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Archive for the ‘Voluntary Simplicity’ Category

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

Lawns – Less Than Heavenly

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

The below (source unknown) still makes laugh – and sigh. And cry. After all, it was back in 1991 that Michael Pollen, author of Second Nature, declared that lawns are “a symbol of everything that is wrong with our relationship to the land.”

Since then, we’ve realized that back and front yard gardens of vegetables and wild flowers are more both more sustainable and more nourishing than green grass. We’v learned that pesticide companies re-named plants like clover, “weeds” to sell more product and that lawn grass in general is not natural or native in most places.

So, what is our lawn status today? Well, capitalism continues as more green landscape tools, watering systems and businesses emerge, which was a start, but the idea of the “lawn” is still too alive and too well in the U.S.. Despite the fact that we know we kill 7 million birds each year – along with earthworms and other beneficial pests – with pesticides applied to lawns. Despite the fact that as the demand for potable water continues to increase, yet we are using 30% of it to water lawns. Places like Dallas, TX, use 60% – !! And, as landfill space becomes scarce, we now know that 20 – 50 % of that space is filled with yard waste – in plastic bags.

Heard enough?

Enjoy the below and pass it around your neighborhood.


God: Frank, you know all about gardens and nature. What is going on down there on the planet? What happened to the dandelions, violets, thistle and stuff? I created a perfect no-maintenance garden plan – plants that grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply. The nectar from those long-lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honey bees and birds. All I see now are these green rectangles.

St. Francis: It’s the “Suburbanite” tribes. They started calling your flowers “weeds” and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass that they go to great lengths to keep green. They begin each spring with fertilizing and poisoning the other plants that show up.

God: Grass? How boring. It’s not colorful, is sensitive to drought and temperatures. It doesn’t attract butterflies, birds or bees. Well, the grass does grow fast, that must make these Suburbanites happy.

St. Francis: Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it – sometimes twice a week.

God: They cut it? Do they then bale it like hay?

St. Francis: Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up, put it in bags and pay to have it taken away.

God: These Suburbanites must be relieved in the Summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. At least that slows the growth and saves them all that work.

St. Francis: Actually, when it rains less, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water the grass so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.

God: At least they kept some trees – which provide beauty and shade in Summer, and then provides a natural blanket of fallen leaves in the Fall to keep moisture in the soil and protect the roots. A stroke of genius, if I do say so myself.

St. Francis: You better sit down, Lord. As soon as the leaves Fall, the Suburbanites rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away. Then they go out and buy something they called mulch, which they spread out in place of the leaves.

God: Where do they get this mulch?

St. Francis: They cut down trees and grind them up.

God: I don’t want to think about this anymore. St. Catherine, you’re in charge of the arts. What movie have you scheduled for us tonight?

St. Catherine: “Dumb and Dumber”, Lord. It’s a story about…

God: Never mind, I think I just heard the whole story from St. Francis.

Life Box – Save the Planet One Cardboard Box at a Time

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

This is what I’m talking about! People following their passions – living their heart’s desire, but working and molding those desires to move us ALL towards change. There’s so many role models out there now – it’s hard NOT to be inspired!

What am I onto today? Let me fill you in. Working in the nutrition industry for the past several years has allowed me privy to the lastest and the greatest health news and supplements. In the past, it was all about SELLING, but in recent years, I’ve seen a shift towards mission-driven ideas and actions. Many people and their companies are looking both forward towards innovation and science as well as “back” to basics, towards nature and common sense – for instance, more and more supplement choices are coming from REAL FOOD, albeit packaged to be convenient for consumers. Well, now the packaging itself is part of the plan —

Paul Stamets, founder of Fungi Perfecti, loves mushrooms. So he studies, harvests sells them and their healing powers for humans and for the planet. But there’s more. This from his recent press release:

“PAUL STAMETS ANNOUNCES THE LIFE BOX SOLUTION TO CLIMATE CHANGE ONE CARDBOARD BOX AT A TIME. Paul Stamets, founder of Fungi Perfecti and author of Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World, announces the Life Box. The Life Box re-invents the cardboard box. Within the corrugations of the Life Box are hundreds of tree seeds and thousands of friendly spores of mycorrihizal fungi. Once a customer receives whatever is shipped inside, the box is torn up, planted and tree seedlings emerge….Of the ten species of trees each Life Box hosts – approximately 25% will survive in 90% of the continental United All the space you need for the first two years is that of two lap tops.

It takes up to two years for a transplant ready baby tree to emerge, so you have that time to decide where to plant them. The Life Box Company also hosts a web site where you can enter your GPS coordinates – Wow. Cool.

We’re a smart, motivated a passionate species. Full steam ahead everyone.

Not a Creature was stirring…..NEW GREEN PEST CONTROL!

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

A friend of mine has mice in her house – a lot of them. Her landlord’s only suggestion was traps, which she declined. Besides being cruel, poison and traps don’t control an ongoing issue. But mice in your house, those scurrying noises at night, finding bites taken out of the fruit on your counter can all be very disconcerting. So, I was really feeling for her, yet had absolutely no ideas for solving the problem.

As it often happens, the next day, my latest edition of Living Green online magazine newsletter arrived in my mailbox with a new, effective and humane technology for keeping pests and rodents away from your living space.

It turns out that, “Sound and ultrasound devices can drive off small rodents like mice, squirrels and raccoons, and common nuisance birds such as gulls, crows and pigeons. A variety of electronic repellers are available, both sonic and ultrasonic, that target specific pests.” How cool! There’s also the Bugchaser and bird control for balconies/roofs. Some sounds are silent to humans while others are natural sounds that blend into the environment.

For gardens, they also pictured a 3D image of a stalking coyote, but I’m afraid that’s a little too spooky for me – and most likely my pets – I’ll stick with a scarecrow!

The Power of Half

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

When I heard a friend on Facebook today, say, “I’m excited about what the future may hold”, I immediately thought of the recently reported story of Hannah Salwen and her family.

The short version: In 2006, Hannah was 14yo, living in a 6,500sq ft mansion in Atlanta with her parents and brother. As a young girl, she was already interested in helping people and doing volunteer work for the homeless, but one day Hannah proclaimed that her family could do more – way more. In fact, why not sell the house, move into a smaller one, and give half the proceeds to charity? As it turned out, they did.

I was slightly skeptical upon stumbling this story. I mean, really, many multi-millionaires love to give away tons of money for tax breaks, while not denting their net worth or lifestyle significantly. And moving from a mansion to a home half the size, was still a darn big house. But then I did some research and discovered the longer version:

Upon agreeing to this plan, the family decided to leave no stones unturned. They met each week to watch videos, discuss ideas, research helping organizations, and basically, learn as much as they could about the world’s problems. As they narrowed things down to their biggest areas of concern and interest: water, homelessness and poverty, they also learned more about each other and became more bonded as a family.

They documented the project in a newly released book, The Power of Half. Aware of initial skepticism, they wanted to share their reasons for writing the book, which they do so eloquently on their website by describing how they wanted to share their experience and methods with others, introduce us to the amazing people they met along the way, share the new closeness they have found through less space and less stuff, and create a roadmap for others to pursue their own Half projects.

Realizing that most of us have less of a financial Half to give, Hannah points out that we all have our own kind of abundance or “time, talent or treasure.”  “Everyone has their own Half, you just have to find it.”

I’ve moved quickly past my first glance and am inspired and hopeful at the thought of the coming Aquarian age and ‘what the future may hold’ as we join this family in giving more and taking less.

Hostel In The Forest

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

by Tao, Carrboro, NC

There are many reasons I don’t enjoy staying at hotels while traveling, so I’m happy to see Hostels are making a comeback in the U.S. (read my previous post). So, I’m thanking my friend, Jo Jo for introducing me to Hostel in the Forest – to my surprise, it’s been operating in Brunswick, GA for 32 years! Get a load of this:

Hostel in the Forest began with Tom Dennard and consists of geodesic domes and 9 tree houses on 130 acres of forest and wetlands. Everything has been built and maintained entirely by volunteers. Over the years, the center has evolved into a spiritual retreat and educational facility which promotes and teaches environmental sustainability, teaching a “hands-on approach to a sustainable lifestyle through activities such as alternative building and organic gardening while complementing the processes of nature.”

The “rooms” are really up in the trees! How cool is that? Down below, there are composting toilets and outdoor showers. They serve nightly vegetarian dinners and a kitchen is available for guests to prepare other meals. The lists of events and workshops include all yoga, Tai Chi, fermentation, cobb building, and one that especially intrigued me – a presentation on “Optimism and Fortitude”.

Learning, sharing, nature, peace and quiet. You can’t find that at The Holiday Inn. ahhh. Georgia on my mind……

Here’s a link to some great photos.

The Goat Patrol Cleans Up Carrboro Parks

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro

Remember my post about The Goat Patrol – the greener weed eaters? Well, I had the chance to see them up close and personal this morning! They have been hired by the Carrboro Parks system to take care of the brush, weeds and vines invading some tree areas, and I stumbled upon them this morning during my morning dog walk.

I didn’t get a picture, but here’s one from the website. Just imagine a group of blissed-out, medium-sized, multi-colored goats reaching and chewing and reaching and chewing. They only paused from their mission to bleat loudly when their owner and guardian, Alex, would wander too far away – they obviously were happily attached to her.

Alex says that by the end of the day, their bellies are nice and round but they come back lean each morning. They are contained by simple movable fencing that changes location each day. She added that they seemed a bit sleepy yet this morning but would soon kick in to high gear.

Nice that Carrboro “gets it”. Every town needs a Goat Patrol – entrepreneurs, pay attention!

Launched and Landed in The Green Mountain State

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

From Tao, Brattleboro, VT

Sorry posts have gone AWOL this week. I launched from Carrboro on Monday with everyone and everything in tow and landed in Brattleboro VT on Tuesday night and have been settling in. I’m going to be online less this month, but plan to keep you posted (pun intended) on my green wanderings.

My off-grid plans turned into a house/cat-sitting gig that I can’t deny being thrilled about. It then became a family affair – with Jerry and Shay deciding to accompany me and the dogs for the next few weeks. We’re staying just a couple miles outside of the surprisingly urban town of Brattleboro. The house itself is surrounded by a lush green quiet, with a heron that lives in the pond down the hill. It kind of rambles in all directions and is colorful and full of creative energy coming from its owners. They live, work and play here – a home to lots of activities, practitioners, patients and friends, where not an ounce of space feels wasted.

Still, perhaps I’m not completely willing to give up the cabin-like experience I was craving previously, since I’ve found myself drawn to a little space between the garage and front door – about 8×10 feet, with a small bed and lots of windows. I’m hanging and sleeping out here with the dogs and it feels just right. Here’s a photo of my bunkmates.

The local co-op hosts a farmer’s market twice/week and they are selling local milk which is even tastier than what I was getting from the CSA at home. I’m certainly not suffering and I’m not even roughing it, as planned, but I am staying in my usual travel green zone and I offset the miles to get here. Remember green travel tips? Review here.

None of us, including the dogs, are too good at simply “vacate-tioning”, so besides a lot of moving about the great outdoors, we’ve got some community projects planned and are preparing to tromp around the urban areas, with a video camera in hand…but more on that later.

I’ll leave you with two quotes today – they have stuck in my mind since arriving. They come from a physician in India, Dr. Aggrawal, who tells all his patients:

“Learn something new every day and be wiser today than yesterday.” and, “Resting is Rusting.”

Sounds like sage advice to me. I’m going to try to make the most of it this month. Stay tuned.

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