Friday, 5 March 2021




It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change.
Charles Darwin


Is this the dawning of the Age of Aquarius?
Notice how switching the first two words of that sentence changes it from the hit 70s song to a kind of existential, astrological puzzle — one that I’ve been puzzling over since early January.

Having lived on the planet for 85 years now, I believe I am in a position to riff on this — maybe not with the wisdom of the ages but certainly with the experience of swimming through the 20th century.  I have watched  humanity’s consciousness quotient rise.  And it is my one bright hope.  We are waking up.  On a grand scale. Not a moment too soon.

We have trashed the Earth, yes, but the majority of us gets it now, as we climb on board to clean up our act.  We have treated ‘all our relations’ (animals wild and domestic, insects, plants, soil) with contempt but many more of us are aware of our blundering today.  We have allowed greed and ego driven ambition to corrupt our actions, and the foundations of society, but the emerging success of ESG traded stocks (guided by environment, social, governance principles) and 3P (people/planet/profit) companies show me that even in the dog-eat-dog corporate world, a light is beginning to shine.

Humanity is entering a new age and moving into a new dimension.  Our world is being reborn and that is why it feels so scary and painful.  We are moving through the birth canal into a new earth, ushering in a time of peace, integrity, compassion and leadership.

Turn on your heart-light, Earthlings.  Let it shine. Let it shine. Let it shine!  
Flood it into poverty and negativity, pushing those thought forms to the surface.  It’s all energy.  As the negative, fear-based thought forms bubble up, they make their presence known.  It seems very real and we believe that the darkness is all there is.  Not true!  When something is dying it makes a lot of noise.    

Choose to carry more light.  Our footprint must be lightness and levity, rooted in loving kindness.  There is a divine, evolutionary impulse at the heart of existence that wants to connect with us.  The same impulse that drives the planets and steers the stars.  I call it Love.  It wants us to know that we are one universal mind, and that the intelligence of each heart is connected to every other heart across the globe.  (The HeartMath Institute has many peer reviewed studies to prove this.)

We each have our own story about the Covid 19 virus.  I believe it to be part of the medicine that was needed to shake the world out of its stupor.  How else would we have ‘gone to our rooms’  to think about our bad behaviour?  We had to be sent.  We have had a year to think about it now and my hope, along with millions of others, is that this was time well spent.  That we have some new and better ideas on saving ourselves from the 6th Great Extinction.   I think we do.  

There is a wave of love illuminating and flooding the planet right now.  We must let go of fear and open to it,  reciprocating with thought waves of gratitude and forgiveness.  The thoughts we send into the field matter.  (Stop and ask yourself, ‘What am I feeding the field?’) If we did nothing more than meditate on peace and forgiveness each day, we could raise the level of global consciousness at the speed of light.   It doesn’t have to be complicated.  

Or as Mother Teresa famously said when asked how to achieve world peace:
Go home and love your family.”

Are we there yet?  Is this it — ‘When peace shall guide the planets, and love will steer the stars’?   

My personal opinion is that the ball is in our court.  We get to choose.  Will we receive the gifts of love and forgiveness with gratitude and understanding,  sending them back out into the field?  If yes, then we are, I believe, on the path to ascension. 

I have a banner hanging at the front door of my Cortes cottage.  It reads:
 
 If there is light in the soul, there is beauty in the person.
  If there is beauty in the person, there will be harmony in the house.
  If there is harmony in the house, there will be order in the nation.
  If there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world.

Start small — lightness and levity.  Hand on your heart.  Breathe. 



Wednesday, 16 December 2020

“The bare trees wave their branches,  just to let the winter know 
that they haven’t got a thing to wear, and they need a dress of snow.”

                                                                                    —- Clara Senior Burke

These are the last couple of lines from CS Burke’s ‘November’ , which over the years I sang joyfully with countless children.

She knew kids and had an intimate relationship with nature as well. Those branches do look lovelier with a ‘dress of snow’.

The intelligence of trees is striking.  In autumn they purge, heaving off their lovely foliage, letting it sift to the earth where it piles into forage to sustain the tree through the long, icy winter.  This is the dream time, when the tree restores her energy, and revitalizes her parts.  

And the older I grow, the more I find in common with trees.  Their quiet, deep wisdom envelopes me as I walk among them.   I learn patience,  gratitude, reciprocity, and humility. It is this season that they show me how to be in the dreamtime.  When Being trumps doing.

The ‘human  being’ implies two entities: the ‘human’ part is the doer. whereas the ‘being’ part is spirit.   We bring both into this world and no matter how often it is explained to us, we eternally forget that we are in truth, spiritual beings robed with a human body.

It is this time of the year, as solstice grows near, when Nature offers us the gift of ‘being’.   She, the wisdom keeper, shows us how to move inward to dream, meditate, and revitalize.   

I hear the naysaying:  Impossible! Too much!  Too busy!

What if we took a holiday from the holidays?  It’s the perfect year for it.  We are being invited to downsize Christmas.  What an opportunity!  No muss, no fuss, no excuse.  

Walk in the woods.  Make a nourishing winter soup.  Hot apple cider.  Sing.  Read.   Read aloud.  Send messages of love and kindness.  Build a snowman.   Try a snow angel!  Get out the toboggan. 

Tune in to the frequency of Gaia. How are we the same?  Let’s count the ways:
We are made of the same stuff.  We share the same atmosphere.  What heals her heals us.  What poisons her poisons us.  When we need uplifting, we simply venture out and embrace her.  Physicians are now writing Rx for immersing our self in parkland forests.   We have named these ways — Earthing, (walking barefoot on the Earth)  Forest Bathing (moving among the trees and being in the same mind space). 

I believe we instinctively know how to be healthy and it is not with a prescription for pharmaceuticals.  We need to get close and personal with the Earth.  Slow down. Spend time among the trees, eat a plant rich diet, learn to truly love this Earth as a conscious being, showing her your gratitude for her beauty and abundance.  Wake up everyday saying thank you for the morning.  

Think about it.  If all of us followed this Rx I am certain Covid would be on the way out.  Gaia is patiently showing us that the way we have been living on her and treating her is no longer acceptable.  I think we instinctively know this.  

So say good morning to those chirping tree sparrows and chickadees.  Brush the snow lovingly off the limbs of pines.  Don’t be afraid to hug a beautiful tree trunk.  Be cool with the one-leggeds. Learn from them. Ancient forests were thought of as sacred places, and indeed they remain such. Our job is to wake up to this.  Awareness is where it starts.  


“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.

― John Muir


Friday, 30 October 2020

“Food, glorious food”, sang the orphan boys of the Oliver workhouse. We certainly can’t live without it, and more and more we are struggling to live with it. 

Here is a quote from NY Times bestseller DRAWDOWN: “For more than a third of the world’s labour force the production of food is their livelihood and all are sustained by it. Yet a third of the food raised or prepared does not make it from farm or factory to fork. That number is startling particularly when paired with this one: Hunger is a condition of life for 800 million people. And this one: The food we waste contributes 4.4 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent into the atmosphere each year – roughly 8 percent of total anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Ranked with countries, food would be the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases globally.” 

And Canada is one of the biggest food wasters with close to 60% of food produced every year lost or wasted. 

It makes me crazy that we cannot get a handle on this. 

The writer goes on to say: “Given the complexity of the supply chain the food travels, waste reduction depends on the engagement of diverse actors: food businesses, environmental groups, anti-hunger organizations, and policy makers.” 

Yes! It’s a global issue but as in most cases, we solve it at the local level. Enter ‘environmental group’, EcoCaledon! 

This month a small but mighty sub committee of EcoCaledon, calling themselves Gratitude for Food (GFF), has taken on the challenge of trying to change household habits. 

Looking at the statistics this is a daunting dare. The average Canadian household wastes 140 kg of food per year costing more than $1100. (2.2 million tones countrywide, in excess of $17 billion.) And as GFF co-chair Carolyn Vallejo reminds us, we are also wasting all the resources that go into producing that food. 

She continues, “Reducing food waste can have a hugely positive influence on slowing and eventually reversing global warming. Our aim is to make Caledon residents aware of the issue of food waste and teach them simple, easy ways to reduce it, starting right at home.” 

And the name of the game is JUST EAT IT! Food Waste Challenge. 

Here’s how it works: Registered participants get a free kit with a reusable grocery tote, tip sheet, and guidelines to refer to while completing the challenge. Over the five weeks they will conduct an audit of their own household food waste, share their experience with others, and get valuable tools to reduce the waste, like menu planning, food storage, creative recipes, food preservation techniques and more. 

There are valuable prizes to be won throughout the challenge and a special raffle at the end for those who see it through and do another post-challenge audit. 

Get registered as soon as possible because there is a limit on participants. Deadline to sign on is Dec. 4. 

The JUST EAT IT! Food Waste Challenge launches on January 18th, 2021 and runs for 5 weeks. 

Ready to take a bite out of food waste? Email info@ecocaledon.org or click on the above link to find out more about the fun ahead, all of you warriors trying to do your part in the challenge of Climate Change. 

When we were kicking around all the possibilities of the 100 Solutions to Climate Change in the DrawDown project, we tried to land on something that was possible in and applicable to our Caledon community. The food waste issue seemed to be the most doable for us in this ‘Greenest Town’. Let’s prove EcoCaledon /Gratitude for Food right, and show up – for the next generations. 

To contact GFF re the challenge: Carolyn – 647-627-1030 or Lu –416-505-1454 And remember the caveat: Think globally; act locally! Here is our chance to put it to work.

Thursday, 30 July 2020

 

The only difference between an extraordinary life and an ordinary one is the extraordinary pleasures you find in ordinary things.
                                                                                                                       Veronica Vienn
                                                                                                           French designer, author, and artist



Almost August.

At this juncture I would traditionally gaze at the calendar with mixed emotions – “Smack dab in the middle of summer – woohoo!” would compete with, “Yikes, summer is half over!”

Not this year.

And why is that?

We could just blame it on Covid, (It has become everyone’s favourite whipping boy.) but I don’t think it’s that simple.

I have been traveling a lot this spring and summer and just returned to Caledon.   Today I casually struck out on my favourite Caledon trail but wasn’t ready for the magic.   Every blossom and berry was in bloom.   Banks of wild phlox, fields of butterfly weed and Queen Anne’s lace backed up by sumacs full with luscious berries.

I swear if anyone is feeling a scarcity of any kind, go take a walk on the wild side and witness nature’s abundance right now. It is an antidote for lack, worry, exhaustion, and probably much more, because if we are immersed in beauty and abundance we cannot participate in any of the former states.

There is a caveat, however. You absolutely must be in the present moment. Without wavering. Once we allow the mind to take over, we slide back into ‘lack, worry, exhaustion etc.’

It is a practice that we can do anywhere at anytime, and this practice of mindfulness or presence can be our best friend. Without any drugs or artificial stimulus we can jump from blues to bliss, from worry to wonder. I had only intended to walk one section of the trail and before I knew it I had covered three. It was a gift of grace. But isn’t that what bliss it? A relief from all that would keep us from being anything other than the light?

We love it because that is what we are meant to be. It is our true nature. Gloominess is what holds us down. If we want to fly like the angels we must find our bliss, whether it’s in a field of wild flowers or a path to living a more authentic life.

It’s hard to talk about bliss without mentioning mythologist, Joseph Campbell, who gave us The Hero’s Journey and introduced the idea of ‘following your bliss’.

If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that had been there the whole while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living,” he writes.

I find that my bliss usually involves being immersed in nature – total immersion! Or perhaps when I am creating something, anything from a birthday card to an arrangement of flowers, a painting or poem.

Where do you find your bliss? If you don’t know, then it’s time to investigate. This is not something you want to discover on your deathbed. I am with Joe Campbell all the way. We are here on this planet to discover our bliss and to be in that state as much as possible.

So Covid or no Covid, keep your eyes on the prize, dear ones, and use the former like everything else that Life hands us -- an opportunity to Be Present.   Everyday.  Start small.  Five minutes ‘being in the moment’. Watch the birds.  Appreciate your garden.  Appreciate a beautiful sonata or sunrise.   Be blissful.  And watch how things change.



“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.”
                                                                                                                         -- Joseph Campbell

Monday, 20 April 2020

 
And the people stayed home.  And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still.  And listened more deeply.  Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.

We have been living in ‘lockdown’ for a month. How are you now?   Are you settling into a rhythm?  Are you getting ‘squirrelly’ (to quote our premiere)?  Can’t wait for this to end?   Or loving the lull in your life? 

I have heard them all.

Where I find solace is in the knowledge that this planetary ‘intervention’ in life as we knew it, has allowed our precious planet to begin to heal.  Before this nothing could shut down the engine of our economic system.  No matter how hard we tried, or cared, or cried, the daily grind just kept on grinding.  Many of us felt helpless as we watched Earth systems weaken and crash. 

But now, (I almost need a drum roll here) this week, on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, we have offered our Earth mother a priceless gift – an intervention!  The skies over Los Angeles and Wuhan, China (pop. 11 million) are clearing to blue again.  Bird songs once more fill the air, and are heard!  Dolphins and fish are returning to the canals of Venice.  A marine ecologist at Cornell reports that “just pulling those cruise ships out of the water is going to reduce the amount of global ocean noise almost instantaneously”.  Whales and marine life of all species will finally get a break.

After half a century of relentlessly increasing pressure, our collective footprint on Earth has lifted.

And the people healed.  And in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.

And now, my friends, we have a choice. When the doors open and the nations’ populations flock back to work, we can return to that mindlessness. 

Or can we? 

Is it possible to slide back down into dystopia?  Now that we are aware of our impact and of what is possible, can we really ignore it?  Let’s hope that’s a NO.

I am encouraged to hear friends and family vow that when life as we know it resumes, they will do it differently.  Many have learned that working from home is not only doable, but more functional and time saving.  In other words, more sustainable.  I just heard from someone who runs an employee benefits consulting firm.

“We need to get past having a sense of obligation that our clients need to see us in person and on site,” he told me.  He plans to confirm with clients that they are okay with virtual meetings where there is a savings in time and resources. In fact he feels proud to suggest to them that his firm cares about the environmental impact this will have. 
 
Families have discovered new ways of connecting and creating with each other.  My own family – members of which live coast to coast – have a weekly date on Zoom. Every Saturday night we gather round our computers and play a two-hour board game.  Hilarious! We kept saying we should do this but it took Covid19 to make it happen! Now it’s the highlight of my week.

And here is another gift that has emerged from our enforced ‘sequestering’.  Parents take note: 
Two members of our ecoCaledon team who take environmental science into the classrooms of Peel schools have designed a new home program:
TAKE 5 FOR THE EARTH - to start on Earth Day and then happen once a week for five weeks. 

Amy Darell and Lu Chiappetta will be posting a new workbook of information, activities and actions on a particular topic. It will be on the google platform and families that register through Eventbrite will get access to Google Classroom. 
The topics:
1. Climate Change and your Carbon Footprint
2. Electricity
3. Food and Agriculture
4. Transportation
5. Health and Education

Here is the link: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/take-5-for-the-earth-tickets-102456594432?aff=ecoCaledon 


And here is our mission, that we like to think of as ‘our gift to Earth’ but really it is our gift to ourselves.  The planet, now in its sixth extinction, is barely hanging on. If we go back to business as usual, extracting resources and trashing the environment, our species will be one of the first to fall.  Earth will eventually recover.

Our mission is to remember. Remember what we did.  Remember how levels and all stripes of government came together to work for the people.  Remember how all levels of society were cared for, quickly and efficiently.  Remember the bird song and the clear skies.  And remember how we flocked to the parks and trails to find solace.  Remember how our planet began to heal.

And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.

[The italicized lines are from a poem by Kitty O’Meara, a Wisconsin retired teacher and chaplain.  I have named it The Turning, after Joanna Macy’s movement, The Great Turning, which she identifies as the third major revolution of human existence after the agricultural and industrial revolutions.]










Monday, 16 March 2020




   
                                               Worse than death is a life filled with fear.

So here’s the thing. I was actually out of toilet tissue.

I had over-nighted in the city with friends and as I was leaving for home they kindly tucked 2 rolls into my bag. We laughed. In my imagination I saw myself returning the rolls after grabbing a package in my local supermarket on the way home.

I drove up to Bolton. Stopped at Zehrs. Walked over to the tissue aisle. Got the shock of my life. It was empty! Stripped bare. That was when the reality struck. People really ARE drowning in fear. In a chat with the young cashier I learned that those aisles were full that morning but also that people had been lined up to get into the store. We had the same question: Why toilet paper?

As I used to tell my children, “It’s not always just about you.”

But fear does wild things to us. Hoarding is an ugly word. It implies: As long as I am okay, the rest of the world can go to hell. Or, to be kinder: I am looking after me and mine, and you had better do the same.

Either way, it is based on fear, and fear is a terrible motivator. It makes us shrink from who we really are, turning us into a simpering shadow of our true self.

So let’s look at FEAR. False Evidence Appearing Real. It is the oldest and strongest emotion of humankind, and the worst fear is that of the unknown. That may just be the driver of all this panic and hoarding. For most of us, the pandemic and its unfolding is a step into the unknown. The fact that it has traveled to every continent but Antarctica in a couple of months is a little unnerving, I grant you.

I am not for one minute suggesting that we do not take it seriously. Rather I am suggesting that the fear response is not optimal. In the grip of fear we do irrational things – like bring in a year’s supply of toilet tissue. Fear is a parallel virus accompanied by it’s brother ‘dread’.

What I am suggesting is that we replace our fear response with sanity. That in our mind and body, we go into a calm, clear, centred place of well being, where we inhale peace. This may take some practice if you are new at it, but with the new scheduling replacing our once manic lifestyle with a “remote”, at-home workplace model, there will be time for slipping in a little sitting still and breathing. Make use of this profound opportunity.

Begin with – This too shall pass.   Three deep, cleansing breaths.
My whole being is healthy and filled with the energy of Love.   More deep breaths.

You get the idea. I use a candle to centre my attention and intention.

Using loving kindness meditation like this will change your life if you stick to it. Think about replacing the constant media bulletins that instill more fear, with these breaks that replace that fear with peace.

My other push would be to go outside and spend time there, preferably around lots of trees. That is one of the healthiest pastimes I could promote.

I cannot help but wonder if this virus is here to show us a new way to live -- to rebuild our damaged immune systems -- to adopt a healthier lifestyle. To “make regular visits to our self’ and spend time connecting with the divine, with nature.

It is definitely a wake-up call. Will we wake up? It would be a shame if we slept through it.

My last tip is about hand washing. Rather than timing it by singing Happy Birthday a couple of times, try this mantra:

May all beings be safe.
May all beings be content.
May all beings be healthy.
May all beings live with ease.


20 seconds if you say it twice.


                                  FEAR IS THE CHEAPEST ROOM IN THE HOUSE.
                       I WOULD LIKE TO SEE YOU LIVING IN BETTER CONDITIONS.
 

                                                                                                                        Rumi

Tuesday, 17 December 2019

 


It is just a week to Christmas Eve. And a week later will be New Year’s Eve. And the voice in my ear is telling me to live in the moment, but I can tell that it’s smiling.

It is the end of the month – the year – the decade.

I have a sense that more of us are treating holiday giving with a deeper sense of conscience. That more of us are speaking about living with intention. Maybe it’s because I listen to CBC radio most of the time rather than Fox News, but I do believe that humanity is evolving.

When a paradigm is shifting, there is a breakdown before there is a breakthrough. And when something is dying it makes a lot of noise.

Think of the atrocities that, less than a century ago, were not only tolerated but cheered on. Atrocities that stemmed from hatred and fear and ignorance. It makes us cringe today to even think about them and we wonder – how could humanity have been this cruel?

And yes there are still pockets of residue left from these times and places. But it is being pushed to the surface to be cleared and we are asked to work to clear it. This is part of what Barbara Marx Hubbard calls ‘the evolutionary impulse’. Negativity is pushed up and out into the open for cleansing and detoxing.

And at the same time a hungering for depth, purpose and meaning is awakening in us – the shift of the ages. It’s our cosmic journey. And we are not here by accident.

Any change that happens in one place creates a field that allows the same kind of change to happen elsewhere. Acts of kindness strengthen the field of kindness; acts of love strengthen the field of love; and acts of hate strengthen the field of hate.

Tasks that life sets before us are part of a larger tapestry woven by an intelligence that puts us in exactly the right place at the right time. They anchor the field of love that helps the rest of us serve our purpose rather than our personal ambition.

What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal. And I believe that the world is moving from the last century’s ‘me-ness’ to ‘we-ness’, and even to the sacred principal of ‘enoughness’.

This principal can be beautifully interpreted: There is enough; I am enough; I have enough, etc. Feel the peace that flows from those words and then realize how true and good they are.

At this time of year especially, enoughness rings loud and clearly.

I wish you, my dear friends, a time of true gladness over the next fortnight. May it bring you exactly what comforts you and expands your horizons, whether you celebrate the coming of the Son or the return of the sun, or simply a time of rest and relaxation.

My wish for the roaring 20s is that each of us shares our love for ‘the other’, for humanity as a whole. And that we explore and expand our reverence for the Earth. Our only home. Our cosmic mother.

We are spiritual astronauts creating our own atmosphere – one of peace, love, and harmony rather than the hypnotic spell of fear.

Fly well.