April 22, 2010
Poetry is an important part of my life. Off and on over the past ten years, Iâ€™ve served as the poetry editor at the national literary journal Many Mountains Moving, which has an ongoing mission of celebrating and publishing diverse voices from many cultures and backgrounds.
I spent the past week at the annual Association of Writers & Writing Programs conference, where I and the other editors from our journal hosted a panel on sustainable aesthetics and diversity. After the panel, members of the audience lingered to discuss these topics in greater depth, including the definition of diversity.
While the easy definition includes culture, religion, ethnicity, and geographic location, thereâ€™s a bigger definitionâ€”one that involves a point of view and open-mindedness that transcends all of these other factors. It has to do with a willingness to both transcend and embrace all of the things that make us different from one another, settling somewhere in that amazing space that holds us all as people, sharing the same planet, however beautifully and uniquely different we are. Thatâ€™s the holistic definition of diversity, and one that could help direct the world toward peaceful resolutions, and erase the fears that give rise to violence and anger over religious differences, skin color, and language. And who, really, couldn’t use a little healing?
Earth Day is my sonâ€™s birthday (Happy Birthday, Sky!), and we always enjoy celebrating this connection by making festivities as green as possible. For some super tips on making each and every day Earth Day, visit the Department of Energyâ€™s animated guide to greening your home and your community.Â Keeping things in family-mode, the site was designed by my husband, who works at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
By mousing over each area, you can find super ways to get tax credits and incentives for your Earth-friendly efforts, plus learn how to green up everything from yard work and landscaping to appliances and electronics. Thereâ€™s also an animated guide to energy sources including wind, solar, geothermal, water, and natural gas. Include your kids as you explore the site â€“ the animation makes it fun. Then go outside and play, or have a picnic of organic goodies, and spend some time celebrating our astonishing planet with those you love. We’ll be having birthday cake.
April 21, 2010
Famed chef Alice Waters, who catapulted into the public eye in the early 1970s with her Berkeley, California organic restaurant Chez Panisse, has become an icon of the Slow Food Movement. In 1996, she further demonstrated her ongoing commitment to real food by establishing the Edible Schoolyard at Berkeleyâ€™s Martin Luther King, Jr., Middle School. Students learned through hands-on experiences where real food actually comes from, and were given opportunities to grow, harvest, and prepare nutritious, healthy meals as part of the curriculum.
The Edible Classroom led to the School Lunch Initiative, with the goal of bringing nutritious lunches to school children, while adding gardening and experiential food programs to national public school curriculums. First Lady Michelle Obama has taken the concept of raising healthy kids to new heights with her Letâ€™s Move campaign, which aims to defeat childhood obesity by creating healthier school environments through whole, healthy foods, and by teaching kids the sheer joy of being activeâ€”whether thatâ€™s a bike ride, a jump-rope session, taking the family dog for a walk, or participating in organized sports. You can do your part to create a healthy generation of children by sending your kids off each day with a beautiful, nutritious lunch, joining them for an after-school walk, and helping them to grow something edible in a pot on your back step, in your yard, or in a community garden. Doesn’t it seem like a good idea to teach children that Twinkies don’t grow on trees?
April 20, 2010
Like many of you, Iâ€™ve been watching the footage of the volcanic eruption in Iceland with complete fascination. I was in Iceland not too long ago, exploring the countryâ€™s healing traditions, and fell in love with the beautiful island nation and its friendly people. While I was there, I traveled along the coast in the company of a photographer who happened to be an Icelandic native. One afternoon, while were walking along a black beach made up of tiny, smooth, volcanic stones, she suddenly told me that there was an eruption coming, and that it wouldnâ€™t be from the massive southern volcano Laki, as people would expect. She said could feel the pending eruption on a deep, non-physical level, and then went on to explain very matter-of-factly that in Iceland, intuition is accepted as a perfectly viable means of receiving information.
Weâ€™ve explored the topic here at Healing Lifestyles on several occasions, including ways to help develop your own, innate intuitive powers. Check out the stories Connecting with Intuition and Owning Your Sixth Sense. And if you sense a pending volcanic eruption anyplace close to our offices in Colorado, please be sure to let us know.
April 19, 2010
People come to Lake Austin Spa in Texasâ€™ legendary Hill Country for many different reasons. They come for the 25,000-square-foot spa with its outdoor pool and cabanas, garden treatment suites with private Jacuzzis and fountains, the fitness and wellness classes, and even for the organic Healing Garden, whose herbs are used both in treatments and in the cuisine. Some come to pack in as many of the 20 fitness activity offerings per day â€“ everything from Balance Beaming to Foam Roller classes or for laps or aerobics in one of the three swimming pools. Others come to destress, and they rarely leave their suitesÂ — and why not, considering they might have a private wildflower garden and hot tub.
But not me â€“ I came to try a new sport called stand-up paddleboarding, similar to surfing because the board is like a surfboard â€“ just a little longer and wider, and like a surfboard, you ride standing up, balancing on your legs.Â The only difference is that whereas in surfboarding, you want the waves to carry you in, with paddleboarding, you can do it on a calm lake or river because the paddle is your propulsion. The sport is said to have originated in Polynesia and then moved to Hawaii, just like surfing. And while the sport is still in its infancy, itâ€™s growing, especially in California and Florida. Â The best way to get started is to take a lesson (http://www.rei.com/expertadvice/articles/paddleboarding.html)
â€œJust think of your body as headlights,â€ said my Lake Austin Spa paddleboard instructor, Sandy. â€œYou have to stay forward, because if you turn sideways youâ€™ll fall right into the water.â€ This was not a good day to be capsizing â€“ the lake was around 60 degrees. It was raining and the outside temperature was 50 something.Â Not only were the winds gusting to around 35mph, but there were little whitecaps on the water, and it was drizzling. Sandy looked out at the lake.Â â€œMaybe we better cancel,â€ she suggested. But this was my last day at Lake Austin Spa, my only chance to try it.
I thought of the photos Iâ€™d seen in magazines of Jennifer Aniston, Matthew McConaughey and Pierce Brosnan paddleboarding and grinning from ear to ear. No way was I canceling.Â Besides, worse case scenario, Iâ€™d have a great core workout. You have to bend your knees the entire time, so itâ€™s like doing one continuous squat; and because you switch the paddle from side to side on each stroke, itâ€™s a killer upper body workout.
We started on the dock. I went from being on my hands and knees to a slight jump up. She showed me how to paddle on land. Then Sandy put my board in the water and held on as I first, crawled on to it, then stood on the water.Â It was easier than being on a Bosu ball.Â I bent down, picked up my paddle, stood again without falling and began to stroke, switching from hand to hand.Â Soon I was flying down the lake, it was that simple â€“ of course, the wind was with me. When Sandy suggested we turn around, which you did by paddling only to one side, as in canoeing, we were against the wind.Â My paddleboard bobbled up and down in the rough water and I bent my knees more to stay afloat. â€œGet on your knees,â€ Sandy said. â€œYouâ€™ll be able to pull harder with your arms.â€Â Good thing I got down because the wind and waves both picked up. It was like fighting through a hurricane. Iâ€™d paddle one stroke forward and the wind would blow us three strokes back.Â Could I make it back?
Patrick, in charge of water sports at Lake Austin suddenly appeared in a motorboat.Â â€œYou okay? You want a tow?â€ he called.
â€œA tow?â€ I laughed. â€œHey! Weâ€™re strong women!Â Weâ€™ll make it.â€ I kept on paddling, my arms aching, my body shivering.Â And finally we reached the shore. I pulled my board out of the water and looked at the rough water.Â Iâ€™d done it! I could have bailed but Iâ€™d made myself do it.
â€œGood job,â€ said Sandy.
â€œIn my next life Iâ€™m coming back as a gondolier,â€ I chuckled.
â€”Margie Goldsmith, Adventure Spa Writer