Source: YouTube & Playing for Change

NOAA tripled the sanctuary’s size, located off the coasts of Louisiana and Texas, to protect some of the healthiest and most beautiful coral reefs in the world. “They are special because they remain healthy,” said Dr. Tom Bright of Texas A&M University, known as ‘the father of the Flower Garden Banks.’

“The coral cover here is greater now than when we first began studying them in the 1970s and 80s.”

Increasing the sanctuary’s size from 56 square miles to 160 square miles builds upon the rich 30-year history of scientific studies and public review of the preservation of this special place.

“The more we found out about these areas, the more we realized that they are as diverse and as productive as any marine communities in the world,” said G.P. Schmahl, Superintendent of the sanctuary.

The expansion, announced in January, adds 14 additional reefs and banks that provide important habitat for recreationally and commercially important fish, such as red snapper, mackerel, grouper and wahoo, as well as threatened or endangered species of sea turtles, corals and giant manta rays.

Protections in these new areas will limit impact of activities such as fishing with bottom-tending gear, ship anchoring, oil and gas exploration and production, and salvage activities on sensitive biological resources, according to the NOAA announcement.

“Adding these ecologically significant reefs and banks will protect habitats that contribute to America’s blue economy and drive ecological resilience for much of the Gulf of Mexico region’s thriving recreation, tourism, and commercial fishing,” said retired Navy rear admiral Tim Gallaudet, Ph.D., deputy NOAA administrator.

Located 115 miles off the coasts of Texas and Louisiana, NOAA first designated the National Marine Sanctuary in 1992. Four years later, Stetson Bank, located 80 miles off the Texas coast, was added to the sanctuary through Congressional action.

Expansion of the sanctuary emerged as one of the top priority issues following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion, which resulted in the largest offshore marine oil spill in U.S. history, with government scientists and non-governmental organizations urging additional protections for marine life and essential Gulf habitat.

Source: Good News Network

By Sally Howard

After 40 years, Dave Hodgson has a sixth sense when it comes to an aspiring communard. “If they take one look at our shared bathrooms and say they need a good scrub, or complain about having to put a jumper on when Old Dragon packs in, they won’t make it,” Hodgson says, referring to his commune’s biomass boiler.

Would-be members used to contact Bergholt Hall, one of Britain’s longest standing farming communes, at the rate of 70 or so a year: 50-something empty nesters looking for companionship; 30-something couples in pursuit of an idyllic upbringing for their children; 20-somethings keen to erect a yurt on the hall’s rolling Suffolk pasture. Since the Covid lockdowns, however, Hodgson admits, it’s been “bonkers”. “We had 70 applications in April and May alone.”

It’s a pattern echoed across the UK, with communes reporting being inundated by new applicants of all ages, driven by the Extinction Rebellion movement and its focus on low-carbon living and, more recently, by the glimpse that lockdown has offered of simpler, less consumption-driven, lifestyles.

There are more than 400 such “intentional” communities across the UK. Many are cohousing set-ups, in which residents live in individual dwellings with a few common areas and domestic functions; others are based upon a lifestyle or worldview (spiritualism, gender non- binarism, veganism) and feature a variety of communal labour arrangements and facilities.

A surprising number are longstanding country communes, such as Bergholt Hall, founded in the heyday of the 1960s and 70s back-to-the-land and self-sufficiency movements. It was an era when an ideological generation of “diggers” (named after the 17th-century English communards) sought to challenge notions of the sanctity of the nuclear family and opt out of “the grab-game of straight society” (as hippy bible Oz magazine put it in a 1968 article on the first London digger commune).

“Sixties and 70s communalism was a backlash against hi-tech postwar societies,” says Professor Luke Martell, who teaches a module on alternative societies at the University of Sussex. “These movements had a grand vision to change society, often along lines of economic communism, and rejected social norms such as monogamy and the concept of traditional childhood. Of course, with the failure of the communist states, these revolutionary ideas lost currency, even as the communities they gave rise to live on.”

Helen Jarvis, a professor of social geography at Newcastle University, sees the renewed interest in communalism as one expression of a “neotribalism”. “There’s a groundswell of common yearning for connectedness and for a sort of radical alternative,” she explains. “This is about housing, but it’s also about how people are choosing to eat and to form human connections. There’s a recognition that the lifestyles of the past are permanently broken.”

“It was all about John Seymour [author of the 1976 bestseller The Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency] back then,” recalls Hodgson, who lived in London squats across London during the 70s. He later settled at Bergholt Hall, a 19th-century great house with a Queen Anne function room, wood and metalworking workshops, dairy, orchards, and shared kitchen, laundry and bathroom facilities.

“We didn’t mind things being a bit rustic. Today’s generation, Thatcher’s kids raised with central heating in every room of the house, don’t expect our draughty corridors.”

It’s perhaps natural that there are tensions between old-guard communalists (typically referred to as “elders”) and those arriving to communalism in the wake of Covid, and as the climate crisis gathers pace. Long gone are the days when a rambling country pile could be bought for a few tens of thousands of pounds, and it can cost eye-watering sums to join a traditional rural commune. Many of the original communities, including Bergholt Hall, Canon Frome Court in Herefordshire and Postlip Hall in Cheltenham, require substantial capital buy-ins from new members (a unit for a single person at Bergholt Hall costs from £97,809). Despite popular conceptions, it’s not a fall-back option if times are hard.

Financial barriers mean that more than 50% of intentional communities fail within their first two years says Chris Coates, author of Utopia Britannica and a moderator of Diggers and Dreamers, a communal-living networking group that has seen a quadrupling of its membership since lockdown to 14,400 members.

Motivations have changed over two intervening generations. Today’s 20- and 30-somethings are more likely to talk of post-carbon living or permaculture, in which ecosystems are viewed as inextricably interlinked, rather than self-sufficiency or communalism for its own sake.

Arran Skinner, 21, has lived at Erraid, a farming commune in the Inner Hebrides, since 2018. He came to communal living out of a yearning to live close to nature and minimise his carbon footprint

“Many of my friends were heading off to uni and I didn’t know what to do, so I came here as a volunteer and just stayed on,” he says.

Skinner believes many people in their 20s are excluded from communal living due to prohibitive costs, opting to travel between farms and communities as a Wwoofer (seasonal worker), or pitching up at of a handful of woodlands communities, such as Tinker’s Bubble in Somerset and Stewards Wood in Devon, where conditions are basic and residents live under constant threat of eviction. The Isle of Erraid, and its sister commune Findhorn on the Moray coast, are unusual in paying members for their community labour contribution in food and board.

A looming issue for enduring intentional communities is what Kirsten Stevens-Wood, who researches the subject at Cardiff Metropolitan University, refers to as “unintentional ageing”. Despite the original diggers’ hope of “automating out all drudgery, toiling and moiling… so every cat can do his or her own thing”, rural survival requires as much elbow grease today as it did in the 1970s.

“All of the things that these communities were doing 30 years ago – digging vegetable patches, splitting firewood – are much harder when you’re still there doing them in your 70s,” Stevens-Wood says.

Findhorn, for example, has an average resident age of 55, and Bergholt Hall has taken to curating its intake to balance ageing residents with young families and, like other 1960s and 1970s-established communes, is exploring financial instruments to enable incomers with little access to capital to join the community, such as shared ownership and loans. This means that single applicants to Bergholt Hall who are in their 50s and 60s (who represent over half of approaches) are likely to be disappointed. But it also means “elders” tend to step back when it comes to decision-making by consensus. “There’s an awareness that new families are on their way in, and we’re on the way out,” Dave Hodgson adds.

The bond we have is not quite family but more than friendship

Rory Hodgson, 43, is Dave’s son and grew up with his mother in “a typical semi in Ipswich”, but spent idyllic summers as a teenager at Bergholt Hall. As an adult, he found himself priced out of his father’s commune and now lives at Redfield, a housing co-op in Buckinghamshire established in 1978, where a 19th-century mansion and 17 acres of grounds and mature fruit orchards are owned in trust. Residents pay rent and dabble in organic farming, but typically work two to three days a week outside the commune to cover their outgoings. “Redfield isn’t about private ownership and what’s me and mine,” Hodgson says.

In his view, new recruits to communalism are more pragmatic than boomer diggers, such as his father. “Feeding yourselves from the land year-round with no money coming in like that 1970s fantasy is bloody hard work,” he says. “At Redfield the kids go to normal schools and we have paid jobs. These days there’s a desire to have the best of both worlds.”

Founding ideologies are not, however, fully a thing of the past. Tensions emerge in rural communes around fault-lines such as diet, says Jenny Pickerill, a professor of environmental geography at the University of Sheffield who has studied intentional communities around the world. “I’ve known of secret breakaway meat-eating groups in communes that are technically vegan or veg,” Pickerill laughs, adding that whatever their age British communards often exhibit what she terms a “deep green-ism” in comparison to their counterparts elsewhere.

Staci Sylvan, 42, a birth doula, lives in Heartwood, set up on the principle of non-violent cooperation. Heartwood is in Carmarthenshire, a region of Wales that’s historically attracted Britons keen to live alternative lifestyles, but where feelings can run high about English incomers. Sylvan welcomes a recent flurry of interest from younger would-be communards, many of whom, she says, have arrived at alternative living through Extinction Rebellion and climate camps. “I came to communalism through protest groups in the 1990s. When I first joined Heartwood I was in my 20s and would thrash about trying to change things in the commune. Now I accept all the compromises that this kind of living requires.”

Andrea Jones, whose PhD focused on intergenerational relations in communes, believes emotional literacy is the secret of older communes’ success: “For communal living to work, individuals need to put in the emotional labour: being tolerant of each other’s foibles, for example, and being willing to let go of petty grievances.” One reason spiritual communities such as Erraid thrive, says Stevens-Wood, is that they “have something that unites them and promotes considerate behaviour, whereas a wave of communes set up in the 1990s on purely ecological grounds collapsed, in many cases, into infighting”.

Bob Fromer, 78, lives at Birchwood Hall – a green and feminist commune in the Malvern Hills that was established in 1970 – with his partner Lynda Medwell, 70. Also a veteran of the 1970s London squatting scene, Fromer briefly set up his own community before joining Birchwood Hall in 1984 and loves Birchwood’s communal meals, views and the camaraderie on the monthly maintenance days, when they work on upkeep of the gardens and buildings. For Fromer, tolerance and “a robust constitution” are the requisite qualities in a successful communard. “We get a lot of applicants who need looking after, but we are not a therapeutic community, so we need members who are self-sufficient. If you’ve come from a nuclear family and can’t shake the privacy that comes with our way of living, or are very house-proud, it generally won’t work.”

Daniela Zapf says that Covid has redoubled her ambition to live in a large community. Born in Germany, she arrived at Findhorn aged 22 and originally planned to stay for a few weeks. Six years later she’s still there. Zapf lives in Bag End one of a cluster of wood-built homes in the Findhorn ecovillage site. “The best part for me is the bonds we have here, like these ancient tribal bonds, not quite family but something much more than friendship” she says, talking about what keeps her there as a young person with a biotechnology degree and the world ahead of her. “This is something I wouldn’t want to miss in my life in future, even if I leave here.”

A proposed Leeds-based urban cohousing project, Chapeltown Cohousing, is now working to make its members representative of the community, with rented units and quotas for minority groups, but diversity often proves difficult for rural communities, despite the lip- service many pay to opening out to BAME and less physically able members. Quite apart from capital and labour demands, there’s a cultural expectation to contend with, says Stevens-Wood. “You need a certain approach to life to live in a commune. At heart this is a white, middle-class dream.”

For all of the challenges, the applicants keep coming. Bergholt Hall is fielding hundreds of applicants for its two available units and Heartwood, Canon Frome Court and Redfield are currently closed to new applicants, although they are receiving inquiries from as far afield as Hong Kong. “Many will be disappointed,” says Chris Coates. “But some will break ground on new projects. That’s why we’ve called the community diggers and dreamers, we’ve always been a mixture of the practically minded and utopianists.”

Stevens-Wood hopes the growing interest in alternatives to nuclear family dwelling will prompt overdue changes to English housing policy, “so it’s less laser-focused on nuclear families and home ownership”. For Fromer, sharing labour and resources as a communard is as good for the planet as it is our sanity. “This is a much cheaper way of living that gives you the good life yet frees you up to work differently and work less,” he says. “Whether you’re 20 or 60, that’s a pretty good deal.”

Source: The Guardian

By Natalie Marchant

  • The Great American Rail-Trail will be almost 6,000km when complete, and will serve 50 million people within 80km of the route.
  • Trails have proved invaluable for recreation and transport during lockdown.
  • Cycling and safe routes are vital for cities planning their post-pandemic recovery.

Stretching almost 6,000km and crossing 12 states, the Great American Rail-Trail will enable cyclists, hikers and riders to traverse the entire US.

The multi-use trail will run from Washington DC in the east to Washington state on the Pacific coast. Launched in May 2019, the route will eventually connect more than 145 existing paths. So far more than 3,200km of it has been completed.

Decades in the making, the project is led by the Rail-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC), which has raised more than $4 million in public and private funds. It will serve 50 million people within 80km of the trail once finished.

Rail trails – paths built on disused railway tracks – and other recreational routes have proved invaluable respites for many during the COVID-19 pandemic, providing alternative commuting routes and space for people to exercise, often near built-up urban areas.

“This year has proven how vital projects like the Great American Rail-Trail are to the country. Millions of people have found their way outside on trails as a way to cope with the pandemic,” said Ryan Chao, president of RTC.

“As the Great American Rail-Trail connects more towns, cities, states and regions, this infrastructure serves as the backbone of resilient communities, while uniting us around a bold, ambitious and impactful vision.”Report Advertisement

Cycling Increasingly Popular During Pandemic

While multi-use trails can be used by anyone from joggers to horse riders, cycling has become particularly popular during lockdown both as a form of exercise and a method of transport. Bike sales soared across the world as people sought to avoid public transport.

There are the obvious health benefits of traveling by bike. Not only does it provide an aerobic workout and trigger the body’s feel-good chemicals, endorphins, cycling is also easy on the joints, builds muscle, increases bone density and helps with everyday activities. Cycling is also seen as a way of handling post-pandemic pollution levels.

Paris is just one place planning to become a ’15-minute city’, where everything you need is within a 15-minute radius by foot or by bike.

Milan is implementing a similar program, while Buenos Aires has introduced free bike rental schemes. Europe has spent 1 billion euros on cycling infrastructure since the pandemic began, according to the European Cyclists’ Federation.Report Advertisement

Cycling Routes Across the World

At around 5,955km, the Great American Rail-Trail may be particularly ambitious in terms of scale, but it is one of many innovative cycling projects across the world. The 4,450km EuroVelo 6 route runs through 10 countries as it crosses Europe between the Atlantic and the Black Sea.

The 346km Transpennine Trail across the north of England, which opened in 2001, uses disused railway tracks left empty after the decline of the coal industry and passes through city centers, heritage sites and national parks on its way between coastlines.

Last year, the UK launched the 1,300km Great North Trail running from the Peak District in the north of England to John O’Groats at Scotland’s north-eastern tip.

In the Belgian province of Limburg, the Cycling Through Water path enables cyclists to cut through the ponds of Bokrijk. The 200-meter path is at eye-level with the water, allowing riders to glide across the lake.

Meanwhile the 7.6km Xiamen bicycle skyway is the world’s longest elevated cycle path and runs above the Chinese city’s road network. It has capacity for about 2,000 cyclists during rush hour, with much of it suspended under an elevated bus lane, providing shelter from the weather.

Source: Ecowatch & World Economic Forum

Gathering 1 million people to protect the balance of life On Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020, we call on 1 million people to come together for one powerful moment in time to create an avalanche of hope in an age of fear. Guided by a meditation specifically created for this event, we will collectively focus a rare, pristine and powerful Life frequency into the world to protect the balance of life at a pivotal moment in humanity’s history. Vote Hope 2020 is for anyone who is seeking to make a powerful and meaningful difference in the world and leave a legacy of hope for humanity.

Source: YouTube & New Humanity

103492535_10159907492433065_7788933255055304067_nBy Rennie Davis

Creating a future during an age of extinction requires changing ourselves profoundly. Any person joining a movement to change the future must also deeply examine themselves. Changing yourself is not for everyone but it is for the five percent of humanity on a journey to evolve. There are 400 million people in every region on Earth and we are not another generation just passing through this world like every previous generation either. We are an emerging new humanity who can create the future of humanity.

The task that is great seems daunting until you look around and see our whole world has changed overnight. Rather than sit on the fence paralyzed by doubt, our time to write a new human story is now right in front of us.

The pandemic sweeping today’s world has set in motion the final chapter of a global civilization no one can reverse because the Earth herself is rebalancing. People may want to believe everything will be normal just around the corner, but the human race is not going to return to its unsustainable production and consumption obsession. Like other great civilizations that slowly degraded and perished, the United States is among the many nations that are fracturing, fraying and winding down today.

During an age of extinction, it is the new humanity that can create the future of humanity.

No disrespect is meant to the person who assumed recovery was just around the corner. I know it is hard to imagine that humanity cannot end the pandemic and then repair some of the worst functions of our unsustainable society. But returning to normal is not in the cards.

Consider the top 1 percent of society. The top of our world has surpassed the combined wealth of the bottom 80 percent of our world’s population. With a minimalist conception of government with a dereliction of civic duties and mutual obligations, the sources of capital have lost the wisdom to reform an unsustainable economy in freefall whose population has exceeded its load limit on the planet. .

A new generation is called to cut the Gordian knot on the human condition and create a new way of living on Earth. The hope for humanity is found in a completely new field of possibilities.

A large global family is living in every region of the world at the present time. We have been quietly reflecting on the state of humanity for decades. We share a spiritual outlook. 

We honor nature’s intelligence. We possess a vast collective understanding about the soil, water, desert reclamation, biochar, mycelium, permaculture, biodynamic farming, holistic energy medicines, Earth Whispering and breakthrough technologies that exist in inventor basements that would change the human experience with free energy and other discoveries.

Among us is the complete know how for evolutionary building, based on whole system solutions. We are simply the best group on Earth to replace humanity’s entire, unsustainable way of building with a new way of living.

We will build a new living showcase high on a hill where a despairing, worried public could see with their own eyes how people can collaborate and respect without blame and finger pointing. In a time of social collapse, we can create a new living showcase where energy is free, food is nutritious, building materials are green, and holistic health and wellbeing practices navigate disease and pandemics into a post pandemic healthy, thriving era. 

Energy medicines new to the world would be available. New living homes would be affordable, practical, durable, and inspiring. As our global civilization slowly figures it out that humanity is in an age of extinction, a new human Earth accord can emerge showing the way for the people who want to live and thrive from a new living nation for the future of humanity.

Changing yourself is not for everyone. It is for the individual who wants to check their own negative egos, stop their blame and finger pointing and be the change that transforms the future themselves. We don’t have to change them. Humanity will follow this path to the future when each person is ready to change themselves.

Source: Facebook & New Humanity


If there is truly no separation between the source and its consequence, then the ending of pain must also be found at its beginning. The created meet their creator.

Source: YouTube


BruceChaos1The Truth about ‘Chaos’

If you have watched the news lately, browsed the web, or even looked out the window, you may have noticed that something is going on. In the face of economic upheaval, religious violence, racial bloodshed, climate change and now, a viral pandemic, civilization is in a state of upheaval. The globe is enveloped in chaos.

Chaos? That sounds pretty scary! The reason is that most people confuse the word chaos with the word random. Random simply means the outcome or result of a process occurs simply by “chance.” In contrast, the opposite of random is the word determined, which means the outcome of a process can be predicted by understanding a sequence of cause and effect events.

BUT WAIT! Fact: Chaos is not random!

Chaos is actually a special case of determinism. While the outcome of a chaotic process is indeed determined, the number of inputs contributing to the process is so great, that it is mathematically impossible to calculate all of the data to predict what will inevitably result. Remember the story of the butterfly effect; in which a butterfly that flaps its wings in South America influences a storm in North America?

The weather is an example of chaos. You could make a totally accurate prediction of what the weather will be at twelve-noon on Monday in Paris … but one would first have to calculate the flapping wings of every butterfly and every other insect around the world, as well as measure every breeze on the planet, and a myriad of other contributing factors. Theoretically, the collective data would be able to make an accurate prediction of weather at every spot on the globe. The problem is that it is impossible to record all of the data necessary for that accuracy. So, weather prediction, using only a small data set, would not provide an accurate prediction but would represent more of a ‘probable’ prediction.

In regard to the current global chaos, the influence of human behavior has undermined the web of life and precipitated the planet’s Sixth Mass Extinction event. Is the current chaos expressing civilization’s end or is it signaling a new beginning for civilization?

Stepping into A New Phase of Civilization

Surprise! Nature is an expression of fractal geometry, the science that emphasizes the principle of “As above, so below.” Getting to the point, the evolution of human civilization is an expression of a fractal, self-similar, image of vertebrate evolution; the pattern of evolution that went from fish to amphibians, to reptiles, birds, and finally, mammals. Human civilization has completed the first four stages and is on the threshold of manifesting the fifth level, the ‘mammalian’ version of our evolution. The earliest version of civilization represented the ‘fish’ phase, a time when the lives of the early people were tied to the proximity of water, living off the fruits of the sea and traveling the planet from coast to coast.

Once humans developed the ability to dig wells and use viaducts to control the availability of water, they were able to move on to the land and generate agriculture. This was the equivalent of the ‘amphibian’ phase of human evolution, starting at the water and moving onto land. The introduction of technology pushed humanity to the next higher level of civilization’s evolution, its ‘reptilian’ phase. Reptiles, from lizards to dinosaurs, move and behave as powerful, Earth-bound digital ‘machines.’ When humans entered the industrial age, civilization advanced beyond agriculture and created a mechanized civilization. Interestingly, the ‘blood’ of the dinosaurs, oil, is the fuel that powers our ‘reptilian’ civilization.

In 1902, the industrial revolution enabled the Wright brothers to manifest human flight in North Carolina, an event that birthed the ‘bird’ phase of civilization. Civilization’s ‘bird’ phase culminated when humans landed on the Moon in 1969. The event was marked by the astronauts’ picture of the distant blue-green planet Earth on the Moon’s horizon.

This one photograph changed human civilization and launched the Earth Day movement, a time of Hippies and a time when people began to consciously recognize that we must take care of the children, the oceans, the lands and the air … a focus on nurturing Nature. It is not a coincidence that the character of mammals is that they are, by definition, ‘nurturers.’ The moon landing, the fullest evolution of the ‘bird’ phase, precipitated the evolution of the ‘mammalian’ phase of civilization.

Opportunity for a New Beginning

The current global chaos is a symptom of the pending mass extinction event. It is an expression of an inherent fractal pattern, in which Nature is informing us that our destructive ‘reptilian’ phase of exploiting Nature must come to an end. It is necessary that the ‘reptilian’ dinosaurs, the corporations that control government, stop desecrating Mother Nature for profits. It is time for us to collectively evolve to a higher level of consciousness and adopt the indigenous people’s insight as being ‘gardeners’ that nurture the planet. Nature is now calling us to adopt our ‘mammalian’ character as nurturers.

So where are we at the current moment? The most important point we must recognize is that the current chaos is not a ‘random’ character; it is an expression of an unfolding predetermined pattern. We are observing the collapse of the current destructive ‘reptilian’ civilization while simultaneously seeing the rise of the new, nurturing ‘mammalian’ culture.

The important conclusion of this communication is that the planetary upheaval we are now experiencing is not an ending, but a new beginning, offering an opportunity to birth a new, healthy, sustainable civilization. Employing an understanding of Nature’s inherent fractal pattern will enable human beings to create a social structure that will nurture the planet and its web of life, an evolutionary uprising that will ensure all of life has a chance to thrive into the future.

The conclusion is simple: Don’t focus on the structures that are collapsing. It is time to direct our intentions and our efforts in supporting the rise of a holistic, healthy and harmonious new civilization!

Source: Uplift Connect


Being mindful, is in essence, being fully in the present moment with a willingness and curiosity to be with ‘what is.’ It involves being aware of the physical sensations in your body, the thoughts in your mind, and the willingness to be with the full gamut of your emotions, as well as holding ALL of the above with compassion. If you are not practicing compassion with yourself or others, you are not practicing mindfulness.

a part of my series about “How To Develop Mindfulness And Serenity During Stressful Or Uncertain Times”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Life Coach and Inspiration and Wellness Specialist at Lake Austin Spa Resort, Julie Haber.

Julie brings over 25 years of experience in holistic living and a passion for helping others. She believes our most valuable wisdom comes from the experience of our own life. She likes to remind herself and others that the word inspiration comes from the Latin verb inspire, which means to ‘breathe into.’ She believes every experience we go through in life, whether challenging or enjoyable, gives us an opportunity to breathe into it.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

love this question! I would love to be able to say I had an epiphany or a bolt of light appeared one day and guided me to pursue the career path I am on now, but truthfully that was not how it went down at all. I came to this path from a place of pain and searching for answers. I was in need of healing having suffered from a long term autoimmune disease and multiple life disappointments. I knew I needed a combination of knowledge, healing and inspiration and was on a desperate search for that.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

What stands out for me the most about my career path is that every person I have coached and helped has reflected back to me parts of my own self. The saying, ‘We teach what we most need to learn,’ has been so true for me. I believe I receive frequent blessings through working and serving others, as it often reminds me to apply what I share with others, to my own self. I love helping people find a path of peace, wellness and wisdom.

What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?

There is so much more I could say about this, but to keep it short and simple, I believe there are three things necessary in order to create an optimum, productive, and inspired work culture.

  1. Express gratitude and appreciation for each other’s unique contributions.
  2. Commit to doing our personal best individually and collectively as a team, with a common shared purpose and vision to help others.
  3. Incorporate a collaborative leadership and conflict resolution model. Understand that conflict is natural and allows for growth and opportunity.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

‘The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho. It is the story of a young boy who goes out into the world with a personal vision. Many say he is too poor and young, and this is a ludicrous idea, but he holds fast to his dream. The idea being, if you believe and desire something, and your desire is pure, the whole universe will help and support you in the realization of your dream. It is a book about hope, and deeply encourages us to courageously and persistently move toward and fulfill our goals.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. From your experience or research, how would you define and describe the state of being mindful?

Being mindful, is in essence, being fully in the present moment with a willingness and curiosity to be with ‘what is.’ It involves being aware of the physical sensations in your body, the thoughts in your mind, and the willingness to be with the full gamut of your emotions, as well as holding ALL of the above with compassion. If you are not practicing compassion with yourself or others, you are not practicing mindfulness.

This might be intuitive to you, but it will be instructive to spell this out. Can you share with our readers a few of the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of becoming mindful?

Sure, there are many. Some of the physical benefits are lowered stress levels (which may, in turn, contribute to lowering the blood pressure), improved sleep, increased management for chronic pain, and brain health (an increase of gray matter- helpful for memory and learning as well as emotional regulation.) Some mental benefits: It can help us to think more clearly and make decisions more effectively, helps to decrease anxiety and worry, helps us to focus and not ruminate excessively. Some emotional benefits: A decrease in a sense of loneliness and isolation, more inspiration and a reported feeling of being more ‘centered’, feeling more connected to others because we feel more connected to our own self, as well as an overall deeper level of acceptance.

Ok. Here is the main question of our discussion. The past 5 years have been filled with upheaval and political uncertainty. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have only heightened a sense of uncertainty, anxiety, fear, and loneliness. From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to develop mindfulness and serenity during such uncertain times? Can you please share a story or example for each.

Here are five simple mindfulness practices that can greatly benefit us during these unprecedented and uncertain times.

  1. Befriending Our Anxiety —  It is natural to feel anxious during unpredictable and uncertain times. Learn to accept and sit with your anxiety without pushing it away. Once you have identified that you are feeling anxious or fearful, allow some compassion for yourself. Compassion is both helpful and necessary before you take a step forward. So next time you feel anxious, rather than distract yourself with an escape or let your anxiety get out of control, simply say ‘Anxiety, I am aware you are here. Rather than push you away, I am going to accept that you are here and choose something that helps me to cope with you being here, rather than avoiding or denying your existence.’
  2. Mindful Eating —  Human beings have a habit of eating for comfort. Based on what I am hearing from people lately, there is a spike in eating for comfort now more than perhaps ever. When faced with uncertainty or turbulent times, we long for comfort. Usually under stress, people will eat more or sometimes eat less. I can tell by the amount of comments and memes on social media lately, that many are swinging toward the eating more than they need and are afraid of gaining weight in their search for being comfortable and the reality of being home more, and less on ‘the go.’ Practicing mindful eating can take many forms. Taking an opportunity to say a blessing over your food before eating, eating slowly and eating only what you need, choosing foods that feel comforting in a healthy way (instead of eating a bunch of sugar, baking a sweet potato, or having a sweet piece of whole fruit for instance.) Before you impulsively eat, take an inventory of your feelings and ask yourself, ‘What would feel truly nourishing right now?’ The other night I was reaching for some comfort food but I stopped myself to ask this question and I got that I needed love and comfort, so I called a close friend instead of downing a box of chocolate chip cookies or chips.
  3. Mindful Hand Washing — You would need to be hiding under a rock at this point to not have heard the clear instructions we have been given regarding the washing of our hands frequently for 20 seconds with hot water, so as not contract or spread the virus. Rather than just throw soap on your hands and unconsciously go through the motions, let yourself be fully present with this process. You can even turn it into a mindfulness ritual! Be present as you do this, enjoy it, say a prayer if you like. I have started to do the ‘meditation on loving kindness’ when I wash my hands, ‘May I be filled with loving kindness’, ‘May I be safe from inner and outer dangers’, ‘May I be well in body and mind’, ‘May I be at ease and happy’
  4. Mindful Awareness of Others —  During a pandemic it is easy to be concerned with our own immediate needs before we think of others. It requires extra effort to be mindful of others’ needs because our brains go into survival and fight or flight mode. This is so obvious when you go into a grocery store and you see people arguing over a roll of toilet paper. Practice mindful shopping. Ask yourself, if I were to expand my consciousness to get only what I need for the next week or two, what would I buy? This allows supplies to be left for other people who are in need of what you are in need of too.
  5. Mindful Routines — Even though many of us have had our schedules rearranged during this time, it is perhaps more essential than ever to have regular routines in place. Routine and sticking to a schedule will help to provide the necessary structure and comfort during these times of uncertainty and upheaval. It is so easy to stay up late ‘and sleep in’ and walk around in your pajamas all day when you are confined to your home, but if you can instead stick to a schedule that allows for continuity, you will receive the tremendous benefit. If you are working from home, get dressed in something comfortable but presentable — this will allow you to have the proper mindset. Make sure to have time for Mindful Exercise too! Having some type of exercise is essential. I am lucky to live on a greenbelt where I can go for a nature walk and it is easy to keep a social distance. If you can, get some fresh air and be out in nature. If this is not possible, make sure you are getting regular exercise at home. I did a wonderful nature walk, where I looked for beautiful and peaceful sights on my walk yesterday. I saw a red cardinal, a beautiful sunset, an inchworm, a butterfly, water running in the creek, clouds moving, new green leaves sprouting, and wildflowers blooming. I believe this was immune-boosting and stress-reducing. I call being mindful of beauty!

From your experience or research, what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?

  1. Listen and be present for others, rather than fix or problem solve. I am noticing that during this stressful time, people need to be allowed to vent without being interrupted. Lend an ear or call a friend to check-in.
  2. Be on the lookout for those who may need extra support: Offer grocery support to the elderly and the physically compromised, be mindful of those who are suddenly watching or homeschooling their kids full time, they may need to vent! Be aware of those less fortunate who have less income, resources or are more at risk. Let them know you have their back (from a healthy 6 to 10 feet distance of course!)
  3. Gently help others reframe what they wish they had but don’t, into what they do have — in other words, practice gratitude. For instance, ‘Well they did not have the organic blueberries at the store, but they did have the oatmeal I wanted.’ Or, ‘My kids are driving me crazy, but I am happy we have this chance as a family to spend more time together, this a time that will always be remembered!’
  4. Remind others of the simple superpower they have of mindful breathing! Conscious breathing is free and is one of the best, if not THE best ways of soothing an anxious mind and body. Invite your friends to breathe with you — start by inhaling for four counts, hold the breath for two counts, and exhale for six counts. When we breathe through the nose and it helps to bring more oxygen into our brains, which in turn helps emotional regulation and optimum steps forward.
  5. Practice mindful brainstorming. For instance, if you have a friend who just lost a significant portion of their income due to this pandemic and is feeling anxious and fearful as a result, ask them if they would like to mindfully brainstorm some options with you. There is not just one answer to how to live a successful and meaningful life. Get out a pen and paper and let yourself free associate all the possible options. No option is too far fetched of an idea. When we go through times of stress and constriction, we are often led to places where we have to step out of our comfort zone and grow. Losing a job could mean starting the business you have always wanted to start but were too afraid to, for instance!

What are the best resources you would suggest for someone to learn how to be more mindful and serene in their everyday life?

I have always been a big fan of the Dummy and Idiot books. They are clear, provide excellent instruction, and have lots of resources and plentiful humor. Check out ‘Mindfulness for Dummies.’ Or ‘The Complete Idiots Guide to Mindfulness.’

Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of MBSR (mindfulness-based stress reduction) is also an excellent instructor and resource. Check out his website for some guided meditations and instruction at mindfulnesscds.com

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

In times of stress, it seems everyone is happy to give you advice on what YOU should do based on THEIR OWN trajectory. I personally have found this very confusing, as what is true for someone else may not be true for me. I am sure we have all had moments of taking someone else’s advice and then regretting it later because we were not true to ourselves, or even more seriously, we betrayed our own self. For this reason, one of my all-time favorite quotes is ‘Be Yourself Everyone Else Is Taken’ by Oscar Wilde. I find that when I am true to me, and let myself truly and unapologetically be me, I have less stress and more of a sense of peace and fulfillment in my life.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I am currently in the process of creating my version and vision of how to spread as much goodness to as many people as possible. The website is under progress and will be coming soon (provided that I breathe deep and let go of perfectionism.) I believe it is essential for our health, wellbeing and ultimately the happiness of our world that we realize we are all connected and that we learn to simultaneously get very good at taking care of ourselves while forming strong partnerships and connection with others. We are all one family! If this pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we are all connected!

Source: Medium