This is the kitchen where we talk about food, life, and recovery—a spiritual path to healing and peace.

You are invited to keep coming back to A Cup of Kindness to share your experience, strength and hope; fears, doubts and insecurities; and to pick up information, inspiration … and have a little fun!

My story
In January 2007, at the age of 51, I joined a 12-step program and began my recovery from food addiction, losing 75 pounds in the process. Read more…

In January 2011, at the age of 55, I began my recovery from a multi-trauma accident, 36 fractures, damaged lungs, and post traumatic stress. Read more…

I am deeply grateful for all the kindnesses, large and small, offered to me in recovery. Here I am... alive… still making progress … still not perfect … finding a new way forward in a growing community of women and men who share a lot in common around food and life.

I hope you'll join me in this kitchen and let me know what's cooking with you.

A Cup of Kindness

Open Heart Project


Repair of the World

18 steps we are taking at home

When the pandemic first started, I felt utterly wrecked – grief stricken and heart broken. I was overwhelmed by the firestorm that was going to exponentially increase suffering due to the widening cracks in our fragile systems, and due to the further rise of fear, greed, hatred, delusion, violence, ignorance, xenophobia, injustice, inequality, and cruelty.

Gradually, I began to follow the advice of Mr. Rogers’ mother. “Look for the helpers.” I looked for what the helpers were doing and what I could do to help.

We are following guidelines for social distancing, making donations to food pantries, and working to elect responsible leaders. But what else could we do to help?

I thought of tikkun olam – a Jewish concept that describes action on behalf of the powerless and work towards justice through acts of kindness. The Hebrew phrase tikkun olam translates as “world repair,” which led me to think of the correlation between the pandemic and environmental degradation, between human health and the health of the planet.

What actions could my small family take to help heal the planet and match our intentions for tikkun olam? Would any of our changes make the slightest difference to the huge challenges ahead for the world? I decided to “act as if…”

Here are 18 of the daily steps that we are taking in our small household to help make a healthier world.

1. Most of our meals are vegetarian. Giving up meat can reduce one’s carbon footprint by as much as a quarter. We eat fish once or twice a week and chicken or turkey on rare occasions.

2. Food waste is a huge emitter of greenhouse gases.  We eat more than 30 pounds of vegetables and fruit per week. I buy and prepare what we eat and nothing ever goes bad before we can get to it. Well, sometimes the odd bunch of parsley gets a little gnarly.

3. We keep a compost bucket in the kitchen and, until the pandemic required a hiatus, ScrapDogs Community Compost picked up all food scraps, yard waste, and soiled paper. In return, we can get or can donate ½ a yard of compost delivered annually.

4. No more plastic wrap. No more foil. We use parchment paper for sheet pan dinners, roasting vegetables, and baking fish; beeswax wraps for covering and wrapping food; and glass containers for storage.

5. No more plastic yogurt containers. I’m finally making our own yogurt and it’s delicious.

6. No more canned beans. Cooking dried beans is easier than I thought and the variety of beans and recipes is amazing.

7. Reduced food packaging. We buy from bins, baskets, and bulk; at our food co-op and from local farmers; using our own cotton bags and glass jars; for produce, nuts, seeds, beans, grains, granola, almond butter, coffee, spices, bar soap, dishwashing soap, and shampoo.

8. No more sponges. We use a hand woven cotton cloth and a walnut scrubber as needed. We’re looking forward to having a dishwasher soon, which is the most water-saving, energy efficient, and effective method for washing dishes.

9. We use cloth kitchen towels… most of the time. We haven’t given up paper towels completely. We always use cloth napkins.

10. We carry our own reusable water bottles and travel thermoses. 

11. No more toothpaste tubes! We are now using Bite Toothpaste Bits and bamboo toothbrushes. Four months worth of bits come in a recyclable glass bottle with an aluminum lid. Refills come in 100% home compostable pouches, in kraft envelopes padded with post-consumer recycled newspapers. For a reduced carbon footprint, Bite products are shipped using existing postal routes. It may take a little longer, but on average this will have a smaller carbon footprint than driving to the store to pick up a plastic tube.

12. Speaking of shipping, we use no-rush shipping options whenever it is offered. This means that our order doesn’t require an extra trip. It arrives via a regular route.

13. We are doing what we can to eliminate excess packaging.  We live in a small town and, especially now, we want to support local merchants. However, we occasionally use Amazon. Our Amazon account notes our request for less packaging for everything I order. I look for products that offer “frustration-free packaging.” Instead of clamshell cases and plastic-coated wire ties, FFP items are delivered in easy to open, 100% recyclable packages.

14. No more nail polish. Pre-pandemic, I had made a change to polish-free manicures and pedicures. Buffing only.

15. We use rechargeable batteries. We are still looking for some place where we can recycle our old batteries and light bulbs.

16. A spray bottle with a solution of water and white vinegar really works for cleaning. I’m hoping to persuade my husband to let go of harsher cleaners and laundry bleach.

17. Green building. We bought property in Maine and decided to build our “forever home” here. So, instead of taking down the existing house and sending much of it to a landfill, we donated the whole house to Habitat for Humanity. H4H offered the house to the highest bidder who will move the house to another location. The money paid by the bidder will go towards building a new Habitat ReStore in our town. We are building the new house as greenly as possible on the old foundation, and hope to approach net zero energy efficiency.

18. Garden. Michael Pollan says that planting a garden is “… one of the most powerful things an individual can do to reduce your carbon footprint…” My husband will make our native garden grow to feed bees, bugs and birds, and our own minds, bodies, and spirits.

Will our post-pandemic world find its way to a better future? While I feel good about the changes we are making at home, we need collective action for larger scale change.

We will lobby our state and local leaders, including our town’s Climate Change Committee, to pursue climate protection legislation. We are engaged in electing political candidates who prove that climate change is among their top priorities. We support national climate action organizations, such as the Sierra Club, Moms Clean Air Force, 350.org, and the Sunrise Movement; and local organizations, such as Coastal Mountains Land Trust, Friends of Acadia, and the Maine Island Trail Association.

I know that we aren’t perfect and that’s okay. We are more connected with others who are helping. We are learning and we are making progress. We are part of something far greater than ourselves – a movement towards tikkun olam – repair of the world.

May we all be well, happy and peaceful.

Love & Light,


4 Comments to Repair of the World

  1. theolyn Wilson's Gravatar theolyn Wilson
    April 24, 2020 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

    Valerie, I just finished reading your newest Cup of Kindness. It is so exciting to read and see all of the wonderful things that you and Gregory are doing in your home, to help humanity , and yourselves.
    I could go on and on, but won’t tonight. I am just so impressed. Keep up on your ideals and I am sure you will so happy with all of the results.
    We are now quarantined in our own apartments at Bright View West End. We love it here and they are taking very good care of us. Three meals per day are brought to our apartments for us. Fortunately, we have no residents that have been exposed to or have the Virus and there are 178 of us. They are working very hard to keep us safe and healthy.

    Loved hearing from you! Continue to take good care of yourselves.

  2. February 6, 2023 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Thank you, Valerie! Someone just introduced me to your blog and this was the first piece I read. I am Jewish, live by and reference Tikkun Olam often. You’ve reminded me that there’s more for me to do to heal or repair our world. I’d love to figure out how to do apartment gardening and find avenues to deliver my vegetable scraps. That would be huge! You’ve inspired me!
    Many blessings and kindness to you and yours,

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