Weekend To-Do (Good) List: California Drought

Hi all. Welcome to your weekend. As you might know, I’ve been digging the themes for our To-Do (Good) lists recently. Today I present a list dedicated to….(drumroll!!!!)….the California drought!

That’s right. Those of us in California are officially in the middle of one of the worst droughts on record. In response, and for the first time ever, California is under mandatory water restriction, enacted by Brown and aimed to reduce the state’s water usage by 25%. The way the mandates will work is that different cities are assigned different reduction requirements. For example, Beverly Hills must reduce their usage by 35% while Compton has to reduce theirs by 10%. This is all based on a city’s per capita usage.

I’ve liked Jerry Brown for the most part since he became governor, but dear readers, I am frustrated. It seems like he is missing a huge opportunity right now. In fact, no, I don’t think it’s an opportunity…I think it is an obligation that he is missing. This whole plan is not equitable, it is not sustainable, and it is cowardly.

It begins here. The group that uses 80% of our water is big agriculture and they are EXEMPT from the mandates. Exempt!! I’m not talking about the little family farms, which, by the way, are under the same water mandates as other citizens according to their cities and are going to suffer for it. No, I’m talking about the big farms. These “farms:”

Harris Ranch off the I-5 in the San Joaquin Valley of central California.

Harris Ranch off the I-5 in the San Joaquin Valley of central California.

How can this exemption possibly be justified? How could turning off your sprinkler possibly be the best way to tackle the behemoth of climate change that is giving California a front-row show right now all while letting the user of 80% of the water go on with business as usual? You need 7.7 cubic meters of water to produce 1 pound of beef. That’s equivalent to around 77 baths. Any 5-year-old could tell you this just doesn’t make sense.

Plus, it is no secret to anyone paying attention that these types of facilities, CAFO’s, 1) are detrimental to the environment and our indigenous ecosystems, 2) are producing meat and dairy that is full of antibiotics, at-risk for contamination and processed through unnatural, inhumane methods, and 3) are ultimately unsustainable.

Haven’t scientists been telling us for years that restoration agriculture, sustainable food practices, and local economies are CRITICAL for the survival of our Earth? California is facing a new future of extreme weather not in abstractions but right now, today. I would hope that we would have bravery enough to realize that big changes have to take place in our way of living as a society, not just as single households. The impact isn’t going to made by the Jones’ decision to let yellow mellow. It’s going to come from severely cutting down our use of resources for these types of agricultures. It’s going to come from committing to a return to natural biogeographies. It’s going to come from listening to the science and economics condoning locally-sourced, vegetable-rich diets.

I don’t know all the complexities of this argument and I’m not claiming to. I am quite confident though that there are significant shifts in lifestyle that we are all going to have to adopt to keep this planet. And I believe that Brown has an obligation to not just slap a bandaid on this drought but to begin the stitching of the wound. He has a chance to sound an alarm and lead in a new way and instead I feel like it’s politics as usual. And why wouldn’t it be? The little guy suffers, the big business wins. Who will be the first to get their water shut off?–the already disenfranchised, of course. The head is in the sand.

We cannot use land and resource like this:

Harris Ranch off the I-5 in the San Joaquin Valley of central California.

Harris Ranch off the I-5 in the San Joaquin Valley of central California.

and try to live like this:

Beverly Hills Mansion

Beverly Hills Mansion

and still hold onto this:

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Our only home

And so, without further ado and with more than a slight sense of defeat as I step off my soapbox, there is just one item on your Weekend To-Do (Good) List. It is this:

Cut your shower time in half and safe the world.

No really. It’s going to work.

~~~S Wave~~~

p.s. If you want a second assignment, it is to remind me why things are still, always hopeful. I know why, but sometimes it’s good to hear it from the lips of others. *sigh* ❤

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Weekend To-Do (Good) List

Is it Friday already??

Here you go everyone, your to-do list with a twist. The weekend is more than mowing the lawn, taking the kids to soccer, catching up on your stored shows, etc etc. Let’s not just do our weekend like we normally do. Let’s inject a good dose of GOOD into the world. I’m making it easier for you by giving you these few leads. I’m sure some of you are doing good in ways that I can’t even imagine. Please…inspire us! Share your good actions so we can join you and get something done!

This week, I’m offering one item for each of three areas of connection that I write about : animal connection, inner connection, and ecoconnection. Enjoy!

~~~S Wave~~~

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1. Animal Connection: The Pata Zoo According to Mindful Wanderer

There is a couple I’ve been following lately. No, I don’t mean I’m stalking them around Los Angeles. I’m following them on Facebook and Instagram of course. Their names are Giselle and Cody and seem like pretty neat people to know. Their blog is called Mindful Wanderlust. They write about vegan lifestyle, animal rights, ecotravel, LGBT issues, tattoos and many other things. Just look at how fun they are:

Giselle and Cody of Mindful Wanderlust

Giselle and Cody of Mindful Wanderlust

Anyway, I digress.

Recently, Giselle and Cody were traveling in Bangkok,Thailand where they encountered the Pata Zoo. They visited this place to find out how animals were being treated at a small zoo in the Pata department store, a “decrepit building in the middle of a local area of busy Bangkok.”

Inside they documented images of isolated, neglected, understimulated, and abused (yes, restriction of any semblance of natural behaviors/stimulation is abuse) animals, including an isolated gorilla, an orangutan and her infant, and a penguin who lives all by himself and hides in his shelter almost all day. The pictures they shared on their blog are tragic (though, not graphic for any of you who worry about that.)  Click on this picture of Bua Noi to view the full story:

Bua Noi, the lone gorilla at the Pata Zoo. Photo Credit: Mindful Wanderlust

Bua Noi, the lone gorilla at the Pata Zoo.
Photo Credit: Mindful Wanderlust

Giselle and Cody were enraged and heartbroken for these animals which they rightly called “prisoners.” Giselle and Cody are used to putting their sense of injustice to work and that is what they have done.

They have started a petition on Change.org which you can find by

CLICKING HERE.

It will literally take you no more than 2 minutes to fill in your name and information, copy the URL and paste it to your Facebook. Can you do that? How about for Humbolt?:

Humbolt the Penguin Photo Credit: Mindful Wanderlust

Humbolt the Penguin
Photo Credit: Mindful Wanderlust

How about for this baby who has never touched grass and deserves to know more than concrete and metal?:

Baby Orangutan captive and Pata Zoo Photo Credit: Mindful Wanderlust

Baby Orangutan captive and Pata Zoo
Photo Credit: Mindful Wanderlust

Thank you for caring. From me, from Giselle and Cody, and most of all from the animals. May our travels be of compassion and kindness.

2. Inner Connection: Mindful 

Speaking of the word “mindful,” I recently started a morning meditation practice with more diligence than usual. A friend and I are doing it together and–not surprisingly!–I am already feeling the benefits throughout my day. Along with silent meditation, we are using the great book, Living In the Moment by Anna Black to learn some ways of carrying mindfulness into our everyday lives.

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I wanted to share one of the exercises in the book that I have found particularly enlightening. Black calls it, Who Are You Showering With?

“When you shower in the morning, take a moment or two to notice who has ‘joined’ you… Who are you thinking about–perhaps it is your boss, or colleagues at work, maybe it is someone you are going to see later that day, or perhaps it is someone you talked to yesterday. It might be your partner, your children, your parents, your next-door neighbor.. How many people are in the shower with you?

“Then, begin focusing on the physical sensations of showering… the water running off your skin… the temperature of the water… the soap lathering up between your fingers. Notice when you experience a sensation of delight or when there might be a feeling of pushing away or dislike. There is not a right way to shower and whether we are invigorating ourselves first thing in the morning, simply shampooing our hair, or cooling off after a hot day, all we are doing is paying attention to the act of taking a shower.

“Tip: Identifying who turns up in the shower regularly may give you some helpful feedback on where you preoccupations are at any one time.” 

Try this out this weekend. It’s amazing where our mind goes and who it goes with during such a short, sublime time of the day. Can you stay in the moment? Can you be with your own sensations of pleasure. I promise…you’ll like this one.

3. EcoConnection: Earthing

A few years ago,my father brought my attention to a book and video about “Earthing.” He sends me the most interesting things to read about, or to watch on youtube and documentaries. This was one.

Earthing is based on the idea that connecting to the earth physically, say by walking barefoot or lying down on the lawn, actually transmits the electrons from the Earth into our bodies. That in turn, is supposed to be beneficial for our physical and emotional wellbeing.

Because it is hard for some people to actually step (bare)foot on the ground (maybe because of urban dwelling or extreme temperatures for example), people have designed a device that you can attach to your feet while you sleep. It is “grounded” in the Earth somehow and is supposed to be able to transmit those healing electrons into your body.

I don’t know about the device. I’ve never tried it…yet. (I’m up for anything!) But I definitely believe in the healing power of nature.

So this weekend, let’s all agree that we’re going to get our green on!

Photo Credit: Life As a Wave

Photo Credit: Life As a Wave

One way or another, let’s get into nature. Yes, hug a tree. Yes, smell the roses. Yes, lie in the grass. Sit and be still…listen to the sounds of nature and notice the feel of the air on your skin. Notice a bug and watch it as it lives in its moment. Give thanks for the astounding biological system all around you of which you are just a small participant. Let yourself revel in that smallness.

Then tell me if you don’t feel just a little bit better!

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Now you can connect with Life As a Wave on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. We’ll see you there!

Shirley the Elephant – “Free at Last”

I don’t cry easily at things I watch, but I dare you to not cry while you watch this:

I want to say “thank you,” to Solomon James, wherever you are, for being the one and only saving grace that Shirley had for so many years. You are the kind of soul this world needs more of. Bless you.

Weekend To-Do (Good) List: Shopping Edition!

Last month we brought you the Weekend To-Do (Good) List: Circus Edition, and I rather enjoyed using a theme. This week, the stars aligned again and a theme emerged…shopping! No, I’m not going to tell you to spend Palm Sunday at the mall. That might be my worst nightmare. I will however make the following shopping suggestions for bringing some good works into your busy weekend: Have a good one and may your dollars make some change!

~~~S Wave~~~

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1. Look Good While You Do Good

If you haven’t heard of Sevenly.org yet, it is time. This company produces very cool clothes with proceeds going to various charity organizations. The organization changes every week so it’s an exciting challenge to make your purchase before the clock runs out! No, I mean there really is a clock on their site counting down the time left. Pressure’s on!

This week, they’ve come up with trendy, comfy tees and jackets to support The Gentle Barn and especially its work with special needs and at-risk children. Check these styles out: Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 4.28.24 PM They always have great designs and artsy images. Obviously these would make great gifts too, for those of you who don’t want to spend money on yourselves. Find out more at www.sevenly.org!

2. Smart Easter Shopping

Easter is around the corner and though it is always tempting buy a real, live bunny for your little bundle of joy, please keep in mind the facts about cuniculture (yes, that is a word.) Cuniculture, or raising rabbits, is no joke and is just as much of a commitment as owning a dog or a cat. Maybe even harder! Rabbits aren’t generally the cuddly buddy you hope they will be. They tend to be more sensitive to noises, don’t usually like to be held, need a lot of quiet time and special housing, and they spray urine right on ya sometimes!

Now, of course there are exceptions to the rules, but unless you are ready to give your rabbit the time and energy it takes to bond with them, they will be facing a pretty sad life indeed–a life which, by the way, can last 10 years. Are you sure you want a pet rabbit until your child goes off to college??

In addition to all of that, breeding practices for rabbits are often cruel. Plus, post-Easter shoppers’ remorse results in abandoned, homeless rabbits and chicks every spring. So if you’re ABSOLUTELY sure you want to bring a rabbit into your family, raise it well no matter the cost, and give it the love it deserves, then please adopt, don’t shop.

Copy and share one of these Easter messages with your friends to spread this important information:EasterBunnyInfo

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3. Speaking of Palm Sunday…

Sunday is a special holiday as Christians celebrate the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem. It is a day typically celebrated with special worship services and family gatherings. For those of you celebrating this holy day, may it be a beautiful time of communion between you and the Divine.

The reason it is called Palm Sunday is because the scripture says that Jesus’ followers laid palm fronds across his path and waved them as he passed.  What a different symbolism palm leaves have in our current times! As we’ve written about before in past Life As a Wave posts, the rapid demand for and production of palm oil has been devastating to our earth’s rich biodiversity, especially in areas of South America, Africa, and southeast Asia.

orangutan2

The campaigns to end the heartbreaking deforestation have been iconicized by the beautiful ape, the orangutan, which is facing the loss of massive amounts of its natural habitats.

laststand What can you do though, right? Once again, your money speaks. Palm oil can be tricky to spot since it’s derivatives go by so many names, but it’s likely that many of the items in your grocery cart contain palm oil. Now it’s easier than ever to find out for sure because the El Paso Zoo and SGB Solutions have designed the Palm Oil Guide and Scanner. This free app allows you to scan UPC codes to find out if your purchase contains palm oil or not. I downloaded the app yesterday and made some wiser shopping decisions for the future after scanning some items in my fridge.

There are palm oil alternatives flooding the market, and with our purchasing patterns plus our social media voice, change is possible.

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That’s all, ladies and gentlemen. I hope you have a beautiful weekend and remember to let your dollars make some change!

~~~S Wave~~~

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Now you can connect with Life As a Wave on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. We’ll see you there!

Tuesday Travel: Elephant Nature Park

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.

Sometimes I forget that traveling is something people actually do. It seems so easy to get trapped in daily, weekly, monthly, yearly responsibilities that the idea of traveling somewhere for any reason other than responsibility seems absurd. But I’ve got a newly awakened travel itch going on right now. Maybe it’s springtime in the air, who knows.

For instance, there is a beautiful place I would love to visit someday. It is in the northern Thai province of Chiang Mai and it is called Elephant Nature Park. If any of you have seen, “How I Became An Elephant,” then you know about the Park and its impressive founder, Lek.

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The other day, as I was reading about the Park’s many volunteer opportunities, I noticed how many aspects of Connection are being fostered there. The Park not only provides a sanctuary for injured and disabled elephants (and now dogs as well) but they also prioritize helping the very people who caused the elephants’ traumas in the first place. The owners and trainers–called mahouts–“break” baby elephants in a very violent way in order to be able to use the elephants for raising money for the rest of their lives through practices like street performing, begging, and logging. None of these things are very happy or healthy for the elephants of course.

However, the founders of the Park are very unique in that while they want to save these elephants, they also recognize the centuries-long ties that the mahouts and the grander culture have formed with the elephants. In order to honor these ties and the financial need of the mahouts while also bringing reformation to elephant exploitation, the Park is working with the people of Thailand to educate and train mahouts about alternative, humane, conservation-driven ways of earning a living and retaining their elephants. It isn’t perfect, but it is a beautiful example of EcoConnection, InterConnection, and Animal Connection at work. Throw in the volunteers from all over the world who are transformed by the opportunity to give back and gain perspective through their time at the Park and we can add InnerConnection as well.

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This all made me wonder: How else can Connection in all its facets be explored through travel? I intend to find out, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, do you know how much 12000 Thai Bhat is in U.S. dollars? $376.02. That is how much it costs to volunteer at the Park for one week. Makes travel for connection’s sake not seem so absurd, huh?

With love,

~~~S Wave~~~

Less amusing animals: How movements work

Reblogging this from David Meyer’s wordpress site. As I hope you have heard, Ringling Bros. have announced that they will be phasing out the use of elephants in their shows. This is a huge development! Historic! Our responsibility to honor our fellow non-human animals in this time of species collapse demands that out-dated exploitations like this end. Thank you, Ringling Bros.!

Politics Outdoors

As anyone who has stumbled across the internet and sampled a tiny sliver of the astounding variety of cat videos, animals can be entertaining.  For years animal rights advocates have been emphasizing the price those animals pay for our amusement.

When we learn that elephants are beaten in training, we may become a little less impressed by those amusing tricks.  Maybe, we go to the movies or  a concert instead of dragging the family to the circus.

After years of countering the rhetoric,  and offering reforms in training methods, even litigating against its critics (and winning!), Ringling Brothers has given up, announcing that it will phase out the use of elephants in its circus shows.  There are a lot of factors–as there always are: circus audiences are declining; taking care of elephants is expensive; and some cities have laws banning elephant performances.

Kenneth Feld, the president of Feld…

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Vegan Valentine’s Recipes

It’s the week of LOVE here in the U.S.!

?????????????Whether you are single or attached, you are loved. Incidentally, you also deserve a delicious Valentine’s treat. Of course, there’s nothing like homemade desserts. Better yet are dishes that come cruelty-free.

So, to get you inspired, check out this pinterest site where you can find vegan recipes for scandalous and scrumptious sets like:

Caramelized Banana Shortcake with Chocolate Syrup

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Sugar Free Cream Cheese Frosting

Chocolate Cashew Tarts

Chocolate Tofu Mousse

Have a very Happy Valentine’s Day everyone.

Love,

~~~S Wave~~~