Sunday, February 10, 2013

the honeymoon is over

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It's been a year and 3 mo. living in the desert and I have to say that the magic is more elusive and the loneliness of the landscape more tangible. The lack of leaves on the adolescent trees make it seem more barren and inhospitable. The desert seems more and more stark to me these days. The line between sky and earth is too well-defined, too much of a contrast with no trees or other greenery to soften the transition. I haven't been feeling embraced by the landscape but more abandoned. And the quiet that I've gushed about in the past is now a torment, a reminder of how far out in the middle of nowhere I am. I am even having trouble enjoying the clear and dark night skies and the moonshine on the desert floor. Its just too much openness - sky and creosote flats, blue and light brown for miles.

It must be that the honeymoon is over. A change is brewing. Something is needed to bring the connection to spirit back into my life. What the change will be is uncertain. What is certain is that the desert is strong medicine. And too much of any strong medicine can be hard to swallow.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

psychology of protection

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As I was driving home from a public meeting, I was listening to Ira Glass's radio show, "This American Life" and I was struck by something he said in relation to the enormous effort and energy he puts into his dog's life. This is what he said:

Its a hard thing to spend so much energy trying to protect a helpless creature, a helpless person or anything that is helpless in this world...
Its a hard thing to turn that off
Once you've been protecting it, your mind is used to protecting it and the thought that you wouldn't protect it just becomes offensive to who you are.
You can't flip off that part of yourself like its a light switch.

I struggle everyday to understand the strong and sometimes ideological feelings and attitudes my colleagues have towards developing solar energy projects in the desert wilderness. I understand and empathize with wanting to prevent the loss of wilderness and the loss of species habitat. I fully support development of renewable energy sources that do not cause immediate harm to our environment. I want to work with project developers to make them the best projects they can be. However, no matter which way I look at the issue I can't convince myself that these projects aren't a part of the solution to a much bigger and scarier and more destructive problem that looms in a more far-off future. This common understanding that climate change is the biggest threat to ALL life on earth seems to be lacking in my desert conservation colleagues and I struggle to understand why it is so hard for folks to swallow the tradeoffs.

I think Ira's quote above really gets at the psychology of protecting something and it helps me to better understand where folks are coming from when they adamantly and passionately fight what I see to be a part of the solution to climate change. Some of my peers, neighbors and colleagues have spent their lives and their careers protecting a place they love - the California deserts. And there have been grand successes that should be celebrated. Some of the very best land conservation successes have been in the CA deserts. So I can see how "once you've been protecting it, your mind becomes used to protecting it and the thought that you wouldn't protect it just becomes offensive to who you are."  And thus folks who call themselves "conservationists" yet promote renewable energy on the lands that have been defended for so long become offensive to those who have been doing the defending.

What we need a shift to a broader thinking around protection. And broader ethic that includes future generations living on the planet in 100 years and other life - human and otherwise - around the whole planet, not just the life near and dear to your heart or home.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

in need of inspiration

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Sitting here in front of a computer screen desperate for inspiration - what can I do in this life that would truly inspire me? What can I, specifically this incarnation of ME and all my parts, what can I do? I feel dull, numb and uninspired. I want to type into the google search - tell me what to do in this life and have it spit out a bunch of different personalized responses but the computer doesn't have the answers. I must find them on my own.

So, what makes me come alive?
- being outside in nature
- adventures in foreign countries, adventures in mountains, adventures in the great outdoors
- facilitating experiences for people in nature
- learning and teaching about how nature and LIFE works - biodiversity, adaptation, speciation, ecology, how individual organisms work, everything to do with life.
- non-violent communication
- meditation
- yoga
- climbing

Must start loving the life i live and living the life i love.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

season change

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Fall has arrived. This morning I had a hot cup of tea and I wore a long sleeve shirt all day. In fact, I wore a down vest this morning. The north winds are blowing in the cold while the sun still beats down keeping the weather in a delicate balance. The leaves on the cottonwoods are starting to consider the end of their life. They've done their job for the tree and photosynthesized, helped the tree to grow, but they now are turning downward, toward the earth, ready to serve the tree in a different form, as mulch that covers the ground buffering the roots from the winter chill. The days are getting much shorter and the nights longer and colder.
Having such defined seasonal changes triggers a desire for change in myself and my life. The long summer where everyday was just hot and sunny, same same every day kept me complacent with life. But this punctuated seasonal change stirs in me a certain kind of urge for change. It feels like a small bee in the center of my being that starts buzzing around, waking things up, slightly tickling my heart, reminding it of its true purpose, encouraging it to open up.

No major changes that I see on the horizon, but I feel the urge for change. And things are coming up - a birthday, a year with the SAME job (first time in my life)... we'll see how things unfold during this time of change.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

The balance

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I find it interesting how life sometimes seems to operate in secret balance. Events come in pairs. Something exciting paired with something anxiety-inducing. A loss with a gain, a birth with a death, a disappointment with pleasant surprise. Today I was having a pretty uneventful day at work. Unmotivated to sit at a computer and doing almost anything to avoid writing more comment letters. And then, phone rings, cell phone vibrates at the same time. I pick up the office phone and am asked to fill in for someone on a panel. I hang up the phone and look at my phone and a close friend of mine has decided to visit for my birthday. So instead of pure anxiety about public speaking on a panel of "experts" or pure excitement that my friend is coming to visit, I get this strange mix of emotions where I end up somewhere in the middle. The balance.

Thursday, September 27, 2012


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The garden is finally functional. What a joy to watch the daily progress from seed to plant to eventual fruit. What a gift the diversity of life is for us.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

and the winner is...

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I've lived in the desert for a month or so shy of a year now and I have to say, September is my favorite month. It is still bikini weather in the sun, tank top or sun dress in the shade, dry and breezy, but not windy. I'm not constantly sweating but I'm never cold. Cool enough for long sleeve in the evening and a blanket at night. Really enjoying the transition from summer to fall in the desert. What a gift!