The Good Life Lab
Published on July 19, 2013 by GirlieGirlArmy · 1 Comment
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The Good Life Lab by Wendy Tremayne is the inspirational story of how one couple ditched their careers and high-pressure life in New York City to move to rural New Mexico, where they made, built, invented, foraged, and grew all they needed to live self-sufficiently, discovering a new sense of value and abundance in the process. When we read this book, we felt our feet literally starting to move towards the door and outside to breath, that’s how major and genius and inspiring it is. Alongside their personal story are tips and tutorials to guide readers in the discovery of a fulfilling new lifestyle that relies less on money, if any at all. Wendy wholeheartedly believes that everyone has the skill, imagination and creativity to make it work, and by the time you are done reading it, you may agree with her. This books heart is sustainability and the power of being as green centric as it gets – Wendy should be applauded for this sensationally powerful piece of writing that teaches us all – yea, we really could split town and live off the grid.
Read this snippet from the book, order it asap, and begin to get crazy, crazy excited;
The artwork and binding of this book is exquisite.
“It is no sign of wellness to be well adjusted to a sick society.” — Krishnamurti
Driving on Highway 1, I remembered taking a crappy job just to obtain medical benefits. There were always good reasons for making bad decisions, I said aloud to a 4-inch plastic troll that I had mounted to the dashboard with a glob of glue. My plastic patron saint came from a thrift shop in Topanga Canyon. She made a good road companion. Her hair was burned in spots, and melted wax covered her toes. We’d both been through something. My homely idol had skirted getting whisked away and dumped into the landfill by capturing the interest of a Topanga Canyon shopkeeper and then my own. An excellent listener and devoid of judgment, she welcomed the few words that broke the silence that I was learning to love.
On a moonless night in front of a cave on a beach in Southern California, green phosphorescent waves illuminated a black ocean. Gazing out, I remembered lying for several employers. It felt awful, but I had done it anyway. “Didn’t everyone?” I asked the troll that I unstuck from the dashboard and placed in the sand next to me. With a candle lit by her side, she cast eerie shadows on the earthen wall at our backs.
In Moab, Utah, under a blanket of stars that seemed to multiply every hour, I remembered my first job offer after I got my bachelor’s degree. I turned it down, even though it came from Grey, a top advertising agency. I couldn’t survive on the $14,000 they offered me. I had loans to pay. Instead I moved into the future, head hung low, to meet an unknown fate that expressed itself through a string of featureless gigs: promotion manager for an engineering company that made multimeters, sales-team manager for a company that sold devices for attaching tags to garments, and promoter of magazines (including one for ham radio operators).
While cruising pristine Amish country in Pennsylvania, I remembered times I had compromised my better instincts. In college, knowing that no financial support was waiting for me after graduation, I turned away from art and chose instead to major in marketing, with a minor in business. It was a practical decision. I had student loans to pay back, and living in New York was going to be tough.
The Indian spiritual text the Bhagavad Gita says in words different from these that it is better to do a crappy job at what you alone are able to do (your purpose) than to do a great job at what someone else is here to do. This felt like an appropriate description for the predicament I was in. I wondered what I was meant to do.
Free of the cloak of my career, my ego regularly prompted me to think about the hole left behind by the part of my identity that I shed. It wanted to know who I was to become.
That would take time.
My journey concluded with a return to Burning Man to live in Black Rock City’s gift economy a second time. Then I headed home to learn what it means to be a yogi. Yoga studios were not yet as common as pizza joints. I searched out a seasoned, eccentric French yoga teacher and started an apprenticeship.
Four hours after I returned to the city, the World Trade Center towers disappeared from New York’s skyline. I made my first pledge.
I will no longer make decisions based on money.
Excerpted from The Good Life Lab (c) Wendy Jehanara Tremayne. Illustration (c) Rachel Salomon.
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While writing this book, many times I noticed that the knowledge I have to share was not passed down to me through the cultural milieu, even though many of the problems that Mikey and I went about solving are as old as humanity. The knowledge I gathered to fulfill the pledges I made was pieced together from the Internet, people I found living outside the margins of mainstream culture, hard-to-find and out-of-print books, trial and error, and contemplative practice. I wondered why my formal education failed to pass on fundamental knowledge about how to live. What I felt missing was my relatedness to my species, my relationship to life and how to live within it, essential knowledge. This kind of knowledge, amassed across the arc of time, seems to have dropped off in the last hundred years. I felt like I was an odd fit in the world. My upbringing in the suburbs of Long Island and adult life in the city did not help me find the knowledge I craved. Throughout my education I had learned how civilization worked, but no one taught me how to live on the earth.
As Douglas Rushkoff points out in Life Inc.,
The techniques for proper breastfeeding used to be passed down from mother to daughter, but now there is a market for lactation consultants. As a result, one of the most intimate human functions has become commodified.
For at least a half-century people have learned about media, brands, and commerce. Not how they work, but how to work them. They learned about systems within systems: coupons, warranties, return policies, credit cards, and things related to the economy. As part of the first generation to witness the whole world for sale, fully commodified, and nature under genuine duress, we are finding that the knowledge relied on by previous generations cannot solve the problems that new generations face.
All my life I have observed a nervous and fearful humanity. I wonder what this condition tells us about the time we live in.
Over half a century ago, journalist Edward R. Murrow said,
There is a creeping fear of doubt, doubt of what we have been taught, of the validity of so many things we had long since taken for granted to be durable and unchanging. It has become more difficult than ever to distinguish black from white, good from evil, right from wrong.
I wonder if people are afraid because they know that they don’t understand the real world? Acculturated knowledge is shallow, and the landscape of commerce is not necessarily logical, fair, reliable, sensible, or just. The footing is unsteady.
When we know that we are safe with ourselves we feel calm and happy. We are naturally wired with a need to know that we are qualified to care for ourselves. The suspicion and fear I see tell me that the knowledge we carry is not the right kind; it is not good enough. Many of us do not trust ourselves with ourselves.
I’ve noticed that many in the generations who welcomed in the commodified world rely on a mysterious they for information about how to live.
“They say ginkgo is no longer good but B12 is essential.”
“They say we should spend twenty minutes a day in the sun with no sunblock.”
I hear the snake-oil salesmen saying, “Hurry hurry!” while waving bottles of potions in the air.
In this atmosphere people are left to guess about the motives of the mysterious they and hope that their best interests are somehow being served. In a society based on capital, the motives should be well understood. If our culture has no genuine source of wisdom, people have no choice but to be scared. Without wisdom we are marooned.
Since we are part of the natural world, civilization’s acculturated knowledge is not our own. We cannot intuit it. People are meant to intuit our world because essentially we are not other than the world. It would be silly to think we cannot know ourselves. That would be like starving to death because we failed to notice that we were hungry. This is not how nature works. Nature is logical; it makes perfect sense. It is the common sense. Nature’s rules are reliable.
This book is just a must read. The mustest of musts.
Excerpted from The Good Life Lab (c) Wendy Jehanara Tremayne. Used with permission of Storey Publishing.
Illustration (c) Katie […]
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Here they are:
Top Ten Vegan Pet Peeves
When someone says “I’m vegan but I eat fish.”
You scroll down to the one veg item on the menu – pasta with mushrooms and eggplant, say – but then the waiter tells you it’s made with veal stock. Seriously???
Your bfriend/gfriend wolfs down the chicken dish at an event (so as not to be rude to the host… :0) while you quietly feast on a tic tac and dream of getting home to that frozen veg pizza.
3.A. The vegan police who ask, “Are you sure that tic tacs are vegan?”
3.B. The committed carnivore who chides, “Are you sure that tic tacs are vegan?”
When you call ahead to a restaurant to make sure they have vegan stuff, and then you get there, sit down, order drinks, and then see that they meant they could do the chopped salad with prosciutto, mozzarella, and shrimp without the prosciutto, mozzarella, and shrimp.
Sitting with a group of new friends and one guy is a Doctor (who got absolutely no nutritional training in med school) saying that he sees patients who don’t feel good being vegan and urges them to add some meat and dairy back in to their diet. (Um, might he consider just advising a well-balanced, diverse plate of veggies and whole grains and legumes rather than the chips and pasta the poor (albeit eager) patient has probably subsisted on? But everyone makes doctors "God", so you quietly sit and try to clean up the mess without looking like you (the mere mortal who has read the studies and knows this stuff pretty damn well) are challenging the deity.
When someone says, “Don’t tell me, I don’t want to know.” But!!! That little lamb!!! That sweet pig!!!!
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When wildlife or environmental organizations serve meat at their events and galas. (Hypocrisy some?)
Humane meat. (Go tell it to the animal on her way to slaughter.)
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Tags: Bhagavad Gita, Rachel Salomon, The Good Life Lab, Wendy Tremayne