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Monday, April 26, 2010

What is Your Plan B? A Self Reliance Challenge

What would you do if you experienced a natural disaster today? Would you be prepared? Could you tend to medical emergencies? We have seen the life threatening effects from hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, and floods yet I don't see very many people taking action to prepare themselves in case of an emergency.... including myself.

Recently, I needed to get something out of my first aid kit for my son and I noticed how depleted of medical supplies my kit has become. I went into a mini panic. I started to think, "What if I was in a life threatening situation right now? I would be screwed!" That feeling gave me a sick pit in my stomach that hasn't really left. As a matter of fact, I keep experiencing things that are reminding me that I need to be more prepared. I need to be able to take care of myself and my kids in times of a natural disaster or medical emergency.

I started taking a look around my home. Questions began to overwhelm me like:

How much fresh water do I have and how long would it last if the water was shut off right now? Where would I get water if stores were closed and roads were closed?

What about food supply? How much do I have and how long will it last?

Medical Aid
If my kids or myself were bit by a rattlesnake or black widow spider (very common where I live) would I be able to treat it? What about a gash or CPR?

Questions kept flowing in reminding me of how foolish I have been and how ill prepared I am to provide for myself and my children in times of an emergency despite current events and disasters that have devastated many.

But these extreme situations are not the only thoughts I have been having. I also recently watched a program on the indigenous tribes of the Amazon and how over the past 15 years they have gone from being self reliant to totally dependant on outside sources to provide for their families. I was saddened to put it mildly. I went on a rant explaining how weak of a species we have become. Many of us ignore our human instincts and our innate ability to be self reliant.

We have got to stop expecting outside sources to take care of us and learn how to be self reliant. It seems we are a society full of co-dependant people and what we really need is interdependence (people who can take care of themselves and can contribute). People need to be able to take care of themselves and their families and sadly we are moving further and further away from that. Overall, we are no longer able to provide the basic needs if our life depended on it.

This post is a wake up call. A reminder to get back in touch with life sustaining methods, to be prepared (not paranoid, or frightened) in any situation. There is such a sense of peace and freedom when you can take matters into your own hands.

I want the peace of mind that if anything was to happen I could handle the situation well. I could experience it the hard and unprepared way or I can take the proper actions to where it really doesn't devastate my family because I am not dependant on outside sources and I am self reliant. Here is what I am working on right now:

Teaching my children protocols for natural disasters (such as earthquakes and fires)
Obtaining plenty fresh water to store at my home that will last about a week (about 30 gallons)
Learning about the native wild foods in my area
Creating a diverse seed bank and swap seeds
Learning where to obtain fresh water by bike (findaspring.com)
Eating a diet that is not dependant on cooking (Thank you Raw Food Diet!)
Growing an edible landscape that would provide year round food and medicine for my family that could grow even without watering for a month (lots of fruit and nut trees and avocados)
Refreshing CPR and First Aid skills
Restocking the first aid kit with the following:
Burn kit
Poisonous bites and stings
Rashes, hives, and allergies
Cuts, Scrapes, Deep Gashes
Inflammation, bruising, sprains, strains, broken bones, dislocations
Food poisoning
Heat stroke, shock
Eye, ear, throat, & nasal canal care
Fever and cold kit
Camping kit
A quick evacuation kit in a backpack for everyone in my home that would sustain us for 3 days

A goal I have for my family is to be as self reliant as possible. We have decided to start making the proper actions and prepare for a self reliance challenge. Rather than wait for a disaster to force us to live without outside sources I think it would be fun and reassuring to see how a trial run would go. So here is brief rundown of the self reliance challenge:

Self Reliance Challenge
How long and well could you live if you:
Shut off gas, water, electricity to your home
Did not use trash service, sewage, heating, cooling
Were unable to use your car, cell phone, Internet
What if outside help was unavailable such as: police, fire, paramedics, overcrowded emergency rooms/hospitals, grocery stores, etc
What if you were unable to access your money and banks were closed?
How would you feed yourself and your family?
How would you bathe?

What about you? What if you needed to evacuate your home in 10 minutes? Would the important supplies be available quickly? What if you were forced out of your home due to flood, or fire? Where would you live? How would you stay warm or cool? I know it can sound silly to some, but an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and there is wisdom in learning from those who have experienced such hardships.

So, what about you.....tell me your plan B! How long can you go on the self reliance challenge?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

10 Simple Yet Powerful Ways to Heal the Planet

By now, most people know how destructive our actions have been to this planet. If you need a refresher, please check out this blog I wrote a while back, Learning to Live With Less . There is a video from National Geographic that will really give you a graphic image of what's really going on. Watching that video totally changed my life. I am happy to share with you some simple ways that make a HUGE difference and it starts in your own body and home. I think of my own body and home environment as eco-systems in themselves and to heal them as well. The tips I share below will improve your body ecology, the hygiene of your home and the planet. Here are my top 10 favorite and most powerful ways to heal the planet.

Consume Less
People are in the automatic habit of just buying what they want right then and there without any thought of how their mindless actions are affecting the state of our planets health, not to mention our financial health (see this funny SNL skit). Watch this video on "The Story of Stuff" before you make another purchase. Find out if the items you are wanting are available for rent or can be bought used before you make a new purchase. Of course, make sure this is something you really need and will use and won’t and up in the back of a closet or garage somewhere. Most of the time, if I see something I want to buy I don't impulse buy it. I will go home and if I really want it I will go back another day and get it. However, I find that 90% of the things I thought I wanted were not really necessary or I didn't passionately want the item. My home is my haven, I only want the best in it so I will keep space for things I love. I also find that owning less gives me more free time and I feel a sense of peace.

Reduce or Eliminate Disposables
Stop purchasing plasticware like water bottles, bags, plastic wrap. Don't forget paper products like plates, napkins, newspapers, get removed from the junk mail listings. This is all unnecessary waste. If you use these items then wash and reuse them. I prefer to re-use glass in my home, but I do have a few plastic items I reuse for example, my compost container.

Aim to have more in your recycle bin than in your trash bin. Know what is able to be recycled and what is not. Try to only use your recycle bin and not your trash bin and see how long you can go before needing trash service. My kids and I are doing an experiment to see how long we can go without using trash service and see how little we are dumping into the planet. It's exciting to see where we once had our trash bins full each week for trash service and now we are able to miss a couple of weeks and still not be overflowing with trash. Maybe I could start some sort of challenge to see how long a family household can go without needing trash service because they simply aren't wasting. Hmmm.....

Change Your Diet- Go Raw Vegan
If you have been following me for some time now this just seems like a no brainer. However, if you are new to my blogs PLEASE research how destructive consuming commercially raised animal products is to our planet! It is appauling what the practice of consuming these foods are doing! It is the NUMBER ONE way to really make a difference in the healing of our planet! If you are going to eat meat, find a local farmer who raises grass fed livestock and will sell to you. However, I just bypass that step all together! If you are a MAJOR RAWK STAR then take the next step and say NO to packages, boxes, & cans and say YES to fresh produce! Your body will be cleaner, your home will not need harsh chemicals to clean it after using animal products and your planet will thank you.

This is so easy to do and you’ll have lots of scraps if you are eating raw. It drives me nuts to see people tossing fruit and veggie scraps into the trash! I have 2 growing kids and we go through a lot of produce everyday. I use a simple large storage container with a lid that I keep in my kitchen to collect scraps. At the end of the day I take it out to the compost bin outside at night and wash out the container. The lid eliminates gnats or smells. If you don't have space for a compost bin in your yard, blend and bury the kitchen scraps... the worms will thank you!

Grow Your Own Edible Landscape
Check out the video "The Future of Food". This will inspire you to grow your own food. Put your water to good use rather than watering a toxic lawn. Great role models are the Dervae's in Pasadena, CA. I really enjoy GrowingYourGreens channel on YouTube. Not only will you get higher quality foods, you'll enjoy many varieties never found in grocery stores. I have found edible landscaping to be the ultimate for food connoisseurs.

Use Non-Toxic Gardening & Landscape Methods
Ditch the miracle grow and round up products!
Instead of round up use mulch to keep weeds down
Use compost instead of synthetic fertilizers
Ditch the toxic pest control and....
Use orange essential oils to deter ants
Use spearmint essential oils to deter flies

Use Non- Toxic Cleaning Supplies
For dishes and laundry I use Seventh Generation products.I also like to clean my produce with food grade H202. For an all purpose cleaner I use GSE & essential oils mixed with water and use a microfiber cloth. I polish wood with coconut oil.

Use Non- Toxic Hygiene Products
Instead of toxic toothpaste, make your own like shown in this video HERE
Instead of toxic mouthwash use, rinse with diluted food grade H202 and follow up with mint essential oils
Skin: FRICTION is the BEST cleanser! Use a skin brush, shower gloves and a microfiber cloth.
Instead of typical body wash, use Dr Bronner's Castile Soap or Tate's Miracle Wash.
Instead of typical lotion, use coconut oil or Shea butter.
Instead of perfume, use essential oils.
Instead of toxic deodorant, use salt deodorant.
Shampoo less and "dry poo" more with corn starch & good ol' friction again.

Reconnect & Spend More Time in Nature
This will give you a healthy respect for our planet and remind you to make honorable decisions
Go on nature walks & pick up trash.
Ride Your Bike-especially if the weather is nice and you are only traveling a short distance. Take eco-vacations and volunteer to preserve a beautiful location or organic farm with WWOOF.

I really hope you take the time to watch the video links and really see what we can do to make a difference. I am thrilled and honored to say that I am living very green. However, it seems I can always find more ways to go greener. So, please post a comment down below and share how you care for our planet.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Simple Ways to Improve Your Financial Life

Last year I wrote a blog titled, "Financial Slavery and Financial Freedom". Then, in my last blog post I shared with you that I had been doing a "Life Detox". One thing I did not mention was my financial life. In February I experienced a little taste of financial freedom when I paid my last car payment. That feeling of wanting MORE financial freedom inspired me to delve into my finances and see where I could make more improvements......and I did!

I pulled out my cell phone bill, my car insurance, home phone, cable, Internet connection and my last 2 remaining credit cards and went into research mode. Not only did I find errors, I was able to make corrections that will save me almost $5000 this year! This was shocking, and I got an adrenalin rush. How many other people are depleting their funds unnecessarily? When I realized it was about $5000 I began to realize how the pennies that were slipping through my bank account could add up to pay for a simple family vacation in Hawaii. Imagine receiving a family trip to Hawaii just for doing a little personal research on your finances...would you do it?

Here is where my $5000 was hidden.

Car Insurance
First I called my car insurance company. Since I now owned my car I wanted to change my policy from full coverage to liability, but in the process I had asked if they showed any driving violations on my driving record. I was glad I asked that simple question because they were charging me according to having 2 traffic violations on my record. So, they did a little research and found that I did not have any violations and that I had over paid by $620. By switching from full coverage to liability I would save another $427 a year. That comes out to $1047 just from my car insurance company.

Cell Phone
I looked into my plan and found that there was an error on my bill here too! I was being charged $50 more a month. It seems that someone entered things wrong in their computer system and they would have never corrected it if I hadn't called. By checking in and reviewing my plan I am saving $600 a month on my cell phone bill.

Internet, Cable, Home Phone
Originally I was calling on my home phone because I needed to change my long distance plan. Then the operator informed me of a promotion they were running to bundle my Internet, cable and home phone into one package deal. I have been paying for Internet and cable in one bill and my home phone on another. I currently was paying $110 for cable and Internet and $65 for my home phone. The bundle is a 2 year contract, but it comes out to $124 a month. This saves me $51 a month which in one year is $612.

Credit Card Interest Rates
I decided I had gone this far in researching my expenses, I might as well see what interest rates I was paying and if I could decrease the rate. Of course somewhere along the road my interest rate of 9% had been increased to 20%. I was paying almost $120 in finance charges on one account alone. This was very frustrating to realize. I'd much rather have that money in my pocket than just spent on my poor financial decisions and now in finance charges. I asked my credit card company if they would reduce the interest rate and they said very kindly, "NO". So, I looked into a balance transfer that offered a better interest rate. I found an offer for 10% that not only would I be saving $2367, but all the other saved money from the above accounts would allow me to pay off both credit cards (that total about $10,000) in one year as opposed to the typical 3 years one might pay off a credit card.

All these inquiries led up to a savings of $4626 over one year. All it took was a few phone calls and some curiosity. The scent of financial freedom has me hungry for more. I am now going back to a financial habit that I once was very dedicated with which was to write down my spending everyday. I always find that the pennies here and there add up and I tend to sacrifice the things I really want because I am blowing my money little by little on things that don't even benefit my life in a great way.

I really hope this blog post inspires you to take a look at your expenses and to check for errors and find ways that you can improve your financial life. Who knows, maybe one day we will meet on the beaches of Hawaii and toast to the mantra, "A penny saved is a penny earned."

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Detox Your Life

I can hardly believe that I have not posted a blog in over 8 weeks. Trust me, I did go through withdrawals and there were times I had things I really wanted to share with you. I apologize for the silence and I am happy to check in with you now.

My absence has been intentional. I have been going through what I call a "Life Detox". It is something I like to do at least once a year. I take time to re-evaluate EVERY aspect of my life. It helps me address and eliminate the things in my life that are distracting me from my life direction. In my last post I talked about conquering low self esteem. When I am feeling less than stellar over a period of time I know it is time to clear the slate and get a fresh perspective. I do that with a Life Detox.

From my last post, the main reason my self esteem dropped was because I was not doing what I know to be right. This is the fastest way to crush ones self image. In addition, I was not being intentional and I was filling my time with distraction and procrastination. That combo will get your spirit screaming and leaving you feeling frustrated. Think of it as a neglected baby who won't stop crying until you give them some love and attention. I really feel that anger and frustration are just symptoms of a neglected spirit. Denying your spirit is the fastest way to crush your soul.

When you ignore your truths...prepare to feel a slump. When you don't act according to what you feel is right then you have just denied yourself. We dull our light and want to hide in shadows. Shadows are OK because they give us the contrast in our life and we all go through times of ignoring our inner voice. However, you cannot sustain hiding and still feel amazing about this gift of life.

We Are Transparent
As much as we'd like to believe that we can fool others and hide how we really feel, we are only fooling ourselves. Everything in your physical environment is a mirror of your internal state. If you look around and see a cluttered car, home, room, garage, closet, kitchen, bathroom, etc., it is a good indicator that you are mentally cluttered and distracting yourself from your life calling. If you are shopping and buying unnecessary items or eating excessively, it is an indicator that you are stuffing your emotions. If we are complaining about someone else we are really just affirming how we feel about ourselves inside. We really are far more transparent than we think we are. With a quick observation of ones living environment, listening to the words spoken, the way one presents themselves, cares for their health, home, relationships or career is a huge indicator of ones self esteem and how much they are connected to their spirit.

I know this can sound like a blow, it is the truth. I have lived this myself. When you recognize you are off track and disconnected it is easy to do a Life Detox. This is a great way to steer your life into the direction you want to go without as many obstacles to remind you of who you were, so you can see who you truly are. We are all spiritual beings having a human experience. Our spirit is so powerful and yet when we ignore our spirit we start behaving like a crying baby.

A Neglected Spirit is like a Crying Baby
The fastest way I know how to "get the baby to stop crying" is to give some love and attention. I have to acknowledge "the crying baby" and in this case the crying baby is my spirit. Once you acknowledge your spirit, see yourself as you truly are, and what you deserve your behaviors follow in alignment. I reviewed my post "Walking Into Knowingness"

Align Your Behaviors with Truth
If you try to change your or behaviors without the shift in your paradigm you may see your behaviors as torture rather than TLC. For example, the raw food diet. When I tell people I am into raw foods they freak out and think I am missing out on all the "good stuff" and start naming their favorite junk foods. At times I would forget why I ate raw (which is to fuel my body with the foods that are species specific for optimal life performance) and would eat something that not only left me feeling digestively upset, but emotionally upset as well. It wasn't that I had a "weak" moment. It was merely that I forgot my intention and who I was. Once I saw myself as a magnificent human being here to do great things then I only desired to give myself the best of life. For me, eating raw feels like a feast for royalty rather than a form of torture.

Who We Are
The best way for me to shift my paradigm to remind myself of who I am is to read "Our Deepest Fear" by Marianne Williamson (which I refer to often). It really puts me back into perspective. I have shared it before, but because I feel this is a theme for so many of us I will share it again (and again). :)

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

With that in mind, how could we not see ourselves as brilliant and create an environment that allows us freedom to shine?

People tend to feel a false sense of security with holding their belongings, but truthfully, the more you own the more you must manage and that can be a time zapper and you can end up feeling like a slave to your stuff.

Over the past 6 weeks, I went though all my cobwebs and cleaned them out. I happily eliminated over 50% of my belongings and donated them to charity. I involved my children and taught them how much fun it is to give your unused things to someone who will love . I feel so much lighter without excess baggage to hold me down. I freed myself, my time, and my environment to that I could re-evaluate, prioritize, and re-connect with my spirit.

How to Do A Life Detox
Go through every nook and cranny of every thing you own, activities and actions you do, and relationships you have. Either remove or repair anything uninspiring, and address anything needing physical or emotional mending. Sometimes, just going through and detoxing your home spurs emotional healing.

Qualify Your Stuff
To determine what stays, put each item through a qualification process, much like one goes through to qualify for a home or car. However, instead of qualifying yourself, you are qualifying the item, relationship or experience.

Does it Reflect the Best Version of Yourself?
Most of the stuff we have does not reflect the highest version of ourselves. It's just the trail of our past experiences. It's time to thank those things in our lives for the purpose it served us at that time. It is now time to offer those things to someone else who will use them.

How Do You Feel When You See It?
Do you look at old clothes you once fit and feel frustrated?
Do you have a negative or painful past memory associated with it?
If you look at any item you own you must feel thrilled and honored to own it. If you do not, say goodbye. If you don't LOVE it, then it has got to go. You may start to feel like you won't have anything if you follow these guidelines. Know that you are creating space for a temple or private retreat and only the best can come into your space.

Kitchen Pantry, Refrigerator, and Freezer
Eliminate anything that do not fuel your body in the most honorable way.

Dining Room
Kitchen disposables such as, Paper plates, napkins, utensils. Start using reusable goods that inspire you to only eat foods that are worthy of you.

Bathroom & Cleaning Supplies
Eliminate toxic cleaning supplies and hygiene products. Start using items that are good for the health of your body, home and planet.

Media/Living room
Eliminate any music, books, magazine subscriptions, video games or movies portraying violence or any negative behaviors. Discontinue from watching TV shows that dampen your spirit. These things harden your spirit and distract you from seeing the beauty in life.

Electronic & Paper Clutter
Go through and clear out your paperwork, email, and voicemail.

Body Detox
Clear your body of anything that is holding onto unnecessary baggage with sweating, colonics, & fasting.

Activities/ Time Management
If you don't love it, don't do it. I am talking END RESULT here. Sometimes we confuse this, but we have to think about the end result of the activity.

If you feel like any relationship is burdensome or depleting you rather than fueling you, you may want to reevaluate the people you surround yourself with. You are the average sum of the 5 people you spend most of your time with. This includes your weight, diet, religious views, income, etc. If you don't like what you see you may want to find people that inspire you to make the most of yourself.

Once you clear your life you can take a good self examination and see where you can improve your life. I promise you will feel a sense of relief and feel a renewed sense of purpose from honoring your life and your spirit.

Stay on Track with Silence & Stillness
Without sounding too much like Yoda or Confucius, it is true that in order to go forward...do nothing. In order to do more....do less, especially when it comes to mental chatter and environmental noise. When was the last time you were in silence? What about not talking, turning off the Internet, TV, music, movies, books, etc. When was the last time you did nothing?

Doing a day of silence on a weekly basis is so nourishing. It was amazing what inspiration flows in when noise and distraction is eliminated. Remember our spirit whispers secrets. :) If an entire day seems like a leap, start with an hour of silence a day. Spend your time alone with yourself, start by journaling your rampages of appreciation, write out any concerns or roadblocks you feel you are experiencing. reading, resting, sunbathing, contemplating, cleaning, gardening, walking, doing yoga. In time you will be able to increase the silence. Soon you'll really look forward this time to listen to your inner genius awakening

Use Holidays as Reminders to Renew
Sometimes we can find ourselves back into old patterns and holidays can help us
refocus and remind us of what is important.

The Sunrise & New Year's Day
It's an opportunity to refresh and refocus on what we really want. I prefer happy new day when the sun rises rather than waiting for a new year! It's such a smaller bite to take and we should feel that EVERYDAY is a celebration! Are you waking up and feeling thankful that you have another day on this Earth to experience life? To live with meaning and love. To appreciate what we have. To appreciate the day as an opportunity.

Valentines Day
A reminder to show your love, appreciation, & admiration to those in your life.

Easter/ Spring
New life new beginnings, renewal, forgiveness

Independence Day
A reminder to release ourselves of our burdens and experience freedom in all forms including emotional and financial freedom.

An opportunity to share your gratitude

A reminder to give, share your gifts, shine your light with the world & contribute to the betterment of life.

May this inspire you to take time to align your life with what really matters and to create an environment that brings out the best in you. Cheers to Life!