“So it’s come to this,” I mutter as I dumpster dive into the recycle bin. I’m digging out any scrap of paper with enough white space that I can write on. Because this is a note to myself, I don’t need a pristine piece of paper. And heaven knows how I “reduce and reuse” to the point of insanity, just to keep the eco-angst at bay as best I can. How did I get here, at the literal bottom of the barrel, anyway? It’s a question I ask myself on a daily, near hourly, basis.

This morning found me engrossed in self-shaming about all the eco-loving things I am NOT doing.

  • NOT remembering to bring a reusable container for restaurant leftovers
  • NOT taking my glass container to the deli counter
  • NOT giving up cheese produced from greenhouse gas-belching cows
  • NOT, NOT, NOT.

Then my mother suddenly materialized, hands on hips, because she’s in that I MEAN IT mode. Though she’s been gone for nearly ten years, she occasionally pops in, I-Dream-of-Jeanie style, to reiterate one of her resolute refrains that I’ve forgotten. “Something,” she announced, “MUST be done to stop this insanity.”  #InstantKarma.

I know, Mom. I get it. And I also feel helpless to stop myself from the incessant “it’s not enough” self-judgment.

Mom shape-shifted to hold a copy of my book in her hands, a wordless reminder of my own hopeful words on the topic. Something about bringing my eco-worries into my meditation, where I dare to hope for a beautiful world… then my heart opens and Love guides my way.

You’re right, Mom. Prayer and meditation can pick me up out of the depths of despair and restore my Hope for the future like nothing else.

On good days. Even on most mediocre days.

Today is not a good, or even mediocre, day. Today is a pitiful meow from the bottom of a well sort of day.

Walking my neighborhood this morning, I spotted just one (or ten million) too many discarded flyers lying in the gutter—for a “tidying up” service, no less!—to take the high road.

This litter is not the greatest threat to Life on Earth as we know it. I realize that. But it’s symbolic of what is. APATHY. Thinking somebody else will clean up the messes.

Hopping mad, I literally could not sit to meditate. But I also refuse to imprison myself in my own home, just because I can’t handle litter, FFS.* How will I get out of bed at all when I read about the latest study on climate change??

That’s when I marched home and took that dive into the recycling bin. “I’m giving myself PERMISSION,” I growled, thankful I’m home alone. I cannot afford another citation from the Sanity Police. Cobbling together my reusable scraps, I start scribbling, crafting PERMISSION SLIPS.


Limited Supply — For Emergency Use Only—Check all that apply

I, Cheryl Leutjen, do hereby give myself permission to:

__NOT clean up other people’s messes
__bring home restaurant leftovers in a non-recyclable container when I forget to take one
__do / NOT do anything else I deem environmentally irresponsible
__curse and rant for no apparent reason

At the bottom, I add:

The SMALL THINGS I DO MATTER—even if I don’t always do them.
Being an Earth-loving person does not mean being perfect.

Not exactly sure what I’ll do with these, but it sure feels freeing to write them out. I toss a couple in my purse, along with my reusable straw, cup, bottle, bag, napkin and all my other Earth-loving paraphernalia. It’s a load, but it keeps me going to the gym—if only so I’m in good enough shape to haul my pack. And jamming on the elliptical is a sure-fire therapy for burning up, not only calories, but the eco-fury, too.

Can you believe anyone would propose ROLLING BACK AUTO EMISSION STANDARDS while air quality where I (and so many others) live frequently falls into the unhealthy range?  And yet the number of unhealthful days are about half (maybe a third) as many as when I first moved here in 1990, thanks, in part, to California’s auto emission standards. Grrrr… all makes my blood boil to think of it. But I digress.

Time to hit the gym.

*Abbreviation for a phrase that rhymes with “for duck’s sake.”


Read <em>Love Earth Now</em>
Preview Chapter One for Free!

Buy the Book

New Rules

Site Footer

  © Cheryl Leutjen