I’ve Gone Full Granola

by Amy on January 25, 2019

Just over five years ago I stopped drinking alcohol.

What I didn’t anticipate was how much my life would change. One tiny change turned out to be a tidal wave. I lost weight. My sugar cravings went away. I started to exercise more. I STARTED PLAYING TENNIS AGAIN!!! I dealt with a lot of emotional stuff I had been avoiding. I learned so many things about myself. I could go on and on.

There are some habits that spark a tidal wave of other habits. Charles Duhigg, author of “The Power of Habit,” calls them KEYSTONE HABITS. I imagine there are good and bad keystone habits. I remember when I used to smoke. That habit led me to STOP exercising (too hard to breathe), I didn’t pay attention to what I was eating, I stopped hanging out with non-smokers, I drank more to go with the smoking, etc.

My choice to stop drinking booze was a POSITIVE keystone habit. They say that making your bed is a keystone habit. Apparently people who make their beds are more likely to like their jobs and exercise… Really? And families that eat dinner together supposedly have more confident kids with better grades… Someone explain that to me…

Well I stumbled upon ANOTHER keystone habit that in the space of a few short weeks has already dramatically altered my universe in tangible ways. Real changes for the better. NOT correlation. Causation.

By now you are wondering what it is right?

Take a deep breathe because some of you might not like it.

ZERO WASTE.

Yes, people, I have gone full granola.

Since the beginning of the month I have been fastidiously bringing my own bags to the store, shopping the bulk aisles, forgoing packaged products and making my own fucking laundry detergent.

You know that scene in The Matrix when Neo swallows the red pill (or was it the blue pill?) and all of a sudden he can see all this scary shit? Stuff that has been happening all along but suddenly he is aware of it.

It’s like a switch flipped in my brain.

All of a sudden I am standing in the condiments aisle at Whole Foods and I’m thinking, do we really need this much stuff — this much packaging, this many choices, so many kinds of mustard?

In reality though the change that led me to go full granola was more gradual. After reading an article about how recycling isn’t working — too many manufacturers doing different things, different protocols depending on the region, stuff that looks like it can be recycled but really can’t be (like paper Starbucks cups! What?) mucking up the system. All those pictures of sea animals being injured by pieces of plastic packaging. Articles about the ocean filling up with plastic.

And then Christmas. All that stuff. I’m raising my kids to consume at a pace that isn’t sustainable and they won’t know any better unless someone teaches them a different way.

Not to mention the chemicals in all those cleaning products leaching into our bodies and into the earth.

I read the average American produces around 4.4 lbs of garbage every day. Let me just say that in my household it was probably double that. I LOVE garbage service. The way I can put all my rubbish into the bin, drag it to the curb once a week and POOF it disappears. But it doesn’t disappear, does it? It just goes somewhere else, where I have the (white) privilege of not having to see, smell or deal with it.

So this former queen of consumption who loved shopping, shopping, shopping… The gal who never brought her own bags to the grocery store, who rolled her eyes at people with their own mugs at the coffee shop, who thought she needed all the condiments…

… is now making her own laundry detergent.

I decided to try going Zero Waste as an experiment. I honestly didn’t think I had what it takes. Could I consistently remember my own bags? Would it be too time consuming? Would the rest of the family join in? Would people roll their eyes at me when I bring my own mug to Starbucks?

We aren’t totally Zero Waste and I don’t know if we’ll ever be. But let me be clear, it is a KEYSTONE habit. Here are 10, mostly unexpected, things that have changed for the better after going almost Zero Waste:

1) Eating healthier – Yes I’m eating healthier because I’m not consuming processed foods but my kids you guys! They are eating so much better too. They swiftly developed a preference for fresh baked bread (that I buy at the bakery) and home made kale chips to the processed stuff we used to eat on the regular.
2) I am spending more quality time with them too – because we don’t buy cookies that come in a package, we are making cookies together at least once a week. My kids are getting into baking and we have a new thing we like to do together.
3) We are bonding as a family – I never expected my kids to embrace this zero waste stuff but they are totally into it. We celebrate each time I come home and show them all the ways I avoided buying stuff in packaging. They are having fun problem solving with me and figuring out ways we can conserve.
4) We are learning new things – like how to compost, and how to make kale chips (so easy) and what food has the most vitamin C (so we don’t purchase supplements in plastic containers).
5) We are saving money – Seriously this was NOT my motivation but I am already seeing my grocery budget shrink. Instead of buying a big o’l plastic bin of TIDE from Costco for $20 I threw together some ingredients and made my own. It adds up!
6) My house is tidier – I read Marie Kondo’s book a few years ago and followed her method. It was life changing (but not sustainable). It didn’t take long for things to get cluttered again. Because I was still consuming at the same pace. 
7) Style – I just have to say that a glass jar of white powder is much prettier in my laundry room than a big orange bin of TIDE detergent. Zero waste is so stylish. It makes me happy to remove all the commercial branding from my shelves.
8) We are doing Something – I have felt so overwhelmed and helpless when it comes to the environmental situation. But now I’m doing something. I’m making a political statement through my purchase decisions. If enough of us start saying NO to excess packaging, manufacturers are going to notice.
9) I am teaching my kids – My kids are thinking twice about single use items like juice boxes and straws. Not because I’m making them but because they want to do their part for the earth. 
10) Feeling closer to the earth – Most of the stuff we throw away now goes into compost which then turns into dirt which will eventually help us to grow our own vegetables (fingers crossed.) We are learning this through actual experience. Me and the kids. And it’s helping us develop an appreciation for the the cycle of life.

Going zero (or low) waste isn’t perfect. Tonight I’m making pizza dough from scratch to avoid buying dough in plastic bags and I’m off to Fred Meyer to see if they will cut me a slab of mozzarella so I don’t buy it prepackaged. But, really, it hasn’t been as time consuming as I thought.

The hardest thing about it so far has been trying to find zero waste birthday gifts or zero waste valentines. And who knows what I’m going to do when the twins turn eleven in February. Or having to explain why you won’t be bringing juice boxes after the kids’ basketball game without sounding like an asshole.

If you want to learn more about the zero waste movement, check out Bea Johnson’s book, Zero Waste Home.

Isn’t it pretty?

{ 2 comments }

To the dreamers…

by Amy on January 10, 2019

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a gymnast. I remember watching the Summer Olympics and seeing those athletes launching through the air on the uneven bars or bounding through a floor routine. The sight of them filled me with awe and a yearning.

But my parents didn’t have the extra cash to enroll me in gymnastics or the time to drive me back and forth to classes. And, besides, I didn’t even know it was possible for someone like me to learn gymnastics.

When I was in high school, I wanted to study abroad. But I didn’t think my parents could afford it — I didn’t realize that I could have paid for it myself with a part time job. So I never considered it a possibility.

In my first of college I met with an advisor who asked me what I wanted to do with my life. I told him I wanted to report the news on TV. “Oh well, that’s just a job for models,” he responded dismissively. So I never pursued a career in journalism.

When I lived in LA, I dreamed about being an actor. But I didn’t know how it worked. How do I audition? Do I need to join the Screen Actors Guild? Didn’t I need to train with somebody? So I never bothered to try.

I’ve talked myself out of a lot of things in this life. Things I thought were not available to the likes of me. Things I thought I couldn’t afford. Sometimes out of fear of what others would think, sometimes because I knew other people didn’t think I was capable, sometimes because I didn’t think of myself as capable. Often because I just didn’t know how to begin.

I have always wanted to write a book. I have been told in so many words that I wasn’t cut out for it, or that I wasn’t a strong writer or that the likelihood of success is so minuscule that it wouldn’t even be worth the bother.

I have compared myself to other writers and found myself to be far too inexperienced and un-literary-like. I have felt lost in a sea of publishing options and agents, writing advice and literary jargon.

But this time, I won’t talk myself out of it. No matter how much I do not know. No matter my inexperience and lack of credentials. No matter what the experts think of my writing. No matter what other people think is right for me. No matter the odds of my success.

Because I know better now.

Because I would rather fail at something I tried that regret never giving myself a chance at all.

Because if I don’t give myself permission to dream then what is the point of any of this?

What are you dreaming about?

How about this time, you actually give yourself permission to go for it?


{ 5 comments }

New year, no goals

January 3, 2019

Happy 2019! New Year, no goals… I’m going to do that thing where I look back at 2018, the highs and the lows, then talk about what I want to experience in 2019 (maybe not in that particular order). But first let me just say that my attitude towards goals has changed. I like to […]

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My Inner Rudy

December 14, 2018

“Sometimes a winner is a dreamer who just won’t quit.” – from the Rudy trailer I’ve been thinking about the movie Rudy. Do you remember it? Since he was a kid, Rudy dreamed of playing football for Notre Dame. Being on the small side though, everyone (especially his Dad) told him it was impossible. I […]

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Back to Square One

October 11, 2018

Last week I wrote about my latest bout of depression.   I mentioned I had a theory about what led up to it…   But first you need to know about The Change Cycle. Martha Beck writes about it in Finding Your Own North Star, the book that, ironically, rescued me after a particularly nasty […]

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Where did Amy go? Part 3

September 27, 2018

It’s me again.   This is a blog post about mental illness.   I’m no expert on mental illness.   I’ll just write from my own experience.   I could keep tossing euphemisms against the wall.   The blahs, the blues… But let’s just call a spade a spade? Depression fucking sucks.   I’ve struggled […]

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Where did Amy go? Part 2

September 13, 2018

Last week I mentioned I’ve been marinating in the blahs… I blamed the stars, well Mars Retrograde to be exact. Yeah well, that *might* not be the whole story. You see I’ve been working on a memoir. You know that long term project you start that you *think* might take a year or so? Well […]

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Where did Amy go? Part 1

September 6, 2018

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You Unsegmented

May 31, 2018

I love Astrology. Once, several years ago, I started an astrology website with my friend, an astrologer, Dena DeCastro. But I didn’t want people to know. Especially my coaching clients or the people who subscribed to my newsletter. “What should I do?” I asked my life coach. “I don’t want people to think I’m woo […]

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“You Think Too Much.”

April 6, 2018

“You Think Too Much.” I get this a lot. And, frankly, I find it irritating. What else am I supposed to do? I have a brain, therefore I think. I get it…I’m supposed to listen to my heart. It will steer me in the best direction. In some ways I’m the opposite of an over […]

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WARNING: Having a Dream May Lead to Massive Disappointment

March 30, 2018

I keep thinking about a conversation I had years ago with a woman working in the registrar’s office of my college. I was ordering transcripts for an application to work in Japan as an English teacher. She wanted to know what I was working on. “I’m applying for the JET Programme with my husband,” I […]

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Give Me a Break?

March 1, 2018

Confession: I am not the best communicator. I’m blunt and I don’t take the time to explain myself or soften things. Yet ironically, I’m as sensitive as they come— I read into everything other people say. Which is why I’d have a very hard time having a conversation with myself. That is, if I didn’t […]

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Fake Joy or Real Joy?

February 9, 2018

After I stopped drinking, I developed an obsession with dark chocolate peanut butter cups from Trader Joe’s. I’d buy a huge container of them and eat the whole thing in a couple days. I would drive to TJ’s just for the peanut butter cups, nothing else… I’d get a rush eating the initial few on […]

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Last Week was a Train Wreck

January 25, 2018

Last week was a train wreck… I lost my brand new t-shirt the day it came in the mail. I tried it on then it promptly disappeared. After an exhaustive search, I did not locate my new shirt. Gone. Without a trace. Then I completely spaced a meeting. I confirmed it the day before, even […]

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21 Essentials for a High Vibe, Happy Life

January 18, 2018

I have to tell you, I’ve been pretty happy these days. So damn happy that I haven’t had much to blog about. As you know, if you’ve been following me for a bit, this hasn’t always been the case. So I started to think about the things that have contributed to this new found, happy vibe. […]

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New Year, Same You

January 5, 2018

Happy New Year! I’m not going to lie, I love self help new year rhetoric. Vision board? Check. New Planner? Purchased. Word of the Year? Pondering. And yes, I have completed a list of goals, each goal nested within a A/B decision tree of contingency micro goals, complete with an exhaustive list of behavioral and […]

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Meet Alice

November 29, 2017

This is my daughter Alice. Most people nowadays think she is a he. When she introduces herself as Alice, they think she is saying “Alex.” One day early in the school year, a bunch of older girls laughed at her for going into the girl’s bathroom. “Look!” they said. “There’s a boy using the girls […]

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What is Your Genius?

November 3, 2017

Wednesday was my four year sober anniversary. I was never a stereotypical “drunk.” But I loved to fill my free time with activities centered around drinking. Having wine at the end of the day, going to Happy Hour, Getting drinks with friends. I used to think I needed it to have a good time.Giving up […]

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My Double Life

October 5, 2017

I found some photos of me posing in my underwear. From twenty five years ago. We were living in Los Angeles. Our neighbors were working actors. We’d see them on TV. He had a co-starring role in Beverly Hills 90210. Once they told me I could get work doing beer commercials. As a femenist the […]

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For Better of For Worse

September 15, 2017

This morning my daughter went MIA before school. We only had 10 minutes left before it was time to leave for the bus and she still hadn’t finished her homework, eaten any breakfast, brushed her teeth or put on her shoes. I found her outside barefoot with some neighbor friends playing with a remote control […]

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What They Don’t Tell You About Spin Class

September 6, 2017

I remember the first ever time I walked into a Burn Cycle class. My friend invited me to go with her… “First time?” She asked. “Yes…” I replied. That’s when she raised her eyebrows and gave me an ominous look that said sarcastically, “good luck.” Just getting on the bike itself seemed to require a […]

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The Great Time Blocking Experiment

August 8, 2017

  God this is a boring topic. But I just have to because so many of you are suffering like I was suffering. It’s summer. The sky is blue. The kids are home. I just got the Tennis Channel. It’s so hard to get anything done! I’m definitely not as ambitious as I once was. […]

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Chronic Sleep Deprivation — I had no idea!

June 8, 2017

It is said that If you put a frog in boiling water, it will jump out. But if you put that same frog in warm water and slowly heat it to boiling, the frog won’t notice the danger and it will boil to death. For years I have had to get up multiple times at […]

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An Open Letter to Introverts (From an Introvert)

May 18, 2017

  It all started in grade school. I couldn’t figure it out. Why did all the other girls get so giddy over slumber parties?   I hated them.   Most of the time I would go anyway and pretend to be having fun until I couldn’t stand it any longer. Then I would either retreat […]

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14,000 Things

May 12, 2017

Yesterday Ron’s sister would have been forty years old. She was killed in a car accident when she was 21. I happened to be talking to a friend yesterday who has brain cancer. The meds are hard on her. “But you know what,” she said to me, “I am so happy to be alive. I […]

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When the doer cannot do

April 14, 2017

It’s Thursday. I have had the flu all week. And today I learned I have a bladder infection too. Bonus! I cancelled a tennis match, a podcast interview, three tennis lessons (two for me and one for my kids), missed an entire week of jiujitsu because I couldn’t drive the kids, skipped the Facebook Live […]

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God, Source, Spirit, The Angels, The Muses…

April 6, 2017

I am driving down Broadway Boulevard. It is Summer 2008. The twins are about six months old. Looking through the rearview window, I see them strapped into their car seats. As usual, Anthony is not happy. He is doing that thing he does before an all out crying fit. Alice is looking at me. Her […]

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Show Me A Successful Entrepreneur

March 10, 2017

Show me a successful entrepreneur in the service industry and I’ll show you a person who loves themselves enough, loves the work enough to let themselves fail. Somebody who is willing to get out there despite the possibility of bad hair, typos, toilet paper on the shoe, awkward exchanges (Them: Nice to meet you. You: […]

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How to be a Winner

March 2, 2017

Last week I beat a really good tennis player. In straight sets. 6-2, 6-2. If you don’t know tennis, I pretty much kicked her butt. “Wow, my back was really bothering me today.” This is all she had to say after the match. I lost to her a few months ago so I’m pretty sure […]

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Be here, now

February 24, 2017

A few nights ago, my husband said something mildly stupid that hurt my feelings. I am as soft-bellied as they come. I get my feelings hurt with an astonishing frequency. It is one of the many downsides of having a moon in Scorpio. Anyway…We were in bed, my back turned against him. I was convinced […]

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Stop Expecting Them to “Get” It: Why Some Partnerships Fail

February 9, 2017

“What’s on the agenda this weekend?” My husband asks. I open up my planner. “Battle of the books in the early afternoon Saturday, then Jazmina’s Quinciniera in the eve. Then Sunday is Janina’s birthday party at the pool.” “I’m not going to that,” He says. “But…” I answer. “I work all week and I don’t […]

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How to Think When You’re Overwhelmed

February 2, 2017

  I figured out the main theme of my book. This is the theme that informs everything. It’s the big “So What?” of the book. I was talking to my friend about it the other day. She asked me if I knew the theme when I started writing. “I haven’t wanted to start my book,” […]

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Saint Ron: Why the Truth Hurts (If You Let It)

January 27, 2017

“You should be canonized for putting up with her all these years.” This was a comment made about me to my husband. The same person I blocked to escape his poisonous text messages found a way to get to me through my husband. I won’t lie. When I heard that he said this about me […]

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5 Survival Tips When You #$%^& Up

January 20, 2017

I was recently invited to play on a bad-ass women’s tennis team. Wanting to make a good impression, I volunteered right away to practice doubles with a group of women. Got a babysitter and everything. On the night of practice, I got to the tennis club ten minutes early. Nobody there… “Strange,” I thought as […]

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Setting Boundaries with Setting Boundaries

January 12, 2017

For a long time my dream was to create a successful six figure, and then multiple six figure, coaching practice. After achieving the $200,000 a year mark I considered going for $500,000 a year. I created the business plan, I had the team in place, but I never made it. “Being an entrepreneur is the most lucrative […]

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We March

November 1, 2016

She is in a dark room, there is music on the other side of the door, and voices. She is crying and afraid. She doesn’t like being in here in the dark, alone. But no one hears her crying. Then the door opens and a man looks in. She can see the outline of his […]

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The Adult Brain of a Bullied Kid

October 6, 2016

We were on a bus, heading into Portland for a field trip. It was going to be a great day. We were going to try sushi for the first time and see China town. I was in seventh grade. Sitting on the bus, the girl next to me was leaning up against the window talking across […]

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35 Excuses Keeping You From Being Happy

July 27, 2016

No excuses. Just happy. My mom used to call me a “malcontent.” I hated it when she called me that. But now I see that she was right. I always had a reason why I couldn’t be happy. Here are a few excuses I used to make that kept me from being happy. Chances are […]

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You are five.

February 25, 2015

Who were you when you were five? When I was five… I loved flowers — I vividly remember the plants from my childhood – the sunflowers in my backyard, the rose bushes by the patio, the filbert orchards and the Oregon grapes with berries you couldn’t really eat. I loved to swim – that feeling […]

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What is your greatest fear?

May 23, 2018

What is your biggest fear? I posted that question to my business page yesterday. And somebody responded “Essential Oil MLMs.” Then added “ I really like most of her articles and found them helpful. The EO stuff is a bit much.” (BTW I hate it when people talk about me like I”m not there.) It’s […]

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