I can’t help myself.  As we edge closer to the new year we find ourselves talking about big changes while we sip our morning coffee or lay in the darkness of our bedroom.  Some might even call them resolutions.

It has been made apparent that the theme of this phase of of my life is to learn how to let go.  It was brought to my attention first when we participated in a drum circle at Magnificent Hill.  I went for Mike as he is the drummer, but I struggled with every aspect of playing the music and keeping a beat.  I was too busy thinking; I thought I was going to hold everyone back; I thought everyone would laugh at me; I thought I would look foolish; I thought everyone would grow tired of me.  As though she sensed it, the spritely pregnant lesbian leading the circle exclaimed, good naturedly, that I needed to “let go!”.  I couldn’t then and I struggle with it still; 3 1/2 years later.

All things seem to be leading us to a fork in the road.  It feels like it is time to jump in or get out.  We watched No Impact Man {on netflix.ca} for the second time last night and there was a moment when his mildly disgruntled wife was trying to bargain for something she wanted in exchange for doing the project with him a few months in.  It was then that she realized there was nothing she wanted.  She realized it made her a little sad to let go of the wanting and she wondered if it would just be a hole in its place.  She so perfectly articulated my thoughts and feelings on this lack of want.  Shopping has been a huge part of my life.  It was the chosen activity for my mom and I on weekends after we cleaned the house.  It was what I did after work.  It was what I did while waiting for my ex to make time for me.  It was what we did when we lived in the city without a yard.  It was what we did when we didn’t know what else to do.

Now we go to the store and I see a sea of mostly low quality, ethically dubious things we simply don’t need.  I look down entire aisles we no longer waste our time or money in; the cleaning aisle, the makeup aisle, the junk food aisle, the hair dye aisle, the diaper aisle, the meat aisle.  The list continues to grow as we realize new recipes,  skills, sources and make new goals.  It all seems normal until I enter the “real world” and see overflowing carts and it makes me wonder how I will connect with a culture based around consuming if I let go of consuming as much.  It is a little scary to let go of that part of myself.  What will fill that space?  Will I be able to carry on friendships without them feeling I am judging them for choosing different lifestyles?  Will I be able to let go of what others assume and think of us and our lives?

Big changes are in order for our diets as well.  Will we eat seasonally?  Locally?  Organically?  Will we finally cut out all the processed foods?  The wheat?  The sugar?  The unnecessary packaging? All conventionally raised meat?  This brings more fears to the surface as food has long been a form of entertainment and comfort in my life.  Old recipes give us a sense of self, family, and tradition.  How do I balance the old and the new?  What will I be without buying excess stuff and eating foods that have formed me.

In the past few weeks of self contemplation I have realized that what I struggle with most in making life changes I know in my heart to be right for my health, my family, our earth, my mood, my weight, and my well being is not about the deprivation of the stuff or the food, but about the potential loss of self identity and connection to the outside world those things provide.  I don’t want to ruffle feathers and lose the essence of me.

I am processing a few things and slowly, through writing and constant evaluation, the answers are showing themselves.   They come to me most often in the darkness as I lay, half asleep, open and wiser.

This New Years Eve, we will venture into the woods where a healing circle remains from previous owners and perform a releasing ceremony at dusk.  In the words of Pixie Campbell, “I’m looking forward to carrying the wood to the fire and freeing the stuck bits within myself.”

Wishing you clarity + bravery in the new year.

go gently + be wonderful


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  1. Posted December 30, 2011 at 8:58 pm by Joe kelly | Permalink

    One thing caught my eye. Your fear of losing a connection within a culture of consumerism. Connecting with people connected to consuming is not a direct connection with the person. You are very good at connecting with people in the first place so I really can’t see you missing anything you don’t already have.

    • Posted January 2, 2012 at 6:54 pm by erin | Permalink

      Thanks Joe.
      I think that is valid, though sometimes I feel like we put people on edge when we talk about our goals and ideals. Not that we are judging others and I am sure they have better things to do than judge us, but I wonder if we insult or alienate people unintentionally.
      I am having a hard time articulating what I mean, but thanks for writing.

  2. Posted December 31, 2011 at 7:49 am by Stephanie K. | Permalink

    Beautiful, thought-provoking post. I too have such a hard time making changes, evolving you might say…we cling to those old patterns out of fear. It is a fear of loss, isn’t it? Loss of self, loss of others’ good opinions of you, loss of “fitting in”. Then I remember that we just have this one life. I feel like this is the year for me, too. After years of making the same resolutions (lose weight, get rid of clutter, get finances in order) and failing, this year I resolve to be gentle with myself as I go about the changes with love and hope. We too will have a bonfire tonight, where we will burn away the bits we want to let go of. Thanks so much for your wonderful writing.

  3. Posted December 31, 2011 at 8:05 am by Beth | Permalink

    It sounds like you are losing your taste for the imitation and enjoying the real thing.
    The trick is to not be bound by a fundamentalism of non consumption – that can be as stifling as any other.
    Freedom comes in making your own decisions, mindfully and interdependently. And that is the course you are navigating.
    I don’t think you are giving up a thing. You want more, not less.

    • Posted January 2, 2012 at 6:56 pm by erin | Permalink

      Of course we’ll never really stop being consumers…it seems to be a constant and inevitable truth. Our goal is to consume as responsibly as possible.
      And I agree that being bound by any ideal is stifling.
      Thanks for writing Beth.

  4. Posted December 31, 2011 at 8:49 am by Heather | Permalink

    It definitely is a challenge trying to live a simple green life. I think that my family is in the same place as you are right now. We want to be better about the foods we eat, our choices, but it is definitely a struggle. I think that it is all about baby steps for us though. If we can make one small change for a few weeks, and then add another. And I also love to reflect and then look forward to the new year. It always seems like I can have a fresh start. I love that.

  5. Posted December 31, 2011 at 1:26 pm by erica | Permalink

    i feel so much of what you are saying. it’s as though they are my own thoughts. you are a few steps ahead of me, but i’m getting there, along with my little family. what an inspiration you are!

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