a boots-on-the-ground view of the change that's a-foot

Archive for May, 2010

Creativity, Work, and Music

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

What comes first? The music or the muse?

Music is in our souls. I believe we tune in to music not just for the art, but in the secret hope of your own creative passions and talents being awakened through some kind of energy exchange. The allure of musical performance is as much about the seer as the doer. We don’t want to be them or possess them as much as we want to be own creative selves.

If you want to know more about the creative process, watch and listen to Jack White. I relished his 2007 documentary, Under Great White Northern Lights. As the White Stripes trekked across Canada, we are given clues to this “strange and dirty work” and allowed a peek into a creative process where “passion and desperation” are everything. Still, Mr. White insists that “creativity and work ethic walk side by side” and sometimes you have to simply go in and do the work.

The documentary release last August of It Might Get Loud blurs the lines between work, play, passion and talent as three musical artists bring their stories together – Jack White, Jimmy Page and The Edge. These men all eat creativity for breakfast, but it’s younger Jack that appears to approach the entire process with “aggression and attitude”, saying that playing the guitar is a battle between the man and the instrument, one in which the musician must emerge victorious.

Fight for your creativity. Your soul could depend on it.

The National Marriage Boycott

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

Let’s not get complacent. While our nation is making strides towards equality of race, gender and other social issues (Barack Obama anyone?), we still have a lot of work to do. And, as the wave of change continues to push policy and awareness, the shadow side of humanity darkens (got Arizona?). We need to keep the momentum.

Since 2004, marriage for gays and lesbians became legal in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, Maine and most recently New Hampshire. But the rest of the country is slow to follow and polls show that a surprising majority of Americans still oppose it. WTF?

And now, another political push with Congress’s DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) which denies up to 1,000 rights associated with marriage to same-sex couples.

The answer seems pretty obvious to me. Like marriage? Then pass it on. If you don’t, then shut up and don’t get married. But why anyone would be against is beyond me and probably you too, since you’re reading this blog (it’s called “taoofchange” not “taoofstuckinthefingmud!”).

You can show your support for the LGBT population by joining the National Marriage Boycott. And you can get a really cool ring that says “Equality” so others know where you stand and that you’re not getting married until everyone can get married.

The Great Unleashing of Transition Chapel Hill-Carrboro

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

This weekend hosts our area’s Great Unleashing of Transition Chapel Hill-Carrboro – a sort of Grand Opening of our area’s TransitionTowns initiative, part of a network of hundreds of local, grass-roots groups taking Change towards a more sustainable community into their own hands.

The day-long event will serve as a presentation and discussion of ideas and visions of what we can do in our own backyards, our own homes and businesses to jump-start a movement towards lower-energy consumption, even more support for local goods and services, and in general, more connection to the issues of sustainability in an accessible way.

This group had me at hello. And I admire the way they have maintained momentum while I’ve been busy (indulging in some new obsessions). Yes, I want to hear and see and feel this collective energy towards Change. I’m looking forward to hearing from Duke’s Professor of Ecology, as well as gathering motivation and information from some of our city’s leaders on all levels.

But, I also admit that part of me still has whatever fever the planets have placed upon us this year. Part of me wants to just head to the beach or the woods for the weekend. Or, simply mull on things a little more over a latte, instead. Oh, yeah, the beach…the woods…fair-trade, organic coffee…that’s what this is all about. Let’s get on with it then. Thanks for all your work, Transitioners.

Bountiful Backyards Shares “Beautility”

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

As enamored as I am with the entire idea of “food, not lawns”, I’m still intimidated at the idea of caring for a large garden of my own. I managed to get my tomato plants in the ground last week, along with a couple fig trees, but I’m hesitant to take on much more. Still, plenty of my neighbors have abundant “Victory Gardens” and don’t appear to spend hours working in the hot sun – one of my big garden fears. A Crop Mob may be able to give me a communal push if I had a plan, but what my household needs is information, ideas that will fit into our yard and the amount of time we want to commit to the whole process. Where else can I turn?

Enter Bountiful Backyards, a team of designers, landscapers, educators, artisans and motivators who can make any yard (or parking lot or street corner, for that matter) into an edible landscape.

Bountiful Backyards will consult and evaluate the potential of your yard and help you turn it into something that is both feasible for your space and your lifestyle. They will do as much or as little as you need in the areas of design, preparation, installation, education and guidance.They will design to help you grow and yield at your own pace.

By creating a mutually beneficial relationship between you and the environment, you can trade the time you spend at futile attempts to tame weeds and lawns into a way to feed your family fresher, healthier food for most of the year. You will also be improving soil and creating a much-needed friendly habitat for birds and beneficial insects, all while cultivating your own connection to what happens in those rare moments away from streets and sidewalks.

Bountiful Backyards believes in sharing “Beautility”. Besides their professional services, they offer donation-based workshops on things like backyard bee-keeping and outdoor worm composting.

MOON CYCLES and the Diva within me – better than tampons, period.

Friday, May 7th, 2010

yoga mudraHere it is again – information on the simple, convenient, healthy, money-saving, no-waste Diva Cup and The Keeper for women. If you haven’t made the switch, read on. If you have, send this to a friend. This is great news for women and for the planet! Tao

The environmental question lurking behind that time of the month. Throw away or wash/reuse? Traditional tampons and pads are made with bleach and other toxic chemicals. Friendlier feminine products are now available and although better for your health, they don’t solve the problem of using resources and creating waste.

All of you green goddesses will be thrilled to hear there is another option, good for both you and the planet. The Diva Cup http://and The Keeper http:// are reusable menstrual cups made from silicone or latex rubber, respectively. They are convenient to use,waste-free and super-economical since they will last up to 10 years. I love my Keeper! In fact, these woman-friendly products are so freeing and comfy, that I really hope the word gets out in a big way, so pass it on!

While we’re at it, why don’t we embrace the entire experience with awe instead of dread? As it turns out, in pagan times, when nature was revered and honored, the menstrual cycle was celebrated and acknowledged as a woman’s link to the cycles of the earth and the planets. Wow. It turns out that not only can I use this altered state to contact my inner goddess, but I can now buy and waste less in the process!

I’ve had more than a few students and friends try this. I always encourage them to not be intimidated by the insertion process the first few tries. Embrace the newness and it will soon become second nature! Namaste!

More info. on Yoga practice during Moon Time below.
Tradition:  Women don’t practice during their moon time (menstrual cycle) because their energy is better used for this cleansing process. Using the time for restorative postures and seated meditation is recommended. It is a wonderful way to check in with your emotions, thoughts and the other messages being sent by nature and your body.

Practical application: Once you are proficient/fluent at engaging bandhas, it becomes more logical from a physical perspective not to practice asana since these deep contractions can restrict the menstrual flow. Holding inverted postures can further upset the body’s natural inclination to flow with gravity.

Experience:  I have found through my own experience and that of former students, that the beginning stages of learning Ashtanga does not have a significant effect on the menstrual flow. I’m guessing that this may be because it takes a long while to learn to actively engage the lower bandhas and/or use a full Ujjayi breath. Also, in this first stage, we are not doing or holding inversions more than 5 breaths. So, during this period, I recommend taking off your home practice, but feeling free to participate in a class. if your flow is heavy, you may want to exclude all closing inversions.

If you are a more advanced student, I recommend avoiding asana practice at home and possibly avoiding class – depending on how far the instruction has moved into the series. If you are unsure, talk to your teacher.

Other no-practice days: Tradition dictates that there is no vigorous practice on Full or New Moon Days, due to the high “lunar” energy that may cause distraction. Many women flow with the dates of the Full or New Moon, so this works out nicely. If you do not yet do this, you may find you cycle slowly adjusting to this calendar – if you keep up a regular practice. Energetically, this is optimal, so look forward to it!  If you do not flow with the Moon phases, still skip practice on Full or New Moon Days. Restorative or seated meditation practice is a wonderful experience on those days.

To view full/new moon dates

Crop Mob is alive, well – and a blast

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

Crop Mobbing is growing (pun intended) in NC, and spreading all over the country. I’d like to call it progress and innovation, but of course, this kind of collective community is what past generations of farmers counted on at planting and harvest times. Sustainable farming was (and still is), labor intensive. People came together when necessary, to make food happen.

Crop Mobbing today hasn’t changed much in theory, though it’s novelty lends it a modern allure. Just watch this video and try to tell me you don’t want to be one of those people digging in the dirt!

Crob mobs are made up of anyone and everyone who understands and is excited about the local food movement – student groups, experienced and inexperienced gardeners, the agri-savvy or simply the agri-curious. They may do any number of necessary tasks, such as weeding, rock-picking, gleaning, planting, fencing and more. The group on the above link is making a boggy field into a rice paddy (in NC!!) – a job that may have taken months for the two farmer/owners, took this mob of smiling faces about 4 hours.

Although the time, place and tasks of each farm encounter is planned ahead, anyone can join in at any time, and the mobbing looks more like spontaneous fun than grueling work. (More likely grueling work is transformed into fun.) No money exchanges hands, but a meal is shared between mobbers and farmers – one that is surely infused with more energy and fresh deliciousness than I can imagine.

NC is known for it’s plentiful mobbing. To date, The Crop Mob has descended upon 15 small, sustainable farms in the Triangle area of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill. And, the trend is spreading into city neighborhoods as well, with the growing popularity of urban farms and edible landscaping.

Educational resources are also showing up online and through community workshops for those of us intimidated by what we don’t know about planting, growing, and harvesting food. Me? I like to connect with nature, but I admit to a tiny lazy streak when it comes to the thought of tending a full garden. But even a small plot can provide a lot to a household hungry for local, organic grub. Now, I just have to find a shovel…

Thoughts from a friend

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

My good friend and former roommate (and occasional contributor to this blog), Greg Gillette, now lives across the country, so we don’t talk as often as we should. Yet, he still knows me in one of those ways that can’t be explained in earthly terms. He always seems to share something that says just the right thing at just the right time. Below is what arrived in my mailbox yesterday. I have a sense that many of the Tao of Change readers will relate to it, too. Let me know.

Tracey, Do you ever feel like this?

The stranger in a strange land observes and ponders;
Feels a longing to go home, yet knows he is here for a meaningful purpose.
Battles the pull of wanting to leave and the desire to make a difference here.
Struggles with mankind’s lack of conscious and strong desire for material wealth;
Yet feels empathy for all beings, as the stranger was once very unconscious for many years
and the stranger battled and still does with the dark forces of materialism and the shallow thoughts of
“mundane nothingness.”

The stranger longs for truth, love, and connection: concepts that most are not seeking.
The stranger feels, at time, a sense of despair and hopelessness for this strange land.
And other times, the stranger is fully able to laugh at this strange land and its occupants.
The stranger battles, ponders, reflects and thinks: inner, outer, physical, spiritual, hope, despair.
The stranger is not alone as the stranger knows many other strangers feeling and thinking as the stranger feels and thinks.

Strange things are stirring for the stranger in a strange land.


A New Perspective

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

When we get stuck – like all the airline travelers during the recent volcanic dust storm, or just about any of the many ways we find ourselves stuck in life, sometimes it helps to look at things in a new way. Even to turn things upside down.

In yoga, we can use headstand.

Musical group, Bear in Heaven, stranded at the Madrid airport, used a camera on a luggage carousel to get a new view.

And got a cool video along with it.

THE TAO OF CHANGE [the way of a better world]

brought to you by The Change, a strategy and design agency with an agenda to change the world