Recovering from The World

Screen-Shot-2016-06-12-at-12.41.35-PMThe world has been a particularly harsh place lately. I don’t know about you, but when horrific tragedies take place, even though I may not have any direct connection to them, they feel personal. I’m an empathizer big time, so when I hear or read about pain and suffering and tragedy, it drains me and I walk around sad and exhausted and a little hopeless. I think a lot of creative people are this way. Connection is our drug, and like any drug, it can makes us feel great but it can also make the world come crashing down on top of us.

The thing is, I don’t have time to walk around feeling sad and drained and hopeless. That’s not what this world needs. I need to find the energy and strength to infuse the world with more love and kindness and empathy because while it might not be everything the world needs to heal itself, it’s a good place to start.

So in the wake of the tragedy in Orlando and all the tragedies, big and small, we are constantly bombarded with, if you too are feeling overwhelmed, and sad and tired and want to get yourself back into the game, here are some things I do to heal those parts of me.

  1. Turn off the news. Seriously. Turn it off. In my household, I realized that the nightly news did nothing but bring negative energy, fear and anxiety into my home. So for the past 15 years there has been a “no television news rule.” As a kid, I remember my parents watching All. Of. The. News. And I would get anxious as my mother picked me up wondering what horrible things I was going to see on the tv as she made dinner. While you are at it, severely limit your online news. No need to read all the articles. No need to know every little detail. Seriously. You can let it go- plenty of other people are reading it all; you don’t have to. If you want to be supportive of people involved in tragedy, action, not reading is the way to go.
  2. Get outside. Walk, jog, bike, geocache, drive with your windows down and the radio up. We all need some time to be away from all the electronics and just breathe.
  3. Do something. Anything. At these times, what I want to do is curl up n the couch under a blanket binging on Gilmore Girls. Instead, I try to accomplish anything at all no matter how small. I usually go for the easiest and mind numbing things I can think of. I fold laundry. I weed the garden. I clean out the car. Easy things, but they make me feel productive and centered. Think of them as active meditations. Then move into bigger actions if the situation warrants it. Donate blood, call your political leaders, collect tangible donations for the needy. Action doesn’t need to be huge to be powerful. Do what you can, your action will inspire others.
  4. Be unusually and radically kind. Again, these don’t have to be huge initiatives or gaudy displays. Wave to a child in a car at the light next to you. Call a friend you haven’t talked to in a while and tell them you’re thinking of them. Write a letter to someone who has changed your life. Pick up trash in your neighborhood. Kindness matters and changes the world in tiny and profound ways. We can never be too kind.

This last one is the most powerful for me. Sometimes it feels like there’s very little kindness left in the world. But then I remember, I can be kind. I can be loving and accepting. And quite frankly, I am powerful when I wield all those things. So that’s what I do. I tap into those qualities often and excessively when I am feeling despondent about the world. Does it take away all my sadness? No. I’m still a weeping mess much of the time. But slowly my heart fills up again, and I am able to see all the other kindness and love and hope that’s out there in the world and that further empowers me.

Am I naïve enough to think that folding the laundry is going to change the world? Nope. Heck, it might not even change my world…directly. But all world-changers start small and their impact increases over time. And you can’t change the world if it constantly leaves you hopeless and depleted.

So my friends, take care of yourselves. Take care of others. In times of darkness, put out more kindness right where you are. Changing the world starts right in front of you.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and…

Earth dayToday is Earth Day. Started in 1970, Earth Day has become a world-wide movement of social action and change. It’s not just about “reduce, reuse and recycle.” (While this is certainly a great first step), It’s about changing the way we approach life and think about our relationship and responsibility  to each other and the world.

So, get out there and change the world just a little bit.


I’m glad you asked.

You could share a song with the world like this one. (WARNING: This video contains super adorable children some of which, may or may not live in my house.)

You could become a “Renegade Gardener” like Ted Talk presenter Ron Finley who encourages people to get out and plant because:

“I am an artist. Gardening is my graffiti. A graffiti artist beautifies walls; I beautify parkways and yards.
I treat the garden as a piece of cloth and the plants and the trees are the embellishment of that cloth. You’d be surprised what soil can do if you let it be your canvas.”
“Gardening is the most therapeutic and defiant act you can do, especially in the inner city. Plus, you get strawberries.”

You could check out the Decorah Eagles, highlights from the manatee cam or this African waterhole . Then after picking your favorite, write a check to a group that helps preserve these animals so that your great-grandchildren also get to see them.

You can even help scientists comb through their data on a variety of subjects at Our favorites over there have been identifying animals through photos taken on the Serengeti plains as well as the ocean floor.

Get out there and find a way you can contribute. It’s important. I leave you with the thoughts of the Unitarian Universalist Ministry for the Earth in their “Introductions to Green Papers on Environment and Justice.”

The fate of Earth urgently depends on humanity’s ability to imagine and build a world in which all beings are treated justly and live to their fullest potential within a self-sustaining web of life. How do you imagine such world? What ethics, theology, or values fire that vision? No matter our separate histories and experiences and no matter the source of our moral grounding, our separate paths are converging toward a common understanding that human flourishing and planetary well-being are inextricably linked. Increasingly we can agree that our common future depends on the capacity of all humans to:
  • Honor the integrity and interdependence of Earth’s natural systems
  • Recognize that every form of life has worth and contributes to the whole
  • Affirm the inherent value, dignity and potential in every human being
  • Build communities that are fair, participatory, and peaceful
  • Affirm the right of all people to access enough of the Earth’s abundance for sufficient, safe, and healthful food; sufficient clean water; clean air; and healthy, fertile soil
  • Ensure universal access to health care
  • Provide universal access to education, including the knowledge and skills needed to live sustainably
  • Create sufficient, meaningful and ecologically responsible livelihoods for all
  • Insure sustainable, fair access to renewable resources
  • Use nonrenewable resources sparingly, mindful of future generations
  • Attend to the beauty and mystery of Earth and practice reverence