similar to loyalty cards you have at your favorite grocer) to track who might be hoarding.
  • Organic doesn’t mean what you think anymore.  Did you know practices such as allowing ingredients in organic products derived from “mutagenesis” (using chemicals or radiation to genetically mutate life forms), treating animals on organic farms with genetically engineered vaccines, the spraying of the antibiotic streptomycin on organic apples and pears, and the little-known loophole in organic standards allowing the injection of antibiotics into newborn chicks, are all approved and will still carry the organic label?
My tomato plants are growing nicely in the discarded kitchen drawer I found and turned into a planter.

My tomato plants are growing nicely in the discarded kitchen drawer I found and turned into a planter.

Jobs

  • Along with the practice of cutting workers hours to under thirty and sometimes as low as twenty per week, now we are being told that many retailers are closing stores or cutting back on workers.  The businesses include Sears, Staples, Quiznos, Abercrombe and Fitch, J.C. Penney, Barnes and Nobles, Radio Shack and many more.  Business bankruptcies are increasing.  While this particular list is from the retail sector I can tell you from my state that manufacturing, banking and many other areas are being affected.  This will mean a larger percentage of workers will either be under employed or unemployed.
growing radishes in a soup tureen.

growing radishes in a soup tureen.

Other

I don’t need to tell you the environment is in bad shape.   Polluted waters, over fished areas, radiation from Fukushima will affect generations,  peak oil, etc.  But there are ways to get through these tough times by making a few simple changes.  It won’t be easy to get everyone to change but for each of us who do we will have an easier time adjusting.

No need for fossil fuels or money to enjoy life.

No need for fossil fuels or money to enjoy life.

Looking to History

I am reminded of one country that was forced to change and is better off today than it was before.  That country is Cuba.  When the former Soviet Union collapsed gone was Cuba’s main imports which included pesticides and cheap oil.  Cubans responded with “rectification,” fundamentally a reaffirmation of the principles and modalities that had driven the policies of the 1960s. Appeals were made explicitly to conciencia, to voluntarism and moral incentives.

The old socialist bloc Council of Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA) had accounted for almost 85 percent of Cuban trade, transactions conducted almost entirely in nonconvertible currency. Commercial relations with the former Soviet Union declined by more than 90 percent, from $8.7 billion in 1989 to $4.5 billion in 1991 and $750 million in 1993. Trade with eastern European countries ended almost completely. Soviet oil imports decreased by almost 90 percent, from 13 million tons in 1989 to 1.8 million tons in 1992. Shipments of capital grade consumer goods, grains, and foodstuff declined and imports of raw materials and spare parts essential for Cuban industry ceased altogether. Fertilizer imports declined by 80 percent, from 1.3 million tons to 25,000 tons; animal feed supplies fell by 70 percent, from 1.6 million tons to 450,000 tons.  (source)

gas station

Cuba was plunged into a deep recession.  By the mid-1990s its economy had shrunk by a third. (source)

Cuba had used very large amounts of pesticides,  its food production was similar to the industrial farming we see today in the US.  Along with the decrease in oil the ability to run farm equipment was hindered.  But what the government did was to encourage all people to start growing food.  To grow it anywhere there was an empty space.  Food production became decentralized and organic.  It resulted in better overall health of its people, better environment and lower costs in production and even health care.

Basket found at the bottom of a gully with a little milk paint became a pretty planter.

Basket found at the bottom of a gully with a little milk paint became a pretty planter.

A New Perspective

We can do this as well.  No, I don’t see our government asking people to grow victory gardens as it did during World War II but we can take back control of our food supply by planting in any spot we have room.  I only have one window I can grow food in but this winter I kept myself in greens without ever having to go to a store. (see pictures above) I grew lettuces, spinach and radishes.  if I had a larger containers I could grow carrots and even potatoes indoors.  Root vegetables don’t need bee pollination so they are easy to grow in front of a window.  You can pick and choose from the following ideas to reduce your dependence on the economy.

Growing your own food doesn’t have to be expensive.  Make compost from your food scraps and use in place of bought potting soil.   Save seeds to reduce costs next year and exchange seeds with friends and neighbors to increase little by little what you grow in coming years.

Spend a rainy afternoon coloring. You don't need children to color either.

Spend a rainy afternoon coloring. You don’t need children to color either.

  • Grow as much of your own food as you can.  If you have windows that get sunlight do what I did and grow your own greens, even in the winter.  I didn’t go out and buy expensive pots instead I used found objects such as a discarded basket and a trashed kitchen drawer.
  • Clare tells us how we can use our food scraps to grow our own food and never have to buy these foods again.
  • We can look around and realize we have enough.  Gone are the days of trading in a car every two years for a newer model.  Today we need to learn to repair the things we own to make them last longer.
  • Learn to sew. You can remake clothing items to better fit the personality of the person you are handing down clothes to.  I recently cut down and sized adult tops for my five-year old granddaughter rather than donating them.
  • Look for free entertainment, or at least low cost.  A cheap hula hoop is a favorite activity around here as are taking walks and playing in the gardens.  A deck of cards is inexpensive and can provide many nights of friendly card games.
  • You can strengthen your local community by keeping your dollars in your town when you shop locally.  Avoid the big box stores which treat workers less than respectfully and send all their profits out of state in addition to the likely possibility the products were made without the environment in mind.  John writes very clearly on this topic.

We take care of what we love

 

I could write pages upon pages of the ways we can slowly adjust our lives to live with less financial security, but most have been said time and time again.  We can be healthy and happy no matter what happens to the economy if we remember to put love first in all things.  I was recently reminded of this song by Neil Young, about Mother Earth which I believe is fitting today.

 

A Giveaway that will help

What can you do if you are anxious about how to weather the storms that may find your family?  The best way I know is to keep a positive attitude, which is different from burying your head in the sand.  With a positive attitude you will be flexible, bending without breaking.  A gratitude journal can help but so can a book such as Collapsing Consciously:  Transformative Truths for Turbulent Times which I happen to have a brand new copy to share with you.

Collapsing-Consciously

“A collection of probing essays and weekly meditations, this book addresses how to prepare emotionally and spiritually for the impending collapse of industrial civilization…..Author Carolyn Baker offers wisdom, inspiration, and a sense of spiritual purpose for anyone who is concerned about the daunting future humankind has created…..Part 1 is a collection of seventeen essays which argue that while the collapse of industrial society cannot be prevented, its meaning extends far beyond tragedy and loss. These essays ask the reader to delve inward and discover the limitless treasures of the soul, as well as the gratification and exhilaration to be discovered in joining with community in preparing for the future…..”  (source)

But the best part of this book is the second half  which is made up of 52 weekly mindful meditations “comprised of spiritual wisdom, inspiration, paradox, comfort, humor, irony, poems, and a persistent challenge to create and savor beauty in the world, regardless of how bleak the future may appear.”

 

To enter simply leave a comment.  Open to residents of Us and canada only.

 

Winner will be announced monday.

 

 

36 thoughts on “Changing Perspective and a Giveaway

  1. Book sounds really interesting-I like your ideas of changing perspective. I believe until it affects people financially they will not change, i.e. most people won’t start driving smaller cars and less until gas becomes 10$/gal and becomes unfeasible to continue on as we are.
    I agree with you, those of us who have already adjusted our life now will have an easier go of it in the future- I read that we reached peak oil back in ’06. My dream would be to have a sustainable off grid farm, for now I belong to a local CSA and help my MIL with her garden.
    Katie

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    • As I wrote this post I was thinking about the move to the cities and how it makes sense for those who work there to be close to save on costs and time over a commute but in the future I believe small towns will be more feasible.

      Living in my little town I may not have the shopping malls (which I am thankful for as I hate the traffic and shopping) but I am able to make connections with so many in the community. I know most of the farmers, have open land to grow food, etc. So when the economy falls and stores run short of food it’s these connections here that will make the adjustment easier.

      There is only on CSA that delivers to my town and I almost signed up but knowing the business that organized it often still used pesticides I called and checked. Sure enough they hedged the questions and answered by saying they use as little as possible. I decided it wasn’t the opportunity I wanted to pay for.

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  2. Hi Lois and thank you for a wonderfully insightful look into how we can make small changes for great results!

    I have often thought of growing food in my apartment but I’m always concerned that my cat will eat everything! Something to definitely look into though.

    Another thing I have thought of doing but as of yet, have not, is learning to sew. I could probably have saved a few pairs of jeans and summer shorts had I known how to sew.

    Thanks again for looking out for us and tale care. My best to all.

    Lyle

    ps: I love the photos :)

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    • Lyle, sewing is actually quite simple I was taught to sew by hand first before being introduced to the sewing machine and still do a lot of sewing by hand.

      As for your cat, yes it’s possible he/she will try to eat your greens but if you could find a way to fence the area around your planters off you might have some luck.

      Good luck with your decluttering. ;-)

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  3. Hi Lois brilliant post. Those among us who have learned to adapt either by design or default are certainly in a strong position to lead the way. Your contribution has been a great inspiration to me. It seems that success lies in all the myriad of small ways we can best change our own lifestyles and in turn contribute to a much greater cause.. All the best and I for one are truly grateful you continue to post.
    Mary

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    • Thank you so much, Mary. Yes, we definitely will need to learn to adapt. I know my children and I will manage to make it through okay but so many will have quite a shock if the economy gets much worse.

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  4. Lois, I truly appreciate your post. It is realistic and hopeful. We can move forward in new and better directions. In the end I believe we can achieve a far better world for all.

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    • Thank you Carol. Environmental problems aside if we are only talking about a changing economic situation I believe things while rough in the beginning can be better than they are right now. We just need to change our mindset and embrace a simpler way of living.

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    • Daniela, I think we are going to need to learn to be more self-sufficient and at the same time learn to be interdependent with those closest to us. I’ve said for a long time that I see the multi-generational home becoming the new norm again where the grandparents help with raising the children and babysitting and chores are divided by abilities.

      Of course another dimension of our change will come in learning to repurpose, which you do so well, rather than expecting to be able to find new products.

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  5. Well, I would love to be the winner of that interesting book.

    But I have to say, I have followed your blog for quite a while and I have learned so much from you through your own growth and learning in this movement.

    Thank You!!

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  6. Well, you remind me that I am in desperate need of finding a better way to grow plants indoors. It’s a feline situation. I’ve got one cat (the adorable, yet challenging Smoky Bear) who will eat ANYTHING that’s green, regardless of whether or not it will poison him. So I really need to keep the plants away from him. I’ve been using the upside down clear plastic storage bin – the problem is that it gets too hot and the plants fry. I guess I could drill some holes in it for ventilation, but I just hate to ruin a perfectly good bin. Maybe I could find one that’s already damaged or something. Got any ideas?

    I decided to go “garden light” this year and skip the greens and pumpkins – hoping to starve out the leaf miners and honestly, I haven’t been able to make myself eat much pumpkin lately so the last few years harvests have all gone to the squirrels. But I’m still doing peas & potatoes & onions & garlic & tomatoes & peppers & probably cucumbers, zucchini & eggplant too. I’ll just have to buy seedlings this year, but that’s OK.

    Anyhow, that book sounds amazing, and since I rarely win anything like this, I’ll be looking for it at my local library! I could really use some realistic optimism these days because honestly, the collapse seems pretty much inevitable to me. And obsessively checking the CO2Now website doesn’t help anything, it just makes me more depressed and worried.

    BTW – I LOVE the example of Cuba. And if the situation with Russia keeps going the direction it seems to be going, the oil supplies are gonna get a lot tighter here in the near future.

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    • Cat, that’s what you call garden light? That sounds like quite a bit, but I’m glad you found a compromise I know you were considering not having a garden this year.

      Could you in some way make a fence around your indoor plants? What comes to mind is the mesh bags we find our oranges in at the store. Maybe you could make a larger piece from several of them and some how attach them (like a child gate) around your greens to keep the cats out of them.

      I hadn’t heard of the CO2Now site, not sure I want to take a look, but I probably will now that I know it’s there.

      I almost wish we would see problems with peak oil and such to cause the production of pesticides and industrial farming to fail and be able to start over like Cuba. I know they eat simpler now less meat and little junk food. I saw an interview with a Cuban girl who went to Europe and was shocked by the amount and variety of food available. When she went home she said she was relieved to have her normal foods available because she had gained so much weight on her trip.

      If you don’t win the book I hope you can find it. It is about an economic collapse and while that is coming I fear the environmental collapse will be worse, but I have to deal with one at a time or I will go nuts.

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      • Thanks for your suggestions – I’ll have to give the seedling thing some more thought. Whatever enclosure I come up with pretty much has to be indestructible to survive the onslaught of Smoky. Seriously, CatMan jokes that if I have anything of value, I should just hang it from a hook in the middle of the ceiling, because it’s the only way it would be safe from my marauding fe-lion! Anyhow, he’s fairly attached to his windows, so it has to be something he could sit on top of.

        Actually… now that I’m thinking about it, I do have a large “stress cage” that I bought when I first rescued Princess because she was so totally overwhelmed by the unfamiliarity of being indoors. It’s pretty tall, but I might be able to set it up in front of the non-opening side of the sliding glass door… and it even has a bunch of little perches that could work as shelves for putting plants on. I’ll have to measure it to see if it would fit, but it might just work! Thanks for making me think of it.

        CO2Now is a great site with tons of scientific information about greenhouse gasses – but it’s pretty much guaranteed to cause depression, so proceed with caution!

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        • I think you may have a solution. ;-) You could also build a shelf in your window about half way up and use that for the plants (or the cat) closing off the rest of the area.

          You have cat problems, I have dog ones. My kids brought Zakk over after only two days of not seeing him he was so excited he tore up the paper bag I buy my bird seed in to get to me. I had bird seed every where.

          I’m trying to talk myself out of checking that website but I know I’ll give in at some point as I’m curious and have always wanted to learn everything possible. My grandmother used to tell me a cat only has 9 lives and if I were a cat I was just about out of lives. She knew me so well. :-)

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          • Bad Zakk, Bad! But it’s hard to get mad at them when they’re just soooo darned cute, isn’t it?

            Looks like the cage will fit – now I just have to figure out the curtain situation… :-)

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          • It is hard to get mad at him especially when the reason he ripped the bag was his excitement to greet me.

            I’m glad your cage will work to protect your plants.

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  7. Well done Lois – you’re right, we need to face problems head on and try to solve them, and you’ve made excellent suggestions on how to not just survive but thrive!
    If you have neighbours who also grow their own food, it’s often worthwhile getting together and planning what you will all plant – that way you can all swap harvests. Otherwise you might have everyone growing onions and no one growing carrots – a quick chat over a cup of tea works wonders!
    For me one of the biggest concerns is the “dumbing down” of the term organic in the USA, I blogged about it a while ago and it really is a problem – how are people to distinguish between someone genuinely farming organically (which is not easy) and those who take allowed shortcuts, to the detriment of our health and the environment. When the chain stores start selling organic food at reasonable prices in large quantities, you know it’s too good to be true!
    Thank you for the link to my blog, and I was delighted to discover John’s blog! And I know someone in the US or Canada will be delighted with your giveaway, it looks like a great book!

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    • Clare, you are so right about the dumbing down when it comes to what is truly organic. To think my apples and pears are sprayed with antibiotics makes me mad. Oranges that are labeled organic can be gown in sewage sludge as well. Everything I am trying to avoid is being secretly added to the foods I buy when at a store.

      It’s a shame to have to wonder if a good price on an item of produce is because it is being mislabeled.

      My neighbors and I do pretty good at not growing the same foods. We do get together and discuss what the others are going to grow. So far I am the only one who grows fruits (other than cantaloupe) and one neighbor does most of the herbs and onions etc. We also share our seeds. We all tend to grow tomatoes, but those are one food we all eat enough of to need to have several plants.

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  8. I don’t get a chance to catch up reading on many blogs since I have 3 and it gets …well, busy. This post was just the right moment. Yesterday I was longing to have a garden again…since I rent now I was thinking of finding a few areas to plant tomatoes, herbs, spinach maybe…I so love a warm fresh tomatoe for breakfast. And last night I watched a documentary at http://www.cbc.ca/fifth which was Fifth Estate on the textile and fashion industry in Bangladesh. I was so heartbroken…I watched it twice before going to bed. Then today at work I was angry cos we waste so much in the garbage and…well, your post came at a right time. And when the economy goes real bad, my job, unfortunately, gets busier…pretty sad. Your post is awesome! may I reblog it? I would like to also share it on my facebook. Cheryl-Lynn

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    • Cheryl-Lynn, I have only been maintaining one blog at the moment and even that seems like too much some days I don’t know how you do three blogs. I’m sorry it took me so long to reply but your comment seems to have gotten lost in my folder.

      I will watch the documentary when I get a chance, it’s heartbreaking to me the conditions those people go through to provide us with cheap stuff, yet not cheap enough that they could buy any of it for themselves with what they make.

      If you are still interested in reblogging this you are welcome to.

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      • thank you, I shall. one blog is my therapy…(smiles) under a pseudonym …the poetry and writing prompts actually help. These 2 are public and talking about my passion and sometimes getting on my soap box. So when I’m on one Im not on the other and I do live alone, so my free time is often devoted between volunteering and me. Thanks I shall reblog this.

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          • Yes, indeed…that is the part that scares me too…so maybe that’s why I’m writing A LOT so someone can remember. We have a history of this …my mom, grandmother, my uncle BUT so far I don’t take after any of them…let’s hope.

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  9. I am in desperate need of a positive way of looking at things these days. I usually try to bury my head in the sand, however it hasn’t been working…

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    • It’s so hard to think about what is coming when I look out my window or get to spend some time outdoors things seem so normal here, that is until I need to buy groceries where the prices have gotten so high.

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