Sunday, 20 August 2017

When Dumpsters Get Locked...

If you are rescuing food from supermarket dumpsters on a regular basis, then you might run into problems when your actions are discovered by staff. Dumpsters may get locked, moved inside the storage area, fenced in or replaced by a press container. Of course this is something we want to avoid and in this article I will share some prevention strategies.

"Welcome" -- *points to store entrance for divers*
Usually, store personnel won't mind dumpster divers if they dive respectfully. This means always leaving the site as clean as or cleaner than you found it, diving after closing time, minimizing noise and limiting exposure (try not to be seen by anybody). If your favorite store is fairly abandoned after opening hours and the dumpsters are used in such a way that it is difficult for staff to find out about what you are doing, you may prefer to dive anonymously. However, when you dive in an area where you can be easily spotted by passers-by, or if dumpsters are small and you collect a lot of stuff from the bins, then you may want to consider trying to arrange a diving agreement.

One way to do this is to ask the store manager for permission first to collect and donate food. You can either agree to collect the food inside the store directly, or to dive with permission. Unfortunately, store managers are often still reluctant to donate food or give permission for divers, and this strategy may backfire because the manager will be on high alert, and may take preventive measures against dumpster diving. However, so far this has not happened to me. What did happen in one case is that the manager turned a blind eye to the diving and even walked past me on many occasions while I was digging for treasures.

When interacting with store personnel, especially managers, make an effort to see their point of view and always respond with kindness, humility and compassion.

1. Remember it is fear, not malice, that motivates managers to resist food rescuers.
2. Fear (like anything else) can best be approached with love and compassion. Not attack, blame or defensiveness.
3. Try to keep the conversation open and take initiative.
4. Be innovative and positive in your approach and communications with personnel, management and law enforcers.
5. Demonstrate your goodwill by sharing your treasures with others, especially those who are less fortunate than you or organizations with little resources who aim to make a difference in the world  (volunteering organizations, animal shelters, homeless people, refugees, organic farms, etc).

Another option is to make your presence known in a subtle way, by leaving a note on the dumpster door (on the outside or inside). You can do this straight away or after a dumpster gets locked.
Here is an example of such a note:

Dear ....,

You have been visited by Food Rescuers. We collect food waste and donate it to farms and people in need, to help prevent climate change.

Your store remains anonymous and we take full responsibility for food safety. We will not donate if there is any health risk.

Please help us by keeping your dumpsters unlocked, or we can pick up directly at the store during opening hours. Please call 93606823 to make arrangements.

Thank you for helping us with our cause. We are always open to answering questions and feel free to get in touch if you would like to learn more.


Trondheim Food Rescue Team

Of course it is very important that you keep your promises and commit to your purpose long-term. Read more about what it takes to live moneyless here.

It may be difficult to know what option works best and it may require you to talk to the manager first, even if just to get a feel for the type of person you are dealing with.

If you have other advice for fellow divers, feel free to post your tips below.

Most of all, don't forget to keep on having fun!

Happy hunting! :)

(click HERE for a reminder of the benefits of dumpster diving; not just for yourself, but also for the store and the rest of the world!)

Friday, 4 August 2017

Making A Vision Board

For the past few weeks I have been suffering from a broken heart. I 'met' someone online and we had a great connection: shared ideals, shared plans for the future, similar values, great communication and a shared passion for self-sufficient lifestyles. Due to living in different parts of the world we hadn't met in person yet but we talked via chat and on Skype. And then suddenly everything changed. I am not sure what happened. Maybe the excitement wore off for him, or maybe he was afraid of taking the next step (meeting), or maybe there was someone else in his life. I don't know. All I know is that it was over. He never actually told me why or what happened. He just found ways to shut down all communication between us, and after a few months of trying to reconnect (and merely getting vague and indirect answers) I think I have to conclude that he no longer wishes to be a part of my life. I will never know what might have been.

Of course, rationally, I can tell myself this is a good thing. After all, it would be much easier to be with someone who wants to share with me what is going on for him, even when this is difficult to do. Situations and feelings can always change, but when things are not working out as you hoped then it's fair to let the other person know so that they can either do something about it or move on with their lives, instead of leaving them hanging - and guessing - for months. So rationally I understand this wasn't such a good match after all. But still, it hurt.
A lot.

I contemplated what it was that made it so difficult for me to let go this time and I realized there were three things:

1. For me, meeting someone who has similar ideas and values and who actually wants to create a similar kind of lifestyle is a rare event. From this it is easy to conclude that perhaps there aren't many people who have similar life goals to mine, but it could also mean that I don't meet enough people and/or that I go to the wrong places to meet them. On top of that - as I wrote in my previous blog post - I move around a lot, which makes it difficult to build and maintain lasting friendships. So it will be important for me to start meeting more like-minded people; not just people who live far away, but also people who live nearby. And the more people I meet, the bigger the chance that some of them will have similar values, goals and dreams.

2. At least some of the time I doubt whether the kind of person I would like to share my life with exists at all (and whether they are within my reach). The first part of this is connected with the previous point: because I believe that I am looking for a rare combination of qualities. But maybe this is just a matter of being in the wrong crowd. Also, I have to remind myself that it is not necessary to find many people like this - just one will do.

3. Another subconscious belief that came to the surface is that sometimes I feel like I am not good enough as I am, or that I somehow have to earn love; that I am not lovable just the way I am. In those moments, I feel like I have to convince others that I am worthy of love. Of course when someone loses interest, it reinforces the story - even though it probably has nothing to do with me.

These realizations finally motivated me to create my First Ever Vision Board to help me focus on shifting these tendencies, and it was SO much fun! I highly recommend it :) You can use a program like Vision Board Builder. I started off with a colorful wallpaper image to get the beautiful background colors, and layered the other images over the top.

Here's a breakdown of my vision board:

LOVE (and friends)
For me, 'practicing life' is about unconditional love, towards myself and others. Universal love goes beyond preferences and all other types of judgments. Love is joy in its purest form. It is a practice; a way of life. 'Issues' that come up in relationships with others can teach me what I haven't realized yet about myself, or show me what I have to let go of.
Love is free: free of attachment and free of demands. Love is connection, sharing and openness. Love is about being myself around others, getting comfortable being uncomfortable for the sake of personal growth. Love is about bringing out the best in each other, and looking for the best in everyone I meet. It is about bringing joy into other people's lives, because I know and support others' deepest wishes and desires and support them as much as I support my own, without the imposition of my own agenda. It is about honest self-expression, and therefore also about listening with compassion when others share their world with me. All of this starts with knowing myself, accepting myself, and loving myself- not superficially, but unconditionally.
Romantic love brings two people together who want to explore the depths of self-growth and unconditional love, and share the best and the worst of life's experiences with each other in order to learn and grow. Together they build a strong bond so that they can take each other to higher/deeper levels, explore all facets of life together and be each other's mirror and inspiration.

Without trust there can be no love and without love it is difficult to trust. The trust I am talking about is a fundamental (and therefore unshakable) kind of trust: a deep knowing that whatever will happen is what needs to happen. Moreover, knowing that what happens is always the best possible outcome. Trusting that life will always bring me what I need and even what I ultimately want, even if I don't realize it at the time. And trusting that everything that happens in my life is designed to bring me happiness and freedom. Everything is a gift. So far this has always been true for me - without exceptions. It just takes me a while to realize it sometimes.

Inner peace is the absence of stress. When I experience stress, I look to my mind to see what causes it. When I experience peace, I can see that I am connected with truth - in the flow of the present moment without resistance or attachment - free to respond naturally and spontaneously. Even the slightest amount of stress is my wake-up call. Peace is always present inside and stress is always caused by me. That is empowering knowledge. I can choose peace at any time. 

We are always creating, but what we are creating depends on our inner states. When we have trust, inner peace and an awareness of love, then our creations reflect that. Creation is perhaps one of the most magnificent wonders of life, because it can be a way to shine a light for others, simply by expressing what is true for you in the moment and what is important to you.

In my experience, gratitude is not something that needs direct focus because it results from living in a harmonious and present state of mind. Trying to ‘be grateful’ doesn’t work, because you are trying to get an effect without putting in the required ingredients first (or more precisely: without doing the work that is required to uncover it). It might feel inauthentic or forced. I only included it as a measure for progress. I also included fun and health, because sometimes I particularly forget about those two aspects of my life. It serves to remind me to check whether I am eating healthy foods and whether I am making time to play and have fun. It is important not to take yourself too seriously at least some of the time.

The picture in the center of the board is one of my favorite pictures of me because it represents all of the aspects that are important to me in one single image. I added the Tarot card on Wednesday when I did a past-present-future spread which gave me the 10 of cups as my card for the future. That happens to be one of my favorite Tarot cards and it fits very well with the themes on the vision board.

If you have a vision board as well, I would love to see yours!

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Back To Square One: Planning The Future

As most of you already know, I have just moved back to the Netherlands after spending almost 3 years in Norway. This was probably the longest period of time I have spent in one place in a long, long time. Since I was 18 years old, I have moved 32 times between 26 different addresses, across 7 different countries (or 8 if you count Northern Ireland as separate from England) and 3 continents. It was self-imposed and I used to enjoy every move - and still do to some degree. It keeps me from accumulating too much stuff, it is exciting and brings new adventures, it allows me to start over each time and therefore live in the moment more, and it helps me to gain new perspectives and to see the world through new eyes.

Nevertheless, there are also some downsides to long-term travel and living a rootless life, and for the past five or six years these have been coming to the forefront more and more. It can be challenging to maintain close friendships, or to experience a sense of belonging. Even though I can easily feel at home anywhere in the world, I also feel like I am an alien everywhere I go. I belong everywhere and nowhere. Each time I move to a new place it is a little less exciting and more exhausting to start up my life yet again, because I know it is just temporary and I will have to start all over again after just a few years. Saying good-bye to some of the wonderful people I meet along the way and grow to love and respect also gets more difficult each time. Sometimes I feel like an outcast, even though so far it has been mostly by choice.

I feel like it is time for a new phase in my life: a phase where I start to put down some serious roots, settle down, meet people (and really get to know them) and fully commit to building up my life in one place. To me, that feels quite a way outside my comfort zone because in a world that offers no certainties, my sense of security has come from remaining unbound and free. But at the same time that also brings a constant restlessness to my life; a sense of always being on the run (even when I am not).

So the next step in my rewilding adventure will be to build my own self-sufficient home, preferably in an environment where money and ownership are entirely absent (in the wild) or where I could more easily forget about those concepts (on my 'own' piece of land - which would be the next best thing if living in the wild would somehow not be an option). Therefore, the next time I move I am intending to stay for a while; maybe even forever. I will pluck up the courage to put down some firm roots, build solid friendships, and start living my dream: creating a self-sufficient, sustainable environment where I can live in harmony with nature, possibly with room for others to join me. No more waiting for the perfect time, the perfect people to show up around me or the perfect circumstances. Life offers no guarantees. I may be uprooted once again through circumstance, but I can always re-plant myself, and it may even be easier the second time.

The planning phase starts now. The first step will be to decide which country is best suited for me to build an eco-home, grow foods year-round and build a small community (whether in the wilderness or not). At the moment I am considering Norway and France as viable options, or perhaps further afield…

(If you have any advice for me, please let me know!)

Much love to you all. <3

Saturday, 20 May 2017

What It Means To Be Successful

Success is often described in material terms. Society seems to prescribe it in terms of whether you own your own home, have a (nice) car, have a well-paid job, etc. If you don’t have a job or one that barely pays the bills, then it seems you can’t be successful according to society’s standards.

However, what matters is not how society defines success, or how your parents or friends define it. It matters how you define it. This is the only measure of success that you need to determine whether you have succeeded in life or not. It also doesn't have to be an end goal far into the future: it can be something you can achieve in any moment, over and over.

'How do I define success?' is one of the most important questions we can ask ourselves, because it can help us remain true to ourselves and true to our path when hard times arise and we have to make tough decisions. Our definitions of success change and evolve over time, because life changes and situations change as well, and our perspectives may change as a result of that. In my experience, it usually becomes simpler as we get older and wiser. We realize that success really isn’t that complicated (which doesn't mean it is always easy), and that we really don’t need that much to live a meaningful, happy and fulfilling life. We realize that it is more (or even entirely) about what happens on the inside rather than about what happens around us. That realization is success in itself - if freedom is important to you.

For me, a definition of success is only meaningful if it is something that I can achieve at any time (no matter what happens). It is about prioritizing what matters most to me at that point in time. It is always about me, because I can’t decide for others, or dictate what situations may come my way. Defining success as a personal quality that I want to develop not only makes life simpler and more enjoyable, it also helps me to see the perfection of life because everything that happens is an opportunity for me to learn and to practice. I can start over in every moment. Sometimes I fail, sometimes I succeed. It doesn't matter. I get to practice.

Have you noticed that the challenges that come to you are always the right ones? And that the people who show up in your life (and leave again) also bring you exactly what you need?

How do you measure success in your life? What does being successful mean to you?