Go ahead…feel the thrill

“Those swings are for kids, not grown-ups.”

“Who says?”

“What will people think if they see a mature woman on them?”

“Do you really think someone is going to arrest me?”

And so the dialogue went between my inner critic and the lure of a childhood thrill when seeing a swing set in a new neighborhood last Sunday afternoon.  Quickly, it reminded me of this photo (appearing in my last post) and my carefree, youthful feelings of riding as high as I could on the swings.

Looking around to see if any neighbors were out — no one was, I walked up the hill toward the swings, paying attention for any signs indicating “adults not allowed.”  The trodden, bare ground under each of the six swings stared up at me.  Oh, yes, I remember now — stomping down the grass, pounding to push-off and ride higher and higher.

I sat down.  Good, the swings can hold me.  (I’m not overweight, but I’m not a slight child either.)  I began to push-off.  Again and again.  Higher and higher.  Soon my hair blew freely behind me, like the woman in the photo, cooling the perspiration off the back of my neck from a hearty walk through this new neighborhood.  Gosh this felt good.  Exhilarating, like when I was a kid.

As previously mentioned (Busy Body Meditations), I do better with movement meditation than attempting to force myself to sit still.  Swinging on those swings was an in-the-moment, mindfulness meditation for me, unleashing pure light-heartedness.

Is there an activity you loved as a child but seems long forgotten?  Have you given yourself permission to feel the thrill once more?  Go ahead, tickle yourself with that sense of delight and see how much lighter you’ll feel.

 

Mother Nature’s Autistic Summer

Summer 2018
Rainy.  Grey.  Humid.  Rainy.  Grey.  Humid.  Flooding.  Scorching heat.  Rainy.  Grey.  Humid.  Flooding.  Scorching heat. Bugs extraordinaire.  Make me run inside for shelter.  AC.  A spurt of sun appears.  Some tomatoes wear tough rain jackets, many others split on the vine while unlucky peppers turn soggy rather than red and basil’s aromatic gifts are non-existent this year.  The grill waited to be fired up but the fire and enthusiasm in me drowned out.

What to make of this autistic summer?  Although many people disagree on the “causes” of autism and of climate change, they both exhibit blatantly foreboding signs:

  • Climate change – an increase in the frequency and strength of extreme events (storms, floods, droughts) that threaten human health and safety.
  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) characteristics –  social-interaction difficulties, communication challenges, and a tendency to engage in repetitive behaviors.

Rainy.  Grey.  Humid.  Rainy.  Grey.  Humid.  Flooding.  Scorching heat.  Rainy.  Grey.  Humid.  Flooding. Scorching heat. Bugs extraordinaire.

Six full days at best I could work in the yard this summer, and grill on two.  Tall grass is as unkempt as the autistic’s personal hygiene.   Weeds are poised to take over.   They know I will not be tugging at them in the rain or with mosquitos biting my neck.  Arms.  Legs.  Scratching for relief.  Scratching.  Scratching.  Where is the relief?  Summer use to be a break from the long, cold, stressful winter but Mother Nature’s fighting, hitting, kicking, biting, throwing objects from her autistic corner.  Does she feel cornered?

Autistics struggle with severe anxiety, sensory dysfunction, and deficits in social  communication.  Half are considered aggressive toward others, and nearly one-third of autistic adults are unable to use spoken language to communicate.

I hear the thunderous banging and wailing.  Her words trail behind the clouds…the rain, and tears of desperation.  I see her utter frustration.

Climate Change – The Diabetes of the Globe

The climate use to be rather predictable.  At least until what we’ve seen recently.  Now, it too has a culture of anything goes.  What is going on?  Like the bad diet, little exercise and unremitting stress that provoke diabetes, haphazard behaviors and practices are radically affecting our globe.

I feel October coolness in August, August heat and humidity in June.  Downpours flooded out July, and April buds bloomed (then froze) in January.  These dizzying peculiarities are akin to the human body expressing more and more serious symptoms to get our attention…our care.  And sagacious change…for survival.

Spiked Numbers

  • Across the USA, fire seasons are two months longer than 50 years ago.  
  • Twice as many acres burn in the States now than 30 years prior.
  • Over 400,000 acres have already burned in California this year.  
  • West Nile virus, virtually unheard of two decades ago, has infected hundreds of thousands of people.
  •  Category 4 storms (winds faster than 155 mph) tripled in the last 40 years.

And to accommodate the more-recent monster storms Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann suggests adding a new Category 6 to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.  Really?  It’s escalated that much?

Like diabetes running rampant across the globe, too many ignore the symptoms until it’s too late.

Diabetes Worldwide
Comparative prevalence of diabetes in people aged 20–79 years by world regions. Data from IDF Diabetes Atlas (27).

“We have to recognize that by some measures, dangerous climate change isn’t some far-off thing we can look to avoid, ” Mann said.  “It has arrived.”

Until last year, for example, the British Virgin Islands (BVI) averaged a hurricane hit once every eight years and only in the most northern island of Anegada (which is Spanish for “drowned island” by the way).  Yet in 2017, a triplet of hurricanes within two weeks pummeled most of the BVI archipelago — first category 5 Hurricane Irma, then category 4 Jose, and finally category 5 Maria.

A year later the BVI is still trying to regroup.  Many landowners can’t afford escalating insurance rates and can’t afford to rebuild.  Supplies are unavailable for months.  Hurricane Maria, by the way, was the deadliest hurricane in Puerto Rico since San Ciriaco in 1899.  Think about that — the deadliest hurricane in 119 yearsHow can these warnings be ignored?

And like diabetes, it’s not just the weather change that affects us.  It’s the complications ravaging intricate bodily systems that lead to amputations…stroke…heart disease…blindness…neuropathy…complete kidney failure.  But, unlike diabetics, there’s no transplant list for Mother Nature to receive clean air, pure water, or more land.

The New England Journal of Medicine recently published a study indicating that many storm-related deaths are from lack of access to medical care weeks and months after the storm.   Have you considered the devastating global effects of climate change?  Once clean air, water and acreage are eradicated, where will displaced populations go?   How much food and water supplies will be lost?  How many will be infected with West Nile or Zika viruses when the mosquito infestation multiplies from increased flooded areas? 

As with diabetes, ignoring the realities is catastrophic.  The only solution is to change our ill ways and practice healthier behavior.  Put safeguards into place.  Now.  Not after our legs have been amputated.  Not after the storm blacks out the power grid and its ability to provide proper medical attention, food refrigeration, or AC for that matter.  Puerto Rico is the neon warning of what’s to come if we remain unprepared…

Admittedly, I’ve been caught up by global warming.  Particularly after enduring a very wet, grey summer and attending Josh Fox’s masterpiece performance of The Truth has Changed.  I didn’t want to believe things are as critical as they are.  But, it’s not fake news folks.  All you have to do is see and feel what is going on outside.  There’s more to think about now than do I need a raincoat or sweater today?

Seeing and Touching Reality

There’s no denying Mother Nature is off balance and the world seems like it’s upside down.  If you want to get a better handle on this and understand the darker sides of climate change, make the effort to see “The Truth has Changed.”   It validates the reality of the global weather changes you are seeing and feeling in the environment.

While I do not agree 100% with all of the views presented, Josh Fox superbly details the trail to climate change as well as why I consciously chose to not be involved with social media or “smart” technology but to think for myself instead.

Josh Fox’s one-man, three-act performance of “The Truth has Changed” will tour across the USA this Fall then be released in filmed version in 2019.  Do whatever you can to see it — live or in film.   His performance is as riveting as the weather changes we are experiencing while literally watching the world go bye

THE TRUTH HAS CHANGED TOUR (TRAILER) from JFOX on Vimeo.

To be Clear
Politically, I consider myself along the lines of Aristotle who “favoured conciliatory politics dominated by the centre rather than the extremes of great wealth and poverty, or the special interests of oligarchs and tyrants.”  Yes, I am of the old-fashioned generation who is receptive to hearing opposing views and negotiating to accomplish a workable solution.  I can understand and even agree with various viewpoints on both sides.

I’d love to hear your thoughts after seeing this incredible production.

We Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet

To retain my sanity and keep stress levels down, I take “news” (aka usually anxiety-producing biased content) in tidbits (not tweets) — morsels that are still so disturbing I cannot linger long.  Excessive hurricanes, fires, flooding; power cuts and flight cancellations due to excessive heat; people rushed to emergency rooms for heat exhaustion and dying from heat stroke — are all happening today.  Right now.  The reality of worldwide weather changes and what I see in my own environment confirm climate change stories first-hand.

A New York Times article reports 2014-2018 as the hottest years on record worldwide.  Think about that.  (And we still have the fourth quarter to go.)  “Seventeen of the 18 warmest years since modern record-keeping began have occurred since 2001.” And these hot temps are projected to continue to rise.  I find that astounding.  And worrisome.

Every day this summer I’ve thanked God for air conditioning.  I wasn’t so fortunate in my youth.  Residing in a 3rd floor walk-up with no AC, an oscillating fan kept me alive when I couldn’t escape the suffocating city heat —  and that was 30 years ago before even hotter temps.

So much is at stake — lives, food, clean water, breathable air, electricity to name a few.  Can the grid endure?  I wonder about a global outage.  We saw Puerto Rico’s plight with no electricity for 11 months…

Brian Petersen, a climate change and planning academic at Northern Arizona University noted in a Guardian article, “It’s only a matter of time until the west is completely insufficiently prepared for climate change.   If we really wanted to be prepared we would be doing a lot of different things that we’re not doing.”

Some cities are offering cooling shelters and promising to slash green house gas emissions but is it too little too late?  Have we poisoned what nature’s generously given and created our own Hell on earth?

Cities planting more trees to help alleviate the heat are like saying, “Oh Mother Nature, you were right.  You knew all along what we needed…yet, taking it for granted we foolishly followed our selfish ways.”

I wonder what your personal experiences have been with climate change, what differences are you noticing in your local environment?

Fish in the Grass

Heavy rains make weeds grow freely

but

also easier to remove.

Rainstorms

flood the pond.

Fish are swimming in the yard.

Not so lucky for them

but the heron is happy for food

and the grass will be fertilized.

tyler-butler-691603-unsplash
Photo by Tyler Butler on Unsplash

This is my gardener’s perspective on a Chinese folk story called “An Old Man Lost His Horse – Sai Weng Shi Ma.”

From Taoism to Shakespeare’s, “Nothing is good or bad.  It’s thinking that makes it so,” the lens widens as the circle of learning continues.

images

Misfortune, that is where happiness depends;

happiness, that is where misfortune underlies.”

 

Have You Seen the Rose Bush?

The whole is some of everything

if we but open our eyes to see.

rose-1426275_1280

Growing pains

do not require suffering.

Pruning

encourages growth.

Endings

are beginnings. 

Instead of shooing away challenges

welcome the fortitude of character

as an expansive, cleansing belly breath.

Out. In. Up. Down.

We are the sum of everything —

life experiences,

thoughts, feelings, paths taken.

The Prickly Fine Print

I often viewed challenges as problems, headaches, when in reality my narrow perspective was the constricting chokehold. My limited vision obstructed a panorama of possibilities in what appeared a seemingly bleak situation.

benjamin-balazs-106653-unsplash-1
Photo by Benjamin Balázs on Unsplash

 

Hearing someone say they were so busy looking at the thorn that they missed the rose, wiped the spattered looking-glass for me.  Working in the garden and studying the Tao pryed open the door to a scopic reality.

 

 

rose-369014_1280

While I now see both the roses and the thorns, I am learning to not judge either as good or bad but as a unified connection, one simply needing the other in life.

 

 

 

Original feature photo by Jess Watters on Unsplash

 

 

Nature Teacher: Change

Look at the movement of the clouds

and understand

life is change.

Don’t waste your time

lamenting

things are not as they were

and will never remain so.

That is not the truth of reality.

Forever cannot be.

Look at the clouds

long stratus

puffy cumulus

and feel their struggle and joy.

Clear skies,

when things are going smoothly, no issues to deal with so to speak,

are also transitory.

Go with the flow,” others say.

The clouds already do.

 

Do you Expect More from Plants or People?

Some people say expectations set us up for disappointment.  But as a gardener I say, “I must have expectations for the fruits of my labor.  Otherwise, why would I plant?”  And more often than not, the final product — of abundant produce and beautiful bloomsfar exceeds my expectations.

Still, sometimes plant wilt.  Sometimes they become diseased.  Sometimes it’s excessive heat or too little rain that hinders the intended outcome.  But, while there is no guarantee, the end result is more true for plants than people.

How do you handle expectations?  Do you allow them to create a vision?  Do you have a blank slate, throw your hands up in the air and accept whatever comes?  Do you reserve expectations only for plant life or allow them to carry over to relationships?

Feeling Awkward Around Young Kids?

Reading a snippet about feeling awkward around kids reaffirmed there is nothing wrong with those who feel uncomfortable around children.   Perhaps you have no experience with kids.  Does your gut groan around pre-adolescents…looking for what to say?  Have you purposely chosen to not father children but instead protectively care for plants, pets, or a project benefiting the planet?

Rather than judge or condemn, I respect those who live authentically.  One size does not fit all.  We are not meant to be experts at everything; some are better at some things than others, and sustaining that diversity honors all life.   I respect individuality but believe all of us need nurturing in whatever form it may be as evidenced by Ralph Waldo Emerson‘s sentiments:

Emerson

My joy is in a serene garden and when helping others.  Over three decades, I have created three-season flowering gardens, beautiful landscaping for the natural environment, and deliciously fresh organic vegetables and herbs.  It’s hard to say who was more nurtured in these activities — the plants or me — but, assuredly, the benefits were far-reaching.


Fathering is “to treat with protective care.”

What are you fathering?