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Naked Identity

23 Apr

Trees have flowered and are slowly ‘leafing’ as spring brews its magic bringing color and texture back into our world – an especially welcome site this year as we peer through windows for glimmers of hope and light.

Naked Identity is like a tree without adornment: it’s time to focus and celebrate what’s inside, remembering that ‘inside’ is what makes the outside so beautiful and valuable.

I love gnarly winter trees. Awkward limbs covered with scratchy twigs stretching out from knotty limbs; trunks covered with scars from past ailments. Completely naked without their summer/spring adornment, they are both stark and beautiful – I would say unabashedly secure in their identity. I aspire to be as confident and brazen in showing my imperfections. Trees’ winter nakedness is a well-deserved time to rest; their’introvert’ time so to speak after months of feeding, delighting, and, decorating the world around them.

The beauty we see in spring and summer is because the tree has found its right habitat: right place, right time and able to share the gifts it holds deep inside.

Our ‘Naked Identities’ are expressed and ‘bloom’ in the right conditions. NOW is the time to discover them.

We humans rarely have time to ‘shed our leaves’ and show the world our gnarly limbs and trunk. Especially on social media, there’s need to mask our scars while demonstrating and sharing our beauty/status as often as possible. It’s a way to feel recognized and acknowledged. Because of that, I think it’s easy to forget, harder to identify, our naked identity: who we are at our core that makes us exactly who we’re meant to be, and, what we have to share with the world.

Naked figuratively, not literally – please, keep the sweats on!

Wherever you are in the world, likely you’re home. Relatively isolated, in sweats and comfy clothes, and staring your naked identity in the mirror at least once a day. As the world rapidly changes through slow moving days, NOW is the perfect time to become reacquainted with our best, ‘naked’ selves/identities.

Someone once told me the happiness in our lives was defined by 3 factors: work; love/partner; and home/living space. To be happy, two of the three had to be ‘good’. Ideally that’s true: but true happiness, I think, is based on securely expressing our ‘Naked Identity’. Those of us who are 0/3 can attest to this!

Identity is fortified by four key relationships: Self, Others, Economy, and the Environment.

Most important is our relationship with ourselves. Our ‘self’ relationship impacts and guides all our action and relationships!

‘Naked Identity’ is about being happy from within. Work, ‘where’ you are, and, what you’re surrounded by is less important than acknowledging all the good inside you even when everything around you sucks. Even without a job or the love of your life, or…

‘Naked Identity is our ‘self’ – and most important – relationship!

Our ‘Naked Identity’ is based on DNA/Genotype, Phenotype aka how we look and express who we are; and our internal personal qualities, passions, and, talents that motivate us – whether we’re paid for them or not.


Humans have unique power in expressing our identity vs. in Nature. In Nature, other living things DNA/genotype pretty much determines everything about them: from how they look/phenotype to their personal qualities, talents, strengths/niche in their environment/community. We Humans can easily change our phenotype based on how we want to be seen by self and others. Humans take roles outside of their personal quality, talent niche for money, status, and other needs. ‘Naked Identity’ is a way to look into that ‘natural’ self, especially with respect to personal qualities and talents.

Phenotype: how we look, or more specifically how we look based on our DNA is the easiest thing to change. I think of how we change our ‘look’ based on where we are and who we’re with, and how it’s like Russian nesting dolls: Matryoshka dolls! Our inner most ‘doll’ is likely our ‘Naked Identity’ – when we express our most true ‘self’ for us – not for social media or to impress others. Like the heart of an artichoke, that inner doll is the truest, sweetest, and, best part.

Pop a bowl of popcorn and get ready to think about – and uncover – your own ‘Naked Identity’!

Find a comfy spot. Get a pad, notebook, computer, or whatever you like to write with; I like to use colored pens, as you can see.

Start writing out EVERYTHING you like about yourself.

Find a comfy place to sit…

Everything means just that: everything! Include: personal qualities, talents, strengths, characteristics: how you act when you feel most ‘you’, when you’re not trying to please anyone but yourself or concerned by what others may say (or judge). This is about you without your ‘mask’ so to speak! My list includes strengths that have shown themselves in the best and worst of times; actions of accomplishment and notably emotion/relationship; as well as how I dress when I’m ‘ME’ (with lipstick.. ah, another ‘loss’ to coronavirus and facemasks). I included what makes me smile and share smiles with others, and other ways I contribute to the world.

More important (than lipstick): uncovering your personal qualities and talents, and having specific examples is your selling point to identify your true niche. In this changing world, building on strengths is a sure way to find success as job markets and social interactions wobble about.

“Be the change you want to see in the world”, a powerful and true quote to live by. Naked Identity allows each of us to be part of that change, using our skills and talents, taking action through these difficult times.

‘Naked Identity’ can change our actions and interactions because of less stress to be someone we’re not. Perhaps this is a good time to redefine success: focusing on personal rather than material rewards.

Your ‘Naked Identity’ is not filled with negativity: Identify all those voices that have told you “Nope, you can’t do it”, the naysayers, the little/loud voices that dig at you making you question yourself, including those on social media. Don’t let others ‘crap’ make you feel crappy about yourself anymore.

I wrote about how other’s ‘Doubts’ invade and kill off your own natural talents and optimism.

Now is the time to silence those negative doubts. Weed them from your mind.

Listen to your voice – block out the invasive doubts from others.
Ask – then answer – what’s most important to you1

What’s important to you likely goes far beyond Environmental issues (hopefully it’s somewhere on the list though).

Write what makes your heart sing in every aspect of your life.

Your ‘Naked Identity’ leaves you balanced to keep you ‘going’ and breathing!

Identify what keeps you ‘in balance’; where you get what you need from what you give.

Balance in what you need, what keeps you alive!

This is a good time to ask: Are you in balance with what you give and what you get?

Here’s the Cliff Note Version of Uncovering ‘Naked Identity’:

  • Write/record/draw your personal qualities, strengths, and, talents.
  • Include aspects of your DNA/genotype and especially your Phenotype (physical appearance including dress, tatts, etc.) and how they impact your ‘Naked Identity’.
  • Listen and put a name to whose voice(s) you hear about your identity/strengths – both positive and negative. Throw the negative away and work to unroot them!
  • List what’s most important to you to have balance in your life.
  • Honestly think/write where you are balanced and where you feel unbalanced in your life.
  • Plan for ways you can change your life to become balanced and focus on what’s important to you; actions and life that enhance and promote your strengths, talents, and, personal qualities.

It’s these challenging times that strip us naked of our usual life accoutrements: clothes, work, friends, going out, entertainment, and, all the other dressings of life. (I first learned this as a Peace Corps Volunteer in South Africa – talk about seeing the best and worst of myself – often within a 60 minute window!) Good and bad stuff will come out – embrace it – and most of all embrace and celebrate what makes you ‘YOU’. Our ‘Naked Identity’ is our individual superpower. We just have to figure out how to use it.

Life may be crazy – and it would be even crazier NOT to share our ‘Naked Identity’ with the world which needs your talents now. In sweats though, please!

Stay safe, sanitized, masked, and isolated only by physical distance!

Sustainable Living: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction

8 Apr

I’ve spent the last two weeks in quarantine (in the US), having traveled through SouthEast Asia where people regularly wear masks to prevent disease AND breathe easier with heavy air pollution. I’m so grateful to be healthy, and my thoughts go out to everyone in quarantine (and paranoid/scared shitless about every sniffle or cough) and those who have had the virus or know people who do. Let’s all follow guidelines, stay distanced, mask up, and stay safe.

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction (Newton’s Third Law of Motion), metaphorically is where we are. Actions in the name of progress have rendered us isolated and vulnerable to a teeny tiny micro-organism. Crazy, right?

Meanwhile, it’s #WastefreeWednesday! In the midst of surviving this pandemic (I’m in the DC area, with cases set to peak this week), it’s hard to focus on anything else. YET, scientists are now finding air pollution impacts how we are effected by the virus, a reminder climate change and environmental problems are still with us.

It’s enough to say ‘oy’ and want to dive under the covers and binge watch just about anything, BUT:

We can handle climate change! As we’re isolating, we can begin to plan for action; plan to reclaim environmental health for our human health.

A few articles to give some ideas. Read what catches your fancy and passion (like for fashion?). Links are below. Read and pass them on. Remember – we got this!

 a nationwide study found that counties with even slightly higher levels of long-term air pollution are seeing larger numbers of Covid-19 deaths.

New York Times Evening Briefing, 7 April, 2020

Countries around the world are taking action to curb air pollution, an effect of our progress resulting in increased asthma and other health problems. EXCEPT USA PRESIDENT TRUMP! In March, 2020· Trump rolled back fuel economy standards, reversing major effort to combat climate change. The LA Times reported this change could worsen the quality of California’s air, considered among the most polluted in the country. Amazing to think the President of the ‘Free World’ could do something so irresponsible – it’s as if he hates kids, right? This is something that needs to be fixed: Be sure to vote! Read more below:

Trump to roll back fuel economy standards, reversing major … LA Times…

Where does the material for your clothes come from? How sustainable is that source? This article outlines 10 Ways to be a more sustainable shopper including strong suggestions to buy less, better quality, sustainable clothing. In our changing world, even post-pandemic, we’ll all be looking for new ways to protect our wallets – and our environmental health – with hope to prevent another virus pandemic.

Who What Wear: 10 Ways to be a more sustainable shopper

Forego a $5 latte and help save a coastal community: 5 trees or a latte: sustainable saving coastal community through the planting of mangroves: brilliant crowdfunding way to plant more trees out of Kuala Lampur. Coastal Communities Crowdfunding for Trees to Combat Climate Change

China can lead environmental climate change actions . Article also talks about human activity/encroachment into natural wildlife areas has not only destroyed species and their habitats, but also opened the possibilities of more coronavirus like virus pandemics based on the theory of zoonotic. zoontoics being the transmission of animal viruses to humans and since we are in closer proximity to animals since we are in THEIR space, well, we are more likely to get THEIR viruses. I first heard about this when Inga Anderson, from the UN was interviewed on the BBC and was fascinated.

A zoonosis (plural zoonoses, or zoonotic diseases) is an infectious disease caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites that spread from non-human animals (usually vertebrates ) to humans.

Zoonosis – Wikipedia

News about Nine Reasons We Should Be Eating Microalgae: As the climate warms, the land we use for growing energy-intensive crops such as wheat and corn is becoming less productive. We need to find ways to feed the earth’s growing population that isn’t so burdensome on the environment. One potential solution is to cultivate microalgae – microscopic aquatic organisms that are packed with nutrients. Microalgae are single-celled organisms that look like tiny pills and taste a bit like grass. They are relatively easy to cultivate and have several advantages over animal and plant protein. (Cosmos Magazine)

By Martina Doblin, Donna Sutherland and Peter Ralph, University of Technology Sydney


– Every step taken makes a huge difference. Start simple, start small. A few small ideas:

  • Only buy natural fiber clothes – empty your cart of all synthetics and even synthetic blend clothes. They’re hard on the environment and equally hard on your wallet since they won’t last the season (or maybe through our ‘stay-at-home” time.
  • Shop second hand when we’re able to go back into the shops. Things are often better quality, especially when they’re ‘older’. It’s the perfect way to try out a style, save money, and prevent waste in the landfill.
  • Plant a tree – this is my favorite since it’s a way to rebalance the oxygen-carbon-dioxide cycle: in other words allows us to breathe and survive – pretty good stuff.
  • Find an organization that supports something you believe in. For example: want to travel to Kuala Lampur? Read the article above about planting mangrove trees to protect coastlines and give up a $5 latte a week.
  • Register to vote and VOTE (I also have to do this when I can finally return home!) your beliefs, vote to ensure health for the future.
  • Last but not least: stay informed. Right now the news is overwhelming, yet there are lots of environmental articles that are less scary than the coronavirus. Besides, environmental action is something we can do and plan for now.

Let’s choose life – a healthy environment for our health and well-being.

The Money Tree

30 Mar

I used to tell people I had a money tree in my backyard when they wondered how I could afford something (without going into debt). I had no backyard (or tree!), but, I was a darn good bargain hunter and shopped second-hand!

Currently, self-quarantined with cousins outside of D.C., I sure wish that tree outside my window was a money tree that I could pick from every morning. Yet, I have to remind myself that every tree is a money tree, whether with fruit, nuts, shelter from the sun, sucking up rainwater and keeping it in the soil, and, most priceless of all supplying OXYGEN.

Don’t we all wish we had a money tree in our backyards? It’s hard to remember that trees supply the most precious of all riches: OXYGEN!

Oxygen… Ironically, the coronavirus impacts our lungs, our ability to breathe. Breathing, like trees and all they offer, is something we may usually take for granted. Looking at the silver lining in our surreal self-isolated rooms: now is the perfect time to think about what’s important to prioritize and protect.

Even though it’s hard to think about balancing the economy and the environment as the world is stopped for the pandemic; Money/Economy will survive ONLY with the Environment/Trees: The Economy, like each of us individually, needs the Environment to keep alive.

Perspective: two months ago, the world was awash in news and warning of climate change and environmental dangers. Pictures of plastic waste, wasted forests cut for cattle grazing or construction filled our news feed. Unseen and sorely felt, microscopic Coronavirus has now replaced our worry for the future with alarm for the present.

It’s a bit overwhelming now to realize climate change is still a critical issue!

Priority: I bet most of us right now are craving the comfort of walking in nature, seeing a tree, listening to a bird, smelling the freshness of spring. As important as oxygen, walking in nature is like a needed gift, filling us with calm, good energy, and optimism. It’s PRICELESS.

Balance: Everything is changing and we can weigh the options and refocus our wants to prioritize our needs: We need fresh air and the calm of nature. The economy needs the environment for survival.

Where and what is your sense of balance?

IRL it looks and feels as if we have to choose between money – or – trees. AS we’re currently indoors most of the time, it’s the perfect time to think about what makes us feel rich and full of life: a walk in a park or down a tree filled street or locked at home waiting for deliveries. Mull it over for the next week, especially if you’re sitting at home in quarantine or isolation.

Nature and trees are ‘priceless’ and add value far beyond their monetary worth: oxygen and Emotional Well Being!

The best way to not stress (too much)? Take action! I don’t want to stress about money so I won’t buy that T-shirt or jeans; I certainly don’t want to stress about the environment and I can relax knowing cutting down on spending and using throw-aways is a win-win. And I certainly don’t want to be stressing about the coronavirus, so I’m staying away from others and washing my hands (a lot) with plain soap and water.

Most of all I know how lucky I am to have time right now to re-prioritize my needs and wants, while also paying attention to my checking balance and mental health. Let’s plan to make this pandemic an opportunity for changing actions when we re-emerge from our cocoons of isolation.

What do you choose? Have a discussion with friends and family about:

  • Where are priorities based on what’s important to you?
  • How do you define ‘Money Tree’?
  • What are some actions you can take to address both the environmental and economic challenges we’re faced with?

Let’s choose life: oxygen, water, and safe food! Trees give life and support our health and well-being. There are some things money can’t buy. Let’s remember this for our present sanity, future environmental health, and long time well-being.

AND – reach out to friends, even those who aren’t reaching out to you – it’s a kindness as important as fresh air!

6 Steps to stop Gaslighting: Curb invasive doubts from taking root

26 Mar

It doesn’t take much for others to plant doubts that take root into our minds and souls, killing off natural thoughts and beliefs. If you’re like me, you’ve had these seeds (of doubt) thrown your way more often than you’d like. These seeds have flourished in my heart, making me doubt myself, and, prevented me from fully realizing my own talents and possibilities (in the past). In my last post, ‘Doubt is an Invasive Species’, I explored how these seeds take root, and kill off what’s natural inside of us.

Smothering and demeaning insults and comments by others – or worse, by ourselves is Gaslighting.

So ENOUGH of gaslighting: harboring invasive thoughts which stifle our natural talents. These 6 steps to kill off doubt are the first step to change your internal environment and unleash your own natural thoughts and beliefs to grow. As the world changes around us, this is the perfect time to:

  • Identify what’s invasive and what’s natural in your personal belief system
  • Take action to kill off the invasive doubts and nurture your natural beliefs.
  • Take charge of these challenging times, find work, and, a life that gives you pleasure, and, importantly shares your unique gift and NICHE with the world. (Each of us has a unique niche based on our qualities and characteristics.)
  • Define and unleash success based on your talents, needs, beliefs.
  • Create a life that is sustainable emotionally and financially and most of all joyful for YOU.
  • Bring forth our most authentic self – now is the time!

Step 1: initially, it’s identifying doubts you hear and from whom: hard, but oh so interesting work:

Looking in the mirror makes you face yourself and see the positive in who you are. Talk out loud to yourself (really).

Usually we get so used to insulting/gaslighting ourselves, we don’t pay attention to what we say. Our insults become our way of talking about ourselves, drowning out other, positive voices – sometimes even the voices who first planted those initial seeds of doubt. Take your time. Write things down or record them – whatever works for you.

  • Take time to identify who planted those seeds.
  • Take time to rethink WHY you believe the ‘doubt’, in any way, that has taken over your mind and soul.

Now that you’ve figured out whose voice you hear, ( I’m sure from now on you’ll always hear that persons voice and see their face when you ‘doubt’ yourself) it’s time to uncover your natural thoughts about yourself:

Once again, stand before the mirror and listen and list your natural thoughts through writing and/or recording.

Take the time to think this through…

It’s time to get in touch with real qualities and characteristics – why you are unique, what talents you have to share and benefit those around you. These qualities are what lead to becoming the great ball player, dancer, writer, developer, etc. Even if you aren’t that ‘job title’, these qualities are more important and will lead to your success in any job, and all situations. After all, jobs come and go, but the skills we hold as a person are what make us successful in every stage and every step of our life. I think this makes them WAY more important – and interesting!

Once you KNOW those values, beliefs and qualities that have been deep inside, hold on tight: they are real. Now it’s time to start silencing those ‘doubt’ voices that have taken root:

Stop calling yourself the names others have called you and told you about yourself! Pay attention to the voice you say them in!

I think this is something we do without thinking: call ourselves various names that others have told us for years. After Step 2, you should be able to hear the voice that first showered you with seeds of doubt; replace their words with your own.

This is a universal issue: from a recent conversation: C. is 29 and manages a spa in Kampot, Cambodia, which also trains young girls with skills and abilities to get jobs where they can have independence and pride in who they are. The first time I saw her, I was struck by her warm and welcoming smile, and her ability to make all of us (foreigners) feel welcome and comfortable. But that’s not her whole story: not the charm and skills of managing a spa/training center. Her REAL story is her mother constantly telling her she was ugly, how she would never get a man, how sorry (the mother) felt for herself. Imagine growing up like that? I may have crumbled, but C. knew she was smart and had other great skills and developed them. And while she may still believe she’s not beautiful – she has focused on her natural beliefs and focused them and somehow shoved her mother’s comments to the side.

Now if someone told me I’d never be a great singer, it would actually be true – I don’t have the talent – I think it’s not WHAT we’re told – it’s HOW we’re told: it may sound condescending at the time, but being told we have great enthusiasm and/or great persistence is and should be considered to be a compliment. It’s time we changed that. Going back to C: so what if she wasn’t a great beauty – most of us aren’t – that is not something that should be the sole center of identity. We are all so much more than just our talent, looks and/or the lack of it. C. knows that!

I only wish I had been as smart when I was younger…

ONE thing is clear:

As I wrote in my last post: there’s a reason why other’s plant seeds of doubt – it’s because some of those same doubts have been planted in them. People share what they have heard, what they have ‘learned’…

Okay, so knowing someone’s seeds of doubt are coming from THEM, should make it easier, right? Hmmm… well, it should, but it’s not always that simple is it? Too often we take things so personally and it’s WHY we believe it: because we think we should – or that we have to. Yet, as I wrote before, seeds of doubt are thrown because sadly, that person was gaslighted in the same way they are gaslighting you. I think it’s time to understand the ‘thrower’s’ pain (for lack of a better word, other than bully), and have some empathy for them.

I once commented to my mom that her mother must never have said anything nice to her. Surprised, she asked how I knew. To me it was obvious based on her comments. Imagine how hard it was for her to parent based on her parents. Surely we all have doubts rooted deep inside of us that impacts how we interact with others and go through the world.

It’s really hard to think something KIND or compassionate about someone who is constantly insulting you, but realize it’s NOT ABOUT YOU.

Empathy might be the greatest gift we can share with a bully/gaslighter (ok, the easiest way to identify someone who throws seeds of doubt). Empathy can help understand it’s about THEM, it’s NOT personal so don’t take it that way. I always (try to) keep in mind how much hurt someone must have inside to spread such doubt.

We can’t change what someone else says to us – but we can change how we internalize it – whether we let those seeds of doubt take root and grow, or if we deflect those words with compassion for the planter.

Once we realize doubt is not about us, we can decide to ‘not accept it’. Think of it like a Youtube ad: we can control what Youtube ads we see, and we can decide what Doubt seeds we listen to – or NOT. Step 5 outlines rejecting Doubt seeds with the same decision making process as rejecting a Youtube ad:

Check as many boxes as needed! Especially when these Doubt ‘ads’ are repetitive.

When you ‘hear’ a seed of doubt, change your internal environment to reject them from taking root:

  • Think about why it’s coming your way (in a non-personal way);
  • What you might say to that person instead (whether you say it out loud or not);
  • WHY those doubts should not take root inside your mind and soul.
  • Focusing on your own natural thoughts makes you less vulnerable to the doubt from others. Remind yourself of your native beliefs and what’s true about yourself.

Last but not least: decide to replant your internal environment with your true beliefs and values. Identify your true qualities that make you a worthy person and nurture those beliefs, while always unrooting those seeds of doubt that may lurk far below.

Focus on what you believe and know to be true about yourself. Listen to YOUR voice.

Nurturing your own personal beliefs and truths, has an added benefit: if you believe in yourself, you’re more likely to support and believe in others. And we all need that. Take time and tell yourself how your real qualities and beliefs make you the person most needed in the world now!

Right now (most of us) are at home, possibly stressed and feeling alone in isolation. Listen to the conversations you’re having with yourself (and others); pay attention; weed out other’s negative seeds of doubt.

We owe it to ourselves to be at our best, free of invasive doubts and focused on our skills and talents, as we re-emerge and re-enter the world. Take the time now to plant and nurture your internal garden!

Wishing you good health – mentally and physically and a day filled with new possibilities and awareness!

For more reading and information: Here’s a recent article to read more and get some additional tips:

How to stop gaslighting yourself, because you wouldn’t let anyone else talk to you this way

Not every inner voice has your back.

Read in Well+Good:

Doubt is an Invasive Species

25 Mar

I spent my 3rd day of self- isolation/quarantine digging into rich soil, weeding the invasive species mugwort from a church garden. Not something this city girl would normally do, but it worked wonders relaxing my frustration with staying indoors. Weeding this invasive was hard work, with its fine, (very) deep roots, nestled against the tulips and tuber roses, I had to dig really deep to get as much of the roots as possible. These suckers will be growing back I’m sure and weeding them out takes a long, long time. I guess in some ways, mugwort, or any invasive really, is a lot like the coronavirus – roots easily and quickly, and, once present takes a long time to get rid of.

If you’re like me, you don’t pay much attention to mugwort, or even other invasives. But we are all (and/or SHOULD BE) paying attention to the coronavirus as it effects so many aspects of our lives. On a more personal note, another kind of invasive invades our minds and souls, taking root and destroying so much good inside us. Even Facebook and other social media sites have the power to connect us- but also to plant doubt. Doubt being a most dangerous invasive.

Seeds of doubt are spread as subtle, disparaging, insulting, comments. Little comments, belittling and shaking confidence, can easily take root in our minds. As painful as a comment is, being in a group yet ignored, basically shunned, is another seed of doubt, as is the obvious lack of a comment or ‘like’, on a FB post.

Little and big words, from people we trust, people we love, steal away confidence and trust in ourselves, making us even greedier for feedback and praise from these same planters of doubt. These comments, actions, and, words take root as DOUBT, invading and destroying our natural thoughts and beliefs.

We all start with a ‘natural environment, free of these negative seeds:

We take risks… take chances to try new things for what we think/know we can do – until someone tells us to be ‘afraid’.

As kids, we believe we can do EVERYTHING and anything. We dream of skateboard competitions and wowing our friends; our cool high school accomplishments and popularity; writing a great novel or blog that people ‘like’; becoming the winning player on a sports team; being the new flutist in a major orchestra. These beliefs keeps us motivated, trying and risking new things. True, we may find we have no great talent and our dream changes, but, whatever our belief, it creates a spark to keep doing. It’s pretty great stuff.

Until someone comes along and tells us we CAN’T do that anything and everything. This someone happily plants a seed of Doubt, creating imbalance and destruction in our natural internal (optimistic) environment. Doubt slowly takes root – usually because the ‘planter’ of this seed is someone we love and trust and expect belief. Suddenly, instead of thinking we can do everything, we begin to wonder if we can do anything at all.

A seed of doubt gets planted and takes root.

Roots are like straws, sucking up the good – and the bad stuff with one great gulp. Doubt has a way of killing off all that was good in us from our talent and all we try to achieve, to personal qualities including warmth and openness to others. It doesn’t take much to change our internal environments – and beliefs in ourselves. A whole new ‘crop’ of DOUBT beliefs easily flourish.

It’s amazing and scary how easily doubt planted by another can easily grow and take over our natural optimism and beliefs.

Like all invasive species, doubt (in ourselves) grows and spreads. It doesn’t take long before the doubt in us gets ‘shared’ with others. It’s way too easy to say to others what’s been told to us; to say something to make others doubt themselves.

It doesn’t take much to make others as insecure and fearful: a comment, or lack of one easily plants a seed of doubt

This is the saddest and most dangerous aspect of doubt being planted – Once invaded, seeds are spread (comments are made) to others. We end up saying to others what we’ve been told; sharing the comments that have hurt and destroyed us, hurting others. It sounds like the making of a bully, right?

Invasive Doubts are really hard to unroot, as one extremely successful and brilliant friend told me. We couldn’t believe how it was so much easier to believe the doubts than the compliments: the doubts having much deeper roots.

But there’s hope: My next post will be 6 Steps to Unroot Doubt and I’ll offer specific steps to nurture your own natural beliefs and kill off the roots others have planted. In the mean time, think about what beliefs have taken root and flourished in your heart and mind.

Ask yourself:

What do you believe about yourself? Whose voice do you hear?

Who believes in you? Do you believe them?

What is the ‘anything’ and ‘everything’ you think you can do? Can you start it in the next few weeks while you’re home and have time?

How can you support others and NOT plant seeds of doubt they may have, especially in these uncertain and stressful times?

As we sit home, isolated and/or quarantined, each of us is reaching out to others and looking for a sense of connection and affirmation. Let’s be careful of what we say and how we encourage others dreams and thoughts these next few weeks. Even more important, let’s reclaim our natural and native beliefs and encourage our dreams to live a more balanced and natural life!

Fast Fashion DON’T: #WasteFreeWednesday

18 Mar

We’re all at home – or should be – self-isolated to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Not to mention that most shops, public places, restaurants, even coffee places are closed. It’s a new bizarro world out there, right?

One thing I always think is weird: if I just want to be home and not go out it’s a wonderful luxury. BUT, if I CAN’T go out because of the weather, or now this virus, I’m frustrated and annoyed, and, all I can think of are all the places I could be going.

But, for the health and safety of all of us, we’re home, not just where you are but around the world. Likely, figuring out what to do with our time and energy; boredom and fear.

What have you been feeling these days? Can you put a name to it?

In the meantime, it’s easy to get on-line, and think about all the things you WILL be doing, and all the things you’ll need to do them. On-line shopping is easy, fun, and expensive. Expensive for those of us unable to work and collect a paycheck right now, and, even more expensive for Mother Nature.

Check out this article about FAUX FAST FASHION and the quote by Emma Watson: ‘We have the power to change the world by just being careful of what we buy.”

If you’re like me and feeling powerless to do much as we self-quarantine and self-isolate, how we shop and spend money is one way to take back that power. That will be even more important since so many of us are not working, not making money, and in truth, don’t have the money to buy clothes that won’t last as long as it will take to pay them off. So here are some actions to take:

Thoughts for this week’s #WasteFreeWednesday?

Don’t add to your (financial) debt;

Don’t add to the landfill excess of today’s trend that will pollute the planet even more.


  • Go through all your clothes and stuff.
    • Take pictures and think what feels good and what you need – post on Instagram and/or FB and ask people for their opinion
  • Reach out to friends and FB friends and see if someone wants to swap or just take things out of your closet
    • See if anyone has something you want and can easily swap

There’s so much written about this and here are just a few articles…

Read in South China Morning Post:


Model Arizona Muse speaks out against fast fashion in new video with Extinction Rebellion – The Independent

Model Arizona Muse speaks out against fast fashion in new video with Extinction Rebellion – The Independent

Here’s a great article that showed up in my newsfeed today to help you focus your self-isolation time today and probably the rest of the week!

How to recycle your clothes: the guide to sustainable de-cluttering

Posted bySarah BiddlecombePublished13 hours ago

how to recycle clothes

Is 2020 the time for a full wardrobe detox? If your clear out has left you with a pile of unwanted clothes, read on for our guide on how to recycle clothes you no longer want or need responsibly.

Are you de-cluttering your wardrobe? Purging your closet of the clothes that no longer make you look and feel confident will leave you with two things a) the streamlined wardrobe you’ve always dreamed of – and –b) a mounting pile of clothes that you need to dispose of. 

The mere thought of that jumbled pile growing on your bedroom floor has been enough for many of us to postpone that long overdue clear out for another few months. But not any more – when it comes to finding new homes for your unwanted clothes, there have never been more options. Whether you choose to sell your pieces online, donate to a local charity shop or even take them to a clothes swap, there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing your old pieces find a new lease of life. 

But what about the pieces that aren’t in a fit state to find a new home? We’re talking the moth-eaten jumpers, damaged-beyond-repair jeans and stained T-shirts that can’t be cleaned. Though it might be tempting to chuck the odd ripped sock or pair of laddered tights into the bin, what about those bigger ticket items? 

With Brits sending a nausea-inducing 350,000 tones of clothes to landfill in spring 2018, our fashion waste problem is an epidemic that we can no longer ignore. Campaigners are urging us all to start recycling our old clothes rather than throwing them in the rubbish – and for good reason.

Over the last decade, clothing has become the fastest growing stream of waste in the UK, and it now represents the fifth biggest environmental footprint of any industry in the UK. 

Plus, the staggering 350,000 tonnes of clothing that go to landfill each year could generate a massive £140 million if they were reused or recycled.


10 questions to ask yourself when cleaning out your wardrobe

Though the figures leave us little to argue with, we find  ourselves asking exactly how can we recycle our old clothes, and what do we need to know before we detox our wardrobes? 

To answer these all important questions, we looked at the recycling options available on the high street and spoke to Catrin Palfrey, project manager for the Love your Clothes campaign, to find out how we can do more to help at home.

How to recycle clothes: all your questions answered

Stylist spoke to Catrin Palfrey, project manager for the Love your Clothes campaign, part of the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP), to find out how we can do more at home, and how taking our unwanted items back to the high street can help.

Where can people in the UK go to recycle their clothes?

“People can donate clothes for reuse and recycling through a number of routes. For example, this could be via charity shops or collection bags from the door step, at a textiles bank at a supermarket or the local Household Waste and Recycling Centre (HWRC).

“Some councils will also offer a clothing collection service as part of their recycling collection. The best way to see what to do in your area is use the Love Your Clothes Recycling Locator, where you can pop in your post-code and find out where your nearest textiles bank is.

“Or, you could try refashioning or upcycling unwanted items.”

Why is it important to recycle our old clothes rather than throwing them away?

“Globally, the natural resources (e.g. water and petroleum) needed to make products such as clothes are reducing. Repair, reuse and recycling reduces the amount we are sending to landfill, and makes use of resources already available rather than making them from scratch.

“Ultimately this means reduced levels of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere which contribute to climate change. It’s also believed that better reuse and recovery can maximise value, create jobs and build skills.”

Are there any parts of clothing that can’t be recycled, such as zips or buttons?

“European Recycling Company is a SCAP signatory which recycles garments and shoes. Nothing goes to waste: buttons, zips, chains and rivets are all removed and sent for recycling.

“Even the dust generated in the process is compressed into blocks and used again in the manufacture of paper, concrete production or utilised as energy.”

Where to recycle clothes on the high street

A number of high street retailers are offering in-store initiatives that aim to make recycling even simpler.

h&m recycle clothes
How to recycle clothes: H&M offer a £5 voucher in return for a bag of your unwanted textiles.

Recycling clothes at H&M

H&M has been offering a garment recycling service since 2013, with every item donated being recycled, reused or re-worn. The fashion giant collects clothes or textiles in all H&M stores worldwide, and if you drop in a bag of clothes to be recycled, the company will give you a £5 voucher to spend in-store as a thank you.

Speaking to Stylist, Catarina Midby, H&M UK sustainability manager, said, “We are one of the world’s biggest fashion companies and this comes with both responsibility and opportunity as we have a unique reach and possibility to create change that few others have. 

Currently 26% of all H&M products are made using sustainable materials and our goal is to produce 100% of our products using sustainable materials by 2030.”

Recycling clothes at Zara

Zara began installing collection bins in its stores across Europe in 2016, and currently has containers spread across countries including the UK, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden. 

The clothes left in the containers are donated to charities such as the Red Cross.

Recycling clothes at & Other Stories

You can swap your unwanted clothes, textiles and beauty packaging in & Other Stories stores in exchange for a 10% ‘recycling treat’ voucher. Not too shabby…

This article was originally published in June 2017 but has been updated throughout

Sarah Biddlecombe

Sarah Biddlecombe is an award-winning journalist and Digital Commissioning Editor at Stylist. Follow her on Twitter

#Waste-Free Wednesday

25 Feb

It seems every day we hear and/or experience outcomes from our irresponsible environmental behavior and Mother Nature’s response. It’s overwhelming, with scary, dire predictions shared daily.

Politicians and corporations are dragging their feet; unwilling to change their role in polluting the planet. Even with dynamic climate leaders like Greta Thunberg providing reasons why they shouldand must – take immediate action. I say: it’s time WE lead!

Time to change where we put our energy and frustrations.

As individuals WE have Power. Power to change ourselves, and, to rebalance the environment. It’ll be hard and sounds hokey, but it’s time to acknowledge the change we can create by where and how we spend our money – and our energy.

Money speaks. Every day and every time we spend a dollar, we are providing support of corporations, and their actions. Time to spend money (in a way) to show what is important to us – on what we value.

There’s so much pressure, incentive, opportunity to buy something cheap, new, and shiny. But we all have to decide what’s important to us – really, in the long term.

Buying new, cheap and shiny things is fun – it makes us feel good, right? And all around us we’re shown how something new and wonderful makes us a better person. Especially new clothes that are on trend and Instagram perfect.

Ask yourself: WHAT IS IMPORTANT? Do I want to eat plastic in fish?

Power starts with small actions. It’s what we do and how we spend for starters. Each action may be a drop in the bucket, but, a single drop in the ocean can cause a tidal wave.

Imagine if each of us said YES to Re-usable mugs and bottles each and every Wednesday – how many disposable cups and single use bottles would NOT be used.

IF we stop taking our ‘STARBUCKS’ (or other brand) coffee cups, stop buying a bottle of water and instead refill our water bottles, companies will listen (because they won’t be making money!) and change – because WE have made them do so!

Time to start a tidal wave, one action, one drop at a time with #Waste-Free Wednesday.

Here are some ideas to put into play this Wednesday:

  • DON’T take a bag that’s offered – even from a trendy store (and even if it’s paper).
  • Bring a reusable bag with you.
  • Carry your own mug to the local cafe for your morning cup of tea/coffee.
  • If you commute, carry one of those commuter cups – you probably have a few in your kitchen.
  • Don’t buy FAST FASHION! We all know those trends of the week that are in style today, are cheap, and cheaply made. (it will end up in a landfill soon.)
  • Bring your own water bottle, or if you’re lucky to live in a place with good drinking water use the water fountain (or bubbler if you’re from Wisconsin).

If you already do some of these, perfect, add another action to your list, or make a longer time goal – and share here.

Spread the word and become the #Waste-Free Wednesday leader in your class, office, and family/friend group.

Imagining a rebalanced environment:

Imagine a Wednesday when 50% of people walking into Starbucks didn’t take a disposable cup and lid.

Imagine a Wednesday where 50% fewer people bought a bottle of water and instead refilled it at a water fountain, or, cafe/restaurant, office, etc.

Imagine not taking a bag at the trendy store (or drugstore) you just shopped.

Imagine shopping a local “BUY/SELL clothes store nearby – no packaging to throw away. And it’s fun! Make a shop date with friends like I recently did in Chicago with J. and L.

Money speaks. Money is a step to environmental action when we DON’T put our money in things that are unsustainable!

Join the movement: Become a #Waste-Free Wednesday leader, share on Instagram and Facebook what you’re doing today!

A little extra: Margaret Weis’ powerful quote reinforcing our power – and our ability – to start a tidal wave!

“We each have within ourselves the ability to shape our own destinies. That much we understand. But, more important, each of us has an equal ability to shape the destiny of the universe. Ah, that you find more difficult to believe. But I tell you it is so. You do not have to be the leader of the Council. You do not have to be king or monarch or the head of a clan to have a significant impact on the world around you.
In the vastness of the ocean, is any drop of water greater than another?
No, you answer, and neither has a single drop the ability to cause a tidal wave.
But, I argue, if a single drop falls into the ocean, it creates ripples. And these ripples spread. And perhaps – who knows – these ripples may grow and swell and eventually break foaming upon the shore.
Like a drop in the vast ocean, each of us causes ripples as we move through our lives. The effects of whatever we do – insignificant as it may seem – spread out beyond us. We may never know what far-reaching impact even the simplest action might have on our fellow mortals. Thus we need to be conscious, all of the time, of our place in the ocean, of our place in the world, of our place among our fellow creatures.
For if enough of us join forces, we can swell the tide of events – for good or for evil.”

― Margaret Weis, The Seventh Gatetags: changedestinyinspirationalphilosophyRead more quotes from Margaret Weis

Giving Gifting GREEN Tuesday

3 Dec

From Black Friday to Giving Tuesday the holiday shopping rush is ON. There are so many emotions, money, and, well, stuff. That’s why Giving Tuesday – and Giving GREEN is so important in our increasingly crazy and overwhelmed world.

Let's make it cool to give gifts with meaning; gifts that will give and give - DONATE in someones name!

What an opportunity for us to refocus wants vs needs, and, to rethink how lucky we are. We can take time to tune out all the stuff we’re supposed to have to be trendy and ‘cool’. Just ponder these other plusses to giving a donation gift:

  • Giving GREEN is about putting money where beliefs are. It’s a chance to focus on action rather than despair over all the bad news out there. A dollar can make a difference!
  • Giving GREEN teaches loved ones, especially kids to share and care about the world around us – and to take action.
  • Giving GREEN and donating to causes we believe in allows us to take control and feel powerful one dollar at a time. Money ‘talks’. Money has power so maybe politicians and corporations will listen and take action when we donate.
  • Gifting Giving GREEN is a clean gift: there is no waste, no plastic. Woohoo – nothing to wrap or ship and it won’t end up polluting the environment.
  • It’s cool – it’s a gift that’s different.

Ask what’s important to someone you love. Gift GREEN and donate in their name. Help others create a life they love! Here are a few ideas for Giving Gifting GREEN:

Gifting a tree is not only the best way to combat climate change, and insure your child has oxygen for life, it also adds beauty and more to your community. Imagine gifting a tree in a national forest and taking your child to see the trees! A list of orgs that will plant your tree:
WATER is the source of life! We planted trees in the yard of my school in South Africa (as Peace Corps volunteer) for shade and to absorb waste water from the faucet where kids washed their hands. See, planting trees is good for water AND oxygen!

Look at all this wasted water, where water only ‘flowed’ once a week for most of the village. Kids would come and wash their hands, and, by noon the area would be flooded. If you look in the left hand corner you can see the metal cage structure which was put up to protect the tree planted in the previous picture. Here are some orgs that will supply clean water – a necessity around the world including the United States.
Heifer is a great organization to help people around the world become self-sufficient by supplying people with animals to raise and feed the family and more. My friend J will donate/gift sending a girl to school for her sister who needs nothing. How cool is that? for more info!

Give to your local library because what is more important than reading (and movies and free computer use?) If you haven’t been your library recently, go!

People are hungry and in need of good, nutritious food. One great organization that provides lunch, food, and meal delivery is Meals on Wheels. OR check out a local church or organization that has a food pantry. No-one should go hungry.

Ukrainian teachers learn English to help their students participate and communicate with the world. Speaking English is the best way to promote democracy and peace. Peace Corps sends volunteers like me to build these skills. You can donate to amazing Peace Corps volunteer projects around the world.

(I do have a confession though… I became my niece’s least favorite aunt when I gifted them Chanukah donations. Though after a few years they started telling me where they wanted their ‘gift’ to go, like to a local animal shelter!)

There are SO many possibilities. Follow your passion and the needs you see around you. Let’s all make a difference together this holiday season! Please post and share what you’ve gifted – and THANKS!

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!

Plan to Plant NOW for your Spring Fling

10 Oct

Hope is a form of planning. It’s a vision of what you’re going to do the next day and the next. So to not be hopeful is to be defeated immediately.

Gloria Steinem

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!

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