Thursday, June 25, 2009

To Crazy and Back Again

The Adventures of a Rehabilitated Eco-Nut

Please welcome back from retirement, my first blogger love, Burbanmom. She always made me laugh. She frequently made me think. And she sometimes made me cry. The Booth is beyond excited to have Burbs stick her big toe back into the blogging world with today's guest post. - Green Bean

So... where were we? Oh yea, I was hanging up my keyboard in favor of "real-world" interaction. And I must admit, it's going just swimmingly.

I am BEYOND excited to be back in school - I already have two classes under my belt and I'm starting another class next week... The kiddos are out of school for the summer and we are having more fun than a bucket full of iguanas... Hubby and I actually had a grown-up get-away last month - the first in almost two years (ok, it did end in him in the hospital with kidney stones, but other than that little incident, it was a really nice time)... And the Environmental Committee is up and running and doing all sorts of good stuff.

All things told, this "real-world" is a nice place to live. Real nice. I'm surprised it took me so long to get back to it.

What am I talking about? I'm talking about the 18 month hiatus I took from my real-life to be a raging lunatic eco-nazi. During that year and a half, I made myself absolutely nuts - tracking every drop of water, tallying kilowatts, measuring garbage, counting "2 pees and a poo". Seriously. What sane person counts 2 pees and a poo?!? That is just not normal. To top it all off, I was spending hours upon hours blogging about my insane pursuit of environmental perfection - instead of spending quality time with my husband and kids.

So what are you saying 'Burbs? Are you saying that we shouldn't try to save the planet? Are you, at this very moment, packing up a case of bottled water and driving a Hummer up to Antarctica to hunt baby seals?

Don't be ridiculous. Baby seal hunting season doesn't open till November.

What I'm saying is that I was driving myself (and my family) nuts trying to single-handedly save the planet. I pushed all of our collective wants and needs aside in an attempt to help the environment. And do you know what I got in return? Satisfaction? well, yeah, sure... but mostly I got stressed out and frazzled. And you don't want to see this OCD, addictive, Type A personality, wreck of a work-at-home mom when she's stressed out and frazzled.

But I do want to make this clear: I'm not bashing eco-nuts. I was one. In fact, a lot of folks would say I am one. After all, I still compost. That's weird, right? I still bring my own bags. I still conserve water and electricity and gas and I still shun disposable, single-use beverages. I even went and got myself a Diva Cup. Let's face it, compared the Joneses, I'm a living life on the enviro-fringe. So why, then, am I declaring myself sane if I'm still doing many of the same things I did when I was downright certifiable?

Attitude. It's all in the attitude, my friends.

During my uber-eco phase, hubby would go in to brush his teeth and the sound of the water pouring down the drain as he brushed was like the screeching sound of a bad set of acrylics on a chalkboard. "When. Will. He. Shut. It. OFF?!?!?!?" But now? I don't even hear it.

A year ago, if the bagger at the grocery store put my ice cream in a plastic bag before placing it in my canvas bag, I would jump on him. "No plastic bags, please!!" Not only that, but I would stew over it all day and bitch about it to anyone who would listen. Now, I just accept it and move on. Hey, he was just trying to be nice and you know what, I can use that bag when I'm walking the dog.

Last year, people waiting at preschool with their motors running on beautiful 70 degree days would make me feel all stabby. Now, I just smile and wave at them as I sit outside enjoying the weather. Sometimes they join me. Sometimes they don't. Their choice, not mine.

Their choice. Not mine.

One more time for lots of added emphasis:

Their choice. Not mine.

I can't change others and it's not my job to try to do so. People will do what they do. They will make their own decisions and I have very little control over the choices they make. But that doesn't really matter. Know why? Because I'm happy with my choices.

Very happy.

Happy to be enjoying time with my family and not lecturing them about the corn-syrup laden snacks they're eating. Happy to be back in school and not worrying about whether I can find a used copy of the required textbook. Happy to be hanging out with friends and not twitching when they don't bring reusable mugs (or don't even own one - GASP!).

Happy to be living lightly - but not obsessively so.

I'm just happy to be happy again. Because feeling happy beats feeling stabby any day of the week.

So my advice? Do what you can to help the environment. But don't make yourself crazy. Enjoy the journey and be happy. Because if you're not happy, life is just a very depressing series of counting pees and poos.


- Burbs


Condo Blues said...

Welcome to another less publicized size of green living. I've been doing the green before we called it green. I learned early on that if I concentrated so hard on my mistakes, I'd never celebrate my successes and that I'd drive myself and everyone around me nuts! That's not so say that I don't challenge myself or my family, or that we don't try new things, we do. I'm just more honest with myself when it comes to finding out that something isn't quite working for me and mine and to look for a modification.

Green Bean said...

I have to admit that I've toned it down quite a bit as well in the last six months. I no longer panic if I'm handed a plastic bag. I don't hate friends who drive SUVs or shop for new instead of used clothes. I can actually vacation with my family without hyperventilating over them buying my kids a few souvenirs. It's nice to be a bit more normal and a smidge less nazi/nut. Though, it does still drive me insane when hubs idles the car. Then, I cannot stop myself from switching off the ignition.

All in all, I think you've got the right idea. We cannot live forever in that state of true eco-nutdom. Who would take us seriously? How many friends would be have? How happy would we be?

Thanks for the guest post and for reporting in on enjoying your less nutty life.

Heather@TheGreenestDollar said...

I think most greenies go through the same thing at one point or another.

You discover eco-living, then ramp it up as you get REALLY into it, and then it becomes like some obsessive contest. You begin to be so worried about spending time in the shower (all those drops of water going uselessly down the drain!) that you can't ENJOY the shower anymore.

I went through the same phase. And, I've dramatically chilled out lately.

I'm still green. Big time. But I'm not obsessing.

And I think that's the best way to be. Thanks for bringing up this great issue.

JAM said...

Burbs - I've missed you! And I've been thinking a lot of the same things lately. I get mad at my family for forgetting to flush with shower water, I've switched to cloth wipes which gives me another thing to deal with, sometimes I'm just getting overwhelmed. Maybe I need to look at my life and figure things out a bit better too. Come back and guest post whenever you want - I love to hear from you.

Beany said...

Burbanmom! I missed you too. You always made me laugh. I'm still trying to find balance instead of going nuts. And I am trying to spend more time with people offline instead of online...creating community and all that. I have sinister plans of having everyone I know riding their bicycles and eating local, organic food all year round. But I'm keeping that on the down low...

I can't remember who my first love was online..crunchy chicken? Arduous? Burbanmom? Orgie needle? I think I spread my love all around.

Kellie said...

I'm experiencing the same sort of return from eco-nazi-ness at the moment. Glad to have you back Burbs - you've been missed!

Green Mamma said...

I couldn't agree more. This is where I find I'm at with my journey and learning about caring for the environment. Besides not wanting to make others crazy (especially those with good intentions), I don't want to make myself any more crazy than I have to be, :-)

Still, I feel like I needed to go through the eco-obsessive phase to get to where I am now, where living with mindfulness of having less of an impact on the earth is something like second nature.

Oldnovice said...

Still, I feel like I needed to go through the eco-obsessive phase to get to where I am now, where living with mindfulness of having less of an impact on the earth is something like second nature.

My sentiments EXACTLY, but I could have written ANY of these comments (or even the original piece).

Green Resolutions said...

Do you guys think blogging about green makes the transition to sustainable living more stressful?

Green Bean said...

Green Rez: I don't know about more stressful. It certainly makes it more motivating. I think there is a bit of "someone may be watching" or "this is not practicing what I preach" sort of thing. Probably weighs in both directions. Do you feel it makes things more stressful?

kale for sale said...

I'm going to carry this post in my pocket so the next time I'm tempted to reach over and turn off the water streaming down the drain I will breathe instead of scream. Thank you! Although honestly I may still turn it off, I will just do it without screaming. Do you think strait jackets are made with organic cotton?

Daisy said...

Excellent philosophy! You're still doing right by our planet and acting as a good role model for others, but you're no longer sending your own blood pressure soaring. Keep it up; you and I will be the ones carrying our own bagas to the farmers' markets until our own produce comes ripe.

Burbanmom said...

Thanks to all for the comments. I thought I'd have a few folks flaming me, and am happily surprised to find so many other folks floating in the same boat!

Big THANK YOU to Green Bean for letting me come back as a guest-poster on GPB. Keep on keepin' on, all!

- Burbs

Jess said...

I really have to tone down my corny syrup rants. That one really hit me close to home. Enough already. I think *everyone* knows how I feel about it by now! I solemnly vow to shut up about corn in all its forms for....the rest of the year! LOL. (I'm also working on realistic goals).

Chile said...

Save your flames for the BBQ this weekend, Burbs.

I hear what you're saying and certainly get it. It's one of the reasons I didn't ever join the Riot for Austerity. I knew tracking the numbers would drive me nuts and then I'd drive everyone else nuts. I cut down where I can, keep learning new ways to conserve, but try to also live life.

Do I expect everyone to live like us? Well, it'd be nice but it just ain't gonna happen. My stressing out about that accomplishes nothing but making me stressed out.

Live your life. Set a good example. Share what you do and hope others decide to make changes in their lives, too. Nice to see you back online.

Pure Mothers said...

I love this post. My new mantra is "Their choice. Not mine." I feel myself teetering on that edge of eco-nazi-ism sometimes. And life is not enjoyable. Nor is it enjoyable when I am contributing to the world's pollution and suffering. Balance is key. I am happy to be reminded of this with your fantastic post.

"Their choice. Not mine."

We just installed our water filtration system tonight and Arrowhead is going bye-bye. Happy about that too. :-)

I was proud of myself for being relaxed at my in-laws the past 4 days, particularly when a plastic wrapped cucumber emerged from the fridge. I just gratefully ate it. :-)

Leslie Hawes said...

Burbanmom...I will stop counting pees and poos immediately.

Daisy said...

Balance is the key, isn't it? Well said. I'm still working my way into more sustainable practices, but I don't fall to pieces if my coffee cup isn't reusable or my beans come from the grocery store's freezer section instead of my own freezer.
Now if only I could give up coffee altogether....nah.


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