Sometimes I forget. Do you? I forget that we are actually on a spaceship. That is not a metaphor – we are on this tiny globe in a big vast universe that looks empty. But it’s not empty. Not even a little bit. Not anywhere. The air around you is no more empty than the components of your body. Because all of this is a huge miracle.

And sometimes I have a day where I am frustrated because traffic sucks and I can’t find what I need anywhere I stop to look for it. And sometimes I feel confused because the heart is a complex and radiant organ and it is so vast I could never explore it enough to understand all of it. And sometimes I know all of that territory without looking. And sometimes the sun seems to be radiating from the center of my chest.

And sometimes I look in the mirror and I see age happening. I see my skin changing and I see that I must have laughed a lot in my 34 years, as my face is carved with my expressions like this beautiful land gets carved with water and wind and our footsteps.

Every day I am carving a path through this journey of time and space and experience. Every day I am challenged, every challenge shows me something new to play with.

When was the last time you got on a swing set? I love to swing really high and at the top of the swing I like to open my face to the sky and imagine I am flying all the way out into it. The clouds, the stars, the deep blue, the murky gray, the mystery and the beauty that breathes me. If you haven’t tried it in awhile, I suggest it for a playful meditation soon. Or really just a playful moment. Because meditation isn’t the only way to touch God or kiss the sky.

Tonight a friend was telling me about his role models. I started thinking of my own. There are countless people that have inspired me, especially women in my family, a few powerful teachers, and a super incredible 4-H leader from when I was growing up. I am deeply in debt to these individuals. That said, is there anyone who I would love to model myself after? To be just like her or him, accomplishing her or his accomplishments, living life as she or he did?

Einstein and Jesus come to mind. They had their profound roles and I am forever in debt to them for their generosity and the way they gave their lives.I realize that to put Jesus on the level of a human may be offensive to some, but I am sincerely appreciating the fullness of this being who tread on our soil and taught such beautiful things (very little of which you hear much about today). But I do not wish to live their lives.

There is one character that I remember having a feeling of wanting to emanate. It is the spirit of the forest, in Princess Mononoke (incredible Japanese anime film that I can’t recommend highly enough). I remember the way that life would sprout and grow and thrive under those divine footsteps, like Shiva or another form of God creating and destroying. With such grace that I wanted to surrender to that sense of deep Beauty… it is truly awe inspiring. I want to create flowers in my footsteps; life overflowing by taking a simple step. To bring as much Beauty to the world as is possible from this tiny-but-huge human existence.

I don’t exactly know how to do that; I just try. I think it starts with having a dream. And continues with believing it is possible. Sometimes my clients say it is too much to believe their highest dreams are possible, so I tell them to at least imagine. That imagining may open doors that you have never thought of. I dream of spreading Great Beauty, and deep Opening or Liberation into the world… liberating people from the traps of believing in a small world. A small world is beautiful if you fall in Love with it, but I mean a small world that is confined with walls of social expectations, empty cosmos, and the drone of endless TV and internet programming. A small world that clouds and darkens the soul and the heart, limiting our eyes from the brilliance all around us.

We live – that alone is enough to show that everything around us is a fucking miracle. How could it be any less? How can we get so used to it? As if it is not THE most incredible thing EVER? This breath is so much more than amazing… the billions of cells in your body responding to your thoughts, your breath, the air around you, this big massively spinning globe that is stuck in a loop around a big gorgeous star that is keeping us in the temperature zone for LIFE. Wow. It is brilliant, beyond all hopes. That alone. And then life has continued to explore through us humans… procreating until it is ready to spread itself beyond this planet – actually finding other planets that might be able to host us with liquid water! It is actually happening! Life is amazing – call it God, the Universe, or something totally unknown, it is nothing short of mind-blowing Beauty and Wonder. And somehow we let ourselves forget that. Even this internet is just incredible. What frontiers Life explores through us…!

How can we just forget that we are living in a complete awe-inspiring miracle? You can choose to remember. Right now you can feel this breath and be astounded – because you have that power. To reflect, to imagine, to consider. No small thing. And if you want to, you can look up a picture of some awe-inspiring cosmic entity (a galaxy, nebula, whatever) and put it somewhere to re-mind you. Or you can choose to look a little more closely at the flowers or leaves you pass by on your next walk home. Every bit of it is amazing. Including these 7 billion humans that are shaping this planet. Love them – just for the hell of it, Love them radically, if you want to!

Try to more deeply love this perfect body you live in. You might be angry at it, feeling like it is not perfect, not healthy, failing you in one way or another. And you may be right. But this body allows your heart to ache and love and your senses to explore a big bold world. This body is your window to experience life. Maybe we live beyond this lifetime, maybe not. Either way, we have this precious window – these eyes, ears, this mind, this skin… touching is such an incredible gift. Smell is extraordinary… Let’s re-mind ourselves, and each other. Let’s get back to relishing life like the freaking amazing gift that it is. Let’s try to love it all, and them all, a little bit more. You’ll thank yourself for it.

I love you, simply for the profound radiance of existing. Thank you.

Feeling a body… such a sacred task.  To live here in this flesh and feel all of it’s beauty, it’s flaws, the presence of age unfolding.  To cast eyes on those parts that don’t measure up, and yet to wear it fully with every step.  To wear it naked, clothed, in a bridesmaid dress or a swimsuit.  A task, and one that sometimes feels more like pain than pleasure.  But why?

The truth is we are beautiful.  Fat, wrinkles, moles, hairs, skin weathering time…. we are so beautiful.  Why are we taught otherwise?

As a girl I was so ashamed of my body.  I tortured it as a teenager.  Ugly stuff… and all out of anger and frustration about a sense of not being enough.  But yet… I was.  Enough.  We all are.  More than enough.

More than beautiful, really.  We are amazing…. like the way love wraps you up and melts your knees, or the way sadness melts every organ in your torso.  We have this humanity that hurts because it loves… we get angry because we love, we get in pain because we love, and we get into such crazy joy because we love.  Sometimes we get into wide peace because we love.

It’s true, losing 20 pounds in the last couple of years has made me love my body more.  I didn’t try to lose it – I have all these theories, but they are just that.  Somehow it happened after I fell in love.  My favorite theory is that it’s the feeling of safety that let me drop it away.

But as a teenager I was this size too, and that was not enough.  We have all these images that we overlay, all these expectations.  Why are we so hard on ourselves?  Why, when we have this one chance to explore this beautiful body that breathes us and beats our hearts and feels emotions so expansively?  Why can’t we just love this gift and revel in it?

Obviously we are trained to care – by pictures and standards.  And it’s reinforced constantly, almost everywhere we look.  And yes, I do support healthy living.  But that is not the picture you’ll see on most magazines – most models are not healthy.  They are not living healthy lifestyles.  So it’s one thing to get out and move and try to eat more healthy.  It’s another to starve yourself to a standard.

So what can we do, to love this beautiful body like it is?  Once a lover told me that the sexiest thing in a woman is when she loves her body.  Whether this is true for all men or not, I will certainly say that it feels good just to sit or walk with someone who loves being in her skin.  It’s a good practice.  So how to be more confident in your skin?

Moving my body always makes me feel really good in my skin afterward.  Whether it’s a long walk, dancing, Yoga, a leisurely bike ride, sex, or whatever you choose…  There are so many ways to move and feel great in your body.  And afterward there is that grace that radiates from your center, and it just feels so good to be alive.

I don’t know the answers to this one, I only know what I have tried over the years.  I have overcome the most impossible things through practices like Yoga, meditation, Nature time, and breathing mostly.  I overcame tremendous depression and fear.  Many years ago I arrived at this place of such deep gratitude and love for life that almost nothing could improve it.  That has stayed mostly steady for the last 8 or 10 years.  But this one thing was still a challenge…. even in years of contentment and a glow living through me, I could still find myself shy and uncertain in my skin.

But one day at a time, for 15 years or so now, I have been on a journey to love my body.  To overcome all the damage I did and carefully repair the tissue and the emotions of a teenage girl not being enough.  As an adult I see too many women living in a similar sense of feeling unhappy in their skin.  I’m sure men go through this too… I can only speak for my own experience, really.

For me it has been one day at a time, one decision to take care of my body at a time, and momentary choices to notice how good it feels to FEEL in this body.  Yoga has helped tremendously.  Yoga helps me become more aware of my body, and as I feel it more clearly I just love being in it more by the day.  Flesh is a gift to move in, and breathe in, to heal in.  We are so fortunate.  So so fortunate, in countless ways.

I’ve watched over the years, and even before this recent weight loss I really was getting close.  I was loving it almost completely.  I was enjoying being in my skin in whole new ways.  I was still shy at the beach, but I was generally enjoying and loving the experience of my body.  Now it’s even easier.  And I do love it.  I just feel like I finally have a great relationship with my skin, my food, movement, and my heart in the middle of it all.

And I’m aging.  And that’s amazing to watch!  Ask anyone over 30, if you haven’t gotten there yet.  And Loving my body as my skin changes and I heal more slowly, that’s a beautiful process.  It’s going to be a task, this growing older thing.  I get that.  I couldn’t be more grateful that I’ve stumbled across Love in so many forms right now.  And as I love my body more than ever, I am so enjoying tending to my aging body and doing more to feel even better by the day.  It will not get easier – this I see.  But quality of life is worth it.  And everything that feels like work initially (Yoga, flossing, cooking food from scratch) becomes a sweet practice with time, patience, and grace.

I’m going to continue to make decisions that feel really good in my body, and I’m going to strive to enjoy feeling every stretch, every walk, every breath, as if it’s a whole new high.  Aging in a body that I have slowly learned to love is really a gift, and one I would wish for everyone.  It just feels good to love your own own flesh.  And it’s all one step at a time, one bit of forgiveness and release of expectation at a time.  Maybe one Yoga posture, extending into goodness, at a time.  What will you do to love your body a little bit more today?

It’s been awhile since I’ve touched a brush to a page and let my heart spill through color into the world.  Sometimes in my Yoga practice I am so taken by the amount of love pressing through me into a vast fullness of stars and people and galaxies, and I wonder why it’s so easy to stumble over these little things that show up on this winding path of living.  I think expressing art, on a screen like this or on a page with a brush or however you choose to show your love and intrigue, is the most natural way to check back IN with the center that leads and guides and re-minds us what is True.  And what is true is all of it, right?  The questions of a human stumbling along, the flight of an angel expanding through a star, the meandering of an ant taking over the world…

I wonder how to love a little more fully in a world where we are taught to close our doors.  We are taught to follow along, or if not then to watch our backs because stepping out of line is a big steady risk… But the act of Love is worth it.  It’s what makes us happy, and so much more aLive!  Alive.  We are just so blessed to feel blood moving slowly and swiftly through the highways of our veins, absorbing our slow deep breaths and feeding our minds to witness Color, children, clouds, curbs.  It’s all really amazing to wander through and touch with your heart, consider your capacity to Love.

Why do we forget?  Why get caught up in social games and concerns?  Why not re-member that feeling of being a child exploring a new place to play and dream, why not write a new Now to Fall in Love with all over again?  Why not take the time to put Color to the page, in the midst of busy moments or instead of the drone of a hypnotizing electric box or page?  Why not take a deep breath and think of how grateful you are to be able to Read, to Love, to Breathe all on your own?  Life is a Gift of a magnitude we so quickly forget.

Thank you for living here with me, in this palace of curiosity, on this globe of inhales and exhales.

I sank into my couch and felt that question in my heart.
Is it better to live or to die?
My heart floats on the ocean of love pondering.

Is this moment of incredible sensation and bodily relaxation something I will miss for an eternity?
Or not?

I suspect the universe is wired for more.
My being is wired for more.
My body is a temporary phenomenon, and one I can savor but will not miss.

What will death be then?
An end or a beginning?
A knowing or a question?

A mind or a freedom?
A love or a letting?
Will all the pleasures I’ve known in body hold a candle to the surrender to that flame?

And this moment, I know I am in love.
In love with flesh, and blood, and stars.
In love with you, your heart, your mind.

Longing to better understand
The sound that the lives grace.
Loving that I can feel it right now, even if death becomes me in the very next moment.

What is regret, and why give it a home?
Does it season me in ways that live deeper?
Am I missing something important if I choose not?

What is hope, and why not give it a home?
Am I a fool to believe that beauty is everywhere?
Am I a fool to love the light and the dark?

I think we are more than all this.
I believe in amazing grace carrying me on her current.
Can you trust her for a moment, enough to enjoy the ride?

What is the last time you took a leap of faith?  What does that question even mean?

I started writing a blog weeks ago, that I will finish sometime, about how I learned and learn to love my body.  THAT, in this culture, is a leap of faith.  To believe that every hair on my body, every inch of my body, every bit contained within, is beautiful… well, for most of us this is a leap of faith.  But if you just imagine, and consider, and take that leap, the reward can be worth far more than the effort to get there.

Tonight I realize part the reason I get so much out of my Yoga and nature practices is that I am willing to take these leaps of faith.  In fact, I would argue that in some ways, the leap of faith – and leap of imagination – is at the heart of what practice is.

Can you imagine, right now, feeling the light in the room land on your skin and soften it?  It doesn’t have to be logical, but can you imagine how it feels?  Can you imagine it so vividly that you begin to actually feel a softening on your skin?  And maybe in your heart?  Can you take the leap of faith that is is physically possible to experience things that are not rational, and may not fall into any of your beliefs, but that may be extraordinarily beautiful, and insightful?

Let’s simplify it a bit.  Think of someone you love.  Can you imagine softening your heart just a bit more and feeling your love just a bit more deeply for that person?  Maybe by remembering something especially wonderful that she or he did?  Can you take the leap of faith that it may be safe to open your heart that much more, and that the experience of loving itself will make that risk worth it?

Maybe practice is as simple as that – taking a leap of faith by imagining something  new is possible, or that something beautiful can stretch a bit further, and acting on it.

Part of my daily practice is this leap of faith that something gracious and Light actually does live me, and stands me, and breathes me.  And if I trust enough to take that leap of faith every day, maybe it acts through me and unfolds something radiantly beautiful for a client, a student, a friend, or myself.

Another leap of faith is forgiveness.  Who can stretch so far to deeply and fully forgive when it has hurt so deeply?  Some of the most radical freedom and joy in my life has come from such leaps of faith.  From forgiving the impossible-to-forgive, I have found deep joy.  And am so grateful.  What are we forgiving anyway, except someone else’s story?

And yet another difficult leap of faith is letting go of expectations.  It’s one thing to forgive, but to forgive and love people without expectation.  How to do that?  I mean really…. we are so deeply programmed to have expectation.  Actually, it is impossible to let go of all of them.  But can we begin to just enjoy the beingness no matter what the flavor?  Can I love you even when you are being the most difficult, stubborn, crazy person?  Can I love the weather when it’s cold and rainy and I dressed for sunshine and 80 degrees?  Can I surrender my preferences and really radically love it all as it is?  Sure I can, but it takes that leap, over and over.  It takes surrendering my own story about it all SO well that I can really let go and love anyway.  It’s tricky.  It’s full life practice.

How do we take these leaps in small ways every day?  Maybe by noticing the narrative in your head that is angry or frustrated…. you could take the leap of letting that one story go… really let it go, and consider letting it be beautiful, just as it is.  Even if only for one day of freedom from that story, one day of a bit more satisfaction, and maybe more smiles…

It’s amazing how smiling can actually soften your heart.  Have you tried smiling more?  It really does lift your mood.

So we all have leaps of faith and imagination, and they are all risky… but maybe a daily practice can be as simple as beginning to recognize these opportunities and taking small leaps.  And trying out one extra smile a day… and see what happens.

What happens for you?

It’s time to practice and a part of me resists… lingers in the comfort of a couch in the morning, thinking of tea and some tasty food, and maybe practice later….

It’s time to practice and a part of me opens… longs for the sweet feelings that arise because of giving so much…

It’s time to recognize the face that I so often hide, the revelation of my beauty that cannot be missed when I give everything to that forward bend.  Everything inside me shaking, longing, aroused, exhausted, strong, steady, loving in ways that blow the world wide open.

It’s time to love every cell of my body and listen to the hum of truth coursing through me.  It’s time to press the intensity of my everything into my deep devotion for a universe of light, and imagine that I know how it feels to love every speck of starfire and stardust completely.

It’s time to listen to her voice and be thankful for the only true Yoga teacher I believe in.

It’s time to listen to my voice and be thankful for this opportunity to radiate so strong I may explode into bliss.  If I do not return, I am only freed into love.

It’s time to love my practice as tenderly, fully, and devotedly as I love my lover.

It’s time to embrace all edges with the fullness of breath and surrender to the journey as I am swallowed by the love that burns stars.

It’s time to practice, and just before or after the explosion happens I am softened into a puddle of grace, perfectly knowing the pool of light that lives me.  The moments of softening after the edge, the moments of near madness leading to brilliance, bring me back to this mat every day.  Linger my love across a page…  Linger my heart in the center of the universe…. And linger my heart, my legs, my self longing for more.  And appreciating what has been done.

At the end of it all, I am fully enveloped in the reward of the deepest, softest and strongest forward bend.  Thank Sofia for making me stay there for so long.

At the end of it all, I slowly move, fully renewed.  High on the fullness and beauty of a body, a mind, a heart, a spirit, that has pressed everything into a mat yet again.

Pressed everything as love into a world again, into the cosmos yet again.

Pressed my deepest love into the very fibers of my body, and emerge consumed by the love that lives me.

How can I love the world even more deeply?

It’s time to practice.

I can’t imagine how much beauty must exist in this world.  It’s overflowing.  How can we miss it, ever?  I know we do miss it often, just don’t see it in the most mundane of places, but how can that be?  A paradise of misery and love and curiosity acting through every form we encounter…

I just heard that Mars is now going out of retrograde, after being retrograde for a very long time.  I don’t know much about it, but I can tell you that I am thankful for the stars and what they are bringing right now.

When I started this blog a few weeks ago, it was because I woke up one day feeling something stirring in me that I hadn’t felt in ages, but used to always be there.  What is it?  I have no idea, but I am quite clear that when I was a kid I called it the Holy Spirit, and as an adult I always assumed it was just that flow of divine grace that illuminates every one of our lives.  It’s not that it has ever been gone, but it kicked back up a notch about then… like a knock on the door inside my head sweetly but strongly calling me to wake back up…

This Mars retrograde thing… maybe someone will leave a comment and tell us about it.  Maybe it has made lots of work for me in the challenging ways, maybe not.  I do know that I have never been so happy for spring.  Every few days a new view of stunning clarity that I had been missing before.  Suddenly those things that have been spinning around reminding me of the humbling sides of being human, have started to fall away and become a garden of clear pathways and I can look up and see entire mountains that were missing just days ago.  Life is so beautiful.

What is the first thing you think of when you wake up?  Do you notice how beautiful this world is?  Can you feel deep inside you that the day is amazing, and the world around you is welcoming you?  Do you smile?  If not, I highly recommend these practices.  Over the last few years I have been shaken out of these most simple morning experiences by a series of moves and changing of daily patterns.  While my days are still filled with beauty, I realize that my morning moments have shifted a bit, and I am so glad to invite them back.  We can all benefit by a few moments of pure unrestricted gratitude to start the day.  Sometimes as I woke feeling all warm and fuzzy about living in such beauty, I would begin to imagine the day ahead of me.  Now at these times, my days were crazy too – not tranquil like my old mountain homes, but bustling with madness as I drove into the the cities.  So I would just scan over the day and imagine it filled with good things and graceful flow pervading my day.  It would be hard to now convince me that these moments didn’t improve the quality of my days.  I think I’ll do it tomorrow.  How about you?

We are so fortunate to have this gift of choice.  No matter what we are stuck in, we can make small important choices to change the situation for the better.  For me, the most important thing is to make time for the practices that make me feel good.  No matter what is going on or how urgent it is, I can always take time – even if only a few minutes – and come back to my center.  Life can be full, and brutal, and can kick your ass at every corner.  And it is the perfect school to keep finding the path back to your personal love.  That love that emanates from feeling good in your own heart, your own body, your own wandering mind, your own gentle and strong spirit.  And this path is the hardest to find when we get stuck in our own stories about what is important, and shoulds verses choices.  The idea that there is no time for any practice… the lack of motivation.  Motivation comes from action too.  Beginning it will bring the motivation.  It’s a choice.  A choice to fall into that love inside you… that love that bursts through you as a kid, and just wants to fall all over you and your life as an adult… despite popular belief.  That love that existed before you were told you are imperfect.  But hey, maybe you are perfect after all….  A perfect expression of life looking out into possibility, and looking in to find that infinite reservoir of love that lifts your smile another notch…

I love you so deeply it’s almost painful to feel my gratitude, just to know you are sitting here and maybe feeling something sweet inside, pressing your heart and mind out in the world through your body, gracing these words with your eyes or ears… It’s a favorite thing to love humanity this deeply… whether for a moment or a lifetime… to feel flesh in love with all that flesh yearning to express and find truth around the corner…. before we all find it was inside all along….

What part of you feels the same as when you were 5 years old?  It’s fun to feel that, isn’t it?  And kind of strange…

Remember being a child and having the sense of people not really seeing you?  Remember knowing that you are quite capable, but being treated like less because you were small and immature?

I think about this as I visit with my grandmother and I notice how I speak to her so differently than I would my friends.  I think about this as I speak to children and likewise take a different tone, approaching them as more different than another adult.

Who drew the line that said “adult” anyway?  How have I changed since I was a child?

In some ways I was smarter then.  Children have fantastic perception, you know.  They can see through things and have very clear priorities.  I could tell things to my teachers about myself, but they wouldn’t believe me – they had to wait and see for themselves.  So interesting.  Why don’t we listen to children with a little more attention, or respect?

I remember that I always felt the same at the very center of “me”.  That part that watches when you strip away the rest of the story and all its layers of clothing concealing the hidden treasures of us.  That part that is the same as it always was.  And it doesn’t change, does it?

So what does that mean as we age?  What about the elders, those amazing people that our culture is so lost without?  What about how much my grandma knows about life?  Is it lost in the race for technology?  What about the 8 year old still inside her that wants to laugh and play and move a little easier in her challenged body?  How can I help bring a little more light to her life, from so far away?

She is amazing.

My nephews are amazing too.  And my little niece.  Trying to make sense of a political technical world.  The oldest two engaging in the fiercest game of politics I know.  I am so glad to be past adolescence.  Aren’t you?  Kids are savagely mean.  Why?  I wonder about this.  What makes teenage girls so mean?  And why didn’t I believe people when they told me it would be different after high school?  So glad to be older!

But still me.  Still the two year old with insights into my parents as I watched them and smiled because they thought I didn’t know anything.  Still the 12 year old awkwardly trying to fit in.  Still the 18 year old angrily leaving my parents’ home.  Still the 25 year old gratefully loving my family and walking a long path of deep love and curiosity.  Still the same as when I was born – the same center eyes looking out.

And so different.  Who is that me?  Who goes through all of that, and still stays the same?  What is this spark that animates us unchanged despite the madness, the beauty, the brutality, the impossibility, the raw fresh possibility, the walking through fear and ceremony, and remains the same?

It is a gift to be human.  No matter the face or lack of face of your God, no matter the realism you endure, this is a precious thing, to love and to ache.  And to remain seeing it from that same space, over and over and blessed all over again….

I think we should all spend more time with our elders and our children.  So much matters in this race for success, and go rock it out!  I dare you to be all you want to in every way!  But take time for those beautiful people.  They have so much to teach us.  And we have so much love and gratitude to open up to them.  And when that innocent beautiful center shines out as we get older, looking through the same eyes rich with wisdom, we’ll be glad for what we heard from those older and younger.

The voices we don’t take time to hear are often the ones that teach us the most.

A little Hafiz for you…

~You Have Never Been Lost~

I wanted

to put something on this page that might

make your heart see as

mine,

for the Truth lives in me now;

its ways I

know.

When God flowed into Himself, He made the mill happy.

These words, light ground,

hold them.

Every world sent out its scouts looking

for a merchant who can say,

“You have never been lost dear;

it is God who became

confused.”

When He returns home

the mill will

sing.

Existence leans its mouth

toward me,

because my love

cares for

it.

I recommend reading that one a few times….

God love Hafiz….

So loving you…

Wondering about sustainability….

Thinking about all these promises we make and directions we choose and purchases because they are sustainable.  But are they?  Rarely.

How can we really be sustainable?  And do we really want to sustain?  What do you want to sustain?  I love to transform, but would like to sustain life…  But life is always changing, not sustaining a picture that once was or is tomorrow.  Changing so rapidly we don’t even notice the ice melting or Texas freezing…

I buy sustainable light bulbs.  Have you ever been to those factories in China?  Do you know what you are supporting?  Is it at all non-toxic?  Not so much.  Probably worse than the old ones….

Do you prefer ceramic to styrofoam?  Why?  Which one decays better??  Which one costs less energy to produce?  Yes, I prefer ceramic, but maybe not so many of them….  Maybe not needing to stock my shelves like an average American, like I used to… way more than I need… and then get rid of them after awhile and buy new ones….

What is sustainable?

Is it better to live in a place where you see the trash piling up on the river banks and know that it is only getting worse, especially with the advent of plastic…?  Or is it better to live in America and watch your trash get picked up weekly and go to some unknown place and never consider how much shit you are piling up to add to massive piles of an overindulging country?  Is it better to be blind or aware of the waste we accumulate?

Is it better to buy the organic greens packaged in PET or PETE plastic containers, or to buy the non-organic leafy greens that are not in a container?  Is organic farming always what it says it is?

Are plastic bottles safe to drink out of?  Do the mixed answers depend on who’s conducting the study?  After watching “Tapped”, I will never buy another bottle of water again.  I can do that.  Isn’t it funny to know that this will probably be hard to do?  Some people hike for miles every day just to get bad water.  We are blessed.

What is sustainable?  Is it making a trendy decision to buy the hybrid, instead of driving your old car and trying to get the very most use of it as possible?  Is it buying bamboo pants, or buying pants from the thrift store, or not shopping for new pants until you really really need them?  Is it my responsibility to live up to my ideals all the time?  How can I even begin?  How to unwash my brain from all these years of being groomed to consume?

Is there a middle path?

I’ve always said I love this core teaching of the Buddha – walk the middle path.  Not too much, not too little.  I try not to be so strict, because I think life is about living.  And yet I try to nourish myself and stay as clear as possible, while not fighting the culture I am co-creating with you, and G. W. Bush, and Opera, and everyone else in this crazy place.  I am a part of this, and trying to best understand how to live up to my beliefs, and still touch into this thriving culture somehow.  I don’t want to be a hermit to live off the land – I want to keep exploring all of it.

I believe that someday the sun will die.  I believe that it may be possible humans will live on another planet by then, but in the meantime, I believe in keeping this one clean and noticing just how fortunate we are.  Just like my body – I try to keep it clean and love it.  I’m not freaking out about global warming – the earth has done this hundreds of times.  Just look at the data from longer time frames in Earth’s history.  Temperatures are spiking as usual, and then we will move into a serious ice age (the real scare, according to my research).  But whatever your opinion about global warming or climate change, we are just being dirty by using so much trash and polluting our air, and why would we do that?

So.. how to walk the middle path?  How to make decisions and truly live “sustainably”?  And how to deal with this idea of a heating or cooling planet that could radically change our lives tomorrow or in 1000 years?

I think a really obvious answer is to remember that your dollars are votes (that goes far beyond this conversation!), and you can start by supporting local as much as possible.  Yes, this is a lovely gimmicky thing that’s been happening for awhile – buy local.  And it’s intelligent.  Is it better to buy the organic stuff from four states away, or the local stuff that is not organic?  Tough to say.  Depending on the product, I’ll buy the local.  Fresh food is amazing, and is so much healthier for you!  Organic fresh food is even better for you.  Fresh isn’t only uncooked, but fresh is the thing that was harvested just recently a few miles away and is now in your kitchen.  Or better, was harvested from your garden at the time you are ready to prepare the meal. “Fresh” food from across the world not only wasted a lot of resources, but also aged badly…

The amount of fuel that goes into the food on your table is intense.  If you want to drive your hybrid but eat lots of meat, you might want to think about looking a little closer to home for a meat supplier.  50% of CO2 emissions are from the meat industry.  Yes, I said 50%.  A very important reason I turned veg.  But you can eat meat sustainably – there are coops and local farmers that you can find.  And if you are lucky, they’ll raise their animals organic, and then you can avoid scary hormones and antibiotics, and be a little healthier and your kids can be much healthier…

Lots to think about.

There are no easy answers.  Sustainable is not an easy thing to do.  It starts most easily by wasting less.  What do you throw away the most?  If you use water bottles, have you ever tried a Pur pitcher?  I love it, and drink all my tap water with a little filter from Pur.  While I know that tap water is more regulated than bottled water, and should be safer, I know that some buildings’ pipes are older than others, so I like the filter too.  What else might you be throwing away (or recycling) lots of?

Going sustainable can happen one step at a time.  You can start buying things in bulk – Whole Foods is great for that, or even better, a local coop.  And instead of using their little plastic bags (which are certainly part of those growing islands of plastic in the sea), consider bringing your own container to fill, and have them weigh it before you fill it.

A little something about plastic…. you can go WAY out into the ocean and test the water, and you will see more plastic than plankton.  Think about that.  Seriously.  And how long has plastic been around?

Back to going sustainable…

A compost is a lovely thing to do, and will make a major difference on the environment!  Do you know that food waste produces massive amounts of methane in dumps?  This is a problem, with such an easy solution!  Starting a compost is easy.  You should do your research first, because poorly tended compost bins can lead to pests, but it is well worth figuring out.  Do you live in a little apartment?  I used to think this was a challenge for composting, but you can use a worm bin!  Done right, there can be little or no odor, and amazing castings for fertilizing your indoor kitchen herb garden (another easy thing to start!).

Speaking of one step at a time, think about the next non-food item you are planning to purchase and take a few minutes to research it.  What is it made out of?  Where do these materials come from?  Where is it assembled?  Will it last a long time?  What are you supporting with those dollars?

I don’t recommend beating yourself up for all the crap you have that is going to become toxic waste, and supported toxic processes to get to you (how about those computers?).  Seriously, the middle path.

I think there is a way to be realistic here and also acknowledge that you can get so far into environmentalism that you think all progress is not progress at all.  I disagree.  I have a different view of deep ecology and think that this planet we are spinning on has taken care of itself for far too long for us to be solo in responsibility (I know -edgy).  Either way, there are beautiful things that we can be grateful for, like this computer.  So grateful that some piece of land gave all of its life over to allow me to sit at my outdated mac powerbook and have a conversation with you.

Life is beautiful, and it has unfolded into this.  While we may be disconnected from nature, maybe too much, and we may be oblivious to where our things come from, we also engage in life in new and phenomenal ways.  We can celebrate this, and at the same time try to be a little kinder to this body that gives us breath and shelter and each other – this big beautiful earth body that gives and gives and gives…

What is sustainable?  It’s a debate, and a hard look, and has no clear answer.  Maybe most things that seems sustainable are not.  Maybe the whole idea of sustainability is delusional, because it all changes anyway.  Maybe all those things that you are told are sustainable are not.  Probably that is true.  Maybe sustainability is both a delusion and a practice.  And the practices are worthwhile.  It’s all up for question.  What feels true for you?  Do you research, either online or in your heart, and see what is true for you.  Either way, will you consider not dirtying up the world so much?

Getting practical with your one step at a time… actually think about where you drive to, and just try walking a little more.  Or riding a bike.  Good for you, good for the environment.  All this can become healthy patterns that just feel like good changes in your life.  Sometimes feeling good can actually come before convenience (what?! ..not what we are taught).

If you want to really rock it and get serious, take a permaculture course.  Otherwise, take a deep breath and consider buying some things in bulk.  See what you can do to cut back a little on your trash.  And then maybe a little more.  Think about investing some time into a compost bin, and hopefully a garden – even a little one.  Maybe learn how to cook that favorite packaged dish from scratch…

In the meantime, try to be kind to yourself.  Try not to make environmental responsibility equal massive guilt.  Instead, just take some steps – one at a time.  If you live with someone else, maybe try to make it a group endeavor, or if you are so lucky, a family project.  Take a step every week, and find that it can be fun to do.

Think about what sustains you personally, and what exactly you want to sustain.  Do you take all the time you want to get outside?  To do you Yoga?  To go to the gym?  Sometimes a little bit of scheduling can make great habits and make everything feel so much better.  A little bit counts.

Health in the big picture, health in the little picture, it’s all practice.  And it all feels better after a little getting used to.

Sustainability starts with a decision, and a smile.  What are you deciding?  Can I see that smile?

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