Tuesday, February 2, 2010

"Up In the Air"

Are you unemployed, underemployed, "Up In the Air," or are you finding a better path to health and happiness? While there are a number of people who have been able to take advantage of the slower economy by buying less expensive houses and taking advantage of sales and close-outs, many are feeling the pressures of loss and disappointment. What happens when you suddenly take a pay cut, have a single family income, or lose your job? Each of us has a different consequence depending on our savings and how many people are depending on our incomes. You may be feeling the squeeze of more people living in your household or moving out of your comfort zone. With so many transitions, relationship building and support systems are increasingly important. Finding resourceful ways to work together in a household or neighborhood will actually help you build teamwork skills for your next employment opportunity.

Living greener can actually help our career development. We can begin living greener by saving more and using less. Saving money always provides more future opportunities, and using less gives us skills and resourcefulness for finding greener jobs. Some of us remember a time when we saved leftovers and used them to make a fabulous meal later. Freezing leftovers is the old fashioned way of getting fast food. Recently packaged goods and fast food seemed to be analogous with fun and freedom. The reality often meant waiting in lines only to get home with cold soggy food. Not quite the picture in the advertisement.

This morning as I took three different containers of leftover tomato sauce and pasta sauce out of the freezer, I realized that by saving money I'm finding more time and freedom to do what I love. By taking a few minutes to freeze leftovers, thaw and remake a delicious nutritious meal, I can actually save time as well as money. Bringing the family together to wash vegetables, slice, dice, and mix builds relationships while burning calories and adding natural vitamins to the diet. Today I will slow cook the sauces with herbs and add fresh vegetables. A nice blend of fresh spinach and carrots adds flavor and vitamins to the sauce. According to the Carrot Museum website, carrots are most nutritious when eaten blended, cooked or better yet blended and cooked.

In my experience working long hours didn't lead to health and happiness. Doing what I love, work that has meaning, and finding a satisfying career has led to much more joy than exhausting myself working for more money. When meeting basic needs is a priority, then money may be the goal at the moment, but saving and using less will leave more room for new opportunities. Spending less and saving more gives me more time for giving and building healthy relationships which gives me a happier more meaningful life.

Living naturally for a safer environment,
NJ Miller, LifeWork Coach

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Time to Clean Up and Clean Out

I'm finding that January is a great time to think about what I really want and need. As I clean up and clean out my desktop, email, desk, and office I am thinking about what is really important to me. What do I want to savor and keep? There are things I want to be surrounded by to improve my sense of happiness and well-being, but I also see too much trash. In the last few years I purchased too many things that were over packaged in plastic, and the packaging just keeps getting bigger.

I'm not sure what to do about some of my over packaged purchasing, but I am buying less and using things longer so that is one step. I love gadgets and electronics, but it is getting harder to ignore my invasive footprint. I enjoy buying fruit at Costco, but I've been noticing the volumes of plastic packaging. For the past few months we have been buying produce from Capay Farms. They deliver and reuse the box although some of the lettuce comes in plastic bags. This year our garden will be bigger which is by far the best way to reduce the plastic, trips to the store, eat healthier and give the waste back to the earth.

I cherish the delicious last bits of vegetables from the garden as we clean out the old and compost for our spring garden.

Just as we clean out the garden, and I see the lemon balm still growing, I find that there are parts of my work that are still growing and inspiring me. But much of my work looks like the wilted tomato plants after the frost. I have papers, magazines, and stuff that I haven't looked at in years (?). Time to see what ideas and information have lasted the season and clean out the old. I hate to throw things away because I might want them later.

Sometimes I do want them later, but I have so much, that I can't find things if I have them. This is the year, the month, the day to start generating fresh ideas, rejuvenate the ones I value, and let go of the rest. That is my challenge!

Living naturally for a safer environment,
- Nancy Miller

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Accidental Gardener

It's an exciting new year full of possibilities. Gardening reminds me that everything in life that is thriving is also growing. Growth may be constant or may have rapid random spurts with seemingly nothing in between. Personal growth can have the same cycles as we face changes in our environment and culture. We can learn to be resilient like plants who weather hot and cold, wind and frost, and changes in soil. In nature, only the strongest plants that are suited to the environment survive. Desert Cactus can adapt to low moisture just as Bengal Bamboo grows well in rainforests.

As a career counselor in graduate school studying personality and relationship styles, I realized that the same factors that affect a person's ability to grow also affect plants in nature. Natural Strengths, Values, and Environment are the core factors that affect personality. In nature, Natural Strengths are like the seeds, Values and beliefs are like the soil and the Environmental conditions are the weather. We can nurture our personal strengths and relationships in many of the same ways we nurture and cultivate a garden.

After researching many creative analogies, I came up with the idea of four vegetables to represent four different personality styles. The idea of vegetables fit so well with the need to create more healthful lifestyles for myself and my coaching clients that I decided to develop workshops and presentations around healthy eating and healthy relationships. After spending a year developing the concept and presenting workshops for a First 5 Sacramento community grant, I began calling the presentations, Color Your Style with Vegetables™. As the workshops grew in popularity, I realized it was important to apply for a copyright, which I completed last year.

I love junk food, reading, research, and writing, so the leap toward a more healthful lifestyle required getting out of my comfort zone. Now I am taking long walks, exercising, and adding color to my plate. Now I am so conscious of color that I rarely have a bland beige meal. If I notice a lack of color, I add spinach, red bell peppers, tomatoes, or carrots. I've learned to enjoy new flavors, textures, and colors in my diet just as I learned to add flavor to my relationships.

The next step to healthful living was to start a garden. I am not a natural gardener. I consider myself more of an "accidental gardener" since I came to gardening in a roundabout way. I started out with enhancing my counseling skills through studying personality development. I learned the value of relationships and developed "Relationships by Design" workshops using the "True Colors" analogy. Now I am using the relationship design concepts combined with the garden vegetables to create a colorful vegetable analogy.

This year I will be blogging my journey through gardening for health, sustainability, career development, and relationship building. I hope you will come with me on my journey toward building a healthier more sustainable lifestyle through gardening. A greener business starts with a greener lifestyle. You are your business!

Living naturally for a safer environment,
-NJ Miller

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Home Delivery

Does home delivery save fuel and packaging? I love home delivery. With the exception of clothes and shoes (which are a little iffy), I find it efficient to have the basics delivered. I don't like to hunt through the grocery store for small items like spices, seasonings, cleaning products, and lotions. I find myself standing in the isle at the store looking through the scents and reading the ingredients. By the time I find laundry detergent and hand soap, I've forgotten the lettuce that I originally needed.

It's fun to shop at home as I look through the cabinets to see what I really need. I can buy at once and then look forward to a home delivery in 2 or 3 days. I group the products I am buying usually with orders from friends and family to lessen the packaging. I like to share what works and the products that are less effective. Do you find home delivery more efficient? Do you like to make quick stops at the store, or plan your shopping for a week or two at a time.

Living naturally for a safer environment,

Nancy Miller
Independent Watkins Associate

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Solar Clothes Dryer

Recycling is important, but saving more by doing less is even better. The most energy efficient way to dry clothes is by using the electric clothes dryer less rather than tossing out the old one and buying a slightly newer more energy efficient model. It was a bit of deja voux standing out in the triple digit heat today while hanging a few clothes to dry. It used to be necessity. Now I'm using my solar clothes dryer, and I'm glad I can put all of that heat to good use.

Oddly enough, it was my daughter who got me started thinking about solar drying. I was still enjoying the fact that I didn't NEED to hang up the towels to dry. They came out very soft from the electric dryer. Then when I saw my daughter hanging cloth diapers on the clothesline, I thought she was just working too hard. Not only was she conserving on her use of paper products, she was using solar energy. I finally realized that she is inheriting the planet from us. If she can conserve while raising two small children, I could begin doing my part.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Gloves off to cleaning

I now take my gloves off to cleaning. No more smelly toxic cleaning solutions that require gloves and adequate ventilation. I can enjoy soothing Aloe and Green Tea Biodegradable Cleaning Cloths and Lavendar Scented cleaning products. Greener living is more pleasant when using natural products that are healthful and soothing.

The last time I was cleaning, I began thinking about all of the little things I have been doing to make a smaller imprint on the environment. At the same time I realized that using harsh toxic cleaning products is probably one of the worst things I could be doing for my own health and for the environment. I seem to get some of my greatest inspirations while cleaning or walking. I started thinking about how I could enhance my coaching business by having a product that promotes healthful living, but I was having trouble finding a company that had a diverse product line. Then I remembered Watkins. My grandfather actually sold Watkins Products many years ago. One of Watkins themes is "across generations." Before we called it "Green" Watkins Company was selling natural products.

So I took the leap for a mere $39.99 and became a Watkins Associate. I will share products from time to time that are helping me live a "greener" lifestyle. If you would like to use and promote Watkins Products, you can contact me at

phone: (916) 686-2317 or
email: success@lifeworkplan.com

Please call during regular business hours. If you would like to try one of Watkins natural products you can use their website at: www.watkinsonline.com to browse through the online catalog. Use my Watkins Associate ID #384397 when you place your order. I will keep you updated on the products that I most enjoy using.

Do you have a "green" business or career? I'd love to hear about it.

Living naturally for a safer environment,
Nancy Miller
Independent Watkins Associate

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Virtues of a Towel-O-Matic

As I was checking my blog on WordPress, I noticed a link to an article describing the virtues of a $60 Towel-o-Matic.  This fabulous device makes it easier to use paper towels anytime with it's automatic dispensing system. As I read it, I was thinking about how it is already so much easier to grab a paper towel than to use cloth. I certainly don't need help adding more paper to the environment. I find it too easy already. I might even need to take my paper towels off of the handy dandy slow moving dispenser in my kitchen just to move them out of reach. Then I could easily dispense towels out of my towel drawer.

Wordpress attached many such links that were not only not related to Being Greener, but also articles that were really more about how to consume than how to be green. I've moved the blog to Blogger because I feel like I have more control over tags and links that are attached to my blog. I am constantly being bombarded by information irrelevant to or counter to my values. I hope this blog will be a place to add links and comments about being greener in business and general consumption. Share your ideas and websites.