For a class project about our community, my daughter must record every single piece of trash we throw away. Recording it like this amazes me; it’s not even noon, and I’m made more garbage that any person should.
I am not helping my environment, I lament as I see the plastic milk carton, the paper towels, the fruit rinds, and the coffee filters. Then I remember our compost pile. I ask myself, “Is this thing in my hand really waste, or can I use it somehow?” I can compost, recycle, and reuse. It’s so easy, I realize that, in part, I’m just simply lazy.
It’s funny how recording things raises the kind of awareness I need. I lose weight when I record what I eat. I gain health when I record our family’s five fruits and veggie servings each day. I grow spiritually when I keep a record of prayers I offer and scriptures I’m learning. I grow mentally when I learn and record it in a blog.
Living with flair means keeping a record to monitor the garbage in my life. I don’t want waste and worthless output; I want meaningful, beautiful, and beneficial.
Have you ever monitored your own garbage?
For years and years, I’ve tried to bake with yeast. I’m rarely successful in getting my dough to rise like I want. But today, I try again. This time: pizza dough for homemade calzones.
I read a specific detail from this new recipe that explains my failure. This new recipe insists that I add the yeast and make sure the dough rests in a 70 degree kitchen.
That’s what all the other recipes meant by “warm place!” That’s the simple explanation for my failed efforts! My winter kitchen isn’t always that warm (sometimes it’s actually cold), so I put my bowl on a kitchen chair right by the heater (set at 70 degrees).
We check on our dough after an hour. It fills the bowl–abundant, glorious, fluffy! My first successful rising!
It keeps on growing. Tonight, we’ll feast.
When I think about my own failed attempts at growth in various areas of my life, I have to remember the role that my environment plays. If I’m in an environment that prevents my maturing, maybe I need to change something in order to create the kind of conditions that foster growth.
I like asking myself that question today: What do I need in my environment to spur me on to become the person God wants me to be? What do I need to purge? What do I need to add? I just asked my daughter the same question. We have so much to talk about!
Journal: What needs to change so I can grow?
In the middle of the night, my daughter finds me and asks:
“Mom, is it true that moose are going extinct?” The question has her up, alert, and worried.
“I don’t think so,” I say quietly. “I will find out for you.”
The truth is, I haven’t thought about a moose in 15 years. The last time I even remember reading the word “moose” was when I read Elizabeth Bishop’s poem by the same title. In that poem, a moose approaches a bus of travelers. The moose, Bishop writes, “looks the bus over, grand, otherworldly,” and later, the poet wonders: “Why, why do we feel (we all feel) this sweet sensation of joy?”
This morning I read that moose aren’t going extinct (although in some regions, their habitats are threatened). Their conservation status falls under the category “least concerned.”
My daughter is relieved, and I’m left wondering why I’m not waking up in the middle of the night concerned. Children tend to be concerned with everything, and for some, concern about the environment and endangered species keep them up at night. My kids remind me about the recycling and the lights I leave on in rooms I’m not using. They turn the faucet off when I’m brushing my teeth. They remain concerned while I worry about what’s convenient or only within my immediate experience.
Being woken up to consider the moose–the one I’m supposed to be “least concerned” about–taught me that living with flair means I concern myself with the world outside of this bedroom. There’s a moose somewhere out there, grand, otherworldly.
(Photo from USDA Forest Service, Superior National Forest Wikimedia Commons)