Tuesday, July 31, 2007

How long has it been since you've taken a vacation? I don't mean using your vacation days when your children are sick because your own sick days have been all used up. I mean when have you taken a couple of weeks off to reconnect with your children, your spouse, or even yourself? Do you even have the what-used-to-be-standard 2 or 3 weeks per year of vacation time? Many employees find that they do not even get that benefit anymore. Of those that do, many are afraid to actually use that time...afraid that they will get too far behind at work or even that it will be seen as a sign of weakness and could put their job into jeopardy. Did you know that in Australia and Europe, 4-5 weeks of vacation time per year is mandated by law? Employees in Canada and Japan have 2 weeks by law. In the United States, there is no mandated minimum. It is estimated that in the U.S. vacation time is an average of 4 days per year. Is it any wonder that Americans seem to be chronically stressed?

A few months ago, I wrote about a campaign to return to the dinner table, which was sponsored by a group called Take Back Your Time. They are now attempting to launch a campaign to pass an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act called "The Minimum Leave Protection, Family Bonding and Personal Well-Being Act of 2007". If passed, this would

  • Protect you from having your vacation cut or eliminated by an employer

  • Protect you from chronically cancelled vacations

  • Protect you from losing vacation time when you change jobs. You will always get three weeks after a year at a job.

  • Protect you against retaliation for taking your vacation time, and end the fear of replacement, demotion, or lost promotions when you take all the time in your company policy.

  • Provide a pro rata share of the three-week vacation after three months until the one-year mark is reached. For example, after six months, you would get 1.5 weeks off.

If you are interested in helping with their campaign, here are some ways they suggest you get involved:

  1. Sign up to volunteer and be a volunteer coordinator in your community or state by emailing Executive Director Lisa Steubing (lisa@timeday.org) Provide as much information about yourself as you can--why you're interested; what kind of work you do; full contact information; whether you're willing to speak with the press or electronic media;

  2. Send them your stories about the struggle for vacation time. If you are willing to speak to the media. The media thrives on personal stories and they want to be able to offer some. Tell them if you don't get paid vacation or don't feel you can take it all. Tell them if your company is particularly good on this issue--they want to honor those companies that are. If you want to tell your story but don't want your name made public, let them know that too. All of your stories are important!

  3. Provide financial support. They need your time, but they also need money to run this campaign and keep Take Back Your Time afloat. Every dollar matters. They are seeking to raise $15,000 through this appeal. That's less than two dollars from each one of us. Please consider sending $25, $50 or even $100 or more. Also, please consider making a recurring donation, every little bit counts!

Chinese-produced fresh ginger is recalled

WASHINGTON, July 30 (UPI) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning Monday for consumers to avoid eating fresh ginger imported from China.

See link for more information

Monday, July 30, 2007

I'm excited!

There is something that I've really been wanting to get. But I simply cannot buy new. There is a possibility that I might be able to get it used and hopefully be able to afford it! I will update once I find out for sure.

EDIT: Didn't work out, but that's okay. I know that the things I need will come to us at the right time.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

From within

In the process of simplifying and renewing, perhaps one of the most important aspects is that of purifying our bodies and souls. I am wondering if maybe that is where I went wrong a few months ago. I was so focused on the outer, on getting a clean house, on reducing the amount of "stuff" we have, that I didn't pay attention to what was going on within myself.

This week, I am trying something new. For one week, I am going to eat only those fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds that can be eaten raw. With the kids away at camp, this is the perfect time to embark on something like this. Yesterday and today, I have eaten mainly fresh fruit, along with some vegetables in huge green leafy salads. Today I'm feeling a little tired, but otherwise I feel great. My mind seems a littler sharper and I'm feeling more hopeful and optimistic. Definitely not as "down" as I've been for so long now. I have no idea if this is related only to the food I'm eating, but I'm sure that has contributed greatly.

I don't have an inclination to become completely raw, although I think its great for those who do. But for too long now, I've been eating, basically cr*p. Part of it has to do with being in a state of depression and not having the energy to really do anything. Fixing a healthy meal has been so far out of my radar lately its not even funny. But then of course this becomes a cycle because when you eat only cr*p, then you feel like cr*p. So I would like for the vast majority of my food to be raw, fresh fruits, vegetable, nuts and needs, along with things like bean, lentils, vegetable soups, etc. More than anything right now, I am getting rid of anything with artificial flavors colors, high-fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, etc. Through this, I will pretty much stop bringing processed foods into our home, automatically resulting in less trash for me to deal with.

Now I wish I could figure out a way to compost the scraps from all these fruits and veggies. We're in an apartment with no patio, balcony or yard.

Any ideas for me??

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Starting over

Last year I began a journey that proved more difficult than I had imagined. I wanted to step off of the consumerism highway. I wanted to explore new and untraveled paths. I wanted to reduce our footprint on this planet. Alas, my journey was not successful. And now, months later, I look around me and see that I am not happier. If anything, I feel more bogged down, more cluttered, and more stressed than ever.

I am returning to the journey. I am beginning again. I am so tired of being weighed down by "stuff". I am tired of my stuff owing me. I am also returning to compacting.

I thought about starting a brand new blog. A clean slate. No embarrassing failures right in print for all to see.

But then I decided not to do that. You see, I've actually been on the journey all along. I'm not where I'd hoped to be by this time. But I've learned and grown and now it is time to simply keep moving. Return to the goals that I had, maybe form some new ones. Make new friends, learn new things. Relax and continue to grow.

I'm committing myself to blog regularly. That will help to keep me focused on where I am going. I also commit to helping others who are on this journey with me, even if it is only with a supportive note or a helpful tip here and there. I will not look down on those who are moving "too slowly" on this path. Perhaps that is the biggest lesson of all from this time I've been absent from the blog. I am not better or more enlightened than other people. I need help and I need to help others. We're all in this together.