Posts Tagged ‘Permaculture’

We have a choice to use the gift of our lives to make the world a better place.      -Dr. Jane Goodall

DNA double helixAs we strive to communicate more and more in open and connective ways, we become more skilled at expressing the truth of what is before us…and what is within us.  In this way our communication becomes extraordinarily valuable to those who know us or hear us speak.

Extracting our inner truth, bringing it to light in dialogue and expressing it in a simple and honest way transforms our inner landscape—and that of the other person.  This seemingly simple process is actually a process of transformation.  Here are a few examples: saying something you’ve been wanting to say for a long time; doing something for the first time; expressing a core belief; informing others of a decision.

To illustrate, it would look like a double helix—what’s inner expresses itself into the outer, while the outer absorbs the expression to the inner plane.  The space in between is the edge.  This is where human transformation happens—where connections are made.  This can also be non-verbal.  It’s often what we refer to as growth.  The transformation that takes place on the inner plane is the edge effect.

As an environmental educator who’s raised a child, spent over a decade as a career advisor and strove to meet the challenges life has served up; blended with an intrinsic curiosity and desire to help others, a deep capacity has bloomed…to connect dots in ways most people don’t see…yet.  To impart information in a way that inspires people to think beyond the pre-defined and help the environment is my greatest joy.  You could say it’s what I live for…well, that and an occasional island trip and a meal of yellowtail sashimi…

Did you know the edge effect can be witnessed in nature too?  Just like us, nature is constantly growing.  Growth is what happens in that edge…the edge from inner to outer and back again.

In nature, where one ecosystem meets, intermingles and gives way to a different ecosystem, this overlap is called an ‘edge.’  It is in these edges that unique and emerging life forms can be found.  Where something ‘unlike all the rest’ exists in a fragile equilibrium.  Just like you.

The most apparent edge people often recognize are beaches, lakesides or steep mountains.  Yet the not-so-obvious ones are really fascinating.

orcas island edge

Orcas Island

To connect the dots, our most fruitful links are found in two places:  In permaculture and in the body of native ancestral wisdom and practices, more commonly known as TEK (traditional ecological knowledge).

Next month, I’ll share more about these connections and how they can help you make the world a better place for the future.  Hope you’ll stay tuned and share this blog with anyone who might be interested.

Can’t wait?  For an earlier exposeé on the value of edges, click here.


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Les choses qui s’écroulent sont une sorte d’épreuve, mais aussi une sorte de guérison.                                                               ~ Pema Chodron

(English translation)

Things that fall apart are a sort of test, but also a kind of healing.


Two weeks out from the Spring Equinox and the air is ripe with life.

Some mornings, I feel a thrill run through my body as the birds’ dawn chorus inspires me to rise and step outside to stretch in the cool morning air.

Spring has gently yet powerfully moved in, bringing new life and longer days of light.  And to think that a season as lovely as Spring is borne out of the cold, wet darkness of winter.

One of my favorite permaculture design principles is:

‘Use Edges + Value the Margins.’

Edges in nature are transition zones—the places where the composition of the terrain, flora and fauna change.   Edges and margins are also the places in our lives where real change occurs—where we are sometimes tested far beyond our comfort zones.

In nature, edges and margins can be where a forest gives way to a field of wildflowers, or where the firm footing of solid ground begins to soften and goosh, filling with dense ferns and mangroves before giving way to a riverbank.   It could simply be where crunchy beachfront sand yields to undulating clumps of sedge, tall grasses and scrubby brush.  It’s where life yields to life, and recombines to create new environments.   Each environment provides habitat for plants and animals that have adapted over millenia to that particular arrangement of life.  These are the earth’s ecosystems.  And they are incredibly precious.

This same perspective applies to each of us.

When we find ourselves thrust into experiences that we didn’t ask for—or would never consciously choose—you can count on those situations as opportunities to be stretched—to move beyond predictability into unfamiliar terrain.  In such situations, our primal instinct to survive sheds light on our life as a whole. Recognizing aspects of our lives that are out of balance—those that don’t truly serve our greatest good—end up defining our future.   This is the human version of edge.

Edge forces us to grow—to reassess.  Real growth happens when that which no longer serves our greatest good is released.  Real growth actually moves us to become more symbiotic—with ourselves and with all of life around us.

We instinctively know that solutions to big problems are found beyond the familiar boundaries of our self-prescribed lives.  When we are willing to embrace larger actions—lifestyle changes that reflect a holistic way of life—we rapidly become more symbiotically interconnected with life.  In this way, you could say that our lives parallel the edges and margins of an ecosystem.

John Francis, also known as Planetwalker—rediscovered rhythms in nature that western culture has nearly forgotten by walking the continent of North America in silence for 17 years.  In his book, The Ragged Edge of Silence, John shares that the single most valuable thing for people to know is this:  The basis of nature is cooperation and democracy. 

Indigenous peoples have long since recognized that each unique ecosystem yields it’s own unique set of bio-restorative offerings.  It requires only that we are able to distinguish the unique qualities, characteristics and properties of the plants and creatures living therein.  It’s worth repeating that this same perspective applies to each of us.

There is infinite possibility within the natural world to restore itself as well as what ails humanity.

Through our senses of wonder, curiosity and inquiry, our individual connection with the natural world has the direct capacity to restore ourselves as whole human beings at all levels.  Our greatness, our compassion and our authenticity become buried beneath the parts of ourselves we’ve become disconnected from.

Exploring your edges will take you on a journey to your most authentic self.  A place where you feel at home with who you are; where you recognize your weaknesses and your strengths, admit your imperfections and bask in your gifts.  In honoring this most human of journeys, we automatically honor the earth that has silently supported us all of our lives.

Making peace within our inner ecosystems, we become capable of restoring lasting peace for the earth as well.


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Greetings!  We are now officially into the New Year of 2012, with powerful, fearless and conscious choices that release our attachments to what no longer serves our highest good.

In so doing, a light joyful balance rolls in to wash through the old crevices where we’d kept old ideas held tightly, thinking that they would serve us.

Strengthening our vision and dream of what is possible in our lives—despite all outward appearances otherwise—continues to emerge.  This life force dawns each day with divine right alignment.  When we are aligned with the truth of ourselves, it becomes apparent that a harmonious pattern of divine intelligence is already in place—just waiting for each of us to wake up to its presence.

There is a sort of primal intelligence within every living being—animal, plant, insect or human—that experiences itself as an integrated co-creative part of this larger design.  So let the old pass away is it must, and embrace the fluid, life-filled cosmic blueprint of what is yet to be.

Give yourself permission to feel exhilarated for no reason whatsoever.

Give yourself permission to speak your truth compassionately.

Delight in the newfound space of your expanding being.

Begin to live the life you have always dreamed of.

When we ALLOW the old beliefs to fall away, and get right down to our essence, what else is there REALLY?

So, just be.  Just dream.  You’ll know when the moment is right to say YES with all of your being. 🙂

Beach mandala, courtesy of Sparrow Queen

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Since my last post was so pragmatic, it seems to call for a counter-balance.

This post is about permaculture principles in action from a deeply personal perspective.

My hope is that it reveals the value of working with our baggage in such a way that we develop the ability to compost it, releasing the stored energy formerly resident in it so that it can transform into something else that actually becomes beneficial.

The dross

If you’ve ever had trouble letting go of unpleasant stuff that ails you, perhaps my story will provide a touch of inspiration to compost your karma.

The gold

I was recently talking to a friend who, like many people in our western culture, is living on an exhaustion treadmill of self worth = net worth = level of productivity.

She asked me, “Have you noticed how our western culture is always trying to get us away from something…and into something else?”  It was a fabulous entrée to a wonderful, juicy conversation.

It’s clear that after decades of addiction to this mindset—not to mention growing up within it during our formative years—it’s hard to surrender from go-go-going to just being fully present with what is.

Simply BEING.

Not trying to control it, plan it, design it. ~ just being with what is ~ and noticing.

From the looks of things these days, our western-cultured minds have a hard time with just being.

And I think it has to do with the mother of all emotions—shame; a feeling of not BEING enough.

This came as a big surprise to me just about 10 days ago.  A few days after that, my body got really sick.  As my body recovered, I had a strong sense that the illness had taken hold so that I could surrender to the Dance of Life even more deeply.

I didn’t really like it.

On the surface, it was just a cold passing through.  But the underbelly was of universal proportions.

To surrender to something greater than my individual self has been a vital part of my spiritual practice for decades.  Yet through this brief illness, a curious resistance to being the lead character in my life as it appears right now surfaced, revealing a silent shame.

As I stand at what feels like a precipice, the past four years my life have unearthed a deep sadness and sense of frustration.  What I’m in the process of releasing—and I have no idea how long this will take—seems to be rooted in having witnessed and experienced some family trauma over this four year period.

Tuning in closely, I recognize the dualistic nature of these experiences and how living my values despite all outward events maintained my well-being at a deep level.  The friends who helped me through this long and tough stage are amazing souls who embody values such as compassion, community, diversity, nonviolence, transparency and whole systems thinking.

Although the observations I’m about to share are my own, they reflect the uber process of transcending human experience from personal/subjective to discovering the gems of universal truth embedded in each experience.  Discovering the gem and using it consciously in life reflects a second layer of heightened consciousness.

What happens from that place becomes quite magical.

Arriving at Transparency World

So despite being on a spiritual path that I’ve tracked closely for over three decades, as evidenced by the 44 journals I’ve compiled and only just begun to look back on—despite being raised in a family of international travellers—despite years of spiritual research and practice, years of Waldorf training, coaching training, formal and self education, being a wife, mother, naturalist and artist—I was awash in sadness about how my own life didn’t look or feel the way I expected it to when I was in my 20’s planning it all out.  Ahh, being 20-something ~ full of sparkly enthusiasm, witty playfulness, adequate business savvy and eternal optimism.

Ironically, the beautiful journey of my dear friend Linda, who recently left for 5 months in Italy ~ la dolce vita! ~ was what tipped my inner balancing scales.  As we discussed her upcoming trip, she mentioned that she felt I was a source (one of many I’m sure) of inspiration for her long-planned journey.  Within a week, I was swimming in my own pity party.

But THEN came the gems, one by one.

The Noticings

So here’s how my own series of noticings evolved my awareness past the dualistic nature of ‘Person A did this’ and ‘I, Person B, am still adversely affected by it.’

I began by noticing how certain family experiences put me through a series of shocking, unexpected events that unnerved me deeply.

(Honesty and authenticity with self).

Next, through deepened compassion, I saw how these events cracked open my heart so wide, that the person I am now and the person I am becoming has grown far beyond the butterfly-traveller-life-design I planned for myself in my 20’s.

(Recognition of change in consciousness and it’s impact)

Note: This is not to say that the life plan is out the window, there’s just so much more depth to it now.

More Honesty and Authenticity

Then I noticed how these events deepened my own personal need for solace, temperance and balance.  For me, this amounts to reaching out to close friends, living into free time=quality time, and the amazing practice of extreme self care, aka., taking time to heal.

I notice how, over time, the unpredictable nature of the healing aspect irritates me.   I want it to be over!

I recognize that deepening my support network to maintain inner strength for the long-haul—whatever that looks like—is still a necessary part of my life.

This ALONE is truly une cause célébre!  It has led me to see and feel how love and gratitude truly are the universal elixirs of all life connection.

Despite my social upbringing that tells me ‘it’s not polite to burden others,’ I continue to experience far deeper feelings of love and gratitude around my close friendships.  Amazingly, these deepened feelings act as a bridge that create powerful links to deeper joys and higher resonant frequencies.  These higher frequencies in turn, continue to wash love, peace and meaning through my life, much as waves on a beach soften the stones upon which they repeatedly visit.  These same feelings apply to my mentors and teachers, of which there are both few and many.

In other words, once a deepened sense of self authenticity is activated, it is the ongoing choice of allowing the deepening to continue that attunes one’s consciousness to these higher, resonant frequencies of delight, joy, peace, contentment and flow.

Karma Composting Time is Here

The very last thing I’ve become aware of so far is this:

When we go through a powerful inner transformation, eventually the pains that once gripped us begin to fall away and compost into particulate and energy fragments that are actually beneficial for other life forms.

This was another surprise for me ~ and KEY.  I felt it intuitively, but is has been rare for me to be with the ‘drossing off’ process long enough to feel and see it actually happening.

In this way, less becomes more.

I am not a thing — a noun.  I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process — an integral function of the universe.                 –Buckminster Fuller

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Ushering in the day of longest light, yesterday’s summer solstice has me reflecting on its universal message.  From this longest day of light, each day becomes progressively shorter as we slowly move from an abundant peak of light, to the harvest it eventually manifests.  Each external day of light is gradually shortened as the outside light enters within, illuminating our authentic selves in a way that invites self-reflection.  Not to mention that we’re also in the middle of three eclipses from June 1 through July 1, 2011.  It is a language of light that we are accustomed to on the external plane, and learning to develop on the inner.

The language of life takes infinite form.  Some we can perceive through our basic senses, others take more time to cultivate.  These other senses, which were touched upon in our early June blog, are, by and large—dormant senses that awaken within meditation or through unusual, unexpected or heightened situations.  A loved one experiencing a heart attack for example, can trigger a heightened attunement in another that transcends the activity at hand, opening one to the realm of sixth sense.  This realm actually embodies 33 other senses that are stirring in many people at this time.

Beyond our rational sense perceptions, we are forever sensing new forms of reality emerging.  In a nutshell, we are awakening to our own multidimensionality—which is a microcosm of the multidimensionality of earth and cosmos.

Sipping your iced tea or margarita on this hot day in the northern hemisphere of earth, you might ask yourself, what sort of language are we talking about here?

Visualization and Language

Spiritual colleague, Marko Pogačnik calls it a holographic language—a dynamic combination of future visualization coupled with a multitude of awakened sense perceptions that we attempt to bring into the earthly reality through art forms and language. Speaking a language—whether it manifests as art or verbalized expression—means we are co-creating reality.  When we communicate with the living consciousness of earth—nature, that is—we give ourselves permission to enter into worlds beyond physical form, beyond rational perceptions that the mind is oh-so-familiar with.  We enter into a field of vibration that is infinite—and thus by extension, infinitely changing.

Marko tells us that language in these realms IS a way of being and co-creating beyond rational perceptions.  Moreover, a field of vibration outside our common frame of reference that is thoroughly changeable means unimaginable fluidity.  The Secret touches on this, but ultimately expresses these realms as ‘focus on what you want and you’ll get it.’ From the earth-bound  perspective, that’s a bit like trying to clutch a fistful of water.  So really, whatever we ask for is going to be so much smaller than what’s actually available.

Asking and Expecting

It calls to mind the time I was on a class field trip with my daughter to Fort Ross.  Among other things, her class was going to learn how to churn butter, so the teacher asked me to fetch 6 – 8 half-gallons of ‘cultured cream,’ known in consumer circles as ‘half-and-half.’  From the consumer perspective, it was an enormous amount.  So I went to the local dairy in Petaluma, walked past their vast truck fleet and loading docks and into their little office to ask for this special quantity.

No problem.  A few minutes later, eight half-gallons of cultured cream sat on Bo’s desk.  ‘Will that be cash, check or credit?’ he said with a smile.  Being part French, my family are avid fans of creme brulee, but still, I’d never seen so much half-and-half in one place in my entire life.  I walked out hefting two grocery bags full.  I was amazed at the low cost, huge amount and ease of acquisition, none of which I had expected.  And that was just cultured cream!  The same thing applies to our version of the future.

What IS your vision of the future?  And does it include community?

Or is it a conglomeration of dark forces on a wasted, barren landscape, where we are but pawns in a sinister uber game of brute power over power?  Like the kind of stuff you see in the movies?  Or are we more than that?

If you believe we’re more, then you’ve got what it takes to co-create the kind of future that honors people, the environment AND the future.  This kind of willingness calls us forth to open not only our minds, but our hearts, souls and hands.  In permaculture circles, this is called ‘creatively using and responding to change.’  A sort of triple bottom-line wake up call.  I think we’re up for it.

Come to think of it, what have we got to lose?

“If they [companies] believe they are in business to serve people, to help solve problems, to use and employ the ingenuity of their workers to improve the lives of people around them by learning from the nature that gives us life, we have a chance.”

~ Paul Hawken



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