Wednesday, June 16, 2010

We have the power!


Let's love our planet more...   In light of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and what is likely to be the largest man-made disaster, it is understandable that many people feel overwhelmed about how to change how we live on this planet. This wake up call, is really a turning point I feel... an opportunity for each of us to become more aware, and to make more earth-honouring choices ahead. Like every really big challenge, I find it's helpful to focus on a day to day practice, and retain a sense of hope and wonder about life on this beautiful planet! : )

Perhaps most simply, every day think about the consequences of the choices you make - what you eat, what you buy, how you live, how you go about your day. Start to reflect on how your choices may affect nature, other people, and animals on this planet. Little by little, as we begin to tune into this, we foster a greater awareness of our interconnectedness, and how our choices impact the planet.

This is not an easy shift, since it is the shattering of an illusion... the successful North American/western life was really based on oil-dependency and a model of excessive consumption, limitless growth, and an appropriation of nature. Everything was 'used' to serve our growth and security. And in spite of 'having it all', many people seem drained, unhappy, and disconnected from each other.  So, this shift will be humbling in a good way... one that takes us on a personal and spiritual journey to simpler roots, more connected to the circle of life. I feel very inspired that by choosing to live more harmoniously on the planet, we will become healthier, happier, and more connected. 

Just to share my personal story, here are some of the choices I've made to live more gently on this planet over these last few years. Of course, we each have the freedom to make choices that best suit our lives and circumstances... this is simply food for thought : )
  • Transportation: I sold my car about 3 years ago, and now walk/blade/run/ride or take public transit. I've also joined an Autoshare group for the rare times I use a car. If I do own a vehicle in the future, I feel I'll be more judicious in it's use (eg., to visit family on weekends)... I've grown to enjoy moving more on my own power : )
  • Heating/Cooling: Surprisingly, as I've become more of a year-round 'outdoor animal', I find I use less heating/cooling year round. As it stands, I haven't used air conditioning in over three years : )  I find I'm now more naturally tuned to the rhythms of nature and the seasons.
  • Shopping locally: Being outdoors, walking in community, I find I connect more with people (and have some great conversations : ), and support the local store owners and growers.  I also like to support the local farmer's markets when they're 'in season'.
  • No TV: I gave up TV a few years ago. Although there are amazing things on television, for me I found I could surf on my laptop or read : ), and reduce my distractions/energy use overall.  I find I feel better and also sleep better now.
  • Food: I eat primarily fruit/veggies and food as close to source as possible. I buy organic whenever possible. As a former vegetarian, I do eat some meat now, although only about once a week. I rarely dine out, which saves both money and energy. And I like to use a stainless steel bottle whenever possible, for water or tea on the go.  I compost all organic waste, and try to buy food with as little packaging as possible, and recycle the packaging I do have.
  • Home: A minimalist by nature, I've further simplified and decluttered my home environment, to reflect my priorities for space, light, movement/creativity. I find this 'clarity' of living, reduces my unconscious buying/acquiring of stuff, and reduces any maintenance time.  In terms of cleaning, I like to use natural cleaning agents (like vinegar).  I've gone to an essentially paperless system in my home office.  I use compact fluorescent bulbs to save energy.  And, I let my hair dry naturally : )  Overall, I've found keeping things simple in the home, gives me more time to play : )
Below are some basic tips for living more gently on this planet... many of these environmental tips you've heard before, gleaned from various sources. Why not start today, friends, and make a 30 day commitment for a couple small changes?  Through each of our daily choices we can make a big difference, step by small step...

FOOD: Understanding the resources that go into producing our food as well as what it takes to store and transport it, can make us more aware of the link between food and climate.
  • Eat meat-free meals a few days a week (at least one : ). There are so many healthy veggie and meatless alternatives these days.
  • Eat locally grown food whenever possible. Read labels to find out where your food is coming from, talk to the produce manager where you shop. Grow some of your own food. And support a community garden/farmer's market. The average meal in the United States travels 1,200 miles from the farm to your plate. Buying locally will save fuel and keep money in your community.
  • Eat less and eat 'real', as close to source as possible : ) This will be healthier and less costly (as we eliminate excess and junk, snack foods) and support a more balanced body and planet.
  • Take care of your trash. Compost all organic waste — and recycle paper, cardboard, cans and bottles — will help reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with landfills. Avoid heavily packaged products.  Also reduce your purchases. This will save you money and reduce 'stuff clutter' and decrease the amount of garbage and recyclables being generated.
  • Buy fresh foods instead of frozen. Frozen food uses 10 times more energy to produce.
  • Buy organic foods as much as possible. Organic soils capture and store carbon dioxide at much higher levels than soils from conventional farms. And the nutrient and taste advantage of organic food lends itself to a better quality and healthier eating experience.
REDUCE YOUR IMPACT ON THE MOVE:
  • Walking and cycling (and other self-powered alternatives) are the healthiest, greenest options for commuting.
  • Use public transportation - buy bulk passes to save money.
  • Start a carpool with your coworkers, neighbours. eRideShare.com provides a free national service connecting commuters and travelers. 
  • Try car sharing. Community car sharing organizations provide access to a car and your membership fee covers gas, maintenance and insurance. Examples are www.Autoshare.com & ZipCar.
  • Keep your car tuned up. Regular maintenance helps improve fuel efficiency and reduces emissions. Apparently when just 1% of car owners properly maintain their cars, nearly a billion pounds of carbon dioxide are kept out of the atmosphere. Check your tires weekly to make sure they're properly inflated. Proper inflation can improve gas mileage and every gallon of gasoline saved keeps carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere!
  • Choose hybrid rentals and taxis where possible.
  • Telecommute from home, if possible. Telecommuting helps drastically reduce the number of miles you drive every week.
  • Fly less. Consider options:  Video-conferences for meetings. Companies now use video-conferencing to reduce business air travel. Employees also avoid the stress of travelling and time away from home and family.  Vacation closer to home. You'll save money and avoid the stress of airport security. Consider taking a holiday in your hometown or region and find out what it has to offer.  Use trains and buses, which are much more energy efficient than airplanes. Even cars can be more efficient than planes, especially with more than one passenger.  Use webcams/Skype to keep in touch with family and friends who live far away.
REDUCE YOUR IMPACT IN THE HOME and OFFICE:
  • Plant a tree - A single tree will absorb one ton of carbon dioxide over its lifetime. Shade provided by trees can also reduce your air conditioning bill by 10 to 15%.
  • Eliminate all use of pesticides. Choose natural ground cover suitable for your climate, soil conditions. Let nature run its course : )
  • Change your lightbulbs - Replace a regular incandescent light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb (cfl). CFLs use 60% less energy than a regular bulb.
  • Move your thermostat down 2 degrees in winter and up 2 degrees in summer.  Almost half of the energy we use in our homes goes to heating and cooling. You save money and conserve energy, reduce greenhouse gases with this simple adjustment.
  • Install a programmable thermostat. Programmable thermostats will automatically lower the heat or air conditioning at night and raise them again in the morning. They conserve money and energy.
  • Go smaller : ) Small is beautiful... in an era where everything from cars to homes to meal portions have gotten bigger, consider downsizing your home and making life simpler and healthier for the planet. Also consider community living arrangements.
  • Clean or replace filters on your furnace and air conditioner regularly. Cleaning a dirty air filter can keep carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.
  • Ban bottled water - use a stainless steel or glass commuter cup.
  • Turn it off, If you're not using it — lights, computer monitors, television, DVD player, stereo, and computer when you're not using them will save thousands of pounds of carbon dioxide a year per household.
  • Unplug electronics from the wall when you're not using them. Even when turned off, things like hairdryers, toaster ovens, cell phone chargers and televisions use energy. In fact, the energy used to keep display clocks lit and memory chips working accounts for 5 percent of total domestic energy consumption!
  • Only run your dishwasher when it is full and use the energy-saving setting.
  • Choose energy efficient appliances when making new purchases. Look for the Energy Star label on new appliances to choose the most efficient models.
  • Wrap your water heater in an insulation blanket.  You can save $ and energy.
  • Use less hot water every day.  It takes a lot of energy to heat water. You can use less hot water by installing a low flow showerhead and washing your clothes in cold or warm water instead of hot.
  • Use a clothesline instead of a dryer whenever possible.
  • Insulate and weatherize your home. Properly insulating your walls, windows, ceilings can save 25% of your home heating bill.
  • Buy recycled paper products.  It takes 70 to 90% less energy to make recycled paper and it minimizes the loss of forests worldwide.
  • Get a home energy audit.  Many utilities offer free home energy audits to find where your home is poorly insulated or energy inefficient. You can save up to 30% off your energy bill and conserve the environment (reducing carbon dioxide contributed to the atmosphere)!
  • Go paperless wherever possible.  Go electronic instead of using hard copies: phone or email, use overheads and power point presentations, get e-subscriptions, and use web resources.
  • If you must print, set 'double sided' as the default setting on your printer(s), and recycle.
  • Get rid of toxic cleaners and personal products in your home & office. Make your own cleaning products, naturally.
  • Add air-filtering plants to your home or office space.
  • Share your home power tools, equipment, lawnmower with your neighbours, friends. Having one of everything is unnecessary & expensive... sharing can be more sociable and fun : )
  • Explore community living housing developments that provide a healthier, more sustainable living model on this planet. They're springing up in more and more places... Speak up for them in your community.
  • Switch to green power.  In many areas, you can switch to energy generated by clean, renewable sources such as wind and solar.  In some parts of Canada, consider: www.bullfrogpower.com/   Also, consider retrofitting your home or cottage with alternative energy sources (eg., solar, wind), or designing 'off-grid' from scratch. There are many architects, service providers who can assist you in this.
And last but not least, call for leadership. Speak out against oil and gas exploration. Speak out for creative alternatives that support living more harmoniously on this planet (like community living developments, solar power initiatives, bike lanes, alternative vehicles, legislating 'green' building practices).  Social media communities like Facebook are helping to mobilize large numbers of people, and spread a message globally, influencing companies and politicians.

Remember, all great change on this planet started with a simple, grassroots movement... Keep the faith : )  We can make a difference!


To learn more, join a group like:
www.davidsuzuki.org
www.rootsandshoots.org
www.climatecrisis.net/
(among many others in your community).

Please join me friends... we absolutely have the power! : )
xox
Irena



Friday, April 9, 2010

Rising...

I know what it feels like to feel afraid, lost, hungry, alone,
and to feel perhaps the challenges are too great.
I know what it feels like to feel disillusioned with life where there
is so much suffering, and wonder how do I matter?

I know what it feels like to be saved, by the grace and love
of a good friend.
I know what it feels like to save myself, to make choices where
I feel good.
I know what it feels like to revel in the majesty of nature.
I know what it feels like to feel connected to the whole,
to the sacredness of earth and spirit.
I know what it feels like to dance, to move, to create,
and to come home to myself, over and over again.
I know what it feels like to take responsibility for my challenges,
and to trust and grow stronger and wiser.
I know what it feels like to shine, and love myself, and be
independent of  the good opnion of others.
I know what it feels like to feel grateful for my life and my gifts,
and be inspired to serve.
I know what it feels like to find grace and love within.
I know what it feels like to laugh, and be inspired with a friend.
I know what it feels like to be deeply loved and cared for.
I know what it feels like to love and help another and feel blessed.
I know what it feels like to trust my own voice, wisdom and truth.
I know what it feels like to move with integrity and self-respect.
I know what it feels like to rise and meet the grace and possibility
of each day.
I know what it feels like to feel the support and love of angels
I know what it feels like to know my value and be inspired to live
a beautiful life.
I know what it feels like to feel good.

Know that no matter how alone, lost, or afraid you may feel...
you will find grace and healing through rising... one small step at a time.
Peace, friends.

Irena

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Honouring the Feminine

"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way! On a quiet day, if you listen carefully, you can hear her breathing." ~Arundhati Roy

"Today, the reason we haven't found our grail, the key to who we are as women, is because we look for it in worlds of false power, the very worlds that took it away from us in the first place. Neither men nor work can restore our lost scepter. Nothing in this world can take us home. Only the radar in our hearts can do that, and when it does,... 'We will light up like lamps, and the world will never be the same again.' " ~Marianne Williamson


The sacred feminine I feel, embodies the qualities of wisdom, beauty, and compassion.  Within each of us, she also embodies softness, trusting, allowing, and connecting with our intuition, feelings, heart.  She is the creative power that destroys old forms and brings new ones into being. Whether we are women or men, I feel the honouring and balancing of this feminine within us, and on this lovely planet, is what is being called for at this time.  In my own life, learning to honour my feminine has been a healing and sacred journey over these past 10 years that continues today...

It began with a wake up call in 1998, that I was seriously ill with a tumour in my second chakra area. The centre of creativity and female reproduction... oh, how the body never lies! This news, and the awareness that this tumour was literally bleeding the life force out of me, was shattering.  Thankfully so.  In spite of feeling afraid and weak, in that moment I also felt great relief... as in, I wasn't imagining things, and that I was struggling.  Soon after this, I had a lightning bolt of fierce clarity - that denying my feminine was literally killing me.  I knew this with a calm certainty, that resonates from that place of deep cellular knowing.  I also knew that I needed to reclaim my feminine in order to live and beyond that, to be truly happy in this life. To create the life that I'd always imagined as a little girl.

Up to that point, as an adult, I'd denied her, denied her truth. In fact I had the thinking that what I liked and where I felt good, didn't really matter... that life essentially was about "working hard' and "being good"... obviously reflective of the work ethic of a struggling, newly immigrant family. But my illness, was an opening for me, and an opportunity to see that life really was about 'more', IF we chose it... it provided an opening to learn that life is indeed about feeling good and doing what brings us joy, in the highest, most empowered sense.

Up to that point, I'd lived a typically "masculine" career... I became a professional engineer, with a graduate degree. I'd sloggd it through engineering 'skule' with "the boys" (with honours) and had worked for about 7 years in the field at that point. I remember my first job after graduation and distinctly telling myself to suck it up, even though I felt a profound sadness at the context I found myself in... the context felt like a blow to my artistic and sensitive nature.  The engineering profession I must add, is a very noble profession, with high standards of integrity and ingenuity that I've rarely seen matched elsewhere.  However without a doubt, this choice for me, represented a denial of my feminine soul, and skewed my path towards the masculine, in a choice to be 'secure' in a professional career.  The little girl inside me, although strong, commanding, bold, had also always been someone who loved to move, to express with colour, paint, draw, to arrange and design her rooms, and sketch fashions endlessly.

I knew my new self-awareness in '98 was going to be a BIG upheaval of the life I'd created up to that point... typical of all paths to increased self-awareness and balance : ).  Luckily I chose blind faith and courage in that moment, knowing full well that my life was literally hanging in the balance.  I remember even telling a good friend at the time,  that seeing my ascending career path laid out before me, felt like I was living my life as a masculine expression.  I knew I was missing the softness, artistry and joy I felt expressing my feminine. And my body was sending me a very loud, clear message. Luckily I heeded the call. 

So I began to extricate myself from the life I'd created, moving at times with the trusting, intuitive openess of a child, and at other times with great doubt and fear.  Not a straight line path, but a back and forth, zig-zagging one... smile.  Each time I doubted and made resultant fear-based choices, I experienced energetically expensive 'lessons'.  What I learned through this is that once we change or become aware of a truth, we can no longer go back, the river has moved on.... there is no fitting back into the box. Thankfully : ) no matter how hard we might try.


So this journey over ten years led me to become a yoga teacher, begin to paint pots and furniture (that were featured on a Canadian television program and sold at a few stores), join a weekly spiritual development circle (where I felt so naturally comfortable the first class, sharing spiritual messages with others), begin painting on canvas and participate in some art shows, create a business I spontaneously named Bliss healing and creative arts, and follow my heart happily to a surf camp in southern California (to fulfill a vision of being a surfer girl : ), and then to Hawaii 8 times in 10 years.  Hawaii, herself, was a gentle and nurturing guide on the journey to my feminine.  To me the culture and natural beauty of the islands so easily embodies the trust and grace of the divine feminine.  And most recently, I gave my feminine the gift of dancing, playing, exploring in Hawaii for 6 months in an "unaimed arrow" sort of way. This gift was a very healing journey on many levels... and it grew and strengthened my feminine.  And so I came back to North America with a "filled well".  One of the last messages I received at a final Lomi workshop in Hawaii that trip, was from a lovely local lady, who said "Irena when you go back, remember "TT", totally trust, and you will be fine". This message still echoes inside of me, as a reminder to trust and cultivate my feminine.

I've learned on my path, that nurturing and honouring the feminine takes constant and gentle care...  and that my feminine needs my masculine and all masculine to be strong, to take care of her and provide a safe, strong container for her in the world.  And I need to honour my feminine by giving her the space to open, feel, express, let go, and simply be. The hardness in our western culture can be draining to the feminine over time, for men and women alike.  And I've felt intuitively, that the incidence of breast and other female organ cancers in our culture, are due in part to the denied or repressed feminine.  This denial and resultant blocked, unexpressed energy and resentment, build up in the body... as I had experienced.  The feminine needs to be lovingly and gently tended, like a flower.  Listened to and supported by the strong masculine, so that she feels safe to relax and open.

My message to women... please take the time to really feel your feminine, to give her space to let go, express, soften, and feel.  And my message to men... it is time to truly respect and honour the feminine within and around you.  It is important for all of us to take responsibility and shift behaviours that dishonour and control, that are ageist, and that objectify,  and compartmentalize her.  Men... really begin to nurture a connection to your own feminine, to the women around you, and to mother earth.  Love the feminine in as unconditional a way as possible... hold her best interests in your heart.  As a strong masculine, support her flowering and empowerment with full presence and with the fierce knowing that her full empowerment will also support your highest good.  Time for all of us to release old models of fear and control.  Become the strong, responsible and nurturing masculine, providing a safe container for the feminine to relax and open into, in trust.

It is time to fully honour the sacred feminine on this planet and within each of us, and to receive the grace and healing of that.  And going forward, let's create together in new, healthier ways, within relationship and in the natural world around us.  Balancing the masculine and feminine within ourselves, through heart, is what is being called for on this planet now. Will you join me in heeding this call, friends?

My feminine thanks you for listening : )
Irena
xox