Listen: Word for the New Year

 Almost All The Truth - Happy New Year

New Year, New Start

I like the idea of fresh starts and new beginnings. I like the idea that I can wake up every day and make different choices, be more present, be more conscientious, be better. It is important to me to have ideals and to strive for them, even if I fail and fail again. The point is in the process, not in the product. I don’t beat myself up for shortcomings, real or perceived, but that doesn’t mean I give in to them either.

I like the reflections at the end of one year and the openness to which we greet the new year. How you frame the new year’s start is up to you. I like to consider a theme, a word, and work toward being a better me under this theme, instead of straight resolutions. This year I chose listen.

Word of the Year: Listen 

do you know how to listen? can you listen well?

do you know how to listen without preparing your reply?

listen to your gut

listen to your heart

listen to yourself

listen to me

listen for just a minute

listen for hours

listen to music

don’t listen to what everyone else says

only listen to those who encourage you

listen to your parents, your teachers, your elders, your boss

listen to advice from those who’ve walked this path before 

listen with an open mind

listen with an open heart

listen

listen, i have something to say

Many thoughts race through my mind when I think of the word listen. For now my intentions are to work on listening without preparing my reply. To listen deeply to my family and hear what they say with their words and what those words left unsaid. To listen to all sides without rushing to argument about what I think I know already, to be open to new information. To listen to myself about what is true, what brings me peace. I think if I begin here, I will be in a better place come the end of year reflections.

What do you hope for the new year?

 

Climate Change After Mid-Term Election

Climate Change After Mid-Term Election

The activists, scientists, and policymakers working on slowing (hopefully stopping and reversing, but let’s start with the small steps) climate change, took an enormous hit this mid-term election due to the Senate majority moving into the hands of the GOP. This means the lead climate-change-denier GOP Senator Jim Inhofe is taking over the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

The environment could not have sustained a bigger blow when it comes to the policies we need moving forward. Stephen Colbert’s humorous take on Inhofe’s promotion to the chair takes the edge off — but only slightly.

 

Climate Change: I am not a Scientist and Next Steps

What does the phrase, “I am not a scientist” really mean here? It means politicians don’t even have to pretend to listen to the people who are actually scientists, who are actually conducting research on climate change, and who know without a doubt what needs to happen to slow the onslaught of crises that will come with sitting on our hands claiming innocence of knowledge.

It means they do not have to take action.

There is clear scientific consensus that climate change is real and due to human activities. Congress must act. The EPA must use its authority to limit carbon pollution. The people must educate themselves, each other, and push for better. It is up to us all now.

I have to believe that we fundamentally all have this same common link and recognize its importance…

 

How do you feel about this mid-term election and the role it plays in our environment? Does the outcome leave you searching for actions to take, organizations to support, or other roles? I would love to hear from you!

 

 

 

5 Fun Ways to Use Carved Pumpkins After Halloween

5 Fun Ways to Use Carved Pumpkins After Halloween

Halloween is almost here and pumpkins everywhere are waiting to make their way to homes, stoops, and porches. What to do with them after the carving and decorating is done? Here are 5 fun ways to use carved pumpkins after Halloween is over…

 

1. Pumpkin Bird Feeder. What better way to use a good chunk of pumpkin than to feed the neighborhood birds? There are several ways to make a bird feeder depending on how you carve your pumpkin.

If the bottom, top, or side is left as a bowl or curved shape it is quite easy! Just cut the piece away from the rest of the pumpkin to form the bowl. If it is large enough you can cut small holes on each side to form handles to tie twine and hang. If not, use two lengths of twine and attach to the bottom where they crisscross and hang. Fill with birdseed (including any leftover pumpkin seeds) and wait for the neighborhood critters to come enjoy!

2. Pumpkin Planter. Choose a nice fall plant you’d like to transplant or buy from a local nursery (look for one that does not treat with neonicotinoids) as you won’t have time to grow much from seed. Fill your pumpkin with your plant and fill in with organic potting soil.

Your pumpkin does need drainage, but works best when your jack-o’-lantern’s face is not so large it loses much soil. It would be ideal for a painted or etched pumpkin too (add small drainage hole(s) at the bottom)!

3. Pumpkin Guts Stock. Every wondered what you could use those super slimy pumpkin guts for? Wonder no more. Use those guts to make a flavorful vegetable stock and reduce food waste!

Take all the pumpkin guts and place them in a stock pot full of water. Throw in any other veggie parts you might have, like carrot and celery tops, plus a whole chopped onion and up to 2tbsp of olive oil (optional). Boil for 30 minutes or so (or until it starts to change color), then strain all the veggie pieces out. You have just made yourself some delicious Pumpkin Guts Stock!

Use it in any soup or freeze for later!

4. Pumpkin Compost. – Once it starts to get rotten, just bury the whole thing in your backyard as a soil amendment. Either bury it whole in or break it up into smaller pieces. If there are any seeds left, you might have some volunteers next year. It is also easy to toss into your backyard compost as a green layer!

5. Pumpkin Catapult or Batting Practice. If you have little people in your home who love to build take this chance to create your very own catapult! When those pumpkins start to go, the entire family will have a blast watching them go splat. Then toss the results into the compost (see #4).

Alternatively if you have any budding baseball/softball players in the house that won’t mind getting splattered a bit, work on their hard hits straight at an incoming pumpkin.

Note: I highly recommend some serious supervision with this idea if you have kids giving either a try. But won’t you be the coolest parent ever?!? ;)

 

So tell me:

  • Do any of these ideas strike your fancy?
  • Do you have any other ideas to share?
  • Have you carved pumpkins yet?

 

Breast Cancer, Pinkwashing, and Strength

Chances are, if you are reading this you are aware of breast cancer. You may not know all the details, but you know it can be an incredibly scary diagnosis. By now, you are aware that women should regularly do breast self-exams. You know regular mammograms are important, beginning at age 40 or based on family history (please communicate with your doctor when it is right for you to begin these). You might also be aware that men can get breast cancer.

We are a society full of awareness. Thank goodness for that. In fact, when you see that color pink on products and people, especially in October, what is the first thing that comes to mind?

If you are buying something because you need it and it also happens to have a pink ribbon (plus it doesn’t contain carcinogenic ingredients or hazards; more on that in a minute), then go for it. If you’re buying something simply because it has the pink ribbon? Rethink that pink!

Rethink The Pink - Almost All The Truth

We pledged at ShiftCon to rethink the pink.

Did you know that the largest corporations with their huge pink marketing campaigns spend more money on their pink products, many of which directly and indirectly lead to this very cancer, than on breast cancer research? Even Susan G. Komen has simply become a marketing monolith of pinkwashing. Komen spends more time and money protecting its “for the Cure” phrase, politics, and marketing their pink ribbon for awareness on products than actually raising money for a cure.

There is little in the pink that leads to prevention or cure for breast cancer. What you will find instead are, in partnership with the Susan G. Komen Foundation, fracking drill bits which will help inject possible and known carcinogens into the ground. These then leak into the surrounding environment and water supply. That was this year’s palm-to-forehead product.

I am sure you’ve seen more, from plastic water bottles to endocrine disruptors in fragrances and cosmetics, the list goes on and on what people will slap a pink ribbon on to show their “support.” Often this support costs them little, goes to organizations with little aspirations of prevention and cure, yet reaps huge profits.

Ugh. Can I shake off my disgust for a minute?

It is time to move our focus from awareness and move toward new research on breast cancer cause, prevention, and cure. Luckily there are some great organizations helping us do just that and they need our help to get their names in front of the people.

Have you heard of pinkwashing before? What do you do to make sure you are not supporting it? I especially welcome comments from breast cancer survivors on how they feel about the pinking of October… Please join the conversation!