Tag Archives: spirit

Earth Day

Today’s Facebook feed is filled with admonitions, chastisements, calls-to-action–all ostensibly in support of Earth Day, an event designed to inspire our growing human population to take care of our planet so it can continue to take care of us. A noble cause, but one that, like so much else in a consumption-driven culture, feels like it has take a wrong turn somewhere. So instead of bullying you to sign petitions, cut your resource usage, buy logo-emblazoned “green” merchandise, I want to offer you an invitation:

Let’s each of us take five minutes (more if you have them), go  outside, and have a look around. Look for something from nature–even in the thickest, most urban city, there’s a good chance you can at least see the sky. Once you find it, let’s take a few slow breaths.

Inhale. Pause. Exhale. Pause.

Inhale. Pause. Exhale. Pause.

Inhale. Pause. Exhale. Pause.

Then, from that space of calm, imagine your most precious experience in nature. Perhaps it’s  a childhood trip to Yosemite, standing at the base of the falls, hair dampened by the mist. Maybe it’s sitting on a balcony watching the sun set in crimson, purple and gold. Maybe it’s a meteor shower, a full moon, mornings by the lake, the first time you saw a wild pitcher plant in a Minnesota marsh, the first downhill run through virgin show. Or maybe it’s a place–one you visit from time to time that always feels like home. Whatever it is, live in it for a moment. Feel what makes it so memorable, so valuable. Give it a name if you can.  Call it freedom, mountain, connection, water, discovery, red-tailed hawk, wonder, sky, dirt, joy… Once it’s named, write it down on a piece of paper, put it in your pocket, and carry it with you for the rest of the day–or longer. And if you get a chance, share it. In the comments, on Facebook, face to face. With  written words or paintbrush or photos or voice.

Our strongest moments and most meaningful actions come from this place of love, joy, reverence. Let these things be what guide us as we hold these memories, and let us be open to any quiet voice inviting us in our own way to care for and protect what we love.

Yosemite Valley, 2014
Yosemite Valley, 2014


Last night I finally saw the movie Interstellar. I had tried to see it when it first came out, but couldn’t seem to fit it in. Now I’m glad I didn’t.

Interstellar begins with a world facing many of the same challenges we find in Parable of the Sower–food shortages, widespread poverty, and a government that has turned its eyes from the stars to the ground, unable to justify money spent on dreams when there are so many problems to be solved in everyday life. And, like Lauren Olamina, Cooper, a former pilot, cannot let it go. His world, he knows is dying, and they are running out of other options. And when coded messages from a “they” no one can seem to identify lead to a covert NASA operation headed by one of Cooper’s former teachers, Cooper leaves everything and everyone he loves–including his 10 year old budding scientist daughter, Murph–behind for the chance to save them.

There are the usual assortment of questions that move the adventure plot forward, including:

  • Can they find a new world that can support life before it’s too late?
  • Will Cooper make it back to his family?

But the one question that the story most pivots around is one of ethics:

Who do we save, the human race as a species or the individual people we know and love?

The adventure is harrowing, as it must be, to keep us rooted to our seats for nearly three hours, and the decisions are difficult heart-rending , as are the emotional impacts on the families back home. And, as expected, the worlds are nothing like they imagined they might be.

Of course, at the end it they find themselves in crisis, and without giving too much away, it devolves into the sort of strange spiritual mumbo-jumbo that we have seen in other epic space movies, like Contact. But perhaps that’s how it is when science started delving into areas so far beyond our comprehension that they begin to resemble God.

And as for that one big question, perhaps if we are either very, very lucky or very, very unlucky, we just might be able to save both.

Learn more about the science of Interstellar.


Looking for an oasis of calm in a hectic holiday season? How about a way to jump-start a meditation practice in advance of the New Year? Maybe you’re just looking for a little peace in your busy day-to-day schedule. Regardless of your reason, it’s always easy to find a little calm at calm.com.

Choose from an assortment of music and image combinations, select guided or timed meditation, and relax.

Not sure why you should meditate? Check out the Lifehacker article What Happens to the Brain When You Meditate (And How  it Benefits You).

Stop. Drop. Roll.

Last week I talked about the importance of pacing ourselves. This week, I want to talk about what to do if we’ve already missed that boat and are now paying the price. Luckily the prepping world already has the perfect slogan for us to adapt: Stop, Drop, and Roll.

  • STOP and take a hard look at where your time, energy, and probably money are being spent
  • DROP everything that is non-essential–yes everything; if it isn’t directly related to paying this month’s rent, feeding your kids for the next few days, or keeping yourself well and safe, lose it
  • ROLL with what comes up

Chances are, if you’re anything like me, stopping can feel even harder than plowing through. And sometimes it is. But we have to keep our eye on the prize, because if we go down, who’s going to be minding the store?

Pace Yourself

Yesterday I promised to tell you more about some of the great books I got yesterday, but instead, I want to talk about the importance of pacing ourselves.

When it comes to prepping there is a lot at stake–our homes, our families, our very lives. Because of that there can be an urgency to the work. A need to get it all done as quickly as we can so we can finally feel safe enough to relax. But it doesn’t really work like that. Finish the bug-out bag? It’s time to move on to the car kit. Finish the car kit and it’s time to tackle the workplace emergency kit. Keep that up at full speed and you’ll find yourself broke, exhausted, and not much closer to that ever-elusive feeling of safety.

The same is true in life. There’s always something important that needs doing, and before we know it, our lives are passing us by. Better to do a little at a time, leaving room to build a life worth fighting for.

Practice Gratitude

On this last day of the long Thanksgiving weekend, it seems only appropriate for today’s spiritual prep to be gratitude.

With the big meal behind us, it’s likely that most of us have already put the giving of thanks on hold until next November and slipped easily back into our regularly scheduled program of plowing through our days, especially with the insanity of holiday planning, shopping, preparing, the making of reservations and appointments, and everything else that has to be done looming large ahead. Which is why now, more than ever, it’s important to hold onto the spirit of Thanksgiving just a little bit longer. And then a little more. Until you no longer have to hold on because it’s become a part of you.

Why? Because gratitude practice–the habit of counting our blessings–can change our attitudes, our health, and our lives for the better. Just a few of the benefits, according to researchers Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough, include:

  • Feeling better about our lives as a whole
  • Being more optimistic
  • Making more progress toward goals
  • Getting more regular exercise
  • Getting sick less

And there’s nothing quite like being healthy, optimistic, and goal-oriented to help you weather just about any storm.

Probably the simplest way to cultivate gratitude is to take a few minutes at the beginning or end of a day, grab a notebook, and write down 3 things you’re grateful for–be it sunny skies, hanging out with your friends, getting an A on a test, or a raise at work. You can chooe anything that made your life happier, more comfortable, or made you feel more inspired.

Personally I like to write down my three things at night before bed because focusing on the good things from my day helps dissipate the stress of everything I didn’t get done. But writing them in the morning works just as well and helps you start your day on a positive note.

Learn more about the benefits of gratitude and additional ways to practice.


Several weeks ago I talked about how turning off your monitor/TV/ tablet/smartphone at least an hour before bed can dramatically improve the quality of your sleep. If just one hour can make that big of a difference for your sleep cycles, imagine what an entire screen-free day could do. Imagine getting back not only the mini-breaks that we so often fill with checking our phones, but long breaks as well. Imagine the sound of silence, unfettered by soundtracks, special effects, videos. Imagine looking around or talking to people while you wait in line.

I have to admit, the first time I tried it, I pretty much failed. I missed the noise, the constant connection. I missed the habit of it. I made it until about 9:30 am before flipping on the computer for 30 minutes of emergency email checking. When I turned it off, I hardly knew what to do with myself. Suddenly I had a lot more time on my hands that was usually filled with Hulu and YouTube and Facebook and all the randomness that Facebook spawns. I did the dishes and the laundry. I reorganized my overflowing bookshelves. I worked on a quilt.

The best part was that the longer it went, the calmer I felt. There was no urgency to keep on top of every post or email, no inundation by endless irrelevant information, no buzzing of screens. By the end of the day, I could hardly stand the idea of having to turn the computer on the next morning for work.

And while this may not be the case for everyone–it will probably be easier for people who log less daily screen time and harder for those who log more–an increased sense of calm and better night’s sleep isn’t the only reason to give this exercise a try. It’s also great conditioning for times when networks go down or power goes out. Imagine the cold-turkey misery of a days-long power failure. Practice filling screen-free time means that when the outage occurs, you won’t find yourself staring blankly at a black screen trying to will the power back on. Or at least not for quite as long.

The Calming Effect of Cleaning House

The last couple of weeks I have been insanely busy–work, events, project deadlines… As a result, this morning my place looked like it has experienced its own apocalypse. So when I sat down this afternoon to try and sort out my schedule and projects for the coming week, I became instantly overwhelmed. If I couldn’t even find my planner under the mountain of mess on my desk how was I supposed to get any planning done? The solution is obvious: clean the desk. But when you’re already feeling over-committed and behind schedule, taking time away from pressing projects can feel like a luxury you can’t afford. So forward we plow, not realizing that the 10, 15, 20 minutes it would have taken us to do a quick clean and organize would have been more than made up in saved time and enhanced focus.

The same can be true of prepping, especially for those of us who live in small spaces. The thought of trying to find space for gallons of water can just be too much when you barely have room for your shoes. Luckily the same steps that can clear your brain for the next important project can help make prepping easier, too:

  1. Stop thinking about prepping, or whatever your most pressing project/s may be.
  2. Look around your room, paying attention to which areas are most contributing to your stress levels.
  3. Choose one area that: is making you crazy, is manageable in size, and will not take a ton of brain power to complete–dishes are especially good for this, so are folding laundry and cleaning the bathroom. Cleaning your desk can work, too, if you focus on sorting and filing and don’t get caught up in everything that has to be done.
  4. Clear, clean, wash, dust, file or whatever your chosen spot requires your hands to do, while keeping your mind gently focused only on the specific task before you and your emotions detached from the action. If you chose dishes, for example, focus on the warmth of the water, the swirl of the sponge, and the methodical spread of open counter space.

As you work, a couple of things happen:

  1. The mess begins to disappear, taking at least one part of your stress with it.
  2. Your mind begins to relax and calm from the repetitive, meditative action of moving your body while giving your brain a break.
  3. Your pressing projects and problems are allowed to percolate just below your consciousness, making connections with possible solutions–like noticing a more space-efficient way to organize your kitchen cupboard as you put the dishes away, or realizing that you have two copies of a book that you don’t even need one of, which gives you more room on the shelf for a few of the books stacked on the floor.
  4. Cleaning and clearing can be contagious, and what starts at the kitchen sink can easily spread to the bedroom, office, family room, and beyond.

One last note: If you have time constraints due to other commitments, try setting a timer for 15 minutes and do as much as you can in that amount of time. While it does amp up the stress initially by adding the pressure of time, once you see how much can be accomplished in a short time span, it will actually decrease your stress over the long term.

Chop Wood, Carry WaterRecommended resources:


None of the links on this page are Affiliate Links, and therefore I receive no compensation.

Where to Start

After yesterday’s post, you may have learned that in some way or another you are already a prepper. And owning that may make you ready to take the next step into making a plan. If that’s true, awesome, but before you head out into the world and start stocking up on canned goods and ammunition, I’d like to recommend that you stop and take a moment. Take a look around your home or office, and ask yourself a couple of questions:

  1. Why do I want to start or expand my prepping?
  2. What am I prepping for?
  3. Whose safety am I hoping to protect?
  4. Where and how do I start?

Try not to ask these questions casually or flippantly. Don’t just jot down the first thing that pops into your brain. Or rather, do, but once you have, really sit with it. There is often hidden depth behind a simple answer, and it’s the truth within those depths that will help you figure out the most important place to start.

For example, one simple answer to question number one is “so I’m ready in case of emergency,” but what emergency? Perhaps the truth behind that simple answer is that you are worried about what might happen to your daughter if an earthquake shut down power and you couldn’t refill her asthma medication. Or, maybe, when you were a kid you lived next door to a house that caught fire, and ever since you’ve been afraid of being trapped in a burning building yourself.

Giving your worries and fears space to speak is the first step in overcoming them and will give you clues about where to start. It will also help keep you motivated through the process.

Grounding yourself in what needs to be done and who you’re doing it for is the best way to make sure that you’re creating a solid plan and practice that works, and not just spending money on weak  insurance that might not pay out when you need it most.

Envisioning the Future

One of the things that inspired me to finally start this blog was a recent episode of Project Runway titled Welcome to the Future. In it the designers were challenged to come up with fashions that could be featured in Marie Claire 20 years from now. In order to do that, they had to imagine what that future might look like. Now, granted, the fact that the challenged assumed that the magazine would still exist 20 years from now means that they weren’t focused on an apocalypse, but I still felt like most of the designers didn’t take their stories far enough. One mentioned recycling, one made a small nod toward climate, but all I could think about were the questions they didn’t answer:

  • Would the places we now inhabit become to hot or too cold and how could fashion compensate for that?
  • What if the drought currently plaguing California and the southwest continues to get worse–how would the lack of water impact what we wear?
  • Might the world be a more dangerous place requiring clothes that are also protection?
  • Would our lives be more rooted or more nomadic?

My mind was filled with books and movies related to our possible future: Dune, Mad Max, The Man in the White Suit

So imagine my excitement when I learned that there was an apocalypse-themed art show opening in my own town called End of Days.

Twenty-four artists were…asked to develop prophetic doomsday statements regarding how the end will come, and then…create clothing, accessories, and sculptural elements to address these prophecies and address issues related to human impact on the environment.

Hydration Salvation by Consuelo Pascual
Hydration Salvation by Consuelo Pascual

Which is pretty much exactly what I had been looking for. And though I would say the artists met with varying levels of success in terms of execution, each and every piece was thought-provoking–from the image of a virgin bride in her wedding dress and gas mask, to the sculptural dress of cabbage and leeks (my favorites being Sam by Thelma MathiasAt the 11th Hour Go Underground In The Old Library. Lock All The Doors Behind You. by Deborah Klezmer, and The Lineage Gown by Alicia Piller.

Envisioning the future can not only give us ideas that may help us survive,  it allows us to build mental and psychological muscles that can help us cope with the unknown–as long as you focus on how might it be, what would we need, can I prepare, instead of  we’re all gonna die.