Personal effectiveness

chasing satisfaction

Chasing Satisfaction

A piece of my personality is always striving for more, for better.  This can be a good thing when it comes to learning and growing and being the best version of our self. 

However, if I am not careful, this mantra of MORE, BETTER can lead me to a place where the thought process changes ever so slightly and becomes “NOT ENOUGH”.  Before I know it, I am looking around me and thinking…

“I am not enough.”  “I could do better.”  “I should do more.”

“I do not have enough stuff in my life.”  “I wish that I had more.”


And then maybe there is another subtle shift in thinking that leads to a bad case of the IF ONLYs…

If only we replaced the roof and siding and painted the inside of our house….then I would be satisfied with our home.”

If only I could find a little more time to exercise each week….then I would be satisfied with my body.”

If only we had a little less chaos in our family life, a little more space in our schedule….then I would be relaxed and happy.”


The problem with this mindset is that you never ever get to the end of those statements.  Because once those first conditions have been met, you simply substitute the next one.  Now we need to pave the driveway and refinish the basement before we are satisfied with the house.  Now I need to be able to fit into those pants in the back of my closet from before I had three beautiful babies if I am to be satisfied with my body.  Now I need to find quiet time to meditate every day if I am to be happy and relaxed. 


Maybe this is starting to sound depressing and pessimistic.  But I like to think of myself as a glass is half full type of person so that’s not my point at all.  My point is just that we need to be mindful of where our thoughts can lead us if we are not careful. 


And, you know what, I don’t want to go through life always feeling like I’m two steps behind Happiness.  Or like I’m always chasing Satisfaction around the corner but never catch up and get to sit down and have a cup of tea with her.  It’s exhausting.  And, in the meantime, I have run right past all of the other people and places on the road and missed out on all that they could have showed me.  I want to stroll purposely through life with a big ol’ smile on my face and learn as much as I can from the people and places along the way. 


This doesn’t mean that we should let the house fall to pieces or never work on a home improvement project again.  This doesn’t mean that I should stop exercising or eating healthy.  This doesn’t mean that I should stop looking for downtime in our schedule or making time for meditation and family bonding activities. 

But it does mean that we should look for that sweet spot where we are feeling productive in whatever way is most meaningful to us at the time but not feeling bad about the things that are not getting done.  And it means that we experience each day as it is happening and look for small joys that light up our life.  Easier said than done.  But, if we are not careful, we will forget what it is we are chasing in the first place and might become lost along the way.  I am constantly reminding myself to stop running to the next thing and to slow down and experience the moment that I am in right now.  So, for 2017, I have a new mantra…well, maybe two new mantras….


“I’ve got everything I need, and nothing that I don’t.” – Zac Brown Band (Homegrown)


 “We’ve got everything we need right here and everything we need is enough.” – Jack Johnson (Banana Pancakes)


homemade salad vinaigrette

Little Changes (and Homemade Vinaigrette Recipes)

I’ve always been interested in food but, when I became pregnant with our first child, I really started to pay more attention to where my food was coming from and what dangers might be lurking inside of it.  So, for better or for worse, I became a bit obsessed with eating healthier and cleaner than I had ever eaten before.  And what started during that first pregnancy is what led us down the path towards where we find ourselves today….eating organic foods, supporting local farms, growing our own garden, preserving food for the winter, keeping backyard chickens, raising meat rabbits…who knows what will be next!


I also love to read and am always looking for new books that talk about farming or homesteading (especially those inspiring stories about a couple or family that quit the daily grind and started on a new path to wholesome living and doing what they love…I find it all so very romantic!) but also books about our food economy or a specific part of the process, such as honey bees.  The downside to this literary education that I choose to immerse myself in is that the amount of negative information can all feel very overwhelming at times – to the point where I start to feel helpless and hopeless and like I should just throw in the towel and accept the fact that…


…one day we will all have cancer and our kids will have food allergies and ADHD and hit puberty at age 8 and probably be diagnosed with diabetes shortly thereafter and our global society will run out of oil and we will all have to put up windmills and solar panels in our backyard and the earth will eventually become inhabitable, either because it fills up with trash or because global warming kills us off….and there is nothing we, as individuals, can do about it in the meantime…


Maybe a bit over the top – or maybe not – but, hey, these are the things that keep me up at night.  When faced with fears such as these, it can be difficult to find something to hold on to and a way to feel like you can make a difference.  But then I discovered that little changes are much more manageable AND can still have a huge impact on the way we live our lives.  And so that’s what we did. 


Instead of looking around our entire house at once – in the pantry and refrigerator, under the kitchen sink, in the medicine closet – and seeing the overabundance of chemicals that were in almost everything that we ate, drank, breathed, cleaned the house with, and slathered on our bodies, we resolved to look at one thing at a time and do what we could to make a small change for the better in our small part of the world. 

Because that’s all that you can do, really. 

Make changes that affect your corner of the world so that at least you know that your family can have a safe haven to come home to after being out in the chemical-laden world.  And in this place, our bodies can recharge and detoxify and be ready to take on the world again.


Of course, not all of these changes have proved to be sustainable in our busy family life.  For example, I love making homemade hummus and yogurt.  However, I found that I had a really hard time keeping up with our family’s consumption of those products and we also happen to be lucky enough to have a healthy and affordable alternative available at our local grocery store.  So, in those cases, it didn’t make sense for me to keep spending my time making the “from scratch” version.  I’ve also tried making my own homemade laundry detergent in the past with great results but, again, I just couldn’t keep up with our laundry demands so I’ve gone back to buying that item.  And I’ve played around with some homemade versions of shampoo, conditioner, liquid dish soap, and dishwasher detergent.  But I wasn’t happy enough with the results to feel like it was worth the time and effort. 


But, in other cases, where maybe there is no healthy and affordable alternative available to us, I still make things from scratch.  For example, I still regularly make homemade granola, bake bread in the breadmaker, make homemade pizza dough, and mix up our own salad vinaigrettes, among other things.  I also continue to make our own hand soap and body spray and sunscreen. 


In the kitchen, one of the easiest and least time consuming of these “from scratch” options is the homemade salad vinaigrette.  You can also save a lot of money and avoid all sorts of additives and preservatives by making your own instead of buying a bottle at the grocery store.


Any basic vinaigrette recipe is simply a mixture of an oil (I like to use a good quality olive oil or avocado oil) with a vinegar or other acidic medium (such as lemon juice or orange juice) and some other ingredients mixed in to add flavor and variety.  Below are some of my favorite versions of the homemade salad vinaigrette.  In each case, I recommend that you combine everything in a jar or salad dressing container, turn on your favorite dance song and shake it like crazy around the kitchen. 

Dance like nobody is watching 😉


homemade vinaigrette recipes



P.S…If this concept of little changes sounds like something that you might want to try and want to read more about someone else’s story who used this idea to change her life and start a powerful eco-movement across the country, check out this book: