Monday, April 22, 2013

Earth Day Pledge 2013

So every year, I make a pledge on Earth Day, to start a new habit that will benefit the Earth and ensure that as a human being I lessen my impact and burden. Because the Earth is our Mother, she nurtures us and gives us life--from the air we breath, to the water we drink, to the fruits she bears the feed us. By honoring her, we are actually caring for our selves. We poison our air, water, and soil. As a culture, society, and human race, we need to stop and it starts with us as individuals. It’s really important that as someone who worships the Earth, I feel it's extremely important that I walk my walk and I talk my talk.

My first pledge ever was to reduce, reuse, or recycle as much as possible reduce the number of trash bags per week (I eventually got down to one kitchen trash bag). Last year, I joined a CSA (see my post about why it’s so good). Over the years, I brought an awareness to my use of bottled water, paper napkins, disposable plates and utensils and vowed to replace them with reusable options and only use when I have absolutely no other choice (traveling, etc.) and not because it’s convenient. I made major changes in my life, including moving and getting a new job, to reduce my commute and therefore my fuel consumption and emissions. You get the point.

The Earth is what supports human life. I will do whatever we can to protect her and I will preach it to anyone who will listen (and multiple times to those who won’t). I am called to inform those unaware of such tenets and it does work. It has resulted in increased recycling and less use of disposable items at work and other institutions where I spend my time. My family and friends have replaced paper napkins and plates with reusable options. Several have installed water filters in lieu of drinking bottled water.

But really, I hate bottled water. Bottled water is my ultimate pet peeve. It’s so ridiculous on so many levels. It makes me so mad just thinking about it. But when I was thinking about it the other day, I realized that I still drink soda and some juices, and those come in cans and bottles. Worse, they don’t come in the lighter weight plastics because of the carbonation, sugar, and other ingredients. For the past few years, I have managed to cut down my soda/soft drink consumption to one can a day, but that’s still a lot of cans. And I do love seltzer and would drink it more, but it only comes in large plastic bottles.

In line with the waste of water bottles, I’m going to try and eliminate the waste of soft drink containers. I have already started to switch to homemade teas and lemonades in order to eliminate those containers. It will also give me more control over the sweeteners and preservatives I put in my body.

Unfortunately, I love soda and still crave that sweet, cold bubbly goodness that only comes in containers, unless… you have a soda maker! So this year’s Earth Day pledge is basically buy a soda maker. I know tough life! The sacrifices I make, I tell you. But seriously, it’s an investment that is initially more expensive. It’s also an investing in the extra time and thought it takes to plan ahead, instead of popping into the 7-11 or hitting the vending machine every time I want a soda. And because plastic can leech and is less durable, for my health I will invest the extra money for the glass bottles. Because, you know why? Mother Earth and I are worth it!

I know I can never do any of these things 100%, it’s not the society we live in, but I do my best. The phrase “Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.” really is a set of instructions for how I live my life. And yes, I will do everything in my power to reduce the packaging on consumables. Yes, I will consider ways to reuse or repurpose something before I put it in the recycling bin or trash. Yes, I will recycle everything possible before I yield it to the trash can—even if it means taking few minutes to dismantle the items so the parts that can be recycled are. I will continue to do everything I can from my first Earth Day pledge to Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.
And, yes, I will preach it and I will tell it to your face. I will inform you of your habits that could easily be replaced by something that is better for the environment. I will inform you of items that can be recycled. I have been known to dig through your trash (while cursing you out loud) if you throw something out that does not need to be, and as much as it grosses me out, I will be driven to do it again.

We only have one Earth. I don’t think finding another planet to inhabit is really feasible, since you know…we live on Earth and we are already here. We can make a difference.

How are you celebrating Earth Day? What are you doing to honor and assist Mother Earth?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Teachers and Students

"We cannot hold a torch to light another's path without brightening our own." -B. Sweetland
This past weekend at Sacred Space I got to attend classes with some amazing teachers. I have been going to the Sacred Space Conference for the last five years and this one was by far the best one I have attended as far as the depth and quality of the teachings and rituals. It usually takes me a few weeks to process everything and return to normal. However, this year I know the teachings and rituals profoundly changed me and my perspective on many levels--of which I do not have a clear awareness of just yet.

I can say with certainty that the most important and enjoyable, therefore my favorite, moments were watching teachers that I respect and admire learn from people they respect and admire. As I have stated before, one of the things I love about the teachers and elders I have chosen to learn from is that though they are teachers and elders, they still consider themselves students. I have taken many classes and workshops alongside these teachers, but this weekend we were all learning from someone none of us had had the opportunity to work with previously. A woman they had admired and looked forward to meeting and working with for years. One referred to herself as a Fan Girl, and while I did not witness her jumping up and down “squee”-ing, I’m pretty sure she was on the inside.

To see your teachers sit in joy from being in the presence of, and soaking up knowledge from, someone they respect and admire as much as you respect and admire them is a truly moving experience. To see them responding to a teacher in a way you know you respond when you are learning from them brought me so much joy. It made me respect and admire them even more and gave me an appreciation of my own love of learning.

Personally, I feel it is impossible to think that anyone knows everything about anything. There is always something to learn. If not something new, but perhaps a new way of looking at something you think you know. Frankly, anyone who does not feel that way is not someone from whom I wish to be taught. I’m so excited about the conversations I’m going to have with my teachers about their perspective on these shared learning experiences. I’m so excited to keep learning.  Most importantly, I'm so grateful to have such great role models with so much respect for the entire learning process.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Running on Empty, Existing on Fumes.

So I've taken some time off from blogging. Mostly because I had to. I've recently taken a lot of time off from a lot of things. It's called burn out.

I know you all are SHOCKED. I'm sure no one saw this coming at all (please note the super-size portion of sarcasm!).

The thing is, I was burnt out before I began. Most of the community didn't meet me until 2009... When I finally finished graduate school and had extra time on my hands. When I decided to get involved in more personal pursuits and stop working 12-16 hour days. When I decided that being a Pagan was important to me and I wanted know more people like me. When I found organizations and people who needed what I had to offer and allowed me to do work that I enjoyed.

The problem was that I was already burnt out on my career. I was crispy before I even jumped into this community and got swept away. And I just didn't jump into this community, I picked up other volunteer work that I had done years earlier. I mistakenly thought that doing volunteer work that I enjoyed would feed me in different ways and would make everything okay. I tried to refocus my career, but the economy had tanked and I had a talent that many companies still wanted, one for which many companies were still willing to pay a good salary. Despite being laid off twice since 2007, I still managed to do quite well. I felt blessed and grateful, so I gave even more, because I was so fortunate. So I pushed on in a career that had drained me and expended a lot of resources, and gave even more of myself to those in need. I managed to position my job so that I minimized the stress and was able to exist. I've worked really hard over the last year to reduce my commitments to something more manageable. I thought I was doing well. I thought I was healing. But then, this last month I was pulled back into a work project with the intensity I had avoided for the last few years. It really made me realize just how deep my empty well was. I had to give my all to get through this project and really didn't have it.

When you are running on empty taking a pit stop every couple of miles and not filling up all the way wastes a lot of time and only gets you so far. So, I'm getting off the Indy 500 of my life and its pit stops between speeding around and around in circles. I'm pulling into the rest stop, I'm filling up the tank, I'm getting a snack and sitting down to enjoy it. I'm going to browse in the gift shop, flip through trashy magazines in the newsstand, and walk around outside and stretch my legs a bit.

First, I'm fixing my career and paying attention to all the things I put off while I was flitting about more concerned with other people's existence than my own. Then, I will work toward building a sustainable existence...financially, physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

I still have some obligations that I will fulfill (silly mortgage payments). The community and group work I do is my path in this lifetime. It does feed me, and I know I've found the right community to nurture and be nurtured by and I will continue my efforts there. I will continue doing my outreach magic for causes I care about. I'm still going to spread the word of the amazing happenings of this community. This time, it will be in a way that is sustainable for me, and hopefully in a way that is more readily accessible for everyone else.

Don't think this means you won't see me. In fact, I plan to be out and about quite a bit in the next few months, not because I feel have to, but because I want to and I can. And, if I don't want to, I don't have to do anything.

It also seems, the less my mind and my heart are cluttered with outside thoughts and feelings, the more of my own are rising to the surface. More posts will be coming. (I'm psychic, I know these things!).

Though I am weary, I am still extremely blessed and fortunate and grateful, and soon, I may actually start to be excited too!