Saturday, August 30, 2008

My turn

It's been a long week between work and school starting back. Most of it, I've slept poorly and woken up just as tired as when I crashed. And while I've not been depressed, I've had this feeling of resentment and just plain apathy. This morning, I woke up with clarity about it, everything simmering below the surface just finally boiled into a finished product and I knew exactly what the problem was.

Between the birthday and school starting back, the summer is definitely over - and I didn't do anything that I had planned for myself. That's not to say that some things didn't come up that were fun - but as for things I had decided I wanted to do over the summer, I didn't ever make time for any of them. Not one camping trip, not one thing done on various projects, not one bike ride - not even one book I wanted to read started, much less finished. Why? Because I was working. There was always something that had to get done.

Even worse, as I was cleaning rooms because everyone else was taking the day off, I realized that not only wasn't I doing the things I wanted to for me - but I had been working all summer to finance everyone else doing what they wanted. There was no lack of others taking off when they felt like or projects getting started that they wanted to do for themselves. And while I'm happy for each of them, I'm sitting here wondering - how did I let it get away from me so much that I kept back-burnering myself?

I guess I've always been that way - I know I've gotten to this point in my life before with other ventures. I didn't move up here and leave behind the "rat race" - I came up here and built another hampster wheel instead. Sure, some fun moments, some new challenges accomplished - but now I'm running in place, at the expense of myself.

So it's time for some changes. The chalets are on the market - we'll be done with those by the end of the year (and possibly way sooner if I have another day like Friday). The lease on the inn comes up in April - at this point, I don't want to renew it - I can find other ways to make enough money to support us, I always have - even when I didn't have advanced planning. I'm going to do more consulting, pack in some seminars and programs during my school breaks. I've been toying with that idea for a couple of years now - it was one of the reasons I hired Larry to begin with - to run this so I could work on that. But I let myself get sidetracked.

It's amazing how good it feels to work on being goal-focused again. Instead of just existing and getting through the days, I can actually work out an exit plan to move on to something I want to do. And to have something in my face that I can look at every time I'm getting too busy and ask myself it this is helping me get where I want to go.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Look! Another new bright shiny object.

According to Ashoka’s definition of a social entrepreneur:

“The job of a social entrepreneur is to recognize when a part of society is stuck and to provide new ways to get it unstuck. He or she finds what is not working and solves the problem by changing the system, spreading the solution and persuading entire societies to take new leaps. Social entrepreneurs are not content just to give a fish or teach how to fish. They will not rest until they have revolutionized the fishing industry.

As I'm reading through various "green" blogs, I can't help but notice that there are two distinct types: those that discuss actual changes that individuals and society can make to live more sustainably and those that tend to focus on highlighting products that are made using less harmful resources.

Obviously, our consumption needs to be focusing on products that do less damage to our environment as well as conserving a diminishing supply of materials - but isn't the fact that we buy so much crap in the first place a big underlying part of the problem? If you run down to the mall to buy another T-shirt (this one made of organic cotton) or have it shipped in through FedEx - how much different is everything? Is there any less transportation cost? Is there any less packaging to wind up in the land fill? Has the profit from that sale remained in the local community or been shipped off to Wall St or Little Rock?

What it really boils down to is really pretty simple: How many shirts do we need? How many pairs of shoes? What do you do with one more "eco-fabulous" lamp?

My grandparents generation provided for themselves nicely, without overdoing it. Without a doubt, they worked harder than I ever have and had less "stuff" to show for it. But they were happy with their lives. They were quietly proud of their accomplishments as opposed to having to drive the newest, bestest Lexus or Mercedes to show off to everyone.

My grandfather owned a handful of shirts - some he wore to work, one or two that he changed into when he came home and got cleaned up and one or two that he kept for good - things he'd wear to church or weddings. Of course, things seemed to last longer back then. They weren't made for a throwaway society, but for hard working people who wanted the most value for their money.

During my 15 years in real estate, I watched the closets in new homes grow exponentially. The closet in my grandfather's room wasn't even big enough to be placed in the entry foyer of the homes they were building by 2000, much less a bedroom (of course my grandparents got along just fine without an entry foyer all those years as well). And people were rushing out to fill those massive closets with stuff. We get guests checking in now for a one night stay that have 2 and 3 large suitcases - crammed full of stuff.

It's really a shame to see the issue of creating sustainable futures being taken over by the "we must continue our lives as mass consumers" crowd and even worse to see it being promoted as a good thing. What is it about our society that causes so many to bury their heads in the sand? Why are they so focused on things instead of people? Why do they want to spend more time shopping than taking a bike ride or talking with someone they care about? Or doing something to make a difference in someone else's life.

It's been a good morning to clear out blog rolls and start eliminating some that so totally focus on the next "green" product.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

This is a sacrifice?

This man does an awesome job of re-framing the issue. We have "sacrifice" completely reversed.

Carl Safina Reflects on Climate Change | Orion magazine
Of all the psychopathology in the climate issue, the most counterproductive thought is that solving the problem will require sacrifice. As though our wastefulness of energy and money is not sacrifice. As though war built around oil is not sacrifice. As though losing polar bears, ice-dependent penguins, coral reefs, and thousands of other living companions is not sacrifice. As though withered cropland is not a sacrifice, or letting the fresh water of cities dry up as glacier-fed rivers shrink. As though risking seawater inundation and the displacement of hundreds of millions of coastal people is not a sacrifice—and reckless risk. But don’t tell me to own a more efficient car; that would be a sacrifice! We think we don’t want to sacrifice, but sacrifice is exactly what we’re doing by perpetuating problems that only get worse; we’re sacrificing our money, and sacrificing what is big and permanent, to prolong what is small, temporary, and harmful. We’re sacrificing animals, peace, and children to retain wastefulness while enriching those who disdain us.

When we stop seeing our relationship with the whole living world as a matter of sustainability, and realize it is a matter of morality—of right and wrong—we might make the moment we need.