Archive for March, 2010

Kindness Through Loss

Before you know what kindness really is, you must lose things, feel the future dissolve in a moment… only kindness that raises its head from the crowd of the world to say ‘it is I you have been looking for’ and then goes with you everywhere, like a shadow or a friend. –Naomi Shihab Nye

The future feels like it is dissolving around me lately: dreams dissipating, relationships abruptly ending, and young people overcome by their possibilities, or lack of them, are taking their own lives. This is what my days have been full of. One has only to pick up his or her local paper to bear witness to the loss and struggle that characterize the lives of so many. We are collectively awash in things lost and running as fast as we can to re-imagine a future, any future.

Loss and the stages of grief that accompany it are universal. Little by little, beneath the anger, denial and depression, our sorrow carves the unbelievable into our psyche, making the grooves in our brain expand to accommodate what our hearts cannot hold. This is the truth of deep sorrow; it changes us bodily if we allow it. Refusing is no good; although it is unfortunate no prizes are ever awarded for the mighty efforts made to resist our own pain. The resistance becomes its own storyline, which the Tibetans call “shenpa.” This is the places where loss hooks us, and rather than actually experience the depth of our sorrow and pain, we devolve.

Shenpa is pre-verbal. It is the electrical charge behind our emotions, our thoughts and our words. It often is the energy behind the storyline that we fall into continuously, often without our own witnessing. Whether we are hooked by our attachment to who we think we are, what we have or don’t, who we love or who doesn’t love us, as soon as “shenpa” takes over, we lose the chance to feel what is really going on. The more someone tries to get through, the more closed off we become.

Our storylines can replace our life experience for our entire lives if we aren’t careful. Losing the ability to feel works both ways, it isn’t only the painful emotions we miss, it is the joy and pleasure too that gets devoured by our habitual reactions that don’t serve to protect our hearts nearly as much as they numb them.

I have been practicing leaning into the losses lately. It is not pretty, trust me. I am not trying to paint a rosy glow of the unbearable and intense loneliness and abandonment that translates from loss and sorrow for me. Staying with it has been exhausting. But it also has been a window. Insecurity, fear, loss are the roots of our natural intelligence. They have the power to shine a light on what really matters if we have the courage to unhook ourselves from our stories. They can stand alone and wash over us, seemingly swallow us up whole, but then just like the tide, they retreat. Shaken up but still intact, our hearts strengthen from vigorous use. They will not break under the weight of our feelings; they will grow stronger and more compassionate.

We are all out there being tossed around by the waves of success and ruin. It is the most universal experience of humanity. Not only hope springs eternal, real kindness grows from what we lose. We become our own friend, like our shadow that is with us in the light and the dark.

Wendy Strgar is a loveologist who writes and lectures on Making Love Sustainable, a green philosophy of relationships which teaches the importance of valuing the renewable resources of love and family. Wendy helps couples tackle the questions and concerns of intimacy and relationships, providing honest answers and innovative advice. Wendy lives in Eugene, Oregon with her husband, a psychiatrist, and their four children ages 11-20.

via Kindness Through Loss | Care2 Healthy & Green Living.

How to Create Seed-Starting Pots From Newspapers

I just bought some seed starting supplies at the trusty dollar store, and was so excited to save so much buying from there over garden stores. Then, of course, I come across this video that shows you how to make your own biodegradable seed starting pots using nothing more than a page of newspaper and a straight-sided glass.

Since I have the stash I already purchased, and now armed with the knowledge of this super-sustainable newspaper re-use project, I’ll probably try a combination of methods this spring. 🙂

How to Create Seed-Starting Pots From Newspapers | eHow.com.

7 Foods Banned in Europe Still Available in the U.S.

posted by Megan, selected from TreeHugger

By Christine Lepisto, TreeHugger

Genetically Modified Foods

Although the E.U. is continuously coming under attack for policies banning GM foods, the community is highly suspicious of genetically modified foods, and the agro-industrial pressures that drive their use. The problem with GM foods is that there is simply not sufficient research and understanding to inform good public policy. In spite of widespread GM use without apparent negative impacts in other countries, the recent public reaction to trans-fats are reason enough to support a precautionary principle for the food supply chain.

Pesticides in Your Food

The E.U. has acted against the worst pesticides typically found as residuals in the food chain. A ban on 22 pesticides was passed at the E.U. level, and is pending approval by the Member States. Critics claim the ban will raise prices and may harm malaria control, but advocates of the ban say action must be taken against the pesticides which are known to cause harm to health and nevertheless consistently found in studies of food consumption.

Bovine Growth Hormone This drug, known as rBGH for short, is not allowed in Europe. In contrast, U.S. citizens struggle even for laws that allow hormone-free labeling so that consumers have a choice. This should be an easy black-and-white decision for all regulators and any corporation that is really concerned about sustainability: give consumers the information. We deserve control over our food choice.

Chlorinated Chickens

Amid cries that eating American chickens would degrade European citizens to the status of guinea pigs, the E.U. continued a ban on chickens washed in chlorine. The ban effectively prevents all import of chickens from the U.S. into Europe. If chicken chlorination is “totally absurd” and “outrageous” for Europeans, what does that mean for Americans?


Food Contact Chemicals

Phthalates and Bisphenols in plastic are really beneficial. They help manufacturers create plastic products with the softness and moldability needed to fulfill consumer needs. But when the food contact additives are found in the food and liquids contained by those plastics, trouble starts. Both the U.S. and Europe stringently regulate food contact use of chemicals. However, the standard of approval is different. In Europe, the precautionary principle requires that the suppliers of chemicals prove their additives safe, or they will be banned. Of course, although the E.U. has banned phthalates in toys, both phthalates and bisphenol-A remain approved for food contact uses — subject to strict regulations on their use.

Stevia, the natural sweetener

The U.S. recently approved this “natural” sweetener as a food additive. Previously, it was sold in the U.S. under the less stringent dietary supplement laws. It has been embraced in Japan for over three decades, but E.U. bans still stand — pointing to potential disturbances in fertility and other negative health impacts. But the sweetener is credited with potentially positive health effects too. Is this a case where consumer choice should prevail?

Planned Ban: Food Dyes

Many food dyes previously recognized as safe are suspected of contributing to attention deficit disorder. Action is afoot as the UK evaluates a ban on synthetic food colors. Regulation in the E.U. often starts through the leadership of one Member State, which pushes the concepts up to Brussels after a proof-of-concept pilot phase. Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, Orange B, and Red 3 are among the food colors associated with hyperactivity.

via 7 Foods Banned in Europe Still Available in the U.S. | Care2 Healthy & Green Living.