Monthly Archives: November 2013

I AM: Recommended Movie

I AM

I know I have seen a good movie when I still think about it a week later.   I know I have seen a great movie when I feel like it has changed me in some positive way.  I AM, may just be that movie.

Something about this movie inspired me to open my heart to the next level.  It just so happens that,  right before the movie,  I was in a funk– of the intimate relationship sort.  I was feeling a nice salad  mixture of helplessness, frustration and stuckness.  Suddenly, the wiser, self-preservation part of me kicked in and gave me the urge to watch I AM, if only to interrupt my funk with something positive and uplifting.

This movie is a MUST see.  In this movie,  Tom Shadyac, director of Ace Ventura, shares how a traumatic injury changed his view of reality.  He then goes on a quest, speaking with different intellectual and spiritual leaders, about what is wrong with our world and what we can do about it.  Backed by science and how change has been made historically, I AM makes a compelling case for how we can empower ourselves to be part of the solution.  If you have ever felt despair and helpless when thinking of the enormity of our world issues and what you can do about them (as I have), then please see I AM. 

On a personal note,  by the time, my beloved came home from work (I was half-way through watching I AM), I was  in a totally difference space– the kind of space where I could have a positive impact on our relationship and see things more clearly.  I was, in essence, very personally experiencing I AM’s message. 

For more information about the movie I AM, click here:

http://www.iamthedoc.com/

 

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Connecting With Nature In NYC

winter trees

It’s no secret. I live in the concrete jungle (a.k.a NYC).  Thankfully, however, I live in a relatively quiet, peaceful neighborhood in Brooklyn close to a large park and the bay.  Large beautiful houses, beautiful  gardens and the peaceful plant giants line the more posh streets of where I live. In warmer weather,  I can hear crickets at night.  They play music to my ears.  In my mind’s eye, I see stars and streaks of green light when I hear them and feel something  majestic and celestial.  Their sound surrounds me in 3-D, soothing my soul.

I have made it my goal to connect with nature as regularly as possible, even, while living in the most urban place in the USA. You see, I recently realized, that in spite of my passion for living in loving interconnectedness with the planet. I still know very little about nature and may be just as disconnected with it as many of us are.  It’s easy  to get lost in the fast pace and concerns of NYC life.  For me, I can get lost in financial survival, tight schedule logistics and other practical measures.  That said, I have decided to repair that broken bridge between myself and nature, realizing it to be essential to my own well-being and also to what I am passionate about sharing with others: creating our lives in harmony with the Earth.

Some of the simple things I do to connect with nature is to feel the breeze on my skin, look at people’s gardens, the river and trees.  Let me pause a second— the trees are like gentle giants of the plant kingdom.  I never tire of looking at them.  One look, and immediately, a peace reflected in their stillness befalls me.  My mind becomes calmer, my heart beats more slowly and my body relaxes.  It is the most awesome thing.  If I listen more deeply I feel something about them, from the quiet space inside me, that wordlessly tells me their purpose, their strength and their preciousness.

Now that it is colder and I no longer hear the crickets, I listen to what the sounds of autumn are- a dry, whispering crackle of wind through leaves.  It is a near seductive sound– sexy, smokey and ripe.  I think of pears, apples, root vegetables and deep, warming spices.  Twilight’s lapis blue descends earlier, making it all the more mysterious .

With all of this autumn splendor, why am I not outside much as of late?  My excuse– I get don’t like the colder and shorter days.  Well, that just settles it– autumn walk, here I come. . . .

Written With Sacredness

droplet resize

As I sit here before the computer,  my stomach feels tight.  Maybe, I haven’t had the chance to nurture myself much today and to truly let go and relax.  I am, obviously holding something there, an unexpressed sentiment.   On the other hand, another feeling is there, in the background, desiring to come to the foreground, like a wave to envelope me: this blog writing is a sacred process.  Each time I sit at this computer,  I will be gifting something and, perhaps, become part of a larger conversation .  A mediation will happen.  Clarity will grow with how I may benefit the planet and the beauty of each person’s unique role in being a positive force in this world, like individual droplets that add up to an ocean.  This is me and beyond me.  Something larger.  Amen.

Special thanks to “Fir0002/Flagstaffotos” for the water droplet photo.

No Synthetic, Please

I read the book, Your Brain On Nature, which totally rocked my world.  In this book, the authors mention numerous studies on the effects of nature on the brain and also the effects of urban scenes  on the brain.  This was both tested with photographic representations of both scenarios and actual immersion in a natural or uber urban setting devoid of plant life. Clearly, nature is better for the brain by:

  • decreasing stress
  • elevating mood and positive outlook
  • increasing empathy
  • boosting the immune system
  • sharpening cognitive function

Urban scenes, on the other hand, increase stress, anxiety, aggression and decrease cognitive capabilities and immune response– yikes!

That said, I made a *unique* connection in light of this scientific research.  It’s purely anecdotal, so humor me.  In the past decade or so, I have shunned synthetic furniture (plastic, pressed particle board, etc.)  in favor of  solid wood and other natural materials that look and feel earthy.  I know it’s personal taste, but I think I am onto something.  Not only is my favoritism for natural products probably better for the planet in some ways (less petroleum used, less synthetic chemicals released into the environment and less toxic crap for us to breath in), but heck, it may be better for my brain!

Perhaps, my brain doesn’t like looking at plastic and other fake stuff.  To be honest, it may not even be in it’s evolutionary biology.  As “Your Brain On Nature” expounds, we are hard-wired to notice, more quickly, the threat of a tiger than the threat of a machine gun.  This difference may only be a few milliseconds, but it says a lot:  all this synthetic stuff is very new to our brain’s evolution, while awareness of large, predatory animals has been embedded into our brains since the beginning of our hominid existence.

From my perspective, clay pots, baskets,  wooden furniture and other simple, timeless home and hearth items have been with us for much longer and much more resemble the raw materials from which they were made.  This may also make them more recognizable to our brains.  Not to mention, they probably still emit aromatherapeutic chemicals and other beneficial properties.  Have you ever smelled a cedar chest or enjoyed  the sweet smell of a straw basket? If you have ever sculpted clay, perhaps, some of the mineral-rich content of the clay seeps into your skin, nourishing you (they do say what you put on your skin goes into your bloodstream.)

Taking it further, I wonder if synthetic items create a stress response, decrease the immune system and all those other things that urban scenes did in the previously mentioned scientific study.  Not to get OCD (that is probably even worse for your immune system than having synthetic items in your house), but let’s consider that surrounding ourselves with beautiful, natural household items (when possible),  like an unfinished solid wood shelf, may at least be neutral on your brain.  Add plants and  some sort of nature view out your window, whether it be a single tree or a lush garden or a lake, and, voila!  Your brain is going to feeling pretty good.   Plus, you will not  have purchased something that toxically off-gasses in your home.

For more information on non-toxic, brain-loving and sustainable furniture choices, please see by two blog posts here and here.