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2021-11-28 16:36:52 (UTC)

Goals Reflection: November 2021


[Names and locations have been obscured to preserve privacy.]

I am pod-casting my way through the catalogue of recordings from the eco compound. Just yesterday, I made it up to episode 50. If I were to take away three big lessons from what I've listened to so far, it would be the following:

1. The gardening (and even farming/agriculture) one does should be focused on restoring the soil as opposed to maximizing productivity. It's like making sure your foundation is solid so that you can maintain productivity, instead of some kind of "get-rich-quick" scheme that leaves your soil depleted. The main reason agri-business has failed is because conventional gardening and farming techniques are in the business of constantly taking, taking, taking from the soil until the point that chemical intervention (such as fertilizers and pesticides) are the only option left for the land to be usable again (while still producing food).
2. Permaculture farming is allowing for natural processes to have priority, with just a "nudge" of human intervention. The plants that grow, the bugs that arrive, the water that's reclaimed, etc. are all based on these natural processes. The human(s) involved are more like stewards, shepherding and guiding the progress of the land while it does its thing. The result is a broader variety of produce (called "biodiversity"), richer soil that is deeper and healthier for all plantlife, and a more resilient growing space for all manner of plantlife.
3. Innovation in growing food has systematically been squashed by agri-business corporations. They don't want farming practices like permaculture to take the fore or even become competitive, so they lobby for laws that protect agri-business initiatives such as monocrops (as in, hundreds or thousands of acres of the same plant, like a field full of corn or soybeans) and chemical fertilizers. Permaculture and even organic farmers have a regulatory landscape that's been fashioned to work against them, and to work in favour of big agri-business conglomerates. Addressing these concerns locally seems to be the best approach, though it also forces a long-term perspective and a fair amount of setbacks early on in the process.

I've done a lot of learning over the past few months, thanks primarily to these podcasts. I will also be reading several of the recommended books over the winter season to prepare myself and maybe set up my brother and my old soap partner's garden with some of these techniques.

The final-final-for-real Garden Closing date was yesterday. I was still out of town so I was unable to help. However, I've learned that my "garden neighbour" from this past season at the Community Garden will take over my old plot, so he can double the size of his growing space without having to walk to the other side of the array of plots - as was the case with this previous season.

There were several weeks in a row when I made new batches of soap, and I now have a sizeable inventory. I will be spreading news about my mini-handmade-soap business through various channels online. I still use word-of-mouth advertising thought that's only resulted in a single sale to one of my old friends. This isn't sustainable.

In order to be rid of this inventory before I head out next Spring (and to determine whether or not I stick with soap-making for the long term), online presence needs to be kicked-up a few notches. To that end, I attended a few online courses in small-business development with a soap business in mind. Within the next week I want to have a business presence on at least three social media platforms. For the record, I am loath to admit it, but if I want to move forward at all on this I need to set aside my prejudices for the moment and at least make an attempt.

Currently I can take orders through my own website - I have established a PayPal.Me thing - but that's clearly not sufficient. I am resisting Etsy with all my might, since I have also learned that with their applied fees I'd have to either jack up my prices or my product gimmicks to compete. Neither of those seem appealing at the moment.

Meanwhile, just today while visiting the cinema, I crossed paths with the manager again. He has his own thing going on with classic movie memorabilia, and asked if it would be feasible for the laser cutter to do some of the prep work. I know it's possible, but I can't help but think that doing the work by hand wouldn't be quicker. That said, I will do some prototyping for him and see what comes of it. Were I to do some work for him I'd likely receive some kind of kick-backs from it.

Also speaking of the laser cutter, I will likely not sell it, and instead will keep it in the workshop at my artist friend's house. I'll teach her how to use it, give her access to the account, and so on. Personally, I don't want to say goodbye to that machine just yet.

Finally, I did a sample audio recording - as in, like an audiobook - for a blogger I frequently read. He's releasing a new collection of essays that have inspired and impressed me, which he's released in advance as entries on his blog. I decided to do a sample recording of the introduction, and sent him a link to check it out. I explained that this is a personal project - I'd like to listen and learn from his writing while taking trips in the car, for example - but I figured he could also use it to spread awareness of his works over other channels.

He wrote back quickly, stating he's interested in my progress. I'll likely record the next installment this evening, after the landlords/housemates are done making noise for the day. Will this turn out to be some sort of financial gain for me? It's possible. However the experience of speaking, recording, and editing is what I hope to gain the most of from this. I'm just glad his blog is full of such worthwhile material that I'll come back to it from time to time, even after I'm done releasing the recordings.

I am back to the office tomorrow, after a week away. I may have a long stint in jury duty throughout December so I may not be at the office very long. The good news is that there's no training scheduled for December so I wouldn't have to fiddle with my schedule, or cram to train someone to stand-in for me during the interim.

The evening training I had facilitated at the day job this month went extremely well, and the lead job coach and I have received positive marks all around based on the outcomes. I left for my week's vacation literally the same day as the end of the training, so this was a pleasant way to start things off. It sets a positive precedent for more evening classes in the future, and I'll be in discussion with our Executive Director about this in the coming week.

My mother and brother have the same birthday, and for the first time in a long time, I made a brief video and song for them. It was me doing a "fake country" version of the happy birthday song, playing over video footage of the wildflowers growing in my garden plot. I think it turned out very well, and it was just long enough and good enough to be worthwhile to watch.

I didn't expect it, but I kissed a lady earlier this month. The artist friend of mine and I had a movie night, and she asked for a kiss. It certainly was fun, and although she certainly made moves to let me know she wanted more that evening, I decided to keep it at that. I was motivated to kiss her because of two things: she wanted it and asked for it, and also because she and I have been discussing relationships and boundaries and things like that and I wanted to see what it would be like to deliberately expand my boundaries. This is not something I think I am interested in pursuing, and I will need to find a way to discuss this with her.

In a similar vein, my ex and former soap-making partner and I had a serious discussion about me leaving town and likely never returning. Along with this I had to finally spell it out plainly and clearly that now is not the time for she and me to seek a relationship, especially if she's going to be staying around here. She is clearly in a rough place personally, and although I care for her and have love for her, I am not her man and I will not be. Her feelings are one thing, but my life and my self-care is another. Both of those things would take a shift to the worse were she and I to consider dating or getting back together.

I have a couple days off at the end of the coming week, and I hope to make a trip out to visit my relatives. Hopefully I can do this before the recent new COVID variant causes me to want to curb all traveling. I may be busy during potentially the -entire- month of December with Federal jury duty, provided I am selected, and that would mess up so, so many things for me (including the possibility of visiting my relatives before the end of the year). So this visit in just a couple days from now is a priority.

Yesterday I returned from my week-long trip out to the shore. Though it was constantly cold and blustery, with -so much- wind, but I did a lot of what I wanted to do. Riding on the bike was fantastic, as was walking along the beach (when it wasn't too windy). I also successfully completed a cash-only experiment while there, not using my debit card for anything while there. I took photographs of the sunrise every day I was out there, and I think the process was a great way to start off my days. Didn't go to karaoke even once, but honestly I don't think I missed anything.

The bulk of the food I ate while there was purchased at an organic grocery store, right down to the coffee I drank on a near-constant basis. I even bought a bottle of organic red wine, though I didn't partake. I'll keep it on the shelf for some special occasion or whatever. But suffice it to say I'm proud of what I fed myself with while on vacation, and I'm pleased that most of my money went to an establishment I'd like to see stay in business.

The last morning I was at the hotel, I leaned back on a chair too far and it caused me to literally fall off the chair backwards...! I banged my knee against the edge of the nightstand by the bed, and originally I feared I had seriously injured or even cracked my kneecap. However, I made it back home in one piece, and now one day after there's some lingering pain but by and large it's little more than a small bruise and a large inconvenience. It's been a minute since I'd done something so klutzy, but fortunately it doesn't seem to be such a serious injury. I had to laugh at myself at least a little bit because of it.

I am looking forward to perhaps recording me singing along to a few songs this coming month, as well as digging into some drawing tutorial books I've been sitting on. In addition to the permaculture podcasts, I've added some philosophy and Stoicism podcasts (really, these are audio captures of YouTube videos) to the roster. Listening to them inspires me to do more stuff instead of falling prey to just playing video games in my free time.

I thought October was pretty good, but this November seemed even better. I feel like I am more consistently shifting away from the day job and looking more expectantly at the future elsewhere.

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