11 images that capture the incredible vastness of space

I couldn’t stop looking at these!

I think this might give me the hope I was asking for after this morning’s post about the California drought.

Sometimes we just need a little perspective, am I right?

With galactic love,
~~~S Wave~~~

FIGHT BOREDOM, SPREAD HAPPINESS

1) The sun is incomprehensibly huge

sun

We all know the sun is big. But this image, part of a great series on the size of astronomical objects by John Brady, underscores that it’s vast on a scale that’s simply impossible for our puny human minds to understand. We think of the Earth as a big place: flying around the equator on a 747 at top speed would take about 42 hours. Flying around the sun at the same speed, by contrast, would take about six months.

2) Even the moon is really far away

solar system

Compared with the overall vastness of space, the moon is very close to us: it’s just 238,900 or so miles away. But compared with our daily experience, absolutely everything in space is absurdly far apart. In the gap between us and the moon, you could neatly slide in all seven of the other planets —…

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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* ❤

Travel Tuesday: French Connection

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.
― Marcel Proust

A psychic once told me that she foresaw me taking a trip to a place where I had lived during a past life.

“Wow. I hope I’ll know it when it happens,” I replied.

“You’ll know. You’ll know it in your heart and by the intense feelings you experience.”

I’m not sure about the truth to all that, but nonetheless, it is an intriguing idea. There are those moments when you have such an unexpected reaction to a place as you step your foot on the ground. Similar to how a smell can elicit a strong sense of deja vu.

DeJa-Vu by HongNian-Zhan

DeJa-Vu by HongNian-Zhan

As I was thinking about this–about places I have been (in this life) and what feelings are attached to those travels–my junior year of college quickly came to mind. I lived and studied in France that year. As an adult, I carry a sense of disappointment with me about what I made (or didn’t make) out of that experience.

“I didn’t immerse myself in the culture as much as I wanted to.”

“I didn’t speak the language as much as I should have.”

“I am not the grand traveler my family wants to imagine I am.”

Simply, I feel like I wasn’t brave and that I came back a bit of a fraud.

As you might have sensed, it’s actually a lot of Me being too hard on Me….a habit I’ve become quite good at across life contexts.

Still, there is a seed of truth in all that self-flagellation which warrants a gentle, compassionate consideration. The seed shows me it is time to have that inner-child conversation of forgiveness and resolution. To let 15-years-ago be what it was. To love exactly who I was then and to be grateful for the part that year played in creating who I am now. (Look at that–I think I might be having the inner-conversation right now!)

There is another level of resolution that beckons to me too though: I want to reconcile with France. I want to return, sit down with France, and have a new conversation…the one you have with your ex once you’ve both moved on and truly forgive and appreciate one another. I want to just go love it for what it is and be in the moment amidst all it’s glory.

I wouldn’t go to France again carrying the burdens of the nagging “shoulds” with me. They are much to heavy no matter where you travel, I have found. No, I would like to be back on those Mediterranean beaches with no other goal than to feel the sun and taste the salt. I would like to walk in Paris with no other expectation than to be me in Paris. I would, with gratitude for it, speak my broken French if I wanted to, and I would be equally grateful for my fluent English whenever it came in handy.

I would like to make peace with a place, to help make peace with me.  I have found that innerconnection happens in so many different splendid ways. Why not on the TGV while humming past the countryside of Provence?

french-countryside

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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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Sometimes we do not know

A word for tonight from a great site, minfulbalance.org. Rest easy knowing that your uncertainty is all part of your growth and gain.

Good night, waves.
~~~S Wave~~~

Mindfulbalance

File:Dark Days Are Coming.jpg

Frequently we don’t know the answers to some of the questions that life throws at us.  We come to see that there is always a balance between knowing and not knowing. We prefer knowing, certainty, clear ideas. But maybe wisdom comes from being able to allow what we don’t know, and from learning to trust.

This is how we become wise:

When the formed

is taught by the unformed.

Chuang Tzu

photo taro taylor

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Travel Tuesday: Costa Rica!

Travel Tuesday is back and with an ecoconnection spotlight!

I don’t bring up ecoconnection as much as some of the other “connections” that are commonly explored on Life As a Wave, such as interconnection and animal connection. I was thinking about this and about Travel Tuesday and then began to wonder…what would be one of the most eco-friendly countries to visit?

The answer: Costa Rica!!

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Please keep in mind, that as I write it is 11:30 pm and I’m on a second glass of wine. I am not writing firm facts with APA citations. I’m writing the bytes that have caught my eye as I’ve explored Costa Rica via the internet. I will say this though, I haven’t come across many articles disputing that Costa Rica has emerged as one of the world’s leaders in environmental conservation and sustainability. As an illustration, when I Google search “Costa Rica Hype” I found myself sifting through a lot of World Cup stories and some trip advisor links with “..believe the hype!” in bold.

Anyway, after enough searching to make me a believer, here are some things I’ve found out about Costa Rica and its ecodevotion in the last couple weeks.

1. Beginning this year, Costa Rica has committed to generating all electricity from renewable resources. That’s incredible! And though Costa Rica’s model might not be transferable to larger nations it gives hope, direction, and momentum to the goal of cleaner energy sources.

CNFL-wind-power-Costa-Rica

2. Costa Rica has set aside 25% of its land as National Parks and Reserves. From what I could find, this is a high percentage compared to most regions and also compared to worldwide percentage of protected areas (11.58%.)

tortuguero-costa-rica

3. “Costa Rica has a stated ‘green growth strategy’. It has committed to carbon neutrality, increasing the share of hydropower, expanding eco-tourism and sustainable management of forest and marine resources. Mining activities are also banned and there is a three-year moratorium on oil and gas exploration.” From Globe International.

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4.Costa Rica wants to be carbon neutral by 2021 and has been reforesting it’s land to offset it’s emissions.

change-forest-cover-costa-rica

5. Costa Rica has over 500,000 species which comes to 4-5% of the earth’s biodiversity and one of the highest density of biodiversity in the world. These include bunches of bugs and birds with great names like Quammen’s Green Mountain Beetle and the Cocos Cuckoo. Oh, and they have sloths.

pict_grid7

6. I keep seeing articles about how Costa Rica has strong environmental law and public policies to protect its biodiversity. I get the feeling that it’s not so much that there are “environmental groups” that push and struggle for environmental reform, but that there is a strong national pride for and allegiance to Costa Rican natural resources. And same goes for soccer. I get it, CR, I get it.

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7. They have lots of tree houses to choose from. Maybe this is normal for tropical climates, or even elsewhere; maybe I just haven’t been paying attention. Whatever the explanation, I’m all for experiencing the sights and sounds of a rainforest, unplugging from the electronics, leaving as small a carbon footprint as possible, and doing it all from the balcony of an Ewok village-esque treehouse like this one:

finca-bellavista-1My favorite treehouse option was Finca Bellavista because they seemed the least touristy and the most rustic. I want to pull on some wellies and get on those wet trails! I want to wake up to the sound of howler monkeys and not my phone alarm…I want to forget where my phone even is because I’m too busy watching the hummingbirds.

With that, I’m signing off. Yes, I’m leaving you with a list of, er, 7…mainly because it’s now past midnight and it’s time for bed. I’m sure I’ll be dreaming of beaches, forests, and volcanoes. Probably some soccer balls at this point too.

Good night, friends.

~~~S Wave~~~

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