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All articles here are written by Melinda Briana Epler (that's me!) unless otherwise noted. I'm a documentary filmmaker, writer, and brand experience designer - I've dedicated my life to living a sustainable lifestyle and helping others do the same. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or thoughts for articles. Welcome!

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ALL CHALLENGE CHECK IN!!

Kathy reminded me that it has been an awful long time since we’ve talked about all the challenges!  So… spill it everyone – how are you coming??

The Growing Challenges

The Growing Challenge New! The Growing Challenge Advanced Edition – From Seed To Seed! The Growing Challenge: Evangelist Edition

I planted seeds in my new p-patch 2 weeks ago.  I’m experimenting with peppers and tomato seeds directly in the ground.  Who knows if they’ll come up!

My mom and I spent Saturday morning at the Seattle Tilth and Master Gardener plant sales, stocking up on seedlings for her garden and our balcony garden.  Neither of us had the ability to do seedlings indoors this year – due to travels or too much work.  But I’ll grow lots straight in the ground, and supplement those with organic seedlings!

Evangelizing wise, I’m here and pumping away on the blog, hoping to reel in a few more gardeners here.  I also spoke at Sustainable Capitol Hill a few weeks ago about urban gardening, I’m regularly writing for the city’s Community Garden Post (comes out quarterly), and every time I garden at my p-patch plot I talk to about  10 different people passing by!

Accomplish Your Dreams and Walk 10,000 Steps

Accomplish Your Dreams Challenge

I walk to and from work every day, and I now walk to my garden patch, too!  I very rarely drive now – it’s getting easier and easier to walk everywhere.  I’ve also lost several pounds, and shrunk from a size 12 to a size 6!  :)

As far as accomplishing my dreams, I’m pushing my new business forward and really really really trying to make that work for me financially, socially, and environmentally.  It’s growing, we’ve hired 6 employees with a couple more on the way soon, plus a few sub-contractors!  Each job we take on is more exciting than the one before.  On the path!

Green Your Insides and Buy Sustainably

The Buy Sustainably Challenge! I\'m Green Inside

Buying sustainably took a turn for the worse when I started working so many hours and Matt started graduate school.  I continue to find more and more locally-sourced products – there are very few things we buy regularly that don’t come from Washington or Oregon.  But… I’m eating a fair amount of packaged, organic food for lunches and even – gasp – dinners!  I can’t wait until the local farmer’s market opens up again – I think it will help considerably because I can eat a lot of raw fresh foods again.

As for greening my insides, I think I’m pretty much green inside and out.  That’s the one I’ve done pretty well for a while now, due to my asthma.  Soap, moisturizer, deodorant, shampoo, dish soap,… all our body products are low-impact on our bodies and our world.  Yay!

So How About You?????

Time-Saving Tips For Sustainable Living

When I asked you all recently what was the most difficult part of sustainable living, many of you said “not having enough time.” I will admit this is my number one issue as well. So let’s tackle it!

I have been perusing the internet searching for time-saving tips that are in line with a sustainable lifestyle. Below are the best ones I found – many of which I know…. but don’t practice. So over the coming few weeks, I’m going to tackle this list. Please feel free to join me!

And if you are one of those people who has begun to master the art of getting everything done that you’d like to get done, please tell us your tricks!!

Time-Saving Tips For Sustainable Living

  1. Give Up Perfection and Focus On Being Human. I am a perfectionist.  I want my garden, my home, my work, and my life to be just the way I imagine them.  That is to say, I want them perfect.  Like the movies, like advertisements, like the picture in the recipe book or the photo I took on my own blog a year ago.  Alas, it’s time to give up perfection for something slightly more human!
  2. Find Something Constructive That Releases Stress. Most of us have the urge to plop on the couch after a long day’s work in front of the television.  Even those of us who gave up television, might go through phases of watching tv or movies via the internet or video rental (cough, cough).  And while that de-stressing time is incredibly valuable, I will be looking for ways that help me de-stress while at the same time being constructive.  For example, reading my book for my new book group, or planting greens on our balcony, or looking up tips for saving time.  Some of you might find knitting or sewing or cooking does the trick.  I’m going to start working on the latter more!
  3. Keep a Notepad Filled with To-Dos and Ideas. Keep a running to-do list to keep track of what you need to do on a daily basis, and group your to-dos into logical chunks.   Write down ideas you have throughout the day (I do this with blog post ideas all the time).  Also make sure to keep these all in one place, so you don’t have search for them and so you don’t have ten to-do lists in various spots.  (Right now I think I have 5 or 6 running to-do lists in various spots on paper and on the computer!)  Finally, make sure to check off things you’ve accomplished.  That’s the best part!
  4. Play Speed Games. While a slow and deliberate life is important, there are likely some to-dos on your list that just don’t need to be done very deliberately, or you don’t have time to complete them slowly.  My sister and I used to play “speed dishes” when we were kids:  who could get done all the dishes fastest, without breaking anything of course!   Maybe play speed grocery shopping, where you focus on getting everything on your shopping list as quickly as possible.  Or play concentrated cleaning, or if you’ve brought a little work home for the night play speed work and get it done quickly.
  5. Delegate Tasks. Whether you’re at work or at home, sometimes you can delegate work to someone else and have it done more effectively and efficiently.  At work, teach your coworkers or interns how to help.  At home, teach your children – teach them to tidy their rooms and those of the rest of the house, to do the dishes, to clean the laundry, to mend, to walk the dog, and to water the garden.  I am incredibly grateful my mother taught me these things!
  6. Organize and De-Clutter. You should see my sock drawer!  Sometimes it’s full of nicely folded and matched socks, and sometimes it is an array of odds and ends.  I cannot believe how much time it takes me – let alone the frustration – to find 2 matching socks when the drawer is in disarray.  The same goes for anywhere I keep daily items.
  7. Prioritize and Be Ok With Not Doing Everything. At work in particular I find it difficult to say no when a colleague or employee asks for help.  At home too, I want to go to every social function and take advantage of every event in my building.  But sometimes I have to say no.  It’s a tough balance I’m still learning.  I believe the most important thing is to figure out my long-term goals, and make sure I prioritize the tasks that will get me there.
  8. Create a Routine. I always feel better when I get up at the same time each day, go to bed at the same time each evening, and have a pretty steady routine in between.  It helps me plan my day better and I don’t have to think so much about each element of the day.  Big bonus points when I make my lunch as a part of that routine: it’s cheaper, easier, healthier, and often saves time.  I might just try making it the night before…
  9. Cook In Larger Quantities. Whenever we fill the crock pot for dinner, I have my lunch ready-made the next day.  We’re not very good about eating the same thing for dinner two nights in a row, but we do freeze unused portions for later.  Ok, time to do more crock pot dinners!
  10. Calendarize. A year ago, my husband told me I needed to live by my calendar.  I hated the thought, and felt it was way outside of my personality.  But slowly, I started keeping a regular calendar and using it to prioritize my day, schedule my week, and see the big picture.  I can track my goals, so I accomplish the things I want to accomplish!  I don’t forget birthdays (much), or anniversaries, or important social events.  I can also see my husband’s calendar and know what he’s up to, which is surprisingly useful.  This is one thing I do pretty well – phew!

What else?

I want to say again that I truly enjoy living deliberately and slowing down when possible.  But with my own business still ramping up, I work more than I want to and don’t have enough time in the day to do the community building and living locally that I’d really like to do.  So over the next few weeks, I’ll be working hard on prioritizing and using my time more deliberately and effectively.  Please feel free to join me, everyone!

Also, please share what has worked for you as far as time saving goes – and special tips you’ve come across?

All Come Free! All Challenge Check In!!

Ok, I’m going to leave this post up for a couple of days as I turn it over to you all:  Is anyone out there still challenging themselves?  And are you enjoying it or is it a pain in the butt?  Is it changing the way you think about things?

We have a lot of challenges going on and I would love to hear about all of them!  So please, check in and say a word – share how you’re doing!

The Growing Challenges

The Growing Challenge New! The Growing Challenge Advanced Edition – From Seed To Seed! The Growing Challenge: Evangelist Edition

Accomplish Your Dreams and Walk 10,000 Steps

Accomplish Your Dreams Challenge

Green Your Insides and Buy Sustainably

The Buy Sustainably Challenge! I\'m Green Inside

Do Tell!

Come, don’t be shy!  Whether you’re formally signed up or not, come share a word.  Tell me – what’s working, what’s fun, what’s awkward, what makes you want to run??

Challenge Yourself To Accomplish Your Dreams

Accomplish Your Dreams Challenge

I thought about that title for quite a while, as I thought it might sound a little cheesy to some.  But then, I thought, why is that?  Why does working toward our dreams sound cheesy?

So I am owning my dreams.  And now I am going to live them.

How About You?

You made goals or resolutions for 2010.  You have life-long goals, ambitions, hopes, dreams… So DO IT.

We’re not getting any younger.  We’re full of excuses.  We never make time for the most important goals of our lives.  So now we will.

Join me.  Work hard to Accomplish Your Dreams.  This year, in 2010, I challenge you to set out to accomplish the dreams you have within you.

You don’t have to finish in 2010, but you have to take good, strong strides toward it.  Fair enough?

Sign Up

All you have to do is leave your name in the comments of this post.  And if you care to share, please also write what you are setting out to accomplish.  I think it will be really fun to see what each of us is going to accomplish.  Inspiring, I am sure.

Doodads

If you have a blog, or a refrigerator, grab one of these doodads and put it somewhere where it will remind you to keep working toward your goals.  If you click on any of these, it will take you to a larger version.  So pick the one that will get you pumped, keep you reflective, or be the bee in your bonnet – whatever you need to get you going!!

Accomplish Your Dreams Challenge Accomplish Your Dreams Accomplish Your Dreams

Who Is Accomplishing Their Dreams This Year?

  1. Vanessa (Retro Age Vintage Fabrics)
  2. Tree (Frugal is Green A Journey)
  3. Melanie J. (Embers Lighthouse)
  4. Kasi S. (Raw Growth)
  5. Sheryl Gallant (Providence Acres Farm)
  6. Red Icculus (Red-Icculus.com)
  7. Ashley (Our Little Apartment)
  8. Amy (Ribbons and Twigs)
  9. Ayse
  10. Alice from Dallas
  11. Rebekah (101 in 1001 Days)
  12. EnviroKat (101 Things in 1001 Days)

Still thinking about it…

  • Belinda – Please feel free to encourage! :)

Please sign up in the comments section below!