Tuesday, January 26, 2010

SOLE KISS (Let me explain!)

I attended a horse training clinic recently and listened to a crinkly, wizened cowboy explain his theory of training. He talked in circles a bit and amazed the crowd with his ability to get a very nervous horse to follow him around. After awhile my brain kind of clouded over and I’m not sure I was getting a whole lot of what he was trying to teach. But I did come away with one nugget of truth. He kept saying, “We make horse training too complicated. It’s really pretty simple – gas peddle, steering wheel, that’s it. Why do we make it so hard?” He then went on to make it plenty hard, for me at least.

But that old acronym KISS was a good one to have tossed back at me. Keep It Simple Stupid. I think that’s a good motto for an organic life. When our food and our lives get too complicated, things get way too stressful. We need to keep it simple.

There are lots of experts out there with lots of opinions about food, organic life, saving the planet, reducing our carbon foodprint. It’s very easy to get overwhelmed. I want to buy local, but what if that product being sold in my local store was produced in sweat shops in India? Does one balance out the other? We heat with wood, which seems pretty earth friendly, until you talked to an environmentalist and then I get so confused I’m ready to fire up the furnace and save my husband all the back breaking work. Too much information.

So while I was impressed with all the things that nationally known trainer could make that shell-shocked and possibly drugged horse do, I was distracted by my own musings on keeping things simple. I’m ready to let go of some of the stress and pressure of trying to do everything the best way. I am only human, just like you. We do the best we can with what we know. That’s all anyone can ask.

And here’s another acronym (my Airforce brother would be impressed with all my acronyms!) I saw in the magazine Mary Jane’s Farm (which if you can stand all the self-promotion, has some good stuff tucked between the advertising). It said we should make all our food SOLE food. I think you can take the SOLE concept and apply it to more than just what you eat. SOLE stands for Sustainable, Organic, Local, and Ethical.

In all your decisions about living an organic life, think SOLE and ask yourself these questions.

1) Is it sustainable? Am I contributing to the excess and waste problems in our world? Look for recyclable or recycled products. Buy food grown with sustainable methods. Conserve resources that are not renewable like oil, water, and time. Grow some things yourself if possible. Don’t waste anything – repurpose, recycle, and compost. Help sustain someone else by donating your unnecessary stuff.

2) Is it organic? Look for food and products that are made simply. An organic label is nice, but if you can’t find it or afford it, buy things that are recognizable. Eat whole foods – know what you are putting in your body. Avoid processed food and cleaning chemicals in your home. Seek to be organic in the true definition of the word – real, authentic. An organic life is by nature much more simple.

3) Is it local? Support your neighbors not only by patronizing their businesses, but supporting who they are. Get to know them. Get involved in your community, your schools, your government. Our worlds have gotten more complicated as we have abdicated the control to special interests and those out to make a buck. Be a good citizen, good neighbor, good friend, and committed community member. Sometimes it does seem simpler to hide in our homes and connect with the world via internet, but in the long run that makes us distant and uninvolved and partially responsible for bad decisions our leaders make.

4) Is it ethical? Ethics can be very relative, I know. But deep inside each of us, I think there is a part of us that knows what is right and what is wrong. We are all in this together. Respect is critical whether it’s respecting other people’s opinions and lifestyle choices or respecting the earth and the animals that share it with us. All creatures have the right to live with dignity. Never forget that.

Life can get complicated if you’re not careful. We have so much more than we will ever need – that’s our blessing and our curse. Do what matters and don’t get sucked in to the minutia that belittles all of us. I don’t believe that keeping it simple means doing nothing. It means making the things that you do choose to do matter. Live a life of value. Live a SOLE-full life. And don’t forget to KISS.

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