Last month I presented at Chicago's Vol. 32 at Martyr's. (Big thanks, again, to Cousin Carolyn, Peter, Sharon + Thorsten). Speakers are encouraged to talk about what they're currently working on, or something they care passionately about. I tried to do both, with a bit of backstory...
PechaKucha is a concise presentation format made simply of 20 images held for 20 seconds. It started in 2003 among architects in Tokyo, but has grown beyond its original host industry + city.
Last month I presented at Chicago's Vol. 32 at Martyr's. (Big thanks, again, to Cousin Carolyn, Peter, Sharon + Thorsten). Speakers are encouraged to talk about what they're currently working on, or something they care passionately about. I tried to do both, with a bit of backstory...
12TH PERMACULTURE PRINCIPLE: Creatively uSE + respond to change.
Complacency is second only to gravity for effectiveness in holding things down. It may be our survival instinct to be so fixated on feeling anchored and secure. Rooted and safe.
As exciting as change can be, it interrupts stability. So we tend to resist and avoid things that knock us off our center... unfamiliar things that make us feel vulnerable, ill-prepared or out of control.
"The only people who like change, are wet babies!" they say.
Life gives -- and sometimes forces -- lots of change into our days. Which requires a response from us... we have something new to figure out... to possibly fail at, or look foolish trying.
But this 12th, and final, permaculture principle tells us to accept the inevitability of change, and creatively use it. Don't be such a control-freak. Be agile, like a cat. Be so fully present in every moment, that you exist your way into a needed solution or upgraded circumstance.
A lot of people underestimate themselves, and were it not for change -- even dreaded ones like divorce, job loss, bankruptcy, illness, etc. -- they may have never accessed certain strengths or abilities within themselves that had been their all along. Dormant. Until change came and shook them awake.
That concludes the 12-part series of the Permaculture Principles, but permaculture as a methodology -- as a way of viewing + doing things -- will always be a core part of my posts and purpose.
My Wish. My Work.
When our inner world is strong in love, truth, joy and wholeness, our relationships + actions reflect those qualities, too. And beauty and harmony show up more and more in our outer reality. To support that vision, I write and publish the things I do to enrich our inner world and, ultimately, inspire more heartful living on Earth:
Trust Love's duty to make you whole + complete. Trust Love's ability to touch you where warm assurance arises. Let your shoulders drop, as they are kissed by Plenty + Peace. Now, from this solid place of trust, you are calm enough to detect YOUR best next steps to heal or have exactly what you need for your particular journey... in which, you must BE YOU. All the way. Find your truth. Give it your voice. Then give it your life. Be valiant on your own behalf. In all your dealings, be your real self, and allow others the space to be their real self, too. No judging. No meanness. To yourself or others. Trust love. Be you.
Song Credit: "Pas de Deux" by Bird Creek.
First, a head-nod of respect to people all over the world with diverse beliefs + practices.
There are a lot of spiritual and cultural celebrations happening, and the generic "Happy Holidays!" greeting is, to me, a way to acknowledge that more happens in the winter season than Christmas -- like Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa and others. So, Happy Holidays everyone!
My spiritual roots were planted in Christianity, so this post is a celebration of Christmas from that perspective (which actually includes many blended, but usually unacknowledged, traditions like Saturnalia and Yule, but that's another post.)
Second, a quick look at "tradition."
A "tradition" is a transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation. It is an inherited, established, customary pattern of thought, action and behavior. Christmas is one of the most tradition-rich times of year.
Maybe it's because I'm not a big fan of repetition, or because I need to understand why I am doing something over and over, but I had to ask "WHY?" If Christ is so central to Christmas that the name is inherent in the word, WHY do so many non-related activities exist -- and often take over?
One year -- in my late-20's -- I baked a spice cake and wrote in icing, "Happy Birthday, Jesus!" Oh, yes I did. And people thought it was weird. But I thought all that dissonance was weird! Calling a celebration one thing, and then doing things that have nothing to do with the essence of that celebration (like indoctrinating children with a big, fat lie, and a high-dose of materialistic expectations via "The List.")
All the automatically-accepted traditions of doing certain things, with no more compelling reason for doing it other than, "Well, that's just how we've always done it." was leaving a bad taste in my mouth. Hence the moist and tasty birthday cake. I was trying to re-center and revive the event with real meaning.
Retailers co-opted Christmas, and most folks and families in the modern world play along. If for no other reason than that the meme is just too great to go against. So, if you can't beat 'em, bake a cake ;-)
And now, Your Christmas Blessing.
The point and purpose of Christmas is to celebrate Christ, Who was and is The Anointed One, and Who gave and gives a fresh anointing to all who desire it. An anointing is spiritual power that enables. Empowers. It is independent of your mood and your money. It transcends the petty rules of institutions. It is an intimate endowment -- divine and sublime. The anointing of This Time is hot fire-blaze for ho-hum dreariness. It's what your soul looks and longs for, but will never find on Amazon.com. It patches pot-holes in your heart. It oils the crust and rust of daily life. All this, and the anointing of Christ is as easy to experience as saying, "Okay."
Don't make it tedious or technical. Engineered or elite. It's graceful. Though It is the power of God, it glides down like butter on a hot biscuit. Let it slide right inside you, and add strength to your ways and your days.
If you've been a bitter scallywag, a trifle or general A-hole in your dealings with people... if you've renounced every rite and ritual this side of the Moon... if you're hung up on how to relate to mysteries... if you're unsure of what to anchor yourself in, or what to have your kids anchor in... if you're skeptical about everything I've written and said just now... Come! You. Sit and feast. Right where you are. Looking at this screen, or listening to my voice... it is absolutely sane to want to feel the great, anointed love that heralds this renewing time of year. Say, "Okay." Mean it. And let the unconquerable Sun enlighten your next step. And the one after that. And on and on...
This Christmas, may all twinkling lights and stars, remind us of the deeper truth, wisdom and consciousness intended for our paths and hearts.
This Christmas, may every decorated tree in every living-room and front yard, remind us of the magic and life that fills all forests, and may every decorated tree remind us of our duty to protect old forests, and start new ones.
This Christmas, may every present -- given and received -- remind us that our real presence can never be bagged or boxed. And that's the thing we want most: to be all-the-way here, with someone else who is all-the-way here, too.
May you experience lots of light and trees and presence in the coming days. May you find yourself dedicated and consecrated to a special purpose. Merry, blessed Christmas to you, and all dear to you.
11TH PERMACULTURE PRINCIPLE: USE edges + vALUE the marginal.
Two distinct and neighboring realities create an edge. Like a child in your adult workplace. Hallways and elevators in heavily-peopled buildings. A difficult but necessary conversation. Shedding an outgrown belief, and walking into larger fields of life. Edges are often considered scary because they are less crowded, and they are the furthest away from the center of something. The reward that comes with this risk is that these edges also increase diversity and, therefore, productivity. There is great value in exploring the edges of your life and dreams. What's at the edge of your relationship with your partner or a family member? What's at the outermost edge of your career or your parenting? What's at the furthest edge of your health... your creative expression? For a moment, leave the crowded noisy center of things, and explore all your edges. Expect a new and robust yield of surprises that sustain. It's a fun and remediating way to live.
For a stellar ecological explanation of edges and "edge effect," please click the link to a Deep Green Permaculture article here.
Kisses + a seasonal reminder.
When you see or hear the word "mistletoe," what comes to your mind? We typically associate it with winter, festivity and kissing. But did you know that mistletoe is a parasitic plant? It exists by attaching itself to a host tree, and then absorbing water and nutrients from it. It's a leech. I think this is a very timely and appropriate reminder during this time of year when people get even more consumptive than usual, to not behave as parasites, sucking the life out of the planet we indwell as though the Earth was nothing more than material resources for our decadent, unconscious pleasure.
I know... that message isn't sweet like a sugar cookie, but I only share it 'cause I love you, and our shared home. Which brings me to...
An important resource for urban regenerative designers. Lovin' the big metro cities we're in.
In permaculture circles, there's an unfortunate tendency to regard cities as inferior places to be. Congestion, pollution, senseless zoning restrictions, too much concrete and artificiality, not enough natural and living landscapes... these combined traits have rendered countless caricatures of a zombie apocalypse that should be avoided or fled, if you have the means to do so.
I'm guilty of having had that stinking-thinking, too. My love of forests and solitude had grown into a passive resentment of my current reality, which includes apartment dwelling in the heart of a big city. An interstate highway, Redline subway station and shopping center are 50-feet from my front door. I used to consider these things conveniences, but they had now become annoyances. Much like the pulsing blue lights of cop cars that shine on my bedroom walls every night.
I used to live by Rumi's challenge that said, "Wherever you are, be the soul of that place." I put those words aside to romanticize a peaceful heavily-treed plot of land that was anywhere other than where I presently am.
Thankfully, a dear online friend -- Jill Lanier of Permie Peeks -- shared with me a pivotal interview that has helped me shift and lift my ideas about place. Listen to it here. Jill, a New Yorker, earned her PDC with the interviewee, Andrew Faust.
Big, public thanks also goes to Scott Mann, of the Permaculture Podcast, who hosted the recorded conversation that helped me renew my love for Chicago in particular, and cities, in general.
It is unwise to despise
where you lay your head.
If you want "different" or "better"
first, yourself, BE different or better.
Escapism is cowardly (and ineffective!)
Bloom where you are planted, beloved.
And as you do, ironically,
your roots strengthen enough
to shake free + dance themselves
to a new vista. At which point,
it won't even matter anymore,
because you will have learned
oasis is not a place.
Oasis is a choice.
10TH PERMACULTURE PRINCIPLE: USE + VALUE DIVERSITY.
Begging heroin addicts, ambitious University of Chicago students, good-hearted ministers and hard-working entrepreneurs are all my immediate neighbors. Intellectually, morally and economically, I live in a very diverse setting, and I have humbly learned to value it all. I am no better, and no worse, than anyone I walk beside. That is true in Englewood, and everywhere.
This post has sounds AND images. Sensory-rich beings click here for both.
I've returned from my two-week training in Permaculture and Superadobe with tangible, hands-on skills I had been aching for. I learned things like:
Free-range thinking on the land between your ears.
It's tempting for land-less, apartment-dwelling permaculturists to feel unable to move forward with the brilliant techniques we've been shown. But there is plenty we can do. Here's four suggestions:
It's Beautiful Inside: An Introvert's Right To Be.
Implementing #4, I started the sequel to my first e-book which was published two years ago. I'm calling it: "IT'S BEAUTIFUL INSIDE: An Introvert's Right To Be."
There is wide-spread confusion about extroverts and introverts. People often mistake passion for extroversion, and shyness or introversion. Neither of those are accurate indicators. The way to know the difference between the two is simple -- note the way you recharge yourself. Extroverts recharge through social interaction with others. Introverts recharge through solitary time with themselves. That's the litmus test.
In a recent conversation, I shared my strong feelings about my right and need to live more simply and calmly, with time to reflect and create. "Yeah, but it takes all kinds," my extroverted girlfriend said. "If we were all the same, how boring would that be?"
Well, that's my point exactly.
The modern world highly favors extroverts. They are the cultural ideal, and the demonstrated bias starts early in childhood classrooms (if not sooner), carries into workplaces, and persists in most other aspects of our shared, public life.
Even before social media snuck its way into every crack and crevice of our human experiences, we were already well indoctrinated with the idea that it's rude to decline invitations (even if we'd really rather not go), and it's smart to kiss the butts of those with power + influence (even if we don't like or respect the powerful person). Fakery and pretense was anchored in at an early age, and called socialization. And in too many circles, sincerity is considered naive.
I think it's funny that parents and penal systems both use "solitary confinement" as a form of punishment. I consider solitude splendid. Social charades is what I find punishing.
Don't get me wrong. I know that our species is a social one. But it is destructive that on a very regular basis, introverts, empaths, sensitives, and anyone who cherishes interiority is shamed and cajoled into acting in ways that are simply untrue for us.
We should have the academic, professional and social freedom to be who and how we are, minus the burden of feeling inadequate just because we require time-outs from others, and time-ins with ourselves.
There are a lot of helpful articles + books on the matter. I have a Big Idea of my own to add to the conversation (hence the started sequel), but I raise this praise of inwardness now because...
...rather than whine about how the world doesn't feel like a place in which I belong, I needed a more pro-active solution, and I found it.
QUESTION: How do I create a world in which I can genuinely flourish, rather than miserably "fake it"?
ANSWER: Permaculture and Superadobe are two technologies that actually and literally empower you to take matters into your own generative hands, and build a home, a food system, and a life that you find sane and satisfying.
These two weird words help me not only protest the absurd stuff I find objectionable (like hyper-consumption + ecocide), but they also show me how to protect the precious stuff I find valuable (like living lightly + mindfully).
9th Permaculture Principle: Use small + slow solutions.
An example of this principle in action is seen in "Baby Steps," above. And an older version of this statement -- still floating around in my memory banks -- is from Zechariah 4:10 of the Old Testament, which says, "Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin."
YOUR TURN. QUESTION FOR YOU. What's a small or slow solution you can implement, to begin your work, whatever that may be? Let me know in the comments below.
017: How to create paradise, better the world, or carry out any other utopian-sounding, desperately-needed solution.
I've been swooning over dome homes for 15 years. Here's an article I wrote about them five years ago: "Live outside the box. Literally." It's shocking, how quickly those years add up... the ones you spend doing something OTHER than what you really want to be doing. Those "safe" years roll around and before you know it -- POOF! -- it's been a life.
Life is not to be saved. Life is to be spent.
And we can spend it on days that are delicious and daring... months and years that are satisfying and sustainable. We can DISRUPT the current cultural story of tolerating work we dislike, to buy wrecklessly designed things, to console ourselves about a constantly repressed and restrained life.
Like many sensitive, empathic people, I walk around with a strongly felt sense of the needs and pains of the world. And with that empathic awareness also came a desire to respond... to use my life in a helpful, improving, relieving way. All the approaches I have tried -- (such as environmental activism, spiritual caregiving, grant-writing for nonprofits and other attempts to "do good" in the world) -- these were all simple one-dimensional solutions, for complex multi-dimensional problems.
Knowing better, is doing better.
So when I was introduced to an ethical, regenerative design science that, to quote Geoff Lawton, "provides all the needs of humanity in a way that benefits the environment" I LITERALLY have been unable to think about anything else. I am obsessed with creating and finding effective ways to SHARE THE SOLUTIONS offered by this design science, and systems thinking, in general.
Design expresses and arranges energy in physical form. Regenerative design -- permaculture -- does that in a way that leaves the earth better than we found it. I simply do not know of a worthier pursuit. I commit:
My first order of business is earning certifications in both Superadobe Earth Architecture from Cal-Earth, and in Permaculture Design from Midwest Permaculture. This joint training is happening in Hesperia, California in the Mojave Desert. I'll be there, camping on their grounds, from October 5th through 19th. I'll celebrate a birthday there. And most importantly, I'll step more fully into my role as an advocate for biophilia, lifestyle sanity, personal authority, ecological and emotional literacy, and regenerative design for all of Life's systems.
Permaculture proves that Heaven on Earth is feasible. Flourishing life for ALL is possible. It is doable. Achievable. A desert has been turned into a garden oasis, for goodness sake. This is not hippie-dippie-new-age-brew-ha-ha. (Even though I have a lot of love for such brew.) This is empirically, measurably, verifiably REAL solution-rich science that we have had an embarrassingly underwhelming response to. It is a sad commentary of our "sapient" species that we have not stopped and dropped everything, to simply implement better, smarter designs.
I've been studying and writing about this topic to increase awareness about permaculture and earth architecture. They are not mainstream knowledge, and they absolutely should be. As long as we are in need of shelter and true food for our survival, these wise methodologies should have much greater influence in our civic and private lives. Despite the strangeness of the word. Despite culture's current separation from nature and wilderness. Despite the popular tendency to avoid deep, solitary or revolutionary thought, in favor of bread and circuses.
When you dislike the idiocy or harmfulness of things around you, YOU CAN OBJECT WITH YOUR LIFE. You can withdraw your money, attention and energy from things that shrink your soul. Rather quickly, the objection morphs into the most meaningful, engaging and well-provided existence you could have ever hoped for.
8th Permaculture principle: Integrate, rather than separate.
There are 12 permaculture principles -- distilled by David Holmgren, and listed in totality here -- that serve as wonderful filters and guides to use in decision-making and life-shaping. We've been going through each one individually, taking our time considering how they apply not just to the creation of food, fiber and fuel, but also to the support of our emotional and spiritual well-being.
This 8th principle is no different. "Integrate rather than separate."
Culture clings to a Cartesian legacy we have long outgrown: reductionistic thinking. On wide and massive scales, we reduce learning, healing, creating and even loving to the mechanized sum of its parts. We treat minds, bodies and relationships as if they were lifeless machines. But a breast is not a bumper. And a mind was not intended to be bridled and sedated.
Reduction is easy. Integration is work.
It took me a good, long while to fully INTEGRATE my loves of curved, earth architecture + sacred geometry, deep ecology, voluntary simplicity, personal freedom + time sovereignty, and figuring out how to live IN HARMONY with my rhythms, my values and my very beloved current home planet, Earth. Choosing to integrate my life, rather than maintain the previously separated one, has been the most frightening and liberating thing I've ever done. And am continuing to do.
This post is a butterfly bush!
I planted it to attract strategic partnerships in the following 4 ways with:
Oh, and to fulfill the implied promise made in the title of this post podcast:
Q: How do you create paradise, better the world, or carry out any other utopian-sounding, desperately-needed solution?
A: You DECIDE that you will.
Big thanks to Cheryl Ann Williamson for mentoring me this Summer
in the beautiful World Garden, where I took the pictures below.
Share your dreams + ideas with me!
Thanks for reading mine.
"The process was more important than the plan itself."
We are (finally) completing La Huerta's 3-part Series.
Part 1 with Imogene Ellis is here. Part 2 with Sara Ellis is here. And here we have Patricia Bon, who has returned home to Brazil since we recorded this conversation several months ago.
Have you ever thought about how many people there are between your mouth, and your meals? There are growers, harvesters, packagers, shippers, sellers and, finally, the eater.
In this episode, the first part of my conversation with Pat gives a global glimpse into a primal and culinary connection to food. The journey curves to pick up knowledge in agroforestry, and then a paradigm-shifting permaculture design certification. Pat then brought all of that experience to her Master's level studies in urban planning, and in The Remediation Project that she led at La Huerta Roots and Rays Community Garden. Our conversation voices the potential, and challenges, of the community planning process. Pat is a tireless inspiration whose life and leadership reminds us that, "We can do it. We just need to work."
This project transformed contaminated land, it created multiple food systems, and it stimulated a number of close-knit communities. I trust it inspires in us a beautiful sense of what's possible.
The 7th Permaculture Design Principle.
The 7th Permaculture Design Principle advises us to "Design from patterns to details." A pattern is a repeated form or design. Slice an orange in half. That starburst design that radiates outward is its pattern:
Your first response when you are angered or hurt, is a pattern. The flow of traffic on weekday mornings, the increase of crime in Chicago when it's hot, birds migrating in the autumn, people getting the shopping crazies every November and December... these are all repeated forms. Patterns. Some, like migration, occur naturally. Others, like spiked crime, occur because of bad design.
To some degree, we are each the designer of our own life. So pay attention to the patterns that emerge in your relationships with others, your finances, your health and your happiness, and consider how you can design more ease, beauty or efficiency into the details.
What's a pattern in your life you'd like to redesign?
Robin Williams made laughter his legacy. Learning that he lived with enough emotional pain to cause him to end his life is extremely sad, and has a lot of us feeling things. Is it the irony, that he brought joy to others, while holding internal hurt himself? Is it the contradiction that he appeared happy, but wasn’t? Is it the clash of celebrity and fragility? Or is it the CRY to be real, with ourselves and with others? I think it’s each of those things, (and more, of course) that has us feeling down about his death, but I’m going to focus on the last one. Being real with ourselves and others, in the face of depression*, melancholy, sadness, grief, sorrow, and other not-happy emotions that our culture loves to hate.
Sadness visits to slow us down.
To catch and keep our healing attention
on a hurt -- our own, or someone else’s.
To mature our palate with the taste of bitter.
To tenderize our toughness, and humble our harshness.
Sometimes, you’d swear the sadness will slay
and obliterate you. Or suck out all your hope-juice
and leave you a dehydrated shell of a person. Sometimes,
it ruthlessly does. But it can also sink you to the bottom
of your own ocean floor… where there are undiscovered
strengths waiting to be found by you. But you gotta dive.
And here’s something else: You can get good at sitting
with sadness, and learn to aim it at something you’d like
to destroy. Then, like salt on ice, that sadness will burrow
its heat into the thing you choose to melt.
Or, you can use it to create something beautiful.
Or delicious. Or useful. Sadness is a NATURAL PART OF LIFE
that, for me, has been easier to manage, than the strong
social pressure to be happy all the flippin’ time.
That nagging pressure just encourages fakery and repression.
But a door is opening for us all to enjoy deeper, more
authentic connection based on what is real.
Sadness doesn’t need to be pepped up with egg-yolk yellow,
and engineered smiles that hide shadows and secrets
that are growing grotesque in the dark. They crave air and light, too.
I’m not romanticizing sadness, but legitimizing it.
I’m asking that we please stop shooing, shunning
and shaming unhappiness. Diagnosed, or not.
Medicated, or not. Long therapeutic history, or not.
Emotions distinguish us from other life forms and, have you noticed?
We’re kind of… emotionally STUNTED. Uncomfortable and awkward
with intimacy. Shielding, blocking, deflecting, avoiding, masking,
hiding, pretending, distancing… all while *hungry* for true connection,
but scared to let our real face and whole heart show, because we know
the rules of domesticated happiness. But when we hear the crackle
from an illusion shattered, it's a good time to press “reset” if we want.
I get bummed too, Robin.
He held both light and shadow.
Like we all do.
May he rest in peace.
* Learn more about depression here.
I write to mend
those places that got
snagged, ripped or frayed
while being human,
with other humans.
I write to remember
to play with my words, i.e.
"traffic jam" is a city spread
made of cars. Not fruit.
It's misleading. Like "text,"
which was once more of a dull noun,
but now is more of a cannibalistic verb
that eats itself, because the fewer
characters, the better. Apparently.
I write, of course, to know
what the heck I am feeling,
because it's not always clear
and obvious. And when it is,
it changes. Moody much? Yes.
I write to send a signal
to other kooky bats
who hang upside down
in caves, and contemplate
their extinction. I write to say:
"We are not a dying breed.
We are pollinators! And we are
free from the burdens
of beauty + bright lights."
I write for those who are not
hummingbirds and butterflies
(gorgeous gluttons of glory.)
I write to praise the least among us,
because, well... because I am that, too.
Strange little batgirl, with peculiar powers,
and a pen.
Welcome to Episode 15 of the Empathic Writing Journey Podcast! I started this podcast nearly 6 months ago as a way of chronicling my intent to:
(1) FREE myself;
(2) BE myself;
(3) deepen + sweeten my love affair with life; and
(4) promote empathy and permaculture/regenerative design.
Being faithful to each of these intentions has helped bring me healing I didn't even know I needed. I was surprised to learn how angry and resentful I had become from feeling like I never had enough time or mental space to simply think.
It seemed modern life was always rushing me along, and crowding my inner world with unimportant clutter and chatter. Two things I'm not particularly fond of, by the way. I'm contemplative. And mystical. And empathic. To flourish, I need plenty of time and space to tend to my solitary arts.
But my life wasn't designed around those aspects of myself. My need to think deeply. Move slowly. Connect meaningfully. Create beauty. And live gently.
Instead of doing those things so important for my well-being, I wasted my energy trying to adapt to CrazyWorld! I had accepted an extroverted, consumptive lifestyle as my own, even though at my core I am neither of those things. I was at odds with myself, and experienced a lot of suffering as a result. So six months ago I just stopped listening, to the cultural mantra that hums in the background like a humidifier, and convinces so many of us to slay our dreams. I listened, instead, to my truth-telling heart which had been holding The List my soul had made, of the things It wanted to do with this life. Needless to say, droning along was not on that List.
Living your dreams is the entire point. Believing otherwise is not only an acceptance of the ho-hum, it's an insistence on it.
I'll close my check-in with this final observation: The caterpillar has NO IDEA of the things the butterfly gets to enjoy. If it is transformation you seek, it's important to consult those who themselves have been transformed. It's a lot of well-meaning caterpillars out there.
I'm interested to know what's new, or lively, with you? Please let me know in the comments.
Jill Lanier of Permie Peeks...
...recently featured my work on her inspiring blog. Please see her article here. She includes some pictures of vegetable beds from my yard, getting a nice watering from young neighbors :-)
A recommended Charles Eisenstein Video
Big thanks to Monica for sharing with me Charles Eisenstein's talk at the recent Slow Living Summit called, "Time is running out. Let's slow down." It helped me better understand the anger I mentioned in my check-in. Please make the time to watch, and consider, what he says.
The 6th Permaculture Design principle.
The 6th Permaculture Design Principle advises us to "Produce no waste." To carry out this principle, I recommend backpacking/"roughing it" at least once in your life for a minimum of 2-3 nights:
(1) You will consider every piece of trash you produce, because you have to carry every piece of trash you produce until the end of your trip; and
(2) When you have an established relationship with the outdoor world -- when you connect to some aspect of its beauty and power, and not just in an exploitive way, but in a relational way -- you will feel protective of its resources and, at the very least, you'll be more mindful about burning through 'em.
Along those lines, below is a two-ingredient conditioner that made no waste, AND made my tight curls soft, defined and frizz-free. See pictures below!
Accepting my naturally coarse + curly hair. Finally.
It took 43.5 years, but I have finally embraced my naturally curly hair! No more forcing it straight with heat, and self-rejection. (I'll share more about that whole process later.) Curly hair is always thirsty and ready for more moisture, so I loved the results of this simple, very effective two-ingredient hair conditioner:
* 1 banana (you can also use an avocado)
* 1 egg
Mix in bowl until the texture is a smooth puree. Rub into hair liberally, from scalp to ends. Pile hair on top of head, and cover with plastic cap for at least 20 minutes. Rinse. Enjoy softness, shine, pattern definition, decreased frizz... and aside from a banana peel, you make NO waste! ;-)
I recently bought some strawberry plants and had to choose... between frequent and small, or less frequent and large. Interesting choice.
And speaking of frequency... the first dozen podcast episodes of the Empathic Writing Journey came out every week. But the last two have taken twice as long. One reason is because the weather has finally broken in Chicago, and there is food to grow and trees to plant! I've been learning so much from working with Cheryl Ann Wilkerson at Common Threads World Garden (Episode 7), and Matt Stephens at Hales Franciscan High School's Food Forest. As well as six vegetable and herb beds my neighbors and I planted in our shared residential yard. So pending outdoor projects, I might be posting a little erratically, but I am here. And we will make it through the 12 permaculture principles, and beyond!
The 5th Permaculture Design Principle.
We are now at the 5th permaculture design principle, which advises us to "Use and value renewable resources and services."
When you consume things as quickly and constantly as we do, it isn't surprising that a "throw-away" mindset would eventually become normative. Consuming and tossing go together. They are companion activities that keep alive single-use this, and disposable that. Every little thing is shrunk-wrapped, and then placed in an oversized cardboard box, or some other form of excessive packaging that is utter waste and poor design. It's offensive not just ecologically, but aesthetically. Waste is ugly. Efficiency is beautiful.
How can we influence product manufacturers and shareholders to move away from planned obsolescence? Intentionally building inferior crap, with deliberately shortened life-spans should not be the accepted way. But it is, because we have not insisted on wiser design.
Planned obsolescence is a very common and successful business strategy that instills a product's break-down of function or fashion from its very conception. Unconscious spending -- making purchases without really thinking about them -- feeds that moronic strategy. Helps it to grow stronger and more longlasting while, ironically, churning out quick-to-expire product-junk.
When we take into account resource-scarcity and landfill-limits, it should be easy to see why hyperconsumption is a very serious threat to our planet's ecosystems. Building things to break is stupid. Being so easily manipulated
as to believe a skirt has a "season" is stupid. Skirts do not have seasons. And if we keep behaving so carelessly, we won't either.
Building power. Building community.
Second in our 3-part series on La Huerta Roots + Rays community garden in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago, please enjoy my chat with Sara Ellis, the garden's volunteer manager. In our conversation (not transcribed) we discuss a variety of topics including:
A note to subscribers who receive these posts via email: To hear the audio, please CLICK HERE.
Hey Beauties! Welcome to the 13th Episode of the Empathic Writing Journey Podcast. I recently followed my heart to Miami Beach for some sunny inspiration, and I got the bonus of a complete System Reset. I send thanks and love to each of the very special people who made the past week so wildly rich beyond imagination: Eslie, Clara, Gus and Alexis. I celebrate all that had been before, and all that flows forward.
And to you, sweet listener, I thank you for the gift of your attention. I am always very interested to know what's on your mind, so do reach out to me either in the comment section of my blog at empathicwriter.com, on my Facebook Page at facebook.com/empathicwriter, or leave a voicemail message up to 5 minutes at 206-202-0217.
The 4th Permaculture Design Principle.
According to David Holmgren who conceived the 12 design principles of permaculture that we've been reviewing, the 4th one is to "Apply self-regulation and accept feedback."
"Self-regulation" is critical to get our consumptive lifestyles into a state of sanity and health. The rate at which we burn through natural resources is not only appalling, but is also causing our 6th mass extinction. Hellooo? How can that knowledge not radically and immediately correct our out-of-control buying behavior? How can we be more upset by the discontinuation of a sitcom TV show, than we are grieved by the discontinuation of an entire species life?! We have got to get a grip on ourselves, and self-regulation is a mature, responsible way to do so.
I invited my Facebook friends and page fans to consider this principle along with me, and I gratefully acknowledge Nancy Grayson who shared this gorgeous metaphor of how she applies self-regulation in her life:
"Meditation is to a paddle as a canoe is to my life. When I put the paddle into the water, it propels my canoe forward. Without it, I would only see the same shoreline. As I become a stronger, better paddler, I can navigate rough waters with greater ease. I experience the thrill of digging deep, rising to the heights of challenging waves and the joy of sailing down the other side. Like any wild woman adventurer, If I were to capsize, I have the life jacket of my indomitable spirit and a self rescue plan with my favorite emergency supply - the appreciation of all life. This is how I apply self-regulation."
And this is how she accepts the feedback from that self-regulation:
"A giant mirror of cosmic proportion, made of light and sound of All That Is shattered into trillions of pieces. Tell me! Tell me! so I can see your light, hear your beauty and learn more of our reflection of who we are as individuated consciousness of the One that is in All."
Thank you, Nancy, for sharing some of your meditative practice with us! I invite each of you listening to add your own thoughts about self-regulation and the acceptance of feedback in the comment section at empathicwriter.com
"The Secret" to how we evolve.
As I considered and lived with this 4th design principle of practicing self-regulation and applying feedback, it occurred to me that this is the demystified process of EVOLUTION:
The complexity of all this does not give us a Free Pass of Avoidance. We have to build our level of ecological awareness, no matter how weak it might be right now. This is not a hippie movement. Or a cause that only impacts liberals, progressives, new-agers, or any other compartmentalized excuse we may like to hide behind. Any and all who enjoy breathing unpolluted air, drinking uncontaminated water, eating nutritious food and protecting biodiversity -- (all of which is essential to our own physical existence) -- must cultivate some degree of ecological literacy.
Mmmm good, ear-candy!
A year and a half ago I wrote an e-book about an inherited neurological trait I was born with called Sensory Processing Sensitivity. This trait endows 25% of all living organisms with a nervous system that is more sensitive and, therefore, receives more sensory data than "regular" nervous systems do. The name of the ebook, which is available on Amazon.com, and can be easily found by searching my name, is titled "The POWER of Your Intense Fragility: What culture hasn't told you about being sensitive AND strong." Many of you have asked for an AUDIO version of this, and it should be available by May 10th! Thank you so much for your interest and support.
To our gradual and steadfast development,
A note to subscribers who receive these posts via email: To hear the audio, please CLICK HERE.
Geologist. Gardener. Exploratory sculptor.
Welcome to Episode 12. This is the first of a 3-part series, each featuring a visionary, action-taking young woman who faithfully volunteers at La Huerta Roots and Rays community garden in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago.
One of the reasons I started doing these interviews -- having simple, recorded conversations with people who are in conscious relationship with the planet they live on -- is because there really is something special about them. I respect their ability to notice and support cycles of life, in a technologically-dominated era. I value conversations that are centered around Life, or are full of Life. That's how I felt talking with this renaissance woman, Imogene Ellis. Here's our sensory-rich and playful chat.
In addition to Roots and Rays, here are a few more of Imogene's favorite resources:
Next Up: Permaculture Principle #4: "Apply self-regulation, and accept feedback."
A note to subscribers who receive these posts via email: To HEAR THE AUDIO, please CLICK HERE.
This episode is different from the previous 10, which were focused on earth care and restoration. We'll always be developing that conversation of ecological sanity, and we'll also now include a new segment about our inner terrain.
This is my domain of comfort and expertise -- our heartscape. Sometimes it's lush and thick with life. Other times it's barren or bruised from a difficult season. I have always had a great navigational sense in this inner world. I know where to find sources of Light and Water. I know where the shade is, and where the berries grow. I can identify poisons and dangers... and convert mysteries into something useful. This kind of insight and guidance is an unlearned skill I recognized as a child, and have heeded and developed throughout my life. I am, only recently, coming into full ownership of it. I expect you will experience a difference in my communications going forward, because a barrier has lifted. I understand my Role and my Reasons more fully now, than I have before. Please consider the rest of this post the first of many insights about our Inner Terrain.
"Mom/Dad, look at me!"
Can you remember being the child who shouted that request? Or maybe you're now a parent who receives that request?
I don't believe we are intended to grow out of this very basic, very human need to be seen and heard. Witnessed. Social media is an example of our continued longing to share and to show. To see and to know.
It is nice to self-express. But have you noticed how flat it can feel when whatever you've shared isn't really received by someone else? You risk sharing something of importance to you, and it quickly becomes fodder for the next quickly passing moment. There's no pause. There's no resting with the thought or feeling that just got expressed. Usually, there's just a hurried reply to keep the conversational ball bouncing. Lots of times that quick, staccato-pace of chatter is all that's needed.
But there are far too many other times that an important happening gets no sunlight of acknowledgement. Because most of us were never taught how to listen deeply and with a full and gathered presence, we rarely exchange that luxuriant gift with others. And that's a true, but easily treatable, pity.
"There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you." (Dr. Maya Angelou)
Agony. It's a strong word, and I think Dr. Angelou has used it precisely. Emotional numbness is our cultural norm, but in a fit of truth and honesty I think we'd all agree that it sure would be nice to have consistent access to a skillful listener.
And not one that you have to pay for. Witnessing and giving full presence is a loving act we all can learn and give to those we are close to. But we treat our emotional well-being like a dirty garment... sending offsite to a professional who, for a fee, will sanitize and starch the dirt and wrinkles that come from living.
A therapeutic professional is a great help for certain traumas, but a lot of our daily hurts and hopes could be wonderfully handled if a few more of us simply learned to listen more deeply and with full presence.
One great resource to help with that is an essay written by Brenda Ueland, "The Art of Listening." She says, "When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand." I hope you'll read all of her essay. Her words help us to not only understand how to be better listeners for others. Her words also help us understand our own desire for what I call conversational moreness.
how to create Conversational Moreness.
There are kisses. And there are French kisses.
There are lightening bugs. And there is lightening.
When two people come together for any purpose, the *potential* between them is mountain-moving. But what usually takes place is more along the spatial lines of an ant-hill. We settle
for a teeny-tiny fraction of what's available to us at every encounter we have with one another!
Below are some starting points for your Deep Listener and Full Presencer.
Once it's clear that you are in a conversation of greater importance -- usually distinguished
by higher levels of risk, exposure and vulnerability than in casual or surfacey conversations --
do the following 6 things. Even practicing just one or two would be a great start:
The repeating question in #6 does WONDERS in helping another person
learn more from the very thing they wanted to tell you about.
Try this with a trusted friend or partner. Incubate ideas. Get unstuck.
Let me know how it goes in the comments below.
Give the world the gift of felt intimacy.
Create conversational moreness.
Help better listeners multiply.
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