It’s been a long time since I wrote my last post here, the past few months have been a bit crazy, I even had surgery, but more than, we have been all living the intensity of the pandemic, and it’s been challenging. So many changes in our routines from working from home to countless lockdowns. It’s like a movie that doesn’t end.
Today, in the spirit of the changes we have all experienced and we continue facing, I’d like to share my experience around trying to find balance between green living and doing the right thing while trying to cope with the complicated times we are all in.
I remember a time when I was at uni, and a teacher asked people to name one of their weaknesses, I raised my hand and said: Perfectionism. He looked confused and said he always believed this was one of his key strengths. I replied that I usually spent so much time and effort trying to make things perfect, when in reality perfection didn’t even exist. He didn’t seem very satisfied!
I’ve always been a perfectionist and it can be draining. Even when I’ve gained a lot of awareness around this behaviour and I’ve changed a bit as a result of that, it isn’t that easy to completely ditch something that is so ingrained.
When I started learning about plastic waste and zero waste lifestyle, I wanted to do it all and “perfectly”. I even had arguments with family members around habits and products they wanted to buy, I became so strict about the whole thing that it stopped being fun, it became exhausting.
One of the things that I had to learn somehow was to be more flexible. Over time, I realised that instead of perfection, what I needed was progress, kindness and compassion towards my efforts. To be able to tell myself: Yes, I am doing enough and I am making a difference!
For years, I managed to navigate this new concept to some extent, being more flexible, accepting we can’t do it all, embracing the everyday failures, but appreciating every effort and small wins, but when the pandemic hit last year, things started to change a bit for me.
As the months went by, I became quite frustrated with all the changes that this situation has brought, particularly around waste. Most coffee shops were no longer accepting BYO cups, for extended periods restaurants only offered take away food which of course often came in plastic, disposables face masks started to appear in the streets everywhere, disposable products were the norm and even some products that I could buy without packaging were no longer offered.
I felt that all the efforts and the progress trying to reduce waste and raise awareness about these topics were somewhat lost. I didn’t have the same motivation and I even lost the consistency that I usually have with some of my good green habits – and of course I didn’t feel like writing anymore.
What I now admit, after so many months riding this journey, is that we have been enduring so much; one way or another everyone has been impacted by this pandemic, many of us have lost family and friends, some have been impacted financially, many of us have been working from home in the same environment day after day, we have been isolated for extended periods, many people’s mental health has been affected and the list goes on. We have been under stress (even when it feels like the new normal) and that reflects in many areas of our lives.
On the flip side of the coin, we’ve all heard good stories in the past year about communities helping each other, reduction in pollution and daily global CO2 emissions (at least temporarily), fewer people hitting and injuring/killing wildlife on roads, the fact that many companies have adapted and embraced remote working means that in the future there could be way less commuting (meaning less cars on the roads) and many other positive small changes. However, the negative aspects have been so prevalent and we have experienced them at a very personal level, so of course our mind tends to focus on that more than anything. There is quote from psychologist Rick Hanson that says that “the mind is like Velcro for negative experiences, and Teflon for positive ones”.
So. to me finding balance has meant to become more intentional and to find a spot when I regain a bit my hope and inspiration for a better future, to accept this new reality, to find compassion for all of us going through this situation, to release trying to control things that I cannot change and to be kind to myself on the days when I don’t feel like doing my best.
That’s what I have been cultivating and that intention is what brought me back to writing in the blog. I have no idea what’s going to happen, we are navigating the unknown and adapting the best we can, but I wanted to share these thoughts in case someone out there can relate to this experience. Even when uncertainty still lingers, there is always hope.
“In a gentle way, you can shake the world – Mahatma Gandhi”
That’s it for today. Thanks for reading these lines, I hope you and your loved ones are doing well! Take care.