Sustainability: An Essay by Organic Needle

Can you tell I was an English teacher? Probably not by my misspellings and dangling modifiers, but…even English teachers aren’t perfect. Closest thing you’ll ever find…but not quite. Anyway…the APLS crew has given its first assignment and as the good little Lisa Simpson that I am…I have done my homework.

Sustainability…A Journey to a Joyful Life

Saying that I have been on a journey to “green” my life feels a little insufficient to me. The actual environmental part of the quest has kind of been a byproduct more than anything else. For me the journey is more about reaching deeper levels of sustainable happiness. A happiness that is NOT reliant on the trappings but on feeling fully satisfied with my role as parent, partner, sibling, friend, neighbor, and general Earth dweller. The secret to my happiness? Easy…connections. Being truly connected to the people and experiences in life is my definition of joy.

The journey certainly isn’t a straight forward path. I find myself often thinking of time past spent as a child with my grandparents who made everything from scratch, not because they were “green” or poor but because it was just foolish to waste anything and enjoyable to create…period. (Besides, Norwegian whaling villages don’t exactly have Targets. Well, sadly, maybe they do now.) They made their own clothes, soups, soaps, furniture, preserves, wine, even soda. My grandfather even built their house and my parents’ first house. They gardened extensively even though they both worked, she as a seamstress and designer, he as a carpenter and lodge owner. As a child I had no idea what a tremendous education they were providing me. But it certainly wasn’t lost on my obliviousness. Whenever I am having a “how to” issue I have a wealth of memories to draw upon. And the beautiful thing is the “how to” doesn’t come alone…it comes with a deep felt connection to people and places of the past that I can carry in my heart forever. And with the skills learned and stories to tell I can bring my boys into that world too.

For me it is also about being connected to the present and to what we DO. Baking bread with my kids is a whole different experience than buying a loaf at the store. The miracle of yeast isn’t lost on them. Planting, caring for, and harvesting our own basil is a true experience, verses tossing a plastic tub of it in the shopping cart. When my husband explains to them about how over plucking the plant won’t allow it to flourish he is teaching much more than general horticulture. Spending afternoons strolling through the Botanical Gardens, talking, playing, just enjoying each other’s enjoyment of nature and life beats any day spent in front of the TV. In these moments it is as if doors of my heart that I didn’t even know existed are bursting open.

And now that I am a mother, enjoying a rounded full and happy life is more important than ever. I don’t want to make my kids happy…I want to teach them how to be happy. How to find the joy that comes from really experiencing all of life. While many of the ways we have found to connect to our past and to our present will hopefully lead to a more sustainable & healthier future on this planet, it hasn’t been my main motive. For me, it has been about not wasting any opportunities for the priceless pure joy of it all.

12 Responses to “Sustainability: An Essay by Organic Needle”

  1. Added by arduous on August 1st, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    Thank you for such a beautiful post. Just from your posts about your boys I can already tell what thoughtful, engaged kids you are raising! And I love what you say about not making your boys happy, but rather teaching them to be happy!!

    If you haven’t, please email this post to aplscarnival (at) gmail (dot) com so that we are sure to include it in our carnival. Thanks!! 🙂

  2. Added by arduous on August 1st, 2008 at 7:53 pm

    Sorry, to clarify, just email the url to aplscarnival. You don’t have to email the whole post or anything. Just a link!! Thank you!!

  3. Added by Green Bean on August 1st, 2008 at 8:06 pm

    Wonderful, Needle! You are so right. Being sustainable is all about connections and about passing those on. I love that you want to teach your children how to find happiness rather than to “make them happy.” A great lesson for us moms out there.

  4. Added by Mindful Momma on August 1st, 2008 at 9:54 pm

    So very nicely put – I agree wholeheartedly! Just found your blog on the APLS site and I’m looking forward to reading more (and writing an APLS post myself!)

  5. Added by Verde on August 1st, 2008 at 10:51 pm

    Wow, that is beautiful. You have said so many things there that I feel but have yet to find words to express.

    I’ll bet you are a great story teller for your children and have so many really interesting memories to share.

  6. Added by melissa on August 2nd, 2008 at 9:46 am

    This is a wonderful post! I like how you bring up the idea of creating sustainable happiness. What lucky kids you’ve got! I don’t think they’ll have any choice but to be happy adults!

  7. Added by eco 'burban mom on August 2nd, 2008 at 5:19 pm

    “I don’t want to make my kids happy…I want to teach them how to be happy.”

    BEST LINE EVER!! If all moms thought that way children of today would be so very different. A very simple theory, perfectly stated Needle! That’s something I want and need to put into practice more often with my own boys.

  8. Added by CindyW on August 4th, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    I agree with several people above. I love love love “I don’t want to make my kids happy…I want to teach them how to be happy. How to find the joy that comes from really experiencing all of life.” That, to me, is task #1 as a parent.

  9. Added by organicneedle on August 15th, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    Thank you everyone for the kind support. I am looking forward to reading everyone else’s take on sustainability.

  10. Added by Bobbi on August 22nd, 2008 at 10:41 pm

    I like reading about your connections to your grandparents and their lifestyle. Good post.

  11. Added by greeen sheeep on August 26th, 2008 at 9:48 am

    I know it has been stated many times in the comments, but I love your point on teaching your kids how to be happy.

    We came to the sudden realization that the reason our kids are always “Booored” (man, I hate that word!) is because we have always provided entertainment for them. They do not know how to entertain themselves. All of the video games, television, shopping and other crap we do when they are “Booored” has robbed them of their imagination! What a rude awakening.

  12. Added by Soap On A Rope Twisted Green: Introducing the Organic Cotton Soap Saver ** CALLING ALL GUINEA PIGS!!!!** | Organic Needle on March 12th, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    […] to have a more dignified way of being a soap conservationist?  And then I remembered a trick my grandparents used.  They use to have a little dish where they would just park the old slivers.  When they […]

Leave a Reply