Altruistic August!

kindness hotel
Everyday work on kindness.

Kindness creates a ripple, spread it now!

Become mindful how your actions affect others? Turn down the music, sweep instead of leaf blow, turn off your car instead of idle, pick up litter,  control your dog, follow the driving rules, and wearing an a mask is an act of kindness. Thirty-one actions below for acts of kindness:

During August the idea is to do one or more acts of kindness daily. Let’s spread a wave of kindness all around the world. 

 

Plastic-free redo!

July is plastic-free month
Work to reduce your plastic footprint

The last 3 months have been a real setback to plastic-free living, but now some of the confusion settling down, and we can start to renew commitments to reduce plastic. 2020 which should have been a success story for plastic reduction became a total disaster with all the medical waste, and businesses sliding backward on their commitment to reduce and recycle plastic bags. I was in shock when stores wouldn’t let me use my reusable bags or let me refill my containers, but there is no evidence reusables cause Covid, but be sure to wash them!

Even with Covid cases soaring, we know more, and have learned better ways to be safe. It took about a month of trying different store policies until we were able to come down just right with grocery stores where we felt safe, and had store policies I could tolerate. We all know everyone should wear masks, wash hands and respect everyone’s space.

buy in bulk
Reuse and refill your own bottles

I am still able to fill my containers, but not in the quantities I could before the pandemic.  By using refillable containers over the years I have kept from using thousands of plastic items. I feel good about that,7 and will someday be back to serious plastic-free living. Plastic is poisoning us. It is in our water, air, and in our food, and it is important to reduce the harm we do to ourselves, wildlife and the Earth.

Reuse as much as possible and avoid using single-use plastic products. Recycling plastic has become questionable in many communities. therefore refuse and reusing plastics are the best practices to work towards. It could be much easier if manufacturers would do their part in cutting down on plastic! Below are the principles I never had to abandon, so far, during the pandemic, and I hope they are suggestions to help you reduce your plastic footprint also:

  1. Never purchase products in Styrofoam. If you purchase meat, use the fresh meat counter.  Also, avoid black plastic, which like Styrofoam is hard to recycle.
  2. Cook your own meals instead of using take-out. Challenge yourself to make meals from products that came in paper, metal or bulk, and without plastic packaging.
  3. Always travel with a reusable filled water bottles.
  4. Never use baggies. Put sandwiches and leftovers in reusable containers.
  5. Choose glass bottles instead of plastic.
  6. Never use single-use masks or gloves. Reuse!
  7. There is no evidence Covid-19 is spread by reusable bags, shop stores that let you use reusable bags and work to reduce plastic.
  8. Survey your trash. Is it full of plastic? What can you change?
  9. Good luck!

 

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July Kindness

Acts of kindness are very powerful!” Sonja Lyubomirsky

kindness
Kindness creates a ripple, spread it now.

Science is finding that being kind pays off. New studies show kindness makes people healthier and happier. Kindness can stop some illnesses, and could create more antiviral genes. What could be better during a pandemic?  So smile, donate your time and  money, help others, and wear a mask.

Here are some science based ways kindness is good for your health.

The Action For Happiness calendar is below. Make July better than the past 4 months, and stay healthy.

 

A Magical Time on Lake Superior

swallow tail butterfly
Swallowtail butterfly

June can be the best time of the year for pollinators. In northern Wisconsin and Minnesota it is an awesome time for seeing bees, and butterflies! Within two minutes I observed monarchs, swallowtails, sulphurs, northern crescents, painted ladies, dragon flies, and many skippers and bees on a small patch of hawkweed and daisies.

Hawkweed
Orange Hawkweed

Everyone comments about the beautiful lupine near Lake Superior, and it is beautiful to human eyes. If you look closely, very few butterflies and bees crave lupine like they crave Canadian anemone, blooming chives, wild geraniums, blooming trees, forget-me-nots or daisies. The blooming plant that has surprised me the most this year is the orange hawkweed. It is not a native plant, but the butterflies love it.

Female American Redstart

It’s not the best time of the year to see birds, but if you can recognize their songs they bring constant musical joy. The song sparrow, chestnut sided warbler, and a pair of red starts joyfully sing all day.

Lupine on Lake Superior

As long as the sun shines the birds, bees and butterflies seem oblivious to the battle taking place on the big lake. The cold lake ties to dominate the warm tropical winds from the south, and the temperature can fluctuate from 60 degrees to 80 degrees every few minutes. It’s fascinating and refreshing!
The days are long in these northern climes with the sun setting past 9pm and twilight lasting beyond 10pm. No matter where you live get outside and enjoy the marvelous butterflies of summer, in a few weeks they will be gone!

We, not Me!

Wear Your Face Mask! “It’s easy to spot people who want the economy to open the fastest. They’re wearing a mask.” Andy Slavitt

train station in Taiwan
Four years ago I was surprised to see face masks in Taiwan and South Korea.

Four years ago I traveled to South Korea and Taiwan. The first thing I wrote in my journal was, “They wear face masks here!” I was surprised and confused. It has taken me 4 years to understand. I now know how important it is to wear a mask. Do I like it? Whether I like to wear a mask is not important. It is about keeping everyone safe and healthy.  The only way we can safely get things back to any sense of normal is if we are considerate of everyone and work to keep everyone healthy.

If we want to move to in-person activities, it is necessary to change any “me” thinking to “We are all in this together!”

Important guidelines from CDC: People should wear masks, social distance, wash hands, and limit time spent in company with others and the number of others with whom we interact. This guidance is aimed at the spread of respiratory droplets. You should think about four elements: distance from others, the environment, the activity, and the duration of the interaction. Read more here.

Mask wearing can be a game changer if we as a society collectively decide we will adhere to it.” Michael Mina, epidemiologist   Yes, and Taiwan and South Korea get it.

 

 

 

Justice

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere 

In memory of George Floyd:

This is my progressive city, and we are heartbroken. As I write this, it is noisy,  military helicopters are flying around my neighborhood.

Why?? George Floyd was killed just a few miles from my home. Sadly, a broken law enforcement system has been allowed fester. and like the coronavirus it should have been faced head on instead of taking innocent lives. The injustices faced by our black and brown people should not exist in 2020. We need to start with educational injustice, healthcare injustice, air quality injustice, and living wage injustice. As we give tax breaks to the wealthy, we can invest in the future of an important segment of our community.


From an op-ed in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. It is what needs to be said:

Tears flowed from my eyes this morning, though I am — or was — the type of man who prided himself on not crying.
What brought tears? I read that with his last conscious breath, George Floyd cried out in anguish for his mother.
Floyd was a large, strong, proud, vibrant and healthy man and yet as death rushed in upon him, he craved only the love of his mother.
His cry pierced my heart. In an instant, I knew that if I were in his place, pushed to the ground and choked by another man’s knee, I too would have called out for my mother.
Does that make me weak? No. It makes me human, and so was Floyd.
As I struggled with his death, I found my heart cracking open and I did the only thing I could think of at the time — I placed Floyd, his family, and his loved ones in my ailing heart and bore witness to his and their pain and suffering.
With my next breath, though, I surprised myself — by placing Derek Chauvin in my heart.
Does this make me weak? No. It makes me human, and so is Chauvin.
I remain outraged that a grown man — an officer of the law no less — could have such a hard and uncaring heart that for seven full minutes he was capable of slowly squeezing the life out of a fellow human being.
But the reality is that my heart, as well, has been hard and uncaring for too long. Thousands of similar deaths have occurred over the span of my five-and-a-half decades and I have looked the other way and barely raised a finger on behalf of justice.
I don’t have all the answers, but until we all soften our hearts and see both Floyd and Chauvin in ourselves — and as ourselves — little meaningful progress will be made.
I can’t bring George Floyd back. And I won’t protect Derek Chauvin from the hard justice that awaits him. I can only begin by changing myself.
I intend to do this by taking the pain, anger, fear, hate and contempt I feel, channeling it through my softening heart and working to transform it into love — the kind of love a mother has for her son, be he saint or sinner — and then strive of behalf of real and lasting justice for the disenfranchised and the downtrodden.” Jack Uldrich, Minneapolis.

Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.”

See a Tree

Trees on bodies of water help to keep water clean.

May is Arbor Month. Do you have a favorite tree? When I was a child I had a young  basswood tree growing in my back yard. It was a little tree, but it had enormous leaves. I loved watching that tree grow and change! 

Jane Goodall

The tree I had in the garden as a child, my beech tree, I used to climb up there and spend hours. I took my homework up there, my books, I went up there if I was sad, and it just felt very good to be up there among the green leaves and the birds and the sky” Jane Goodall

Before being logged pine trees originally covered northern Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Find a tree on your walk, in your yard, or neighborhood to enjoy. Observe it everyday. Watch how it changes, notice the shade it gives, the texture of its bark and leaves What kind of seeds does it have? Watch for new growth. How does it help wildlife? What attracted you to it? What beauty and diversity does it add to your environment? Give it a name.

I have a cedar in my backyard full of mysterious activity. All the birds that fly in and out of its secretive branches intrigues me. Cardinals have built a nest hidden in its branches, but it is too busy an environment to raise a family. It does feels like a friendly place, and all the birds love its shelter. I would love to hide in its branches to find out all that goes on within this cedar tree. Unfortunately, the cats in my neighborhood also sit and watch this tree full of bird activity. Please keep your cats inside!

May is a perfect month to plant trees, but always plant something native to your area, and please plant trees friendly to wildlife. Here is the National Wildlife Federation’s list of best trees for wildlife. Oaks are especially good for wildlife.

Trees are beautiful and add so much to make our environment special, but “Foremost might be trees’ role in purifying the atmosphere by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. Of course, they also play a vital role in creating habitats for wild animals, providing food, water and shelter.” Jim Gilbert 

How do trees help keep water clean? Trees improve water quality by slowing rain as it falls to the Earth, and helping it soak into the soil. They also prevent soil from eroding into our waterways, reduce storm water runoff, and lessen flood damage.

Earth Day Wonder

On this 50th anniversary of Earth Day let’s celebrate our Earth.  We ate all in this together, and it’s a wonder how interconnected we all are. Who would think the entire planet could work in solidarity for one thing, healing! Our forced isolation has begun to heal the Earth. The air is clearing, the waterways resting, and wildlife is happy to have quiet and some of their habitat back.

Our Earth is an amazing place, and on this Earth Day think about the wonders of our beautiful planet.

what a Wonderful World
Wonders of our Earth

There’s wonder everywhere, if only you look for it. Look for it. It might be in a tree outside your window, in the patch of sky you can see if you crane your neck, in the herbs you’re growing, in the nest the swans are building on that open stretch of marsh across the street.” Sam Sifton NYT

All these wonders are connected. We can make the world a better place when we work together in solidarity. Can something good come of this awful crisis? May science, justice and kindness transform our world into a new beginning. Take 3 breaths for peace, and celebrate wonder on this Earth Day!

11 actions for the planet during a pandemic

 

Plastic-free/Zerowaste Tuesday

Sadly all the shopping restrictions have made plastic-free shopping more difficult. Even my food coop won’t allow me to fill my own containers, but as we shop we can still work to purchase items with a minimum of packaging and strive for less waste.  Hopefully, in a few months things can safely start to get back to normal.

real plates
Always use real dishes, utensils, and glasses.

Spending the day at home makes it easy to be plastic-free. Always use real dishes, utensils and glasses/cups. Read about my plastic-free day here.

Too much food is waste!
How can you use those leftovers?

Make Tuesday the day to use up food left-overs from the week. Create wraps, soups or a stew from your left overs. Before the Coronavirus  40% of food was wasted in the United States. With so many hanging out at home I suspect that number is now lower. Let’s save water, labor and energy, and continue to reduce our food waste.

Food waste picture
Wasting food wastes water, energy and labor!

“Learn strategies to reduce food waste at Save the Food, (www.savethefood.com) and commit to taking action. Some ideas: improve your meal planning and stick to your grocery list, store food to make it last, reorganize and inventory your refrigerator or pantry, and keep track of perishable items and use them up before they spoil.” Hennepin County