Hazardous Waste Day

Do you live in a place that has a hazardous waste day, a time when you can gather up all of the things you can’t put in the trash because they are too dangerous and drop them off where they can be properly recycled or disposed of?

My town does and I’ve been waiting a long time for it to come.

Incredibly, I have over 40 empty or partially used cans of paint, a host of cleaning products we no longer feel comfortable using and lots of small miscellaneous containers filled with I don’t know what exactly. They all need to go and I’m hoping it isn’t too much.

When I looked at the ‘acceptable items’ list it was overwhelming, from aerosol sprays, to fertilizers, fluorescent bulbs, mothballs, paints, resigns, weed killers. There were over 70 items and the first thing I wondered was where they were all going to end up?

It made me realize how much we contaminate this planet, and I pondered the magnitude of the situation. The factories that produce the items, the transportation to get them to market, the consumers who use them, and those who hopefully find safe ways to recycle or destroy them.

A nagging thought popped into my head, can they all actually be handled safely and destroyed, or do they live on and on?

This post was not meant to be a social commentary about our society and how we tend to turn a blind eye to cooperating with our environment. But it is sobering to consider.

I think it would be a meaningful question to ask myself…what is my contribution? Am I being a good steward of the earth’s resources? Most days, I wonder if I am.

And then another thought ran through my mind, offering me a new question.

What hazardous waste do I carry inside of me? What thoughts and patterns do I engage in that create toxic results for me?

I wondered what kind of a list would be generated if I sat with this for a little while. So, I did just that and here’s what came easily to me.

My Hazardous Waste List

Resentments (most of them pretty petty), prejudices (despite my best efforts not to), expectations (of the ways I think things ‘should’ be), anger (typically about things that don’t even matter), assumptions (which often lead to trouble), misperceptions (because I don’t wait long enough to see the whole picture), and blame (for things I don’t feel are my ‘fault’).

Do you recognize any of these? Are you home to any of them?

And given that I don’t like to get stuck in the middle of any process, I began contemplating what I could do with them. Was there a place I could put all these hazardous waste materials (thoughts)? Was there somewhere I could take them to drop them off and be rid of them?

I believe this is a question worth asking. I realize that one person’s method may differ from another’s; however, I think it’s often helpful when you hear what others choose to do because it might also help you and it might be something you would never think about on your own.

So, here’s my choice of what to do. I bring to mind an item from my list and ask myself one simple question.

Do they come from love or fear?

If they come from love, then I choose to keep them, but if they come from fear, I choose to release them. It’s a conscious decision. If, for example, a resentment surfaces, I have to look at it, accept it, and recognize that at least in part, I own it. It is a part of me, but one I no longer wish to keep, so I give it away. For me, I hand it off to Lia, a feminine presence of god that loves me and helps to guide me. She takes it and it vanishes. And if it returns, I give it to her again.

For you, there may be other places to drop off your hazardous waste. You might write them down and burn them. You might send them love and if they come back, send them more love.

Whatever method you find that works for you, I encourage you to let go so that you can live your best life. May it be so.

Patterns

Are there any recognizable patterns in your life or is everything a mystery? Do you ever wonder if there is a rhyme or a reason to what happens in your life?

Sometimes I wonder if readers ever see the pictures that precede my posts. I try to carefully select them to either give a clue about the meaning or provide a spark of interest in what might be coming.

In case you can’t see the picture for this post, it’s a nautilus shell, which has a repeating interior pattern that becomes more intricate the closer it gets to the center. It’s a fascinating shape and one of many repeating designs in the natural world.

According to one website I found there are four distinct repeating patterns: symmetries, fractals, spirals, and Voronoi. Each are unique and represent different ways of developing according to a plan.

Symmetries are organized around the principle of identical halves, like the feathers of a peacock or the wings of a butterfly or dragonfly. Fractals are detailed patterns that look similar at any scale and repeat themselves over time, such as snowflakes, tree branching, and ferns. Spirals occur in curved patterns on a center point and then form a series of circular shapes revolving around the center point, for example, pinecones, pineapples, and hurricanes. Voronoi patterns provide clues to nature’s tendency to favor efficiency. They form from a seed point and extend outward like the skin of giraffes, corn on the cob, honeycombs, and leaf cells.

Okay, so why the science lesson and what possible difference can this make in my life or yours? Do you see any clues that could shed some light on this?

I admit I am fascinated by how nature evolves and the patterns that occur, so it seemed a logical step to me to wonder whether our lives develop according to any sort of natural patterns, and if so, what could they be?

It turns out scientists have studied this quite a bit. They believe that humans recognize patterns as a way of allowing us to predict and expect what is coming. The process involves matching the information we receive with the information already stored in our brains. The idea is that we benefit from remembering and being able to use patterns to help us navigate our lives.

So, I began to wonder what patterns I see that aid me and what additional possible patterns would make my life better.

My first thought was recognizing how easy it is to fall into non-productive patterns. To think the exact same thing about someone or something, merely because I’ve experienced it with someone else. I’d call this my ‘assumption pattern’, expecting the same outcome without any valid reason.

The next thought to arrive was how easily I gravitate toward putting things in separate buckets in my mind, or to give it a name, my ‘labeling pattern’. Oh, that person arrived late, they go in the ‘can’t get anywhere on time bucket’, I wonder why?

As I got started, it became easier and easier to discover the host of patterns I have, most of which are not beneficial to me, except to recognize I need to take another look and make some changes as to how I see things.

Each of the patterns I came across exist for my convenience, so I don’t have to think about and decide what to do with all the new experiences I encounter. Choices are made quickly to place things in categories and then I’m done.

One of the beautiful things about seeing so many different patterns in nature is that they serve as a reminder to me to make conscious choices about my own human patterns. To take myself off autopilot and look more carefully at what goes on in my life.

It takes some effort, but it is well worth my time and energy.