Sunday, September 5, 2010

Pay Attention

It’s all about sustainability.  If you try to give up your car entirely, you probably won’t succeed.  If you try to live a plastic-free life, you definitely won’t succeed.  It’s like dieting.  When I was young, I was always trying to lose that extra 5 pounds. Okay 20 pounds. Whatever. I tried many extreme measures: hating myself, living on grapefruit or sauerkraut, giving half my paycheck to a gym for access to a class I hated. Ask my college roommate how the sauerkraut diet turned out. Eesh! None of it worked.

When I got pregnant with my first child, everything changed.  I educated myself about what I was eating and what I should be eating. I took the time to create healthy meals and made sure I was getting enough protein, vitamins, fiber and exercise.  I cared. 

I gained 50 pounds when I was pregnant, but I never loved my body more.  This body that I had all along could make a baby! It’s a miracle machine.  How can you not respect a body that can do that? Once I fell in love with my body, even my 50-pounds-bigger-than-usual body, the rest was easy.

I never dieted again. I remembered to take vitamins more often.  I ate more whole grains.  I took the stairs instead of the elevator. I began to mother myself: I looked after my body “kindly and protectively, with care and affection.” Remember, that’s the definition of mothering.  I gained 50 pounds when I was pregnant.  I lost 60 – one small choice at a time.

The point is that starving yourself doesn’t work. Swearing off plastic or driving isn’t sustainable. Baby steps work. Caring works. Mothering works.

Baby step of the week:  pay attention. Notice the cool, crisp fall air.  Think about how lucky we are that ours is the planet with the blue sky.  Smell the grass. Doesn’t the green go so nicely with the blue?  If you’re lucky enough to live near the ocean, get in.  If your lucky enough to live near the mountains, hike up. Look at your child.  Listen to her breathe.

Once you’ve been reminded that this planet of ours is a miracle machine too, pay attention to the choices.  Don’t do the guilt thing. Pay attention to other people’s choices. (Trust me, it’s easier this way.) Stand behind the row of cash registers at Safeway and notice the carts full of single use plastic bags going out the door.  Linger on the front lawn of your kids’ school and notice how many kids are being dropped off in cars or notice the cars on the road with only one person inside. Notice the water delivered in plastic instead of pipes. Notice the coffee in cups that will never be used again.

I know what you’re thinking:  It’s hard not to pay attention to your own choices.  It’s because you’re a mother and you care. 

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