Making small changes. Although I’ve been as green as I can possibly be for a number of years, I’m not yet zero-waste (like this inspiring woman). This year I’ve been focusing on finding alternatives to some of the remaining personal care products that I haven’t yet completely greened-up.

I’ve used a “natural” brand of deodorant for many years, but the plastic containers—destined for an eternity in a landfill—were really starting to get to me. Some of the DIY deodorant recipes I looked up seemed far too complicated, but this one seemed more my speed. After reading the commentary about sensitive skin, this is the modification of that recipe that I ended up trying:

baking soda (1 part) + arrowroot powder (4 parts) + a few drops of tea tree oil

I mixed it up in a bowl and then cobbled together a non-Pinterest-worthy applicator. (I took a square of scrap fabric, stuffed it with some small bits and pieces of fabric, gathered it up, and tied it with thread.)

Success: Even in this blasted heat, I’m happy to report I’m not smelly at the end of the day.

Making time. I’ve been doing what I did so well when my kiddos were little: capitalizing on small bits of time in order to sew and knit and read. I sewed several tops this summer (two were up-cycled from textiles I already owned: a too-small scarf became the front half of a blouse, and a former skirt yielded just enough fabric to eke out a sleeveless blouse); I knit socks on the beach and between flips of pancakes; I dipped into and out of books, taking breaths of air from other worlds—literary oxygen masks—and found that by the end of the summer I had read an astonishing (well, astonishing for me . . . ) number of books.

Making an exit. This spring, in the midst of the drama with the PTO, I quit volunteering at the school library. I had worked in the library for seven years, and although it had been a love-hate relationship for quite some time, with me being fully aware that I was hanging on long past my Best Before date, the loss of this work still stung. I’m an introverted homebody. There are days when the only adult I speak to is my husband. And most days, I’m quite all right with that. But my library work took me out of my home and out of my shell. At the very least, I had a twice-weekly, one-minute conversation with the school secretary. And now, well . . . ?

Making connections. This summer, I read a book my 19-year-old son recommended: Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design, by Charles Montgomery. It’s a fascinating read—illuminating in a sometimes angry-making way—and enormously readable, even if you aren’t totally obsessed with urban design the way my son is. This passage, coming on the heels of my exit from the library, hit me hard:

 . . . the tight web connecting trust and life satisfaction also extends to the misty realm of our sense of belonging . . . and casual encounters are just as important to belonging and trust as contact with family and close friends. —Charles Montgomery

Making banter. Banter . . . what an old-fashioned term. I recently happened across the word in a book on copy editing. It was used in reference to the email and texting exchanges that can sometimes occur between an editor and a writer when they’re on good terms with each other and are allies working together towards a common goal. That passage reminded me of this: Several months ago, I had a short, mostly one-sided, nerdy emailed exchange about apostrophes with an acquaintance. (Sigh. Yes, I am that painfully weird.)

Months on, I can still recollect the feeling that came over me as I was occupied with crafting those words about words. I felt happy. And light. Those weren’t words that were simply going to be filed away, unsaid, piled on top of all my other unsaid words; those were words that I planned to send along to a fellow human being. There was a palpable shifting of weight from my shoulders, a momentary displacement of the anxious thoughts that cycle constantly through my brain. Living in this world at this point in time—when so much of what’s going on feels like is an existentialistic crisis—is really hard, especially for those of us who are sensitive or who struggle with anxiety. Bring back the banter, I say; bring back laughing about inconsequential things; bring back correspondence. (Oh my: listen to this song, which seems to encapsulate all that and more.)

Making a new start. In April, after the email about apostrophes shone a spotlight on the small things that make me happy, I took a leap and signed up for an online course. I’m now on course number five, and I’m hoping this will one day lead to some sort of a career with words. It’s been accompanied by much anxiety, but on the days I can silence my inner critic it feels like I am finally on the right path.

How about you? What are you making these days?