“The cold was our pride, the snow was our beauty. It fell and fell, lacing day and night together in a milky haze, making everything quieter as it fell, so that winter seemed to partake of religion in a way no other season did, hushed, solemn.”~ Patricia Hampl, 1981

Does change equal pain?

January 27, 2009

peace-in-arabicObama has granted the first ever presidential interview to an Arabic television station. He is committed to opening a dialogue with the Muslim world. His campaign for change has had a global impact already.

Does change always mean pain? It is a neurological fact that change elicits a fear-based response in the human brain. The sweaty palms, the racing heart, the inner sense of dread — all these things are a part of the normal human existence. The key is to strengthen our consciousness to overcome the neural response.

We love order because it gives us a sense of control. Notice that Obama is not using the terms “new world order” as, say, Reagan did. His claim rests in change mixed with hope, not fear; listening and loving, not lamenting and leering.

The bodybuilder’s adage “no pain, no gain” does not apply here. We can make a change and a difference. It might involve some level of adjustment, but isn’t that really what life’s about?

dreamIt might be the fact that I’m turning 40 this year. It might be the fact that I heard Randy Pausch’s monumental speech about achieving your childhood dreams. It might be the fact that change is in the air.

I have started a list of things I want to achieve in my lifetime. Some of them are pending while others are in the works. One thing I’ve recently started doing is taking on small speaking roles in TV shows. I always wanted to be an actor. It’s not very time-intensive ( a few hours of work), and it gives me a sense of fulfillment. Now’s my chance.

What things do you yearn to do in your life? Perhaps it’s pursuing a hobby you are passionate about. Perhaps it’s stepping onto a new career path.

What are you waiting for? Now, more than ever, is the time to embrace change. It is easy to find reasons why you cannot do things: not enough money, not enough talent, not enough time (after you’ve read The Power of Slow, you won’t be using that one anymore!).

Do not let fear be your guide.

Dare to be different. Dare to be you. Go out and tell the world who you really are. Then come back and let me know how it went. I really want to know!

Ever since I have written the forthcoming book, The Power of Slow, I have taken on a whole new relationship with time. Waiting no longer phases me. In every moment there is something to learn.

Yesterday I had to wait an hour in a foyer. I had received a job from my casting agency to appear in a TV court show. Uncertain as to how long the train would take, I arrived an hour early. So I took a moment to chat it up with another extra who had gotten the time wrong herself. I learned she is from Bali and has two children. We shared our views on parenting and passed the time beautifully.

Next came the moment when the director came in to hand select a few of the extras to sit next to the main actor of the TV court show.  They chose me and a few others. It was exciting and involved more waiting until the make-up artist was free. In fact, the whole day we spent sitting, waiting, and looking interested as the cameras and the actors did their jobs.

It was a fascinating experience, one I’d like to do again. In the end, I met a wonderful show regular with whom I exchanged business cards (when not playing a judge, she is an interior designer and architect!).

“It is in the waiting  that the most wonderful things unfold,” I told her. She smiled widely with a nod of acknowledgment.

Epiphanies can happen in the strangest of places…

Spyware of a Safer Kind

January 20, 2009

stop-signIt appears parents are concerned. As well they should  be. Tossing your cellphone-armed kid the keys to the family car is like tossing him or her a six-pack of beer, according to one commentator in yesterday’s Washington Post article about driving safety and banning cellphone usage whilst behind the wheel.

It is a topic I address in The Power of Slow. Multitasking has been taken to new heights. Locking cellphones with GPS systems that can detect how fast you are growing is one method of shutting down jabberjaws and thumbless drivers who navigate their vehicles with their knees.

The article rightfully points out that other distracting activities while driving, such as downing a three-course meal or applying make-up, are equally dangerous.

With our new technological landscape, drive slowly has a whole new meaning.

A few more helpful Web sites to keep you informed.

http://www.key2safedriving.net/

http://www.websafety.com/

http://www.aegismobility.com/

Live Woman Walking

January 19, 2009

The sun lured me outdoors this morning. In fact, being mindful of my carbon footprint, I decided to walk to the country store. The milder temperatures and the encouraging tweets from the trees spoke of the coming warmth. I know it is weeks away, but for the first time since October, I felt a sense that winter is not interminable after all.

O come, thy lovely spring!

One step closer to fun

January 18, 2009

My publisher sent me the catalog copy for my new book, The Power of Slow. I’m thrilled as it is proof it really is going to happen!!

locomotiveMy husband and I decided to have  a slow morning with a leisurely breakfast and a chat. It made me five minutes late for my workout class, to which I am not accustomed. Usually, I’m at class fifteen minutes ahead of time so it was unusual for me to rush into the overcrowded room and secure the last space in the room – in the front! I smiled throughout the gruelling hour, thinking slow living has its benefits. You may not get a space near a mirror, but how freeing to do things slightly differently! It is evidence that there’s more than one way to skin a cat.

Afterwards I chat with an old friend I hadn’t seen in a while. I could tell it did her as much good as it did me to exchange kid stories and to spend a moment connecting. Looking at her watch, my friend suddenly jumped up saying she had talked through her shower time.  In the lockerroom another woman commented on how she just needed a day to take it easy and to spend a full thirty minutes getting ready. The power of slow seems to follow me wherever I go. There is something delicious about seizing the moment, pulling the brakes and watching your whole locomotive come to a nice idle.

 Sometimes it even lands you in the front row!

I meet the neatest people. Christa Clark-Jones is founder of CarFreeLifestyle.combobbycar, a user-generated website for car-free enthusiasts.  She is an award-winning short filmmaker who has worked with the City of Davis, California, studying the impacts of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions.  Christa received her B.S. degree in Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning from the University of California at Davis.

CLH: You went car-free in December 2007.  How has that impacted you?

carfreelifestyleclip1Christa: Exploring by foot and bike has taught me to appreciate my community more.  I enjoy looking at gardens and exchanging smiles.  Sometimes I will have a random conversation with someone.  These moments make my day.  Another nice side effect is increased health and longevity.  No gym membership needed.  Stress dissipates.  Also, with no vehicle upkeep, I save plenty of money and time.

CLH: I agree that going car-free is easier in places such as Portland, OR where there are bike paths and flat surfaces. What about people who live in colder climates such as Alaska? Would you recommend the return of the dog sled?

Christa: Dog sleds sound fun!  Living car-free is possible if you are in an urban environment.  For example, my friend who has lived in St. Petersburg, Russia – where freezing temperatures are normal – tells me that people rarely use a cars.  Cars are actually a hassle in St. Petersburg.  Instead, everyone uses the elaborate and efficient subway system.  It is so successful that trains usually arrive every five minutes.  In other words, an urban environment with high density and access to public transportation provide more flexibility.

CLH: What things can people do to go ‘carlite’ if not ‘carfree’? What organizations exist that support people’s efforts for sustainable transportation?

Christa: Be prepared, take baby steps, and make the transition fun.   Join your local pedestrian and bicycle advocacy groups for a supportive network.  Also, I have created CarFreeLifestyle.com, a user-generated website for car-free enthusiasts. It’s a hotspot for advice and motivation.

Top five tips:
•       Wear comfortable walking shoes.
•       If you like cycling, use a sturdy and comfortable bicycle (i.e. cruisers and Dutch bikes).
•       Become familiar with you public transportation system. Have the schedule accessible.
•       On weekends, walk, bike, and use public transportation to get to your favorite places.
•       Find local friends who want to try the car-free lifestyle with you.

CLH: Thank you for this enlightening chat!

Christa: Thank you!

Slow Process of Becoming

January 15, 2009

Univision interviewed me for an upcoming piece on stay-at-home moms. I was reminded of the process I went through when pregnant with my first child.  Ever since I was little, I had wanted to become a writer. Raise an eyebrow through the written word? I was there.

Highly pregnant and deeply committed, I furiously wrote my morning pages while doing Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way artists-wayprogram.  For twelve weeks, I got up every morning at 5 am.

It changed my life.

In preparation for the Univision interview, I came across this poem I had written while doing Julia’s program. It deeply moved me as I see in it the seeds that were planted to create my books…and this blog.

Artist’s Prayer

(c) 1999-2009 Christine Louise Hohlbaum

Great Creator -

Hand on wind that fires through my pen;

Bring to us a shower of your Divine Spirit;

Encompass us with your rapture and beauty.

For it is Your Calling that rings through our ears;

It is Your Voice that gives me mine.

Help me to embrace You as You embrace me.

Guide me to Your Light when I stray in the darkness of my own being.

Help me to remember the Beginnings, the Evolution, the Slow Process of Becoming.

Lend me your keen Eye as I pass through this world

and Enshroud me with Your Grace that I may enshroud others with mine.

 

Ever heard of eBay? If you’re online, how could you not? Like eBay, Zwaggle.com is place to get good, used stuff. It is a swap-n-shop Web site especially for parents with an eye for sustainable living. Swap gently auctionused items for points, or Zoints, to purchase other ‘like new’ items. It reduces the landfill, recycles good things, and best of all, clears clutter like nobody’s business! The only thing you pay is shipping. Membership is free.

Go for the slow swap before you shop. The Earth will thank you.

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