Wiser Living
Finding a natural solution


7 Tips to Overcome the Fear of Loneliness

Sometime or another we will experience a time when we are alone. Some people fear being alone for various reasons. The first step is to become comfortable with yourself and having the self-confidence that you will be able to manage being alone. There is nothing wrong with being alone. If being alone bothers you then seeing a counselor can help you with these issues.

Dog Picture

In the meantime here are seven tips on overcoming the fear of being alone.

1. Find An Activity: Find an activity that you enjoy and where you can meet a lot of people. Doing something that you like will make you happy and will increase your chances of making friends.

2. Spend Time With Animals: Spending time with an animal or pet can help us feel better. Animals can be good company to all of us, whether we are alone or not. There are many local shelters that could use your time and talents.

3. Helping Others: There are many people out there who could benefit from your time and skill sets. Helping others can give you a source of pride and accomplishment, and may also lead to friendships.

4. It Could Be Worse: It isn't fun being alone, but sometimes there are worse things. For instance, imagine that you are married or stuck in a relationship that you can't get out of, which also makes you miserable. As a result you are stuck living with someone that you can't stand and makes you depressed. With this viewpoint, being alone doesn't sound that bad.

5. Be Constructive: Sitting around and doing nothing will not make things any better, whether it is dealing with the fear of being alone or something else. Take it one day at a time and stay committed in trying to solve your problem.

6. Things Can Change: Nothing remains the same forever. No one can predict the future with 100 percent accuracy. Events change all of the time. Even if the thing that you feared does happen, there are circumstances and factors that you can't predict which can be used to your advantage. You never know when the help and answers you are looking for will come to you.

7. You'tr Not the Only Who Is Alone: Remember that everyone deals with loneliness sometime in their life. Focus on your life and don't compare yourself to others. Continue to seek friendships with other people and try not to feel sorry for yourself. There are kinds of people in various circumstances, so don't assume that you are the only who is alone.

Good Habits to Establish While Young

The goal of a healthy life can be challenging to achieve for many of us. When just starting out, it can feel like there is an insurmountable number of things to change about your lifestyle in order to be successful. It can seem as though healthy living requires giving up more than it is worth.

Fortunately, that is not necessarily the case. Small steps and minor changes can do wonders in improving your general health and well-being. Creating a pattern of healthy habits, such as brushing your teeth every night, can help to ensure you and your kids are on the way to lifetime health.

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This is especially true when our positive health habits are established at a younger age. Some research indicates that habits — both healthy and unhealthy — that are developed early in life are likely to stick and hard to break. It is critical to practice good habits early and often. Here are a few to get started with!

Junk Food Moderation

In this day and age, perhaps one of the most challenging things to avoid is unhealthy junk food. We all know that eating junk food in excess has the potential to cause some serious problems; for instance, we know that sugary drinks can wreck havoc on our teeth. But junk food seems to be nearly everywhere and can be difficult to avoid without special precautions, such as preparing your own food in advance.

When trying to give up junk food, there are a variety of ways to get started. Arguably the best way to begin combating unhealthy food cravings is by drinking more water. Aside from water being incredibly good for you in general, some research has actually linked thirst to the feeling of food cravings. When you are thirsty, your body may actually be interpreting that as hunger.

Another means of combating junk food cravings is by making sure that you get enough nightly sleep. Sleep plays a role in nearly all bodily functions, including appetite. Poor sleep can actually contribute to swings in hormones that ultimately lead to stronger cravings — often for foods that are sugary and will provide a quick burst of energy.

Bedtime Routines

Bedtime routines are another healthy habit that can make a significant difference in your overall routine. Ritualizing bedtime can help your body and mind prepare for a good night’s sleep. Furthermore, certain aspects of a routine can help make you more organized in the mornings, reduce stress after long days, and improve overall physical and mental health.

Nightly routines don’t have to be super complicated. Simple things such as brushing your teeth, washing your face, and taking out your contacts before bed can give your body cues that it is time for bed. If stress is a concern, doing things such as writing down your thoughts or practicing mindful meditation before bed can make a profound difference in avoiding restlessness at night.

For children, nighttime routines are imperative to developing good sleep habits and reducing fussing before bed. Sometimes it can be challenging to get your child into a bedtime routine that works for both them and you, but it is well worth the effort. Tips and tricks include things such as giving warning, reading a book, brushing teeth, and being firm once the lights are out.

Personal Hygiene

Another good habit to get into and stick with early is a good personal hygiene. This is particularly important for preteens and teenagers that are going through changes that require additional hygiene requirements. Things such as putting on deodorant, showering regularly, and maintaining facial hair suddenly become much more essential.

Regardless of age, there are plenty of good habits that can improve personal hygiene. For instance, facial cleansing products can help reduce acne, improve skin durability, and ultimately make it feel softer. Habits such as cleaning and caring for your skin can have long-lasting impacts that become increasingly obvious as you age.

Additionally, the habit of brushing your teeth and flossing twice every day can have profound impacts on your oral health and greatly reduce the risk of gum disease. This is a particularly important habit to get small children into early on as brushing teeth can be a difficult skill to learn and takes a lot of practice. When teach children to brush their teeth, be sure that they are reaching all corners of their mouths and not simply focusing on their front teeth.

Health habits can be difficult to get into, but they are well worth the extra effort. Things such as avoiding junk food, developing a nightly routine, and making a habit out of good personal hygiene can be great starts to healthy habits for both you and your children. Starting early is key to long-term success!

Stop Buying Books: Rent Them Instead!

Ya got me. I am terribly, terribly biased. As a former librarian, and a lifelong library aficionado, I’ve been raving about the beauty and necessity of libraries for aye! But in the land of zero waste, libraries are a gold mine.

Before starting this journey to zero waste, I regarded paper as one of the most innocuous types of waste we can produce. Yes, it costs us trees, but it’s recyclable right? Well, yes but…there’s a but…Did you know paper is recyclable only 4-6 times before the fibers are so over-processed that it’s no longer recyclable? Or that the paper production industry is wildly polluting. Or that, of the 4 billion trees cut down every year, 35% are directed towards the paper industry? Not to be a buzz kill or anything…

lauren in library

But that’s where the library comes in! Instead of all of us buying our own copies of the same John Grisham novel, we can all rent the same novel from the library FOR FREE. Or DVDs or CDs. Depending on your local library, they probably have the latest issues of your favorite newspapers and magazines for rent, again FOR FREE. And, to go truly zero paper, many libraries offer FREE Kindle book rentals via platforms like Overdrive which allow you to download practically any popular book immediately to your e-reader or computer from the laziness of your sofa. FOR FREE. How beautiful is that?

If you need any help figuring out how to download books for free, ask a librarian. They are literally being paid to wait around for you to ask them that question. Or if you need a hard to find book, a librarian can order that book from any of the other libraries in their system (which can be state or nationwide) just for you because libraries share all of their materials with each other so we all have access to it. FOR FREE.

Some libraries even offer discounted passes for local museums and attractions. Other libraries allow non-traditional items to be checked out, like board games, musical instruments and tools. My local library has a ukulele and a ping pong game set on loan (among other things).

You know how much the average paperback fiction book at Barnes and Noble costs? $14.50. The average hardcover? Around $24.

You know how much the average library card costs? FREE!

Eco-Tourism in Ogden, Utah

Ogden, Utah sits at the base of the Wasatch Mountains—the town’s impeccably preserved historic buildings and snowy, but not too chilly atmosphere make for a phenomenal home base for a winter getaway. Three ski resorts are minutes away, with two of them being accessible via bus. A local food scene is blossoming, with vegan cafes and sustainably-sourced cuisine becoming the norm. Downtown is quite walkable, making it possible to omit using a car when visiting. Ogden provides an affordable way to take a ski vacation, while making it easy to make sustainable decisions.

Downtown

Ski

All three ski resorts are vastly different, from the terrain to the food. Yet all of them make an effort to preserve the land they reside on, while reducing the overall footprint. 

nordic valley 

  • Nordic Valley is best if you’re a beginner. A gentle green run sits right up front, and there’s a snow tubing hill for a more chill experience. 

  • Snowbasin offers farm sourced, local cuisine, and Snowbasin blend coffee comes from local roastery, Daily Rise, which is a great example of how the local community works. Nordic trails take adventurists on a peaceful ride through wooded areas, and you’ve got the more intense snow sports experiences.

  • After a stunning bus trip up to Timberline Lodge, you’ll find a cozy pub serving local beer, warm ramen and hot popcorn at Powder Mountain. More minimal in the sense of development, it exudes a very homey feel. They work to protect their trees, recently planting thousands, and you won’t find disposable water bottles for sale—fill stations are dotted through the area. Being on top of the mountain, they don’t need to make their snow, so an immense amount of energy is saved. 

Eat and Drink

The food scene in Ogden is diverse, largely health conscious and quite intertwined, with many eateries collaborating and using each other’s products. The sense of community is strong, there’s a farmers market, which even operates in the winter within historic Union Station. Here you’ll find everything from seasonal produce to handmade items. 

Cuppa

  • Daily Rise is the place to go for coffee, as their innovative and pure methods make one appreciate the depth and importance of carefully sourcing the beans that we all love so much. Ogden has three locations, of which range from the actual roastery/drive thru, the lone drive thru and a downtown location that will soon be serving vegan savory and sweet crepes.

  • Cuppa, an airy café on 25th street, serves straight vegan fare, like coconut tortilla breakfast tacos with tofu scramble, avocado and creamy plant based sauces—add the tempeh bacon and you will never feel the need for any other taco again. The black rose waffle with charcoal batter and a hint of floral flavor, topped with coconut whip, then drizzled with forest berry sauce takes the cake on the sweet side of things, but Cuppa has a generous list of other animal product free deliciousness from macadamia nut lattes to vibrant salads. 

  • Ramen Haus’ vegan bowl incorporates a load of sprouts, mushrooms, onions, tofu and yam (aka shiritaki) noodles in a refreshingly simple miso broth. 

  • Snowbasin isn’t just a place to ski, their cuisine is chef cultivated. Aside from munching on farm sourced dishes and house made pastries at one of the lodge’s, including a stunning mountain top location accessible by chairlift, the resort hosts numerous culinary events through the year. In the summer, the John Paul Campout brings visitors to the top of the mountain to enjoy camping under the official designated Dark Sky, while being treated to authentic Dutch oven meals sourced from the surrounding farms. 

  • Trek a few miles to the small town of Eden and you’ll find the most charming small town with a tiny cluster of food and a handmade body product shop, Simply Eden. New World Distillery is also nestled there, and is revolutionizing the booze world by pushing for ingredient transparency. Cultivated with absolute precision and a fragrant array of botanicals like juniper berries and cinnamon, the gin is something to be remembered and contains 100 times more botanicals than typical brands. Other spirits feature thoughtful twists—barrel aged tequila and a tart cherry liquor made with cherries harvested just down the road, and sweetened with organic agave, not refined sugar, aren’t the typical among the spirits world. 

Stay

The Bigelow Hotel has resided in Ogden since the 1800s, and the building has been carefully cared for and preserved. Oldies tunes pipe through the halls, much of the original decor is in tact, and they work to reduce water and energy usage. 

bigelow

Other Reasons to Come

The area does its part to protect the bison, antelope, birds and deer that call Ogden Valley home. A short trip out of the valley, to Antelope Island, on the Great Salt Lake, increases the likelihood of spotting one of these beautiful creatures, while introducing visitors to an intriguing environment. 

Union Station, where the Pacific and Union railways crossed paths 150 years ago, has preserved significant pieces of history, from World War II medical cars, to artifacts within the terminal. It sits right at the end of historic 25th street, which served as a socializing hub way back when. 

Almost torn down around the 60s, a protesting effort saved the Peery Egyptian Theater, which is accented with a stunning night sky ceiling that is original to the structure. It’s an important part of history and is a beautiful depiction of classic movie palaces. Locals gather here for live shows.

The Ogden River has undergone an intense cleanup over the years, to remove rubble, old cars and trash to return the urban water feature to its original glory. In fact, it is now so pristine it is classified as a Blue Ribbon river. The initiative was instigated by the still intact GOAL organization put into action when the Olympics came to town in 2002. This is a fantastic example of how Ogden is ever evolving into a more eco conscious, mindful destination.

Ogden was once a diamond in the rough, but has now been steadily polished into what could soon rival some of the best cities in the United States. They’ve preserved, transformed their food scene, and are making the city more accessible and appealing to those looking to travel in an eco-conscious way. 

Daily Rise

Why Sustainability Needs Minimalists

The direct correlation between sustainability and minimalism is pretty clear ― if we consume less stuff, we can sustain more resources and lessen the negative impact on our environment.

Americans are fantastic consumers, and it’s in our nature as humans to covet what we see. Advertisements are inescapable in our digital world. We’re now bombarded around the clock. And social media isn’t helping either, as we’re constantly comparing, judging, and coveting the lives and stuff our “friends” have.

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It begs the question, how much is too much? And more importantly, what is the true cost of this stuff we can’t seem to get enough of? As most Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck, living a more minimalist lifestyle can help decrease economic hardship.

That new, expensive dining room table your neighbor just purchased to replace another (that did its job just fine and didn’t deserve to be fired) may not have come directly from Borneo — but that doesn’t mean that it didn’t contribute to the pillaging of their forests and the displacement of native people indirectly. After all, that wood has to come from somewhere.

The problem is that it’s not about the table’s functionality. We could use four cinder blocks and a piece of plywood as a table. The problem is that we (privileged) humans use things, like that shiny new table, to temporarily fill holes in ourselves that can’t be filled in the long term. It’s like eating Chinese food and being hungry 30 minutes later. That table isn’t going to satisfy for long. Round and round we go.

This is why living minimally has less to do with sustainability and more to do with the roots of consumerism, the nature of a real community, and building social connections that can help close the inequality gap, and thus reduce our innate desire for stuff.

Minimalism as a Social Justice Issue

While privileged humans purchase and consume to quench their unsatiated hunger, the less fortunate are the ones getting hurt in the process. It’s always the poor who are most vulnerable. It’s always the most vulnerable who are most harmed by materialism and consumerism.

The native people losing their forest in Borneo have no voice. They have no power because money is the true source of power, and they’re on the wrong end of the consumerism paradigm. But according to Juliet Schor, professor of Sociology at Boston College, this issue is more complex than materialism vs. minimalism.

“The cycle of acquisition and discard is getting faster and faster,” says Schor. And the reason behind it, or what’s really driving consumerism, is inequality.

There is always going to be someone who is wealthier, who is happier, and who has more than we do. And according to Schor, we’re using our purchasing powers to close these gaps and feel like we belong.

Schor says that Americans are wired for consumerism, thanks in part to our immigrant beginnings and racial inequality. However, anyone who has ever been abroad, particularly cities like Seoul, Korea, Hong Kong, and Tokyo, knows very well that consumerism isn’t just an American disease.

However, Schor is spot-on when it comes to humans passing the buck on the issue of consumerism by speaking in generalities ― WE are too materialistic as a society. WE need to consume less. “It’s the other person’s disease,” says Schor. Not our own.

Schor uses the example of neighbors sharing one lawn mower, rather than each having his own. It’s less about the impact of fewer lawn mowers being produced and more about building deeper social connections. Connections that can close this inequality gap and eventually reduce our desire for more stuff.

The deeper sociological issue revolves around finding true sources of happiness. According to Schor, this can and should be done through community-building. And as our desire for more stuff subsides, we’ll naturally become more minimalistic and more sustainable.

Consumption as a Personal Problem

According to Michael Norton, an associate professor at Harvard, one big reason for income and social inequality is that most people live in a bubble and are unable to see just how wide the inequality gap has become.

Since the majority of people only associate with others that are like themselves ― economically, racially, ethnically ― Norton recommends getting out of our comfort zones and creating relationships with others that span those divides.

At a minimum, doing this should result in creating more empathy and adding some much-needed perspective.

In 2001 I spent several months in India as part of a longer backpacking trip around the world. I’ll never forget how I found it odd that an Indian acquaintance, who served as my guide on occasion, always wore the same pair of pants. It didn’t dawn on me until later that he probably couldn’t afford a second pair. It also didn’t occur to me until much later how he didn’t really need more than one pair of pants. And how, for the most part, we wear clothes to look good for others, rather than out of necessity.

Having profound experiences like this, that take you from your comfort zone and place you into worlds much different from your own, is exactly what I needed and what Norton is talking about. It’s one thing to read about or talk about how others around the world live with less. It’s another thing entirely to see it and live it with them.

Happiness isn’t dependent on things. People who choose to live with less will often say how much happier and unencumbered they feel as a result. In the movie Fight Club, Brad Pitt’s character, Tyler Durden, says, “The things you own, end up owning you.”

It’s an amazing gift to truly see the difference between necessity and luxury. If you go down the rabbit hole deep enough, nearly everything becomes luxury. There isn’t much that we truly need. And when our desire for things lessens, we’re often able to find truer sources of happiness.

On a personal scale, this can produce magnificent changes within. On a societal scale, we reduce the cyclical and destructive game of seeing more and wanting more, which is always more destructive to those on the wrong side of the inequality gap — whether it results in losing a forest you called home for hundreds of years or losing even an ounce of self-worth because you cannot afford the things you see and want.

If you can get used to the idea of wearing the same pair of pants every day, you shouldn’t have any trouble bearing the idea of a community lawnmower. And from there, who knows what else you’ll be capable of?

Becoming more sustainable has never been easier than it is today, thanks in large part to technological advances in sustainable energy sources. But until we take more personal responsibility for the inequality issues that plague our world, and evolve to live more minimalist lives as a result, our desire for stuff will continue to oppose our sustainability efforts. Not to mention the immense harm it contributes to others, whether we choose to recognize it or not.

Hello from the Heartland!

Hi, and welcome to my first post at Mother Earth Living! I’m so thrilled to be able to join the other bloggers here and I hope you’ll come back and visit often. Since I'm new, I'll start by telling you a bit about myself.

I was born and raised in the Midwest. Over the years we moved often; however, the fond memories I had of my grandmother's home in the country always stayed with me. Her home was set on a grassy hillside bordered by a long row of fragrant lilacs and a creek running nearby. The woods on the hill provided endless chances for me to explore and each evening the songs of the whippoorwills would sing us to sleep. Even though I spent most of my growing up years in the suburbs, her country home always held a special place in my heart.

icy branch with red berries
Photo by Mary Murray

Fast forward a few years, and I'm off to college. I traveled to the Rocky Mountains for five years, returned home after graduation, married my sweetheart, and we settled into our first home. It wasn't long, though, before our apartment felt small...we needed to stretch our legs! That was the beginning of many Saturday mornings we'd pack a map, along with a picnic, and head out looking for a few acres of our own. My husband had grown up on a 100-acre farm, and I still had those warm memories of my grandmother's home, so it was decided that a farmhouse outside of a small, Mayberry-like town was what we wanted.

We finally found that home...an 1864 farmhouse on 10 acres. Although it needed quite a bit of renovation, the mahogany, chestnut, and red oak woodwork sold us. It was filled with craftsmanship from another time—a hand-carved banister, floor-to-ceiling windows, and 9-foot arched front doors with wavy glass.

So, we dug in our heels and began making changes. Carpet came up, flocked wallpaper came down, and plaster was repaired. As we continued to make this farmhouse our own, we named it Windy Meadows Farm, and welcomed a sweet girl and boy to our family…now that boy and girl are teenagers, oh how the time has flown!

Our farm is what's commonly called a hobby farm, and our 10 acres were originally part of a 1000-acre land grant for Revolutionary War service. We're so fortunate to be surrounded by family-owned farms that have been handed down from generation-to-generation. With room to roam, space for gardens and animals, it's now our turn to be caretakers of this home.

Along the way I've worked in the corporate world and had my own business. Once our children came along, I was fortunate enough to be able to work from home as a cookbook editor. These days I'm home full-time, chauffeuring kids, tending gardens, learning to spin and weave, and teaching myself to fiddle. I’m putting a retro spin on a 1963 Yellowstone camper named Maizy, and I usually have a camera in one hand and a cookbook in the other. On our farm you'll find a flock of chatty hens, friendly Nubian and Lamancha goats, a handful of barn cats, buzzing honeybees, and a trusty farm dog.

snowy frozen pine cones on tree
Photo by Mary Murray

I love old houses, wooden barns, and simple, old-fashioned ways. It's the country pleasures that mean the most to me: tying on an apron for Sunday dinner, barn sales & auctions, farmers' markets, county fairs, porch swings, and slow train rides. Add to these things the laughter of children, and I couldn't be happier.
 
And so, on this snowy winter day, I welcome you to my farm. I'm so lucky to be doing what I love each day. I'm happy you're here and I hope you'll visit often. When you do stop by, you'll read my thoughts on country living and get a peek at what we're doing. I'll also share some of our favorite recipes, family traditions, and show you the changes we're making to our farm along the way. 

Welcome to our farmhouse...life is good.


Mary is a Midwest farm girl who will tell you, “I love simple, old-fashioned ways. For me, it’s the country pleasures that mean the most ... tying on an apron for Sunday dinner, barn sales & auctions, farmers' markets, county fairs, porch swings, and slow train rides. Add to these the laughter of children, and I couldn't be happier!” You can visit Windy Meadows Farm here, Windy Meadows Farm.

Green Options For Gift-Giving This Holiday Season

The holidays are a busy time, but that doesn’t mean you need to forget about being environmentally conscious. There are dozens of ways you can incorporate eco-friendly decorating, travel, and gifts into the mix to make your holiday season festive, joyful, and better for our planet.

holiday decor on white table top
Photo by Sweta Meininger on Unsplash

Eco-Friendly Travel Around the Holidays or Anytime

Holidays are a time of travel. Some families choose to vacation instead of staying home for the holidays. Not all travel, however, is kind to the environment. Thankfully, more hotels and resorts are appealing to the eco-traveler with lots of friendly options.

When researching green travel destinations, be sure to ask some questions about how far their “green standards” go and if they have any certifications from an organization like the International Ecotourism Society. Preserving water by not washing linens each day is a start, but it’s not enough to satisfy most green travelers.

Africa, South America, and Australia offer some fantastic eco-lodges with low-impact tourism. These locales are unique because they were built from the ground up with eco-friendly practices in mind. If you plan on traveling stateside, Alaska, New Mexico, Wisconsin, and Montana offer locally grown food in their restaurants, cotton linens, and recycles products throughout.

Environmentally-Conscious Decorating Ideas

This year forget about that fake tree. Artificial trees damage the environment, and more than 80 percent of them are made in China burning coal and then shipped to the U.S. on diesel ships. Fake trees are non-biodegradable and will sit in landfills for years. A better solution is a real tree which is all natural, fully biodegradable, and smells great. Another option is a live tree that you can bring in each winter, wasting nothing and enjoying year after year.

Instead of using traditional holiday lights, opt for LED lights which use less electricity (33 percent); they burn cooler, so less risk of fire; and they last a long time. When decorating your house, use sprigs of real garland and pine instead of plastic. A few added bows here and there go a long way.

Green Gift-Giving

For a unique gift-giving idea for teens and young adults, consider a metal detector under the tree this year. Go treasure hunting even in winter for recyclables under the snow and cleaning up trash around neighboring lakes and ponds. A metal detector is a gift that will get used year round, while also honoring an eco-friendly mindset.

Some other great eco-friendly gift ideas are a Nalu Reusable Sun Bottle that keeps plastic away from your water, smoothie or tea. Essential oils are all natural, and a gift set of toiletries infused with scented oils is a nice present many will enjoy. For the chef in your family, consider an organic bamboo cutting board or recycled melamine bowls in festive colors.

Hand-crafted gifts are the nicest to give and receive. The EPA suggests a great eco-friendly gift such as homemade edibles as they are thoughtful and offer an opportunity to utilize locally grown foods and recyclable materials. Additionally, if you are crafty and skilled in photography, painting, knitting or jewelry-making, you can give special customized gifts to everyone on your list.

Other Tips for Eco-Friendly Holidays

Remember when cooking, not to keep opening the oven door. It uses a lot of extra energy to reheat every time you do. Instead, use the oven light to peek through the window to see if your holiday feast is ready.

Winter can be cold, and it might be tempting just to turn up the heat. Instead, wear a winter sweater or use that nice throw you got for your birthday to stay warm. Your guests may enjoy it a little cooler also. When cooking and running around with gifts and kids, houses tend to warm up naturally anyway.

By implementing a few of these small changes, your holidays can be a wonderful time to be with family, share laughs and still help to save our planet.







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