The Beauty of Just Letting Go

This week was emotionally challenging for me because I had to let go of something. Letting go is hard, but I can already feel new space in my life to write, think, exercise, spend time on relationships that build me up, and work towards my goals. Exhale.

So in light of that disruption, here are the things that have been on my mind this week:

  • I’ve been leaning on Tara Brach pretty hard this week. I’ve more than halfway through her second book, True Refuge, and it’s excellent. Going through the book and trying out the meditations and reflections is draining, though. It helps me come back to the present (instead of spinning around in my head) and get in touch with my body and heart, which brings up repressed emotions like fear and sadness. Working through this process is cathartic and I’m glad that I’m putting in the time.
  • The first Presidential debate is tonight, and I don’t plan on watching. I already know who I’m voting for, and I don’t want to spend any more time on this election. In general, I spend some time keeping up with the news and I try my best to stay informed on environmental issues because that matters for my work and writing, but I don’t spend much time learning about stuff that is out of my control, which has been coined a “Low Information Diet.” I’m also uncomfortable with the underlying fear-inducing tactics of mainstream news. Here are two articles by one of my favorite bloggers, Mr. Money Mustache, on what a low information diet is, and focusing on your circle of control.
  • I do my best to avoid chemicals in my household products because they mess with my body and they are not tested for safety in the way that I always assumed (this documentary was eye-opening for me). I’ve struggled to find a deodorant that works, so I bought a new one this week based on this article.  So far so good, but I haven’t sweat very much yet (it’s finally getting cooler – I love fall!). Note: I find that I have no body odor issues when I’m wearing merino wool or 100% cotton versus polyester blends.
  • In Dakota Access pipeline news, the United Nations Council on Human Rights issued this statement on the importance of consulting with tribes on the pipeline and ensuring safe drinking water. I’ve been working on researching this issue a bit more and have been getting more information from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Facebook page. I plan on publishing a more robust article within the week.

if it is to be, it is up to me

I’m loving the storms that have been passing through Western New York this weekend. It’s been great to fall asleep to the sound of rain, hear thunder, and not water my garden with tap water (the plants grow so much faster and bigger on rainwater!). I’ve been helping my sister take care of my parents’ house and pets while they are on a trip out west.  Unfortunately one of the cats, a 13-year-old tabby named Ben, has been rapidly losing weight, so I took him to the vet, and the diagnosis is diabetes. My parents lean towards the “let nature take its course” pet care approach, so I’m doing my best to spend time with him, keep him comfortable, and feel him food that he likes.

Here are the things that have been on my mind this week:

  • I am participating in MIT’s ULab “Leading from the Emerging Future” course for the second year in a row, and the first live session happened this past week. I was able to participate in the live session on the University at Buffalo campus, and meditate at the same time as over 20,000 people from around the world. I’ve never had that “global meditation” experience before (thanks, Internet!), but it was amazing and I felt infused with energy for the rest of the day. Here is the course website, here is the course book, and here is a sister website.
  • Cat nutrition is on my mind for obvious reasons… I learned that cats are supposed to eat wet food, not dry food. All of the cats I’ve known have eaten dry food, so this is a surprise to me. Here is a Quora thread on wet versus dry food. And here is a detailed chart that gives the nutrition information on many cat foods.
  • This weekend I went to my friend’s workshop on making your own herb-infused vinegar for cooking for medicinal purposes. I made mine with stinging nettle, burdock root, and holy basil (infused into apple-cider vinegar). It’s pretty easy to do (I think these instructions are good, although we didn’t warm up the vinegar and I’m sure it will be fine).
  • The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s protest of the Dakota Access pipeline continues, and there is a growing community of activists at Standing Rock in North Dakota. I’ve had trouble finding information about the protests on a consistent basis through normal news channels, so I’ve been looking at Twitter and searching for #DAPL or #NoDAPL to find the most current information. Below is a video of Van Jones speaking at a rally in DC, and his comments about “water is life, oil is death” are spot on (my favorite points begin at 2:40).

“We are a Way for the Cosmos to Know Itself”

It’s starting to feel like fall (or less like summer at least), which I am excited about. This summer was interesting – it was my first full summer back in Western New York since 2009, and it seemed hotter than I ever remember. That’s probably accurate considering global temperatures have been setting records for the past few years.

I thought I would write a little bit about what has been on my mind this week:

  1. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline is fascinating for a number of reasons. It’s exciting that a group is taking a serious stand against a pipeline that has been approved through the business-as-usual, plenty-of-red tape-but-will-probably-stand-up-in-court, administrative law process. It’s frustrating to think that this is one of many pipelines being proposed and approved across the country right now, with little media coverage (see Klamath, Northern Access, and google “gas pipeline” for others). It’s scary that a private company set out attack dogs and pepper sprayed protestors. It’s uplifting to see the federal government listen to the protests and step in, even if it’s temporary. It’s great to hear voices that I haven’t heard before.
  2. Last night I watched Episode 1 of the 2014 Cosmos (hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson) on Netflix. I watched the series episode-by-episode in 2014, but decided it would be a good idea to watch again because I am trial-by-fire tutoring a woman for her high school equivalency exam, and the chemistry questions are really hard for me. I didn’t plan on re-visiting atoms or the Periodic Table of Elements ever again, but here I am. Cosmos is an amazing series. It can be a little dense and challenging to understand at times, but it’s worth pushing through because it does a great job explaining science, and opens up your mind in the process.
  3. A Facebook friend posted a link to this amazing cartoon wombat video. “This is your home. It’s the only one you’ve got. Cherish and protect it.”
  4. I’ve been choosing to interrupt my sleep schedule lately, and I’m noticing that I don’t feel as sharp during the day compared to when I prioritize an uninterrupted 8 hours. Sleep has been really important to me since I learned about the benefits in college. So it’s time to get back on the sleep train and get some mental clarity back.

President Obama Climate Change Speeches

I’ve decided to put a greater effort into finding and re-publishing articles and other online work that resonates with me, especially around environmental issues. I don’t have enough time to write everything on my own (so I end up writing nothing at all), but there is so much great information out there that is falling through the cracks.

So without future ado, today President Obama made two speeches about climate change: one at the Lake Tahoe Summit in Nevada, and the other in Hawaii at the Pacific Islands Conference of Leaders.

Here is the one in Lake Tahoe:

And here is the one in Hawaii:

Both of these speeches are well thought out, pragmatic, and realistic. I’m glad that I discovered them, but it’s a little sad that I didn’t know about them until I randomly decided to google “climate change action” tonight, and it just so happened that Obama gave these two speeches today (thanks to the Guardian for the coverage).

I can’t image flying between Nevada and Hawaii in one day and giving two speeches in each place. I’ll stop complaining about my occasional trip between Buffalo and Portland, where I’m expected to attend two meetings the next day.

Nice work, President Obama. As always, thank you for your rational thinking and hard work.