The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker. — Hellen Keller
I started writing down some thoughts about the concept of balance in life a few weeks ago while feeling healthy and energetic. Women in particular talk about having balance in our lives quite a bit; juggling work, home, children, aspirations, etc. – that when we are doing the work we love, we’re also happiest in all aspects of our lives and this brings balance or inner peace. As I re-read my words, I’m in a totally different place and may have better clarity on the subject. When you’re feeling well, sure, it can be a complex concept, one that takes time to figure out. Almost like trying to finish a jigsaw puzzle – fellow puzzle fanatics might understand when I say this: you know you won’t feel that amazing feeling until you put the VERY last piece into place. Then the single pieces of the jigsaw miraculously become a whole and complete image. THAT’S when you know you’ll have balance in life. Well, that was my original take on it.
When you’re feeling not-so-healthy, the idea of balance is driven by the acute desire to feel anything good, let alone your equilibrium. And the idea of juggling or moving too fast is particularly nauseating. When your body puts on the brakes and demands you slow down, the question of whether or when you’ll find balance isn’t a question any more. It’s a necessity. Your body dictates and wins.
It makes me think of the allegorical tale about a frog. When you plunge a frog into a pot of boiling water, it jumps straight out; it knows it’s hot and instinctively reacts. But if you place a frog in a pot of cool water and bring it slowly to a boil, the change in temperature is so subtle that the frog doesn’t notice while it boils to death.
Similarly, our bodies are hardwired to instinctively respond and protect us from ourselves. Why? One reason being that our mind is easily fooled into thinking it is the smarter of the two.
My question: is my body smarter than my mind and if I listen to it more often, would I achieve a sense of balance that would spill over into all the other areas of my life? And would I never have to ask myself that question again?
— Debbie Hindman
On a drive home from work one night I overheard an interview on CPR with Lucy Worsey, the author of If Walls Could Talk.
Her British accent immediately caught my ear and I naturally turned up the volume to hear more of its quirky intonation. Lucy turned out to be a scream….extremely funny with a dry bent that complimented her subject matter: the origins and purpose of rooms. Her unique and witty approach gave life to what could have been dry history coming from a historian and curator, and I was soon vividly envisioning homes of the past.
I learned some new things….bedrooms haven’t always been the private sanctuary we have made them to be today, a need for warmth and security meant they were most often communal. And heard some not so new things… closets were originally created as a place to “closet away” your books or treasures while you kept the few outfits of clothing you owned in your bedchamber. Did you know the coat hanger was invented sometime between 1869 and 1906, and by a man? That surprised me.
Design is often created out of necessity or circumstances, as in the discovery of fire or the invention of the wheel. And this is still true today. Of course we have more time on our hands than the average worker-bee used to in medieval times, we have more leisure time to daydream and invent our spaces. The world of Interior Design has evolved. We’ve increased the size of our homes, we’ve added more room types over time, designed furniture that accommodate the larger size of our rooms as well as the shape of its occupants. We’ve stretched our creative minds over and over in decorating them to be an expression of who we are.
As Lucy pointed out in her delightful English accent, some of these things are coming full circle and, once again, necessity is the mother of invention: our homes are contracting in size as our lifestyle is changing. We’re craving more community with our family and neighbors, a simpler environment is the new trend, and our homes are beginning to reflect those needs and values.
— Debbie Hindman
“The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), in conjunction with The Home Depot, has launched an online green home products database. The database: leed.homedepot.com is a special microsite within homedepot.com that features products geared toward green home building, many of which may contribute towards earning LEED points and prerequisites for the LEED for Homes program, making it easier for homeowners and builders to find the products they need.” (source)
Kudos to The Home Depot! No matter what you think of “big box stores”, any retailer that showcases green products within their store is going in the right direction. This is a pretty major milestone in The Home Depot’s (THD) relationship with the green building industry. THD launched their Eco Options label more than a year ago, directing us to 3,500 + products and now the LEED green home products database takes it a step further: identifying 2,500 products that gain points when you pursue the USGBC’s LEED for HOME’s program. Whether a homeowner wants to pursue LEED certification or not, the consumer is getting an education, and bottom line – all of these products save energy, water and/or resources. Something we all want and need to know about.
FACT: Green building is growing in popularity; in fact it’s probably the only, or one of few, segments of the building industry that has been growing during the recent economic recession.
FACT: Green product information is not immediately apparent. We often have to wade through the list of ingredients to help determine if and how something is green. THD’s attempt to make this kind of information readily available is admirable. My opinion.
FACT: Decent, safe, and affordable housing is a necessity; healthy and efficient homes should be within the reach of everyone, whatever your budget. Having a simple system to find them is not only helpful but necessary.
For those of us within the design and construction industry, we may not be as impressed by the selection at THD as the average consumer. We’re continually bombarded with new products: we know too much, we have access to so many resources, we’re spoilt for choice. But I’m not so much of a snob that I don’t recognize the importance of this partnership between USGBC/LEED and THD. And if ever USGBC’s mission to transform the market was being realized, THD is making that mission a reality with them – it surely helps to bring home improvement products to mainstream and create choices for the consumer. i.e. you and me.
This past weekend I went to see the new Dr Seuss movie, The Lorax. I have been excited to see it since I heard it was coming out, as I love the book, but I left the theater with mixed feelings – the movie did not follow the book as closely as I had hoped, but the colors and characters were fun, and it leaves you with something to consider.
Despite mixed reviews about the movie from critics, I think that the general message conveyed is a great reminder of how we should treat the earth, and to not take its beauty, or the resources it provides, for granted. I believe that it is important for children to start thinking about how they can help the environment at an early age, and this movie showcases the importance of respecting the earth by keeping it clean, using only the resources we need, and replacing what we use when possible. The fun, bright colors, catchy songs, and cute characters don’t hurt either.
One thing this movie reminded me of, are the encouraging programs around Colorado that provide people with trees to plant in suburban and urban areas, and areas that have been hurt by beetle kill or wildfires.
The Mile High Million is an initiative that was started in 2006 by Mayor John Hickenlooper, aimed to encourage people to become life-long stewards to our natural environment through planting and caring for trees. The goal is to plant one million new trees in the Denver metro area by 2025. 250,000 trees have been planted so far. Learn more about the Mile High Million here.
Denver Digs Trees is a program that helps residents cultivate a greener, healthier environment by providing people with affordable tress to plant on both public and private property. Currently (spring 2012) Denver Digs Trees is providing free and low cost trees to all Denver residents through their Spring Street Tree program, and through Mile High Million. For more information and to apply.
The Seedling Tree Program, funded by Colorado State University through the Colorado State Forest Service, provides trees at a low cost to farmers, ranchers, and rural landowners. Their goal is to encourage landowners to plant new forests to help protect homes, crops and livestock, and to protect against soil erosion. Visit CSU’s website for more information, and to find out if you qualify.
The movie leaves the audience with one last quote from the book…
Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.
… a “subtle” reminder.
— Rachel Blackburn
Let children walk with Nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life. — John Muir
I am excited about the concept of micro-loans or micro-credit. It’s moved to the center of my radar recently and so I’ve been reading up about the concept and how it works.
Muhammad Yunus, a Bangladeshi economist, won the Nobel Peace prize in 2006 for pioneering this new type of banking known as micro-credit, which grants small loans to poor people who have no collateral and who don’t usually qualify for conventional bank loans. His program enables millions of Bangladeshis, almost all women, to buy everything from cows to cell phones in order to start and run their own businesses. Similar micro-credit projects have helped millions around the world lift themselves out of poverty.
I find this grassroots effort exciting because it speaks to the belief that when given a hand, we can all succeed, and especially when in a supportive and encouraging setting. The idea has expanded from its roots in places like Bangladesh to dozens of countries, including the USA. It’s about empowering people to help themselves; very much like the concept of teaching someone to fish so they can feed themselves. You know the one.
One article I read at The Huffington Post written by Premal Shah, the president of Kiva.org, is entitled Americans Can Help Each Other a Lot by Lending a Little. The statistics are enlightening:
In 2009, the 27.5 million small businesses in the United States represented more than 99 percent of the nation’s workplaces, ranging from the traditional family owned dry cleaner, to the hip new gourmet food truck. According to a new study of businesses with nine or fewer employees commissioned by Kiva.org and Visa, nearly 51 thousand small businesses were lost nationwide between 2006 and 2008.
It makes me believe that small businesses are vital in our road to economic recovery and greater stability in the US. And the ability to access these smaller micro-loans are particularly vital in countries where seemingly small amounts can make an even bigger difference between making it or not.
Today is International Women’s Day and there’s a unique offer on the Kiva website to try the idea of providing a micro-loan to a woman who needs the help in creating a new business or venture. I am a fan of Kiva. I hope you’ll give it a read and maybe decide to make an investment too.
— Debbie Hindman