Monday, December 12, 2011

Going Green & Saving Green This Winter Holiday Season

I love the holidays, the lights, the festivities, but I hate the impact over-consumption can have on the environment. Making eco-friendly choices can not only save energy or prevent needless paper & plastic waste from going into the landfills, but save money in the long run.

Here are some ideas I've used in the past. I hope will give you some very green holiday cheer!

Packaging - Use recycled and recyclable materials: It’s easy to be attracted to the shiny, metallic paper but recycled wrapping paper can be just as pretty and less taxing on the landfill. For a cheaper alternative, reuse gift bags decorated with old holiday cards or cutout snowflakes. (Great for covering store logos). Reuse bows and ribbons.

Natural products make great gift decorations: Instead of plastic bows, try a natural gift decoration like holly and berries, eucalyptus leaves, rosemary or olive branches. They look beautiful and if they’re from your yard, they don’t cost a thing!

Use canvas bags as gift wrap: An alternative to gift bags is packaging your present in reusable canvas shopping bags that the recipient can use year-round. The Clean Green Bag Company makes affordable, sturdy grocery bags available at But you can buy cute canvas shopping bags anywhere these days, and many stores, like Target will give you a few cents off every time you use your bag instead of taking one of their plastic ones.

Starter environmental kit: I'm amazed that some folks don't know about some truly great green, biodegradable cleaning products and everyone needs cleaning products so this will be a truly useful gift. Start with your favorite cleaning products (I love Seventh Generation) and add compact-fluorescent bulbs, and garbage bags made from recycled plastic or biodegradable garbage bags. "Wrap" them in a canvas bag.

Gift cards: From restaurants to grocery stores, book and coffee shops, there is a gift card for everyone; and giving a card lets the individual get exactly what she or he wants. For a coffee lover (like me), give them a gift card from their favorite coffeehouse “wrapped” in a travel mug. Using the mug will save them 10 cents each time, stretching their gift card while saving the landfill from unnecessary cups.

Candles: Cut down on your emissions by choosing soy candles over paraffin. They burn cleaner, are more fragrant, and are available everywhere– including Target.

Energy-Efficient Holiday Lights: Look for LED lights or energy-saving lights for lighting your tree or home. The initial price may be more than regular lights, but you’ll save in energy costs.

If you have ideas to add, please post a comment and I'll incorporate them into my next holiday season. Happy Holidays all!!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Short-term Memory

In California, in May, it always rains;
but no one seems to remember.
Every year someone comments on the rain, saying it’s out of sorts;
And I remind them that it rains every year in May,
but no one seems to remember.
I know, because one year I paid attention; because I didn't expect it but I noted that it happened.
And that it fell again the year after - and the year after; and while I noticed the rain I noticed too that people didn't expect it and saw it as abnormal. But it happens every year.
It rains in May.
Now I wait for the person who comments that it’s raining in a month where no one expects the rain,
because I’m paying attention and I expect the rain.

Monday, May 2, 2011


Mirrors are funny things. How can we trust them to reflect back what’s really there? What do we really see? These thoughts came to mind as I saw a more pleasing version of my body in the Starbuck’s bathroom mirror. As I looked at myself, my hips and body looked slimmer. I wondered how accurate this mirror was. Was it my reflection or my perception or both?

As I pondered whether this mirror was made purposely to make the image appear "thinner", I remembered a story of a woman and her mother who for years saw their behinds as "large" when they looked into their home mirror. Another woman came along and checked out herself in the same mirror. "Hey, this mirror is off," said this woman. "Really?," exclaimed the other two. "Yes," said the third woman. "It makes your butt looked bigger." This astonished the other women who had convinced themselves that it was their bodies, not the mirror, that was distorted. Because of what the third woman said, the other two's perception changed. No longer was what the mirror reflected back real, but a distortion.

So again I ask, what is a mirror? Is it real? Is it a distortion or is the distortion based on perception? Was the third woman right or the third woman wrong?I wasn’t there. I didn’t see the distortion or lack thereof. Though I can’t quite comprehend why these two women didn’t figure it out until another person had to point it out to them. Why were they so invested in this false belief of themselves? Didn’t they see other mirrors or were the other mirrors equally as damaging?

How often do we see ourselves really? Or see what others see or don’t see? We can over-distort or under-distort - depending on conditioning - what we tell ourselves.

That day at Starbucks, I liked what I saw in the mirror. A few years ago, I would have been disappointed because I always punished myself as being "not thin enough". I regret that in my twenties I often paid attention to my supposed faults and less on my attributes. Time is passing. I have wrinkles, gray hair. Back in my "youth" I wish I appreciated more my supple skin. I know better now.

Sometimes I’m astonished to see such an old person looking back at me in the mirror. "Where did the wrinkles come from?," I ask. Then I remind myself I’m 42. I’m not concerned anymore at being perceived as sexy or in “competition” with other females. I’m concerned with myself, how I want to live my life and what I really want to get out of it over the next 30 years. I’m middle-aged. And I’m coming closer to self-acceptance. If I carry a few extra pounds, I’m not a failure at life. I'm letting go of other's negative comments about my body that I've allowed to control my thoughts and my self-perception. I'm focusing on what I do have - a functioning healthy body! However I choose to see the reflection, good or bad is ultimately how I want to relate to myself - and I want my relationship to be happy so I'll focus on the good.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Second paragraph of my book

Thanks to all the encouragement, I'm posting the second paragraph of my book:

I bottomed out, and in those times, you can’t hide anymore. I hit a wall so hard it shook me to the core. For the past six years, I’d been painstakingly working my way up in Hollywood post-production, climbing to a position where I thought I could be more valued. When I got to that level, all my expectations of how my accomplishments would feel didn’t happen. My self-doubts that plagued me on the climb up weren’t cured; I still doubted my abilities, weighing myself against others. And in this new position of responsibility, I felt even more pressure to prove myself. So I worked hard which led to my getting even more responsibility. This gave me confidence that I was actually proving myself. But another voice inside me that gets buried too often rose up and said, “Why are you working harder than others but getting paid less?” This thought started driving me to the brink.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

1st Paragraph of my book

Today I thought I'd post the first paragraph of my book, My Year of Living Manifest-fully. To be honest, I'm proud of this paragraph. I have a friend who laughs at me (in a good way) because I happen to be in love with my writing. Perhaps I should feel no shame in this. So with love, here's my first paragraph. I have several more... and more to write... Enjoy and if you feel like sharing your thoughts, that's always appreciated :)

Here's the excerpt:

"I begin my story at a place where perhaps a lot of people land. We think the world is against us, not knowing that the place we’re trapped in comes from what we’ve created. The spot becomes clearer when we’ve moved away from it, like a stain on a pillow. While in it, it’s hard to see. I inhabited a very dark spot. This black, cramped area felt like I was imprisoned or in a mental institution but I was at my job, dying, with my soul bursting to escape. No one could have guessed, with my easy smile and rosy cheeks that as I took a walk during lunch, next to the bustling traffic on a busy road, I wondered how it would feel to let go and fall in the middle of the rushing cars. It took all my strength not to let go and find out."

Monday, March 28, 2011

Explaining the God concept

I wept when I first watched this video. I've often tried to explain my thoughts and feelings on what I feel as "God". I don't think I could put it more succinctly and more beautifully than this video:

Thursday, February 24, 2011


There was a time in my life when I was an anti-nuclear weapons organizer and activist. I participated in many parades, shouted many slogans. I analyzed the language used by fellow activists like "we are going to blow the opposition away" and wondered why our language had to be destructive. Wasn't that going against what we preached? I felt angry when I'd call for volunteers and get responses like, "I like to show my activism by walking in the woods." "Yeah, asshole", I'd think, "Where will the woods be if you don't do something about them!!!" It dawned on me one day that for all my peace activism, I wasn't peaceful inside. It was then I began seriously to pursue my spiritual quest to find a more balanced and harmonious life.

I believe in standing up for rights, and by no means do I preach being a wallflower. But I wonder about using violence to curb violence philosophy which brings me to why I started to write this post. I've been reflecting on the day I stood up to a bully. One day, what seemed out of the blue, Missy, a somewhat awkward, tall, stocky girl followed me off the bus. She told me she was going to punch me and lifted her arm. She had at least 5 inches on me. I wasn't athletic, was 20 pounds overweight. Other then perceiving me as an easy target, I could not tell you why she picked on me that day. I don't know if I snubbed her or if there was truly anything I did; we rarely interacted to cause any friction. Whatever the reason she had hate & anger in her eyes.

When Missy told me she was going to punch me I looked at her, with hard eyes and said, "If you are going to punch me, then punch me." This shocked her and she pulled away. I watched her, still in my defiant stance, as she shirked off.

Who knew at 12 I was acting out passive resistance. I say passive because I didn't react by punching back. I took power out of her words because I told her to go ahead, if she wanted. But what she wanted was for me to show fear. I didn't. I showed that no matter what she did, it wouldn't affect me. So what was the point in her doing what she did? She couldn't get what she wanted, an opportunity to feel power over another.

When we react out of fear, doesn't that just tell the perpetrator that intimidation works? If we continue to build arms doesn't that mean that we feel we always have to defend? Some may call this a simplistic view. I call it an advanced one - one that looks ahead, like the Dreamer vision John Lennon sang about, that one day we'll realize that destructive behavior no matter what the circumstance doesn't solve the issue in the long run. We can take active steps to create a positive way and the old ways of resolving disputes will seem ludicrous.

But from the images and news I see over and over, this vision isn't today. The vigilante, eye for eye revenge mentality pounded into us by U.S. media from movies to reality shows sickens me. And I see many examples of this playing out around me.

I wish I knew what caused Missy to act that way - what was going on in her personal world that would make her want to lash out. I hope whereever she is today, she's not having one of those days.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Today I reworked a poem, originally written 14 years ago as part of a poetry class assignment. We were to write about a secret never told. I decided to write one about a friend who I shared almost everything but this one "secret. I kept this "secret" originally not out of my own fears or shame but at the request of our other friends' concerns who thought our friend's religious beliefs couldn't handle it.

My poem came out so cryptically that my poetry teacher didn't understand it. Then again, he didn't get a lot of things I wrote. The question is, how much do we unravel so that other people can understand us? And is it worth it in the end?

Here's my poem titled, "Confessions"

On the couch
that’s mine when you’re married,
I’ve pulsed,
waiting with grain on my tongue
for scales weighting over.
The candy kisses always on your table
replace my mouth.
Break my vows.

You’re up the street every Sunday
Bells ringing at that damn church.

Chasing confessions.

You changed;
we thought from that old hick town phobia.

You pulled out of us dirty underwear piece by piece
to satisfy what you couldn’t do
and what we used as confessions.

But amongst us girls, we keep against you
Beyond cheap thrills,
the deepest sins against your believed recrimination.

The constraints of your beliefs wrapped so tightly
They’re invisible.

They keep you in line
and us out.

The couch sunk in laughter,
like a brother we wish you all were,
I sit back, arms crossed
weighing what it means to be heard.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Perfect Day

I was watching a talk show last week where the host asked his guests, "What is your most memorable moment?" I've contemplated this question before, searching for the answer, wondering if I could pinpoint one event. I had several in mind but not one encapsulated a "perfect moment" where I felt it could sum up my life as saying, "This enthralled, inspired..." etc., etc. I've had mini-moments that built up to those kinds of feelings but they didn't stand on their own as being THE MOST MEMORABLE.

Yet, there is one moment I think about when I gauge my happiness, a moment I consider when thinking about how I want to live my life. I was in art class drawing. As we drew, the art teacher played classical music in the background. That day he played Baroque. A bird landed outside the window and began to sing along with the music. I listened to the bird singing up and down as a perfect companion to the music's intricate patterns. It awed me and I felt completely happy.

Thinking about that moment now, I still feel what I felt: perfect happiness, perfect content, perfect harmonious beauty. There hasn't been a moment quite like that again, but I look for it always as I stop to listen to birdsong or the wind blowing on the grass.

Perhaps my life's poetry consists of moments built into verse that I can sing to myself to light up the dawn when I forget that it just takes one moment of beauty to bring perfect content...

What's your best day?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Friday, January 14, 2011

Ritual for Letting Go of Expectations

I'm not one for making pronouncements about doing rituals, but this one helped me greatly and I'm sharing it because perhaps it will help you too; in particular if you feel held back by the thoughts and feelings of others that bind you into something you are not....

Some background on why I sorely needed the ritual: I've recently moved back "home". By being at home, I mean that I'm camping out at my Mom's so I can sort of the next steps I need to take for my career. Over the summer I realized a new path to take. I decided I wanted to be a content creator for Web TV. In job searching, and just general research about the job, I realized that I needed to develop skills I have in the past relied on other's to have in my creative circle.

Tomorrow, I start a video production class. Registering for the class completely energized me. That was two weeks ago. Then my energy fell. Why? Because I got pulled down into the past....

I've been working on changing my perception of myself and just not see myself as "writer" or any label that might pull me away from fully expressing who I am here. Part of the change has been letting go of the past - in particular memories of who I was that don't suit me today. I've tossed out pictures, clothes, and any other items I feel I don't need that will serve my purpose for today.

Fortunately at my Mom's she doesn't have a lot of pictures around that will pull me back. Then I went to visit my Dad and here's where things went a bit awry. We always enjoy stimulating conversation and I appreciate my father's questioning nature; but part of that questioning nature always questions what I'm doing. He's a litigator who doesn't know how to turn the off switch. He asked me if I considered being a teacher. My response was this, "creating content is teaching and it will reach a lot more people..." He heard it but I don't know if he really acknowledged it. Later in our visit he asked me, "Why don't you have children...." "Because I don't need to," was my response. His comments threw me into the loop - that loop of thought that says, "how can my parent not understand me.... why don't they get what I'm doing.... Why do they have other expectations of me....Why can't they be happy about the choice I made." So on and so on. My frustation with my father's comments stem from the fact that, I believe, he's made assumptions as to why I've made certain choices in my life. And though I've tried to explain my real motivations, he seems to me attached to those ideas... And attached to thoughts and feelings of who I am.

I'm not sure either of my parents see me very clearly and truly understand me but I don't want to waste any more time and energy to explain myself. That takes energy away from me going forward.

I took a walk today in one of my favorite places in Laguna Beach. I was on one of the canyon trails where the view spans out over the canyon and down to the whole of the ocean. The wind blew on the hillside and these thoughts came into my head:

"I am not the vision my father has held of me. I am not the person he thinks or wishes me to be. I am not the vision my mother has held of me. I am not the person she thinks or wishes me to be."

As I spoke these words in my head, I asked the universe to put flight into these words and take them away. I felt so much lighter after that. I felt energy restored. And then I easily walked up a rather steep hill.

Saying those words released the restraint I've held of disappointing my parents. It's been lurking around for so long, a parasite of such long-standing, I didn't realize the grip it held. I'm not rejecting them; just putting to rest conceptions about me that don't suit my purpose and replacing it with love instead.