SPIRITUALITY
WORKSHOPS
ARTICLES
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ECO-TIPS

Life’s journey starts with knowing oneself well and moves to loving others. For some it works the other way around.

No matter what one’s faith or lack of it, we are all searching. Searching for meaning in our lives and wanting to make a difference. It helps to have companions who share our beliefs and support our deepest yearnings.

For some this comes naturally, for others it comes at a time of transition or crisis. Some people call these moments grace; I see them as God working in the world even in difficult times. To grow as a human being is to more fully reflect the image of God.

Consider the times and places you have met God. See below for a start.
Click on picture to enlarge.

SPIRITUALITY WORKSHOPS
click here for more details

  • SEEKING GOD IN EVERYDAY FAMILY LIFE
     – Surviving in Today’s World with Yesterday’s Values
  • SEEKING GOD IN SPECIAL SEASONS & TIMES
     – Advent/Christmas, Lent/Easter, Birth, Marriage, Death and other Transitions
  • BEYOND GRACE & BEDTIME
     – Family Prayer and Spirituality
  • SPIRITUALITY & HARRY POTTER
     – The Use and Abuse of Power


SPIRITUALITY ARTICLES
click on a title below to view

ADVENT/CHRISTMAS
Christmas Is December 25
Do We Still Believe in Santa Claus?
Advent Waiting 1 (Waiting with Mary; Preparing with John the Baptist)
Frugal Gifts for Family & Friends
A Humorous Look at the Vogt "Nothing New Christmas"

Audio interview: Consumerism and Other Holiday Issues

LIFESTYLE & MONEY
What I Learned While Reading My Daughter's E-mail
To Give Or Not To Give?
Money - How Much Is Enough? How Much Is Too Much?
What I've Learned about Living on Less

Surviving Hard Economic Times (from Every Day Catholic)
Wait a Minute! A Christian Perspective on Time (from Every Day Catholic)
"It Wasn't Me" - Social Sin and Social Responsibility (from Every Day Catholic)
Discrimination - Not Just a Black-and-White Issue (from Every Day Catholic)
The Christian Consumer - A Contradiction? (from Every Day Catholic)
LENT - Have You Given Up on Giving Up?

REFLECTIONS ON LIFE
Are We Willing To Be Authentically Pro-Life?
Standing Up for Life-Moving from "Either/Or" to "Both/And" (Every Day Catholic)
Worrywart Or Frivolous Fool
Nibbling Ourselves Lost
What I Learned While Reading My Daughter's E-mail
It Could Have Been Worse
A New Twist on an Old Rule
A Pac Man Parable
How To Tell Right From Wrong
How to Change Someone You Love
Homily Tips from a Listener
What Would Have Happened If...
The Spirituality of Car Repair and Doing Dishes
The Radical Middle

Our Brothers' Keepers-Faith, Politics & the Common Good (Every Day Catholic)
Home for the Holidays - Tips for Civil Conversations
Covid-19 Cancellations - The Gift Of Time
Cape May Family Footwashing Service

SACRED IN THE ORDINARY
The Spirituality of Car Repair and Doing Dishes
Loving Our Church - Warts and All (from Every Day Catholic)
Was Jesus a Tree Hugger? Ecology and Faith (from Every Day Catholic)
Faith: It Demands Action (from Every Day Catholic)
Hanging on to Hope...When the World Is Falling Apart (from Every Day Catholic)
Spiritual or Religious? Why Not Both! (from Every Day Catholic)
Why Community? Why Church? Why Catholic?
(from Every Day Catholic)
Vogt Morning Offering A PowerPoint slide show; ideal for prayer

SELF IMPROVMENT
Who Do I Hate
A New Twist on an Old Rule
Simple Is Not Simplistic
Finding Your Own Way to Pray (from Every Day Catholic)
Stories From the Heart - Being Catholic and Gay (from Every Day Catholic)
Technology - Have You Been Seduced by Electronics? (from Every Day Catholic)
Just Follow Your (Informed) Conscience (from Every Day Catholic)
Feeding the Hungry in a Land of Dieters (from Every Day Catholic)
Mindfulness of Words



The Holy Longing, The Search for a Christian Spirituality by Ronald Rolheiser. Doubleday, New York ©1999, $21.95
A deep book for honest seekers of the spiritual life. Goes beyond categories of liberal or conservative to the heart of the spiritual life.

Savoring God by Kathleen Finley. Ave Maria Press, Notre Dame, IN ©2003, $12.95
Over 25 prompts to prayer using the ordinary items that we find around the house. Creative, inspiring.

Affluenza by John de Graaf, Wann, & Naylor. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler. ©2001. $25.
Based on the award winning PBS special, this book documents everything you’d want to know about simplifying your lifestyle.

God Help Me! These People Are Driving Me Nuts – Making Peace with Difficult People by Gregory Popcak (Loyola Press, 2001, 800-621-1008)
Offers ways to apply our Christian beliefs in dealing with difficult relationships. Uses engaging case studies and challenging exercises.

God Knows We Get Angry – Healthy Ways to Deal with It (Sorin Books, 2002, 800-282-2865)
Stories and exercises to assist in the journey from anger and resentments to forgiveness and freedom from memories of hurt and rejection.

To Celebrate: Reshaping Holidays and Rites of Passage, 225-pg. book from Alternatives. $5 + s/h (800) 821-6153, www.SimpleLiving.org

Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway? Sioux City, IA: Alternatives © 2000.
A booklet of creative ways to help your family enter into the simple spirit of Christmas.

"Work of Human Hands" catalog.
Call (800) 422-5915 to request a free individual retail catalog from Catholic Relief Services, in partnership with SERRV International

spirituality@work – 10 ways to balance your life on-the-job by Gregory Pierce. Chicago: Loyola Press, ©2001. $18.
This is not your typical book on spirituality. It is focused on an area of our lives that is viewed by some as outside the realm of spirituality. It uses the language of the workplace rather than the language of religion to talk about spiritual matters. A true guide to unpacking the laity’s role in the marketplace.

Blessings for the Fast Paced & Cyberspaced; Parables, Reflections and Prayers. William John Fitzgerald. Leavenworth, KS, © 2000 Forest of Peace Publishing. $12.95.
Prayers and stories for modern day life.



Planet Earth supports our lives. We must take care of it. In Pope Francis’ encyclical, LAUDATO SI’, he calls not only on Catholics, but all humanity to care more vigorously for creation. Here are 2 ways:

EASY: Some of us are just starting to awaken to the need to care for creation, or have been busy with jobs, raising a family, or other social justice commitments. We may not have much discretionary time. OR, it may simply be a relief to note that, “Hey, I’m already doing this one!” Good.
A CHALLENGE: Others have been engaged in the environmental movement for awhile and are ready to take a bigger step and multiply your efforts by going beyond your own individual lifestyle to make a bigger impact. Then, try the challenge of influencing systemic change in your neighborhood, city, country, the world.
Either way, pick whichever fits your ability this week and do something.

To sign up for Monthly Leadership ECO-TIPS click here.
To sign up for Weekly individual ECO-TIPS click here.

1. FOOD - Because cows produce methane which contributes to global warming -
EASY: Choose 1 day this week to eat no meat - perhaps a Friday
CHALLENGING: Choose 1 week/month to eat no meat. If you are already a vegetarian, fast from food (except water) for 1 day to be in solidarity with those who don't have a choice.

2. REDUCE ELECTRICITY USE
EASY: This week pay attention to turning off lights when you aren’t in a room.
CHALLENGING: Replace all incandescent light bulbs in your home with LED light bulbs. Bonus: Talk to your office, place of worship, etc. about doing the same.

3: LAUNDRY
EASY: Buy laundry strips (EarthBreeze or TruEarth) for your washing machine instead of a liquid or pod packaged in plastic.
CHALLENGING: Write to the head of a corporation that makes laundry detergent (like Proctor & Gamble based in Cincinnati) and urge them to reduce plastic packaging.

4. SAVE PAPER
EASY: When making paper copies, print on both sides of the paper; use narrow margins
CHALLENGING: Convert paper files to digital ones. Recycle old paper files.

5. TRANSPORTATION
EASY: Walk or bike when going somewhere under a mile.
CHALLENGING: Buy a hybrid or electric car.

6. PLASTIC PACKAGING
EASY: Assess: On your next grocery trip, take stock of how many items you buy packaged in plastic.
CHALLENGING: Pick at least one item you usually buy that comes in plastic packaging and find a substitute. Example: make your own yogurt, grow your own fruits/vegetables.

7. EDUCATE YOURSELF
EASY: Read about environmental sustainability (google “environmental articles” or read a book like Saving Us)
CHALLENGING: Join an environmental group like Sierra Club, The Pachamama Alliance, Catholic Climate Covenant etc.

8. WATER
EASY: Don’t buy bottled water. Take your own reusable bottle with you.
CHALLENGING: Ask organizations you belong to (church, civic, social, etc.) to provide washable cups, or other alternatives to bottled water at gatherings.

9. ENJOY NATURE
EASY: Commit to spend at least 30 min. a week in nature (walk in the woods, plant something…)
CHALLENGING: Support a local nature organization with your money or volunteer work. For example, Green Umbrella in Cincinnati)

10. INFLUENCE OTHERS
EASY: Write a short letter to the editor in support of a local environmental cause.
CHALLENGING: Advocate for environmentally friendly legislation and policies with your local, state, or national government.

11. CLEANING
EASY: Cleaning is important, but cleaning products often come in plastic containers. This week count how many of your home cleaning supplies come in plastic containers?
CHALLENGING: Research which cleaning products can be put in curbside recycling, which you can substitute other products for, and if there are any Zero Waste stores near you.

12. CELEBRATE (Easter/Earth Day)
EASY: Celebrate Easter (Apr. 17) and/or Earth Day (Apr. 22) by honoring new life. Find something that was dead in nature and something that is beginning to come alive.
Alternate expanded version:
EASY: Celebrate Earth Day (April 22, 2022) for a day, a week, or a whole month by honoring new life. This coincides with the new life of Easter (April 17), the end of Passover(April 23), and of Ramadan (May 1). Find something that was dead in nature and something that is beginning to come alive.
CHALLENGING: Search your memory for any actions you’ve taken this past month to help a person, plant, or animal thrive. Commit to one additional act to reduce a negative impact your lifestyle might have on planet earth next month.

13. PLASTIC
EASY: Take reusable bags to use at the grocery store. Keep some in your car for miscellaneous. purchases.
CHALLENGING: Diapers – Cloth diapers may seem old fashioned but since you can reuse them, they are significantly less expensive than disposable plastic diapers. In addition, you’ve got rags for a lifetime.

14. ENERGY
EASY: Calculate your carbon footprint. Two free ways are available here and here
CHALLENGING: Reduce your carbon footprint by 5%.

15. NATURE
EASY: Plant something. Anything will count, but a seed or seedling that will grow into a food is ideal.
CHALLENGING: Organize a campaign to clean up and take care of a public green space in your neighborhood or town.

16. GIFTS
EASY: Make cards instead of buying them or perhaps send an e-card. Personalizing the card is a gift in itself.
CHALLENGING: Wrap a gift in a paper bag and decorate it. Maybe use comics from the newspaper, etc. Re-use wrapping paper, boxes, or bags from prior years. You keep these don’t you. ??

17. FOOD
EASY: When possible, patronize farmer’s markets and buy fresh products in season. CHALLENGING: Join a Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) group. Google “CSA” to find one near your home.

18. PLASTIC
EASY: When ordering take-out food for home, remind the vendor that you don’t need plastic cutlery. They can skip the napkin too since presumably you have some at home. CHALLENGING: If you’re not taking your carry out food home, keep a spork (combined spoon, fork, knife) or metal cutlery set with you so you can still “Skip the Stuff” that’s plastic.

19. ENERGY
EASY: Run full loads in your dishwasher, washer, and dryer (or be adventurous and dry your sheets and other flat items on a clothes line.)
CHALLENGING: If possible, transition to renewable energy - Solar, Wind, or Geothermal
Bonus: Consider installing one of these in a school, house of worship, office building.

20. CLOTHING
EASY: Take care of the clothes you already have. Buy only the clothes you need. Consider second hand clothing options.
CHALLENGING: Purchase clothing made of natural fibers. Avoid petroleum-based fabrics such as nylon, polyester, and fleece.

21. TRANSPORTATION
EASY: Drive less; walk/bike more. (This doubles as exercise so you don’t need a gym.)
CHALLENGING: Consider a car-free day once a week. (Maybe once a month?)

22. EDUCATE YOURSELF
EASY: Subscribe to environmental news like YES magazine, Sierra Club. Read (or re-read) Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si'.
CHALLENGING: Learn about the practices of indigenous people. What native Americans originally occupied your part of the country?

23. PLASTIC FREE JULY
EASY: Learn about the global Plastic Free July. Do it for a week. OR, join the Cincinnati area Plastic Free July Ecochallenge team here.
CHALLENGING: Join Plastic Free July for the whole month.

24. REDUCE/REUSE/RECYCLE
EASY: Share: tools with neighbors. Think lawn mower, shovels, drills, saws…
CHALLENGING: Color code glasses, dishes, and other possessions to reduce washing, duplication, sanitation. For example, each child has their own color cup, or put a colored rubber band or other marking device to distinguish one person’s possession from another’s.

25. CLEANING
EASY: Avoid cleaning products that come packaged in a lot of plastic.
CHALLENGING: Some online stores that specialize in environmentally friendly cleaning products are Blueland, CleanCult, Dropps, Etee, Earth Breeze, TruEarth. Of course transportation offsets some ecological purity and often these are more expensive. You can try making your own cleaners if you have time and want to research it on Google.

26. PAPER
EASY: Instead of paper napkins, use cloth napkins – Color code for each family member so they can be reused for up to a week. Wash. Reuse.
CHALLENGING: Advocate with your employer to make environmentally friendly steps in your workplace. Example: reduce unnecessary copying and recycle left over papers after meetings.

27. ENERGY
EASY: Household lighting may not be the biggest energy suck, but it is something you have control over. Try turning off unnecessary lights whenever you leave a room for one day.
CHALLENGING: Make it a habit - continue turning off unused lights for a month, OR commit to doing an Energy Audit for systemic change. Click here for background on how.

28. PLASTIC
EASY: Keep a reusable water bottle or beverage cup in your car to avoid plastic bottles/cups.
CHALLENGING: Write to a major retailer in your community. Offer feedback on their business models. For example, do they use excess plastic in their packaging?

29. CLUTTER
EASY: Decluttering tip: Not everything has to be stored in your house. (Think extra sheets, toys, canned goods…) That’s what stores are for.
CHALLENGING: Walk through each room in your home. Notice what you use often vs. what are mementos or “just in case” items. Make 3 piles: Save, Donate and Discard. Do something with the discard pile. Click here for ideas.

30. GIFT GIVING
EASY: Instead of a plastic gift card, make your own gift card accompanied by cash. If you already have plastic cards, reload them instead of throwing them away and getting a new one.
CHALLENGING: Give an experience instead of a physical gift

31. FOOD
EASY: Food shopping: When possible, patronize local farmer’s markets; Buy fresh.
CHALLENGING: Even better: Grow as many vegetables, fruit, produce as you can at home

32. COOLING & HEATING – Part 1
EASY: AC & Heating. In the summer avoid AC until it’s 77°; In winter set heat to go on at 72°
CHALLENGING: Invest in a programable thermostat to make these changes easy so you don’t cool or heat your home when no one is there.

33. COOLING & HEATING – Part 2
EASY: Buy a ceiling fan. In warm weather run it counter-clockwise to cool. In cold weather run it clockwise to force warm air down into the living space.
CHALLENGING: Reduce or eliminate the use of home air-conditioning. Substitute fans or a whole house fan if possible.

34. WATER

EASY: Do not let water run while doing tasks.
CHALLENGING: Install low-flow shower heads and faucet aerators.

35. SPIRITUALITY
EASY: Reflect #1: Take some time to reflect on the past month. What worked? What didn't? What did you learn?
CHALLENGING: Reflect #2: Every action has consequences. Become aware of the outcome of your actions, reduce your impact on others, and walk lightly on Earth. Consider these practices to be a spiritual discipline.

36. REDUCE/REUSE/RECYCLE
EASY: At home, avoid using paper, plastic, and Styrofoam plates, cups, and utensils.
CHALLENGING: Propose reducing/eliminating paper, plastic, and Styrofoam plates, cups, and utensils at your workplace, where you shop, school, factory

37. TRANSPORTATION
EASY: Keep reusable water bottle/coffee mug, shopping bags in car
CHALLENGING: Drive a fuel-efficient vehicle such as a hybrid or electric car.

38. WATER
EASY: Take a short shower rather than a bath, and shower less often
CHALLENGING: Install a solar water heating unit.

39. CLOTHING
EASY: What clothes are ‘best’ to wear and purchase? The ones you already have
CHALLENGING: Buy less, skip the trendy fast fashion! Think about purchasing high quality and lasting items.

40. RECYCLING GLASS
EASY: Generally, clean glass bottles and jars can be recycled in most curbside recycling programs. Do it. (The metal lid can also be recycled but remove it from the jar.)
CHALLENGING: Drinking glasses, light bulbs, mirrors, window glass are generally not accepted in curbside programs. Recycle light bulbs through hardware stores like Home Depot or Lowes. Donate mirrors to a thrift store. Become a recycling expert for your community by googling ways to recycle specialized glass products.

41. REDUCE PLASTICS
EASY: Keep vegetable bags for reuse at grocery
CHALLENGING: Buy loose products (without plastic wrapping) as much as possible. Reduce frozen food that comes in plastic packaging. Buy fresh when possible.

42. CLOTHING
EASY: Swap clothing with friends and neighbors!
CHALLENGING: Reduce microfibers from entering waterways and the atmosphere by washing your clothes less often, spot clean as needed, and air dry clothing. Mend and patch to extend the life of clothing.

43. GIFT GIVING - Autumn
EASY: As a gift to the environment…spend one evening a week in candlelight with all of the electric lights off.
CHALLENGING: As a gift to your community, do a family service project together.

44. SPIRITUALITY
EASY: Pray: for nature, for leaders to support environmentally sustainable policies/laws,
CHALLENGING: Talk to your pastor, rabbi, faith leader, etc. about mentioning during a religious service how the climate crisis is a spiritual crisis reflecting we humans putting the planet in danger and jeopardizing future generations.

 

 


Susan Vogt
Author, Speaker, Coach
523 E. Southern Ave. : Covington, KY 41015
Phone: (859) 291-6197 : Fax: (859) 291-4742
E-Mail: SusanVogt1@gmail.com : Website: www.SusanVogt.net