Eco Anxiety: Finding Hope in Hopelessness

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Our Precious Earth

I was reading an interesting article last week on Eco Anxiety and how it is being felt by Generation Z. I have been curious to read an article like this one given the dire circumstances our environment is in these days. As school-aged children take in the news, I have been curious as to how they are dealing with the news and what it all may mean for their future on Earth.

The term eco-anxiety was new to me, but it also seems to capture the concern well. It’s a term coined and defined as “chronic fear of environmental doom.” With wildfires burning out of control, hurricanes destroying major cities on a regular basis, mass migration of people across the globe for political reasons, news headlines of starving wildlife, and the UN putting out reports that humans have 12 years to solve the crisis or we are all doomed, I can see why younger generations are feeling anxiety. What is their future going to look like if there is no planet to sustain them?

The article discusses in some depth how parents, teachers, and other adults can offer hope to the youth even when all of the news and statistics point to hopelessness. How does one manage her eco-anxiety?

It seems one of the best ways to help youth allay their alarmist fears is to talk about the environment in an open and honest manner. And to keep talking. Looking at the issue from a historical lens on how we got here and preparing them to critically think about ways to approach the environmental crisis differently than past generations. There is hope because they are young and have an opportunity to bring new ideas to the situation.

Still, managing eco-anxiety is something that all of us need to engage in. Even if we are middle to old age people, the planet is where we all live and her well-being parallels our own. So, instead of swinging from catastrophe to denying that there is a problem, finding a “middle space” where one can weigh up the issue and think through solutions on personal, communal, and societal levels seems to be a place of healthy management for one’s eco-anxiety.

I found it interesting to read in this article how young people feel resistant to having to take it on at all — that older generations should be the ones protecting them and the planet. They have homework to do, dates to make, sports to play, and colleges to apply for. Why should they have to be the ones to be bothered? Good question.

Being a member of Generation X, I can say, when I was young, I also wanted to enjoy my youth and time as a teen. When I say that no one worried about the environment back then, I really mean it. Recycling came in to the suburban neighborhoods sometime in the 80s and most people didn’t even engage in it too much. It was slow to dawn on any of us that we needed to stop using plastic, recycle, conserve resources, and more. Am I proud of this? No. Is this the same tug and pull Generation Z is feeling – yes. They too want the luxury of burying their heads in the sand and living life without these environmental cares.

And now time is running out. If some generation does not care, it is going to be too late. Still, balancing one’s own life with the greater concerns seems to be the way to manage eco-anxiety. Otherwise, Generation Z will become like all of the generations before — except the planet may not be able to sustain it.

The end of the article, a parent hugs her child and apologizes to her — apologizes for not having done something more to solve the crisis. I am not sure anyone needs to apologize, rather we need to dialogue honestly and work together to preserve our planet and maintain its health. Eco-anxiety will paralyze us into denial and overwhelm. Planet Earth will be more harmed by this more than anything else.

We are the hope.

How to Show Love Now and Always

Presence is Key!

What’s the key to love?

Haven’t poets and authors and actors waxed and waned over the years as to how to show the person you love that you indeed love her?

There is always a laundry list of “ways to show love” and “things you can do to show love.” Ah, these lists are full of small and large gestures, words to use, and presents to give the other. So many good ideas, but I am also amazed at how often it is all about the doing and very little around being.

Being together and being present to the other seems to me to be the number one way to show your partner how much you love her. That’s right — no big money, no big outside gesture, no prescribed words – just you being with your partner. Completely.

This is so difficult to do that most of us are running to those lists for the big outer thing we can do to show it — anything to avoid actually being completely attuned to another.

And, yet, isn’t that what many of us yearn for on a day-to-day basis. Someone greeting us when we come home at night and listening deeply and intently to our words and responding in kind in ways that make us feel heard, understood, and cherished.

Or when we wake up in the morning. Someone asking us how we slept, did we dream, how are you feeling as the day begins?

Or midday, your partner calls you in the middle of it all and says, “How’s it going? and then waits to hear all about it. Then, lends a reassuring statement like, “Can’t wait to hear more tonight.”

Can you imagine having your partner’s presence throughout your day such as this? Talk about showing love and the other receiving and feeling it. Even better if both partners can strive for this type of presence with one another.

The number one way to show your love is being present to the other with all of your being.

Try it – it’s so significant and transformative.

Mid-Winter Flowers

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Mid Winter Flowers

Yes! This bunch of flowers have been picked just for you!

It seems a little odd to think of fresh flowers during these deep, dark January days. Unless you have a Birthday or particular celebration, flowers are not very seasonal this time of year. Even at the famous Pike Place Market here in Seattle, most of our local flower farms are selling dried stems that have a beauty all their own, but do not hold the scent and look and feel of fresh ones.

However, this is probably the time of year when we need a bouquet the most. I know Valentine’s Day is around the corner and the flowers will be pricey and in demand, but the quiet, slow, deep winter days where no flowers are to be found let alone thought about feels like the perfect time to treat one’s self or to pick a few stems for a friend or even plant a bulb inside your warm home.

Something about the flowers and their beauty can brighten an otherwise mundane day and remind each of us that the days are lengthening and that spring is not far away.

If a bunch of real flowers are simply not possible, you can definitely create a bouquet in your visual journal. Clip out all the flowers you see in your magazines and make the most beautiful arrangement of flowers you have seen. This is a simple yet wonderful way to dwell in beauty as you use your creativity and intuitive sense of what you are naturally drawn too.

Overall, flowers are alive and can be present with us throughout the days and seasons. It may be an upside down idea to have flowers in January, but that’s what makes it precious!

The Long Rope of Restlessness

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Roping in One’s Restlessness

All of us experience some level of anxiety. It’s normal. We are humans and we worry about a whole host of things – real and imagined in our minds. Most of what we are anxious over is never going to come to pass. Alternatively, it can definitely be something that is going to happen in a matter of time. Either way, how to calm one’s anxious mind amidst these stormy seas?

I have always been drawn to taking a few moments and picturing a thick, long piece of rope – sort of like the one in the picture in this post. In my mind, though, the rope is one long strand. I think about all of my worries and concerns and as I do in my mind I picture myself picking up one end of this heavy mental rope with my two hands.

I find it is hard to pick up the rope, but I struggle and pick it up. From there, I pull the rope in to myself — literally “roping in my restlessness.” As i pull it in to myself, I picture all of the knots and knobs of my worries and concerns related to whatever I am feeling anxious about.

I continue to pull the rope in to myself until I have none left, i.e. all of my concerns, cares, worries have been pulled in and gathered up. My restlessness regarding the matter is contained within me and to a large degree settled as I have faced all of the matter and pulled it in so that it does not have me flinging around in my mind making my life overwrought with anxiety, but rather I have allowed myself time to reflect, give time to the whole of the matter, and contain it within me.

All the while, I remind myself all of this will come to fruition and pass one way or another. After this little meditation, I am often able to move my mind and day on to other things that are no longer hampered by my anxious state.

Rope in your restlessness and calm your anxious mind.