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My daughter and I recently took a long walk together in Fairfax, a small, hip town in West Marin County. We’re both big on visioning and lately, I’ve been feeling something bigger than me stirring within—inviting me to explore the expansiveness of my own human potential. 

 

“What does it feel like?” she asks in idle curiosity as our athletic shoes crunch along a pebbled path. I tell her it feels like I’m being called forward to reacquaint myself with whatever superpowers I have…to prepare for something that’s on the horizon. Essentially, it feels good and positive.

 

“Something important is going to happen, duh mom.” She says it so casually, like it’s no big deal. But to me, it is a big deal. I tell her so and ask her if she feels it might have anything to do with entering a new 13-year cycle. “If it is, you’ll know. Anyway, you should focus on your superpowers—you might have some dormant ones…you probably do.” Spoken like a true sage, I think to myself, then say it out loud. She deserves to know that. She nods.

“I know more than you think I do, mom.” Amazing, I say, straight from the heart. You’re such an amazing gift. I notice that my heart is speaking through me.

 

This walk is superbly special in so many intangible ways. I’m spending quality time with my beloved daughter…the person with whom I’ve shared many ups (her entire childhood until 16-ish) and downs (about 5 years of unimaginable stress for me followed by a few years of PTSD) followed by Her Beautiful Life, part two, which I relishingly admire and feel blessed to reflect on daily. Being there for her through the toughest parts of her life and witnessing the metamorphosis she has gone through to get back to her authentic self and show up in that way in the world is, for me, endlessly gratifying and truly amazing. Some days, she IS my meditation. 

 

As an unanticipated outcome, I’m actually quite happy and content with the (finally!) small footprint of my Sonoma County-to-Maui life. As we walk, I become more aware of everything around us—birds chirping to each other, people talking some distance away, a plane flying by, breezes that move through branches and across our skin—through the endless spaces between everything. I never want these moments to end…

 

It dawns on me that this is my sweet spot. It’s not a fleeting moment of zen perfection. It’s moving through life in a state of joy as often as possible. In other words, it’s feeling of love with anyone or anything including yourself—regardless of how imperfect things appear on the surface. “Mom” she pauses to stop briefly. I stop with her, listening. “Do you feel the joy in the redwoods?” she says. “I can feel it,” she says, placing a hand on her chest. I’m so touched, tears well up in my eyes. All I can do is nod. She looks at me and sees my tears. I put my hand to my chest in sympatico with hers. “Tears of joy,” she says in a soft voice. Now I’m nodding and smiling. We embrace, lingering in the mutual joy we share with the redwoods. When I find my words, I say, ‘imagine what the world would be like if everyone felt like we do right now. “F*’ing amazing!,” she says. It’s amazing how two words can convey so much.

 

Arriving at (most challenging) and recognizing (easier!) that I’m actually living my sweet spot in moments such as these tells me that I’m actually stepping into the territory of the kind of future I desire and envision. It tells me that my daughter and I are actively co-creating that future together, right now, with every step. She sparks my sweet spot into existence. I tell her aloud how much I love this walk we’re on together. She turns to me and smiles. “I love it too, mom.”

 

My heart radiates joy. This is what life is all about.

 

“The way we imagine our lives is the way we are going to go on living our lives. For the manner in which we tell ourselves about what is going on is the genre through which events become experience. 
                    – James Hillman, The Soul’s Code

A 10-year Plan

Swedish citizen and environmental activist Greta Thunberg, 16 has recently expressed one of the best messages imaginable for all of us human beans! No need to preamble…here it is!

“I Want You to Panic”

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jan/25/our-house-is-on-fire-greta-thunberg16-urges-leaders-to-act-on-climate

As a Waldorf parent, I was deeply heartened to discover this newsletter a few weeks later in March ~

https://mailchi.mp/waldorfteachers/waldorf-today-draft-only-issue-2455961?e=a2238c65aa

Oostpolder-DeHondsrug-UGG

A friend of mine recently returned from two weeks in Ireland and Scotland plus a week visiting his hometown in the Netherlands. He told me the temperature was in the mid-90’s the entire time and in Ireland, miles of marshes were dried up. Normally wet and foggy bogs were dry and cracked, appearing like desolate mud flats where nature has always been eternally green. The fog that helps to define the area appeared only in the early morning, gone by 10am. I cringed. Inside, I felt pain and wanted to cry.

How is this possible in such an ecosystem that has been consistently damp, cool and verdant for thousands of years? As an empath with a huge commitment to keeping our environmental balanced and healthy, I felt pain as I reflected on this unanticipated condition.

bird-bath1

Here in Northern California, I fill a large blue bowl with water for visiting birds every morning. The bowl sits atop a corner of our deck railing facing distant Fitch mountain. This daily act is surprisingly fulfilling and opens me to do more, yet I am part of a human system that requires my face time at work at least 40 hours a week. Without that, I don’t get to survive in a healthy, balanced way. On evenings I’m not going out, I often walk or go for a bike ride to experience the environment–literally to taste the moisture in the air. There isn’t any. I feel uneasy and wonder where would be a good place to move to, given that I live an intentionally light footprint. I also know I’m not the only person who feels this way. It looks and feels like we’re collectively at the point where our self-generated human systems are eclipsing the natural systems upon which we depend.

What I know for sure is that we need to fundamentally re-adjust our relationship with the planet. I know that I and my children want to live in a socially just and ecologically thriving culture.

Green technology is alive and well in many parts of the world and for someone like me, focusing on what’s working keeps me feeling positive. Others prefer focusing on environmental problems, as they are solution-oriented and thrive on solving high stakes challenges. Others thrive on exploring and mapping the biodiverse richness a given environment holds–what’s working in there? What’s not? Still others prefer to cultivate positivity through prayer, writing, tweeting, living indigeous lifestyles, teaching children, planting trees and pesticide-free gardens. All approaches nourish each other in intangible and quantifiable ways. The common thread we share is communication and caring for the environment that supports us.

How can each of us in our own ways create a mutually satisfying relationship with the earth? What’s your daily earth loving ritual? Can you bring more of it into your world? Can you share what you’re doing with others in your life? With your tribe? Your kid’s friends?

tree-des-druids

Even with a background in permaculture design systems, ecology leadership, a degree in environmental management; inspired attendance at The Great Turning, and a forty+ year member with the Nature Conservancy, I sometimes wonder if my efforts are nothing more than a drop in the proverbial bucket of our planet’s destiny. The truth is, I can see the outcomes of my and my team’s efforts locally. I feel great about that! Global outcomes are likely to happen by extension…through connected groups and tribes of like-hearted and like-minded people. I may or may not see that in my lifetime, yet am super stoked to discover it! How about you? What excites you? What propels you into the unknown? As always, I invite you to reach out.

More than likely, the world needs you.

Split-tree-imge #2

Next up ….

In my next blog, we’ll be exploring the concept of interdependence, what it is and how viewing the world through this lens can change the fabric of our relationships with all living things.

May our connections and shared thoughts create meaningful cultural change.

 

 

Have you ever lived through the aftermath of a fire?

 

In the northern California tri-county areas of Medocino, Sonoma and Napa, the powerful fires that raged through our communities six months ago gave rise to a new kind of collaboration between people and organizations. Near-term and long-term solutions could only be achieved by the combination of parts that would best serve the creation of a new whole.

 

No single reference existed to guide communities of land, its inhabitants and people through recovery steps and at the same time, provide sensible systems thinking to re-imagine everyday life.

 

 

Tonic or Toxic?

 

The fires heightened community awareness to an off-the-charts level. Many, many organizations and people worked together to facilitate and document recovery practices, revealing two things that became very clear: every action was either more beneficial (tonic—improvements that heal) or less beneficial (tending towards toxic—unsustainable practices that need re-envisioning). For example, a key reason not to re-build is that it was revealed that this particular area is actually a fire pathway, having burned everything along the same path in the Hanly fire of 1964.

 

The point of re-thinking what was, is to identify actions that are beneficial to the land and biodiversity upon which our lives and communities rest.

 

Here in Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino counties our people and environments still face a time of recovery. Trees are beginning to flush with new growth, blackened soils are greening up with tender sprouts, and nourishing winter rains have come.

 

These powerful images contain the seeds of resilience and recovery that nature inspires in all of us if we notice and listen. Learn more about regeneration via this blog and other resources like The California Native Plant Society’s new Fire Recovery Guide and Daily Acts’ Every Action Matters.

Photo credits: California Native Plant Society and Saxon Holt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

sleeping on the grass

I had so much fun writing this article! Thank you to Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves for providing my own kick-start!

  1. Get enough sleep. Inaction is the #1 thing you can do to bring your 33 senses in alignment with the planet itself. Yes, you read that right!

 

  1. Stay present. Notice, notice, notice as much as you can. Until you’ve become good at taking note of your thoughts in order to let them go, they will drift like clouds across your mental plane—or like gnats on your windshield. This is fairly difficult for many people because technology is extremely dominant in our world. Find your way through this constructively. A friend of mine takes a walk most evenings just before sunset. A fellow PDC student has made a personal practice of lying directly on the ground (snow angel style) after coming home from work. Maximum contact with the ground is key, she says. If bugs or dirt are a concern, change your clothes and remove your shoes—weather permitting. There’s nothing like unwinding and feeling your daily pressures melt away.

 

  1. Make your physical, mental and emotional well-being a lifetime priority. I’ve been a single mom long enough to know how challenging this can be. Yet, if you make it your goal to be well within, your happiness barometer can soar. One of the coolest things about this is that you begin to feel a kinship with nature—with the life that swirls around us moment to moment. A likely outcome is that nature eventually is into this priority, signaling an inner shift from ‘just me’ to ‘me and my environment.’

 

  • Get curious about nature. Years ago—despite my busy day-to-day life—I learned that even 15 minutes seated in a frayed patio chair in our tiny backyard watching birds had a regenerative effect on me. Have your kids do it too, together or separately. Silence matters. Keep a journal if you like. Walking, exploring or sitting are all valid vehicles of curiosity. Ask yourself: “I wonder…”
  1. Look for patterns. During the first year of my PDC, we learned that understanding patterns (pattern intelligence) is almost exclusively a trait of the first four regenerative actions above. Climate change, for instance, is a global reflection of long-term patterns unraveling.

 

  1. Live constructively out-of-the-box. This means—live your values. Not sure what they are? Find out. Schedule time in your week to learn cool green topics like:

“No matter how difficult and painful it may be, nothing sounds as good to the soul as the truth.”   ~ Martha Beck

 

  1. Identify your contribution. What can you do? Can you plant some (non-GMO) herbs, a fruit tree or veggies? Can you build a compost bin? Inviting your kids, partner or friends to get involved makes it fun. Post your project on Facebook or Nextdoor or create a Meetup out of it. Small things often lead to bigger ones. If you feel overwhelmed, repeat steps 1 – 4.

 

  

  1. Take ‘living constructively’ to the next level. Maybe you’d like to add a new skillset to your career by taking an instructional design course or becoming a mentor to a young person. You could find a local non-profit that does something you feel good about and volunteer to help. Connecting with like-hearted people is key to personal growth and renewal.

 

  1. Take one radical step. Then take another. Our world may be messed up, but when we do something radical from the heart we create a powerful antidote. We cultivate authenticity, fairness and integrity. As we move away from actions and habits that don’t align with our core values, radical new steps begin to appear, if only in the form of an idea. Allow them. Everything that is a reality now was once an idea.

Let me know how you’re doing or share a question. I love hearing from you!

“When you are living the best version of yourself, you inspire others to live the best versions of themselves.” —Steve Maraboli

 

harvestmarch bounty

Nature in her burgeoning biodiversity informs us about much more than sustainability. Sustainable living is a god start, but not if it includes an unsustainable GDP. Nature points us to regenerative practices that have the power to turn around climate change.

If that sounds impossible, think again.

A single, uninterrupted half-hour dedicated purely to something that is actually regenerative is enough to plant the seeds of self-growth.

Why is this part of an optimum process?

Because self-growth—as any therapist or life coach will tell you—is unlimited. And that is the greatest hope for the future of our planet. How we evolve matters. Why not benefit everyone and everything around you in the process?

Dana-Wilson-Meme-Map-2WEB-980x600

Here are 3 core lifestyle practices that can immediately make you feel happier, create inner balance, and bring you closer to your own ideas for living regeneratively.

  1. Spend time observing nature’s patterns.

This first step is crucial to understanding on multiple levels: emotionally, intellectually, physically and spiritually. Spending time in nature and observing nature’s patterns has been found to build neural pathways between both hemispheres of our brains—a critical part of our human evolution if we are to create a genuine paradigm shift.

  1. The problem is the solution.

How does the problem reveal the solution?

If this is the only question you ask yourself in the relatively small half-hour window (or more!) that you’re carving out, you’ll make surprising progress. As indigenous cultures have known for generations, the whole of nature embodies solutions to its own problems and our maladies. Recent resurgence in ethnobotany and biodiversity research have brought these concepts into mainstream awareness, also revealing many new species of insects and reptiles that play critical roles in maintaining ecosystem balance.

  1. Each element (of nature) performs many functions.

When plastic manufacturers set their production bars in 1947, millions, billions and eventually trillions of single items were produced to meet human needs. While this was initially a boon to postwar countries and their monetary-based economies, it was done for a core reason: to make money. Yet this practice, coupled with an old school GDP—is utterly unsustainable. It’s still being done today for the same reasons. We view it as ‘normal’ because it’s all around us. Yet that doesn’t make it OK. It’s actually an abomination.

Plastic shit everywhere

Changing your thinking away from this ‘trance of normalcy’ to seeing consequences of these actions on a global scale is a game changer.

Why not make regenerative living your bigger game?

Next month: 9 Regenerative Actions to Kick-Start the Environmentalist Within

Like abstract art?

Art logo

 

raindrops on stemAt this autumnal equinox we tip into Fall, heralding a second season of transformation in the northern hemisphere (Spring being the first).  In the southern hemisphere, you’re welcoming the advent of Spring.  My theory is that those of us who love Spring and Fall usually enjoy change.

With change, there is regeneration and transformation–no matter how apparently simple or complex.

Did you already know that the earth is a complex self-organizing, regenerating and self-balancing living planet? Did you also know that your own well-being depends on the health of the earth?

No matter where your belief barometer is on these concepts—and even if you haven’t thought about it before—there’s a part of you that probably senses that it is in fact, true.

sabine-fern-aroha-love

Virtually all native stories and mythology are based on the life of the earth. One of my favorite reads is a book written by Rudolf Steiner entitled ‘Intuitive Thinking as a Spiritual Path,’ where he states, …’for the contemplation of the whole-world process, there is no more primal starting point than pure observation.’

Erich Jantsch and Rudolf Steiner, whose lives didn’t overlap in time, both introduced concepts of a living, self-organizing planet during their own lifetimes. Steiner introduced these ideas in the 1800s; Jantsch continued in the early to mid 1900’s. Then, in the 1960’s, James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis re-introduced the idea as a hypothesis called Gaia—the living earth. That nature is at the core of these universal conversations should be of no surprise.

What did these philosophers and scientists see and experience that made each of them bring forward the common principle of self-equilibrium that governs all living things?

Nature as Ultimate Model

Let’s look at a river: When a river takes the path of least resistance, it isn’t being ‘lazy.’ It’s actually optimizing flow. There are trillions of self-regenerating activities that take place in a moment of water rushing from one place to another. Unseen chemistries chaotically collide during these moments that actually refresh and re-balance the water molecules while sending them on their journey.

kenwood-mini-waterfall

That said, whatever water came out your tap, showerhead, local stream or watershed this morning is the same water that  re-circulated itself when dinosaurs walked the earth. All bodies of water on this planet self-regenerate through a process known as the water cycle.

And it’s no mistake that our bodies are composed of nearly 75% water.

Our bodies and minds offer complex sets of input and output processes, revealing the activities of life. Just like the earth, we—and all other forms of life that are part of it—represent complex, self-organizing systems.

Going with the Flow of Change

Rather than spending time reading the news or diverting our time with technology, how can we increase our experiential awareness of a living earth?

How is your one precious life connected with the earth’s support system?

How often do you practice self-regeneration by connecting with nature?

What special talents or gifts do you have that can be used to create positive change?

Thank you for all the wonderful and heartfelt emails Marco and I have received since 2011.  So many of you are seeing and exploring your own unique gifts and discovering ways of bringing them forward–I love it!!  That’s what life is all about!!

Yes, move with the rythm of the earth. Your dance will be joyous and integrity-rich!

In gratitude to the harvest of change,

Catrina (Catherine)