Monday, June 30, 2014

Fog



Living on the island has given me mixed feelings about the fog.  I love waking up to an even quieter world, watching it blanket my views.  It's sort of like living in the clouds.

The downside, however, as this morning, is that it usually makes the ferries run a little late.  And I have an appointment on the mainland this morning.

Ah, but since I'm no where near in charge of either the fog OR the ferries, I'll just finish my tea and enjoy the scenery until it's time to leave.  What is that saying.....it is what it is??



Sunday, June 29, 2014

Slower and Simpler - For the World

Awakening this morning, I started wondering if the desire to live a simpler life was common throughout the world. Obviously as Americans, as a general rule, we have way too much of everything and life can be very complicated.  So what about outside of our borders?
1)  First, a review of simple living:

Simple living

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mahatma Gandhi spinning yarn in 1942. Gandhi believed in a life of simplicity and self-sufficiency.
Simple living encompasses a number of different voluntary practices to simplify one's lifestyle. These may include reducing one's possessions or increasing self-sufficiency, for example. Simple living may be characterized by individuals being satisfied with what they need rather than want. Although asceticism generally promotes living simply and refraining from luxury and indulgence, not all proponents of simple living are ascetics. Simple living is distinct from those living in forced poverty, as it is a voluntary lifestyle choice.
Adherents may choose simple living for a variety of personal reasons, such as spiritualityhealth, increase in quality time for family and friends, work–life balance, personal taste, frugality, or reducing personal ecological footprintand stress. Simple living can also be a reaction to materialism and conspicuous consumption. Some cite socio-political goals aligned with the anti-consumerist or anti-war movements, including conservationdegrowthsocial justiceethnic diversitytax resistance and sustainable development.
2)  Next, further reading finds the ideals of simple living promoted in most religions and cultures:

History

Religious and spiritual

Diogenes living in a jar.
The Amish are known for their simple living andplain dress.
A number of religious and spiritual traditions encourage simple living.Early examples include the Shramana traditions of Iron Age IndiaGautama Buddha, and biblical Nazirites (notably John the Baptist).[Jesus himself lived a simple life. In Mark 6,8-9 he tells his disciples "to take nothing for their journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belts—but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics." Various notable individuals have claimed that spiritual inspiration led them to a simple living lifestyle, such as Francis of AssisiAmmon HennacyLeo Tolstoy,Rabindranath TagoreAlbert Schweitzer, and Mohandas Gandhi.
Simple living has traditions that stretch back to the Orient, resonating with leaders such as ZarathustraBuddhaLaozi, and Confucius and was heavily stressed in both Greco-Roman culture andJudeo-Christian ethics. Diogenes of Sinope, a major figure in the ancient Greek philosophy of Cynicism, claimed that a simple life was necessary for virtue, and was said to have lived in a wine jar.
Plain people are Christian groups who have for centuries practiced lifestyles in which some forms of wealth or technology are excluded for religious or philosophical reasons. Groups include the ShakersMennonitesAmishHutteritesBruderhofHarmony Society, and some Quakers. There is a Quaker belief called Testimony of Simplicity that a person ought to live her or his life simply.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau strongly praised the simple life in many of his writings, especially in his Discourse on the Arts and Sciences (1750) and Discourse on Inequality (1754).
The Islamic prophet Mohammed preached the followers of Islam to lead a life of simplicity.

Secular

Epicureanism, based on the teachings of the Athens-based philosopher Epicurus, flourished from about the fourth century BC to the third century AD. Epicureanism upheld the untroubled life as the paradigm of happiness, made possible by carefully considered choices. Specifically, Epicurus pointed out that troubles entailed by maintaining an extravagant lifestyle tend to outweigh the pleasure of partaking in it. He therefore concluded that what is necessary for happiness, bodily comfort, and life itself should be maintained at minimal cost, while all things beyond what is necessary for these should either be tempered by moderation or completely avoided.
Reconstruction of Henry David Thoreau's cabin on the shores of Walden Pond
Henry David Thoreau, a North American naturalist and author, is often considered to have made the classic secular statement advocating a life of simple and sustainable living in his book Walden (1854). Thoreau conducted a two-year experiment living a plain and simple life on the shores of Walden Pond.
In Victorian Britain, Henry Stephens Salt, an admirer of Thoreau, popularised the idea of "Simplification, the saner method of living".Other British advocates of the simple life included Edward CarpenterWilliam Morris, and the members of "The Fellowship of the New Life".[14] C.R. Ashbee and his followers also practiced some of these ideas, thus linking simplicity with the Arts and Crafts Movement.British novelist John Cowper Powys advocated the simple life in his 1933 book A Philosophy of Solitude. John Middleton Murry and Max Plowman practised a simple lifestyle at their Adelphi Centre in Essex in the 1930s. Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh championed a "right simplicity" philosophy based on ruralism in some of his work.
George Lorenzo Noyes, a naturalist, mineralogistdevelopment critic, writer, and artist, is known as the Thoreau of Maine. He lived a wilderness lifestyle, advocating through his creative work a simple life and reverence for nature. During the 1920s and 1930s, the Vanderbilt Agrarians of the Southern United States advocated a lifestyle and culture centered upon traditional and sustainable agrarian values as opposed to the progressive urbanindustrialism which dominated the Western world at that time.
Thorstein Veblen warned against the conspicuous consumption of the materialistic society with The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899); Richard Gregg coined the term "voluntary simplicity" in The Value of Voluntary Simplicity(1936). From the 1920s, a number of modern authors articulated both the theory and practice of living simply, among them Gandhian Richard Gregg, economists Ralph Borsodi and Scott Nearing, anthropologist-poet Gary Snyder, and utopian fiction writer Ernest CallenbachE. F. Schumacher argued against the notion that "bigger is better" in Small Is Beautiful (1973); and Duane Elgin continued the promotion of the simple life in Voluntary Simplicity (1981). The Australian academic Ted Trainer practices and writes about simplicity.
3)  My conclusion??  The reasons for simple living are as varied as the countries where it is practiced, or even what it is called.  (I personally like "down-shifting".)  We are definitely not alone.


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Through Their Eyes

Vicariously viewing the island through the eyes of my visitors is always enlightening, especially when they come from big cities like San Francisco.

Hearing birds instead of sirens and heavy traffic.

                 Breathing fresh, salty air in place of smog

                                 The constant, quiet, peaceful tranquility.

                                                 The sincere friendliness and concern for one another.

                                                                 The fascinating wildlife.

Walks along the beach.

                   The time and peace to hear your own thoughts.

                                        Restful nights with no transient light.

                                                        Unplugged from agendas and cell phones.


I only wish I were a poet to even begin to do it justice, to express their delight.  May I never, ever take this island life for granted.



Friday, June 27, 2014

Company vs Work Party


  

So everyone wants to come visit me on the island - it is summer, after all.  And the San Juans are certainly considered a great vacation spot.  Hmmm...just wondering the least offensive way to share a list of chores or projects that need to be done while they are here....in between the sight-seeing, of course.  If all I do is entertain, then nothing will ever get done.  Perhaps it's all in the presentation??  How to be a gracious hostess as well as getting needed tasks completed - that is the question.

Ah, an unexpected dilemma of island life!







Thursday, June 26, 2014

My Teal Doors

Yesterday it was tough to stay focused on weaving and writing, with all of the distractions here.  Sophie had to be locked up (and visited to keep her somewhat happy) while the painter had all of the doors open for both painting and drying time.  The builders were working on the shed, and watching them at their craft was almost magical.  Seemingly from nothing my small work shed is materializing.

I did get a little writing done.  And although I knew I should be weaving, I also couldn't help myself from watching the painting progress.  I am simply enthralled with the transformation that takes place when the colors that were lovingly picked replace the existing not-so-wonderful hues from the previous owner.  My colors were nothing crazy - tan house with white trim.  But ah!  The bright teal doors are spectacular!!

Having never questioned my preference for teal, I did a little sleuthing.  The color teal / turquoise (from http://www.empower-yourself-with-color-psychology.com/color-turquoise.html):

This is a color that recharges our spirits during times of mental stress and tiredness, alleviating feelings of loneliness. You only have to focus on the color turquoise, whether on a wall or clothing and you feel instant calm and gentle invigoration, ready to face the world again.

Teal: A more sophisticated version of turquoise, teal signifies trustworthiness and reliability. It promotes spiritual advancement and commitment.

Rather perfect for AnadarĂ© ("I will nest"), don't you think??  
 However, now that the painting is done, I see that the windows need to be washed.  Sigh.  It's so hard to stay focused on work.

But my teal doors are in good company:



  
                 
      

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

One Less Tree

We had to take down a fir tree yesterday to make room for the work shed.  We carefully positioned the space for the shed for the least impact on the existing growth, but one tree simply had to go. (The shed will be set at an interesting angle as it is!!)   At least the tree was not a large (older) one.

I took time to thank the tree before we cut it.  The men cutting it also expressed their thanks, surprisingly to me.  It fell cleanly right beside the house thanks to the skill of the cutters.  The green branches will go to a goat farm on the island for feed. The rest of the tree and limbs will be firewood, so nothing at all will be wasted.  And we all marveled at the beauty and aroma of the wood.

I just don't take out trees lightly.  They are precious to me as well as to the environment.






Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Claustraphobia

Simply had no idea just how much I looked out of the windows...until they are all taped up for the house to finally be painted.

Sophie and I are both unnerved a bit by having no way to look outside.  The views, the wildlife, the birds are so much a part of our daily life.  I did not realize at all the extent of it.  As with most things, we often don't know what we have until it is taken away.

Praying the rain holds off so the painter can complete the job and we can SEE again!



Monday, June 23, 2014

Summer Solstice

Yes I know the solstice was technically on June 21st.  But we can still celebrate!

Edited by Flickety, Zareen, Craftbomb, Nazgurl and 3 others
http://www.wikihow.com/Celebrate-the-Summer-Solstice
The summer solstice has been celebrated for centuries, with all sorts of traditions growing up around it. In the northern hemisphere, the summer solstice is usually celebrated on the 21st of June, while in the southern hemisphere, it's usually celebrated on the 21st of December.


1
Do some sky observation. From an astronomical point of view, the summer solstice occurs sometime between June 20 and June 21 (sometimes June 22) in the Northern Hemisphere, and December 21 and December 22 (sometimes December 23) in the Southern Hemisphere. Most years it is on the 21st but due to the leap year in the Gregorian calendar, there is a change every few years to the date, to account for the leap years. If you'd like to witness the actual moment of the summer solstice in the sky, read How to witness the summer solstice and be sure to take all precautions to prevent eye damage.
  1. 2
    Seek fulfillment from your life. The summer solstice heralds the beginning of summer. This also represents the time of fulfillment. This is an excellent time to take stock of your life and assess how your goals and aims are going. From the year's earlier New Year's resolutions to the big goals in your life, ask yourself how you're doing in achieving these things for yourself and others you care about. Are you still aligned with your goals or have you strayed from them? Take this opportunity to reinvigorate them and to make any necessary changes to achieve your aims in life.
  2. 3
    Sit outside and read a book. This is a good way to get connected with the sun and nature.
  3. 4
    Start looking for a new job on this day if your current one is not fulfilling to you. Start looking around to see what is available that you would be keen to try. If you need more experience, training or information, make today the day you begin overcoming such obstacles so that you can start doing what you really want to do.
    • Consider starting a gratitude journal if you haven't already done so. Try to recognize all the good and wonderful things in your life, to help you better notice fulfillment when you feel it.
    • Be honest with your goal appraisal––set aside those goals that aren't taking you in the direction you want to go now. We all grow and change over time; make sure you're not hanging onto goals that no longer fit the person you have become.
  4. 5
    Consolidate your energies. The stability of summer and the promise of balmy, warmer days ahead is considered to be a time to develop yourself, to set yourself free and to nurture yourself. As the crops begin ripening, this is a time for self-maturation and for consolidating your energies. Take the easier nature of summer as a reason to make greater efforts to lose weight, to refresh your home (perhaps a new layout, maybe even a new home), to readjust your nutrition intake and to find an exercise that you really click with rather than doing one everyone else is doing.
    • Start a new diet today using the fresh fruits and vegetables of summer as your base. Don't just see it as a "diet" though; use this opportunity to align your thinking about food to one that involves eating more greens, more locally grown foods, more organic foods and less processed foods.
  5. 6
    Renew your wardrobe. If you haven't updated your look in a while and your clothes are beginning to show signs of age, take a fresh look at your wardrobe on the summer solstice. Are those clothes still representative of who you are now? Are those clothes showing you to your best advantage or are they letting you down through ill fit, out-of-date style or simply poor choices? Send the unwanted clothing items to the charity store, a friend or to the rag bag, depending on their quality. Then add some new items that make you feel great and that help you to stay feeling confident about the look you're presenting to others.
  6. 7
    Consider flexing your healing muscles. Herbs and flowers picked during the summer solstice were believed by people in medieval times to carry healing energy above and beyond any normal healing properties. While we'd nowadays consider this to be scientifically doubtful, you can still honor the sentiment by growing your own herbal medicine garden during summer and learning more about using plants to heal minor injuries and illnesses, such as scratches and headaches. There are many good books about using plants for medicinal purposes, such as National Geographic's Guide to Medicinal Herbs(2012), which details what does––and what does not–– really have healing properties.
    • While growing your herbs and veggie garden, remember to thank the pollinators. Summer is a time of high pollination because so many trees and plants are flowering. And yet, in recent years many bees have suffered from disease, in particular colony collapse disorder, threatening the future of pollination by bees. Find out all you can about what is being done to protect bees and give bee keepers who practice natural, organic and chemical-free beekeeping your support. Also think of all the other pollinators, including the much despised mosquito, all doing their part to ensure delicious food reaches your table.
    • Other ways to flex your healing muscles include deciding to learn more about a healing technique that has interested you for a while, such as reiki, therapeutic massage or acupuncture. Why not go along to a session to try a new healing therapy for something that ails you, be it stress through to pain? Alternatively, if you would like become a practitioner in healing arts, look for courses that you can take.
  7. 8
    Dance around a maypole. If you're lucky enough to live where the local community has organized a maypole, give it a go! More information on how to do the dance properly can be found in How to do a maypole dance.
    • Make your own maypole if there isn't one in your town. Invite friends over and hold a maypole dance at the same time as a party. To help you out, ask everyone to bring some food to contribute to an outdoor buffet.
    • In Sweden, maypole dancing is considered an essential part of their summer solstice holiday.
  8. 9
    Plan some travel. Consider spending summer solstice away from home, at one of the key destinations where the summer solstice has been celebrated for centuries. In particular, Britain's Stonehenge is a must for the avid observer of the summer solstice. Stonehenge aligns with the sunrise on the solstice, making for spectacular viewing. However, you need to be there very early in the morning well rugged up because thousands of others will also be attending to celebrate the day as the sun rises. Two other places where people like to celebrate the summer solstice are Sedona in Arizona and Cairo (where an ancient sun temple was discovered in 2006).
  9. 10
    Throw a party with a bonfire. A bonfire is part of the tradition of the summer solstice. Fire has always been a source of protection for human beings, scaring off the beings of the night, both real and magical. Nowadays you can reinvent the bonfire as a great reason to hold a summer solstice party with friends. Just be sure to choose a location where it is both safe and permitted to burn a bonfire––check with the local authority first. In some places there will a fire ban due to the dry conditions, so make plans to have a party without the bonfire if this happens.
  10. 11
    Honor the sun. If you enjoy doing yoga, there is a set of exercises known as the Sun Salutation or Salute to the Sun which you can perform. These exercises are intended to exercise both your body and your soul, balancing both in harmony through both meditation and physical movement in one. Begin this exercise on the morning of the summer solstice and aim to make it a daily habit from this time on.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Slower & Simpler - Slowing Down to Think

Part of the attraction of living on Lopez Island is that life here is so much slower.  (It is called Slopez for a reason.)  But why is that so attractive to me?  Yes, we're forced to unplug from cell phones, have no traffic, and trips to the mainland or the other islands involve waiting for ferries. But our slower life also offers the time, the lifestyle, to think. I guess I never really thought about that (okay, okay, pun intended).

The following article, found at http://www.dailygood.org/story/726/taking-back-the-time-margaret-wheatley/ explains why we need to slow down and take time to think.  Thinking then gives clarity, from which intelligent actions may be planned.  From actions comes change.

I just hadn't realized that I absolutely love this slower life because it gives me the space and time to really think, to work out the imponderables, to "be" with my thoughts.  And I do find that I'm eager to take those actions that, hopefully, will make some changes.


But enough about me, please read on as to what Margaret Wheatley has to say:

As a species, we humans possess some unique capacities. We can stand apart from what’s going on, think about it, question it, imagine things being different. We are also curious. We want to know “why?” We figure out “how.” We think about what’s past; we dream forward to the future. We create what we want rather than just accept what is. So far, we’re the only species we know that does this.
But as the world speeds up, we’re forfeiting these wonderful human capacities. Do you have as much time to think as you did a year ago? When was the last time you spent time reflecting on something important to you? At work, do you have more or less time to think about what you’re doing, and are you encouraged to spend time thinking together with colleagues and co-workers?

In this culture, we’ve begun to equate productivity with speed. If it can be done faster, we assume it’s more productive. A recent trend in some companies is to hold meetings standing up. These meetings (or perhaps they should be called football huddles) are touted as more productive, but only because they take less time. No one measures the productivity of these meetings by asking whether people have developed wiser solutions, better ideas, or more trusting relationships.

If we could pause for a moment and see what we are losing as we speed up, I can’t imagine that we would continue with this bargain. We’re giving up the very things that make us human. Our road to hell is being paved with hasty intentions. I hope we can notice what we’re losing—in our day-to-day lives, in our community, in our world. I hope we’ll be brave enough to slow things down.

Thinking is the place where intelligent actions begin. When we pause to look more carefully at a situation, we can see more of its character, think about why it’s happening, and notice how it’s affecting us and others.

Brazilian educator Paulo Freire used critical thinking as a non-violent approach to revolutionary change. First in his home country and then in poor communities around the world, he taught people how to think about their lives and the forces that were impoverishing them. Nobody believed that poor, exhausted and struggling people could become intelligent thinkers. But it is easy for people to develop this capacity when they see how thinking can save their lives and the lives of those they love.
To think about whether you’re losing anything of value in your life, here are some questions to ask yourself: Are my relationships with those I love improving or deteriorating? Is my curiosity about the world increasing or decreasing? What things anger me today, as compared to a few years ago? Which of my behaviors do I value and which do I dislike? Generally, am I feeling more peaceful or more stressed? Am I becoming someone I admire?

If answering those questions helps you notice anything in your life that you’d like to change, you will need time to think.

But don’t expect anybody to give you this time to think—you will have to claim it for yourself. Thinking is always dangerous to the status quo and those benefiting from the present system have no interest in your new ideas. In fact, your thinking is a threat to them, because the moment you start thinking, you’ll want to change something. You’ll disturb the current situation. So we can’t expect those few who are well-served by the current reality to give us time to think. If we want anything to change, we are the ones who have to reclaim time to think.

Notice that in American culture, thinking is not highly prized. In our frenzy to make things happen, to take action, we’ve devalued thinking and often view it as an impediment to action. We talk about needing to get things done now. We’ve created a dualism between thinking and acting, between being and doing. Personally, I find this both dangerous and nonsensical.

There is no distance between thinking and acting when ideas mean something to us. When we look thoughtfully at a situation and understand its destructive dynamics, we act to change it. We don’t sit around figuring out the risks or waiting until someone else develops an implementation strategy. We just start doing. If an action doesn’t work, we try something different.

Governments and organizations struggle with implementation, and in any bureaucracy there’s a huge gap between ideas and actions. That’s because we don’t buy into the ideas—we didn’t invent them, we know they won’t really change anything, and we won’t take risks for things we don’t believe in. But when it’s our own idea, a result of our thinking, and we see how it might truly benefit our lives, then we will act.

Taking the time to think about things that might truly change our lives always provides us with other gifts. Determination, energy and courage appear spontaneously when we care deeply about something. We take risks that are unimaginable in any other context.

Here’s how Bernice Johnson Reagon, a gifted singer and songwriter, describes her own and others’ fearless acts during the civil rights movement: “Now I sit back and look at some of the things we did, and I say, ‘What in the world came over us?’ But death had nothing to do with what we were doing. If somebody shot us, we would be dead. And when people died, we cried and went to funerals. And we went and did the next thing the next day, because it was really beyond life and death. It was really like sometimes you know what you’re supposed to be doing. And when you know what you’re supposed to be doing, it’s somebody else’s job to kill you.” (Quoted in Lovingkindness, by Sharon Salzberg.)

Most of us don’t have to risk our lives like that, but we may be dying a slow death. If we feel we’re changing in ways we don’t like, or seeing things in the world that make us feel sorrowful, then we need time to think—about where we are now and how we might start to change things. We need time to develop clarity and courage. If we want our world to be different, our first act is to reclaim the time to think. Nothing will change for the better until we do that.