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Review of The World’s Emergency Room by Michael VanRooyen

The World’s Emergency Room: The Growing Threat to Doctors, Nurses, and Humanitarian Workers by Michael VanRooyen

 

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A review by Jennie and Roger Sherwin

In 1945 when Allied troops liberated The Netherlands, an unlikely warrior accompanied them. American pediatrician Clement Smith flew into Amsterdam and then The Hague to study the effects of history’s first and only clearly delineated famine—in terms of its start and finish—on children born to Dutch women who were pregnant during the “Hongerwinter” of 1944. Following D-Day in May 1944, the exiled Dutch government called for a strike of the national railways to impede the German occupiers of The Netherlands, a call that was answered beginning in September 1944. The Germans retaliated by blocking all food transports into the western areas. Food, already scarce because most of the agricultural land had been destroyed during the war, began to run out. When the Germans finally relented, the severe winter weather, which had frozen the canals, along with the German destruction of roads and bridges to slow the advancing Allies, made overland and water transport of food impossible. From the fall of 1944 to May of 1945, the Dutch people in the affected areas endured a famine, which killed—according to some estimates—up to 22,000, mostly the elderly, and had lasting generational effects.

When news of the famine came to the attention of the exiled Dutch government in London, Queen Wilhelmina petitioned Winston Churchill to broker relief for the Dutch people. An agreement between the Allies and Germany allowed an airlift of food by the Royal Air Force, the Royal Canadian Air Force, and the American Air Force. Called Operation Manna and Operation Chowhound, bombers laden with food supplies were allowed to fly in low, unmolested by German gunners, to drop their life-saving cargoes. The starving Dutch spelled out “Many Thanks” in tulips for the bomber crews to read. Although these crews did not think of themselves as humanitarian workers but as men in service to their respective countries, in effect they were doing the work of humanitarian outreach to a population affected by war, displacement, and starvation.

Clement Smith, whose research would show the famine had a major effect on birthweight but only if the famine coincided with the last trimester of growth, as well as other effects, would go on to become a founding father of neonatology and Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard University. Decades later, the son of a Dutch resistance fighter whose life had been turned upside down by the war and the mass starvation, would co-found the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative with the mission of conducting research to improve humanitarian response to crises, embedding the principles of human rights into these responses, and educating the next generation of humanitarian leaders.

In The World’s Emergency Room: The Growing Threat to Doctors, Nurses, and Humanitarian Workers, Michael VanRooyen, co-founder and director of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative at Harvard University, professor at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and the chairman of emergency medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, gives us an up-close look at the humanitarian crises of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Written from a very personal yet historically comprehensive perspective, the narrative provides an intimate portrait of the making of a dedicated emergency medicine physician and humanitarian as well as a series of harrowing tales of his and others’ provision of emergency life-saving procedures under threat from warring factions in troubled areas of the world.

What makes people dedicate their lives to helping others, especially under life-threatening circumstances? VanRooyen points to his father’s wartime experiences as the catalyst for his desire to devote himself to helping other people. Michael’s father, Johannes (Joe) VanRooyen, was a teenager when the Nazi Army invaded The Netherlands. At age seventeen he joined the Dutch resistance and helped Jews to hide and eventually to flee to England and to Spain. In 1943 he was caught and sent to Bergen-Belsen, where he was tattooed and put to work in a steel factory. Periodically, he was taken to Berlin and interrogated by the Gestapo. VanRooyen’s description of his father’s torture by the Nazis is not sensational in the least, yet it will nevertheless horrify those of us who have yet to become inured to the scenes of war and refugee crises that have been flashing across our television screens in the United States and around the world as technology has advanced to connect humanity globally. Returning home weighing all of seventy-eight pounds (on a five-foot, eight-inch frame), Joe found his country and its economy in ruins and his hometown deeply affected by the mass starvation. He met and married a young woman from Haarlem, Gertrude Breed. Together, they decided to emigrate to the United States for the chance of a new life.

And a new chance is exactly what these refugees from war were afforded in the United States of the 1950s. Working hard, they soon owned their own home and had two sons. Yet, personal tragedy would dog this young family even in their new country. Gertrude VanRooyen developed metastatic melanoma in her late thirties and died at the age of thirty-nine when the author was eight years old. Although at this young age he could not articulate the effect of this loss on his life, later he would cite it, along with his father’s stories of imprisonment, his religious upbringing, a roadside rescue he witnessed, and his medical training in inner-city Detroit as the seminal events in his life that led to his career as a humanitarian physician

He was clearly drawn to a life of service to others with a wish to provide this service through the field of medicine. Finding a specialty that would most prepare him to do so was the focus of his exploration in medical school. His search led him to the work of Charles Clements, a Quaker and a humanitarian physician who had served in El Salvador, providing medical treatment to the victims of the civil war between rebel forces and the government. In Clements’ example VanRooyen found the combination of humanitarian outreach and provision of emergency medical services that would define his career.

For anyone who likes delving into the motivations that lead people to do what they do, this is a book that will hold great appeal. VanRooyen gives us an intimate look at the defining moments in his life, including his relationship with and marriage to fellow physician, Julie VanRooyen, who shared his vision of bringing emergency care to victims of conflicts and disasters. For those who are concerned about the global humanitarian crises humanity is now facing, VanRooyen outlines in painstaking detail the circumstances that led to each of the major crises in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, describing the actors and movements that led to their explosions on the world scene, as well as the main responders who brought aid to the affected populations.

Along the way he provides a history of humanitarian aid and the evolution of humanitarian aid workers from being seen as neutral and protected from the conflicts into which they bravely entered to being thought of instead as pawns of opposing governments and open targets. He doesn’t shirk from discussing the inadequacies or inefficiencies of humanitarian aid efforts and the lack of coordinated approaches to some of the worst humanitarian crises in our time. Nor does he fail to focus on the consequences of starvation and the brutalization of those most vulnerable in the populations affected by war—women and children.

One vignette from the narrative, in particular, will serve to illustrate the effects of war, displacement, and starvation on the vulnerable, resilient but not infallible, women caught in conflict. VanRooyen describes meeting a woman in a camp in Mogadishu who would illustrate these effects without speaking. He and his team were screening children between the ages of one and five for malnutrition when they discovered a child named Fatima with symptoms of kwashiorkor, a condition recognized and so named by speakers of the Ga language, living in what was then the Gold Coast. Cecily Williams, an Oxford-educated physician of British extraction born in Jamaica who studied famine in seventy different countries, first determined that this condition was due to protein deficiency and distinguished it from marasmus, an overall caloric deficiency. Williams translated kwashiorkor loosely to “disease of the deposed child,” such deposition taking place after the birth of the next sibling. Since the mother would no longer be able to nurse the previously born child, he or she would be weaned and thus become vulnerable to protein deficiency.

After VanRooyen and his team examined Fatima, VanRooyen asked through an interpreter for the child’s mother. There was no response. The question “Who takes care of her?” was then posed. Again, there was no response. Obviously, Fatima’s mother had perished or been abducted during the conflict. Finally, a woman motioned to VanRooyen to come with her. They walked silently through the camp to a crude plastic shelter, and she pulled back the flap. There on the dirt floor sat three small children, a small bag of rice, and a pot. When VanRooyen looked again at the woman, she turned up the palms of her hands to indicate her inability to help. Fatima was a victim of the conflict, but so too was this woman, who was helpless in the face of another starving child. VanRooyen’s comment at the end of this vignette, which reflects his combined background in emergency medicine in hospitals in U.S. inner cities and his experience in the field of humanitarian outreach, is worth repeating here:

“The suffering of a malnourished refugee in the squalor of a camp is an affront to human dignity. That dignity is something we all possess and must fight to preserve. Perhaps now I also could better understand my patients in inner-city Detroit or Chicago, where the oppression of poverty and culture of violence drives them to helplessness. The struggle to promote human dignity was not only to be fought in Somalia, but also closer to home.”

VanRooyen has served as a humanitarian physician in more than thirty countries, including Bosnia, Chad, Darfur-Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Iraq, North Korea, and Somalia. He brings an insider’s knowledge and perspective to the reporting of the conflicts and natural disasters that have led to the urgent need for humane and compassionate responses to the millions of refugees now knocking on the doors of conflict-free countries in Europe as well as the United States seeking asylum. Will the world tell them there is “no room at the inn,” or will it find its way to a compassionate solution that raises the dignity of all of humanity?

 

The World’s Emergency Room: The Growing Threat to Doctors, Nurses, and Humanitarian Workers is published by St. Martin’s Press and is available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

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Michael VanRooyen is also the co-author of Code Blue: The Making of an Emergency Physician (John Hanc and Michael VanRooyen) and Emergent Field Medicine (Michael VanRooyen, Thomas Kirsch, Kathleen Clem, and James Holliman).

Disclosures:  We have never met Michael VanRooyen, although Roger corresponded with him several years ago through letters of recommendation for two researchers then being considered for appointments to Harvard University faculty and the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI): Phuong Pham, PhD, MPH, now Director, Program on Evaluation and Implementation Science, HHI, and Patrick Vinck, PhD, now Director, Program on Peace and Human Rights Data, HHI. Roger knew them when he was the Joseph S. Copes Chair and Professor of Epidemiology at Tulane University. Jennie also knew Phuong in New Orleans and later met Patrick in Santa Fe. We consider them close friends. (They are mentioned in VanRooyen’s book). Finally, we have provided editorial services for online and print publications written and produced by researchers within the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative.

 

 

Breathe! Inspiration from Arianna Huffington’s Book Thrive

41y2X6GOT8L._AA160_[1]I recently began reading Arianna Huffington’s Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder. The book was a Christmas gift from my future daughter-in-law, Colleen Leddy, who had attended a Thrive workshop earlier in the year. She had texted me about her wonderful experience, and I made a mental note to buy a copy of Huffington’s book. One thing led to another, and I never placed that order. Consequently, I was really pleased when I opened the gift box and found Thrive. Since I was right in the middle of reading London by Edward Rutherfurd, a book I highly recommend to both seasoned and aspiring writers for a study of Rutherfurd’s approach to historical fiction, I couldn’t start Huffington’s book when it arrived.

Over the past three days, however, I’ve read about 150 pages of Thrive, but I’ve already found so much to recommend that I thought I’d take this moment to reach out to all of you who are celebrating the beginning of the new year. For many of us the end of one year and the beginning of another is a time for reflection on what has gone before as well as what is to come in our lives. Not exactly resolution making, reflection is a way to take stock and to dream or plan. I was thinking as I read those first 150 pages that part of Huffington’s message speaks to reflection in our daily lives through the mindfulness practice she recommends.

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The training I received at A Healing Place in Richardson, Texas, led me to incorporate mindfulness in my daily life through the practice of meditation. Living on a mountain, isolated at 8,000 feet, for nearly nine years after my introduction to mindfulness, or awareness, made that incorporation easy. Those of you who have read my book, Intentional Healing…or have been following my blog for a while know that I attribute my full recovery from multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) not only to treatment at Dr. William J. Rea’s clinic in Dallas but also to the spiritual healing I received from energy medicine practitioners, Navajo medicine men, and the self-care awareness and energy balancing exercises I was taught at A Healing Place.

Obviously, my own experience with the health-enhancing benefits of mindfulness made me receptive to Huffington’s message that a successful life needs to be redefined from the current metric of working to career achievement through sleep deprivation and exhaustion to, instead, in the words of her subtitle, “creating a life of well-being, wisdom, and wonder.” And to make this point, Huffington backs up her recommendations with a great deal of research supporting the benefits of mindfulness, not just to us but to the organizations, businesses, and institutions for which we work. The data are convincing. I highly recommend you read Thrive.

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What is mindfulness? If you’re new to the concept of mindfulness, you can think of it as paying attention to who you are and how you feel in the moment. It is as simple as paying attention to what you are eating and how you are eating it. A friend of mine attended a Natalie Goldberg writing workshop in France this past summer, where mindfulness was incorporated into every activity and task during the program. Eating in silence with mindfulness, paying attention to the scents of the foods, noticing how they felt on several levels as they chewed, allowed the writer participants to open their focus and their ability to write about the experience. Did I mention that they also had to be unplugged from social media—no smart phones, tablets, or computers except for a brief window each day? Something Huffington would have applauded.

Deborah Singleton, founder of A Healing Place, taught me that breath and thought are the two most important tools to enhance wellness in the bodymindspirit. Huffington has incorporated both of these tools in her approach to a successful life, one that is balanced between the planning and execution of tasks in the workplace and at home with living in the moment, which is what mindfulness is all about.

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You can take the first step toward cultivating mindfulness by focusing on your breath. As I was taught at A Healing Place, breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth slowly. Think of letting go of all that does not serve you. And relax. Feel into every part of you—head, mouth, nose, throat, shoulders, arms, hands, torso, legs, and feet— as you sit in a chair with your feet on the floor. Focus on your feet. Think: I let it all go. This is something you can do in the middle of your work day right at your desk. Even one minute in this focus will enhance health and improve concentration.

If you’re fortunate to be working at one of the companies mentioned in Thrive that provides meditation classes or quiet rooms for mindfulness, then spend a few minutes bringing yourself into balance by de-stressing through breathing. Enter the quiet room. Sit in a comfortable chair with your feet on the floor. Close your eyes and imagine yourself in one of your favorite places. Is it in a garden? At the seashore? By a lake? On a mountain top? Notice your surroundings in your sacred space. Feel a soft breeze on your face. Experience the warmth of the sun.

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Take a deep breath in through your nose and gently blow it out through your mouth. Feel your breath move from the top of your head through your body and into your feet. Send your breath from your feet into the floor below and down into the earth. Don’t worry about what floor you are on. Just see and feel your breath moving through those floors and into the earth. Feel your connection with the earth.

Notice areas of tension in your body. Breathe through those parts of you and think: I let all tension go. Feel it move into your feet and down into the earth. When you feel relaxed, gently bring your focus back to your breath as you leave your visit to your favorite place. Within yourself, express gratitude for your moment in your sacred space. Remember that you can return there whenever you want.

When you are ready, open your eyes. Nurture your body with a cool glass of water and a healthful snack such as fruit or nuts. You will return to your tasks refreshed.

Every day take a few minutes to be in the moment, noticing how you feel and relaxing the tension in your body through breathing. Over time, this refreshing break will develop into an automatic reflex that kicks in when you are feeling stressed. As you continue to practice mindfulness, your awareness of who you are in any moment will enhance your health and allow you to see other people in a more compassionate light. The benefits for you, your employer, and the world at large will grow and grow.

Blessings to all!

My thanks to Google Free Images for the wonderful visuals in this post.

Authors Supporting Our Troops 2015 #ASOT2015

I stumbled across this wonderful program for authors to support our troops via Natacha Guyot’s blog. Authors, heads up! Support those who are defending freedom on behalf of us and our country. Armand, thank you for giving us authors a way of reaching out to our young men and women in the U.S. Military Services.

ARMAND ROSAMILIA

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Hard to believe we are only three months away from the official kickoff to the second year of Authors Supporting Our Troops. I figured now would be a good time to get everyone up to speed and explain the program again so I don’t have to spend so much time this year telling helpful people what we do and do not need to make this another successful year.

First off, we never really stopped collecting author-signed books, we just haven’t posted too much about it once the official end date of May 15th came and went. We collected 2,500 books from authors and publishers in the four months we promoted it. I think that is awesome.

Since then we’ve managed about 75 more books and sent out another shipment overseas to a soldier. the goal for 2015 is to break 3,000 books collected and shipped. We can only do that…

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Good News? and Bad News About Pesticides in U.S. Waterways

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In a New York Times article on September 12, 2014, Michael Wines reported the results of a study by the U.S. Geological Survey that collected data on pesticides from 1992 to 2011 at over 200 monitoring locations. The bad news is that the study found pesticides and herbicides in nearly every waterway in our country.

The good news, however, and decidedly the good news is for only two types of waterways, is that levels declined from the first decade of the study to the second in agricultural streams and other streams other than urban streams. As Wines writes: “From 1992 to 2001 17 percent of agricultural streams and 5 percent of other streams had at least one pesticide whose average annual concentration was above the maximum contaminant level for drinking water. But in the second decade, from 2002 to 2011, the survey found dangerous pesticide concentrations in only one stream nationwide.” And the reason for this decline? Regulations to control the monitored pesticides forced manufacturers to focus elsewhere.

Before you start celebrating, however, you should know that, as Wines points out, this decline was a decline in name only. In fact, as the use of pesticides became more heavily regulated, manufacturers turned to substitute chemicals. In urban streams, pesticide levels above the threshold for aquatic life jumped from 53 percent in the first decade to 90 percent in the second. Part of this jump was attributed to two pesticides—fipronil and dichlorvus, both heavily used in household products, such as flea collars, roach killers (fipronil) and no-pest strips, and dog de-wormers (dichlorvus). As the use of other pesticides became more heavily regulated, manufacturers turned to fipronil and dichlorvus as substitutes. Thus the sudden increase in those pesticides during the second decade. Furthermore, the U.S.G.S. study did not monitor pyrethroids or glyphosate (brand name Roundup).

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Although I have no experience with Roundup, I can speak to pyrethroids from firsthand experience. In Intentional Healing: One Woman’s Path to Higher Consciousness and Freedom from Environmental and Other Chronic Illnesses, I described my acute exposure to deltamethrin and delta dust during a visit from exterminators. Let’s start with some background: Type II pyrethroids, such as deltamethrin and permethrin, are sold to the public as safe for domestic use. Safe for children, pets, the elderly, for humans in general. How do they work? They attack the nervous systems of insects through sodium-ion channels. The principal effects of pyrethroids as a class are various signs of excitatory neurotoxicity.

Humans, as mammals, have many more sodium ion channels than insects. And the symptoms I experienced when the exterminators started working—tachycardia, inability to organize my thoughts, breathing difficulties, burning that began in my scalp and spread throughout my body— seemed to indicate that my nervous system was being affected. I later found out at the Environmental Health Center-Dallas that my nervous system had, in fact, been affected. Despite the assurances I had received that pyrethroids are safe for humans, I was harmed by them. Just as the nervous systems of insects are attacked by pyrethroids so, too, was mine.

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What does the EPA have to say about pyrethroids? The EPA has found no harm to human beings, situational harm to pets (that is, if products are not used correctly), and a great deal of harm to aquatic organisms. The following was copied directly from the EPA website:

Pyrethroids are highly toxic to aquatic organisms. Because the pyrethroids can accumulate in sediments, risk to sediment-dwelling organisms is an area of particular concern. Recent water quality monitoring efforts in California have identified pyrethroids in sediments of water bodies adjacent to residential/urban areas. These monitoring data, coupled with additional pyrethroid-specific data submitted to the Agency, highlight existing concerns regarding residential uses of pyrethroid pesticide products and movement into non-target areas through runoff or spray drift that may occur during applications.

To reduce exposure to water bodies from non-agricultural and agricultural uses of pyrethroids, the Agency deployed the following labeling initiatives.

Environmental Hazard and General Labeling for Pyrethroid and Synergized Pyrethrins Non-agricultural Outdoor Products – Revised February 2013 – To reduce exposure from residential uses of pyrethroids and pyrethrins products, EPA implemented a 2009 labeling initiative, with minor revisions in 2013, requiring revised Environmental Hazard Statements and general Directions for Use for pyrethroid and pyrethrins pesticide products used in non-agricultural outdoor settings. The label statements spell out good stewardship and best-management practices and clarify how these types of products are intended to be used.

These label statements serve to reduce the potential for runoff and drift to water bodies that can result from applications of pyrethroid end-use products in residential, commercial, institutional, and industrial areas, applied by both professional pesticide control operators and residential consumers.

Pyrethroid Spray Drift Initiative – In the reregistration process for permethrin and cypermethrin, the Agency determined that the existing spray drift language for pyrethroid agricultural products needed to be updated to comply with FIFRA. Because of similarities in use patterns, and concern for exposure to aquatic resources, the Agency believes that this updated label language is necessary for all pyrethroid products used on agricultural crops. In a letter from the Agency (PDF) (6 pp, 75k, About PDF) dated February 21, 2008, registrants were instructed to incorporate the revised spray drift language onto their agricultural labels, and submit the amended labels to the Agency.

Do you now feel protected from toxic runoff? I don’t.

It may be the height of folly, or just another example of the hubris we exhibit toward our place among living organisms, to think that a substance that is deadly to any living creature will not pose dangers to ourselves. I know I am not a lone case. Since the incident in our home in 2002, I’ve met many others who were harmed by pesticides thought to be safe for humans. At the Environmental Health Center-Dallas, thousands of patients have been treated for exposure to toxic chemicals. And the EHC-D is only one of hundreds of clinics and medical practices around the world devoted to treating people who have been exposed to toxins.

If we want to safeguard the environment for ourselves, our families, and the generations that follow us, we need to adopt a new way of thinking about unregulated and regulated pesticides, herbicides, and chemicals. If we think that everyone who uses chemicals will do so in a responsible way, then we are closing our eyes to human nature. If we accept that the substances used to kill insects won’t harm us or our children, if we believe that the pesticides and herbicides we spray on agricultural fields that eventually work their way into our water systems won’t harm aquatic life or the animals (ourselves included) that eat fish, then we will continue to degrade ourselves, the earth, our oceans, and every living creature.

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If, like me, you want to regulate strongly the manufacture and use of chemicals by supporting the watchdogs who work to protect us, then get involved by following the work of organizations that inform us and petition for legislation to protect us. Here are just a few of those groups:

The Environmental Working Group—www.ewg.org

The Sierra Club—http://sierraclub.org/

Greenpeace—www.greenpeace.org

Mother Jones—www.motherjones.com

Earth Times—http://www.earthtimes.org/

Environmental Health News—http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/

Through these organizations, you’ll have access to the latest environmental developments and political news related to the environment as well as to online petitions so that your voice can be heard. I urge you to take a stand. Speak up for the earth and all of her children.

My thanks to Google free images for all but the last of the visuals in this article. I photographed this nature scene in Sherwood Gardens in Baltimore during one of my meditation walks.

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On the Cusp of Change: Guest Blog Post on the Forces of Transformation

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Today I am reblogging a post written by my publisher, Tim Ward. Tim is the author of Zombies on Kilimanjaro: A Father/Son Journey Above the Clouds, What the Buddha Never Taught, Arousing the Goddess, and Savage Breast.

For over twelve years I have been living with and observing the transformation Tim writes about. Those of us who have been watching this process unfold view the societal shifts, the intranational conflicts, and the natural disasters of the past decade as the natural consequences of the individual transformations that are taking placing within us all, from head-centered living to heart-centered living. This is the transformation that I have been writing about in my blogs—a transformation from a third-chakra orientation (will center) to a fourth chakra orientation (heart center).  If we see the earth and humanity as energetic entities, it is easy to recognize how their energies can intersect and influence each other. The changes that come from within us fuel the changes that we see around us. How many times have you heard from relationship counselors that if you want to make a relationship better, you cannot seek to change the other person? You must seek to change yourself. Change that comes from within is lasting change. As more of us view ourselves as citizens of the world with a collective responsibility to ensure a wholesome earth environment for our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, we can raise our voices for clean air and water, responsible and sustainable farming, and equitable sharing of natural  resources.

 

Thank you to Esther-Maria Lindner for this representation of the Hopi prophecy.

Thank you to Esther-Maria Lindner for this representation of the Hopi prophecy.

Guest Post by Tim Ward:
On the Cusp of Change

I believe we are living on the cusp of massive planetary change, upheaval that may rival the six great extinctions of previous eons. While previous cataclysmic shifts were caused by events such as asteroids, this one is different for three reasons:

1. It is being caused by a single species – us.
2. It is happening in slow motion (relatively speaking)
3. The cause – us – is not a blind force. We have the power to change its trajectory.

In my other job, I’m a communications advisor for international development and environmental organizations. In this capacity, I am constantly studying the drivers of human change – how to create it and how to direct it. What we’ve learned is that awareness of a problem alone is seldom enough to get people to work together to solve it.

You need three ingredients:

First, the problem has to create dissatisfaction with the way things are. Sometimes this can be through a vision of a better future or a greater opportunity that can be realized through making a change. More often, though, dissatisfaction comes when we realize our current path is going to lead us to more suffering than we can tolerate. A toothache is a great example. I often put off going to the dentist, even though I know it’s important. But when I feel a stab of pain in a tooth, I make an appointment, because I know more suffering is coming if I don’t deal with it. That’s human nature.

Second, you need realistic hope that if you do act, things can be different. If the problem is overwhelming, it’s easy to fall into despair and apathy. I go to the dentist because I know he can deal with my tooth and make the pain go away. If I knew I had terminal cancer, well, what would be the point of going to the doctor for check ups? Hope is what moves us towards the future we want and makes us ready to work for it.

Third, you need a sense of urgency. Without urgency, we keep putting things off, even important things, figuring we will eventually get around to them, but we never do. I have a basement closet in need of emptying out that can testify to this fact in my own life.

When it comes to the planet’s impending, human-caused catastrophes, we actually have a perfect mix of these three ingredients: dissatisfaction, hope and urgency. For example, with climate change, we are already seeing the effects of increased hurricanes, droughts, floods and sea level rise. We know the pain is going to get worse. We have the hope of solar, wind and other clean energy technologies. My environmental clients stress that just by switching to today’s current green technologies (never mind future breakthroughs) we could reverse the trends of Climate Change. Finally, climate scientists believe we have a window of about twenty years to make it happen. After that, melting icecaps and permafrost, dying rainforest and a host of other drivers will take Climate Change out of our control, spewing massive amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and putting us on a path of no return.

This is one of perhaps a dozen or more areas where we as a species are facing global disaster, but we have the choice, the power, and the motivation to make the change.

Now is the moment for change makers, agents of transformation, catalysts, and visionaries to raise their voices and inspire humanity to choose the future we want – not the one we are headed for.

And this is the purpose of Changemakers Books, to provide a platform for Changemakers to share their practical wisdom, to show us a better path, and to motivate us to act.

I believe change happens from the inside out and the outside in, and so some of our authors focus on the spiritual and psychological dimensions of transformation for the individual, while others focus on moral and social transformation for all humanity. These must go hand in hand.

In fact, it is my belief that no one approach has the sole right answer. So I encourage my authors to connect and interact with their readers, and to help each other by promoting other authors’ works through their own social networks. It’s my intention that as Changemakers Books expands, it will draw to it Connectors – bloggers, journalists, radio hosts, TV producers, academic institutions, and other publishers so that we can create an ethos of conscious transformation large enough to move humanity into the future that could be, if we choose to make it so.

Tim Ward
Publisher
Changemakers Books
publisher@changemakersbooks.com

Killing What We Love: The Need to Bring a New Consciousness to How We Live on the Earth

A recent article in the New York Times by Michael Wines reported on the collapse of honey bee colonies around the world. So called colony collapse disorder, which began to be reported in 2005, has pushed annual die-off rates from a norm of 5 to 10 percent of bees in a colony to 40 to 80 percent in some cases.

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As someone who sees the earth and everything on it and in it as sacred, a part of the divine consciousness manifested, I was greatly concerned when I first read about this phenomenon in Wines’ article. I was even more dismayed to read further that beekeepers and environmental and consumer groups were convinced that these collapses could be traced to the growing number of pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides used to control insect infestation, in particular to a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids, so named because they are derived from nicotine. Neonicotinoids, or neonics, began to be used widely in 2005, thus the suspicion that the colony collapse disorder is linked to their use.

imagesFDTLAUIWTo help readers understand the importance of bees to agriculture, Wines draws attention to the impact of pollination on annual harvests of fruits, vegetables, and nuts: “Fewer bees means smaller harvests and higher food prices.” For more information, you can check out “Mystery Malady Kills More Bees, Heightening Worry on Farm,” Michael Wines, New York Times, March 28, 2013.

What moves colony collapse disorder from a concern of limited stakeholders to that of our society at large, however, is the fact that neonicotinoids are only one of many pesticides judged acceptable for use on our food supply and in our homes, all of which do have toxic effects on people and pets, separately or in combination with the other “safe” toxins to which we are exposed in our foods, homes, gardens, water, personal care products, and even in the air we breathe.

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In his April 13 article in the New York Times, Think Those Chemicals Have Been Tested?, Ian Urbina brought attention to the use of unregulated chemicals in personal care products and paints, as well as on clothing (stain-resistant treatments) and furniture, mattresses, in particular (fire-retardants).Urbana explained that the burden to prove or disprove safety is on the EPA, which doesn’t have the resources to monitor the 85,000 industrial chemicals now in use. He cites the fact that of all the chemicals in use, the EPA has succeeded in banning only five: chloroflurocarbons, dioxin, polychlorinated biphenyls, hexavalent chromium, and asbestos. Yet scientists report that babies are being born with a myriad of synthetic chemicals in their blood.

If you haven’t yet gotten the point that we are unprotected from unregulated chemicals, then watch this video of interviews with Linda Chae, researcher and consumer advocate, and then go to her website for more information on what is poisoning us every day. Note: If you are concerned about the use of triclosan in everything from household detergents to shampoos, Chae’s video will provide the information you seek.

What can we, as consumers and parents concerned about the health and safety of our children and ourselves, do to shine the light on the unregulated and inadequately tested chemicals in our environment? Plenty. And in a positive way that will enhance our energies and set a good example for future generations.

  • First, buy products that are safer for the environment. Many supermarkets now sell more eco-friendly products, such as Seventh Generation. Here is a link for Seventh Generation coupons. If you don’t live near, or can’t drive to, a supermarket that sells organic or non-toxic/less toxic cleaning and gardening products, you can buy them online. Just enter key words such as “environmentally friendly,” “ecofriendly,” “organic,” “non-toxic,” or “less toxic” products. Buy from manufacturers that recognize environmental concerns and produce products that are safer for us, our children, and the earth.
  • Second, check out the shopping lists online at the Environmental Working Group’s website for advice on what organic fruits and vegetables are must buys and learn which conventional ones can be safely eaten. Buy as much organic produce as you can afford.
  • Third, support grassroots efforts to clean up neighborhood parks and schools. Lobby for nutritional lunches and work actively to keep cell phone towers away from schools to shield children as they grow to maturity. Call for environmentally friendly cleaning products, paints, grouts, and sealers to be used in schools and community centers.
  • Fourth, contact your state senators and encourage them to vote for legislation that would mandate that manufacturers demonstrate the safety of chemicals before they can be sold.

Last, take all of these steps with a positive attitude and love in your heart. Join your energies to the energies of those who seek change through positive means. When you keep positive thoughts around you, you attract the positive. Take a deep breath, send negative thoughts into the earth surrounded by light, and keep your heart open.

Instead of allowing what we love to be harmed by unregulated chemicals, let us join with the new consciousness of living on the earth with respect for everything on it and in it. All life is sacred. We are all connected. If we allow chemicals to harm the insect life on our planet, we allow ourselves to be harmed as well. If we continue to buy and use products that harm the environment, we harm ourselves and our children and grandchildren. Change the way you live on the earth, and preserve earth for future generations.

Make every day Earth Day!

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The Authentic Self: Becoming Aware of Energy and Energy Flows

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Someone asked me the other day how I was able to follow energy flows in my body. My answer was that I could feel energy and sense if it was flowing in a certain direction. Although that seemed to satisfy my questioner, it made me think about my journey toward becoming energy sensitive.

images[4]As with others before me, I came to energy sensitivity through what seemed like an endless spiral of illnesses that appeared to culminate in sensitivity to electromagnetic fields, causing me indescribable pain. For those of my readers who are scratching their heads and wondering what sensitivity to electromagnetic fields is, here is a very brief primer. So-called EMF sensitivity is a change in perception. Whereas most people can use iPhones, computers, tablets, televisions, telephones, and be near running appliances and high-voltage wires without perceiving the EMFs that radiate from these devices, people with EMF sensitivity cannot be within seven to ten feet of one of theses devices or, in some cases of higher EMF emissions such as from a cell phone tower, within a quarter mile or more of the emissions without experiencing acute pain. An EMF-sensitive person feels or perceives the energy from EMF-radiant devices as pain in the body, and many times the emissions precipitate brain fog and confusion, shaking, tremors, tachycardia, immune system effects, and more. I have known some EMF-sensitive people who experienced these sensations at even greater distances than what is described above.

jhp4f226e8a425f81.jpgLuckily, when my perception to electromagnetic fields changed, I was referred to Deborah Singleton, founder of A Healing Place, and her team of energy medicine practitioners. Through their guidance, I learned to work with my energy flows so that I could release from my energy fields the EMF emissions that had become perceptible to me and, thus, stop the pain of the exposure. I outlined this coaching and my recovery in Intentional Healing: One Woman’s Path to Higher Consciousness and Freedom from Environmental and Other Chronic Illnesses. In the end, what began as a disability turned into a tool for sensing energy. Check the end of this post for a grounding and releasing exercise for an EMF exposure. Please share it with someone who has EMF sensitivity and cannot use a computer.

Not all people who sense energy flows, however,  develop this new perception through illness. Sensitivity to energy can be learned in a gentle way through meditation and coaching. Energy medicine practitioners are sensitive to energy, but anyone who wants to enhance the body’s natural healing processes can learn to be aware of and follow energy flows in the bodymindspirit. As Deborah Singleton taught me, energy responds to breath and thought. Enhancing your body’s natural healing processes by keeping your energy open and flowing is as easy as breathing and thinking (visualizing or using your imagination to see your breath moving through your body).

Let’s try this easy exercise. Use your imagination to “see” a cone of white light radiating from several feet above your head and into your crown. While inhaling through your nose, “see” the light move into your body–through your head, into your trunk, and down into your legs, pooling in your feet. When you exhale gently through your mouth, “see” the white light move into the earth and down to the earth’s core, or center. Let your light connect with the light you “see” in the core; color doesn’t matter. It could be Kelly green, fire engine red, lemon yellow, sky blue, lavender, purple, gold, silver, indigo, and various shades of the primary colors. Then inhale deeply through your nose, “seeing” the light  come up into your feet. While exhaling through your mouth, “see” the light move up your legs, through your trunk, into your head , and out your crown. That light will join the light that circulates naturally around your body.

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To see the cone of light above your head, watching it as it enters your body and goes to your feet, is to see the first or primary flow. The primary flow feeds all of the flows in the bodymindspirit. The second flow runs in opposite directions for women and men. In women the second flow begins in the bottom of the right foot, travels up the right leg, trunk, arm, neck and into and around the right side of the head, flows over the crown, and descends down the left side of the head, neck, arm, trunk, and leg into the left foot, joining the flow that begins in the right foot. Its trajectory is oval, and it is also thought of as the “oval flow.” In men the second or oval flow starts in the bottom of the left foot, travels up the left leg, trunk, arm, neck and into and around the left side of the head, flows over the crown, and descends down the right side of the head, neck, arm, trunk, and leg into the right foot, joining the flow that begins in the left foot.

Let’s try a breathing and “seeing” exercise for the second flow. See the light that begins in the bottom of your foot (right for women and left for men). As you inhale deeply through your nose, see the light move up your leg, into your trunk, arm, neck and the side of your head to the top of your head. As you exhale through your mouth, see the light descend down the side of your head, through your arm, trunk, leg, and into your foot and “watch” as it joins the flow in your opposite foot. “Watch” the flow circulate for three cycles as you breathe in through your nose and exhale, blowing out through your mouth.

1239394_f248[1]The third flow is the circular flow. Visualize a hula hoop of white light moving clockwise around your body. A healthy third flow can be seen or sensed as a fast-moving cylindrical column of light around your body. When you breathe light up from the earth, it travels up the body and out the head, joining the circular flow.

The fourth flow is the spinal flow that begins at the base of the spine, travels up the back of the spine, over the head, and down the front of the spine, mingling with and feeding each chakra. As you advance in understanding the flows, the fourth flow will be understood in a different way. For now, however, thinking of it in this way is a good start.

Let’s use some of this new understanding of flows to release an EMF exposure.

Grounding and Releasing Exercise for an EMF Exposure

If you know anyone with EMF sensitivity, please share the following grounding and releasing exercise for an EMF exposure:

  1. Stand on the earth wearing leather(not rubber)-soled shoes (protection for beginners, this requirement can change later with proficiency) or remove shoes and stand on the floor in your home. Whether you are outside or inside, position yourself where you can see a clock.
  2. See a cone of light above your head. While inhaling through your nose, “see” (visualize or imagine you see) the light move into your head and through your body to your feet creating pools of light. While exhaling through your mouth, “see” the light move into the earth, and with a thought send the light to the core of the earth.
  3. Join your light to light you “see” in the core. For beginners, it is easiest to use Kelly green, a deep rich green the color of grass, the color of an emerald. Inhale, bringing that green light up from the core to your feet. As you exhale through your nose gently, “see” the green light move through your body and out the top of your head. Imagine yourself as a fountain spouting green water or think of yourself as the Jolly Green Giant. These were images Deborah suggested. For me, they were effective. You may feel tingling in your feet, a good sign that you are grounding. Don’t worry if you feel nothing. That sensitivity may come later.
  4. Now focus on your circular flow. See it moving around your body in clockwise motion. With a thought stop the flow (Just think: Stop! Reverse!) and send it counter-clockwise. Look at your clock. Let the circular flow move in reverse for no more than two minutes the first time you try this exercise. Later, you can let the reverse flow continue for up to three minutes. Never longer! As this flow reverses, you may feel a pins and needles sensation. That is to be expected if you are sensitive. You are releasing EMF emissions that have pierced your perception. Think: I let the EMF go.
  5. At the end of two minutes, or three if this is not the first time, with a thought stop the flow (Just think: Stop! Return to clockwise movement.) and send it back to clockwise rotation. Watch this flow, now clockwise, for one minute. You want to make sure that the flow is steady.
  6. Ground yourself, that is, connect your energies to the earth as described above. Then think: I am grounded. I close myself to all but my highest truth.

All of the energy-balancing exercises I learned at A Healing Place helped me when I was recovering from multiple chemical sensitivity, but the above EMF-clearing exercise saved my sanity while I was at the height of EMF sensitivity.

If you had EMF sensitivity and you have recovered, what helped you? Please share your story by leaving a comment. If you still have EMF sensitivity, what do you do to help yourself? I invite you as well to leave a comment.

 

 

My Writing Process Blog Tour and Giveaway

 In conjunction with “My Writing Process” blog tour, I will be giving away a $10 Amazon gift card to one of the readers of this post who leaves a comment. Here is how it will work. At the end of this week, I will write the name of each person who has left a comment on this blog on a slip of paper. All slips will go into a hat, and I’ll have my husband draw a slip from the hat. An Amazon gift card worth $10 will go to the person whose slip he draws, so be sure to leave your email address for possible delivery. The giveaway will close at midnight on Friday, April 4, 2014.

My Writing Process Blog Tour.

I was fortunate to be asked by my friend Kathryn C. Treat, author of Allergic to Life: My Battle for Survival, Courage, and Hope, to join “My Writing Process” blog tour. Kathy and I met in 2003 at the Environmental Health Center-Dallas. Our friendship began as we supported each other through the rigors of testing and treatment at the Center and developed long-distance by telephone and email. Little did we know, all those years ago, that one day we’d support each other as authors. I have admired Kathy’s strength and determination to recover from environmental illness. She applies those same qualities to her new tasks as an author, and she has taught me a great deal about social media and promotion. I have her to thank for my WordPress site, which she helped me construct after my book website was hacked. To find out more about Kathy and her journey through environmental illness, you can check out her website or her blog. Here, thanks to Kathy, are my thoughts on my writing process.

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What am I working on?

From 2004 through 2012 while we were living in Santa Fe, New Mexico,  I visited Navajo country, the Jicarilla Apache reservation, and Northern New Mexican pueblos, attending sacred dances and visiting sacred sites in a three-state area. On many trips, I was fortunate to have the company of my friend Christine Gregg, a sacred pipe carrier and sweat lodge keeper, who is a member of the Katala Okolakiciye, a traditional Lakota women’s society. Sometimes, Christine’s apprentice, Esther Maria Lindner, accompanied us. On one of our trips we traced the journey of the JemezSummer 2010 and Emma 005 maidens, who were sent by their elders under cover of night into Navajo country. This is only one of the historical events I researched for a book I envisioned that would tell the story of a remarkable Navajo headman who lived in the first half of the nineteenth century and played the dual role of encouraging his people to go into captivity and then, through negotiations with one of the U.S. Army’s ablest generals, of leading his people out of captivity, not to a U.S. Indian reservation but to their homes within the sacred boundaries of Navajo country. I am developing this story line now. At the same time I’ve been developing the theme of the Authentic Self–Higher Self or Soul–through my blog posts, sharing what I’ve learned about getting in touch with that side of ourselves through breathing and visualizations and developing awareness of the human energy system.

Jennie and Christine at Angel Fire

Jennie and Christine at Angel Fire

 

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I wear many hats as a writer. While some of my blog posts fit neatly into the bodymindspirit genre, many of the topics I choose to pursue identify me as a writer in the field of public health, a calling I’ve followed since 1989. Whereas in earlier years I wrote and worked with experts primarily in the fields of substance abuse and cardiovascular disease about topics assigned to me through the consulting companies for which I worked, now I write about the environment and its effects on health, not surprising since my health was affected by exposure to environmental toxins. I still accept commissions for public health and medical science editing with my husband, Roger, who is a retired physician and epidemiologist. We’ve had the privilege of supporting the Initiative for Vulnerable Populations, based at the University of California Berkeley, editing journal articles, a book chapter, presentations, and press releases.

Why do I write what I do?

I write to make a difference–a difference in the lives of the people I reach, a difference in the fields of public health and medicine through facilitating the communication of ideas and findings from research. I write about things that matter to me greatly. Isn’t that a part of man’s need? To make a difference somewhere? Or at least to think we are making a difference, part ego and part Authentic Self, reaching out to fellow travelers.

How does my writing process work?

My process varies with what I am doing, but usually the basics include (1) an idea or concept, (2) research, (3) consultation with an expert, if appropriate, (4) a rough draft, (5) review by others, and (6) final draft. For my next book I am venturing into historical fiction, with lots of room for imagination, but even for that work, a retelling of the life of Barboncito and his ancestors, I spent years researching and visiting the areas to be included in the settings.

Nomination
That’s it for my writing process. Now I have the pleasure of nominating another writer whose work I’ve been following. Remember to check her blog on Monday, April 7, 2014. Here she is in her own words:
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Meglena Ivanova

10154390_824339720913663_1921104990_nMy name is Meglena Ivanova. I’m Bulgarian author, blogger and essayist. I live in NYC with my husband, bearded dragon /lizard/ and abnormally strange cat. When I’m not writing, reading or blogging, I enjoy gaining insights into the psychologies of other cultures and times. I’m also into dancing, movies, and Apple products. Occasionally I like to write short (usually about mystical, mythological creatures and old but sacred objects that are described in ancient legends) fiction stories.

Cover-1Where people can find me:

•        Websitehttp://meglenaivanova.com

•        Blog – http://meglenaivanova.wordpress.com

•        Twitter https://twitter.com/

•        Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/pages/Meglena-Ivanova/505904209458076 

•        Google + https://plus.google.com/118088705452693219921

•        Linkedin www.linkedin.com/pub/meglena-ivanova/44/110/630/

•        Pinterest –http://www.pinterest.com/megidivam/

•        Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7216923.Meglena_Ivanova

•        Smashwordshttps://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/MegiIvanova

Are You Thirsty? Conserving A Precious Resource for the Generations That Will Follow Us

images[2]When you are thirsty and nothing else will do but a long cool drink of water, do you walk into your kitchen and fill a glass with water from the tap? If you are like many Americans, getting a drink of water from the tap is a reflexive action, a no-brainer. How many of us, however, give thought to where our water originates, how much water we use, and whether water is a finite commodity? If you live in a drought-stricken area or in one of the states where dwindling water resources have made the news, then water issues and questions related to them assume a new importance.

In August 2012 we moved back to Maryland after about fifteen years away, the last nearly ten years in New Mexico, a state that has experienced droughts on and off throughout its history. We lived in a mountain community where groups of homeowners formed water-sharing groups, each with its own well and well master. It was a new experience for us, who had lived most of our lives on the East Coast and depended for the most part on municipal water systems. If we thought about water at all before moving to New Mexico, it was  only when the water supply was cut off for repairs. Being without water was not something we thought about much at all.

In New Mexico, however, water, water delivery, and water conservation were foremost in the minds of most New Mexicans, including those of us who lived in our small community. Repairs to and maintenance of our water delivery systems were very costly, and vigilant monitoring of the infrastructure and cooperation with our water-sharing partners were crucial to ensuring water delivery for us all.

Although we are now living in Baltimore and water delivery is handled by the municipality and the management of our condominium association, water has been on my mind. More states are now reporting water shortages or predicting future shortages. In Ottawa County, Michigan, which is near Lake Michigan, dwindling groundwater resources have become an issue for rural homeowners and farmers. Michigan State University researchers report that one of Ottawa County’s aquifers is losing groundwater faster than it can be replenished.  See Jeff Alexander’s October 12, 2013, comprehensive article in Bridge Magazine for details. The U.S. Geological Survey, Government Accountability Office, has reported sharp drops in groundwater levels across the U.S., and the  Ogallala aquifer, the largest in our country supplying eight states, illustrates the drop off dramatically, according to Nathanael Massey and ClimateWire in Scientific  American, May 30, 2013 . As explained in this co-attributed article, the aquifer’s rate of depletion rose rapidly between 2001 and 2008 and in many areas water table levels have fallen 160 feet since the middle of the twentieth century.

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Dropoffs in groundwater and reservoir levels have been reported around the world. In When the Rivers Run Dry: Water–The Defining Crisis of the Twenty-First Century author Fred Pearce explores in great detail the water crises facing the Middle East, China, India, Australia, and Russia, as well as the American Plains and the Southwest. He presents a well-researched argument that the great dams and reservoirs built with pride all over the world are the source of many of the crises, cutting off downstream farmers, municipalities, and individuals from a precious resource that if approached differently should be easily renewable. He points to evaporation rates peculiar  to reservoirs as the source of avoidable water losses, including a quarter of the average flow of the Nile River into the Aswan High Dam, and more than six feet of water evaporation annually from Elephant Butte, which is fed by the Rio Grande River, as well as from Lakes Powell and Mead, which are fed by the Colorado River.

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In India reservoirs lose five feet a year, and in Australia they can lose ten feet annually. Fortunately, for us and the planet, as Pearce explains, far-thinking individuals around the globe have taken up rainwater collection activities and turned to traditional water harvesting methods that return water to aquifers and terraced natural holding ponds to provide irrigation for farming.

What can we as individuals do to conserve water for our grandchildren and the generations that will follow us? Plenty. Here are some water-conserving tips and projects that individual homeowners, as well as far-thinking apartment managers and condominium dwellers can implement.

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images3JPKL5JR1. Investigate rainwater collection systems that are appropriate for your living arrangements. Whether you live in a single-family home or a high-rise building, systems can be put in place to collect rainwater for use in flushing toilets, watering trees and plants, and if sophisticated enough and built with the right materials, they can provide potable water as well.  For information on what is needed to set up your own system, check out the website of The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. Their rainwater harvesting group seeks to teach Texans, who live in one of the thirstiest states in our nation, to harvest rainwater, thus providing a renewable source of water to individuals and communities, as well as a means to control runoff after storms.

2. Implement water-saving strategies in your home or apartment. A few simple ways everyone in your family can contribute to saving water for future generations, as well as cutting down on costs, include the following.

Don’t let faucets run continuously. That means, and we’ve all heard this suggestion before, don’t let the faucet run when brushing teeth, clearing dishes to go into the dishwasher, or washing dishes by hand. Instead:

  • when brushing teeth, fill a glass with enough water to rinse two or three times, instead of allowing the precious resource to run down  the drain, joining the runoff returning to the water treatment facility to be reprocessed with your taxpayer dollars, as the Great Yogi would say, “all over again!”
  • when clearing dishes to go into the dishwasher, fill a small cereal bowl with enough water to keep a sponge moist and after scraping plates, clear them further with a swipe from the moistened sponge
  • when washing a few items by  hand, use a sponge as a receptacle for liquid soap and water, squirting a very small amount of soap onto the sponge followed by a splash of water; wash the item to be cleaned with the soapy sponge, then run the water only long enough to clear the soap.

imagesB56UGC3NLook for leaks. If you live in a single-family home, check both inside and outside. We learned the hard way in Santa Fe when we were away from home during a period of sub-zero temperatures. Although we had left the heat on low, the unusually cold temperatures froze two areas of copper piping in the walls, and from two small leaks all of the water was drained from our holding tank. We returned to a house without water and had to wait until plumbers could get up the mountain road to find the leaks, tear out sections of the walls, and make repairs. We then had to wait until spring for our contractor to remediate for mold, restore the drywall, paint, and install new heaters in strategic areas within and under the house to prevent freezing in future. If you live in a condominium or apartment, leaks can affect not only your unit but also your neighbor’s. Check faucets and piping under sinks as well as runoff devices for HVAC units.

Attend to running toilets. A toilet is said to “run” when water leaks from the toilet tank into the bowl. A running toilet wastes many gallons of water every day. Simple fixes include adjusting the tank ball or freeing the flapper by jiggling the handle. Check home improvement sites on the Internet for detailed instructions. One site I found helpful was Don Vandervort’s Home Improvement Tips.

Turn off the water to your house or unit if you are going to be away for an extended period of time. We, again, learned the  hard way to drain the water from the pipes in our Santa Fe guest house in the winter and shut off the water valve to avoid freezing pipes in winter. This step is equally important if you leave your condominium for a lengthy period.

The future does not have to look grim for our grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and the generations that will follow. If we all take steps, even the small ones outlined above, we can promise them perhaps not a thirsty rose garden but maybe a less water-dependent xeriscape that is pleasing to the eye.

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My thanks to Google Images, Free Range, and Morguefile, all great sources of free images for bloggers, artists, and graphic designers, as well as the photographers who donated their work, for the images used in this blog. 

I’ve Been Honored with a Liebster Award for Blogging!

Wow! My wordpress blog debuted on January 19, 2014, and I’ve just been nominated for a Liebster Award by Meglena Ivanova. Many thanks to Meglena for this honor!

The Rules:

You must link back to the person who nominated you.

Answer 11 questions from the person who nominated you.

Nominate 11 new bloggers and ask them 11 questions.

You cannot nominate the person who nominated you.

You must let the people you nominate know they have been nominated.

Here are my questions from Meglena:

photo_1072_200602141. What is your biggest goal in life? My goals  have changed as I moved from childhood into young adulthood, then adulthood, and now my senior years. I suppose they were all achievement oriented in the beginning. With maturity and a spiritual awakening, they’ve become more process oriented. So if I were to choose one process-oriented goal, it would be this: to interact with everyone I meet through my heart.

2. What’s your dream job? I am in my dream job. Writing gives me joy andjhp4f226e8a425f81.jpg contentment.

3. Would you rather follow your heart or your head? No contest: my heart every time.

4. If you are allowed to do just one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be? Write, write, write!

5. What do you think of this expression: Where there was fire, ashes remain? If one thinks of fire as purification, what remains is the purest essence of what was. It reminds me, of course, of the phoenix that rises from its ashes, the process of birth and rebirth—much like reincarnation of the soul that returns to complete lessons not fully learned in previous lifetimes or the spring summer fall winter cycle of nature.

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6. What’s the best gift you’ve ever given and what’s the best gift you’ve ever received? The best gift I’ve ever given was to an organization for research in women’s health. I set up a template for writing a grant proposal. Not only did that approach win the research money that first year, but every year thereafter. The best gift I’ve ever received was when my son was born. I had been trying to have a baby for several years. After miscarriages and several interventions, a healthy child was born, for which I shall be forever grateful.

7. What ability or skill do you most wish you had (that you don’t have already)? I do not have a quantitative bone in my body. I would love to understand mathematical and statistical concepts.

8. If you could vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go? Straight to Italy, touring north to south and west to east, tasting all of the regional specialties.

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9. What would you do without electricity for 3 days? Isn’t that what some residents of NYC had to cope with after Hurricane Sandy? A younger person might answer this question in a different way. As seniors, my husband and I would have to consider a number of safety issues related to leaving and returning home, since we live in a fourth-floor condominium.  Since we exercise regularly, access would be manageable. Food during the three-day period would take resourcefulness, but I’m sure we’d work things out. Work would be difficult, especially if I were working on  something with a deadline. For entertainment, I’d do what I love to do when I’m not writing, that is, read. I’m never bored with good reading material around.

10. What is your favorite book/author? Hands down, it is Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. I’ve re-read it every year since it was first recommended to me.

11. What’s the biggest problem facing the world right now and if you alone could solve it, how would you do it? Lack of regulation of the manufacture of chemicals is one of the biggest environmental issues the planet faces. Solving this problem would take the combined forces of researchers and governments in every nation. If, therefore, I ruled the world, I would mandate that every chemical be tested for environmental safety, that is, safe for the air we breathe, the water we drink, the animals and fish we depend on for sustenance, the fields we plant, the food we grow.

I nominate the following bloggers for a Liebster Award:

1.  Kathryn Treat

2.  Natacha Guyot

3.  Joe Abbate

4.  giftfromtheheartshareandcare

5.  Danica Cornell

6.  Nonnie Jules

7.  Stella Wynne

8.  JV Carr

9.  Darlene Craviotto

10. Shirley Slaughter

11. Molly

Congratulations to all my honorees. I selected you because your blogs inspire me in many ways. Don’t stop writing about what matters to you most. You have an avid follower in me.

To claim your award, please follow the rules above. Here are your 11 questions:

1.  Who are your role models in your professional life?

2.  Who are the people who have inspired you in your personal life?

3.  Choose one thing in your life for which you are immensely grateful.

4.  Give one example each of how you make the chemical, emotional, mental, and physical environments in your home safer for you and those you love.

5.  Choose one person in your life to whom you can tell almost anything without fear of judgment.

6. If you could choose another profession, other than the one you are in, which would you choose?

7. How would you like to be remembered?

8. What do you do for recreation?

9. What is your favorite family game, i.e., something you play or played with your children?

10. Who is your favorite poet?

11. Is there a song you like to sing?

That’s it, everyone. Have fun claiming your award.

Thank you, again, Meglena for nominating me for the Liebster Award.