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Trashercise ~ how picking up trash became an exercise in humility~

Author: Cydney Mar

I have a funny practice that I started last year on January 1st, 2016 that I call Trashercise.

I used to be cranky about the trash in the neighbourhood around my new apartment. I used to live up the hill in Upper Westmount, before I fell from grace and sold my home. In Upper Westmount there is no trash because it's a clean fancy neighbourhood.

When I moved down the hill to Lower Westmount, it is what we call the Flats or Lower Westmount. There are commercial stores, restaurants, our Super Hospital nearby, subway stations etc... fairly high density, lots of traffic as well as foot traffic. People shopping, swirling around, rushing to the subway. Westmount is a fairly small city, only 1 1/2 square miles, and distinctly divided into the three areas, Upper, Middle and Lower Westmount. So being a lady that never saw trash near her house in 20 years, it was super distressful to see trash in my neighborhood when I walked my dogs. I walked the dogs for a year complaining everyday in my head about the trash.

Last January I decided my complaining was part of the problem.

I decided that Mother Earth who makes the incredible healing ingredients for my vitamins & supplements deserved better than that. I decided to Trashercise. Jack ( my mini schnauzer ) and I get organized every morning, we bring extra grocery shopping bags with us, and I use his poop bags to cover my hand and I bend down and scoop whatever trash I see and I put it in the bag. Last January 1st, I also brought a larger black trash bag with me as I knew there would be a lot of trash. When we completed our first tour of our wee neighborhood walk, I had filled 6 small grocery bags and the entire black trash bag was full.

The next day my back & bum and the back of my legs hurt from bending over and picking up the trash. That's why I call it Trashercise. Who knew that it would end up being a weird sort of daily exercise that I do while I tidy the neighbourhood?

The taxi cab stand is nearby ~ I think I have somehow influenced them to be tidier. I think they are worried I will catch them dropping garbage since I am not randomly doing it, I do it consistently every day. My neighbours who walk with me once in a while hold Jack while I stop to pick it up cups, bottles, and cardboard bits. Sometimes they ask me what's the weirdest thing I have ever picked up. But hey, I pick up Jack's poop 4-6 times a day ( yes he might be small but for an old guy, he sure poops a lot ! ) so why not beautify my neighbourhood at the same time?

Jack & I have done this everyday since excepting the days I was away traveling, and the neighbours are kind to give me extra bags since I use reusable bags for my groceries. I often come home to a bag of bags on my apartment doorknob that the neighbours have dropped off. 

I do not complain, I put peace in the Earth, I bless Mother Earth for the wonderful ingredients as she provides these healing ingredients for my vitamins & supplements, and as my teacher says I literally clean up my side of the street.

My precious neighbourhood is now pretty clean, and I do believe that in my small way, I have beautified my neighbourhood. I believe that if people see me doing it, they may be inspired to be tidier and once in a while, people stop me to say thank you.

Did I feel embarrassed? Yes. Was I self concious ? Yes. Was it uncomfortable and embarrassing? Yes. I did anyway. I thought what if so & so sees me, will they think I've become a street person and homeless? I wasn't a home owner anymore. I was an apartment dweller. Will someone who knew me from my former well-to do life think, oh dear, now she's picking trash? Yes, yes and yes. I worried about all of that. It was yet another humbling experience on my life journey.

I do it for Mother Earth, for the neighbourhood, it is good for my heart and I am happier walking around in the neighbourhood and seeing it looking pretty. It makes my heart happy.

I know no one is going to pick up dirty trash if they are going to get their hands dirty... Its isn't sanitary !! I wouldn't pick up trash with my bare hands, but I will with a poop bag! And I most certainly will if I can put it all into a toss away bag.

In the future, I would like to use all biodegradable bags, but for now, it's where I have started and it does go into the recycling trash bin.

Today I continue to proudly Trashercise and enjoy my beautiful neighborhood on my daily walks with Jack. These days there certainly is a lot less trash and the neighbourhood is now so much nicer to walk around in. I am proud.  And yes, I am physically more fit ( gluts, back muscles, arms, hamstrings have all benefitted from my Trashercise ) It has been an interesting year of contrasts, beauty and Trashercising.

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