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Posts Tagged ‘Environment’

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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

 

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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

 

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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)

 

 

 

 

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You have a favorite piece of clothing.

One day, you notice that a button is loose and some of the fabric’s weave has unraveled, leaving some threads dangling.

If you really like this piece of clothing, you’ll probably try to fix these imperfections so they don’t get worse.

If however, you don’t care for it enough to expend the energy to fix it, you might tell yourself that it can be replaced—or that you can find something similar, or better. If you lived in Cuba or the DRC, replacing it wouldn’t actually be an option.

Another possibility is to do nothing. Just let it unravel, missing buttons and all, until it eventually becomes unwearable. Maybe use the remaining fabric for an art project.

Relative to your lifestyle, would you do what’s sensible? Or are you more inclined to do what’s easy?

What if this piece of clothing was a space suit or something you actually couldn’t survive without in a region like say, the Arctic tundra?

Keep Asking Lots of Questions

Does the average first-world person prefer to replace a worn garment with something new? Are there too few seamstresses and tailors in the western world? Why do people who can sew and repair garments primarily work for in third-world sweatshops or for the wealthy? Why is this skill-set so absent and relatively undervalued in America? There was a time—in Europe, in my parent’s generation—where sewing was on par with driving as a valuable skill.

Why does an internet search for “world’s poorest island communities” reveal absolutely nothing? Why does a search for “world’s poorest islands” reveal only a scant handful of bloggers, some of whom comment on the ‘obscene disparity’ between say, Haiti, and the tourists who pay to be disgorged there from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship that sits quietly in the distance awaiting their suntanned return for unlimited food and booze?

Haitian disparity-on-the-beach

For that matter, why is there unlimited access to booze on a finite planet while 783 million people don’t have access to clean water? Are we not aware enough that the present ways of our culture are unsustainable?

 

 

Where am I going with all this, you may wonder…

Those of you who understand the art of the metaphor and the unmistakable theme of my work, know all too well where I am taking you.

The Biosphere (aka., Life on Earth)

Despite our (collective) limited understanding of what creates a healthy, sustainable world, we are nevertheless aware that all of life depends on the health and well-being of our planet.

Helen_Christiansonsaving ecosystems

We’re talking about an organic living system. The planet is an organic living system that our singular species (7 billion of us) share with 8.7 million OTHER species.

What we know with surprising certainty is that it is the web of life as a whole that has made it possible for our species to exist. Like your favorite piece of clothing.

As David Suzuki states, “To tear at the web in such a massive way with so little regard for our own future is a kind of collective insanity that is suicidal.”

Come on now, why would you tear up your favorite piece of clothing?

 

A Fertile Future

A fertile future rests on three things:

  1. Organic, thriving uncompromised ecosystems;
  2. Wise, compassionate stewardship of said ecosystems;
  3. The re-creation of human systems that unequivocally reveal the long-term value of the first two.

You can quote me on this.

Yes, your children are equally precious. So are mine. What kind of world do we want to see them grow up in? Being a parent opens our hearts to ongoing, unconditional love. What would it take for the planet that supports us unconditionally to experience that love too?

If this single statement of what I believe a fertile future rests upon contributed to the foundation of entirely new human systems and thus, ways of thinking that were based upon sustainable ethics, we would be able to turn things around. Maybe not in my lifetime, but maybe in our children’s lifetime.

Please don’t wait for another spark of inspiration. Join a group that’s actually doing something to make the planet healthier.

Share your and others’ ideas far and wide.  Talk with me on this blog.

Move out of your comfort zone and speak for that which does not have a human voice but needs yours to survive.

Every act and expression of thought has the power to change things.

Happy family

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evening people at beach dinner

Last night, while my partner and I were preparing food for a group of friends, the subject turned to things that we would rather not know about—like how many animals were euthanized at the local shelter this past year; the huge sadness of discovering that the already fragmented rainforest ecosystems are still being destroyed at the rate of 60.7 hectares (150 acres) a minute, or why my interest-bearing checking account yielded only 17 cents interest at year-end.

Although I did find out about the 17 cents (the interest rate was exceedingly low), the real subject was that we were both aware of topics we’d rather not get into. Why? Because basically it would bring down our mood. And it was Friday night…

What I noticed was a theme emerging.

What if, I wondered, instead of dropping the subject, we allowed ourselves to experience the pain that sat just behind the undesirable topic? The pain of injustice…of making a colossal mistake…of cruelty…or even simply the pain of aging. It was at that moment that I reacquainted myself with the frailty of life–something I’m not particularly keen to hang out with as my tendency is often to bring sallow subjects to a higher vibe and then hang out there. Yet…

There was some learning to be had there…I could feel it coming in…like a cloud drifting closer.

The Willingness to Look Into and Beyond

That a single hit of emotional pain can trigger resistance, avoidance, fear, self-criticism or just plain negativity—reminded me that what lies behind fear is a valueoften more than one—that re-connects us to our wholeness.

In that sense, what first strikes us as some form of pain (emotional or otherwise) reveals something in need of healing…of care rather than avoidance…of action rather than inaction… In fact quite often, the greater the pain, the deeper the passion. That 17 cents pales in comparison to an ecosystem extinction, but it’s nevertheless an indicator of something not right. It’s really just a question of magnitude.

On what order of magnitude is the issue really?

Mary Oliver-one wild and precious life quote

Solid As Air

The distance we put between ourselves and whatever we don’t like is actually the activity of creating space. And the ability to create space is a skill that us westernized, 21st century humans have nearly lost the ability to do. I’m not talking about resistance–that’s a pushing back of energy. I’m talking about how to step back and view a situation with objectivity, a cool head and a warm heart. This requires the ability to create space, something I’ve referred to in previous blogs as ‘creating pockets of peace.’ Inherent in the ability to create space is room for a broader perspective, new ideas and a regenerative sense of well-being.

Isn’t that what we all really want deep down?

Think about that scene in The Abyss where a sense of wonder and curiosity for connection brought the crew to make an amazing and unexpected connection with a higher intelligence manifesting as autonomous ocean water. A sense of wonder, openness and curiosity is what creates the space for new ideas to emerge. To ground oneself with space is also the ultimate personal freedom. No one can take that ability away from you.

Without mental or physical space, there is no room for growth.

new-zealand-fern koru

A Regenerative Renaissance

Creating space has both a regenerative and a productive purpose. Changing what you’re doing and the context you’re doing it in activates different areas of your brain. It comes from eliminating stuff in your life that isn’t actually that important to you. In the process, you re-acquaint yourself with the essence of who you are.

The biodiversity of ecosystems that still exist are infinitely precious, particularly since they have taken over two billion years to manifest in just the right way to support life. Think about who would do well if we were to become dependent on government and big business for our clean air, clean water and healthy food. Not you or me. And certainly not any living creatures who are perceived as ‘less than’ by humans.

Imagine a holistic scale, where something given a ‘1’ contributes to creating the greatest imbalance and fragmentation of life. At the other end, a ’10’ indicates something that contributes to creating the greatest balance and wholeness for all living things.

Where does your idea land?

New ideas, set against the background of early 21st century technology, should be explored in terms of their contribution to creating greater wholeness for all living things. From a common-sense view and one of personal passion–this is ultimately a win-win perspective. It’s the widest lens we can optimize, so nothing is left outside of this equation.

Use your free time to live out your passion, no matter how small the seed seems right now. Allow it the space to germinate and grow.

Choose to look at whatever you have resistance or fear about. Just behind it will be one or more values you cherish and probably yearn to re-connect with. Let discomfort become the ally that it truly is.

Sometimes it’s hard work, true. But consider why you might otherwise feel ‘too busy’ in such moments. Feeling ‘too busy’ is a clear indicator that you’ve run out of space, and are therefore making decisions from a place of scarcity. You don’t deserve that. And neither do your kids.

Go ahead, release what doesn’t serve your greatest good and watch what happens.

Yes, you can create miracles. Just do it.

how-precious-life-is-quotes-2

 

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Third in a series, this article may sound like a spin on the previous article: The Art of Allowing Space into Everyday Life. Savvy readers however, will catch the distinction right away–this article penetrates the taboo-trending topic of self-discipline.

nothing Binds u

Self-discipline is actually a form of freedom. Not just freedom from, but freedom to live into one’s own unique pursuit of authentic happiness. It sits quietly at the core of ANY relationship–beginning with the most basic one: the relationship we have with ourselves.

Our relationship to ourselves—and with the natural world around us—has everything to do with keeping ourselves whole.

Every millimeter and area of the natural world is an ecosystem. Every ecosystem lives in balance with what it needs to stay whole—doing so continually activates self-organizing principles that drive the living systems of our planet and solar system.

So, shifting gears from macrocosm to microcosm: when we need balance in our lives, where do we go?

How do we change our perspective in a relatively short period of time? How do we re-balance from a busy day or otherwise stressful situation?

It requires a form of self-discipline that could initially be described as a yearning, a desire for something different…an urge to ‘bust out’, get creative or just escape…it’s an undeniable need. It’s really about the self-discipline of wholeness, or holistic awareness.

hand-touch-surface

In this world of designed fragmentation, ignorance of self-discipline has profoundly disturbing consequences. Just look around the world at anything that seems out of control, terribly unhealthy, insane or just plain ludicrous. Running through the body of that event, person or situation is—simply put—a lack of awareness.

Kick-start your own awareness.  Look at our planet via Google Earth or as Edgar Mitchell, founder of IONS, might have seen it from space.  Such a difference in perspective changes everything.

Image converted using ifftoany

Earth from space

Our interconnectedness with life is crystal clear. Denial isn’t an option. We are an integral part of the earth’s living ecosystem–and the quality of our lives depend on it.

Your own ability to unplug has everything to do with your ability to transform negative, life-draining energies into constructive, positive ones. The quickest route to unplugging is to immerse yourself in nature on a regular basis.

Want more experience doing this with others? Check out what other awesome people are doing and dive in!

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