Green, frugal, sustainable, simple, healthy, happy... No matter what we each call it, we come together here to support and learn from each other.

We are preserving our planet with our lifestyles. We are creating sustainable communities for our children. We are living the lives we want to live. Please join us!


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!

Join Us Here, Too

Buy Sustainably

Join us in saving our family budgets and helping our local communities thrive.

10,000 Steps

With numerous environmental, physical and emotional benefits, what are you waiting for? Let's start walking!

Green Your Insides

For your family and our planet, start greening your own home.

Great Reading

On the eve of my 40th birthday

I remember when my mother turned forty. Back then, in the 80s, they called it “over the hill” and had black-themed party decorations and cards about how close to dead you already were.

When my mom turned 40 I was a teenager. I can’t even imagine what that would be like, to have a teenage daughter right now. She had also owned 3 houses by the time she turned 40. First she had a career as a teacher, and then she became a full-time mom. My dad had had the same job for close to 20 years. They were settled.

I live in an apartment – one in a series of rentals throughout the US over the last 20 years. I’ve been married for just 5 years, my husband is in school. I’ve got 3 degrees (nearly 4), I’ve worked in several industries and am making my way in a new one.

A client asked me the other day how long I’ve had my own company. I had to stop and think. “I’ve never done anything else,” I said. And he replied, “Wow, I’ve never met a serial entrepreneur before!”

I’ve never thought of myself as that. It’s just what I do. The epitome of what I do is unsettled. And impermanent.

This year my grandfather turned 100, and he too has been doing quite a bit of reflecting. I think there are points in our lives that society tells us are milestones. For me it was 14, 25 and 40. So far.

“I’m gonna be forty!” Meg Ryan. “When?” Billy Crystal. “Someday!” Meg Ryan. When I was young I watched that scene in “When Harry Met Sally” and thought 40 was such a distant future.

Why 40? I think it’s because when you’re younger you see 40 year olds as true adults. Old adults. People middle-aged, heading for retirement. People who have figured out where they’re headed in life and they’re on their way there.

So it’s only natural when you get to that age finally, to ask yourself “am I headed there?” If you then ask yourself “where?” it seems like maybe you have a problem. I don’t know where I’m headed. Am I headed in the right direction? I think so. I never dreamed it would be such a circuitous route though!

I’ve done a lot. I have worked with children in multiple capacities and ages (art camps, soccer refereeing, drug and alcohol recovery, day camps, housing projects). I’ve worked myself up in the film industry – first as a set decorator and art director and then as a documentary filmmaker. I’ve created multiple behavior change campaigns – for asthma, microfinance, sustainability, civic engagement and exercise. I’ve been founding member of a startup. And failed. And have done it again. I’ve helped multiple corporations and governments to plan and innovate over the next 10 years. And I’ve helped several successful startups get off the ground.

Oh, and I’ve written a blog. For 3 years. And as I hear from readers, it sounds like I’ve made a true impact here. (Thank you, for all of you, who have told me this – it means a great deal and keeps me writing!)

So here’s the whammy: I feel I’ve only just begun. I have a lot of life left to live, a lot to do with all the knowledge and skills I’ve picked up over the years.

And I haven’t accomplished what I wanted to yet. Not by a long shot. I want to create substantial positive change in the world. It’s what I set out to do back around the time my mom turned 40.

I don’t know how to get there. I don’t feel like I’m middle-aged, certainly not close to heading for retirement. I wonder how a teenager would view me now.

Is it all in the perception, or is the world different now?

A Year About Me - Month 10

Hello!  Long time no see – I’ve missed you all.  I apologize for my lengthy absence!  I have been working on me, as I promised you at the beginning of the year.

I realized almost a year ago that I needed to rethink how I was treating My soul, My lungs, My body, My relationship, and My mind.  I wasn’t nurturing myself and I was taking my self for granted.  As a result, I wasn’t very healthy.

Re-Visiting My Wellness Plan

In January, here’s what I said:  By the End of the Year I Hope To…

Lift my arms over my head!  How am I doing?  Well, at the beginning of the year, I couldn’t get much past lifting my arms to straight in front of me.  So sad!  And now I have just a few degrees to go before I can lift them all the way over my head.  That’s due to stretching, yoga, and an amazing massage therapist who has helped cut through years of scar tissue in my frozen shoulders.

Learn to live happily gluten-free.  I’m still gluten-free and getting used to asking about ingredients in stores and restaurants. I’ve even started becoming dairy free this month. My body LOVES it.  I was a size 8 in January.  Now I’m a size 2.  I actually haven’t lost a lot of weight, most of it has been inflammation.

Figure out my next career step.  I’m getting a whole lot closer.  I now have several clients who are all doing amazing work – it’s extremely gratifying to help them do their work better, and I’m feeling increasingly empowered and effective as a consultant.  You can see what I’m doing here.  Every week my feet are more firmly planted in the consulting and storytelling world, and my stress level decreases.

Reduce my medications for asthma to just the rescue inhaler.  I have reduced my asthma meds over the years from seven down to just one now, aside from the rescue inhaler.  I got rid of 2 of them just this year.  I think it’s going to take a little longer than I expected, but I have confidence that I’ll be able to get rid of that one too in 2012.

Exercise regularly.  I walk to work every day – that’s about 2 miles a day.  I was doing yoga about 4-5 days/week until I injured myself.  Since then I’ve been working back up to yoga by doing a few gentle or Yin classes, plus stretching and exercises.  I am going to take a few private classes so I can learn to modify my practice to take better care of my body.  So I still hope by the end of the year I’ll be back to doing yoga regularly.

Increase my number of social interactions.  I have done this.  Some.  Though I get busy.  And lazy.  Still.  I am saying “yes” more!

Decrease my number of negative thoughts, words, and actions.  I could work on this for the rest of my life, for sure.  I am a little better than at the beginning of the  year, but this is one that needs revisiting and recommitting.

Have a healthy garden we regularly eat from.  Since we moved closer to our p-patch, I have done a much better job of keeping it up.  The neck and arm pain has kept me from being the star gardener this year, but I am excited for the spring.  I think it’s going to be a good garden season.  And we have winter crops growing now, too.

Write more, and write about the things I want to write about.  Harumph.  As you can see, I have neglected my writing.  The arm and neck injuries again have been a big culprit.  But I have confidence it will be coming back over the next couple of months as the pain subsides and strength reforms.

Spend more time outside of work with my family.  Yes – I’ve done this!!  Hooray!  It has been incredibly enjoyable.  And one thing I didn’t have on my wellness plan but is becoming increasingly clear is the importance of spending time with myself outside of work.  I’ve learned to do that quite a bit more as well.

Become more in touch with my physical and mental wants and needs.  Yes, so this is an essential component of healing.  Every time I make progress in this arena, I find there is a new level of growing and learning.  It is fascinating and very rewarding.

Part of this is understanding that when I have neck pain, it’s not just about the neck, for example.  It is about the need for a new glasses prescription (I was leaning my neck to be able to see), long-term shoulder problems (not allowing my neck to heal), stress (tensing up without even knowing it), working too long of hours (putting added strain on my body), and more.

Reduce and maintain a lower weight that feels good.  I could lose a couple more pounds to feel really good, but I’m pretty darn close.  I’m much happier with my body today than I was a year ago.  Though to the point above, it’s not just about the weight, it’s about the diet, the inflammation, the exercise, and the mental wellbeing.


How About You?

How have you done with the promises you’ve made to yourself this year?  Have you stuck with them?