General ramblings

Trying is better than not trying

I wrote yesterday about this feeling so many of us seem to have of never being enough, and more specifically about our percieved failings as ‘environmentalists’ (for want of a better word).
With issues like climate change, fast fashion, resource depletion, plastic pollution (to name but a few) it is easy to get overwhelmed.
If I actually allow myself to stop and think about about these issues, to really think about what kind of planet and future my kids will have, my heart starts to race, and I genuinely start to feel quite panicky. And guilty. And so, so incredibly sad.

 I don’t really allow myself the time and space to think about these issues too deeply very often, precisely because of the feelings that it evokes. It’s too intense, too much, too hard.
The over-arching feeling though, is one of overwhelm. When I look at the big picture, at the state of the planet, and our society, and all of the huge issues facing humanity today, the idea that me, one person, could do anything at all in the face of all that seems laughable.
And with that overwhelm come feelings of helplessness, and hopelessness, and if it’s not too dramatic to say it, despair.
It can feel like there is no point in even trying.

I have this vision in my head sometimes of my kids turning round to me in 30 years time, and saying “What the hell were you all doing? Did you not see this coming? Why did you not do more while you had the chance? Why did you not do something?”
And I want to be able to tell them that I did do something.
That my efforts as one person, might have been inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, but that I did do something. That I tried.

The comments section in response to yesterday’s blog post is one of the most uplifting and inspiring things I have read in quite some time, and they have been the catalyst for today’s post.
Alfred Chow is a wise wise man. I have never met Alfred in real life, but he feels like an old friend. He and his lovely wife Sue have been huge supporters of the blog, and active and inspiring participants in #makedoandmendhour when it was running. I’m going to paraphrase, but here is a bit of Alfred’s comment:

It’s not possible to do everything, it isn’t even easy to try to do most (things).
But always, doing something is better than doing nothing.
Trying is better than not trying.

In three sentences Alfred has managed to pretty much sum up one of the core values behind this blog, and the essence of what I learned from a year buying nothing new.
It is always worth doing something. Even at those times when everything feels really bleak and hopeless, we can still do something. No matter how small. No matter how seemingly pointless. No positive action, no effort, is ever wasted.

I need to remind myself of that. Not just in terms of tackling the enormity of massive challenges like climate change and rampant consumerism, but in terms of more everyday challenges.
When things feel too big, to all-encompassing, and threaten to suffocate me, I need to remember that doing something, anything, is better than nothing.
I find it helpful (but usually forget to do it) to think of the end goal, be that being Zero Waste, or something like starting a podcast, and then to break that down into the steps I will need to take to get there. And then break each one of those steps down into smaller steps. And keep breaking it down, until I have something, one thing, that I can do today.
One action. One baby step.
When faced with the big picture, and the overwhelm, focussing in on the practical actionable achievable things for right now really helps.
Pick one thing. And do it (that’s a really important bit-don’t forget to do it. I am very good at creating lists of actions and then not actually following up on them).
Taking action, moving one baby step forwards, no matter how small is empowering. And will catalyse the next step, and the next step.
What’s that saying? “A journey of 1,000 miles begins with one step.”
All of the steps add up to get us to our destination, and are part of the journey (which as well know, is usually more important than the destination).
And all our of collective steps, the positive choices that we make, the changes we make, add up.
And when they do they have the potential to overwhelm the world, and at that point each of our individual micro actions become part of change on a bigger scale. That is how change happens. One person, one baby step, at a time.

Thankyou all for your wonderful and inspiring comments. The support and genuine kindness of all of the comments really does epitomise the brilliant community that we have here, that we are all a part of.
So what do you need support with today? What challenges are you facing? And what one baby step will you take today?
Do let us know, and then know that we have your back. We are cheering you on and willing you to succeed.

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  • Reply Nicky July 13, 2016 at 8:43 pm

    I am sorry to say that I am another one who has loved reading your blog but has never left a comment and I apologise. Likewise, I have been inspired by you to carry on being an environmentalist when I was sometimes wondering if I could ever do enough to make a difference. I have so enjoyed hearing of other people’s efforts to try and protect our planet and it is so good to know that there are others out there who feel the same. A while ago you gave a tip on how to separate the foil from a butter wrapper – I felt so good knowing that there was someone else who hated throwing anything recyclable away however small!

    Your Mend it May was so encouraging and I love to think of all those things that have been lovingly restored rather than being sent to landfill – trying is definitely better than not trying – you are giving us the wherewithal and companionship to keep on trying. Thank you. Nicky.

  • Reply The Happy Beans July 13, 2016 at 10:52 am

    I am one of those people who has read your blog for some time but never (as far as I can remember!) commented and I want to apologise – it’s because of people like me that you don’t realise what a huge impact you are having.

    I had seen several examples of that Japanese embroidery style mending on Pinterest in the past and thought it looked nice but was never something I would be able to do. Then you posted about mending your jeans, with that wonderful photo of all the patches, and I loved it because it wasn’t perfect which made it look like something a normal person like me could have a go at. And it still looked beautiful, in fact probably more so because the really perfect stuff looks like it could have been done by machine! So I had a go, and now I have a pair of jeans with a couple of colourful patches that I love but would never have tried if you hadn’t inspired me to do so. I’ve resoled slippers – it didn’t work terribly well but I kept them going for one more winter. I’ve altered jeans & jumpers & tops, all because you inspired me to have a go. Using my sewing machine to do that built my confidence and I am currently sitting in my garden in Portugal, under the shade sails I made for our pergola (we made the frame too!). All of it inspired by you.

    There needs to be a place on the internet for people who are honest enough and have enough guts to admit that they are not perfect – there are plenty of places full of people who pretend they are. Keep doing exactly what you are doing, it’s having a much bigger impact that you know!!

    • Reply Jen July 13, 2016 at 12:28 pm

      Thankyou so much, what a wonderful comment. It made me smile as I was reading it. To hear that people value the ‘real-ness’, and the imperfections really means so much. I am so excruciatingly aware that my pictures are not instagram perfect, but to hear that it is exactly that that inspires other people to have a go, that it makes people realise that it’s ok to have a go and for it not to be perfect, means so much. Thankyou so much for taking the time to comment, and to let me know. It has made my day to think of your jeans and your slippers-thankyou!

  • Reply The Snail of Happiness July 12, 2016 at 4:18 pm

    I think it’s also important to spend time with like-minded people… encouragement and ideas are always good.
    I also want you to know that I first encountered Alfred and Sue thanks to #makedoandmendhour and a few weeks ago I went to stay with them… you see, you are part of building a really vibrant and uplifting community… thank you!

    • Reply Jen July 12, 2016 at 7:10 pm

      So excited when I heard you guys were meeting up-I love it when online friends meet up! Thankyou so much for your support and lovely words 🙂

  • Reply Rebecca July 12, 2016 at 4:15 pm

    This is a lovely blog, sums up pretty much how I feel about everything. Thank you Jen. Sometimes it can be a lonely journey. It is good to know that there is a whole community out there trying to make a difference, however small.

    • Reply Jen July 12, 2016 at 7:11 pm

      We’re right here Rebecca, plugging away, trying every day to make better choices and change the world!

  • Reply Trudi July 12, 2016 at 2:44 pm

    I think we have to believe every little helps and if we keep spreading the word we will all do little things and it will all help.

    • Reply Jen July 12, 2016 at 7:12 pm

      Yes! We have to believe that Trudi. Even when it’s hard, every little really does help 🙂

  • Reply smallholderwannabe July 12, 2016 at 1:51 pm

    Just wanted to say thank you for sticking with this theme. I often make people laugh because of the little things that I do. But at least I am trying to do a little something and it is important to me to try.

    • Reply Jen July 12, 2016 at 7:13 pm

      Totally agree! I sometimes think I am mad thinking that I am in any way making a difference, but then I ask myself what the alternative is? And I just couldn’t live like I just don’t care. You can’t unlearn the stuff you learn, and pretend it’s not there, or that someone else will fix it. It’s up to each and everyone of us to stand up for what we believe and make the best choices we can!

  • Reply bizzilizzikelso July 12, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    If you feel that your action is just a drop in the ocean, remember that the ocean is made up of drops.

    • Reply Jen July 12, 2016 at 1:04 pm

      Yes! What a great way of looking at it, thankyou so much for sharing!

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