Archive for lessons from nature

A Little Pecker

The Western Gull

I have always loved the sound of gulls. Sure, the persistent squawking can get annoying but the initial sound usually signals the beach and relaxation.  Until recently, gulls have simply been scenery–that is  until I learned about the fascinating behaviors of the Western Gull.

Have you ever taken a good look at the pecker of a Western Gull? On the tip of their beak is a bright red dot. Western Gulls have ridiculously horrible parenting skills. To encourage their maternal instincts, their chicks peck at the red dot when  hungry. Their constant pecking makes their parent throw up their food and….Voilá…dinner is served.

Baby Western Gulls feeding.

Can you imagine what it would be like if, like the Western Gull chicks, you had to be a demand every time you needed to be fed? The truth is, we are much more similar to the little peckers than you might assume. What relationships in your life need to be fed? What aspects of your community are starving for attention? What goals in your life need to be fed? What parts of your spirit are hungry?  Each of these things require us to be a demand, to understand a need and to meet it with our unyielding persistence.

What could you be a demand for? A demand for goodness? A demand for change in your community? A demand for authentic relationships? A demand for quality family time? A demand for a better relationship with a friend or spouse?  A demand for what is right at your job? We were each created to be a  demand for something–to feed a greater good–but we must commit to unabashedly press in to make sure the things to which we are called are adequately fed.

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “Press On” has solved and will always solve the problems of the human race.”– President Calvin Coolidge 

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Elephant Poo and Wasted Possibilities

There is a lot of crap going on in the world right now.  Sometimes it seems like everywhere you go someone is trying to dump their mess on you. …as if you don’t have a big enough load of your own. But I want to encourage you and let you know there is hope….

I present to you Exhibit A: Elephant Dung Paper

Transforming poop into paper pulp

Did you know you can make paper out of poop? No, its not scratch and sniff. Its paper made out of the fiber found in elephant dung. Large elephants can eat as much as 600 lbs of vegetation a day (things like grass, leaves, bark, seeds, etc) but they pretty inefficient digestive systems. As a result, around half of their food comes out the other end as fiber. This fiber does not stink and makes for the perfect raw material for paper pulp.

There is a lot of good coming from this crap. First, anything that limits the number of trees lost to deforestation for the purposes of making paper is a good thing. Its estimated that 50% of the world’s forests have been lost for paper production ( a high price to pay for all junk mail). Poo poo paper is recycling at its finest. Saving the trees=saving our oxygen= saving our lives…YAY for saving the planet! Beyond this, many elephants lose their lives because of profit. Farmers often kill them because they are seen as a threat to agriculture ( their livelihood). Plus those who are making virgin paper kill them as they are bulldozing the forests…all bad. But now that elephant dung provides profitability, there are more incentives to protect their lives. Elephant dung is proving to be packed with possibilities.

And this just scratches the surface. Elephant dung is not the only powerful poo. In Haiti, they are finding ways to use human waste to create sustainable agriculture practices. In a place where poor sanitation has led to outbreaks of cholera, parasites, and typhoid, an organization called SOIL is using human poop to create much needed fertilizers to re-cultivate barren lands, and grow food. In Haiti, their crap is creating jobs, addressing a public health crisis, and supporting healthy eating and agriculture. To find out more, check out the video on SOIL here:  Holy Crap.

All this talk of poo got me thinking, if you can make paper and sustainable agriculture out of poo, what can I make out of my crappy situations? What am I down in the dumps about that I could be creating from? Lets face it, we all have crap in our lives. But ultimately, it is up to us whether the lessons this messiness provide are wasted. Even our crappiest situations present us with opportunity to be powerful, to use things that could break us down to build something new. It is when we are knee deep that we are forced to stand the tallest.

Are there things you have dismissed as a waste? A waste of time, even? A waste of energy? A waste of resources? Are there people who you have dismissed as a waste? Are these things, in reality, just wasted possibilities you are missing out on?

Stuff happens. Its what you do with it that matters.


“No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God.― Orson F. Whitney

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Nature’s Look at New Year’s Resolutions

Have you ever thought about the fact that the water we drink today is the same water the dinosaurs drank millions upon millions of years ago? With the help of a pretty niffy concept called the water cycle the same water that falls in our Brazilian rainforests,  that fuels hydroelectric power, that sits in our gutters, and swirls in our toilets is the same water that has nourished every living being since the beginning of time. The same water that sustains us today has moved continents,and carved the landscape, was the life source of ancient civilizations, and formed the first glaciers.  There are currently more than 7 billion people living on our planet, making the demand for water larger than it has ever been. Yet, despite the countless lives that depend on our water supply, not a single drop has needed to be added  to meet the timeless demand. From the beginning, the same water that first formed the oceans has always had the potential to quench the thirst of billions for years to come. Its an incredible feat when you consider nothing needed to be added in order for the water that began our world to be enough even now.

I wonder how our new year’s resolutions would change if we considered that we might be like water, made in a way that nothing needs to be added to be enough. Just like water, we were created with timeless potential and have the capacity to feed our environment simply by being who we were created to be. Too often new year’s resolutions are a time to assess our greatest perceived inadequacies and resolve to change. How would your approach to this year’s resolutions differ if you made them with the assumption that you already have everything you need to achieve them—whether it be the right relationships, the creativity, the will power, the courage, the wisdom, or the sheer ingenuity to create whatever possibility is necessary to become all you were intended to be?

Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us.”- Wilma Rudolph

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