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    Earth Day: Outside-In

    I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in. 

    - John Muir, Preservationist (1838-1914)


    For indeed, when we walk into the forest, we open our hearts to nature, the rhythm of the earth. No longer outside observers of landscape - sheltered behind our screens, houses, cars, windows - but immersed IN it. Walking delicately on spongy earth, breathing heady aromas of pine needles, leaves, rich humus; we realize we are from the earth, of the earth. We all ARE the earth, the sky, the universe - all of us.


    Happy Earth Day, my friends.



    Posted: Apr 22 2013, 12:26 by kelly | Comments (1) RSS comment feed |
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    Hurricane Sandy and the Jersey Shore

    If you'd like to donate to Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, click here (to jump right to the bottom of this post).

    Two weekends ago, we took the day to travel "down the shore" (that's how we say it here in New Jersey). We went to Long Beach Island because it's the closest to us - a little over an hour drive - or 35mi due West as the crow flies.

    (running along Spray Beach in LBI)

    (one of the street markers located at each opening in the dunes along LBI)

    I'd been meaning to share our trip with you here in pictures, because it was such an idyllic  weekend at the beach. But then... Hurricane Sandy (known pre-disaster by the moniker "Frankenstorm" for its proximity to Halloween) came through my state.

    For my family, the hurricane meant a bit of scrambling around in preparation - gathering supplies, the unique opportunity to witness a hurricane up-close, 24 hours of lost power, frantic working to keep our warehouse up and running, and a delayed Halloween. We were truly fortunate to have missed some of the worst weather and after effects.


    For other families, some I know personally and others I've only seen in the media reports, the hurricane brought power disruption, home destruction, and most devastatingly, loss of life. The pictures I see coming in from the shore (where we JUST. WERE.) and from the surrounding towns and cities are almost incomprehensible.

    (looking towards the ocean on LBI during the storm - source unknown)

    (car buried in sand on LBI after the storm- source unknown)

    (the dunes, no longer there - LBI after the storm - source unknown)

    (a beach marker, nearly covered in sand during post-storm cleanup efforts on LBI - source unknown)

    My heart goes out to those still struggling. It's COLD here in New Jersey right now; and there's a Nor'easter coming this week (that means a BIG snow storm for those of you not from the North East USA). Millions are still without power, thousands of homes were damaged, and there's a gas shortage in the Northern part of my state. It's hard to watch the news, to talk about it with my children, to understand what happened so close to home. But it helps to know so many people have have donated time and money to help those most in need. The generosity of the human spirit is alive and well in New Jersey; I am so thankful.

    If you'd like to donate to the Hurricane Sandy relief efforts in my state, and the surrounding areas hit hard by the storm, here are a few places you can do so. (Each of these charities are non-religiously/politically affiliated and have received a commendable rating at CharityNavigator.org)

    To donate directly to Hurricane Sandy child welfare efforts: Save the Children


    To donate directly to Hurricane Sandy hunger relief efforts at the Jersey shore: The Foodbank of Monmouth & Ocean Counties


    To donate directly to Hurricane Sandy medical supplies and equipment: Direct Relief International


    To donate directly to Hurricane Sandy companion animal rescue and care efforts: Best Friends Animal Society


    To donate directly to general Hurricane Sandy emergency relief efforts: American Red Cross


    To help find or to offer breastmilk storage to those without power: Human Milk for Human Babies - New Jersey


    Thank you for reading, for donating, for keeping those affected by Hurricane Sandy in your hearts and thoughts. Peace.

    Note: I am not affiliated with any of the above listed charities. When you click on the above links, you will leave my site, and go directly to the individual charity pages.
    Posted: Nov 03 2012, 17:10 by kelly | Comments (4) RSS comment feed |
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    Life Without Status Updates

    I saw this the other day on (ahem) Facebook, and it got me thinking:


    {Calvin & Hobbes are awesome}

    We were blessed to have a lot of time to be together as a family this summer, away from hectic schedules and routines and crowds. We were also blessed - though it may have been one of those proverbial blessings in disguise - to be in places where fast internet (or internet, at all) isn't a priority. Having a difficult time using your phone makes you use it less. Using it less makes you look up more, look around, reach out, find ways to fill the moments you'd been so used to filling with checking emails, status updates, photos, games, news, videos, posts. Sometimes you fill the moments with simply being. Listening. Observing. Living. Loving. Noticing things that have gone unnoticed at digital life speed. Looking up at the stars.


    {heaven is here} 

    Seeing nature and parts of our earth I'd never seen before - without the constant companion of palm-sized information diarrhea - was inspiring. Releasing. And humbling. Because… HOW? How have I gone so many years without knowing what the stars really look like - as they do on the Kansas plains. They look there, nothing like my lightpollutedbackyardpostagestamp view of the New Jersey sky. Watching my children explore the earth, dig in the sand, splash in the water, move rocks, climb trees, find wildlife – without the interruption of status updates – was simply wondrous.  It is wonderous, as well, to do these things yourself. Experiences in real life, real time.


    {hiking through the foothills}

    To be honest, it wasn’t easy at first. Being away from technology… initially, it's like a tugging, pulling, calling to me that doesn't subside. HOW can I be without INFORMATION? Without conversation - the typewritten kind, anyway? Without UPDATES? Weather? Pictures? News? Videos? DISTRACTIONS? But the pulling gets weaker. After a few days, I forgot to carry my phone with me a couple of times. The information and news that seemed so necessary last week, became more unnecessary, with each passing day. The immediate loses its charm. I started to forget. I began to relearn patience and observation, being present, and how to embrace boredom.

    {being present}

    I rediscovered the pleasure of reading a book: it doesn't update, doesn't change, refresh, or move forward. It stays right where I left it on the precise page I dog-eared yesterday when my children needed me. It was still there, unchanged, when I had time or desire to come back to it. Uncluttered with ads. Devoid of noise. Black text on white page. Tangible. Unmoving. There's something grounding in that. Grounding like the silence of the sunrise. Or the thinness of the air at twelve-thousand feet.


    {Maine at 5:58am}


    {Colorado at 12,310 feet}

    Being away from the stream of constant interruption gave me opportunity to really THINK about the interruption we experience every day in our digitized lives. We’re always being physically interrupted – a status check here, an email there, a text message here, a photo there. And, as such, we’re in a state of continual mental intrusion that these updates often cause – often without our full consent.  Think about this:  When is the last time you were able to log into to your favorite social media website, read something, post a reply, and walk away without giving it another thought; undeterred by how your comment might be taken – by people you may not really even know. It happens even if you don’t stop to participate in the conversation – the comments of others swirl around in your mind or you analyze the content of the story or you mull over the ensuing conversation. All about people you aren’t actually interacting with, over things that often don’t directly impact your life, all the while, an intrusion on your state of mind, your peacefulness, your presence with the people you ARE actually interacting with, and the nature within which you actually LIVE. This happens, I’ve found, without even being aware that it’s happening. You just start feeling a little off, a little down, a little distracted – not sure why. Your responses to your spouse or children or friends might be a bit short, irritated, less patient. How CAN you be patient with the weight of the internet world on your shoulders along with all your physical time demands. Then you realize… oh. It’s that blog/message board conversation/video I read/participated in/watched that has me concerned. And maybe then you can let it go. For a while. Be more present. At least until the next log in.


    {relaxing, without mental distraction}

    I didn’t fully recognize this happened to me, too until… the internet, and the distraction that comes with it, wasn’t there anymore. And I was left with a lot of… empty space and time in my mind. When you have space to think, without mindlessness to fill it in, you actually… start to think. And to FEEL. And to realize - perhaps most importantly - that the people I really most wanted to communicate with were right there - within touching distance of me. The things I wanted to experience were right beneath my feet. Neither of which required a computer or a phone at all.


    And yes, I recognize the irony of my writing this - at my computer. With the intention of posting it on the internet. And then using social media to disseminate it.But that, of course, is because I recognize the benefits of the digital age in which we live. I understand and appreciate the value of the internet for a variety of purposes – Information: looking up the names of the constellations, the words to a poem, a vegan recipe, how to spell something correctly, the list of awesome, immediate access is endless. Support & Community: connecting with people who have similar areas of interest and experience - particularly important when your interests may lie outside of the norm. I can't enumerate how many times I've found great support for breastfeeding, babywearing, gentle parenting online… heck, it's one of the main reasons for my writing this blog: to share my experiences with other parents who may be looking for suggestions and support on how to parent from their heart, who may not have those resources and support in their physical lives. But while I understand all of the wonders of the internet, when weighed against the wonders of just BEING with your loved ones, I have to tip the scales in the direction of real touch and interaction: more time on the floor with my kids than in front of the computer; more nature exploration than website exploration.  This realization may make me deficient in social media, but a nature and family connection deficiency is far more grave and long-lasting.

    {studying a sunflower}

    So my challenge, and one I present to you, is to aim towards taking a few more moments out of each day to look at the stars, watch the sunrise, look in your kids' eyes, and leave your computer off and your phone behind. On purpose. Live life without status updates. It will be worthwhile, I promise.

    Posted: Sep 09 2012, 18:44 by kelly | Comments (4) RSS comment feed |
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    One Action. One Choice.

    A global change can begin with one person.

    One action.

    One choice.

    A global change can begin with envisioning the ideals that we strive towards and the things which are important to us and then LIVING those things. It may not be easy to bring healthy humane food with you, instead of stopping for take-out, but it's worth it. It may not be easy to save up your paper, bottles, and cans and bring them to a recycling center, but it's worth it. It may not be easy to respond with gentleness and understanding when your child is in the midst of a tantrum, but it's worth it.

    Think of something you'd like to change, or improve in your life or in the world and work towards it, one step at a time.

    Remember that:

    Our actions, however small, reverberate.

    Our kids mimic what they see – they do what we do.

    Imagine If:

    Children worldwide grew up not just hearing about recycling, buying locally grown food, eating healthy, treating animals with respect, but grew up actually LIVING IT, watching their parents do it, participating in it? Those things wouldn’t be a question or even some distant ideal or possibility – they would just BE REALITY. It’s how they would live because it’s what they KNOW. It’s how they will interact with their friends, their classmates, their teachers, their future children.

    Your action – or inaction – in all things important to you and the world – MATTERS.

    If you act with kindness, empathy, and concern for people and animals and the environment around you – your children will do the same.

    That’s all it takes. One action. One choice. Make a change. Pick a more challenging thing over the easy - every time you make that decision, it will become more effortless. And it WILL make a difference.


    A Vision Through Rose-Colored Glasses

    'Til now man has been up against Nature; from now on he will be up against his own nature. 

    ~Dennis Gabor, Inventing the Future, 1963

    It's easy to get into the mindset that things will only get worse with our earth. We're bombarded with bad news: population is growing an alarming rate, diseases are resistant to antibiotics, there's not enough food, too much waste, forests are being cut down, species are becoming extinct, water is polluted, the polar ice caps are melting. Surely, with more time, and more people, things only can get worse… The earth has a finite amount of resources; something has to give… It's in the news, the movies, social media: do something. Or else.

    I'm guilty of it myself, here on this blog, in my head, in my words. I look at my Goodreads bookshelf - some of my favorite literature is dystopian. I've felt before - why even try? The fate of our earth can't be good; not with the amount of damage we've done, the slow pace we've taken to action, the tremendous pace of population increase.  I remember before having children, truly contemplating NOT, because why would we want to bring children into an if-not-now-then-soon wasted earth? I know of childfree couples whose choice has been, at least in part, dictated by the gray murkiness of this seeming eventuality.


    But, what if we stopped looking at our future through grease-colored glasses? What if our vision of our future earth was not of destruction, disaster, disease, but rather of innovation, harmony, renewal? Isn't there reason to believe with time we can make of our world a place more like The Celestine Prophecy and less like The Road?

    If we can change our outlook from disaster to promise, we can encourage our children to see a future of possibility. I believe an earth respected, will return our consideration. I'm teaching my children a love of the earth, of all she provides us, and of what we can give her - care, compassion, kindness - both for the earth itself, and all her inhabitants: human, plant, animal. I trust what I believe, they'll carry on. And that their carrying on will reverberate, unmuted by the greyness of "doomsday".  I'd like to think that if our vision as a human race is one that can be crafted, shaped, and directed towards our oneness, our mutual need for earthly redemption, then we have hope for our future.

    What better can we leave to our children, if not an earth full of hope? 

    Posted: Apr 24 2012, 22:25 by kelly | Comments (1) RSS comment feed |
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