Everything is connected – our bodies, our world.

This absolutely powerful TED talk by Eve Ensler, touched me in a way I cannot explain. She shares her heart wrenching insights into the connection between our awareness of and compassion for our bodies and the body of our world.

Cancer exploded the wall of my disconnection. I suddenly understood that the crisis in my body was the crisis in the world – and it wasn’t happening later, it was happening now. Suddenly my cancer was the cancer that was everywhere: the cancer of cruelty, the cancer of greed, the cancer that gets inside people who live downstream from chemical plants (and they are usually poor), the cancer inside the coal miners lungs, the cancer of stress for not achieving enough, the cancer of buried trauma, the cancer in caged chickens and polluted fish, the cancer in women’s uterus from being raped, the cancer that is everywhere from our carelessness.

In his new and visionary book, New Self, New World, the writer Philip Shepherd says, “If you are divided from your body, you are also divided from the body of the world. Which then appears to be other than you or separate from you, rather than the living continuum to which you belong.”

Before cancer, the world was something ‘other’. It was as if I was living in a stagnant pool, and cancer dynamited the boulder that separated me from the larger sea. Now I am swimming in it. Now I lay down in the grass and I rub my body in it, and I love the mud on my legs and feet. Now I take a daily pilgrimage to visit a particular weeping willow, and I hunger for the green fields in the bush, and when it rains, hard rain, I scream and run in circles. I know that everything is connected.

 

I hope her pure passion resonates with you – like it did with me.

What struck you about her talk? Please share below!


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Inspirational Person: Peter Paul

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I wanted to begin to interview different people who inspire me, and share their light with you as well.

Peter Paul was born in New Brunswick to a close-knit family of four, with parents who were both kind and wise. He grew up in Ontario, but spent summers in the maritimes connecting to the rural and coastal landscapes. After school, he linked his interest in geography to mapping work which continued for the next thirty years. He met his wife, Betty, on a canoe trip in the 1980’s, and had two children (I was fortunate enough to be one of them). 


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Q1. Peter, it’s impossible for others not to notice your indomitably positive spirit and generosity. Are these a reflection of an inner choice?

For most people, the way we see ourselves is different from the way others see us. There are several people in our family and our group of friends whose positive spirit and generosity have served as models for me. This has also been true of some strangers in my life – people whose names I will never know, and whom I will likely never meet again, but whose actions I will always remember and appreciate.

Q2. You seem to prioritize getting out in nature, such as taking long walks on a daily basis or biking to work. What impact has nature had on your life? 

Nature has provided a way for me to step back from the details of everyday life, and to appreciate the beauty and rhythm of life which has ‘stood the test of time’. On the grounds of the Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa, there is a beautiful red oak tree which was planted in 1911, and which I would see on my bike trip to work each day. Sometimes when day-to-day problems would seem overwhelming, I would look at this oak tree which had faithfully continued its yearly cycle of life (new spring buds, summer leaf growth, acorns, falling leaves in the autumn) for one hundred years, in spite of the day-to-day upheavals in my own life, or the latest world news.

Q3. When you reflect back on your life, what is the first memory that comes to mind when you think about your proudest moment?

When I was in Grade 5, we had an hour and a half for lunch – time to walk home for a meal with Mom, and still get back to school for a game of pick-up softball. At that time, a boy attended our school who was a particularly gifted athlete – as a softball pitcher, he threw with speed and accuracy beyond his years. None of us could hit his pitches. After a series of strikes as the batter, I decided to swing before I thought I should – to see if I could anticipate the location of the pitch. It worked.

Q4. What would you tell a younger version of yourself, if you had the chance?

Remember that school is only one way to learn about the world.

Q5. Finally, with all of your experiences and knowledge, do you think there is hope for the world to solve the current social and environmental crises that it is currently facing? Do we have the power to change the world for the better?

I believe that there is hope for the world, because each one of us has the ability to contribute to the solutions – if only we decide in our own minds to do it. The force of people working together towards something worthwhile, towards a goal for the common good, will be unstoppable once it gains momentum.

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Fall 2014: Visual Inspiration

I’d like to start sharing photos that I have taken each season. I hope some may resonate with you.

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If you enjoy these photos, feel free to follow me on Instagram, or let me know below. I would love to see photos that have inspired you – please share links to them in the comments!

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The Story of “Stuff” & Surviving the holidays without consumerism

This is the season when consumption skyrockets. The average American spends over $800 on seasonal gifts, even though a national survey (by Center for a new American Dream) indicates that over 70% of Americans would welcome less emphasis on gift giving and spending.

Need proof that people don’t need more “stuff”? The Environmental Protection Agency, estimates that from Thanksgiving to New Year’s household waste increases by more than 25%. That’s an additional million tons of unneeded gifts, packaging and shopping bags – a week! 

It’s very fitting, then, that I share one of my favorite visually appealing explanations of the issues surrounding consumerism – The Story of Stuff – which has now rightly turned into a movement. Check out the video above, and consider re-evaluating how and what you give this season.  Better yet, consider being more intentional with the way you interact with “stuff” all the time.

Convinced, but unsure how to get through the holiday season without offending others? Check out my post ‘Holiday Craziness…I think I’ll pass‘ for my favorite sustainable holiday suggestions – such as gifts, and decorations.

How do you currently handle the “stuff” in your life? What are some of the strategies you use to reduce consumerism? What could you do to further improve? Share your ideas below!

 

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Global Chorus: Daily meditations about hope and the planet

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Next year, I hope to start everyday with a bit of hope – with insights and perspectives to keep pushing towards solutions. To spend some time to let ideas marinate, to observe, to taste and feel the fullness of thought leaders perspectives on relevant issues about our world. I want to listen – really listen.  I want to go outside, touch the ground, experience the breeze, smell nature. I want to feel her within me, I want to hear her speak to me. I want to re-energize.

I am humbled to be part of project that will help others to do just that.

Global Chorus a groundbreaking collection of over 365 perspectives on our environmental future. As a global roundtable for our times, in the format of a daily reader, this book is a trove of insight, guidance, passion and wisdom that has poured in from all over the Earth. Its message is enormously inspiring, and ominous in its warnings. And yet, united in a thread of hope, its contents are capable of helping even the most faithless global citizen to believe that we have the capacity to bring about lasting positive change in our world. Places at this roundtable are occupied by writers, environmentalists, spiritual leaders, politicians, professors, doctors, athletes, business people, farmers, chefs, yogis, painters, actors, architects, musicians, TV personalities, humanitarians, adventurers, concerned youth, concerned senior citizens, civil servants, carpenters, bus drivers, activists, CEO’s, scientists, and essentially those who have something thoughtful and visionary to say about humanity’s place upon Earth. Compiled for your reading as a set of 365 pieces, Global Chorus presents to you a different person’s point of view for each day of your year.”

I had the true pleasure of being at the Ottawa book launch and signing this past week. It was incredible to meet the editor, Todd Maclean, who envisioned this book 5 years ago. It speaks to what the power of a dream, ongoing effort, and an indomitable spirit can accomplish.

Grab a copy of this #1 Amazon bestseller, and join David Suzuki, Paul Hawken, Bill McKibben, William McDonough, Michael Reynolds, Rick Fedrizzi, Will Potter, Maya Angelou, Elizabeth May, and Jane Goodall by adding your voice in this global chorus.

The contributors for the book, were asked the following questions – add your own perspective in the comments below: “Do you think that humanity can find a way past the current global environmental and social crises? Will we be able to create the conditions necessary for our own survival, as well as that of other species on the planet? What would these conditions look like? In summary, then, and in the plainest of terms, do we have hope, and can we do it?”

 

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Interface: Net-Works (making waste beautiful)

 

I had the honor of talking recently with Erin Meezan, the Vice President of Sustainability for Interface. Her passion for her work and the positive impact on the large breadth of people touched was truly inspiring.

Interface are leaders in the industry showing that fully integrated sustainability is not merely a theoretical idea, but can be tangibly accomplished and perpetuated within a business.  They transparently report on their ecological footprint, including progress in: Energy, Climate, Waste, and Transportation.

Looking for a way to reduce the environmental impact of nylon even further, they launched Net-Works.

“Net-Works enables local residents to collect discarded nets, which wreak havoc with the marine ecosystem, and sell them back into a global supply chain – giving those destructive, broken nets a second life as beautiful and long-lasting carpet tile. The product of an unlikely partnership, the Net-Works programme is proof that when business, conservation, and communities innovate together, we can create positive, sustainable change.”  

This initiative is not only lowering their impact, but also infusing local economies, while helping to clean up coastal environments. In the first 2 years, Net-Works has expanded to reach to 24 communities, with over 4,000 people benefiting from alternative income, and more than 35 metric tonnes of waste nets have been salvaged and turned into carpet tiles.

I can only begin to imagine how this world would change, if more companies looked for win-win solutions that not only positively impacted their bottom line – but also people and the world we live in.

Can you think of innovative win-win solutions you could apply to the work you are currently doing? Please share below!

 

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