I've been thinking...about this country...
Thoughts after morning meditation:
We're going through a great deal of change, right now. There is a lot of fear, a lot of concern - rightfully...
- financially - unemployment is beginning to soar, businesses lay people off, stocks plummet...the floor is unsteady...
- education - families scramble to keep up with their children's lessons and learning, while dealing with the outside world, the state of their jobs, household management, how important are lesson books, what else could they be learning...etc...
- health - who will get sick, when, how long will it last, are we prepared?
- entrepreneurs- using different ways to make an impact, to promote their businesses, to gain clients in new ways, to think outside the box, to stay relevant, it can be new and stressful
- people who are techno-phobic are being forced to embrace a new medium, and there can be a learning curve
- being separated from friends, co-workers and our normal routines can be stressful
There is immediate fear - (will I or someone I know, get sick and die from this? Will we weather this financial crisis?) All legitimate. But when this subsides, and it will...at some point... we will have some collateral effects to wrangle as we go on. And we will go on.
There are so many things to be concerned with. So many pieces to this puzzle...
And when I rest and zoom out, above the surface scramble.... I see so much opportunity. Everywhere. Hope, change, transformation, growth. Opportunity.
And I'm sure I'm not the only one...I know that I'm not. I can feel it.
Cleaner industry -
We can see how the air clears, when we remove our industrial pollutants. How our home, how Earth, breathes and self-heals when we stop adding toxic fumes into the air. Much like the human body - when we stop adding pollutants and harmful substances, the body usually heals itself. Quit smoking soon enough; the lungs will regenerate. When the air is cleaner, more humans can go outdoors and enjoy their birthright - breathing clean air, visiting natural spaces, which promotes their own wellness and health. Healthy air, healthy humans, healthy humans, better work output, better work, better world function, overall. How can we produce our goods, all these things that we, as buyers, consume... with less toxic exhaust? Can we change how our motors are powered? Switch to cleaner energy, maybe. Utilize all the systems that we have in place, the science is already there. Solar, wind, hydro, etc... can we finally, maybe, get off oil? It's a house of cards, anyway, it has been for a while. There's not time like the present. Perhaps, we're testing ourselves... can we survive the inconvenience of change for a greater good?
Green Jobs -
Employ all these folks who've been let go so quickly, without a hope, by scrambling businesses afraid of losing money... in rebuilding our infrastructure - intelligently. Forward-thinking, worldview. Install wind-farms. wide-scale solar projects. Hydropower. Use Nature's gifts to generate power, to employ the unemployed, and to restore public health, worldwide. Dirt, clouds, humans, wildlife. It's all connected, and all interdependent, and it's out of balance. A simple fix. Not easy, but simple. Let the needs of our world create new jobs, that will create solutions. Green infrastructure, green jobs. Makes sense.
Adjust and Support Education and Community Institutions -
Develop better learning models, that ensure life-skills and basic intelligence and compassion and clear communication and creative talents. We have an opportunity to change the way we do life. We can start with schools, in training the newer generations differently. It's all there, in pieces, but we can raise the bar and let the tired, old, standardized curriculums fade. We can make and implement new ones, envisioned by teachers who teach, not board-rooms of individuals who are too far from the students, and don't work closely enough in the field, to even see what matters. We can develop better models of learning, that cater to creativity and not to generic memorization. Creative and healthy minds make creative and healthy worlds. Conscious parenting, conscious teaching = conscious children > conscious future leaders. The coming world will need them. We can start now.
Public Health -
We can put more attention and focus on collective health, knowing how integral we all are in the fight against disease and threats to homeostasis on Earth. It's all connected, and it all matters. Everything affects our health and we all affect each other and our world. We are all in the snow globe together - people, animals, sky, sun, water, trees, technology, dirt, disease. We can train medical professionals in holistic ways, understanding how interconnected we all are with everything else. New opportunities for specialization, deeper infectious disease studies to match a changing world. More emphasis in popular medicine on nutrition, permaculture, horticulture, caring for livestock in humane and non-toxic ways...how interconnected it is. The field of health can morph to adapt all of this, and it can start in childhood education. It all starts with our youth and how we educate.
Arts and Libraries and Museums -
Encourage and foster the arts, young, because art saves our souls and helps us to tell our story. The arts connect us to each other. Art helps us to understand ourselves and to live in healthier ways. Music is great for the brain and for the heart. Artistic expression is a boon to mental health, and a populace that struggles with mental health becomes dependent on too many other things, in efforts to correct that imbalance. Freedom of expression - to sing, to dance, to pontificate spiritually, to paint, to sculpt... creates a healthier and more inspired human being. Invest in libraries and museums, because they are a hub of information, connection, artistic expression, and acceptance, and offer community support and education and shelter during natural disasters.
A human being needs more than money to thrive. We need culture, connection, understanding, compassion, certain freedoms, creativity, healthy air and water, a healthy and sustainable food supply, and solid infrastructure and leadership that supports the evolving human being in and of an evolving world. Why not begin creative tracks earlier? If a student shows promise in the arts, why not mentor that? Why not create apprenticeships, early? Allow deeper focus for those with creative talents? In all public schools? More fine-tuned and specialized teaching jobs, greater freedom and focus for emerging artists and how to utilize their special skills in the world that they'll grow into. We've seen how very integral and important teachers are in the lives of our beloved children. Education is paramount, and often gets a backseat. This is ludicrous. It's where everything starts.
So many opportunities, here. There's so much, if you're paying attention.
Why wait until college to offer electives? And why let a bunch of folks in a board room decide how each child across the United States ought to be educated and tested? Children are different, with different skills and attention spans and talents, and we'll need all of them. Why not grow expert musicians, and creative therapists, and deeply attuned and empathetic psychologists and healers and leaders, and master artists to capture and echo the story of life on Earth, as it changes? These children are growing up differently, in a different world, and we need different curriculums.
We are on the cusp of a new Renaissance. If we allow it.
It's scary right know... in the darkness of this, as we walk through the shadow.
But, zooming out, forward into a vision of a healed Earth, all I see are opportunities to grow, evolve, and make better decisions... it's just a no brainer to me. Switch to green energy, educate and employ people to install it. In business, in homes, in libraries, all over the world, but why not in the US. Why not push forward, the time is now? More employed people mean more spending, and the economy rebounds. More green practices and healthier standards for businesses mean a healthier planet. A heather planet means we get to stay here at the party longer. I like it here. I don't want to live in space on a metal ship, and I don't think my son or his kids do, either. We love parks and beaches and farms and birdsong.
This is all nothing new. It's really not. It's not controversial, these ideas have been around for decades.
And yet, when I begin these conversations, today, in this reality, with so many folks... it's as though I'm speaking in hieroglyphs. It's as though we've been brainwashed, somehow, so many of us, and our minds have turned to input only, and our critical minds - the parts of us that thinks and decipher and mitigate and create change - have been asleep.
So much opportunity, so much joy and progress to imagine. And these ideas are just the tip of the iceberg... there's so much. And long-view, I'm excited. I'm hopeful.
There's a lot of tension right now. A lot of fear. But if you can anchor in, root down, and feel past it... knowing that we'll get past it. Consider where we might go. Consider this moment in time...this pregnant pause... with so much possibility to rewrite the story.
Maybe. What do i know, though? I'm just a librarian. Stuck at home. Trying to be useful, trying to be of service.
Stay kind out there. Stay in Love. It's what we got. it's everything, right now. xoxo
Corona. COVID 19. The Virus.
Schools are closed, libraries are closed, businesses keep closing, as the world scurries to catch up to this new menace brought to us by Nature itself. And it's worrisome, to be sure, all the unknowns. But I'm encouraged, at how swiftly humanity came together: science, faith, academics, business leaders, philanthropists, the medical community, political leaders, and consumers, alike. As one.
We found a quick-moving threat to our way of life, to our people. We acted, and we learn as we go, and then we share information. And that's what I love so much about the scientific community - the sharing. The information. The mutual learning. The respect of data and facts in decision-making and leadership. The rising of art and community and kindness and giving and teaching and caregiving, in the wake of crisis, to offer a respite from fear. To stay the course, with a sense of calm.
Social distancing. Family time or isolation. Adjusting. Watching. Waiting. Adapting. Staying kind.
And the quiet. The downtime. In the peaceful spaces when I tear myself away from the news cycle and the feeds and the worry and the work - in the quiet, meditative spaces, I come home. I breathe.
The Sun has been out, the skies bluer than blue, the birds are singing their Springtime songs - yes, we've been out in the garden. It's only been a few days of trying to work a bit from home, to make sure my child gets in some reading, some exercise, some healthy food, and good rest. To make sure we all do. To be...home. To have what we need and to surrender some wants, for a time.
And out back, in the yard, with a pitchfork in my hands and the Sun on my back... there was peace. Stillness. An inner joy, a deeper connection, and believe it or not, a sort of gratitude, despite the chaos and confusion and worry that so many of us feel. I wouldn't wish for a plague to come upon us - but in the mess, I've seen the skies clear. Skies in parts of the world that were previously choking with fumes, with air so unhealthy that the people in these countries couldn't even venture outside on certain days.
Unable to breathe air.
To be able to visit with Nature on any given day is a human right. The Earth, air, wind, sun, water... are free to all lifeforms, here. And yet, somehow, we lose that balance, over and over, in the pursuit of industry and ease and progress and material wealth. And not all progress is bad, to be sure. Industry and technology bring us life changing things. We need all of it, in the right ways.
And I sat out there, today. In the dirt. Earthworms wriggling around in the freshly turned earth - new tunnels to make, new pockets to aerate.
"Look, Mommy! It's so wiggly and slimy!" My son ran to me with a new friend in his palm. I remembered doing the same when I was a child. Each generation, in this family, there is at least one who has a connection to the Earth and its sweet, simple magic. Her stories and wisdom. Her healing properties.
"Oooooh, that's a good one... let's get him back in so he can keep digging, right! He's doing his job for us..."
A new family of Blue Jays fluttered from treetop to treetop. There was a scuffle of Cardinals, and that neighborhood cat strolled by, and then a pile of red and gray feathers fell to the ground as the female escaped, quickly. A few squirrels danced through the branches, like cartoon characters, out-racing and out-maneuvering each other, knocking pinecones down as they ran. No bunnies, not yet.
And I remembered, when I first started this garden, about 5 years ago, how I would dream about giving Mother Earth a spa day. A break; some time off. "All she does is give..." I'd say. I've been a sad case, overly concerned about this planet, since childhood. It's where most of my anxiety comes from. Caring too deeply about this Earth-home that I call my Mother. Even before I learned about Pocahontas. I was just born this way - a nature girl. And I can't help but notice... how our Mama Earth is responding, as we stay home and stop producing so wildly, for a bit.
Sure, it's a mess for the economy, and that's real. We'll have to dig out, there's no question. It's scary, health-wise, and we may lose folks to this disease as we do to flu and cancer and so many other things. And it's hard to escape the updates, they're everywhere. But we'll get a handle on it. I do believe that. It'll take as long as it takes, I imagine. We don't know enough about this virus, which is why it's scary. We can't estimate its behavior, really. We're blind, until science gathers more data. And measurable data takes time to collect and gather. But we have the best and brightest working on it, as we lay low. And wait it out. And do our best to protect our healthcare workers.
But out there, in the garden, with all the gadgets turned off... it feels as though Mother Earth is breathing deeply. Her lungs are healing. Our air is clearing. Gaia sighs, and maybe, even smiles, for a while.
So, in the midst of the mess, there is a small miracle taking place. There is a silver lining, in all of this. And I do pray that we can continue forward, with all this simple wisdom in our pockets. Being able to respond and manage any new viruses that may come. And seeing how much harm we cause, unintentionally, in how we run our lives so busily. In how we do business. In how we consume. As far as lessons for the future go, for building communities and sustaining long-term, for urban and rural planning, we've got gold to learn from, right now. If we pay attention.
How our school systems work, how our business models work, how our communications work, how caring human beings really are for each other, what our vital needs and operations truly are, what our energy needs are and how better to achieve them, how quickly we can respond, collectively, in crisis. It's an incredible opportunity to study how we behave, and how to improve. Should we choose to. And we ought to.
It's not a far stretch...from PUBLIC HEALTH to the health of the planet. Our air, our waters, our forests, our outdoor spaces.... are all matters of public health. It's all connected, it's all the same. And I'm excited about how we're learning, and navigating these times, together. I'm glad to be here, to be awake to it, to watch it all unfold. We can't see it now... but we are in a very special moment in our story. How we write it from here on out, is up to us.
And I'll do my part...and stay home, for now, but oh...does it fire my creativity and world-view thinking.
Sending so much Love and patience... we're all in this together. xo
So. 30 days without: dairy, processed foods, wheat/gluten or any grain, really... beans/ legumes, added sugars, alcohol...
This was my 2nd attempt. The first time, I couldn't stand the emotional upheavals of sugar withdrawal. (It's that addictive, yeah.) I bailed after 2 weeks, telling myself some story... that I was choosing a "Whole 15" and that for me, that was enough.
That was the first of many lies I had told myself about this program. The truth was, I didn't want to get too uncomfortable, I think. I didn't think I could do it.
So, to catch you up: I work full time as a reference librarian. I write books on the side. I'm a single Mom (co-parenting - I do get days to myself.) And I am a recovering productivity junkie. I realized this as I geared up for this program, around holiday time in December... I looked back on my life, on the last 4+ years, and saw that my health goals had stalled completely, as I wrote through things, over and over.
I soul-searched and journeyed and meditated and connected and found my beautiful glittering soul and loved her and pressed her into me, blissfully. I mantra'd. I ohm'd. I shavasana'd. And then I traveled and I rocked out and got doe-eyed and swoony and re-found pieces of myself that I thought were long dead. Nope, not quite. All the while, I was feeding my passions, my joy-meter, my ease, and my mental wellness. No one dared tell me no, to anything. I was on a mission.
Well, a few years out, book two is finished and making its way out into the world, and I chose, purposely, to NOT dive deeply into another project. I would dive deeper into me. I would wrangle my own health, I would master my day-to-day life and priorities, I would organize the place, redecorate some things, reinvent some things. It was all physical. And I tried to do it all for a while... day job, motherhood, organization, novel notes and writing for future projects, a meditation practice, meal planning and fitness and well, I got burnt out again.
So, when an old school friend announced her Whole 30 Challenge on Facebook, it was kismet. I pushed everything off my plate that wasn't home, motherhood, work, and wellness. And I went hard for it.
I kept a journal, but otherwise... no looming writing projects. My free time was spent searching up recipes, cooking, meal-prepping, setting exercise routines - and sticking to them. My own wellness became the obsession. All my lights had been turned inward, right back onto me, and it felt strange at first. Really strange. "But, so and so needs this," and "this one should have that," and I "should do this for that one..." But, I let it all go. It was me-time. I was being selfish. But it wasn't really, not in a bad way.
Because the Why was still there - "build a better world for my son, and for all of our kids." How? Educate, inspire, connect. With What?
So. Whole 30. I committed to a modified version... I knew my allergies well, I just wanted a firm and consistent reset.
What did I eat?
Breakfast: Bulletproof Coffee - fresh espresso, blended with tbsp Kerrygold Butter, 1 tsp MCT oil, 2 scoops collagen protein (I did better with some steady protein in mine, and it took a while to sort this out), and I "cheated" and threw in a Splenda sometimes.
Lunch: big-ass salad... e.g. a few handfuls of greens, 1/2 a cucumber, steamed asparagus, 1/2 sweet potato, cherry tomatoes, sauerkraut, olives, 1/2 an avocado, oil and vinegar, leftover protein (usually chicken breast or hard boiled egg. Sometimes beef. Sometimes no-sugar bacon.) No croutons, no bread, nada. Just the veg.
Snack: If I needed it... a Lara Bar or a Quest Bar. Lots of water. Green tea, maybe. At peak sugar-craving times, I made modified "sweets," like keto brownies or almond flour donuts, with Swerve and but flours and other approved keto-style ingredients. I fed the indulgence, but staying on track with my goals. Win-win. And it was only for that 2nd week, really. The cravings passed.
Dinner: protein, veggies, 1/2 avocado. Berries on the side, sometimes with coconut cream. (OH MY GOD, COCONUT CREAM.)
That's about it, for 30 days. Samesies, every day. The result? Food became a fuel, and not a pleasure fix or a thing to do or a mindless diversion. I ate what was best for me, intentionally... I have iron-anemia and hypothyroidism. And after over 10 years of experimenting, I now know for sure that I do best on a higher fat, low-carb diet with animal proteins and very low amounts of grain. Most of my carbohydrates come from plants.
I returned to lifting weights... just a few times per week, and lots of cardio: aerobic dance, walking, and just maximizing ways to stay active throughout the day. Every day. I moved every single day, somehow.
SO the results?
So, it was absolutely worth it, all around. I may allow some cheeses in here and there, some whole grains, maybe, like quinoa or oats... but for the most part, this is how I'll be eating. And it's probably how I always should have been eating. It just makes sense - it's so simple and natural.
Am I at my goal? No, not yet. But I'm damn proud of my success after just a month. It feels really, really good to take care of yourself and insist on that time: to run, to workout, to go to a yoga class, to cook a slow meal. It feels really good. And too many of us don't fight for it. It's hard, to let go of the rest and focus on yourself. It's really hard, you fear missing out on things, losing things, but really... you're not. And the more you focus on your own well-being, the more you realize that YOU are what you've been missing out on, while you put everyone else first, for so long.
I've decided to never take myself for granted again, if I can help it.
You might not believe this...
But it won't always hurt the same. One day, not far from now, you'll be able to simply hold your sadness, like a cherished stuffed animal, without apologizing for it. Or hiding it away. Walking over it, like it's not there. Numbing it back, just enough.
Sometimes we've got to do that, to stay afloat. I've been there so much and for so long. But it doesn't last. Waves wash in and out, I've found. And I promise, one day you'll see how much strength it gives you. To stand. To not run. To feel the weight of it, as the tide washes over your toes, your ankles, your shins, and you simply stand. And then, you're just okay, that's all. You're still okay, see?
And how naming it helps to heal it. To release it. To free it. And to free your heart. Someone will need it. I promise you that, it's not that far off. So write it out, get it out, purge it out, sing it out. Over and over and over again until you can stand, a little more each day.
And you might not believe it, but it's happening. You're healing. Every single day.
You have no idea how bright you shine when the world gets to see your heart. xo
Mother. Librarian. Storyteller.