Posts tagged environment

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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Oh the Web We Weave–A Look at Strength

We’ve all done it. You’re walking down the street, minding your own business, when all of the sudden…BAM! You walk into a spider web. The spider is nowhere in sight but its craftsmanship is now eerily present in your hair and mouth. Despite a valiant attempt to gracefully remove the sticky webs from crevices, you find yourself spitting uncontrollably to make sure  it is, in fact, all gone. Who would think such a small animal could produce such a  nuisance with these nearly invisible strands?

Those tiny strands of spider silk pack a powerful punch, and not just in your mouth. Did you know that pound for pound spider silk  has six times the strength of steel? It is so tough it could stop bullets. Those silky strands are three-times tougher than the Kevlar in a bulletproof vest. Scientists are now exploring ways to use spider silk to repair human ligaments and replacement human tendons. As arguably  the strongest natural fiber, spider webs present endless possibilities to strengthen the world in which we live.

All these possibilities are present in a nearly invisible substance thinner than a human hair that usually goes unnoticed. It begs the question, what other hidden strengths around us are going unnoticed? What have you seen in your life as obstacles or annoyances that could be used to strengthen your perspective or enrich your life?

If something as small as a spider carries the strength of bulletproof vests inside of it, what unassuming strength do you carry inside of you that could protect the world?

“Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.” -Mother Teresa

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Tasting Octopus vs Tasting Like One

I LOVE to eat. Some people eat for sustenance. Its a means to an end (nutrients = life). I have even heard someone go as far as to refer to it as “pre-digested poo” (this is unforgivable if you ask me). I guess there are just two kinds of people in this world. There are those who eat to live and there are those who live to eat. I live in the latter camp and I do so unapologetically.There is something amazing about the sense of taste. It is one that has the potential to simultaneously engage a handful of senses at the same time in a wonderfully overwhelming way.

I am a self-proclaimed foodie but I know I flirt with the line between foodie and food addict and my drug of choice is seafood. There are few things that put me in a deeper  state of euphoria than some great crab. But the joy of eating is the indulgence that begins long before the first bite. It starts with the savory aroma of the sea salt in the air. It continues as my eyes begin to taste the sweet juices of the crustacean woven between the white and red of the flesh. And when I’m really lucky, I can be in the vicinity while my meal is being cooked so I can hear the sizzle of the oil as my crab shakes hands with its destiny. I’m getting hot just thinking about it. Sensory overload and loving it!

My love affair with taste has had me fascinated with the eating habits of the octopus. Did you know the suction cups on the  tentacles of the octopus aid it with its sense of taste? Each of those cups are jammed packed with taste sensors. With each move, the octopus is tasting its environment…taking it all in, literally. Imagine what it would be like to taste everything beneath your feet. You would be intensely aware of the life around you. You would have the opportunity to savor or spit out your environment with every strut.

I dare you to take a day or even an hour to taste your environment with the intensity of an octopus. What would it be like for you to fully engage your senses where you find yourself, to figuratively taste your moments? What new things would you notice? What things would you savor that you are currently spitting out with your apathy? It might mean noticing how the wind hugs your ears or how the barren trees still reach towards the sky. It could be seeing the pollution that is creeping more abundantly into the landscape. Or it could be to listen to your loved one with intention, not just hearing the words they are sharing  but listening for the words they are silently speaking through their tone, pauses, and gestures.

Life offers us a feast with each breath but it is our choice to dine.

How are you contributing to the taste of your world?

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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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The Power is YOURS!


This one is for all my 80s babies….


As news of the BP oil spill has covered the airwaves and headlines, I have found myself wondering on more than one occasion, “ What would Captain Planet say?”


(Queue cliché memory lane graphics now…)

“EARTH!        FIRE!              WIND!            WATER!         HEART!”

“Captain Planet—He’s Our HERO. Gonna take pollution down to zero. He’s our powers MAGNIFIED and he’s fighting on the planet’s side.”


Now I know there are a few former Planeteers out there. Many of us 80s babies who found ourselves glued to the tv screen at the sound of that obnoxiously catchy theme song have considered which element ring we would want to have.


Well Planeteers, the earth needs our help! Right now, there are millions of gallons of oil gushing into the Gulf and we haven’t figured out how to stop the leak. Shame on BP.  There has been much talk about how those evil villains need us to teach them a lesson. But simultaneously we, the assumed Planeteers, are killing wildlife in other areas of our oceans at a competitive rate and, for this one, the POWER IS OURS!


Feast your eyes on The Great Pacific Garbage Patch…


This, my fellow toxic crusaders, is the environmental marine catastrophe WE are responsible for.  This floating garbage dump is a result of ocean currents trapping plastic and chemical sludge that have found their way into our waters in the North Pacific. Some estimates put this massive ocean garbage dump at somewhere between the size of Texas and the size of the entire continental United States.


This is how it works. Basically, our plastic debris makes it  into the ocean one way or another. After floating for a bit, it is carried into the North Pacific Gyre. Because this plastic is not biodegradable it simply sits there and breaks into smaller and smaller pieces, absorbing toxins in the water as it sits. Innocent fish and birds mistake these floating pieces of trash for plankton and other types of food. Once they digest it, it sits in their stomachs indefinitely until it kills them. Many chicks have been found dead offshore because their mothers have mistakenly fed their young plastic bottle caps and filled their stomachs with our toxic plastic poisons.

This poor birdie didn’t stand a chance with all that plastic in its belly.



In addition to death from ingestion, our plastics are having impact in other unfortunate ways as well.


Take my friend Mr. Turtle, for example.

This sea turtle found himself caught in a piece of plastic as a young chap and was forced to grow up around it. Isn’t adolescence tough enough already?


The easy thing to say is,” its not my garbage.” Well Planeteers, I would have to disagree. It is small negligence that leads to massive issues. BP is in a whole heap of trouble because of a few itty bitty oversights. All it takes is a few itty bitty oversights—like not throwing that water bottle in the right container, forgetting the reusable grocery bag AGAIN, or leaving a few wrappers at the beach—before we are splitting Mr. Turtle in two or making ol’ man Row Row Row his boat gently down the…..floating garbage dump in the Pacific!


PLANETEERS, the earth needs our help. Lets combine our powers from across the globe to fight on the planet’s side. We are our own heroes…taking pollution down to zero.


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