A Subtle Shift
I couldn’t honestly describe myself as ever being overly earth conscious. Sustainability was always on my radar and I certainly never went out of my way to do the wrong thing. A lot of the time it felt that my very small little contributions to help and do my part were so insignificant it just wasn’t all that worthwhile. Turns out that living a better life is just the domino effects of a few small shifts in our thinking.
There are some amazing people out there doing amazing things. Even people and friends within my closer circle who consistently strive to ensure their daily habits do not inflict on the world around them. And yes, I’ve been guilty of rolling my eyes (internally), as at times their passion for what they are doing would spill over to what I would perceive as them condescendingly getting on their soap box. Ultimately it was my own feelings of guilt and lacking that would make me feel this way. What I should have been doing is celebrating them, for what they do should be encouraged as it all contributes to the greater good.
Accidentally Doing the Right Thing
I have now found myself “accidentally” leading a far less impactful lifestyle. It wasn’t something intentional. It dawned on me recently that our new little life here in Cascais is leaving much less of a harmful footprint than was our previous lifestyle in Australia.
For one, we no longer have a car. As part of our research on where we should come to live we made sure that we would have all the necessary conveniences reasonably close at hand including public transport. We walk or ride just about everywhere and occasionally take the train into the big city of Lisbon. We no longer have to worry about the cost of car rego, insurance or the very high price of fuel. AND it just happens to be better for the earth. This makes me feel REALLY GOOD – even if the initial reason was purely to keep our costs down.
Better For Earth, Better For Me
On top of that we are keeping super fit having to walk everywhere. When we first arrived and were apartment hunting we must have covered miles and miles getting ourselves around! Much to our daughters dismay I might add, who would whinge and whine the whole way. It was just a few days ago on a trek to the shops that I commented to Andrew – “wow, look at Lily now, remember how hard it was when we first arrived?”
We also feel pretty chuffed with ourselves as we easily traverse our way through the town while watching all the cars stuck in traffic during peak hour. Now I realise that this just isn’t practical for most and I promise I’m not trying to get up on MY soapbox (hey, I flew half-way round the world to get here – there’s probably half a year’s worth of driving in carbon emissions right there!).
Basically what I’m saying is that a small shift in my thinking has created some ongoing positive habits. Habits that are win-win as I feel good about them, they’re better for my health and they’re better for the environment.
On a weekly basis we go down to the local “mercado” to get all our fresh produce. An abundance of fruit and veg for very little cost and not only is it local but no further food miles are added as we carry it the 1km back to our apartment. We take our reusable material bags and say “nao obrigada” to a plastic bag when the merchant goes to put our produce in one.
We haven’t managed to completely cut plastic bags out yet, but we are working towards it. After watching the amazing but horrifyingly eye-opening documentary “A Plastic Ocean” we are more determined than ever to do what we can to minimise this huge problem.
A few days later, watching my daughter grab some litter off the ground and run it over to the bin of her own volition put a real sense of joy and pride in my heart. It occurred to me that small acts ARE worthwhile. If we are all practicing small acts to help the huge problem it can make a difference because there are SO MANY of us here on this earth now. And the more the information continues to filter out to everyone the more likely they are to understand the problem and want to help. It’s time we stopped feeling guilty that we aren’t doing enough and start feeling proud of any contribution great or small that helps keep our world at its natural and wonderful best.
It’s a Mindset Thing
Most mornings we go down to the ocean and jump into that freezing Atlantic. This amazing cold water therapy is the most fantastic start to the day. On many occasions I find plastic or other litter on the ocean floor and I feel a tiny victory when I can dive down and pick it up.
I think this is one of the biggest learning curves I’ve had in my experience of living abroad so far. In that a positive vibe, a good feeling, can grow and radiate and effect not only yourself but others around you. They say you are the sum of the people around you and that’s why you should surround yourself with the right people. That’s because negative people will bring you negativity, negative vibes will lead to negative energy. Just as exactly the opposite will happen with good people and positive vibes. A domino effect of positivity.
See the good, smile at strangers, say hello! It is incredible how many times I’ve been concerned to say hello to someone who appears to me to be not so friendly. But I put it out there thinking what have I got to lose? I give a big smile and a “Bom dia!” (good morning). And how delightful it is to have a little old lady light up with a beautiful smile in return! Sometimes I’ve had people begin to rattle off rapid-fire Portuguese which I unfortunately cannot understand at this point. I am however, always glad I took that chance. And hey, maybe I made that lady’s day? She certainly made mine.
We have managed to select this beautiful little nook of paradise so close to the ocean and so close to many wonderful trails up into Sintra National Park. We swim in the therapeutic ocean, lay and play on the sand, and walk and run the miles of trails at our doorstep. The earth gives me so much. Joy, clarity, solitude, peace, calm, strength and health.
What I love about trail running is that it continuously reminds us how beautiful the world is and strengthens the connection we have with it. It draws out a feeling and a purpose to want to live harmoniously within it and take care of it like it has always taken care of me. I run in nature, I feel good, I want to eat clean and live clean and the domino effect continues on and on…