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    No More Complaining!

    …If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.” ~Maya Angelou


    I complain a lot more than I’m even aware.  I think we all do this.  It’s easy to complain; it garners sympathy, empathy, even camaraderie from those around us.  A complaint could be as obvious as, “this house is a mess!” or “the temp is freezing out here!” or as subtle as that inner voice that says, “I should lose some weight” or “feels like I’m coming down with something” when we look in the mirror. I don’t think it’s natural to complain; children don’t complain.  I think it’s a habit that we form over time.


    A negative habit! If we’re always thinking or speaking negatively (complaining), we can’t help but see the things around us as negative.  The more negative we see & feel, the more difficult it is for the positive to come through. It only makes sense that the more positive we feel, the more positive we are, and the more positive we’ll see.  If we can break the habit of negative thinking, perhaps our lives will overall become more positive.


    My grandmother is a wonderful example of the power of positive thinking. I remember back when I was a sulky teenager, she’d wake us in the morning singing, “You Are My Sunshine…”… and then we’d proceed to pull the covers up over our heads.  She’d keep singing, undeterred, open the curtains, and pull the covers back down & tell us what a beautiful day it was – to get up with her and celebrate!  She shared with us her belief in the power of positive thinking through her daily morning routine: before getting out of bed, she’d tell herself the kind of day she wanted to have: positive, productive, happy. Once she had her intent set in her mind, she’d get up.  And, that’s the kind of day she’d have. And complaining?  I don’t recall my grandmother ever complaining.  She can find beauty in the worst of situations.  That’s strength & grace. She’s an inspiration to me.


    As are my children.  When’s the last time you heard a child complain about anything?  They start the day with such vigor and face everything with joyous expectation. They naturally choose to be & see & create positive. I hope every day to be more like them, and my grandmother.


    But, it’s not enough to hope for change; if you want to change, you have to be the change you wish to see (so says Gandhi, and I agree). So, in an attempt to be more positive and take a more active role in really changing my outlook and interpretation of the world around me, I found this really cool tool: Rubber bracelets from A Complaint Free World.


    The idea behind the bracelets is that you start with your bracelet on one arm. Each time you complain, gossip, or criticize, you move it to the other wrist.  You keep doing this, hopefully increasing the duration on each arm with time & awareness, until you’ve gone complaint-free for 21 days – essentially creating a new habit of NOT complaining!


    They believe that the power of just a few people changing their attitude can have a ripple effect on the world, bringing about, “greater harmony, understanding, prosperity, and peace” http://www.acomplaintfreeworld.org/ourvision.  I agree.


    If you’d like to get a set of bracelets for yourself, or just want to read about their vision of shifting the worlds’ consciousness from positive to negative, visit http://www.acomplaintfreeworld.org/ They’re also on twitter @acfw60million

    I’m going to give the bracelet a try.


    The website says the average person giving it their best try will take between 4 – 10 months to go 21 days complaint-free. I’m going to consider this day one on my positive journey! I hope some of you will join me in this quest to complain less. Please let me know if you take the leap; and how it’s going for you!


    Posted: Feb 12 2010, 14:36 by kelly | Comments (0) RSS comment feed |
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    Filed under: Inspirational

    Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle - At Home!

    Thinking back on my early childhood (I’m talking 70’s & 80’s), we didn’t do much recycling, until, I’d say, the late 80’s. It’s then that I remember starting to crush soda cans, and saving newspapers. As a young child, growing up in Southern NJ, I recall driving by landfills – huge, hulking, smelly things, and my young mind wondering at the mass quantities of garbage that it took to create them. At the time, saving the earth seemed more distant - like saving the whales. The closest thing to home was the anti-littering push. There were signs along the highways indicating hefty fines for dumping, and I remember watching in amazement as a McDonalds bag full of wrappers was tossed out of a car window in front of us while driving down the turnpike (Seriously did anyone, anywhere, ever really think that was okay?). But, aside from littering, it seemed as long as you picked your trash up, and put it in its place, all was well. Reducing waste wasn’t really part of everyday concerns that I recall. I now look around my own house as an adult and see many examples of how recycling, reusing, and reducing waste have become a regular part of our lives. How times have changed - for the better!!
    I asked my children yesterday if they could think of ways that we help keep the earth clean, and their answers came quickly & effortlessly. They said thing like: We save the caps from our bottles. We open the windows when we’re hot instead of turning on the air conditioner. We don’t wash our towels every time we use them.
    My heart smiled - these kids really get it - and their attitude can only make the world a better, cleaner place into the future!
    Feeling inspired, we went on a search around the house for some other examples of ways we reduce, reuse, and recycle, and here’s what we came up with:
    In the kitchen, we have a whole “recycle station”:
    One bin for bottles & cans, one bin for paper, and a small can for plastic lids. Our township only recycles #1 & #2 plastic, glass, aluminum, and steel cans, and newspaper/cardboard. Now, while this is wonderful, it does leave a whole lot of things un-recycled: #3, #4, #5, #6, & #7 plastic for example. They also do not allow plastic caps of any kind. Fortunately, we have found a solution for the caps, which previously would have gone right into the garbage. We participate in the Recycle Caps with Aveda program.
    In the midst of writing this blog post, I found a wonderful site that allowed me to locate a township just a few short miles away that DOES collect #3 - #7, including unnumbered plastic! I’m super excited about this, and it seems we’ll have to add level three to our recycle station in our kitchen! Want to find out if there is a place near you that recycles #5 plastic (i.e. yogurt containers)? Check out earth911.com.
    At the grocery store, we shop with the reusable bags.
    Most of the shops around here now offer them for only $.99 at check out, and some places, like Ikea & Whole Foods, no longer even produce the plastic bags. Meaning, you HAVE to bring your own bag. I think this is a wonderful move forward! I put this one in the Reduce AND Reuse categories.
    In our kitchen, while I haven’t been able to eliminate paper towels completely (has anyone been able to do this? Please let me know how!), we keep a stack of dish towels at the ready for drying hands, wiping spills, cleaning surfaces.
    I found our old cloth diapers easily double as dish rags! Reuse & Reduce Win!
    Also in the kitchen, we’re slowly moving away from juice boxes through the purchase of awesome #5 plastic juice boxes.

    I’ve found them easy to clean, and the kids can put them together themselves. Plus, they were only $1.99 a piece. That’s just a bit more than the 3-pack of organic juice boxes I usually buy – so we’ve made the cost up quickly!
    I haven’t yet been able to separate myself from bottled water though. At this point, our township water is fluoridated. I’m not comfortable with ONLY drinking this water (though we do filter it, it doesn’t take out the fluoride), so I still purchase bottled spring water. But I’m stymied by the plastic – both from the waste production aspect of things, as well as the leaching chemicals into the water aspect of things. Now, we do recycle the bottles & caps. But I wish there were affordable glass-containered spring water. That would be a perfect solution!
    In the playroom, the kids’ play kitchen itself is a Reuse curbside find!
    I can’t believe it would have or eventually will hit the landfill (and I hate to even think of how many plastic play kitchens currently reside in landfills!), so I vow to donate it when we’re finished. Though it was trashpicked, its in perfect play condition, and we furnish it with yogurt & spice containers that were heretofore un-recyclable.
    In the laundry room in the winter, we detach the dryer vent so it vents indoors!
    In this way, anytime a load of laundry is drying (most of the time with a family of four!), it helps heat & humidify our house. Reduce win!
    Finally, in the Reduce category, over the last few years, as our incandescent bulbs have burned out around our home, we’ve replaced them with fluorescent bulbs.http://www.projectporchlight.com/ Over time, the savings from switching to fluorescent really adds up –in reduced electric bills, repurchasing of light bulbs, and reduced trash.
    A few of the bulbs were provided by Project Porchlight (they stopped by our door last year, and gave us three!). They’ve distributed nearly 3 million fluorescent light bulbs door-to-door in neighborhoods - for free! If you’re interested in getting involved in their volunteer program, visit their site here:
    So how are you Reducing, Reusing, and Recycling in your life? I’d love to hear some more ideas!
    Posted: Feb 09 2010, 19:39 by kelly | Comments (5) RSS comment feed |
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    Turning Negativity into Positivity

    Deepak Chopra tweeted this yesterday:
    Emotions are contagious. We monitor, regulate, and are regulated by each other's emotional state. Your well being improves my well being.
    I found it apropos, as I was at the moment pondering these questions: How to get out of a “bad mood”? How to avoid passing negativity along to those around you? How to stay immune to the negative moods of those around us? How instead, to be open to positive moods, and sharing that energy?
    It’s something I think about often as you really can’t escape people. Or yourself, really. So better to learn to interact in the most beneficial ways.
    Our energy levels fluctuate throughout the day – and thus our moods. Lower energy I’ve found directly correlates with more openness to allowing negativity to have an effect me. Negativity & lower energy makes me feel less creative & productive. The less productive I am, the less good I feel. The less good I feel mentally, the less good I feel physically, the less positive my interactions with others, and my low energy and mood gets passed along. It’s a cycle which I’d like to break. Of course, the cycle works in the opposite direction as well, so maybe I just want to reverse it, not break it altogether.
    The more productive I am, the more energy I have. The more energy I have, the better I feel, the more able I am to deflect negativity thrown my way, and be creative in dealing with “bad moods” – my own, and others, to be more positive. When I’m positive, people react positively, I feel healthier, and things just work right. When more things work right, I’m more apt to be grateful and expectant of more things working right. When you expect things to go well, health to be good, and people to behave well, they pretty much do.
    So how to achieve that positivism reliably? This is really what I’m pondering. Thought into action.
    In the short term, giving myself physical space from negativity or chaos works best. If I can get a moment to myself, to think, breathe, it makes a world of difference. Taking my focus off a future or past worry, and centering instead on the current moment also works for me. If I cannot get my brain to shift gears from worry to peace, occupying myself with a task that requires concentration & creativity – art making or playing the piano or even organizing a space works to distract my mind and start the cycle working in the opposite direction – the more creative I am, the more positive I am.
    Now, I can’t always physically separate myself from the chaos (say, driving kids in the car). So in these instances, I find music helps center me. The more cheerful, the better.
    Your nerves gather with the altitude
    Exhale the stress so you don't come unglued
    Somewhere there is a happy affair, a ghost of a good mood
    ~Owl City (from Rainbow Veins)
    Alternatively, outside we go. Nature always has a calming, energy-boosting quality. You can’t take a walk in the woods and come out feeling bad. I mean, unless you’re attacked by a bear. (who obviously hasn’t discovered the virtues of positive thinking). But, I digress.
    In the longer term, overall positive thinking & repetition of affirmations has worked the best for me, as trite as they may seem: I am healthy. I am productive. Life is good.
    Whether you think you can, or think you can't, you're right. ~Henry Ford

    I do believe by reminding myself that things are good, things really can only become better. Not because I'm tricking myself, but rather by looking at what's already there in a better way than I currently am (remembering that when I'm feeling down, negativity flows more easily than positivity). And if things don’t actually become better, at the very least, my reaction to them does. Thus, the reactions of those around me become improved as well, and can lead to physically changing things for the better. Positive energy transfer: it’s what I’m striving towards – greater positivism, increased gratitude, more peace. It can only be good.
    So, how do you cope with negativity and turn it into positivity?
    Posted: Feb 01 2010, 11:19 by kelly | Comments (3) RSS comment feed |
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