A Heroic Heart Made Strong by Time and Fate

01/26/2015

A Heroic Heart Made Strong by Time and Fate

lisadurantimage

Come, my friends, ‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world. Push off, and sitting well in order smite the sounding furrows; for my purpose holds to sail beyond the sunset, and the baths of all the western stars, until I die. It may be that the gulfs will wash us down: it may be we shall touch the Happy Isles, and see the great Achilles, whom we knew though much is taken, much abides; and though we are not now that strength which in old days moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are; one equal temper of heroic hearts, made weak by time and fate, but strong in will to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield. - Alfred Lloyd Tennyson from Ulysses

Sometimes you need to lose your life to find it. I’ll write more about it later, but for now, it is sufficient to say I almost lost my life over the holidays. The experience, horribly scary as it was, gave me life back, an invigorated version, with clarity I’ve never quite had before. I am grateful for this experience as it clarified what mattered and why. It has helped me find people close to me, and those I wanted close to me – friends, community, and beyond. It outlined a sort of homecoming to return to what I always wanted to do in life – as an athlete, in sports medicine, and high performance training. Adversity rights a course in dramatic fashion.

They say life works in mysterious ways. I believe that sentiment now more than ever. When you come full circle around, everything makes perfect sense – the ups and downs, wins and losses, happiness and pain. Having clarity on the other side of confusion is bliss. I love winning as an athlete, but the journey might actually be more rewarding and compelling.

What was required of me personally to save my life was the stuff of legend. I ejected myself from a mainstream hospital that seemed to me to be running reckless. I was doing simple math and analytics in the hospital for the benefit of my health. I observed a protocol set in motion by a few misaligned doctors on my treatment team, and one that was in control that that was depleting me physically without restoring in a way my body could handle. Important symptoms I felt needed to be addressed were not. The medical system not working well was something I was bearing witness to directly. The fear this created in me was profound, and was fueled by doctors that operated from a power position and seemed to love the worse case scenario. I don’t do well surrounded by anyone that represents the worse case scenario. My life as I know it has been about positive visioning and thinking what can be done, not what can’t. This is more than an essential outlook when it comes to medicine and healing. It became clear to me that if I wanted to save my life, it was necessary to escape what I saw as a fear monger prison that didn’t care, and was operating without good sense. I did exactly that. Day to day, I have made huge strides in physical recovery far beyond what would have occurred in the hospital, and have exceeded all projections, even my own. I think I would have made a better doctor than I had imagined.

My personal recovery is my plan, and I assembled an A-team to make sure success is guaranteed – the best of traditional and integrative medicine, and a knock-your-socks-off nutrition and hydration plan. The story is jaw dropping and true. Many felt I was the reckless one for leaving the hospital.

Personal power combined with divine guidance hinges on knowing yourself, listening to your intuition (gut), and acting with complete confidence and composure. Tennyson brilliantly illumines this combination of life skill in Ulysses, part of which I’ve excerpted above. To be brave, courageous, strong beyond measure, wise, and to skillfully fight with intuition and intention for the right thing makes all the difference. It saved my life. The world needs heroic hearts, minds, and bodies now more than ever. One glance at the news and it is apparent how much we need every force working for good to do so. Sometimes saying what needs to be said is hard, often unpopular, and can sometimes mean going against a system in place. History has burned people at the stake for standing up. My experience is one of standing up in a hard situation. I did the right thing however unpopular and unconventional it might have been.

If I can share one thing in this post, it would be that we need everyone working for good that we have on Earth to do so. Moving towards light and love and holding strong to your personal truth is what matters. Find it in yourself and in others – band together. One by one we do change the world by each agreeing to show up in this way. It is more powerful than any medicine or political movement.

Life takes a heroic heart. History loves heroes that have acted this way – Joan of Arc, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, George Washington, Nelson Mandela and the list goes on. It’s been said, and perhaps it is cliché, but you can be a hero every single day just by showing up the way you know you should. I hope you do, and that goes for me as well as it is a lifelong intention for top performance always.

In the name of love,

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Time Has Come A Day

12/23/2014

Time Has Come A Day

tennis

The path back to life manifests in crazy twists and turns. Like many, I was born to a father that wanted a son first. As such, I became the boy that my father wanted in girl’s clothing (sort of). I played on his all-boys’ baseball team and league – first base and designated hitter – to the chagrin of my brother and all his friends. When the fervor of such atrocity hit a chord, as would naturally follow, due discourse with my father ensued. “Dad, I’m not a boy, and I think it best I do something girls do.” Such a comment is stronger now than ever if you sneak a peak at Emma Watson’s UN speech as our newly minted ambassador for women.

My guess is that something she said, plus something I’ve experienced would have me share this with you now. Personal power and strength belongs to each of us. Where we find it is of course unique because we’re all gifted with special talents. For me personally, it’s been both athletic and academic. Later in life, it involved society. I’ve written that I’ve lost far more than I won, and that is true. I didn’t win Wimbledon as I hoped, nor a gold medal in downhill at the Olympic Games. My fairy tale dreams never came close to happening. Yet, with all the fairy tales that came crashing to the ground came an understanding of what is uniquely feminine personal power. Something that can’t be bought or sold, and is only found in one place – heart center. Yeah, you can do a downward dog.

For me, it’s been a reckoning to understand at least for now that it doesn’t involve anyone other than me – that’s right, a knight in shining armor isn’t coming around. It doesn’t matter how talented, how beautiful, how special, how anything – our course as women has come to be that we must endeavor to be heroic on our own without an obligatory attachment to men. It is really hard as women when we’ve been sold tales for generations to believe time has come a day – but it has. Is it the feminist movement that I’ve so much opposed for reasons that I felt didn’t give women an option to choose a more “traditional way” a choice? Can’t say. But what I do understand is that times have changed, for better or for worse. Our daughters, ourselves. Understand one thing – nobody should give up personal power to anyone, for any reason – male or female.

And the path back to life – I had no idea it would go back to basics the way it has. To have me return to days of true personal power, found on a tennis court or a ski hill, where yes you can smile as a girl or a woman, but grunt and bear it in a way that no man would ever mess with you. There’s a really fine line between feminity, grace, and survival. I concur with Ms. Watson that we have nothing to excuse for being brilliant, strong, athletic, stunning, creative and every other aspect that could define a woman. We don’t need to make a point, but can and must hold strong. So whatever your medium, I implore you to find it, reclaim it if necessary, and make it your own. No apologies needed for being a man or a woman with all due respect.

With the very best of intentions as always,

When Life Circles Full Round

12/11/2014

When Life Circles Full Round

leaf

I am way too young to speak of age. Not that it matters except to inform that after a certain number, some become wise. The process to achieve the status of wise is sporadic, non-sensical at best. Generally, or at least in my case, it’s involved more pain than anyone would endeavor to experience. Yet, it is in the process of pain and growth, things become clear.

To be honest, I’ve lost far more than I’ve won. And no, it hasn’t been fair. Delusions – what my parents said about fairy tales and a magical knight that viewed the same bright moon with a vision for good – ah no, none of that strident dedication and belief has ever been shared in practical application. What is true is that we are born to live, to survive, and to fight for the purpose that brought us here. If we consistently turn away from that light, it is for certain we’ll be served up pain.

Pain is there to tell us to go back. To go back to why we are here. In my years of being and adventuring, I am absolutely certain of one thing – we are here for a reason. Have you heard it said that playing small doesn’t serve anyone, most of all, yourself? When people say step into your greatness, it isn’t a line. It’s real. What you wrestle with, what I wrestle with, the common cause of all humanity lives right here. No matter how dark it seems, and I know all about dark and light, don’t abandon humanity and why you’re here despite every dismal report, and perhaps real-life account.

For those of us that survive some of the most amazing things, we come out the other side to tell you to hold on with a sure grip to the things that brought you here. There are so many instances in life that I could have told you would have made sense to let go completely, aka to quit, to abuse, to diffuse – I never did. People ask me personally what it has taken to survive, and I can only say it is divine for lack of a better explanation – or ok, maybe some solid intuitive guidance! When you are called to light, life will never allow you to live another way. You will see what can’t be seen, and feel what can’t be felt – and the reason for this not-so-special distinction is that it is to help at its’ root. It’s holiday time, and with all the lights, gifts, and celebrations – don’t abandon your light. This is the first year I’ve not had a Christmas tree, decorations – none of it, but somehow, in the absence of commercialism is the real thing – understanding the light that’s always been so compelling is the one to be shown and lived, this time for real.

Skol,

December Races, Chases & Dazzles

12/05/2014

December Races, Chases & Dazzles

what if i fly

If for a moment, can you imagine what a fuel injected foot might look and feel like? Well, here to tell you that nearly a year of foot demise has led to nearly 10 top specialists opining on the matter, only to come to one today that got it. You know your day of deliverance when it arrives. I trained on the infamous Double Dipsea trail the day before Thanksgiving and wound my right foot it a place of certain misgivings, truth be told were not fully revealed until a later day upon dawn’s arrival.

Some say the case with athletes is a mad one, and as one, I might consent. Ice, heat, new shoes, active release, rest – common folk modalities to arrive at some amount of healing only to be yourself forlorn.

December 4 was a marker for reasons of true importance – good and bad. I picked up my North Face trail run kit in Marin County knowing that once finally in hand, there was no going back per usual. This race has been the race – the one for my life, the one for those I loved. By 4:30 pm it came time to tell a seasoned doctor why it was compelling yet again. One glance from me and he knew he’d be wise to not have that discussion. 4 ballistic injections to the foot, madman-taping befitting only of a concubine, and honest words – tape, rest, suck it up, untape Saturday evening, and run like the wind. My God finally someone gets it. Back in my office on Monday, you need surgery soon.

That brings me to the evening’s proceedings of why run this race? One that’s been of such importance for so many years. True to form, I listed the reasons I normally made a practice to keep in my pocket race day:

  • to transcend pain
  • for nobody but myself – how selfish for once! (thinking that’s a good thing!)

That’s pretty mundane, so let’s go further, shall we? If finishing this race accomplishes something in the greater scheme, let’s say it had magic powers, then what?

  • it would heal the earth
  • it would heal wounds
  • it would help those that live in pain
  • it would demonstrate that worth is not a monetary endeavor
  • it would be a sign of solidarity for all that hurt or suffer in any way
  • it would give hope that by faith in what we hold dear, we’ll get there together

This December, I can’t think of a better holiday wish that this one for all of you and for the planet. It is simply amazing, dazzling really how nature and sport can bring us to our knees in a way that we can understand what is of the upmost importance, and will always ring true. If my running wishes come true, what a world it would be.

Cheers all,

Divine Love

11/15/2014

Divine Love

 

lisadurant_aug2014-99 What if you were encircled with a golden glow for reasons you couldn’t comprehend – and you realized that your purpose was to shine a glorious light no matter the circumstance? If I told you that this was my life, and one that very wise people have told me is my life you could easily shoot back that it’s because I’m a golden girl from the great state of California, and southern to be more specific.

What is divine love? Is it some very heady concept or is it real? When I was first told that I represented this in the world I remember thinking the people who told me this were just nuts. However, as years roll on and I observe how I truly act in the world, I realize experts might be right. What I want to share though is that the concept of divine love, warmth and light is not just on others, or me it is in all of us. I grew up in a very strict Episcopalian family. I was not allowed my point of view, opinion, anything. What I was allowed was to work my derriere to the bare – top academics, top sports performance, best etiquette and protocol – more than your golden girl next door. I delivered this and after college even more by landing positions and opportunities of my dreams and beyond. Constantly pushing beyond what any normal limits might suggest.

The last 14 years have brought some hard knocks, but I can tell you that divine love and purpose never leaves once instilled. And it truly is not for me or those that currently possess it, it is for all. We all have not grown up in the easiest of circumstances – you name it likely and it has happened in your own family if you are like most. The point that I’ve had to explain so many times recently is that we have a chance in life to choose our way. Repeat past offenses or change. In our world that is upside down with human tragedy, sorrow, and environmental degradation can’t we collectively say we choose differently? We choose peace. We act with diligence. We can say good-bye to tired patterns that don’t serve us personally or the greater good. We only have one life to walk. In peace, in honor, in respect, and with a golden glow of what can be, and what will be because of us is the only way I can see to go. Please pull up, each and every one of you. Free yourself from things that don’t serve. Be a living testimony to love and light. It is all we have – and it is so very simple.

Cheers,

Principles of Simply Sustainable Living

10/15/2014

Principles of Simply Sustainable Living

Bike blog : The Caferacer commuter bike from Creme Cycles

Would you believe me if I told you that my inspiration for working on the environment came en route to living a beautiful life à la Martha Stewart (my former boss), Julia Child, Emily Post, and Alexandra Stoddard – domestic doyennes? To me, living a beautiful life is actually about respect – for oneself, for others and I maintain, for the environment. Taking the time to notice what’s beautiful and to savor it, and when necessary, to protect it.

The fact is, we all are visitors on this precious Earth – fortunate to wake every single day to the wonder and resources that surround us. Here’s an idea to consider based on personal study of yoga and the environment. “Namaste” loosely translated means, “I bow to you.” I’ve taken this translation one step further to encompass honoring all of life and planet Earth. Consider that you can practice “Namaste” outside of yoga through these simply sustainable steps:

Every little thing you do is magic

Never underestimate the power of one. One little step after another consistently results in big impact. The more we each act this way and pass it along, the more we change the world one person at a time. Don’t give away your power.

Bring your intention and mindfulness to all you do

Imagine your wise action as a gift for your health and the environment and the universe will respond favorably. Here’s an example I love doing – see trash sorting for recycling and compost as mindfulness practice – you can actually calm yourself and focus while helping the environment.

Tread lightly

Only buy and consume what you really need. Invest in quality, not quantity. Hold out for the right thing. Resist marketing messages that don’t serve and result in unnecessary stress and strife.

Create your own health and environmental challenge

See how you can move your body from A to B without fossil fuels – walk, hike, roll, ride, sail, paddle, snowshoe, ski – make it fun!

Realize personal satisfaction

Bring your own shopping bags to all markets, and recycle single use bags for produce. Use glass or tin containers for food storage – avoid plastic containers, bottles, bags and wrap. Put water bottles in places you frequent. Enjoy the contribution you’re making with this simple intention.

Find ways to be an easy environmentalist

We all forget (to sort trash, bring our bags), get lazy (it’s too much trouble), and are usually busy (@$*!) – but we can actively decide to switch this up – one by one. It is worth doing. With a bit of advanced planning, it is easy to switch to a new environmentally friendly practice that quickly becomes a healthy habit.

Namaste,

What did I do Wrong? Win at Life

08/26/2014

What did I do Wrong? Win at Life

claycourts

Here’s how asking this simple question can improve your life, sports endeavors, and even help the world. Don’t limit what’s possible.

Oprah Moment

Over the weekend, I had an ah-ha moment. Was busy being an everyday warrior athlete – like the weekender on drugs. You see sports are my passion, something that started as soon as I decided to enter the world at the one time my father requested I didn’t, right as a crucial meeting was to begin.

An Athlete’s Life for Me

Tahoe is the outdoor athlete’s dream come true. While attempting to cram as many sports into a weekend as possible, I came upon one that had been allusive, and fact is, down right scary. Water skiing. I had dated some boys that grew up on lakes and they would gad about their superior water skiing in a way that’d have me shaking. Looking back, it could have been all about them or a psyche out to crush another. Who knows? Honestly, who cares? The point is, the one time I finally did try the stinking sport was during a break from work at Martha Stewart Living on the Finger Lakes with the One Minute Manager for real. I pounded enough freezing cold water to never think twice about water skiing again.

I stared down at the boat and skis at the rental center, and despite the internal wrangling with stuff that didn’t serve me, I knew it was time. The kids were hopping up and down, “Maman please – need for speed now!” Goddamn kid peer pressure. This means performance on my end. My kids have this messed up notion that I’m some sort of sports Queen that is a pro at every single sport including ones I’ve never tried, or in this case, tried once. My sweet boyfriend is telling me no way because my right knee is bugging again after multiple surgeries from snow skiing. I throw a kid-like fit that if we rent the boat and I can’t ski the day will be a total loss. I know there is something very wrong with that, but stay with me.

Seeking Enlightenment

I decide to behave like an adult, put the stinking snot nosed kids first, and grin and bear it. I was wondering if the Buddhists would think I was enlightened at least. Goddamn Buddhists, what do they know? We go through the motions, and get the motorboat out on the lake and set to ski. My oldest son is up first, and after 5 attempts he quickly shows his athletic prowess at 14. My younger two quickly wimp out, and that leaves the obvious choice – me. Bruised and battered athletic warrior of 45 years (don’t tell). I’m thinking this is going to be fun. Sweet boyfriend acquiesces and says I’m up. Something strange happens. I had the 4 people closest to me in that boat, and I knew it was all good. Internal sense of calm and unshakable confidence sets in. I will not let those closest to me down. I know what they expect – the best.

I’ve got this. Listen to instructions, trust, do not overthink, breathe. I ask for the elevator pitch version on how to water-ski. I find focus that translates directly so the body understands what to do. The water is cold and I’m freezing but I tell myself not to notice, employing sports psychology 101 – mind over matter. Straight arms, plank body like Pilates, suck in core, look ahead, F-O-C-U-S I chant. I was up water skiing on the first try and zipped around the lake like I’d been doing this all my life. I was smiling and cracking up, little did I know how powerful that moment was. They had to cut the engine, forcing me to stop because God knows I wasn’t stopping on my own accord. Kids were cheering and weren’t surprised. Check, superhero status maintained. The next go, I got up for a bit, and then fell backwards. Twist in story you think. Here’s the kicker, my only words when I swam up to the boat, “What did I do wrong?” No more, no less. No chatter, no wimping out, no blame. I lasered in on the directions once more. That’s a lock. I went again straight away, and I was up and around the lake until it was time to return the boat.

Why “What did I do Wrong” is the Best Question Ever

What did I do wrong? There are so many life lessons and implications in this one phrase. I had just read that Vata’s (my Ayurvedic body type) ask what they do wrong as a key personality trait. Wholly shit, I realize, I’ve been doing this all my life. I think back, tennis, this phrase – it’s what I’ve done as far back as I can remember. My childhood dream was to win Wimbledon, a course that had me on courts for most of my youth. In pursuit of being the best, I didn’t focus on accolades; I focused on making things better. An unstoppable pursuit that my coach would honor at nearly any hour of the day. This is the kind of love-story partnership of wisdom passed on from one generation to the next, even when things go wrong. Myron was coach to Sally Ride as well as countless others that were fortunate to be a student. This is exactly where you learn that your best is what counts, and if something goes wrong, a little adjustment and a very steady mind solve it. It is about what’s inside and clear guidance. So often our world is about blame, and what could be if – with more money, connections, or anything you could name. The former approach collectively gets us nowhere fast. As things come full circle for me and maybe for you, I leave you with this favorite:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. -Robert Frost

My road less traveled by was and is my responsibility. It has been a most phenomenal journey, certainly with more than a fair share of hard knocks. But, I’ll never want for anything because I know deep down the right stuff is always inside. Played out through time, if every one of us acts this way, we change the world, for good. Our personal best is all we need. Our children and our Earth deserve it, and so do we.

Peace,

Step Off The Wheel

07/29/2014

Step Off The Wheel

Place des Lices

Post 1, is there life after France? Not sure, but will try.

I should be telling you what it was to trek through the Pyrenees. Due to no thank-you, climate change, I can’t. Did anyone in the US hear about the torrential rain, flooding and destruction recently in France, notably in the Pays-Basque? If not, here to tell you it was BAD! Reference point, take a look at the clips of probably the most historic weather year on record for the Tour de France, or was that mud wrestling? I posted from France on Facebook that I couldn’t imagine that there were still climate deniers in this world, but if you know one, I’m hoping you’ll douse them with facts and images that are indisputable.

The fact is we need to collectively decide to undo the concept of “pc” and say what we need to say, thank you John Mayer. And that goes direct to the message of importance for this post. To sum up the best lesson learned from my recent travels: we must step off the wheel we’re on. How much has been chronicled about living life in the present where expectations and rules are tossed aside? Consider the work of Peter Mayle in A Year in Provence or Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love – the opportunity to experience life fully despite what society says. I haven’t been able to do such a thing ever before in my life, and I highly encourage anyone to give this a go if not once in life, then often. Throwing caution to the wind is healthy and taps creativity and vitality you have within you. Now back, all I can do is share what I learned to help others, and to try and keep this in practice for myself, a work in progress back in the US against what society demands.

Yesterday, someone reminded me that so many on Earth are sleepwalking. It is nothing to be upset about if you’re in that state. It is a life’s work to wake up; Buddhists say so. So it is, right? Not quite. Practical experience is the best teacher. For me, the process started early with my tennis coach and a philosophy teacher that encouraged me to extend beyond anything I understood – intellectually and physically. I think it is true that ignorance can be bliss, but it isn’t real. Whatever false sense of security denial allows, it never lasts and ends up hurting – you, others and the Earth. Love and beauty are the true blessings of this world and our collective experience.

The biggest gift of this world isn’t one that many of us see, and if we do, one that we’ll accept. I’ve got to say it, please forgive me as I have been influenced by ideology in the past, but religion and politics have rendered societies out of touch with what is. What is? You can’t think yourself through this one. You must experience it, live it, feel it. Imagine, however hard it might be, this basic exercise for living in the present:

1)    Cease with what you “should” do – it doesn’t matter if your parents, significant other, or society said, give yourself permission to stop

2)    Forget about the past and the future, find yourself in present time

3)    Turn off the phones and the computer, disconnect. Put yourself on an extreme technology diet. If you don’t believe me, ask Arianna Huffington, she hits this topic hard in Thrive, and echoes the same life principles of balance and simplicity that are good for the soul, health and the world.

4)    Tune into the present moment: what do you hear, see, taste, smell, feel? Your 5 senses? Use them. Check in.

5)    Open yourself. This is so hard to describe, but best I can explain, drop everything you’ve been doing and actively participate in life in the moment. Don’t critique, live. Smile, carry a sparkle in your eyes, move your body, taste things, feel things like you’ve never experienced before. Imagine that you are seeing everything for the first time, even if you’ve been there before. Take it in. I cannot emphasize enough what it is to be open – to life, to beauty, to what is possible in this world.

6)    You do not need to journal this, you don’t need to let someone know, you don’t “need to do anything,” for once, give yourself permission to live free

7)    In case you or I missed the point, as Robin Williams said from Mork & Mindy, “fly, be free,” aka LIVE. Robin Williams is a wise man. With humor, we find brilliance.

I could go into everything that happened, and didn’t, in France, but that’s my story, not yours. What I can say is how much it helped me understand who I was, what had meaning, and just how far I’d fallen from grace, or rather, living life. You’ve heard these stories many times before, but rest assured, this kind of thing works like a strange sort of magic. On my return flight, I selected Dead Poet’s Society amongst the many movie titles offered, and was reminded when you’re in sync with the world, “carpe diem”– seize the day – matters. Seize the moment. Nothing else. It isn’t complicated.

I’ve written a book about simple living with style done sustainably. If you want to get me going, ask me to talk about consumption and complexity. These two things are killing every living thing and the environment. For a species that prides itself on being so smart, I ask, how can we be so stupid? In the process of supposedly chasing dreams, we’ve crushed them. Instead of changing the world, we’ve destroyed it. Instead of helping people, we’re killing each other. Please, if nothing else, get off this wheel. It is a prayer that transcends every religious, political and social belief. We are one. We have no need to fight one another. We have no need to consume the way we do. Let the footsteps be light. Go gently. Don’t force anything. Breathe and trust that the way life works is absolutely perfect if we allow it to be that way.

I can say that my time in France was the best in my life. In touch with the present, open to everything around me, the beauty and sheer awe of how life works and what is. Sometimes you’ve got to go home to see it. Do. You may not know why and you don’t need to preplan an agenda. Living this way had me step into everything I love. You can really smile inside. When you do, you radiate that energy to the rest of the world and the world responds. I can only imagine what Earth would be like if we could all do that, all the time. The potential is huge. I saw the most beautiful things, tasted the most delicious food, and enjoyed time with some of the most amazing people I’ve been fortunate to meet.

In France, I thought often about my favorite book, The Alchemist. This was a pilgrimage of sorts. What was I searching for? I had no idea. For years Santiago, the protagonist in Coelho’s book of legend, had been my hero. I dreamed I could know as he did. Was this a journey to find the Soul of the World? Perhaps, that is if I could wake up enough to see what eluded me for years. Qu’est-ce qu’il y a? Loosely translated, what’s going on? The world, sorry I was too busy doing what I thought I was supposed to. I can’t hear you. What? The sound of voices from the past, my personal legend, qu’est-ce qu’il y a? It is here. It was here all along. I was too busy to find what I was looking for. Step off the wheel and you’ll find your life right there. I promise. Santiago did. I did. Many before have. Your life is more than the present that you see too, it is your history that you’ll discover, and it isn’t magic.

For everyone on the road less traveled by,

Trekking

06/19/2014

Trekking

Trekking

Trekking

In the process of writing my book, a publicist from Chronicle Books suggested I write a book on how to survive crises. I dismissed it because I didn’t think the world needed more drama or talk about crises. We all have had enough of that, correct? It is the reason Maria Shriver left journalism – no more Anna Nicole Smith-type stories.

I kept this idea in mind, however, wondering if there was any good I could bring to the subject without drama. I realized the answer is “yes,” and it is what defines resiliency – something we all must have. So this goes out to all of you that might not have always had things break your way.

Let’s stop for a moment to think what happens when things don’t go the way we’d hoped. Do we  freak out, scream, drink, and indulge in destructive behavior or something else? This is where surviving and navigating life well comes in. I remember when the Sandy Hook tragedy occurred and President Obama said that we should all go home and hug our children tighter. I didn’t rest easy with that even though it is a common sentiment. Why? It is because yes, in a difficult time it is right to go hold close those that are dear to us – children or other – but there’s something missing. What? If we just retract into what is comfortable and close we miss the boat. There is a step two that is much bigger than our close relations, and that is community and society at large – reach out and expand. Can you imagine a world where we hold close those that are, but equally we reach out in the world to connect to make things better for everyone. Wow. If that could happen, wouldn’t it be a game changer? In my experience of challenge, there is retraction, but expansion must immediately follow to point things in a positive direction. If we hold on too tight, it is possible to lose perspective, particularly in matters of urgency or emergency.

I thought it was more than intimidating when someone first referred me to “Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why?” by Gonzales. It is a poignant review of what works and what doesn’t, and it is clear what happens when people hold outcomes too close – it isn’t good. Gonzales discusses true stories of survival where the difference between life and death often is in knowing your capacity, and having strong perception, humility, resourcefulness and humor. Humor is critical to diffuse stress and trauma when you need to. For instance, let’s think of fighter pilots, they joke around and shoot the sh*t before they go out to ease tension. Can you imagine if they were pensive and foreboding before going into a hostile situation? Not going to work. I know this just as well, however miniscule, from sports psychology I learned as a competitive athlete. You can legitimately psyche yourself up or out.

What works? I have seen my fair share of adventure and challenge in life, and made it all work only to go deeper to help others. Check in with those you love, hold them close, and open up to look for connections everywhere. Don’t just retract, expand. I am off soon on a trekking adventure to return to some important roots, and once again not to retract (easy to do with 3 kids) but to expand and connect. My goal to help people and the planet is a big one. As we all hit the trails and expeditions of our choosing this summer, make it good, make it count and find a way. We are all here at a very important time in history, called to make a difference.

Happy trails!

The Time is NOW: People + Environment

06/06/2014

The Time is NOW: People + Environment

Environment

Caring for people and the environment is not a political issue. I am exhausted with this fundamental ethic being attributed to one party or another. At that, is anyone under the impression that politicians govern the country (or world), or would itbe safer to say it is big oil and finance that does? One of the most comprehensive articles I’ve read to date on climate change is from Michael Hoexter, in the Degrees of Responsibility for Climate Catastrophe. He states that, “People on the ground believe they are, in their isolation, too small and insignificant to remake the energy basis of society and the economy.” If we do not change this thinking it is game over for all of us, and not just on the subject of the environment. This is a time in history when we are being summoned, every single person on this planet, to work for social justice for all people worldwide, not a select few, and the larger piece – the environment that is in crisis. Hoexter offers a reality check, “Does what we are doing make sense and promote the general ends to which these activities are devoted?” Are our activities collectively doing good for people and the planet worldwide? If we look at the ever-increasing divide between rich and poor, and the destruction of the environment, I cannot imagine how anyone could believe we are.

I’ve been asked to comment on the environment, and doing so is also taking a stand for the benefit of all living things because nothing works in isolation.

The Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), written by 800 authors selected from 3,000 nominations provides an unbiased assessment. I can’t see how anyone would find it biased given that the IPCC is comprised of 195 member countries. The scientists and experts from around the world hail from these disciplines: meteorology, physics, oceanography, statistics, engineering, ecology, social science and economics. Please click here for the detailed report if you are not familiar with the climate change statistics and summary outlined by the IPCC.

Here’s a quick outtake:

  • Rich nations (led by the US) need to cut in half emissions by 2030 from 2010 levels in order to meet the agreed upon 2 degree Celsius ceiling (above pre-industrial levels)
  • China and India need to limit emissions, but they are burning fossil fuels (coal-fired plants) rapidly to “help end poverty” as stated
  • “Stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations will require large-scale transformations in human societies.” Most governments are not planning large changes because they fear it would be economically devastating.
  •  If things remain unchecked and temperatures rise above 2 degrees Celsius, the options for remediation are not good as stated in the report. Those technologies do not exist, and if they do in the future, they are forecasted to be outrageously expensive. It would require carbon capture from the air, and a way to store it.
  • The IPCC report states that is it at least 95% probable that human activity, rather than changes in the environment itself, are the cause of climate change

Some reports have suggested that “rich countries” come to the aid of “poor developing countries” due to historical responsibility (rich countries were and are currently the major polluters that have had devastating effects on poor countries), and because poor countries cannot afford climate-friendly solutions.

To note:

  • Over a half-trillion tons of carbon burned since the start of the Industrial Revolution, the trillionth ton burned is estimated to occur in 2040 (University of Oxford)
  • Currently, there are 3 trillion tons of carbon in the ground – fossil fuels
  • Amount of CO2 burned in the first decade of the 21st Century is twice as much as the last 2 decades of the 20th Century
  • Climate targets to reach: investment in power plants that use fossil fuels needs to decline by 20% in the next 2 decades. Simultaneously, low carbon energy needs to double.
  • What are we looking at now and in the future? Collapse of ice sheets, rapid rise in sea levels, difficulty growing food, water shortages, die-offs of forests, mass extinction of plants and animals.
  • The longer we wait, the more devastation occurs, the higher the cost to deal with the problem if it can be dealt with at all

So what do I think? We must act on a large scale. We have had years to act and have failed to do so on the scale necessary. I felt years ago and still do that the very best thing we could do for society would be to create a renewable energy sector that would lead to clean energy, mitigation of climate damage, and a new source of income for countries and individuals (jobs). I’m sure many of you feel the same way. But something has been in the way of this happening, right? Special interests, campaign money, big oil and finance, the Koch brothers, and more. We cannot as a global community allow a few “fat cats” if you will to take down Earth and the rights of all people and living things. Health and peace should be goal #1 for all and the planet. Please take a stand to help. Renewable energy costs are falling making solar and wind affordable – make the switch and force government to make this occur nationwide and worldwide. Stop investing in “dirty” companies. Vote with your dollars. Take local action. Tell a friend. Don’t stop. We owe this to future generations, and every living thing on this island home we call Earth.

As Tennyson said, never to yield…