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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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What Renews You?

I’ve been working a whole lot lately, which has made me cranky and a bit down on the world.  It has also made me forget (a little bit) why I live the lifestyle I live.

It’s so easy to re-enter the old normal, isn’t it?  Sometimes, not always of course.  But sometimes when you are so busy, it’s easy to get take-out, or eat frozen packaged food from many miles away, and shop til you drop, and drive instead of taking the bus or walking, and in general just buy lots of stuff because it seems easier…

Usually my redefined normal is enriching, renewing, and embracing.  But sometimes… sometimes it feels like deprivation.  It feels like if I just stopped thinking about my impact on the world, it would be so easy.

And yet just writing this is giving me perspective again.  The reality is that we are not the only ones on this planet.  The reality is that we have a large impact on other people, other species, and other generations of people and species.

The diversity on this earth is mind blowing.  And it’s shrinking.  That thought is devastating.

But we can do something.  We can do lots of little somethings.  And when we do lots of little somethings, we have a positive impact.  When we live as though we care (because when we think about it, we really do care about other people and other beings), we are happier and healthier and more enriched.

My husband is gone to the Middle East for a business trip, and so I’m alone at home at night.  It is so easy to consume as if the rest of the world didn’t matter.  I walk past so many people every day who probably don’t think about all this, who don’t worry about the impact of their consumption.  And it is so easy to say “why not just be like that and not care.”

But once you care, once you know, once you understand and begin to redefine normal… You can’t really go back can you?  Now if I buy takeout I feel guilty, because I know what it’s doing to the planet, I know I’m supporting an unsustainable model.

All this circuitous writing is to say that today this is what brings me back, this is what renews me:  you.  Writing and the ability to be heard and be understood  – i’s a very powerful thing to have people around me who care and share in my journey.  Thank you.

So, my dear friends –

What Renews You?

What keeps you on your path, or what gets you back on the path if you step off?  Is it thinking about the future, talking with friends, reading to your children…. what renews you on the path of sustainability?

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20 comments to What Renews You?

  • getting out and enjoying nature renews me more than anything, because it reminds me what we stand to lose if we continue our current lifestyles. Also nature is a great source of enjoyment and enrichment in itself, there’s always so much to see

  • My garden. Sitting amongst the flowers, digging in the dirt, smelling the Earth, weeding the veggies, feeling the sunshine. This renews me.

  • marie

    I’m going to blame you, honestly. I found your blog maybe 20 mins ago, from Down to Earth I think. I found that blog about 6 months ago and I’m getting off point. I started my own journey to live a life more sustainable two years ago. Started growing my own vegetables, cooking food from scratch and discovering green cleaning. I’ve being using the same spray for everything for about a year now. 1/2 vinegar, 1/2 water and a capful of tea tree oil. Looking at your posts I wonder if I can get by on a 1.3 ratio of vinegar and water. I’m getting off topic again. I can’t blame you for any of that, no it’s your posts of deordorant and shampoo I’m pointing my finger at. Ack! My shampoo has SLS in it! My deodorant has Aluminium in it! Suddenly an old gift box has turned into a new powder box and my near empty shampoo bottle has being emptied into the new one I had ready and now sits on standby while I test out your shampoo recipe. Now I just need another empty bottle for the vinegar rinse and its really all your fault. (And I mean that in the nicest way possible btw.)
    marie

  • Luckily the work that makes me tired and makes my life crazy-busy is also what strengthens my resolve. All I have to do is start thinking about what kind of world our children might have to live in. The garden, that’s what heals. Coming here, that’s one of the things that makes me feel not alone. Different kinds of renewal I suppose. Hope life is getting a little less crazy for you.

  • Just found your blog. Lovely work!

    Ironically, days when I have to take my grandmother to Walmart are very inspiring for me. I can’t stand to be around the atmosphere of large amounts of people buying things that aren’t good for them.

    Networking gives me energy and vision. (As an example, a few friends and I are in the middle of launching a resource group for organic/local food.) Spending time with other people who “get it” gives me validation and encouragement to share with people who at a different point in their journey of learning to tread lightly.

    Thanks again for your blog. Can’t wait to read through the archives!

  • Gardening, seeing nature, and seeing both through my children’s eyes. I’d write more but my brain is absolutely fried.

  • No, you cannot go back and that’s a beautiful thing. You were chosen to carry a message and sometimes that burden is going to suck. I feel renewed in seeing small steps in places where I never thought I’d see them (my boss is turning in her HUGE ASS Mercedes for something smaller – it’s a start). People renew me (I’m at BGI) and knowing that there are people like you to guide us.

  • Reading blogs like yours, definitely.

    And it’s true that you say we can’t go back. I would feel so guilty if I did something that I could have done greener.

    Keep it up everyone!

  • I have similar feelings and it is a constant challenge to stay with the mindset that we have chosen. The greatest task is to maintain a higher level of consciousness. Consciousness is the single most important factor in changing how we treat our world. To share the feelings and doubts we undergo is renewing in itself. What renews me is taking time out to let go of the heavy burden of paying attention to every detail that affects the world. One has to let go and indulge in something you really enjoy even if it is not the most environmentally friendly. We have to be easy with ourselves. Enjoying yourself is good for the environment too.

  • Laura

    I’d also say gardening and evaluating the take-out food I love to eat when I’m upset…then making it at home. Having some of it prepared, either in the freezer or in the pantry ready for me to just whip together when it’s just me sitting at home, in the chair, etc.

    Also, a good book, something completely outside of my comfort zone. I spend so much time reading about gardening, water storage, some of the classics, that I’ve missed out on enjoying reading. So I asked a friend to lend me some books and it’s really renewed my creative side.

    Also, I find hand-work (like embroidery or knitting) to be very soothing and relaxing. I can pop in a movie (rented from the library or borrowed from a neighbor) and just sit and get into the motions of each stitch. I find it to be very soothing.

  • My latest renewal while the cute guy was away for several weeks, oh the quiet, was local ice cream and a good book for dinner. It was a mini vacation without leaving the house.

  • I love the combination of brevity and depth of this post. What renews me…. Roger, my bicycle, animals, wildlife, and Lady Gaga’s music videos.

  • Lemongrass

    Birds hanging out at my back yard, doing their thing, a walk on the beach. Knitting, sewing or crocheting something very simple, while I listen to the music of J J Johnson.
    Reading a good book, after a long slow ride on my bicycle.

  • i’m often down in mood at the dark of the moon, and so often renewed by the sight of a sliver of a waxing crescent in the evening. it reminds me that i’m part of a cycle of tides and moods and flows, and that much of the time my ups and downs are natural and Okay.

    i’m renewed when i make it outside to wash my cloth wipes on a glass washboard that a friend gifted to me, when i remember what a quick and simple task it is, and how wonderful that it takes me out into the fresh air (yes, even if there’s snow outside! it still feels good to me).

    i’m renewed when my mind gets rolling in that creative direction, the mindset that embraces and sustains itself on the feeling that these changes will Sustain Us and it feels like if i keep spiraling in this direction, Anything is possible.

  • Rob

    What renews me??? Well honestly, when I stop in for a coffee with my friends after a half hour of friendship fellowship and of course two shots of espresso I feel renewed!

  • Gardening, good books and blogs like this one :), knitting (though I’m not so good at it), making herbal oils and such, watching the birds and other little creatures in my backyard (though I do wish the squirrels would stay out of my potted herbs and veggies); watching my children digging in the garden,planting seeds and tending “their very own” flowers :) and tasting the herbs and other green things … and finally a cup of tea and a bubble bath. Lots of things renew me, I guess!
    Blessings,
    Catherine :)

  • I can absolutely relate to feeling too busy and consequently tired and cranky! The odds of “slipping” in my attempts to create a more sustainable lifestyle really go up in those moments.

    What renews me is a conscious attempt to slow down, which is really a reminder to myself to STOP multitasking – the research is pretty conclusive that it doesn’t work, and it just stresses you out and makes you cranky. So I tidy the house, my desk, do the dishes, and enlist my husband’s help. I always feel so much calmer when there is less visual clutter. Then I employ some of my favorite self-care techniques – read something that isn’t assigned (I’m in university), like a novel or a few blog posts; go for a walk; take a bath; chat with a friend; work in my garden, etc.

  • Yes, yes and yes to so many things already mentioned (gardening, books, friends, etc.) but most of all, I am renewed when my little guy comes and climbs in my lap and says, “I love you mama” and gives me “three kisses.” My heart just melts and I know it’s really worth all the effort. And suddenly it doesn’t really seem like so much effort after all.

  • What keeps me on the path? Wow! What a loaded question… and the answer isn’t simple. It’s my garden, watching the birds (and my cats wanting so desperately to get outside to those birds) and my children. Mostly my children… My teenage daughter who now refuses to eat fast food… My youngest son climbing trees and poking at the creatures he finds in wonder… All of my children stomping in the muddy creek up past their boot tops. Spending time with people who ‘get it’ either in person or online. The power of knowing where my food comes from. All these things keep me in line and renew my sense of purpose and commitment to make a change.

  • Mmm… have I mention that you all renew me? Thank you all! I do just love reading your comments.

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