Sometimes in order to appreciate what you have, you must walk away from it for a while. Your every day life, from which you depart whilst on vacation, for instance, is a beautiful thing because it gives you structure, which gives you meaning. And with meaning you can move mountains.

It’s as simple as that.

When life seems meaningless, flavorless, colorless, we make decisions based on that view. When life is vibrant, dashing, magnificent, we choose a different path. But note there is no difference between the two: the world remains the same either way. It is you who has changed.

Change leads to growth. Without resistance you would not move an inch. Think of how you build your muscles. You need resistance against which you can test them ~time and again. So when you are met with resistance, embrace it like the friend it is. It is teaching you to grow stronger, to become a true believer in yourself, your abilities and your life.

We may not always get what we want, but when we live as if what we have is more than enough, then guess what?

It is.

Where Surrender Lives

May 24, 2012

The story of these flowers defies natural law. Now I’m not a botanist, but it is my understanding that non-blooming bulbs aka widows do not just up and decide to bloom on a whim. If they are widows, they remain as such.

These flowers are different. After four years, they decided to surrender to the beauty of themselves this year. They showed up in a completely different form. And for that, I am most grateful.

We can learn a lot from nature.

The axis of our power lies in our surrender. How often have we pushed things to the limit, only to be left depleted, exhausted and burned? While our culture rewards those who go faster, higher and longer, it isn’t healthy. It’s a lie to live that way. We have limits and it’s time we recognize them.

When we surrender to any given moment, to the “What Is” in our lives, we become fuller, richer and more available to possibility. The amazing thing is that when we surrender to what is, we expand to limitless possibilities. So the very thing that keeps us from experiencing no limitations is the thing we attempt to apply to reach that state.

It is a paradox. I know. And it is the truth.

Imagine your life without all that pushing, striving, hunting and gathering. Consider a world in which you plant a seed, then watch it grow. Dip, bend, plant, rise up. That is the motion that informs effortlessness.

Surrender is a beautiful word. It implies totally release to the tensions of our days. It allows us to soar to higher ground by the sheer act of letting go. Surrender also indicates acceptance, no matter what is happening now. Getting into that empowered head space may not come naturally to you, but it is possible.

Start by asking yourself what you are withholding? Is it your love for another? Is it your anger, frustration, fear? We all hold on to things at times, whether it is a grudge, resentment or the fear of imperfection.

Surrender yourselves to all those levels of emotion. When you do, you will find an expanse so rich that you will be liberated to receive the very things you were striving for. Only this time, you need do nothing at all.

The phrase “Go for it” gets lifted from your vocabulary because there is nowhere to go. You need not hasten to the next thing. It will come to you.

Since life, like the planet, moves in circular motion, what you put out there will return ~ perhaps in a new form, but it will be there for you to embrace with all your might.

What is required is trust in its simplest form.

How will you surrender today?

 

You know how I love stats. So here’s another cool poll to show you how green folks’ thinking is today.

SodaHead.com, the web’s largest opinion-based community, polled its users to find out sentiments on topics surrounding the environment, recycling, organic products and hybrid cars.  Overall, 85 percent of respondents said being “eco-friendly” is very important or moderately important.  However, only 14 percent think the planet is improving, as 86 percent feel the planet has gotten worse or stayed the same.

When it comes to recycling, 62 percent feel that it should be mandatory.  In addition, only 7 percent of the public does not recycle, while 38 percent recycle “all the time” and 37 percent recycle “when possible.”  Most respondents (59 percent) stated that they are not more likely to buy a product just because it is packaged in recycled materials.

The public is split when it comes to organic products, as 51 percent feel organic products are better while 49 percent are either not sure or feel organic products are not better.  Younger respondents were willing to pay more for organic products than their older counterparts.  53 percent of those between18-24 years of age would pay more to go organic, while only 27 percent of those over 65 would pay extra.

If price wasn’t an issue, 72 percent of respondents would switch to a hybrid vehicle or an electric powered car (38 percent for hybrid, 34 percent for electric), while only 28 percent would stick with a gas powered vehicle.

And now, all this in pictures.

Books. They are my passion. They make me weep. They dropkick loneliness to another planet. Books have meaning, make meaning, build meaning. Books are the cornerstone for life.

While my editor at St. Martin’s recently astounded herself by actually going to a physical bookstore to buy one made of paper, I have to admit that I love trees just about as much as the books that trees surrender their lives for.

Therein lies the dilemma of this author. I want you to buy books. Lots and lots of books (preferably mine). And I want you to plant a tree in the name of the books you’ve bought to replenish what got lost when you bought those books. The Lorax will thank you. And so will I.

OR: you can go to Better World Books that is committed to libraries and literacy and the well-being of both the read and the reader.

“We only do well by doing good.” ~BetterWorldBooks.com

In name of Earth Month, I hereby provide you with the top ten green reads to fill your soul (and possibly your tearducts). I always know I’m in close proximity to the truth when I cry after reading something that moves me. Give your spirit a jiggle with Better World Books’ top 10 green books:

  1. Natural Capitalism
  2. The Lorax
  3. An Inconvenient Truth
  4. Silent Spring
  5. Moral Ground
  6. The Better World Shopping Guide
  7. Hot, Flat and Crowded 2.0
  8. Farm City
  9. The Responsibility Revolution
  10. The Great Paper Caper

If you’re not familiar with this social enterprise, Better World Books collects and sells books online to donate books and fund literacy initiatives worldwide. With more than 8 million new and used titles in stock, it’s a self-sustaining, triple-bottom-line company that creates social, economic and environmental value.  To date, the company has raised over $10 million for libraries and literacy, and diverted millions of books from landfills.

Books in landfills? That’s book blasphemy!

How many of the above have you already read?

The Zero Waste Solution

April 3, 2012

When I heard about the organization, Catalog Choice, the nation’s leading mail preference service dedicated to eliminating unwanted mail, I was thrilled! More trees to hug, I thought, as I scampered to answer the PR lady’s email.

They just announced the cumulative environmental benefits of its municipal partnership program, which launched one year ago. Hold onto your hats, folks. This one’s good!

Since March 2011, more than 530,000 opt-out requests have been processed through Catalog Choice for Communities, which translates to:

 

·         20,000 trees saved (the amount of trees in New York’s Central Park)

 

·         19,000,000 gallons of water saved (29 Olympic sized swimming pools)

 

·         3,000,000 pounds of solid waste saved (enough to fill 125 garbage trucks)

 

*   8,000,000 pounds of greenhouse gas saved (the amount of emissions produced annually by 364 HUMMERS)

Created by the Berkeley-based non-profit, Catalog Choice for Communities is a zero-waste program for unwanted mail and phone books. Catalog Choice provides each municipal partner with a tailored website hosted on catalogchoice.org, where residents can opt-out of unwanted mail. Summary reports by zip code are shared by Catalog Choice on citizen participation, solid waste diversion, CO2 reductions and other environmental benefits. Communities that work with Catalog Choice stop five times more unsolicited mail at the source than others in the U.S.

“Not only does unwanted mail cause clutter and waste resources, it is costly to collect and dispose of, which we ultimately pay for through local taxes and fees,” said Chuck Teller, executive director, Catalog Choice. “As communities pursue zero waste and landfill diversion, this innovative program is essential. It is a win-win for everyone, including companies that don’t want to send mail to people who don’t want it.”

Americans receive more than 100 billion pieces of unsolicited mail each year, and 62 percent of it is not recycled.

Ouch!

“Communities around the country recognize the magnitude of problems created by unwanted mail and want to make a change. Since we launched the program, 19 communities representing over 100 cities have signed on,” added Teller. “We anticipate doubling that partnership number in 2012 and look forward to rapidly expanding this movement and our impact.”

Current partners are: San Jose, Pasadena, Redlands, Santa Monica, the Costa Mesa Sanitary District, Los Gatos and Berkeley, CA; Boulder County, CO; Cambridge and Brookline, MA; Seattle and King County, WA; Santa Fe, NM; Chicago, Il; Margate City, NJ; Tompkins County (Ithaca) and Village of Stewart Manor, NY; Marion County (Salem), OR; and Southern Maine.

In addition to its community partnerships, Catalog Choice offers consumers a number of options to opt-out of unsolicited mail including their premium MailStop™ solutions. MailStop Mobile is the first smartphone app which allows users to take pictures of unwanted mail and get delisted for free. MailStop Envelopes is the offline complement and allows users to mail in labels. Catalog Choice processes the requests and monitors compliance.

About Catalog Choice

Founded in 2007 to provide consumers greater control over the marketing materials that enter their mailboxes, Catalog Choice is the world’s largest preference and privacy portal. Since its launch, Catalog Choice has connected more than 1.5 million consumers with 4,200 direct marketing companies to process over 20 million suppression requests through free membership services, Catalog Choice for Communities partnerships and MailStop™ solutions—including MailStop Mobile, MailStop Envelopes and MailStop Shield. By reducing unwanted mail and phone books, Catalog Choice’s free and low-cost services reduce deforestation, greenhouse gases, solid waste and water consumption. Catalog Choice, a non-profit organization based in Berkeley, Calif., is supported by grants from the Overbrook Foundation, Kendeda Fund, Merck Family Fund and Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, as well as contributions from members.

Renewable energy production has been on my mind lately. Maybe it’s because our little town is divided on wind power. Some think plunking down a huge windmill at the edge of town is a little spooky.

This infographic points to the pros and cons of alternative energy generation. I was startled to find that wind power eats up habitats too. Those poor bats (see the box to the right of the water buffalo). Now I’m uncertain whether a wind mill is such a good idea…what do you think?

Courtesy of 2GreenEnergy.com

Ecological food production is typically viewed as a local family run-type enterprise, nothing matching the grand scale of a multinational corporation. So it seemed dubious when I received an invitation to a February 2nd event sponsored by the Columbia Business School Alumni Club of New York on slow food and big business. Were they for real?

Apparently, yes. The location of the event is PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP, 300 Madison Avenue, PwC Auditorium, SW Corner of42nd Street.

That got my attention for sure.

Their flyer states: “In an era of destructive agribusiness, a growing number of committed sustainable food leaders are defying the odds. Join us as our panel explores the challenges and future trends in ecological food production and shares their stories from small beginnings to achieving scale.”

Now since I won’t be in New York for the event itself, I am curious as to what they have to say. The mere fact that these food leaders are getting together says a lot about the public dialogue today. They are listening. My hope is that it’s not just lip service to a very severe problem: climate change and dwindling ecological resources because we just have to have that exotic fruit that was shipped from one hemisphere to the next. Sustainability, folks. Now there’s a concept!

The event will be moderated by David Barber, Co-Owner Blue Hill, Board Member, Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture. The panelists themselves include:

  • Gary Hirshberg, Chairman, President and CE-Yo, Stonyfield Farm
  • Josh Viertel, President, Slow Food USA
  • Mark Crumpacker, Chief Marketing Officer, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc.

Don’t you just love Gary’s description. He’s not an acronym. He’s the CE-YO!  If Josh Viertel is there, it feels more credible. Like we really do want to eat according to the seasons, not according to what’s en vogue.

Other Exclusive Extras

  • Experienced executive coaches for valuable ideas and advice, featuring Win Sheffield
  • Gary Hirshberg will sign his book Stirring it Up: How to Make Money and Save the World

You can register here

If you go, will you let me know what it was like? I’m curious.

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