Trees Throw Shade

14 Oct

So there I was going through my news feed and reading headlines of one celebrity throwing shade at another. Had they become trees or something? And I somehow missed when this Jane Austen-era action rebounded into the 21st century. “Throw shade” , “throwing shade”, or simply “shade” are slang for (often) a nonverbal insult or sneering contempt or disgust for someone.

Yet, I can’t quite figure out how ‘throwing shade’ can be considered an insult in out increasingly hot world. Even more, are trees cut down because they throw shade? Do people feel their backyard tree is insulting them and their house by its cooling summer shade and feel that nasty old tree has to go?

Trees throwing shade are giving trees. Like the premise of Shel Silverstein’s book “The Giving Tree”, a live tree that throws shade gives humankind unconditional love with fruit, oxygen, absorbing water, and most of all giving shade, something greatly needed in our increasingly hot world.

A Giving Tree is a Shade Tree.

Language has power, slang is probably the most important language. As talk of global warming has its ‘day in the sun’, perhaps ‘throwing shade’ needs to be reclaimed for what its literal meaning. Let’s make it cool again to be a shade thrower and plant a tree or two!

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Plan to Plant NOW for your Spring Fling

10 Oct

There’s a beautiful tree lined street I love walking down each morning. This time of year though I hold my hand over my head when I hear the ‘tck’ of acorns smacking the sidewalk and bouncing across the street. Rather foolishly I look up to see if squirrels are playing, scoring how many humans can be knocked about with a flying nut. Maybe the nuts also keep score as each vie for a prime piece of real estate to dig in and call home. I think of it as an amazing race- for seeds. The winners who find a viable location fastest, germinate, and, root will be announced in the spring. Stay tuned for the results.

“old science” and the power of dirty underwear.

While nature is taking time to prepare for a new year, I like to follow suit by planning and planting for my own new spring growth (aka my dreams and personal goals). After years of leaving dirty underwear in the corner I finally realized it will take far more for my new ‘life’ to spring forth. I used to think it was because I didn’t use an empty jar with wheat until I faced facts that this is real SCIENCE. Seeds and nuts need to be planted for new growth, literally and metaphorically. True, nature’s nuts rely almost solely on luck to root. For us humans, it’s different. Knowing science is real, I forego the reliance on luck, wash my dirty underwear, and, instead use a scientific method-like 5 step process.

  1. I create a vision for the new year:

I don’t know if this is the easy – or hard part – thinking about what I want this year to produce so to speak. Being specific and attainable is key, and maybe, that also means thinking big but reasonable. After all it’s hard to jump up a mountain.

  • This visioning process gives me a chance to focus on what’s important. Sometimes it’s easy to forget what’s really important until you don’t have it.
  • When I think of what I want to include I also think ‘what will it bring me’. While I don’t have money or finances in my drawing here, it always come up for me as freedom and knowing that I can care for my health, etc.
  • Dreaming big is important, though I know it’s all but impossible as I said to ‘jump up a mountain’. In retrospect I always realize I need to buy the boots first and then start walking before I can jump.

2. I begin the daunting task of taking stock of how my seeds succeeded – or in the past year:

Hmmm…. a rather mixed bag!

I don’t know about you but when I review my year I sometimes forget to look at the WHOLE year. In the middle of a temporary drought I force myself to acknowledge the riches that sprang forth in previous months.

  • Things always look different with a little distance and a little less emotion. Even in the middle of a drought I’ve find seedlings and optimism that have fed and fueled me in unimaginable ways.
  • Ups and downs lead to balance, even if it doesn’t seem that way at the moment. As South Africa Peace Corps Volunteer a few years ago, every day was an emotional roller coaster. My daily reaping often left empty-handed. The long view showed my joy and the rich harvest I walked away with.
  • Stay focused on the long view, not just the lush, or luster-less crop in front of you. This held true for me years ago and something I remind myself even now.

3. Next, I go deeper and think about why seeds flourished or not:

Okay, so it’s not just that I had some successes and some duds, I have to be honest and think:

  • WHY: What was my reason for wanting to reap this particular crop (so to speak). I realize my ‘why’ of surviving vs. thriving also drives my vision and keeps pushing me just enough out of my comfort zone to keep me happy.
  • WHERE: Location, location, location – I definitely think where I’m planting my dreams is as important as anything else. That was true when I was consulting, and just as true in my new growth phase. For me, location includes: the type of business, city, street, country.
  • WHEN: Timing is everything, cliche as it sounds. I’ve been playing with this blog idea for years, and yet, it’s laid fallow. I’ve finally (I hope!) gotten to the point where it’s ‘If not now, when?’ Timing… there’s really a right time for something to take root – let’s also hope this is finally the right time for people to take real action against climate change.
  • Get rid of what’s holding you back: I toss a symbolic stone, leaf, etc, to rid myself of a behavior or emotion that hasn’t worked well for me into a river. For growth, I then find a new symbolic (something) for that behavior I want to bring into my life. This wonderful and cathartic ritual, tashlich, is done during the Jewish High Holidays. For me, tashlich focuses the internal changes that will (hopefully) change my external world. I’ve noticed it takes more than a year and tossing more than just one big rock in a river to get rid of some anger or regret. I think that’s what I like best about this yearly planning, the chance to try again (and again) to get ‘it’ right.

4. Time to get dirty! Once I’ve figured out what worked and didn’t, it’s now time to plan what I need to plant to achieve my vision and then strew some seeds about:

Every step is the hardest it seems. Actually digging in and getting dirty to strew and plant those seeds is big time hard. It means sitting down and (for me) actually writing (and remembering how to use wordpress…). It means I have to leave the warm comfort of my room and go talk to new people (gasp!). It means I have to make (another) change. Even more:

  • Sadly not all seeds take root. Or if they do, they may not bloom. It’s like that faltering friendship or the dream job that becomes a nightmare.
  • You gotta strew a lot of seeds. I like the way that sounds! So many times I’ve put all my energy and focus on one planting, one job, only to find myself starving emotionally, financially, and spiritually. It sounds dramatic and it felt that way. These days I know to have a Plan A, B, C, D.
  • Each seed may have only one chance to bring life and that’s why a lot are needed.
  • As you plant those seeds for Plan’s A, B, etc. plant with purpose. Try to keep in mind ‘what it will bring you’ and if it will bring you joy.
  • If seeds don’t take root, I change and recycle my vision – or I like to think I do, at least a little. I also (try) to remember that past failure (performance) is no indication of future success. It’s equally hard to remember that past success is no indication for future success…

5. Once the seeds are planted I (try to) make sure they’re nurtured:

Keeping dreams front and center seems like it should be the easiest thing to do, right? But somehow, even with my relatively simple life there’s always something else jostling for my attention. (And I don’t even go on Facebook…). My right brain challenges my goal setting and detailed follow-through so I stay focused by journaling, jotting ideas, drawing, etc. including:

  • Having a notebook or two to record my thoughts. I used to write long paragraphs, but now I tend to jot more ideas and use more visuals and LOTS of color. It’s easier for me to keep track of and a lot more fun to revisit on a regular basis which means I review more often.
  • And review I do and think and rethink what action I have to take to reap what I (hope to) have sowed. This means reaching out to friends often knowing I’m the wanderer and also reworking my Plans A, B, C, D for followup and forward action.
  • I regularly review what I ‘tossed’ during tashlich in step 3, since this is always an intangible emotion and it’s really hard work to change a behavior – even harder, or equally hard, then logging back into wordpress and letting my fingers do my talking.

Last step… Be kind. First and foremost be kind to yourself. It seems to me it’s too easy to be swayed by all that ‘noise’ out there. Noise muting our own voice. Listen to yourself – I know for years I’ve strived to listen more to my own voice and not those of others. If something isn’t working go back to Step 1. Rethink your vision and decide if it’s for instagram, your friends/family, or, if it comes from deep within you. We all have the power to heal the world if we follow our own personal visions and dreams.

Wishing you success and lots of new growth!

Current Score: Trees:0 – Humankind: -420 (ppm)

24 Sep

Balance! I always say all of life – and science is about finding – and maintaining – balance. Whether it’s balancing a chemical equation and surviving chemistry class or getting through the day balancing work, work-outs, and a night out. My balance is challenged navigating icy sidewalks – yet I know it’s not really my greatest problem.

Greta Thunberg and other young leaders are demanding the UN take real action on our planets imbalance. About time right?

The UN and world corporations must take action to cut greenhouse gases and each and every one of us will have to act alongside them. It’s time for team-work – balancing OUR climate will be a team effort meaning that each and every one of us has to take action. Yup, individually and societally all of us are key players to keep the ball in play – and balanced.

SOOOO, which team are you on?

Mother Nature will always win – she is resilient. In truth, so is Humankind even though we’re currently imbalanced in so many ways. BTW: to ‘play’ we need to breathe, and right now we’re lobbing way too much CO2 at far too few O2 producers. This simple cycle we all memorized for a science test has become the central question of our life test. Will we pass?

Image thanks to ducksters.com http://www.smore.com/6k7zg-carbon-dioxide-oxygen-cycle

Time for a balanced game. Time to start a PERSONAL Climate Action. I’ve got a few ideas, but first share how you can become a team leader.

Size doesn’t matter: The war of the germs.

7 Sep

Obama to announce expanded plan to fight Ebola

(Headlines from USA today, September 16, 2014)

War is brewing.  The war to end all wars between Humankind and Mother Nature.    Don’t worry – dinosaurs won’t get us – cloning hasn’t been perfected.  And we seem to be doing a pretty good job of killing off other predators – in a gentlemanly way – by killing off their habitats.   To be sure, Mother Nature retaliates to our carbon barrage with draught and killer storms.  But I think we can’t see the real enemy.  Brilliant warriors – the germs’ll get us.

We’ve created germ warfare –  forming alliances with germs to kill  ‘enemies’.

And antibiotic soaps and sprays – to wage battle against germs themselves.

Prescribed antibiotics protect us from insurgent germs.

With the best of intentions, the good guys give support to the bad.

With the best of intentions, the good guys give support to the bad.

This war will be like others – the good will be sacrificed while killing the bad. The red cross will be called in for intestinal disaster relief aka probiotic/antibiotics – likely a shot in the arm for the economy.   And killing off the good, creates funding for the bad, making them stronger launching them into attack mode.  In subtle and not-so-subtle ways, these little guys are building strength as they sneak into our internal and external lives from run-away viruses to antibiotic resistant bacteria.

I can’t help but wonder:  How did something so good get to be so bad?   Is it bad PR?  A slur campaign?  Is it time to start a save the (good) germ campaign?

A ‘germ’ is not a four-letter word, not by definition:  All new ideas start with a ‘germ’ (of a good idea), the bud for future growth and development.   Too much of anything can be bad even when it’s good.  For some reason, technology springs to mind, including old-fashioned TV.  Germs, as new ideas and technology can be scary.  Remember when some thought TV would be the demise of society?  Until TV’s invaded living rooms around the country and took over our minds and hearts.

In face,  bad gut bacteria can alter minds and hearts in a way even binge watching ‘Game of Thrones’ can’t cure.  A scarier example: “Take Toxoplasma gondii, the single-celled parasite. When mice are infected by it, they suffer the grave misfortune of becoming attracted to cats.

OR,

read about how one doctor cured a teen of OCD:  Although plenty of questions remain, the benefits of using probiotics to treat human behavior are becoming increasingly obvious. Yogurts like Dannon’s Activia have been marketed with much success as a panacea for all of our intestinal ills. Other probiotic supplements have claimed to support immune health. Probiotics’ potential to treat human behavior is increasingly apparent, but will manufacturers one day toss an anxiety-fighting blend into their probiotic brews?

 

What do you think is hiding in cells as ‘fake’ proteins, awaiting the right time to inflict disease on an organism?  Viruses!  It gives whole new meaning to sleeper cells.    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140707092707.htm?utm_source=feedburner.

It’s not easy…  Kill off one germ, and others spring to life and/or adapt.  New generations of super germs are raised and recruited, able to resist determined antibiotics meant to kill them.    Those little guys must have the best R&D around to adapt and survive.  Is it any surprise killing one germy dictator  gives rise to a whole new breed of (bacterial) terrorists?

Ebola is the germ du jour.  Sweeping fear and disease across the world faster than a tweeted selfie at the Oscars.  Insidious little germs that can’t be caught, attacking silently and stealthily.  All reminding me of news of ISIS, and other (still small) terrorist groups brewing around the world…   Ah, human kind – with all our advances, there’s still no cure, no antibiotic for hate, terror, and injustice.   Germs are tough, resilient, and ambitious for survival.  We need a probiotic to balance needs.

 

Tweets spread faster than viruses/germs (so far).  I wasn't a carrier for this tweet - were you?

Tweets spread faster than viruses/germs (so far). I wasn’t a carrier for this tweet – were you?

Annihilating germs can’t be done with inoculations of mass destruction – that just creates new problems.  The best action – maybe the only immunity– it seems, is creating environments that don’t support the bad germs.  Got an infection?  Forget antibiotics.  Simply create an environment for the good guys to take over.    http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/herbal-antibiotic-alternatives.  A good guy environment must include food, jobs and safety from the bad guys.

How do we create a good guy environment?  Or once created, will we change the climate to favor the germs?   Can we win?  Is any war winnable?

 

 

Slippery slope thoughts on my neck and climate change

11 Apr

Oops – if you got my most recent post it was accidentally published (too much thought about my neck and not enough oxygen to my fingers I suppose.

Apologies.  here is the link for the updated post!:

https://humannatureconcepts.wordpress.com/2014/04/11/slippery-slope…climate-change/ 

Slippery slope thoughts: my neck, mitosis, and climate change

11 Apr

Oops this was published too quickly…

I woke up this morning thinking about my neck.

Specifically, as you might imagine, wrinkles.  Those horizontal lines which shout and share my age.  A seemingly  inauspicious way to begin a day, right?  That same day which only ‘ages’ from dawn till dusk, yet is the same ‘age’ from year to year.  The birth of the new (calendar) year spawns a growth spurt resulting in longer days until the summer solstice, when as if exhausted by the hullabaloo of summer’s start, begins a steady decline to wizened daylight until after the winter’s solstice and the whole cycle starts again.

My neck, as luck would (not) have it, does not follow this same rule of nature.

The decline and rebirth of the day (and year) has an external cause:  the earth’s rotation and tilt around the sun.  But my aging neck is internal…..

The visible signs of aging across living organisms isn’t equal.  Talk about ringing in a new year:  no species ages like trees, growing taller, more majestic and more productive with each passing year.   Trees’ years may be imagined by their height, yet they have to die and be cut open to count  the rings marking their lives.  I know trees are vital to keeping me vibrant – even more than my skin care regiment – but it’s still not fair.  It’s certainly a slight from nature that trees alone not only increase oxygen output as they age – and are more valuable for their beauty.

Spite:  is this the reason humankind is out to kill all the trees on the planet?  Because they age effortlessly and gracefully and the cosmetic companies (and climate change deniers) don’t want a reminder they are not keeping up?  No, that sounds too ridiculous even for this early in the morning.

 

listverse.com Ah, talk about a species who ages well!

listverse.com
Ah, talk about a species who ages well!

I sometimes think the strides in anti-aging treatments far exceed those in alternative energy sources and cancer cures.

Nora Ephron's spirit was as solid as a redwood and she still felt bad about her neck….

Nora Ephron’s spirit was as solid as a redwood and she still felt bad about her neck….

 

As reason pulls me from mirror to computer, I remind myself aging is simple science.  It’s mitosis or mitotic imbalance or epidermal (cell) retirement.  I possess as many names for mitotic  decline as anti-aging oils in my bathroom.

But it’s not just that my skin cells up and die – it’s that there are no new ones to take their place.  It’s the imbalance of out with the old, but no new ones to plump back in their face – I mean place.

Simple science is all about equilibrium.   If new cells don’t replace old cells than aging occurs.  Matter cannot be created nor destroyed has nothing to do with skin cells – we’re talking biology not physics here.

Our aging all about the balance of new cells replacing old cells due to mitosis.

Simple science is the reason for trees regal aging:  the oxygen/carbon di-oxide cycle or balance of trees taking our carbon dioxide waste and exhaling out oxygen.  The same oxygen we need for vitality and life is because of the trees that take in our exhaust carbon dioxide.

Our faces mirror the need for balance everywhere in our lives.  Economically, if more money goes out of our wallets than goes in, we experience a financial ‘death’ = debt.  If we take more than we give to friends there is relationship death.  If we eat more calories than we burn, our skinny jeans are buried in the donation bin.

Life is all about balance and getting what we need.  Trees remind us our age on the inside is (and can be) projected out.  Regardless of age, we can still bloom and give life.

Of course we need trees for more than reminders about graceful aging.

 

The oxygen/carbon-dioxide cycle is a normal cycle (like mitosis).  Destroying the planet’s forests  unnaturally destroys this cycle.  Cutting down trees is aging the planet (aka climate change) and plaguing our health.   But this we can do something about.  Really.  Restoring this balance is the simplest thing we can do to combat global warming.

Personally, I can live with wrinkles….  Without oxygen, not so much….

Earth day is weeks away.  Let’s celebrate by planting trees.

Do you care what gets chopped? Hair or trees….

4 Dec

‘Terrorists Probably Knew About My Haircut’: Jennifer Lawrence Admits Short Crop Making Headlines Was One Of Most Surreal Moments Of Her Year

Hunger Games star chopped off her locks…

I laughed yesterday when I saw a sign asking for people’s opinions about Jennifer Lawrence’s haircut (and no, I didn’t catch the twitter address….)

Now I think Lawrence is a great actress.  Yet….

How is it that her haircut occupies so much interest and energy, when cutting carbon dioxide emissions or the cutting of forests (even the rainforest) attracts so little?

www.hikingartist.com  How brilliant is this?  Check it out!

www.hikingartist.com How brilliant is this? Check it out!

Actresses provide entertainment – trees provide life.  Trees provide oxygen.  Trees provide the resources to win (real life) hunger games.

Chopping trees down around the globe has created bizarre weather patterns – draught – and hunger.  But it’s not a game and it’s not a movie even though we see the results on TV.

catching fire

And btw, Catching Fire is really wonderful.  So get entertained, then contact one of these organizations to plant a tree in someone’s name (a gift that keeps on giving!).

www.jnf.org/support/tree-planting-center

www.oxfamamericaunwrapped.com/tree

www.growforests.org

www.americanforests.org

www.treesforthefuture.org

www.nwf.org/trees-for-wildlife/about/tree-bank-information.aspx

What do you care about?

Read more at http://www.entertainmentwise.com/style/133262/1/Terrorists-Probably-Knew-About-My-Haircut-Jennifer-Lawrence-Admits-Short-Crop-Making-Headlines-Was-One-Of-Most-Surreal-Moments-Of-Her-Year#SXVG4vvdziJi8Es4.99

Ecotourism on the Serendipity Trail

16 Oct

It’s one of my odd fears:  ringing the doorbell, bottle of wine in hand, only to find I’ve shown up on the wrong day.

Last Wednesday was one of those days.  Only I wasn’t going to a party, rather the Science Cafe at the American Museum of Natural History.  It’s the  Museum’s brilliant ploy to convert the curious and wannabe’s into card-carrying nerds.

It was a perfect fall day, comfortably cool as my walk through Central Park accelerated to the distant strumming of guitars.  Turns out it was John Lennon’s birthday and Strawberry Fields was playing host to a rocking jam session of musicians and a swaying crowd of back-up singers.

strawberry fields

I’m still singing ‘Nothings gonna change my world…’ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PN9n1bAahg4

This was one of those perfect NYC moments of peace,  joy, and connection.  Even the undercover cop/parks department garbage picker I overheard talking to his command had nothing to report.

Entering the Museum for this after-hours event was a whole other matter.  Like solving the Rubik’s Cube, it took rounding the grounds a few times before finding an open door and receptive guard.   Following an arrow landed me in a closed exhibit filled with 3 foot hominids.  It was a bit freaky.  Lost, I was easy prey and hoped the Neanderthal’s in their dinosaur bone hut didn’t come alive like in the movie  ‘Night at the Museum’.

Pointed in the right direction by the now laughing guard, I was still lost – kind of.  Entering a half-filled lecture room with name tag wearing young people  was not the buzzy wine/beer-swilling space I normally associate with the Science Cafe.    But safe from Neanderthals, I slunk into a comfy seat to play scientist and observe.mack-lipkin-man-and-nature-series-panel-discussion-2013_large

They say, you always end up where you are supposed to be.  I had ‘crashed’ a Conservation Conference lecture on research and action led by four brilliant panelists.

We regular folk don’t always think conservation amidst environmental debates.  Anti-frackers seek to shatter beliefs that drilling is the best way to secure future energy sources (an on-going NY ‘action’) – but not necessarily about using less.  Meanwhile many of us are just overwhelmed by the effects of climate change and global natural disasters from raging forest fires to never-ending draughts to tornadoes twirling in unexpected places to devastating hurricanes like Sandy having the audacity to slam into NYC.  Victims are left shaken and outraged over the result of climate unrest.  At least till it’s all over.

They say: when climate conditions gets tough, the tough travel as ecotourists.   Here’s my packing tip to include along with hiking boots and organic snacks (I greatly modified – but hopefully not too much) from Stanford’s Rodolfo Dirzo when asked about ecotourism:

  • It’s a great thing:  indigenous people make a living while maintaining their environmental culture – it’s an ecological win-win!
  • And yet… young people employed as van drivers, wait staff, guides, etc. in the hospitality ecosystem are trading in their knowledge about the environmental ecosystem for customer service skills.

They no longer need to know  how to care for/understand/support the flora and fauna tourists pay to see.  Which may not be bad – until the realization hits: who will know when a species is threatened – and when an ecosystem or species is at risk, how to nurture it back to health?

And who can blame these new drivers and front desk clerks?  Don’t we all follow the money trail?

Costa Rica, according to Wikipedia had 2.2 million visitors in 2011!  Imagine the money and ruts that trail leaves.  Imagine the impact even if visitors live the mantra:

“Take Nothing but Pictures, Leave Nothing but Footprints and Waste Nothing but Time”

 Ecotourism saves threatened environments and local knowledge, so what’s the answer?

Personally I think it comes back to education and making it as sexy to know about the ecosystem as to know how to drive a van.  Imagine if every adventure traveler swooned over that same van driver sharing her knowledge about the local flora and fauna along with the local watering holes.  And she shared how a traveler’s lifestyle impacts the local natural wonders with the same verve as recommending the best dinner spot.

It seems it’s all about following the money trail crafted by hiking-boot-gortex-wearing ecotourists.  If these same tourists want flora-fauna ecosystem knowledge, the locals will learn.    Bottom line is: with preservation of land and learning we can get what we all want:  to travel forever uncovering the secrets of the serendipity trail.

Optimistic and naive, maybe.  But what do you think are other options?

To read more about human impact on climate change:  http://www.sfgate.com/science/article/Population-growth-increases-climate-fear-4781833.php 

Flash to Fallow: Mother Nature’s 5 Financial Lessons

4 Oct

This post originally appeared on blogher’s ‘Diary of a Single Professional Woman’

Nature is rich – in resources – just like I want to be.

I often say ‘Everything I need to know about the economy and life I learned from Mother Nature’.   As fall sends nature’s flash into fallow (or dormancy), it’s the perfect time to learn from her (save, spend, grow) sustainability plan.   After all, she’s been around a long time – so what does she know that we don’t?  And more importantly what can we learn so we spring open along with the crocuses come April?   Here’s my simplistic, and metaphoric thoughts on ‘environmental economics’ to kick around along with the leaves.

seedling

Fall may feel like an end rather than a start – look out the window and nature looks like it is dying.  Ha!  Mother Nature is transitioning from her extroverted spring/summer flash to a well-deserved introverted fall/winter recovery time.  Her withdrawal of energy allows time to reflect, rejuvenate, and save for spring’s big bloom roll-out.

Shorter days likely darken our mood.  Especially as color leaves our external environment.   Green, in particular colors our thoughts – and the U.S. dollar or greenback, that universal currency.  Simply:

Lush, rich, life = Green

Green = Money

Green = Nature

Nature = Resources

Resources = Money

Money = Nature

Nature = Resources = Life

Yet, when it comes to linking the economy with the environment, it seems we are colorblind, too often living in the red.  I think we need to ask: which resources are needed for life?

For a brief period of time, I thought it was a ‘red handbag’.  As you’ve read,  it was a temporary want.  Sure, I love ‘stuff’ that makes my apartment home.  But honestly, I don’t need it – I just want it.   The only resources any of us really need for life are oxygen, water, and food.  Resources only nature can provide contrary to food package’ ingredient listings.

I say our challenge is working with Mother Nature for our needs while satisfying our human nature with our wants.

It’s asking:  What Would Mother Nature Do (WWMND) for economic success?   She’d say begin with her 5 steps:

1.  Balance:    Mother Nature has obviously spent plenty of time on a playground seesaw.  She understands the need to maintain balance even while going up and down.   She uses what she has – while saving a little for the future.    Mother Nature foregoes debt, once her bottom line turns from green to red, she catapults into endangerment/extinction.

Lesson:   We may become morally, emotionally, financially bankrupt overusing resources, causing our internal peace (balance) to become extinct.  Live under your means to keep your personal seesaw going.   Debt drives your energy, emotions, finances and goodwill into the red.  And remember: There is no plastic – no credit cards – found in nature.

Maintaining balance, like on a see-saw can seem like child's play.
Maintaining balance, like on a see-saw can seem like child’s play.

2.  Save:   Mother Nature saves everything including those piles of leaves in your yard.   This is not hoarding.  She reduces those dead leaves/blooms by recycling (decomposers de-clutter causing decaying leaves to smell like a frat house bathroom on a Sunday morning) and reusing (notice those leaves are gone by spring – broken up and back into the soil like using old clothes to make a quilt).  All this saving leads to new blooms – and a reminder that the future is no predictor of the past.

Lesson:  use what you have to grow your future – like with an IRA.    And don’t bother raking those leaves in your yard!

3.  Spew seeds:  Seeds are nature’s C.D.’s (certificates of deposit), little packets of possibility to ensure future growth.   They even sound similar!   Seeds, like C.D.’s only open at the right time, in the right place, and the right conditions – and they are supported by all those unused seeds and leaves that ‘die’.  There are even special seeds that open during a forest fire to ensure that tree species survival.  Kinda like emergency C.D.’s/funds.  

Lesson:  save for emergencies as well as the future – though the stock market provides better returns than C.D.’s.

Nobody would touch this funky burr-covered seed till it was already  open (like all CD's should be!)
Nobody would touch this funky burr-covered seed till it was already open (like all CD’s should be!)

4.  Diversification: The healthiest forest and gardens are filled with diverse trees that play host to lots of different bugs, and are called home by lots of birds.   Having only one species like Dutch Elm (on decorative paths) found one ‘sick’ tree caused them all to die.

Lesson:  Diversification of your holdings maintains balance and growth so even if your ‘Dutch Elm’-like stock tanks/dies, other stock species survive.

5.  Be sustainable:  Mother Nature thrives because everything she has is used and supports everything else, even though it may seem to be in conflict.

Lesson:  Invest in things that feed your future.  Material things that overwhelm you and end up in landfills throw you off-balance and leave nothing to decompose – unlike the leaves left in your yard that will decompose to nurture spewed seeds.  Experiential investments always leave you with seeds or kernels of thought and growth.

Part of the Coney Island boardwalk by the NY Aquarium
Part of the Coney Island boardwalk by the NY Aquarium

 Mother Nature’s 5 lessons keep you blooming in all seasons:

  • This holiday season, stay green and out of the red by matching  spending with your values (http://communicationessentials.wordpress.com/values-activity/) and keep you growing.
  • Make every day is your special Valentine’s Day by making black the new red.  Love yourself by loving your finances and living under your means to live fully in the future.

And really, just one more thing to think about:  We may say money is the root of all evil, and we should add, resources are the cause for conflicts personally and globally...

Meanwhile, what steps will you take to support your spring blooms?

My Revised Scientific Method: it’s not just for scientists anymore

1 Aug

“Our species can only survive if we have obstacles to overcome… without them to strengthen us, we will weaken and die.”
(Metamorphosis)  James T. Kirk, USS Enterprise Captain, Star Trek (the original!)

Ask any drama queen (or king):  creating challenges is fun.    Politicians/economists/scientists jockey for position on viable solutions to

Time to "phaser-out" problems!  http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Starfleet_insignia

Time to “phaser-out” problems! http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Starfleet_insignia

industrialization’s created problems.  From the mortgage debacle/financial crash, climate change, obesity, cancer, hate-crimes, and illiteracy, obstacles are as plentiful as the stars.

The real obstacles which fully capture our attention are individual and personal:   from getting out of bed and making it through the day, connecting with teens and silently feuding partners, finding a partner, finding a job, paying for groceries, dealing with a difficult boss or mother, deciding which brand of toothpaste is best or who to vote for on American Idol – the list goes on.    We can’t deal with the big obstacles until our real ones – the personal ones – weighing us down are shrugged off .

Thing is, solving these small problems are as difficult as the big ones.  And that saying?  “Don’t sweat the small stuff.  It’s all small stuff”.  Much easier said than done.

I say:  The scientific method:  it’s not just for scientists anymore.

photo-85

Yup, that method we re-learned in every science class is one we use daily for real challenges – kinda.   Though there’s likely to be more madness than reason to our method.

If you’re about to say “yes, but…”, give your knee-jerk response a rest.   Scientific experimentation is all about DISproving, making scientists the original “dis-sers”.

As a reminder “The Method’s ” steps: Identify what’s bothering you (problem), form a reason why (hypothesis), figure out what to change and action to take  (experiment),  see if it works (observation), declare victory or try again (conclude or start over).  We do that all the time, right?  Yet….

Society teaches (for the most part) there is a right answer – in the back of the book, like in science class:  

By the time you reach age ‘x’, you should have achieved ‘y’.

The media bombards with what accomplishments are needed to get a good life grade.  The answers are wrapped up in the “American Dream”!  My hypothesis: solving for that “right” answer keeps us awake and without dreams.

I prefer: “The good thing about the American Dream is you get a new one very night” (Michael, “The Office).

Today’s the perfect day to create a new American dream using a revised scientific method?    Solve for the right ‘y’ (and why).

Instead of the problem:  ‘How do I get what I’m supposed to have?’

And the hypothesis: ‘I am doing ‘a’ or ‘b’ wrong.’

Reframe the problem to:

‘What is right for ME?’

plos blogs diverse perspectives on science and medicine http://blogsplos-orgblog20110506the\secretofexperimentaldesign.jpg

plos blogs diverse perspectives on science and medicine http://blogsplos-orgblog20110506the\secretofexperimentaldesign.jpg

Here are 5 (revised) steps based on my personal problem-solving experiments.   No goggles or safety equipment needed.

  1. Listen to your body to identify the problem:  the body never lies.  Does your back tighten when it comes time to go to work?  Do your fists clench when talk turns to money?  There’s a problem when aches and pains appear at the thought or mention or appearance of a defined “obstacle”.  Do you dive into a super-sized bag of chips before a family event or when you have a deadline approaching?  Pay attention!  Start by recording when you feel that “tinge”.  For example, keep a food journal to keep track of overriding emotions causing you to devour the contents of your refrigerator.
  2. Look inside to uncover your hypothesis, the source of the problem.  Identify your values and how well those values are met  http://communicationessentials.wordpress.com/values-activity/.  For example if you inhale a pint of ice cream every time a credit card bill arrives, identify which value is NOT being met as in:  My finances are stressing me out because I don’t feel independent (value), causing me to overeat.
  3. Make a plan to take action.  Action is the experimental heart and focuses on how to meet the value (independence) not the ice cream inhalation.  Experimental (financial) plans may include contacting a debt or financial coach, setting up a saving/payment plan while developing a mantra when your fingers are at the cyberspace checkout button such as:  “this (item) will whittle away my independence which makes me unhappy”.  Create several steps to take to get your value met and use them for at least 21 days to create a new habit.
  4. Take stock of your situation.  Maintaining independence through debt-free finances is fairly easy to assess when a bill arrives:  can you breathe?  Does the thought of the balance throw your internal equilibrium off-balance by sending you to the kitchen or elsewhere?
  5. And repeat.  If your symptoms continue – try a new plan of action and ask for help with problem-solving.  If your experiment was successful, bravo.  Now it’s time to assess other body reactions to unmet values and identify what actions will remove obstacles and calm your body.

How will tapping into your inner scientist help you?  Which step can you apply to your daily obstacles to uncover a winning solution?

Exploring our own nature as humans is a good time to shelve our human nature fears, especially the fear of failure.   Remember, many of the best solutions are found by mistake after doing “the wrong thing”.   Successful experimentation is all about failure, learning from mistakes and moving forward one step even if you’ve gone backwards two (steps).   Personally, I embody the scientific notion that taking a risk and failure is an experimental “win”.   Just go boldly where your values tell you to go!

  Enjoy the journey and keep a data log!