Reasons Earth Day Seems More Important This Year

The Earth flag is not an official flag, since ...

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Today’s Earth Day.  Although I was in third grade at the time of the first Earth Day, none of them have been particularly significant to me until this year. Why is that? Why is it that this year I suddenly am so aware of the condition of our planet? After some consideration, I came up with five reasons.

The Fukushima nuclear disaster brought about by the earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan demonstrated that, despite all of the safety regulations and precautions that may be in place based upon prior events, we cannot predict the future. Nuclear energy is not clean energy, and the consequences of its use are disastrous.  How many more nuclear disasters will it take before it is eliminated?

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill spewed massive amounts of oil — official estimates indicate 210, 000 gallons per day, although some scientists estimate much more — into the Gulf of Mexico for 85 days.  I was physically queasy and lost sleep for weeks on end as the situation continued day after day with no hope in sight. Some people say the effects were minimal, but I disagree.  How did it make you feel?

The political unrest in the Middle East makes our nation’s continued dependence on oil disturbing at best.  Nonetheless, it brings to light the fact that Americans only curb their appetite for oil when its cost skyrockets.  If high prices will force people to reduce their consumption of oil, then maybe  prices should remain high.  Yes, I know it’s damaging to our struggling economy.  I feel it, too, but the effect on our economy doesn’t change the fact that failure to reduce, if not eliminate, our gluttonous consumption of fossil fuels is disastrous for our planet.  Struggle now or eventually eliminate life as we know it.  Is the choice really that difficult?

Becoming a parent has made me acutely aware of the future.  No longer do I live a carefree existence  from day to day.  With children comes the responsibility of providing adequate food, clothing, and shelter, along with a healthy planet that will allow them and their own children to thrive.

In spite of all of these things, I contribute daily to the pollution of the Earth by driving my car to the store that sells products wrapped in too much packaging,  buying products that are not organic because the organic stuff is too expensive, and often tote it all home in single-use bags because the reusable ones were forgotten at home. These are just a few of the ways I negatively impact the planet, but don’t think I’m very different from the average American.  We know green is good, and we want to be more green, but we can’t see the forest for the trees.  What I mean is that it seems the consequences of changing are expensive when the truth is that the consequences of NOT changing are what’s really expensive.  For proof, just look at the price of gas.

I try to remember to take my reusable bags to the store, recycle what I can, adjust what I’m wearing rather than the  thermostat, remember to turn out the lights when I leave the room, use washable containers instead of disposable plastic, take shorter showers, hang clothing to dry instead of using the clothes dryer, unplug appliances when not in use, use natural cleaners such as baking soda and vinegar, and so on.  Sadly, these actions just aren’t enough.   To save life as we know it on this planet, there must be action on a much larger scale.  Does that mean I shouldn’t continue to try?  Absolutely not!  By continuing to take these small actions and adding just one new thing ever so often, I set an example for my children that living sustainably is a worthy and achievable goal.

I wish I was clever enough to solve the world’s problems.  My children are pretty smart; maybe they will be the ones to find a way to undo the damage that’s been done and lead their generation through to better days.  Only time will tell.  One thing’s for certain:  Earth Day 2011 is a good time to contemplate mistakes of the past, what we are doing in the present, and what we can do to improve in the future because if we are not part of the solution, then we are part of the problem.

What are you doing to ensure a sustainable future?

Charlotte Poltenovage


Resolution Update

Jillian Michaels' Fitness Ultimatum 2009

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On 12/17, I wrote a blog about my New Year’s resolutions – all intended to get back to ME.  It’s only the second day of January but already I’ve had some disappointments and need to get back on track.

1.  Fit into my wedding ring. A week before Christmas, the goal was to lose around 15 pounds.  A week after Christmas, it’s more like 20.  Sigh.

2.  Exercise/improve heart health. Yesterday, I started reducing carbs and drinking more water.  I also started exercising.  I now have completed two days of Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred workout video and, according to Jillian, am well on my way to being shredded.

The first time I used this video (almost three years ago already?), I used weights and pushed really hard; couldn’t raise my arms for days afterwards.  That made it tough to do simple things like lift and buckle my little one into the SUV.  When the time came time for the next work-out, it didn’t happen.  I can’t afford to be out of commission  over something like that so this time I’m easing into the workout without weights.  They’ll be added soon enough.  So far, so good.

3.  Reduce coffee intake. Coffee intake has been reduced from three to two cups per day.  The plan is to completely eliminate it when supply runs out, and that probably will be in February.  Water and tea are filling the void.

4.  Turn off my computer by 9:00 p.m. every night. I remembered this one at 9:30 last night; hoping to do better tonight.

5.  Read at least two grown-up books per month:  one for fun and one for education/self-improvement. At night before bed, I’m reading a book about thought management.  During the day, I’m listening to an audio book while doing chores.  Loving it!

6.  Blog once a week or more. This is my fourth blog since 12/17.  So far, so good.

Have you made any resolutions for 2011?  If so, how are you doing?

Going Grey

Hair coloring

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I once knew a woman in her 30’s with waist-length salt-and-pepper grey hair, and I remember thinking how strikingly beautiful she was.   This was roughly around the same time that my mother had a big streak of silver hair right in the front.  Again, I thought how lovely she was when she didn’t try to cover her natural color.  So it was that I resolved — still in my late teens, mind you — never to color my hair.  After all, I’m told I look remarkably like my mother and, if she looked that good with grey hair, I probably would, too.

Fast forward 30 years.  I held true to my resolve never to color my hair until a couple of years ago when my grey hairs started coming in way faster than I could pull them out.  That’s when I realized that I was old enough to be the mother of most of the other moms at playgroup, my husband didn’t have ANY grey hair, AND he had perfect vision.  It must have been my new trifocals that helped me see things a little differently than I did way back when.  In short, I looked old and didn’t like it, so I finally broke down and colored my hair.  Little did I realize how much I would regret that decision.

My first time was magical.  I was so anxious for a different look that I also got a trendy new bob.  I was at the salon for hours and spent a small fortune, but  it looked gorgeous, and I was thrilled.  I felt like a new woman.  Then a few weeks went by and my roots started to show.  It’s no great secret that hair grows but a fact I had chosen to overlook in my desperation to cling to youth.  The second time wasn’t as good as the first because there was no way to color each strand of hair the same way it was colored before, and that frustrated me.  Whether it was noticeable to anyone else or not, I don’t know.  I began to regret my decision because it was beginning to dawn on me that, short of shaving my head, I couldn’t go back without having a distinction between colored and natural hair.

That’s about the same time that my husband lost his job — the one where he recently had been recognized for excellence.  He never discouraged me, but I no longer felt comfortable spending so much money on my hair every month.  I started coloring it myself with less than stellar results.

The lovely variety of shades that the colorist painstakingly put into my hair were instantly blanketed by a single too-dark brown.  My bathroom was covered in stray globs of dye  — on the wall, the counter, the shower curtain.  My forehead was stained in a failed attempt to cover those wispy little grey hairs that surround my face.  It was a nightmare.  Nonetheless, I persevered, determined not to have the “skunk stripe” created by the regrowth of my natural color.

I recently realized that I was fighting a losing battle with those little white hairs around my face and decided it was time to go in a different direction.  Instead of coloring them darker, I’d make everything else lighter.  Not a good idea.

The ends of my hair that had been receiving the dark brown dye for so long stayed dark brown while the roots bleached out quickly.  Now I resemble one of those Wild African Dogs at the zoo with patches of red, black, brown, white, and yellow.  Lovely.  Just lovely.

With supermodels flaunting their grey hair these days, maybe it’s a good time to stop this nonsense and get back to me.  Hey!  I just posted a blog about that!  Getting back to ME:  2011 resolutions!  I think this is another one to add to the list!  In the meantime…where’s my hat?

Getting Back to ME: 2011 Resolutions

A white gold wedding ring. Photograph taken by...

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I’ve been putting myself last for years now, not because anyone asked me to but because nothing brings me greater joy than my family, so taking care of their needs before mine just came naturally.  Something happened recently, though, that made me pause to think about life:  I turned 49.  Next December, I’ll be 50.  The big five-oh.  Wow.

I looked in the mirror and saw a woman in serious need of a make-over – not only on the outside, but on the inside as well.  Next December, I want to be a Fab 50, not a frumpy or frazzled 50.  So, I’ve decided:  2011 is the year to get back to ME.  With my youngest child half-way through kindergarten, my husband finishing his Master’s degree in June, and the New Year right around the corner, it seems to me that some resolutions are in order.

Now, I’m not looking for an extreme make-over.  Uh-uh.  These need to be realistic, achievable goals.  That’s not to say they won’t be challenging.  After all, some of them have been attempted before, and some have been achieved but not maintained.  Knowing that goals must be specific and measurable and that it helps to be held accountable, I’m sharing with you my resolutions for 2011:

  1. Fit into my wedding ring.  I think I’ll need to lose about 15 pounds for that to happen, but the number of pounds is not as important to me as the ability to wear my wedding ring again.  I am proud of the man I married and miss wearing the ring that symbolizes our love.  Fitting into my skinny jeans will be a nice bonus.  This goes hand-in-hand with resolution number two.
  2. Exercise/improve heart health.  I plan to utilize my treadmill and work-out DVDs at least three times per week before the boys get up for school and continue to walk with friends when I can.  I also will reduce carbs, increase vegetables, eat reasonably-sized portions, and drink more water.
  3. Reduce coffee intake.  Heck, I might even eliminate coffee altogether; have done it before.  I hear there’s going to be a coffee shortage in 2011, so it seems like a good time to give it up.  Tea is good.  I’ll drink that and more water from now on.  Coffee makes me jittery and upsets my stomach, anyway.
  4. Read at least two grown-up books per month:  one for fun and one for education/self-improvement.  Books read with the children, while fun, don’t count.  I love to read and don’t know how this simple pleasure managed to slip out of my life for so long.  To accomplish this, I plan to turn off my computer by 9:00 p.m. every night.  Period.  That’s going to be the hard part.
  5. Blog once a week or more.  This is totally new, but once a week shouldn’t be difficult.  I read a great deal online.  Add to that at least two new books a month, and I should be able to find SOMETHING interesting to blog about.   My husband will be thrilled if I manage to use part of my daily word allowance by blogging because I talk A LOT.  The challenge for me will be to crank the postings out quickly and not over-think the writing because I’m a bit of a perfectionist.  Being a social media consultant and work-at-home-mom (WAHM) of “advanced maternal age” (AMA),  my topics likely will include kids, food, health, aging, earth, social media, marketing…in short, whatever is “onmymindrightnow.”

What are your resolutions for 2011?

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