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    Post-Vacation Blissing Out

    Monday, August 10, 2009, 4:02 PM [General]

    Hi All,

    If you look at my photos, you'll see I uploaded some vacation shots of my recent trip to Hollyhock retreat center on Cortes Island, off the coast of Vancouver. Loveliness. I blogged on it here, on my co-blog Fresh Living:

    Enjoy. Do you have any vaycay or summer photos to share?

    - Valerie

    Here's my whole slideshow:

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    Five Easy Ways to Go Organic

    Tuesday, October 23, 2007, 11:32 AM [General]

    Hi all, great post in today's New York Times about how to start eating organically. The very quick rundown:
    1) Milk
    2) Potatoes
    3) Peanut Butter
    4) Ketchup
    5) Apples

    For the reasons why, go here:

    How do you use organics?
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    Dry Earth Alert: Ty Pennington to the Rescue?

    Monday, October 22, 2007, 3:55 PM [General]

    I'm a little in a bunch today. It's 73 degrees here in New York. Southern California is on fire. Droughts are happening as never before. And the water crisis in the American west is growing. It's an emergency of insane proportions. We're starting to mess with the SEASONS. That's nuts, right? There isn't a lot we can count on in this world, which is both a comfort and scary and Buddhist. But things like brisk October weather and bracing New York Januaries and a Chicago fall marathon without heat-related injuries and a fatality were once cozy givens.

    So I'm wondering: Where's the outrage? Where's the red level, three-alarm alerts? Where are the people in the streets? Where are the government emergency creations of excellent, mandated exhaust filters for cars? The national campaign to show people how they can reduce water use, contribute less to the greenhouse effect? Not just Oprah, but the president getting on TV and saying, "We are in a crisis. We must come together. We must sacrifice for our future joy, our children, our beloved beautiful planet that we are killing. Now here's the plan…." And then the National Guard, the Women's Auxilary, your spiritual community, the builders' unions, a society for engineers would whip up a plan, and like "Extreme Makeover, Home Edition," we'd build a house in seven days. We'd all get a week off of work and get to work. And we'd ease off the brink. Ty Pennington would whip out his bullhorn on the last day, getting everyone to give one last push--one last exhaust filter, one last factory overhaul, one last green roof planting. "The family is on its way home!" he'd yell. "Come on people!"

    And then we'd all stand back as the giant, corn-fueled bus pulled away to reveal it: a sustainable planet. No black smoke emitting from factory tubes, L.A.'s ring of smog would be scrubbed clear, a deep breath in New York would be the same as a deep breath in a pine forest. Our waste would be brilliantly, wastelessly recycled. Into things we use—plastic bottles, furniture, tires. Paper or plastic? would be a gone question, a relic like Victrolas or whalebone corsets.

    Because we're geniuses. Seriously. If we're smart enough to make Pez dispensers and ceiling fans, and motherboards, and airplanes, and Tickle-Me Elmo, we're smart enough to figure out how not to leave our junk everywhere like a recalcitrant five-year old with Transformers. We're smart enough to figure out how to get the fruit and leave the tree alone.

    It's not like we don't know how to do this. We all know we should change our lightbulbs, drive less, walk more, yadda boring green homework yadda. But it's so easy to forget about the earth as a living, breathing being while we're behind computer screens, speeding along asphalt, bustling through stores, watching TV in our homes. It's so easy to forget how none of this is a given. Not one sofa, not one new Saturday Night Live episode, not one Prius, even.

    So what's my rambling point here, aside from being so sad, so helpless in the face of our planet on red alert, our planet wearing no clothes? I want to know if anyone else is feeling the same way. Are you sad about the drowning polar bears, the muggy fall, and blazing California? Do you too see it as all connected, all related to our species' profligacy and sweet, yet misguided trust that this will all be here, forever?

    What can we do? Sounding alarm bells seems alarmist. Changing a lightbulb seems nice, like a good thing, but maybe not tide-turning. Continuing to pretend that it's not all connected and that it will be taken care of, somehow, seems like a denial that's well past its expiration date.

    What are your thoughts? How can I/we/you tend to the thirsty, drowning, pillaged earth? How can we do this without being impotent hand-wringers? Annoying harpies, alarmist tree-huggers? Maybe we can start here: What does the earth mean to you? What do you love most about this place?

    Ok, I know nature's not all that—there are plenty of things to be bothered by—poison ivy, black widows, mosquitoes, sulfur swamps. But me, I'm a cornball, a sucker for the good stuff: double rainbows, dolphins that seem to be smiling, fluffy bunnies, quiet meadows, giant waves, serene lakes, rain on glass, redwood trees, the smell of ocean, feeling small in a huge universe, meteor showers, baby whale song, volcano craters, the sky at dusk, sea turtles older than me, the taste of fresh, crisp night in November.


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    Ram Dass

    Wednesday, October 17, 2007, 3:40 PM [General]

    Wait, have I raved about our Ram Dass interview yet? In case not, check out this video, filmed for us in Maui of beloved teacher Ram Dass chatting with Sharon Salzberg and Krishna Das about his guru.

    It's really delightful. Once you've fallen in love with him there (if you aren't already), definitely check out the film Fierce Grace, a really wonderful documentary--that has nothing to do with Beliefnet. It helped me through a very rough time a few years ago.

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    I Heart Rumi

    Tuesday, October 16, 2007, 5:14 PM [General]

    Hi, to honor the deliciously juicy Sufi poet Rumi on his 800th birthday last month, we built this beautiful meditation. Just pop on some headphones and zone out to the Rumi-ness by clicking here.

    What's your fave Rumi line? Mine is:

    "Break the wineglass and fall toward the glassblower's breath."

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    Upcoming Interviews

    Tuesday, October 16, 2007, 5:11 PM [General]

    Hi there. We've got a few interviews in the hopper that will be coming to you soon! I talked to actor/eco-activist Ed Begley, Jr. yesterday about how he stays centered and calm, Joan Borysenko talked to us recently about how we can all find our true life's purpose, and on Friday we'll be posting my talk with jazz musician extraordinaire--and long-time Buddhist--Herbie Hancock.

    I'd love to hear about more of what you'd like to see on Beliefnet in the spiritual-but-not-religious arena. I've got a poll on the right side of this page.

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    The Beginning of the Network

    Tuesday, September 25, 2007, 2:46 PM [General]

    So, this is exciting! Check out Neale Donald Walsch's provocative Conversations with God Blog. Today he's talking about doing vs. being:
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