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Showing posts with the label habitat

$Monday: The Value of a Ten-Minute Walk and the Worthiness of You

Gyms are not necessary for fitness, nor is exercise an all-or-nothing game in which you're either a bodybuilder or a hardcore couch potato. The truth is that a better quality of life exists in between those extremes, and it doesn't cost anything. It doesn't require electronic tracking devices or professional trainers, and it doesn't look like washboard abs and bulging biceps--those have more to do with vanity than health or even functional strength. Building a little bit more movement into your day doesn't have to suck up time, either--in fact, it can give you more time by increasing productivity and simplifying your schedule. The real barriers to taking that first step are usually in the mind. The first thing you must do is to convince yourself that you are worth that ten-minute investment. When it comes to exercising, doing the absolute, bare minimum has a bigger impact than many people realize. Simply getting up and moving around occasionally during a long day of

TBT: The Harmonious Homes of Dr. Merle Kindred

Near the beginning of this millennium, I enjoyed the privilege of meeting Dr. Merle Kindred, a woman of the world who has dedicated her long, beautiful life to building a cozy future for all the people and other living beings that inhabit our planet. Although Merle no longer owns a house in the Keweenaw, she has left a legacy of wonderful human habitats for others there and in many other locations around the globe. She continues to educate and inspire developers and home builders with the warm care, wisdom, and complex technical knowledge she has gathered over many decades of thoughtful work, building not just structures but relationships and sustainable ways of life. Below is the post I wrote when I was a young, traveling activist in the 2000s. Merle offered me and my supervisor hospitality on a journey to organize rural Michigan for health care reform, and she also gifted us with a tour of her showpiece Northern Michigan home as well as a photographic tour of her house in Kerala, Ind

$Monday: The Race to Keep a Roof Over Our Heads

The American Dream in 2020 is to not be homeless. This summer, up to 40 million of us are on the verge of losing our homes due to an inability to make rent or mortgage payments. Hundreds of thousands of Americans are already homeless, which is too many on a perfect day. During the pandemic, it has become suddenly impossible to safely house the usual, insufficient number of people in existing shelters while homelessness has become a much bigger public health crisis than it was before. Most people who struggle to stay in their homes find somewhere else to go and don't experience true homelessness, at least not for long, but forcing people to bounce around among inadequate living situations has serious health and economic consequences. Putting down roots in a safe and healthy habitat is one of the most important determinants of future success . This is always true, but during quarantines, personal space and privacy aren't luxuries so much as basic necessities. So do whatever you

$Monday: Can You Breathe?

You can't earn or save money if you can't even breathe. One reason why "it's expensive to be poor" is that people who live in lower-income neighborhoods don't get enough clean air to breathe . I've demonstrated that " You can't afford a poor diet ," and it's even more obvious that you can't give up oxygen to save money. Poor air quality destroys productivity , and the terrible costs of air pollution are mainly borne by the individuals who suffer health conditions, disability, cognitive impairment , and premature death due to their lack of access to clean air. Before the pandemic, air pollution caused mostly by fossil fuel burning was killing about 200,000 Americans a year , and now it is accelerating American Covid deaths by over 15% . Meanwhile, cries of "I can't breathe" draw our attention to escalating police brutality and our federal government militarizing Brownshirt-resembling forces against its own citizens who a

$Monday: Defund Mindless Consumption and Invest in What's Good

Most people and systems don't change until they are forced. This pandemic has forced a lot on us and keeps ramping up, so now is make-or-break time to defund our worst patterns, from the global to the individual, and reinvest in our future. If you have been in a mental fog since March, or if you have been using harmful coping mechanisms to get by, there's no shame in your automatic responses or in your survival strategies. At the same time, we each have the agency and the urgency to shift to sustainable ways of living through hard times that have no quick fix. Each one of us can and must use the current pandemic and the winds of social change to redesign our ways of life from the ground up, in the unfortunate absence of national leadership. It's sink or swim time, for you and for me and for the whole of our society. And it isn't just a matter of surviving so that we can get back to normal--this is our chance to truly heal some old wounds and to build a new normal t

$Monday: Corona Summer Self-Care

Nobody wants to hang out in a waiting room at the height of this pandemic summer. One of my friends just dodged an outbreak by procrastinating on having her cat's claws trimmed. Now everyone who's been to that vet during the past few days is supposed to do the two-week quarantine routine. Now on top of copays and the usual discomforts of obtaining care for our furry friends and our human selves, there's the risk of catching the cooties. Definitely go and get any treatments that you need, but it's great to not need as many office visits. I'm doing what I can do at home to take care of my own health and have all of my stupid, silly summer fun in relatively safe ways--like having a redneck pool party in the lawn with my daughter and husband. Here are some other ways I'm staying healthy, safe, and sane while maintaining social distancing and a spark of faith that my kid might somehow be able to go back to school next month: keeping active with silly st

$Monday: Farewell, Dreams of Flight

When I was young, even after 9/11 made it a little more scary and a lot less convenient, I loved the thrill of air travel. Nothing compares to being lifted into the sky and jetted across the United States or to another country, another continent even, in just a few hours. And nothing in life can fully substitute for the mind-altering trip of immersing oneself in an unfamiliar culture for days, weeks, or months. Once I started traveling, I thought I'd never stop--I had become a traveler! --but financial constraints and parenthood put international travel goals on pause after my honeymoon. Now that the world has had to reckon with pandemic and climate change like never before, I've accepted that my dreams of continuing to explore the world as a traveler are indefinitely grounded. For moral as well as practical reasons, my husband and I decided--even before the pandemic struck--that we would no longer make any long-distance journeys until: 1) it was for a critically importa

$Monday: The Value of Wall Color

Home is where the heart is (and the office and the break room and the spa and the outdoor-distancing social gathering spot and the gym and basically our whole lives now). This year, the home color palette has become more important and more personal than ever. How is yours feeling after this cabin-fevered spring? Wall colors affect the inhabitants of a room in complex ways. Each person may have a different response to each color , so get in touch with how different colors make you and your living companions feel, and consider repainting as a relatively affordable and easy way to improve your everyday quality of life--your mood, productivity, sleep quality, alertness during waking hours, and behavior. Consider different values (on a light/dark scale) of your favorite hues and how different finishes respond in your particular environment. Assuming you're not preparing your house for sale or making your living as an Instagrammer who earns revenue via painting your own home's wa

TBT: Full House

Remember when co-housing, roommates, and multi-generational family homes were good ideas? Those living arrangements still have their advantages, but during a pandemic, it is much safer for individuals, romantic partners, and caregiver/dependent units to have their own spaces, amenities, and entrances. I miss the days when that wasn't so. I hope that one day soon, this pandemic will end, and the Great Recession-era post below will once again be relevant... at least for some people, at some times in their lives. I'm sure it is still relevant on well-governed, geographically isolated island nations such as New Zealand and Iceland. Oh, to be in one of those nations at this time! I sure do miss hanging out with my friends and having overnight guests, but in this very particular moment, I am grateful to live in a single-family home with only my husband and daughter and to enjoy the ability to stay put in it most of the time. I sure did not see an out-of-control pandemic coming

$Monday: Investing in Your Habitat

This post is not about house-flipping, slum-lording, or monetizing a rental property. It's about investing in your habitat, your very own sanctuary where you, as a person, and your personal finances can thrive and grow. Access to safe and stable housing, independent of income or wealth, is an essential rung on the ladder to economic security. Where you live is as important as, if not more important than, how much money you make. Your home and its location determines your: everyday level of safety from violence and natural disasters everyday safety from indoor hazards such as electrical fires and structural damage ability to preserve health with adequate indoor/outdoor spaces for exercise, hygiene, restful sleep, food preparation, air quality, and clean tap water proximity to your lifeline of family and friends connection with local arts and culture access to nutrition access to education exposure to healing and stress-relieving elements of nature access to safe and

TBT: Virtual Personal Trainers

Outside the homes of those fortunate enough to dwell in safety, terrible threats are raging: authoritarian violence, injustice, contagious disease. In this moment, finding an online personal trainer may seem vain or frivolous, but in truth, home fitness has never been more relevant. The value of self-care cannot be underestimated, especially for those most vulnerable to illness and toxic stress. For anyone with access to the internet and a space to exercise, a virtual class can be a powerful tool for an individual to maintain physical and mental strength to stay in the fight for justice. The pandemic has already created a boom in virtual training sessions. Personal trainers and dance and fitness instructors across the nation have pivoted to offering virtual lessons. If you can afford it, paying a professional for interactive virtual services is the best way to stay fit online. You'll support the career of someone who might otherwise be out of a job, and your teacher can offer you

TBT: The Home Library of Books, Music, and Films

I wonder whatever happened to that Borat DVD I mention at the end of the old post below! I sure don't have it anymore; we've gone through several purges of old media since Borat times. These days, most entertainment is accomplished via streaming services. I listen to Eclectic24 Online, and I regularly stream movies, sometimes podcasts. But I still prefer books on paper, and I don't think that will ever change. My bookshelves packed with old beloveds have been a great comfort to me in quarantine. And I've had fun going through my old CDs and DVDs lately. Have you rediscovered any #ThrowBackThursday gems in your home collections? During a stay-at-home order, multimedia home entertainment has increased in importance somewhat, and I find it useful to have access to a combination of streaming services ( none of which I pay for , more out of concern about data breeches than because of cost) and old-fashioned physical books and discs. I've had fun rediscovering old DVDs

$Monday: Buying Fine Art for the Home

Right before the pandemic canceled everything, I purchased my first piece of fine art directly from the artist. Adulting milestone achieved! My home has always been filled with art because many of my family members and friends are artists, and I've created a few things here and there myself. I've been blessed with leftovers and castoffs and special gifts of artworks over the years, but this is the first time I've selected and purchased my own piece directly from a known artist (as opposed to, for example, buying folk art in a fair trade shop without knowing the identity of the individual artisan). There is joy in receiving a surprise gift of beauty and in figuring out where and how to display it in my home. And there is a different sort of satisfaction in designing my own space in advance, choosing a piece to display there, and being able to pay for it. There is plenty of advice to be found online about how to invest in art and how to decorate one's home, b

$Monday: Testing a New Kitchen Design Before Renovation

My husband and I planned to renovate our worn-out kitchen this year, with my dad's help. And--oop!--we all know what happened to everyone's plans for 2020. There is no way I can keep my family fed properly through the pandemic in my designed-circa-1990, tacked-together, corner-cut, stingy-cheap, crazy, nailed-it-wrong kitchen nightmare that has been crumbling, grumbling, rotting, rusting, and breaking since we bought this house in 2008. We have to do something, so we turned a setback into an opportunity to slow down and beta test some of our new kitchen ideas with temporary staging. It might look insane, but who cares? We won't be having the queen over for tea anytime soon, so we can take time to play with space and function before we commit to building permanent structures and finishing surfaces. For example, open shelves are not practical for everyone. They don't hide clutter or protect things from dust. However, I spend a lot of time in the kitchen and prefer