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Life-Giving Gifts

While Larry and I practice our lifely principles every day in every way we can think of and actually do, for us this extends to gift-giving too.

And while we no longer participate in “obligatory” gifts, we do give meaningful gifts to a small group of people close to us, and when we do give gifts we take the opportunity to give gifts that are “life-giving.”

A life-giving gift is one that contributes positively to the life of the recipient and also to all Life.

One year, long ago, for example, I gave everyone a bag of organically-grown oranges. They were new at the time and I had just had a life-changing experience of actually tasting an orange for the first time that didn’t have chemicals sprayed on the skin to retard mildew. It was actually one of the contributing factors for me in my switch to organic food and I wanted everyone I knew to taste the difference. I attached a little note making it clear these were organic oranges and explained why they were special. Everyone loved them. It provided a pleasure for the recipients and supported the life of the Earth. I still like to give food as gifts, particularly foods I’ve handmade myself from organic ingredients. It just encourages recipients to eat in a more life-giving way.

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Carter & Co – An Embodiment of Our Lifely Philosophy

Yesterday Larry and I needed to go to the small town of St. Helena, California, to pick up my medical records from the hospital where I went to the emergency room after I fell and broke a kneecap last July.

It gave me an opportunity to visit, for the second time, a small shop called Carter & Co, which is on the main shopping street. I first found this shop last June, when we visited St. Helena to celebrate my birthday.

When I walked into the store yesterday, The first thing I saw was a table with a large—I think wood, I wasn’t paying attention to the details—flat bowl with an abundance of paperwhite narcissus bulbs, each one showing its aliveness by just spouting an inch or two. Next to them were several bulbs in containers that were already forced and showing their flowers, so you could see the end result of these sprouting bulbs. Without using any signage, you could see what you would get in the future if you purchased these bulbs and grew them yourself.

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Shopping on Etsy

A few weeks ago I made a purchase on Etsy. I just received it a few days ago and am so happy with it, I wanted to tell you about it.

I’ve been shopping more online lately because I just can’t find anything I want in stores. More often than not I come home frustrated and empty-handed, and then I order it online and it comes right to my PO Box. It didn’t used to be this way, but it’s the way it is now with the pandemic. I have to buy things sight-unseen and I have to wait, but I have been getting what I need and want…eventually.

I had been wanting a linen robe to wear around the house since I moved here three years ago. Just a simple kimono robe with a tie and patch pockets.

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On Becoming a Lifely Gardener

Our newly-planted half-barrel edible garden. We still need to add handmade bamboo supports.

For the past couple of weekends, Larry and I have been occupied with setting up our organic garden for this summer.

Last year we saw at our a local organic nursery where they had planters sitting on old pallets, which gave them drainage and also elevated the planters to a higher level that is easier to reach than bending over all the way to the ground. Since Larry has an old back injury, we decided this would be a good way to set up our half-barrel planters.

We use planters instead of planting directly in the ground because there are gophers here, and using planters is just the easiest way to protect the plants.

So last weekend we went down and bought potting soil and manure in plastic bags.

And during the week we started buying vegetable seedlings.

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Organic Cotton Face Masks from Naturpedic

Now that the wearing of face masks in public places in mandatory by law, I decided it was time to get a face mask that was really workable for me instead of just tying a cotton bandana around my head.

And just in time, Naturepedic began making face masks out of organic cotton.

I received mine last week and love, love, love it.

It is quintessential Naturepedic—organic, well-designed, and comfortable.

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My New Lifely Filing Cabinet

Last week Larry decided I should have a locking filing cabinet. I didn’t think I needed one, but he thought I did, so he started looking for a used one online. He found one, but I didn’t like it and didn’t want it. I just don’t like metal filing cabinets and never have. I go out of my way to store files in baskets, in racks on the wall, and other ways. I just don’t like metal filing cabinets. And I really don’t have room for one in my office.

It was Wednesday when I said no to the metal filing cabinet.

On Thursday…

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Getting a Haircut

Lately I’ve been thinking it’s time to get a haircut. I actually haven’t had my hair cut in over a year. It’s been getting long again and I’ve been considering leaving it long.

It seems that all throughout history women wore long hair (and men did too). It seems that women didn’t begin to cut their hair short until the 1920s, less than 100 years ago. At the same time hair salons for women were established.

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Retailer REI Counters Consumerism on Black Friday

REI is a major retailer of clothing and equipment for outdoor enthusiasts. And as such they have a dilemma. They want to encourage getting outdoors—whether for a walk around a park or an extreme adventure—but having those outdoor experiences require clothing and gear in order to be safe and comfortable. And they have come up with some interesting solutions.

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Three Little Shops on Judah Street

On Tuesday morning Larry and I went out looking for breakfast.

Our friend recommended we walk up Judah Street to an all-organic place called Judahlicious which was organic and delicious. They specialize in serving uniquely crafted raw and vegan cuisine with fresh juices and smoothies made to order.

Judahlicious happens to be next door to Other Avenues, a worker-owned 100% organic food co-op that started way back before there were many natural food stores.

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Local Farm Tour and Local Products Fair Display Lifely Product Characteristics

Larry and I just had one of our best weekends ever! We spent two days exploring local organic farms and a street fair filled with local makers showing their wares.

Not only did we learn more about what is available from local producers, but I got more ideas about what characteristics could be included in the list of Lifely Product characteristics I am working on.


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Storing Shoes

Storing shoes may sound like a trivia thing but it’s something that I had to make a decision about this week so I wanted to tell you how I approached this in a Lifely way. These principles can be applied to anything you are doing. And this is also an example of how I solve problems.

The situation is that I have shoes and they need to be stored in a way that I can easily get to them when I need them. After having to move everything out of my bedroom I am now in the process of putting everything back, so I have a new opportunity to rethink what I am going to keep and how I am going to store it.

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Metro Hotel: Spending the Night in Lifely Lodgings

As I mentioned in Sleeping Under the Stars, Larry and I have not been sleeping in our bedroom for a couple of weeks, but instead have been sleeping outdoors on the deck, under the stars.

But on Sunday morning 80 percent chance of rain was forecast for that night, so we had to find somewhere else to stay. Our only choice was to get a hotel room.

So over the course of the day, I took breaks to hunt online for a hotel room, but all the places I wanted to stay were too expensive and all the places I could afford were too toxic and cookie-cutter. The thought of sleeping in any of those hotels just wasn’t making me feel alive.

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Lifely Products at the National Heirloom Food Exposition

The Exhibitor’s Hall at the National Heirloom Food Exposition in Santa Rosa, California.


On Tuesday Larry and I spent most of the day at the National Heirloom Food Exposition, one of our most favorite events. Fortunately, it is held right near us in Santa Rosa, California, but people come from all over the country, and indeed, all over the world, to learn about the purest food on Earth.

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Free Stuff

I’m working on a post about how Larry and I get things we need outside of the standard consumer outlets and industrial system. But two things happened in the last few days that were so extraordinary that I wanted to tell you about them.

I was reminded of something I read many years ago from Deepak Chopra. He said something like, “Here’s how it goes. I say I want a strawberry ice cream cone and very soon someone walks by with a strawberry ice cream cone and said ‘Deepak, do you want a strawberry ice cream cone?’” Just the way he said it made this really stay in my mind. Because that really is the way it happens, in my experience.

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Why We Need to Treasure and Support Local Independent Businesses

The canning aisle in my local independent hardware store serves our abundance of home vegetable gardens.


Last Sunday I went to my local Whole Foods store (now owned by Amazon) to pick up some little cotton drawstring “spice bags” to use as reusable tea bags. They had them in the bulk spice section, the label said “100% cotton” and the label was printed on brown speckled recycled paper, so they looked like they were what I wanted.

I bought them, and yesterday I opened the package to make tea.

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Buying Half-Barrels on the Roadside

We’ve been gardening in half-barrels last year and this year because there are many gophers where we currently live and they eat almost anything planted in the ground.

These barrels are working just wonderfully. Placed on cinderblocks for drainage, they come to just the right height for harvesting without bending over too far.

In addition to being useful, efficient, and attractive, they also are a perfect example of a lifely law: use materials that are close at hand, in your immediate area. And another lifely law: use everything as many times and in as many different ways as you can before you recycle it.

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Handmade Bamboo Tomato Cages


I want to give you an example of what we are talking about when we say we are choosing Life over being industrial consumers.

Here is a corner of our garden where we planted heirloom tomato seedlings from the farmer’s market and raspberry canes donated by Larry’s sister, which were excess shoots that had come up aroound a single raspberry cane I had given her last year as a gift.

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Welcome to Lifely!

Quite simply, this blog is about orienting ourselves and our lives to Life, instead of orienting ourselves and our lives to industrial consumerism. Here we are sharing our own journey. You come too. Read more...

Debra & Larry Redalia
lifepartners + soulmates

For more than 30 years we have been delving into the nature and activities of life together. Indeed, this has been and continues to be the very reason we are together. With delight, we research, explore, observe, and even wake each other up in the middle of the night to discuss how life functions and how we can function as life—even while living in the modern world. We each are different from the norm, but we are different in the same way, so we have been able to think outside of the ordinary together and find the extraordinary workings of life.

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