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How Have You Redefined Normal Lately?

Amaranth in Our Community Garden Plot


Good morning.  We have a lot of new readers lately, so I was hoping together we could give each other some new ideas for how to go about our lives a differently – deliberately and conscientiously.


A while back, I wrote about redefining normal.  I mention it occasionally, and I’ve tagged several posts with this term.  If you haven’t yet, I encourage you to read the original post.  Here is a bit more about redefining normal…


Redefining Normal


In each of us there is a fear or a level of insecurity that often keeps us from changing the way we do things.  Maybe we don’t want to rock the boat, or we have to keep up a “normal” look and act at work, or we don’t have time to deal with change because raising our children takes all our time and energy, or it even just seems weird to stray away from what we’ve always known.  But what we haven’t always known is that our planet is changing, that the things we put on and in our bodies are often harmful, and that we can make a difference even as we go about our daily lives.


Slowly we can change our lifestyles – one act at a time, one change at a time.  And even small acts make a difference.  Imagine – last year, I stopped using shampoo.  In one year, I’ve probably saved $100 by not buying shampoo and conditioner; I’ve probably kept 10 or 12 plastic bottles from being created out of oil, put onto trucks and shipped, and eventually gone through the recycling process; I’ve saved the crazy ingredients from being created, shipped, and made into shampoo; I’ve saved my skin from breaking out due to the chemicals in my shampoo; and I’ve shared that experience with several thousands of other people.  Even if  just 10% of those people make the switch, my small changes have multiplied by thousands.  And that’s just the changes that have happened during the first year!  Since I am sticking with this change for the rest of my life, the affects will continue to accumulate, becoming ever larger.

 

One act at a time, one change at a time.


Today I “wash” my hair with baking soda, and rinse it with vinegar.  That’s what I do now.  A few months ago, I traveled and forgot my baking soda, so I used the hotel’s shampoo.  It was strange, seemed artificial (those suds are made by chemicals in order to make us feel like it’s working – weird!), it dulled my hair and made my scalp itch, and I really didn’t like the smell that carried with me all day.


That’s not normal anymore – not to me.  To me, simple and effective baking soda and vinegar is normal.  My normal is no longer defined by a marketer – a marketer who tells me their shampoo is all that will work on my hair, that I have to look and act a certain way in order to fit in, that I need to strip my hair with shampoo chemicals and then try to put them back with conditioning chemicals…


My normal is defined by me.


And so I make small, incremental changes over time.  Once I get used to each one of those changes, I redefine what is normal in my life.  And when we all make similar choices, together we redefine what is normal in society.  Lo and behold, that is what changes the world.


So How Have You Redefined Normal Lately?


And feel free to add what are you thinking of taking on next. Please chime in!


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26 comments to How Have You Redefined Normal Lately?

  • As we were packing for our trip to Georgia this week, my daughter asked why I was bringing a bag of baking soda with me…my new normal also includes the ‘no poo’ hair care routine. I thought about foregoing it for a few days but that just didn’t feel right to me (what a change, I spent weeks missing suds, now I can’t imagine going back).

    Our new normal also includes being slightly embarrassed at the grocery store when we add things to our cart that I know I can make but maybe haven’t had the time. Used to be I was content filling it with organic, but now we are determined to stop filling it altogether. We are purchasing less packaged foods each month as we switch to homemade and home-grown. It just feels right!

  • There are so many things we’ve changed. I don’t even notice those changes unless someone points them out. Things like eliminating disposables from our home as much as possible. We are attempting to grow as much of our own fruits and veggies as possible(still a long way to go). We practice the 3 Rs a lot, but try to focus as much as possible on the first 2, so that the third is a last resort. We almost never go out to eat anymore. It used to be something we did several times a week. I rather like our normal.

  • We proudly proclaim ourselves as ‘not normal’, even my teenage daughter. Last week, I was at an orientation meeting with one of my children where we had to do a ‘get to know you’ game among the parents. I got the question: Where are all the members of your family on any given night at 6pm? That was an easy one. We are all at home. I was amazed that every other parent in the room was shocked that we sit down to dinner as a family every night (generally dining on food that is local or home grown). It makes me glad we’re not normal. I can’t imagine living the fast food, eating in your car lifestyle. Yuck!

  • LIke the others there have been many small things I have changed. I actually read your no poo method a while ago and now I just wash my hair with water and do the vinegar rinse, mixed with redbush tea ( Im not sure if this does anything, but there you go) and rosemary essential oils. I worked my way down to this and if for some reason my hair gets very very grimy I use bicarb.

    i also only eat fairtrade chocolate, easier now that cadburys dairy milk is fairtrade.

    As Heather says, there are so many things we do that its difficult to remember them until you start talking to other people in new circumstances, such as starting uni, as I did this week. Then its weird that others are not like me! Thats why I like the blogs – it is our virtual community, even if it is not reflected in our day to day lives.

    Jen

  • Rob

    As far as defining Normal; I always thought I was a little left of center- But through these blogs and community groups like sustainable Burien and “social websites”; I discovered there are a lot of like minded folks out there and I am right where I should be.

    My next thing is thinking about installing a solar water heater. Will be a major project (everything will have to be installed in the attic), and maybe start out small in the garage building when I install the sink, but it is doable.

  • Kim

    Normal is putting food scraps in the composter, where they will not smell up the trashcan.

    Normal is saving my warm-up water in a bucket, and my cats now drink from that vessel.

    Normal is making my own lotion once a month and never having rashes anymore.

    And what’s always been normal is now becoming abnormal, like flush toilets. It doesn’t make sense anymore to defecate in drinking water, when the rest of the world is dying from thirst. The next step in my evolution is to build a sawdust toilet, composting my deposits and begin giving back to Mother Earth what I’ve taken, and stop polluting her waters.

    It’s a scary step……and I feel abnormal, yet it makes sense to me and maybe eventually it’ll feel normal.

  • I had an interesting time at the fair with my parents and sister last month. After refusing to eat “liquid nitrogen” ice cream, my sister proclaimed, “What is with you?! It’s like BAM, now all of a sudden you’re a green freak.” I only see them every couple of months but for not enough time to really see the changes I’ve made over the past year.

    My husband and I built two compost bins behind our shed where kitchen scraps, leaves, and (sometimes) grass goes. We usually mulch our grass to feed the clippings back to the grass.

    We try to do everything ourselves from diy projects to cooking. We’ve lived in our first home for almost 3-1/2 years and have only hired a contractor once – to add a grounded electrical outlet in our kitchen.

    We make our dog’s food.

    I planted some herbs this year and will be planting more edibles next year.

    Although I haven’t gone no-poo yet, I made my own shampoo bars out of oils and e.o.. The worst part about it was the two months it took my hair to get used to it. Now I’m afraid to try regular shampoo.

    We clean with baking soda and vinegar.

    We have the materials to make rain barrels but haven’t put them together yet.

    We rarely go out to eat. If we do, we have a coupon or it’s a mystery shop. We cook at home. My husband has found a love of cooking with spices. I can’t remember the last time we bought a loaf of bread.

    Oh, and I get crap about this all the time from the family two hours away… “Have you fixed your car yet? One of these days you’re going to need it…” The ignition went out on my car last May and we’ve been living with only one working car. That REALLY bothers the families on both sides.

  • Normal? Well ‘our’ normal seems to confuse many of our friends and colleagues.

    Normal means composting everything we can to add it back to the veggie garden.
    Normal means cooked food scraps go in the wormery or to the dog.
    Normal means making our own soap and toiletries.
    Normal means that my husband and son use 1940′s style re-sharpenable razors rather than using disposable blades.
    Normal means re – using pretty much all the glass containers that come our way, for jams, pickles and storage.
    Normal means buying metal or glass containers or utensils rather than plastic.
    Normal to me means shopping at charity shops – really dont like big shops, never have done.
    Norma means eating local produced meat from our butcher (no horrible plastic trays)
    Normal means making our own cat and dog food, they eat better and far more cheaply than if we bought canned stuff.
    Normal means taking as much responsibility for us and our life style choices as we can
    Normal means loads of other things that I cant think of to list here right now !

    We think we are really lucky to have so many good ‘normal’ every day things going on in our lives. We are also lucky that in our spare time we are WW2 re-enactors and so many of the things that we do, were more than ‘normal’ then – people had to live by doing many of the things, either because of shortages or because of lack of money.

    There are many things that we have adopted from this era which are now just common place or ‘normal to us and so many of them save us money and time. Re-using and re-cycling then were the normal way to live.

  • Normal? Well ‘our’ normal seems to confuse many of our friends and colleagues.

    Normal means composting everything we can to add it back to the veggie garden.
    Normal means cooked food scraps go in the wormery or to the dog.
    Normal means making our own soap and toiletries.
    Normal means that my husband and son use 1940′s style re-sharpenable razors rather than using disposable blades.
    Normal means re – using pretty much all the glass containers that come our way, for jams, pickles and storage.
    Normal means buying metal or glass containers or utensils rather than plastic.
    Normal to me means shopping at charity shops – really dont like big shops, never have done.
    Norma means eating local produced meat from our butcher (no horrible plastic trays)
    Normal means making our own cat and dog food, they eat better and far more cheaply than if we bought canned stuff.
    Normal means taking as much responsibility for us and our life style choices as we can
    Normal means loads of other things that I cant think of to list here right now !

    We think we are really lucky to have so many good ‘normal’ every day things going on in our lives. We are also lucky that in our spare time we are WW2 re-enactors and so many of the things that we do, were more than ‘normal’ then – people had to live by doing many of the things, either because of shortages or because of lack of money.

    There are many things that we have adopted from this era which are now just common place or ‘normal to us and so many of them save us money and time. Re-using and re-cycling then was the normal way to live, it wasn’t suddenly invented a few years ago.

  • starting out small here – no great mover and shaker here I’m afraid
    normal is now putting all our food scraps into a food bin (at the moment it goes into our green waste bin, but will shortly being going into a compost bin)
    normal is sorting our recycling so that it all goes into the recyling bin, trying to buy less things with extra “stuff”
    Normal is starting to grow vegies again (because i want to eat the fresh stuff
    Normal is doing lots of reading on organic growing etc ( friends are now used to the books out everywhere)
    Normal is having a water reduced front loading washing machine
    Normal is using a bulk wash powder that is okay for grey water

  • Normal is…
    …updating our monthly carbon budget
    …knowing where all our food comes from; 85-95% local
    …2 flushes per day
    …making all our own yogurt, and jam to flavor it
    …teaching classes in canning, pickling, etc. the second Sunday of each month
    …choosing restaurants by “which one serves non-factory-farmed meat”
    …being sad I only grew 61,000 calories in the garden this year
    …heating only the part of the house we’re in, and thermostat set at 63 in the winter

    There’s probably more stuff that’s so “normal” to me I can’t even register that it’s not normal for everyone!

  • Kristin, I’m starting my third year without owning a car. I would have sold the car sooner if it hadn’t been for my families worries and fussing. I wish I’d sold it sooner. They’ve settled down. I think it helped them that I had plans for whatever scenarios might come up and I just kept reminding myself that they fussed because they loved me. Life without a car is feeling pretty normal to me now.

    It feels normal now to think of lettuce as a seasonal food, that my books and movies mostly come from the library, and that a rag works just as well for painting as a paintbrush. Still need to do something about the sweet tooth. At least it’s organic and fair trade. :)

  • Normal for me these days is growing as much food as I can manage, in a home that isn’t my own. And halving our budget deliberately. And monitoring our petrol use. And being on 100% renewable energy. And re-using everything!

    The gardening in pots especially is new to me. It’s particularly new because I’m dealing with growing things in a completely different climate, so it is all new plants I’ve never grown before. I’m having to deal with frost tolerance and stuff that I never knew about. Everything is having to be re-learned.

  • At this present moment, redefining normal means explaining why I’m not going with my co-worker to get a flu shot. Actually, I just sent her a link and her reply just popped up a second ago. Haven’t read the message, but it starts, “Oh please, these are the radicals that…” That’s all I can read of the message.

  • Wendy, what are your reasons for not getting one? Although I’m considered high risk due to “seasonal” asthma, I plan on not getting one as well. I think the swine flu shot is being rushed to market. I haven’t gotten a flu shot since I left home. I was fine until last year when I got it twice. Big pharma will benefit big time from this one. Someone blogged about the economies of it – $100 million people spending $20 on the shot – $2 billion.

  • Ooops, I MEANT… 100 million people spending $20 on the shot = $2 billion.

  • Went from Vegetarian to Vegan…the switch was easier than I could have imagined. Tweaked a few recipes to replace eggs, learned to make cashew and almond milk…It is now my new normal.

    I haven’t bought a loaf of bread in almost a year, I now keep my wheat grinder on the counter, the new normal.

    My kids think getting cookies out of a bag from the store is weird…now that is my kind of normal! Kim

  • becky

    grace lee boggs, 94 year old going strong activist from detroit, was on democracy now! on friday. you’ll never guess what she was talking about… what’s the answer to all these economic, health, environmental problems we have on our hands? what is in fact already happening….a revolution already underfoot…it’s called …Redefining Normal! caring about our own health, caring for each other, the food we eat, lcaring for our homes and neighborhoods, looking locally to meet our needs, redefining our needs. here’s the part you can’t help but notice–how absolutely radiant she looked just talking about it!

    here in our home, we continue on the path. at the sierra club meeting i learned florida has the highest use of electricity in the country. (almost all our homes/appliances run solely on electric power, and many homes here use their a/c units 12 months of the year.) residential use is 51% of the power used in the state. so conservation could make a huge dent. since normal for us now includes all the “easy fruit” i didn’t pick up many new tricks except this one- turn off the electric hot water heater. we have two units- one for the kitchen half of the house. one for the bathroom we use. so i plug in the small unit a couple hours before we shower. then unplug it afterwards. i use a tea kettle to add hot water to the dishwashing each night after dinner, and plug in that unit only when i have a dishwasher load to run. so far it’s a very easy new habit to take on. i’m eagerly awaiting our next bill to see the results. redefining normal among countless other things, is celebrating every month’s efforts at conservation, chopping away 1 kwh at a time.

  • Wow, I am overwhelmed. Have you all read each other’s comments? So amazing to read all the great things we are doing. It truly does all add up.

    Katrina, we all start small – no worries! Though I must say some people wouldn’t think these things you’re doing are so small. Keep pushing forward! : )

    Kristen, very interesting. However, having asthma myself, I wonder how much more the pharmaceutical companies would make if I didn’t get the shot and was sick for several weeks… Let alone my own suffering. I think it’s still worth it to me.

    And becky, awesome – thank you for sharing that!

  • I’m nowhere near anyone else — my “redefining normal” is being okay with myself for being an introvert and only being able to stay at a party for an hour and a half before fleeing to my room. But I’m also redefining my normal by speaking out and asking lots of questions of my instructors. Nothing to do with environmentalism, but at least it gives me practice in redefining *my* normal…

  • Lily Walker

    We have installed a solar water heater at home and it is also as good as conventional water heaters.’.~

  • Hannah

    Normal is nursing my 14 month old.
    Normal is putting food scraps on the compost.
    Normal is using cloth diapers on my little guy.

  • Jen

    I just found your blog today and tried the baking soda and vinegar method, which has already been a success, so this is now going to be my normal, which I think as a private activity isn’t much of a jump.

    I am 23, almost 24, and I have never bothered to get my driver’s license. I walk, take the train, ride the bus, bike, or get a ride. This has always been my normal, but in my area all teens would immediately get their permits, so I get a little flack for it.

    My husband and I make most of the gifts we give for holidays, which is unique to our friends and most of our family, but it is definitely enjoyed by all.

    We try to cook and bring our lunches to work so save money and because I don’t want to be eating food with nasty additives in it if I can help it. It is hard to buy organic for us because we don’t have alot of money, but we do when we can. Mostly we like to buy from local farms and orchards :) I can’t think of any other normal I’d want to have.

  • liz

    my normal…

    cooking everything from scrach
    composting everything i can
    recycling everything that absolutely cant be used again
    using bakeing soda to brush my teeth and as deoderant
    only flushing the toilet a few times a day
    not using disposables like napkins kleenex
    using reusable cloth menstral pads
    eating a strict vegan diet
    growing as much food as i can
    riding my bike to work
    taking bugs back outside rather than killing them
    slowly reducing the plastic in my life
    cleaning my house the natural way – with vinegar baking soda and lemmon juice( incluuding my dishes… theyve not seen suds for a while)

    also im saving my money for an old school safety razor
    and i cant wait to try the no-poo method next time i shower (which is only about twice a week)

  • no ‘poo!!! i love it! your’re really changing the world one little step at a time!

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