A Green Summer

Many of the special days and holidays this month have to do with the outdoors and/or nature. The first week of the month is national gardening week, it’s also fresh fruit and vegetable month, camping month, international mud month, and great outdoors month, not to mention we’ve got the official start of Summer. It’s really a great month to focus on the outdoors because it’s typically not super hot yet and yet it’s consistently nice enough that you can plan to be outdoors and only get bothered maybe by a fast summer thunderstorm.

I grew up with a nice backyard and two parents and a grandmother who had green thumbs, and other grandparents who lived by the beach, so I was raised to be outdoors and to love nature. I’m also a big fruit and vegetable lover, and always enjoy trying new recipes with them as well as going to outdoor farm stands. There’s something magical and exciting about being part of a thriving natural scene and eating food that you know where it was grown and that it was picked that day or that week.

The good news is that more places than ever are encouraging the creation of green space and protecting those that are there. Rooftop gardens aren’t a fad, they’re a thing that communities are embracing. I’ve always had plants indoors and while I may not have the greenest thumb I am able to keep a few alive and look forward to having a space in the future where I can grow more edibles like tomatoes, beans and more herbs.

Gardening outdoors and in helps teach kids some valuable lessons, from where food comes from to how things grow to what it means to care for something (or someone) to the impact of time and resources to patience. It’s also a fairly low investment option that can really show your kids some good progress and has rewards that they really appreciate (food). Gardening is also a great opportunity to spend time together as a family. Even if you can’t do it outdoors there are inexpensive smaller window boxes and pots at Dollar Stores and big box stores that are great to fill and put by sunny windows indoors. Gardening indoors means you can have the great greenery all year long no matter the weather and plants are good for helping to keep the air you breathe cleaner.

If you’re looking to do something as a family this summer, gardening or getting into the natural world are both great, and inexpensive, options. What will you do in the great outdoors or with nature this summer?

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Taking Action for Earth Day

Today has been Earth Day.  It’s the day that people around the world take time to remember the planet that we all live on and share, and to do something to help make sure that planet is here for many years to come.  Given that our success, and our lives even, depend on the health and continued life of the earth I thought today we’d talk about some things we can do to help the Earth be around for many more years to come.

Today plenty of companies sent out emails and posted on social media asking for donations.  I saw many more emails today with double and triple matches (meaning a gift you give is doubled or tripled) than I did for Giving Tuesday back in November, so the simplest way you can give to the future of our world is to donate to companies who are going to plant trees, protect the (endangered) animals, and fight for the health of our planet.

Another way you can give back is to recycle and pick up, even if it’s not your garbage.  Sometimes the wind gets the best of the garbage/recycling days or the animals get into the cans and as a result trash and recyclables go everywhere. While it’s not something I recommend doing unless you’re able to glove up or protect yourself in some other way, taking action to pick up that stuff goes a long way to making sure that those things don’t end up in our waterways and stay away from animals who could be killed by them.

A third way to help the earth is eating less meat.  Protein is important to our diets, but meat is also one of the bigger contributors of what’s hurting our earth. That doesn’t mean we eliminate meat from our diets, but rather make smarter choices about how much we’re consuming.  Try to eat meat fewer days per week, substituting with other proteins like eggs, quinoa and almond/peanut butter whether at dinner or during other meals of the day.

Fourth, if you’re able to get out there and plant trees or other plants to help our animals and the bees who are crucial to the health of our food system, that’s a great way to give back to the earth.  I saw an article recently that suggested the way to fix climate change was to plant tons of trees.  With a little bit of effort and adjustment I think we can come to an agreement between us and mother nature and learn how to share the space we all live on together.

Finally, another very easy way to give back is signing petitions.  Many of the suggestions I’ve given are things that you can do all year long and not just on Earth Day, and this is no exception.  Every day I get at least a dozen emails about petitions I could sign on all kinds of topics, including those that have to do with animals and nature.  It’s a very small way to contribute, but seeing how many people have already signed the petitions goes to show that I may be just one person, but my individual voice along with the voices of thousands of others really ads up.

What will you do to care for the world you live on?

A Patchwork Quilt of Moments

As I sit here thinking about what I want to write about today I’m glancing out the window to see if it’s started to rain again yet. The next few days are supposed to bring thunderstorms and rain not only to where I live but other parts of the country as well. There’s something awe-inspiring about summer thunderstorms, with the wind, the big crashes, the incredible lightning and the smell that only is around during these summer storms.

It reminds me that everyone sees things differently, everyone picks out different things, everyone is spoken to by nature in different ways, everyone sees beauty in different ways. Yes, often there is a group of people who are amazed by a certain thing, but it’s rarely a universal thing. For example countless people are awestruck by the Grand Canyon, yet it’s one of my least favorite National Parks and I don’t find it to be very interesting (that’s not to say I don’t find myself awed by other canyons). However there’s usually an exception to the rule, and I’m no different because I was speechless over the photos of the cloud inversion in the Grand Canyon that’s happened just a few times.

It may not storm again today and I may not get to watch the clouds race over the sky, the lightning fork to the ground and watch the trees whip around any more than they are today already, and that’s OK. We don’t have only one awe-some experience in our lives. There may be something that always catches our attention, like rainbows or the first spring flowers or the first snowflakes of the season, but more often than not our lives are a patchwork quilt of special experiences, experiences that we have to be open to and looking for.

What special moments have you been amazed by recently?

Creative Earth Day Celebrations

Sunday is Earth Day, and while I’m not quite ready to get out there and enjoy spring, with today being an unseasonably cold 42 degree day, I’m still looking forward to doing some earth-friendly things this week and weekend. If you’re looking for some creative ways to honor the earth and still do things you enjoy, here are a few things to add to your list.

Garage sales and estate sales are a great way to buy new things that you want and need while still helping the earth. Many people sell gently used items or even brand new ones that they haven’t used or don’t want but are still in great condition. These types of sales are also a great place to find stuff that just isn’t made anymore, or isn’t made in the same way or with the same quality that it used to be made with.

Farmer’s markets and roadside stands are a great way to support the local farming community. Eating vegetables and fruits is a great way to care for our planet in the first place, making the extra effort to do it locally not only gives you the opportunity to support the local growers, but also to know exactly where your food came from. Also, you typically have the chance to talk with the people who grow the food, which means you can find out exactly how they were grown and what, if any, chemicals were used.

Giving the gift of a potted plant is another great way to think more about the earth while still giving flowers or a plant that will make someone smile. Even if the person you’re gifting to doesn’t have the greenest thumb, most people can still keep a potted plant alive for far longer than cut flowers, and the potted plant often can go outdoors and last for months or years depending on the type of plant. And if you’re gifting to someone who has a home, things they can plant outdoors are almost always a blessing, including small trees and shrubs.

What ways are you planning to celebrate Earth Day this weekend?

Earth Day Plans

This week as we approach Earth Day I’m thinking about going green!  Today I’ve got a few ways you can go green and take care of our earth and celebrate this special day.  After all, I want the earth to stick around for at least a few more years, don’t you?

1-take action in your community.  There are lots of ways you can do this, from cleaning up litter and removing dead plants and trees to planting trees and flowers to putting up bird houses and even bee hives to encourage the natural population of your area

2-if you’re not able to go out and physically help in your community, there are tons of petitions online you can sign to support environmental initiatives online.  From organics to GMOs to smog and endangered species, there are tons of great causes you can support.

3-in line with the previous idea there are tons of earth-friendly organizations who would really appreciate a donation.  Even organizations like PETA and Charity: Water have an earth-focused mission that would benefit, you don’t just have to look to the more political organizations.

4-I love my hot showers so I’m not really willing to give them up, so if you’re like me that’s not one way you want to help save the earth.  But you can however wash your clothes in cold water.  They won’t complain and it will save your energy bill too!

5-if you’re looking for a spring refresh for your house there are tons of garage and yard sales that have begun with the favorable change in weather.  Not only are you saving a few dollars, you’re also saving the landfills from some items that would be in them for many years to come.  (And if you’re having a yard sale and everything doesn’t sell there are lots of local organizations who can benefit from the left over items too).

What are you planning this week to celebrate Earth Day and honor this place we all live?

Exploring the World

Summer is coming up in just about a week, can you believe it?  When I think about summer the first thing that comes to my mind is the outdoors.  The second, of course is the end of school for the year.  I can remember what a relief it was to be done and on break for a couple of months and able to enjoy myself again.  I didn’t hate school and I wasn’t bad at it, I just preferred not learning my lessons in classrooms while filling in workbooks.  There are so many ways to learn and not everyone learns the same way.   One of the best ways to learn I think is to get out in the world and see it and/or experience it.  Thanks to technology we’re able to explore the world even from the comforts of home if we don’t have the finances to physically go to places.

One of the things that captivates me the most when it comes to exploring are the natural wonders around the world.  I’m always tempted to click the links to videos and sites about dogs, penguins, bobcats, and other animals like Explore, and I always get sucked in to checking out the photos on the Weather Channel and other sites of gorgeous natural places and of nature taking over what we man have created.  There’s just something about nature that captivates me.

This summer I encourage you to take time with your kids to get outdoors.  Check out some Rail Trails, visit some National Parks (and not just the famous ones), take a bike ride through a park, or just get outside and sit with a cool drink.  Take time with your kids, with your partner and by yourself to see the natural world that surrounds us on a regular basis and appreciate what we have while we have it.  Summer is synonymous with so many of us taking a break from our usual days and doing something else or just taking time off, and with exploring the world we live in.  Make sure you really take that break this summer and spend some of that time off in nature.  What will you explore this summer?

“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” Frank Lloyd Wright

Earth Day Details

Today the world celebrates Earth Day.  It’s a time for us to reflect on the world we live in and often take for granted.  As we reflect on family and relationships today it’s important to note that we are all in a relationship with the earth.  It’s not one that we all think about or take time to appreciate, but without the air that surrounds us and the ground that supports us we’d be nothing. Today as we think about Earth Day I thought we’d take a page from our kids and look at the little things.

Kids are really good at noticing the little things, like the stains on your shirt, the things you drop, and the words you say.  Kids are also pros at collecting stuff.  Whether we’re talking about toys bought at the store, old standbys like cardboard boxes, or the countless stones, acorns and flowers (aka weeds) they find in their explorations and your travels, they love to pick it up.  When was the last time you took a good look at what they picked up?  Have you took a close look at some of the things they’ve found lately?  Have you picked up a few of your own lately?

I know, that’s a kid thing! But at the same time it’s not. It’s all about noticing what’s around you, appreciating the beauty of the earth and how the world was created and what makes up the world.  Kids have great imaginations because they don’t see the limits and restrictions we’ve put on the world and still see the little things that make up the big things.  This Earth Day spend some time up close and personal with nature.  See the little bugs as they go about their lives, see the spring flowers exploding, see the birds searching for worms, pick up a couple of rocks, and appreciate the little things that make up our big planet.

“To see a world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wild flower, Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And eternity in an hour.”   William Blake

Ready to Relax

I don’t know about you, but my schedule changes over the summer, and I try to move my days off to those that are nice and sunny whenever possible so that I take advantage of all the wonderful fresh air and summer sunshine! I have always made a point of taking time each week to relax and not do work on my computer or meet with clients so that I can have time to regain my perspective and remember that all the work I’m doing is for the goal of being able to enjoy life more. After all, what’s the point of doing all the work if it isn’t to have time to enjoy the fruits of your labor?

I don’t believe that resting and days off are a waste of time. We aren’t machines built to run 365 days a year 24 hours a day (and even machines have down time because of issues, repairs or overheating concerns). We’re humans designed to sleep every night, but sleep is only a small part of the resting and recharging we need, we need showers and food and friendly conversations that have nothing to do with how we make money or how we’re making a difference in the world.

I’ve never felt that taking an afternoon off to enjoy nature or go on a hike, have a picnic, or read a book is a waste of time because I always feel better, more grounded and more productive after I’ve had that quiet time. There’s something special about nature that all too often we don’t take advantage of. So this summer I encourage you to make sure to take time with your family and by yourself to get out there and enjoy what’s all around us. Take a day to go out into the country and see what you don’t usually see when you’re riding the highways to and from work, go to a National Park and see what your taxes are caring for, and get some perspective on how much bigger life is than what you see in your daily journey.

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the blue sky, is by no means waste of time.” John Lubbock

You’re Failing

Today around the world people are telling you that you’re failing. Yes, that’s the message of Earth Day really, that we’re failing the earth and need to get to work to turn things around. I have to agree that we’ve got some pretty destructive habits and vices, things that are making parts of our world uninhabitable for both man and animal. It’s important to hear that we fail sometimes. It gives us a reason to get out of our lazy or frozen state, get going and make changes, hopefully for the better.

Each day there are more studies showing that what we think we want isn’t really what we want. So by doing all the damage that we’re doing to the world to get what we think we want, we’re actually doing damage for no reason. If you really want to be successful in your life or business you need to figure out if what you really want is what you’re working really hard towards. If you’ve been dealing with a lack of energy or passion for your work, there’s a good chance that you’re not working towards something that is truly valuable to you.

We may not think that one soda can thrown in the garbage really makes a difference, but it’s one compounded by every human in the world throwing a can in the garbage that makes a difference. So while your one may not, when you put everyone’s one together, it shows. If you really want to be successful you’ll apply this principle to your life: one post, call, email or client may not make a big difference, but when they’re repeated and combined they do. You need to see the whole picture as well as what happens daily when you’re consistent to understand success.

Finally, learn to love. Your criticism of a client will drive them away faster than you can get new one, just like your love for the earth will make it last longer than your complete disregard. Love not only feels better, it’s a human emotion that binds us all together better than any other can. Even though we’ve got a sick fascination with the bad stuff, we really want to share the good stuff and be part of the good stuff.

The lesson of Earth Day is really that the simplest things can make the biggest difference, both for the earth and your business. What simple things are you failing?

Relationship Revitalization

With spring here I thought I would share a few ways to take advantage of the fresh air, free spirits and new life that comes with the transformations of spring.  Any relationship can get a fresh start at any time, of course, but it’s especially easy to consider when we’ve got all of the changes in the air and world around us.

1-see a coach or pastor.  It may seem like an excessive step to seek professional help, but this can be the opportunity you’ve been waiting for to let issues that have been stewing for too long to be aired out and cleaned up.  Involving a coach or other professional gives you both the safety of another set of ears and impartial opinion that a family member or friend would not be able to offer you.

2-hire an organizer.  It’s a great time to get rid of stuff that’s been sitting around in your house for a really long time and is getting in the way of your relationship.  You would be surprised how the clutter around your house can affect your relationship.

3-commit to a date night each week.  A date night, even if it’s just 2-3 hours a week can be the start that you need to begin communications again and work through some of the issues and things that bother you both, and even more important, create time to rebuild and strengthen the bonds of love.

4-figure out your finances.  This is something that everyone should do on a regular basis, but with tax day coming up quickly, it’s an especially good time to really make sure both of you know the ins and outs of your finances and make a plan for where you really want things to be in the future.

5-spend more time outside.  I love being outdoors (even if I have to bring a tissue box). Getting outdoors as a couple for a weekly walk, or playing outside with your kids is important to feeling good and being healthy.

What are you going to do to grow your relationship this spring?