Author Archives: Darcy Cronin

About Darcy Cronin

I'm a Mother/Coach/Blogger/Business Adventurer from Portland OR. My family consists of my Hubby of 12 years, our 8yo Kieran, 5yo Makenna, and 1yo Teagan. I love dreaming about a better future, and making it happen.

Chaordic Lives

Managing your finances on top of the responsibilities of a modern family can feel like uphill chaos. No matter how organized and well-intentioned you may be, reaching long term financial goals requires a level of commitment that can sometimes feel out of reach in your busy daily life. I know for myself that some days it’s hard enough to find my wallet, nonetheless update our budget. The good news is that’s perfectly O.K. as long as you keep your family moving toward your goals.

At least that’s one of the lessons I got from a recent reading for a work-related leadership training about Dee Hock, past CEO of Visa International. Hock is an amazing thinker who structured Visa around the fundamental organizing principles of nature and evolution. Visa is perhaps the largest global company in terms of customers and transactions, and this success wouldn’t have been possible without tapping into Hock’s “chaordic theory.”

The Chaordic Field is described as the “perfect balance of chaos and order where evolution can occur.” Living systems thrive in this narrow link between chaos and order. While in nature sometimes the goal can seem hidden to us, in a system such as a family, living your values gives a meaning that equals success. Hock asks that you create an enduring purpose and principle – actions occur in networks across the the system unified by a shared sense of purpose and principles. Hock: “Purpose is discovered in that wellspring of common commitment and caring.”

Hubby and I certainly have an interesting dynamic, as I am more comfortable with activity and chaos, and he needs order and structure. We often find it uncanny how we can accomplish anything, but chaordic theory helps me see why we make such a great team.

Hock recommends you manage yourself first “manage self: one’s own integrity, character, ethics, knowledge, wisdom, temperament, words, and acts.” We cannot control our children or our spouses, controlling others is ineffective no matter how much we might wish. As parents, we serve a role as leader in our families, and it’s important to remember that role in the daily chaos of our lives. Here’s an essay on Hock, with an excerpt from his book: Dee Hock on Leadership


Here are a few of my favorite quotes from Hock:

Money motivates neither the best people, nor the best in people. It can move the body and influence the mind, but it cannot touch the heart or move the spirit; that is reserved for belief, principle, and morality.

The problem is never how to get new, innovative thoughts into your mind, but how to get old ones out.

Clean out a corner of your mind and creativity will instantly fill it.

Make another list of things done for you that you loved. Do them for others, always.

Here are two of Hock’s books:



Which rules in your family – chaos or order? Or both?

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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Carbon Calculator #2

I took my second crack at calculating our family’s carbon footprint by using one from Oregon DEQ. Even if you don’t live in Oregon, I would recommend trying it out. There’s nothing that would exclude non-Ducks/Beavers, although it does have a handy comparison between your footprint, Oregon average and U.S. average. The most interesting thing was that it asked your family’s gross income. You can see instantly how your footprint either increases or decreases depending on your income level. The calculator assumes that your driving and consumption will increase by a third if your salary jumps from $50k to $100k. While I understand the assumption, I certainly don’t think it has to be that way.
It calculated that we emit 35 tons of carbon per year, 53% of comparable households, but 267% of the global average. The calculator broke down the “score” and showed that we were 53% on travel, 78% for housing (before our Clean Energy Works insulation!), 45% for shopping. This calucator was much better than most in considering the impact of consumption: shopping, food, and household supplies. I appreciate this in light of a new study that reveals how “Consumption matters as much as energy and transportation.”
The instant nature of this calculator also made for a more impressive comparison on other big ticket items. If it weren’t for our roughly annual trip to visit family back East, our travel footprint would be a 1/3 of average. The trip costs us 4 tons a year, so I’m glad I paid an extra $25 to offset our last trip. I don’t think purchasing offsets gives us any right to pollute, but it feels like a voluntary eco-tax.
The calculator also had a take action pledge section as the last step. It showed how much various actions would save you in carbon and money, and how much it could cost up front. It was an easy way to see what could give you the most carbon-savings for your dollar.

Give the calculator a try and let me know how your family scores! 

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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Valuing Progress

One of my strategies for creating abundance is to put things in perspective, and give myself some credit. While we haven’t reached all of our goals just yet, we have begun to take action and make progress. Here’s the progress we’ve made in three months.

We are not the patron saints of family finances or sustainability, but at least we are giving our best effort to put our priorities in line with our values. I’ve also been really enjoying the connections that I’ve made with friends and family and new readers through this blog. 

If you’ve enjoyed following our journey, could you share this with just one friend?

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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

4 yrs from now?

I felt the calling to start this blog not because of some new revelation, but because I feel like this is the time to up the ante, share ideas and connect. I can’t afford to wait until my children are older and life is “easier.”
All parents know how quickly kiddos grow and we suddenly our internal clock is measured by their growth. In the daily hubbub, we don’t often take the time to reflect on what type of a world they will inherit.

My co-worker shared two inspiring activism groups: 
mothersactingup on behalf of the children
They were writing about a new convergence of worldwide action called Four Years. Go. This short video says everything I’m feeling and want to express.


I hope you’ll join the call to action.

How old will your kids be four years from now?


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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Transit w/ Kids

I find that the best choices for the planet and your wallet are made on a daily basis. True green decisions become so routine that you don’t even think about how much you’re saving or reducing your carbon footprint.


Taking the bus together is our daily testament to trying to be a sustainable familyWhether rain, snow or sweat, we head out the door to catch the bus together. For us that means a three block walk with 2 parents, 1 preschooler, 1 toddler (still in a front carrier), 2 work bags, 1 cloth diaper bag, clean/dirty sheets on Mondays and Fridays. It is a decent schlepp, and we get quite a few double takes en route. It’s truly worth the effort though, and we experience social, economic and environmental benefits every day.


Economic:
Taking the bus does save us money too. We save on a monthly parking pass, which would run around $150. We also save on gas, wear/tear, tickets, etc. It’s hard to put a real price on the savings. But since we both have employer subsidized bus passes, paying $60 together, it’s certainly a bargain.


Environmental:
By taking the bus, we save at least 1500 miles per year. This save roughly 1,275 pounds of carbon annually, which is the equivalent of planting 25 trees. Occasionally we also ride the lightrail MAX, which gives us a 15 minute walk.



Social:
Typically in the morning we’re all still a little sleepy, so we mostly people watch. This involves Girly flirting with other passengers. When BigGuy was a baby we called the women on the bus his harem and now Girly has her court. We also have our fare share of “transit friends,” who we chat with when we wait or ride together. I find that people are much more outgoing when I have kids in tow, and I truly enjoy the social interactions and friendly atmosphere. The bus drivers are usually very friendly too, and last week one had me laughing to tears with a flashback of a Cheech and Chong impersonation. 
After school/work is a different mood, as we are all a bit tired and ready to be home. As a veteran transit family, we are usually come prepared:
  • Hand puppets, board books
  • Lots of healthy snacks and water (not bottled!)
  • Lots of smiles, songs, and smooches
The real long term social benefit is among our family, as riding the bus together we have plenty of adventures, memories, and life lessons. Beyond humor and entertainment value, riding the bus as a family also shows us the full spectrum of humanity and humility.

Does your family ride the transit, daily or occasionally?


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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.