For me zero waste has been the catalyst for a lot of change in my life. It is a seed that has flourished into so much else: minimalism, meditation, yoga, nutrition, ethical consumption of products, and a complete change in mindset. This has been a slow, gradual shift and I believe it’s something that will continue to evolve everyday as I (hopefully;) grow as a person.
About six months ago I went through a really bad breakup and it kind of rocked my world. I’ve been through a lot in my short life (a broken engagement, mental health struggles, health problems, death of loved ones, and bad relationships just to name a few hurtles) but for some reason this relationship ending was one of the most confusing and difficult things I’ve ever dealt with. I do not say this to be hurtful or point fingers but rather to set the stage for how I’ve come to embrace a simpler life. I’ve found that beauty often comes from pain.
Our relationship wasn’t a terrible long but we had just gotten to a place where things felt really solid and that’s when he broke it off. He ended it completely out of the blue and pretty much without a reason. My brain, for whatever reason, just couldn’t really grasp what was happening. I think part of what made it so challenging was the timing. I had just bought and moved into my first home, I was and still am working and going to school full time, and my mom was getting ready to have her hip replaced. The stress of everything was just too much for me.
I was in so much mental distress that time seemed to go by at a torturously slow pace. I’ve never experienced anything like it; I was just so beside myself that even something with set increments was affected by my grief. In order to try and manage the depression and anxiety that was taking over my life I started practicing being as present in the moment as possible. I had read about this technique at some point and decided it was worth a try. When I would begin to feel overwhelmed I would start thinking about my five senses. What could I hear, taste, touch, see, and smell right at that moment. I also started going to a yoga class and began trying to downsize. I wrote constantly, went to counseling for a while, and had a list of people I could call when I started feeling myself slip into a really dark place. I had wonderful friends and family who came and sat with me, went on walks with me, texted and called checking in on me. I am forever grateful for their support. I truly believe they are a big part of the reason I made it through that dark and difficult season of life.
After my brain was able to wrap around the fact that this man was not coming back and the relationship was completely over I became very angry. It grieves me to say that I really hated him. Sadly, it is something I still occasionally struggle with and have to turn over to God. I stopped taking communion and I knew that I needed some spiritual guidance. Part of what made this difficult was the man I’d been in a relationship with claimed to be a Christian and that was one way he gained my trust. I reached out to one of my ministers and asked for a meeting so I could confess what I was struggling with and figure out how to get to a place where I could once again take communion. This minister was another person who I will always be very grateful for! He patiently listened and advised me, he had no judgment for me and was incredible kind. We met for several hours, on two separate occasions, and after our meetings I was able to once again partake of communion with a clean conscience. I know so many people who have been hurt by their churches and I found myself desperately wishing they had been treated as kindly as I was. I recognize that I am blessed to attend a church that is so open and loving.
Throughout all of this I began to feel the need to be present, to be mindful, to be intentional in all things, and to be free of excess. I have no doubt that some of this was a desire to obtain control after feeling so powerless but I think even that was good in a way. I was reclaiming my life; I was setting the terms and making decisions about what I wanted and what I wouldn’t tolerate.
I’m writing this blog post to give you all an idea of where I’m coming from when I talk about the concepts of zero waste, minimalism, and intentional living. I think that context is always helpful. I want you who read this blog to know that I’m not writing this having “arrived” at the answers to living a simple life. I am on a journey and I hope that by sharing my process with you it will help you find joy in your own life.
P.S. In my next Waste Not Want Not post I’ll be talking about how I’m working to simplify my closet. This is an ongoing process but I’m already starting to see the benefits! I’ve found that only owning clothing that I love and wear consistently is a really freeing experience.
These are the two meditation apps that I use and like Guided Meditation Bundle