Without Metaphor: Ever Wondered What a Slippery Slope Is? You’re Living It

Here’s what to do about global warming.

First, cease paying attention to that noisy voice that says: “I’m overwhelmed. I can’t process any more tragedy. I’m powerless. What I could do wouldn’t matter.” That chatter is nothing but empty conditioning. It’s not you, it’s not real, and what it has to say is not true.

Second, stop suppressing that calm, patient, loving voice that shows itself when you’re relaxed and present. You know it… the voice that speaks through you, not to you. That voice is guidance. It’s empowerment. It emanates from the deepest part of who we are as beings, and it’s equally present in us all.

All it takes is a bit of courage. The more courageous you are, the more recognizable the voice is, and the easier it is to trust what it says. When it comes through me, I recognize it immediately and act upon it.

Next steps.  In a recent TED talk, Luisa Neubauer, a 23-year old climate protection activist, offered four very specific steps that everyone… everyone… can take to defend and protect the environment.

Luisa Neubauer: “This is not a job for a single generation. This is a job for humanity. All eyes are on you. … We are all political beings, and we can all be part of this answer. We can all be something that many people call climate activists.

“Four first steps that are essential:

  1. We need to drastically re-frame our understanding of a climate activist. A climate activist… is everyone who wants to join a movement of those who intend to grow old on a planet that prioritizes protection of natural environments and happiness and health for the many over the destruction of the climate and the wrecking of the planet for the profits of the few.
  2. I need you to get out of that zone of convenience. Does the company that employs you or that sponsors you.. does your local parliamentarian… your best friend… know about this? Tell your bank you’re going to leave if they keep investing in fossil fuels.
  3. Leaving the zone of convenience works best when you join forces. The more you are [in number], the harder it is for people to justify a system that has no future. Power is not something that you either have or don’t have. Power is something you either take or leave to others, and it grows once you share it.
  4. I need you to start taking yourselves more seriously. The most powerful institutions of this world have no intention of changing the game they’re profiting from most. So, there is no point on further relying on them.”

“I dream of this world where geography classes teach about the climate crisis as this one greatest challenge that was won by people like you and me who had started acting in time. This is more than an invitation. Spread the word.”

All power resides in people, not in institutions. Institutions must respond to our will. It can be no other way. There is no stopping a critical mass of us who are activist in our own ways. Every action counts.

I’m willing to show up at an Oregon senator’s town hall meeting to ask when and how NASA scientists can be directed to engage immediately with residents in our cities to evaluate local effects of the climate crisis, and educate people on how to defend their communities.

What are you willing to do?

Use your voice.


Environmental Grief: Not Only Can I Help You Define It, I Have an Even Bigger Term

The Earth’s patience with our continual abuse is coming to an end, and many of us are feeling the consequential loss of something very, very dear. It has a name: environmental (or ecological) grief.

Defined by Washington State thanatologist Kriss Kevorkian as “the grief reaction stemming from the environmental loss of ecosystems from natural and man-made events”, it often goes unacknowledged or misidentified. Reported as far back as Jul-2016 by Jordan Rosenfeld for Scientific American, Kevorkian recognized the profound sense of loss she felt in her study of the death of whales. She likened the intensity of the grief to that which she would feel upon the death of a family member.

I feel that grief.

Family holding Earth in hands. Elements of this image furnished by NASA

In his article, Rosenfeld reported that in a National Wildlife Federation report, “John McIlwain, director of the Garrison Institute’s Climate, Mind and Behavior Program, described the effects on natural scientists of ecological loss as “secondary trauma,” saying, “It takes a rare and brave human being to continue to do what needs to be done in the face of hopelessness.”

The 2012 report states “that 200 million Americans will be exposed to serious psychological distress from climate-related events and incidents.”

Do you recognize this grief?

Do you feel it when you see a bewildered polar bear adrift on a piece of ice? When you read about the sale of shark fins, or are confronted with the imagine of a dead elephant, killed for nothing more than his tusks? When whole geographic coastal regions are being forced to migrate inland?

How are we not responsible for this?

For increasing numbers of us, living with this grief is both a feature of every day life and completely unacceptable.

I’ll go farther. There is what I term an “environmental conscience“, meaning the living conscience of the whole – all systems – which we are only a small part of, that constantly informs us of the damage we do and the destruction we wreak as surely as our own individual conscience does.

Just sit in the silence of nature and listen for it.

Galvanizing our collective grief and coalescing around – and in fact demanding – solutions is action whose time has come.

One more important idea.

Lori Garver is the chief executive at Earthrise Alliance, and was deputy NASA administrator from 2009 to 2013. She wrote a couple of days ago in the Washington Post that, “NASA was not created to do something again” [meaning to go to the moon or Mars.] The agency was “created to push the limits of human understanding, to help the nation solve big, impossible problems that require advances in science and technology.”

“The impossible problem today is not the moon. And it’s not Mars. It’s our home planet. NASA remains one the most revered and valuable brands in the world, and the agency is at its best when given a purpose. In a July Pew Research Center study, 63 percent of respondents said monitoring key parts of Earth’s climate system should be the highest priority for the United States’ space agency. NASA could create a Climate Corps — modeled after the Peace Corps — in which scientists and engineers spend two years in local communities understanding the unique challenges they face, training local populations and connecting them with the data and science needed to support smart, local decision-making.”

Reading the article may change your entire perspective on a collective solution to restoring the earth to wholeness.

In referencing the smallness of our anthropomorphic vision of God or Nature or Source or the Universe, the glorious author, Brian Doyle, wrote, “how incredibly foolish to [even] assign human gender to something we all admit is so unimaginably epic.” I say this because it’s time to ignore the small voices.

It’s time to ignore the small anti-environment voices, the corporations who would pillage, the single-minded developers, those who suppress their own bit of environmental conscience in favor of some anthropomorphic ideology. We no longer have the luxury of time to debate smallness.

It’s time to stand up: in personal conversations, in town hall meetings with political candidates and online where your voice for restorative wholeness can be magnified.

We need big conversation and big solutions.

Use your voice.




We Should Not be Led by Those Who Cannot Lead

Whose ideological voice is leading you?

Not recalling the exact moment, I do remember reflecting on the evolution of my own thinking, politically. Raised in a moderate Midwest Republican home, I could later understand how – not why, but how – my father admired George H. W. Bush. Dad admired few people. They were largely those who were the First. They were the First Wave of men who landed on Normandy Beach, the vast majority of whom lost their lives immediately. The few others he admired were his contemporaries in the law practice… those who he may have perceived as more brilliant or, yes, those who also served in World War II.

The evolution of my thinking, politically, seeped into my consciousness over time, circling me almost indescernibly as predator circles prey, hanging quietly in the air. It long predated the moment when I actually began seeing myself in all others.

People fly into our experience to dance on our souls. Some flit away leaving an imprint that lives in us for the rest of our lives. If we are very, very lucky, one or two may take up permanent residence. Who are those teachers in your life? How have they transformed the thinking of who you are in the world? Can you be honest with yourself about how you might see your role in the world differently if you mustered the courage to emulate that person whose qualities you so admire? Can you summon the courage to give that elevated role VOICE?

If can I see even a bit of my life experience in others, how can I not act on their behalf while I’m acting on my own? Can I not understand that the simple comforts and opportunity of my life experience are that which others seek? When I remember that it was my birthright, I ask why others shouldn’t have it.

So, the moderate political persona of George H. W. Bush may seem appealing in today’s world of separation and confrontation. Yet, it was really nothing more complicated (or nefarious) than one person seeing his or her values in another. For me, it has nothing to do with the physical attributes of that person or his/her personal history. Feel into that relationship, and you’ll recognize it’s universal.

voice verification

Courage, please. How, you ask?  Step way outside yourself to vocally support someone who is already exercising the courage to speak for others. It’s really a small step but, what you’ll realize in doing so is that it is very, very easy. And you join the big human picture in doing it. How would I do that, personally? I’d take a week’s vacation to canvass for a candidate who speaks for us all, not just for me as a privileged white female.

Are you being led ideologically? Is that really who you are and what you’ll show up for in the world? How many others can your voice speak for?

Use your voice.










Love of the Beloved in the World

How does love of the beloved impact one’s presence in the world? What does love of the beloved inspire?

The energetic presence that awakens as love for a partner or spouse expands can be a useful tool to deepen all our relationships, even with persons as yet unmet.

We often think of all relationships as distinctly separate when, in actuality, we are simply making a clear set of choices about how we will relate to a given person often based on the role of that person in our lives. What if we feel into the love we share with a beloved and test its power on a friend, a co-worker or, perhaps, even a stranger? Doesn’t it just require momentary hesitation, a chance to drop the veil of perceived separation we feel for another? In that moment, the voice of love that has its origin in the same place in each of us and has its expression with our beloved can rise kindly, clearly, lovingly to create a new dynamic.

When that which you inspire awakens in me

our shared well full, molecules clinging

delicately to each other

as liquid love over a

tipped edge, I tap your strength,

a dip, a ladle

that I might share

courage not

mine as



a drop

placed in the

dry well of a

heart not yet full, but

longing for that which fills,

placed with the love you lent, the

nourishment that feeds us both and

ignites love’s soulful fire, awake now

in our lives’ tiny and wondrous beauties.

Happy couple in love making heart shape over precipice at sunset.

Can our courage be extended more broadly to alter the dynamic of a meeting, a conference? Can it influence important matters of public discourse? Can it be an expression of equanimity between people of different races, cultures, lifestyles? In each of us that love has only one origin – and is instantly accessible.

How might it feel to receive an unsolicited loving response from another? Do we not already revere those who speak the language of love to us? Can we each find it in ourselves to do just that?

In alert hesitation, how might I influence a relationship through love?

Use your voice.

I’m Thankful For the Voice of …

Writing is a process of mining layers of dreaming and intuition, and then offering it to the world’s voice in thrusts of courage.

I hear voice in all things. When I intuit sentience in animals I hear the animal’s voice, its connection to others of its species, its family unit, and its interdependence with its environment. I feel the complex interactions, the richness, of the animal’s life.

So on the Thanksgiving weekend, the voices of taste, writing, family, service, freedom, history, Earth and Spirit self-excavated. Simple bits of gratitude for some of life’s voices.

Still life harvest decoration for Thanksgiving



Herbaceous hand of moss and peat in French press,

a sweet column of Sumatran steam infiltrates senses

40 parallels away


Long enough listened, fear, shame, grief, remorse, repentance, re-commitment

no longer the sharp elbow to whispers of silence, reflection, empathy, comfort, truth, divinity, awe,

the voice of vertical self-purification, empowerment


8 mm low-octave joy

manning the blinding light bar on a 1957 Christmas morning,

impervious to sleepy eyes


Breath of Presidio officers past,

steeled in Golden Gate,

incarnate in eucalyptus


The tenderest spot of sacrifice,

historical, contemporary service emancipates our chained hands, hearts

restlessly underlies colorless purpose 


Argued self-governance in perpetuity

Families of variety, integrity, diversity, equality

“With malice toward none, with charity for all”


Filtered sunlight politely suspended

over an archical band of redwood salal,

a massive red and yellow slug an emblem of scale of its environment


In Light,

in my presence,

as my father transitioned


Use your voice.

Oprah Made Me Laugh Today

It’s been awhile.

Oprah slides into a folksy, communal speak when she wants to emphasize something we already know to be true… an open secret… and it almost always engenders laughter.


Aside from it feeling really, really good, laughter reminded me that the ferocious energy of concern I have for the health, well-being and future of this country has recently over-taken the, frankly, tender set of sensibilities that are my foundation and the sustenance of a healthy personal, professional and spiritual life.

Nonetheless, Oprah’s recent public appearance in Georgia caused me to clarify what single attribute in a candidate for public office I believe to be non-negotiable.

Here’s how I answer my own question. If I consider the issue of self-empowerment solely through one’s own hard work, a historical tenet of the moderate Republican platform (and no such moderate platform remotely exists in today’s conservative discourse), I can understand the merit of the idea. What’s missing in its viability and in conservative gun, immigration and health care philosophies is what Republican candidates never speak of: an intentional statement of support for the well-being of others.

Language such as, “standing for the values that matter to all others”; “collaboration is the first responsibility”; and “the change we need has to come from valuing and respecting every voter” is evidence of a person, a soul, infused with mutual, universal respect. These are Stacey Abrams’ words. Stacey hopes to make history on Tue as the first black female governor in the U.S.

This is language I insist upon in any candidate who has my vote. A candidate who cannot or will not acknowledge our shared humanity as being integral to how this country thrives and how we live in this world has not yet learned the simplest lesson of love. The lesson is simply to recognize and accept what is spiritually true about myself and all others.

Stacey Abrams’ speech is honest speech. She confesses having to, “manage the limits I’ve put on myself”; to include romance novel writing as a key piece of a balanced and expressive life: “writing is cathartic to me.. it’s one of the ways I can soothe my soul”; to managing debt (three college loans): “If you’re rich, debt is considered a mark of greatness. If you’re poor, it’s considered a mark of inadequacy.”

So, again I say: We need a bigger tent. The Democratic party needs a tent so large that its members’ commitments to honoring racial, religious and economic diversity, affordable education, local and national consensus-building and vast environmental protections literally vaporize the small, small voices of hate and separation.

We have an unprecedented opportunity to move this country in a whole, meaningful and progressive direction. The election of Stacey Abrams and innumerable other bright, energetic, fearless candidates this Tue is the United States of America righting itself,  turning a corner with the sun on our shoulders and supporting every citizen to live her or his greatness.

“I come as one, but I stand as 10,000.” Maya Angelou.


Here is My Vote

I voted:

  • FOR a governor who protects health care coverage for all and Medicaid for those who need it; who supports a woman’s right to choose and women’s essential healthcare; who supports protection of public lands, clean air, water and stringent environmental protections; who pre-emptively legislated against off-shore drilling for oil.
  • AGAINST legislation that would end Oregon’s commitment as a sanctuary state; against racial profiling; against the forced use of local police as a deportation force; against legislation that is self-defeating and discriminatory against the wide spectrum of people who work in every Oregon industry.
  • AGAINST legislation that would unfairly strip away quality healthcare, including abortion care, from low-income residents.
  • FOR legislation allowing the issue of bonds for financing affordable housing in a market that is increasingly unaffordable.
  • FOR a surcharge on retailers with total annual revenue over $1 billion dollars to fund the Portland Clean Energy Community Benefits Fund, which funds clean energy projects and clean energy job training.


I also voted FOR:

  • A country that cares for its weakest residents, its disabled, its sick, its elderly.
  • A country that is still striving to provide accessible, affordable high-quality education for everyone.
  • Courageous businesses that are committed to paying all their employees a fair, livable wage.
  • A country whose residents ALREADY recognize that the rights of LGBT people should never be any different than their own.
  • A country that so deeply cares for its own residents that its legislators are permanently committed to clean water and deep environmental protections.
  • A country that takes a leadership role in funding sustainable energy options.
  • A country that reflects every and all family units.
  • A country that abhors racism and misogyny.
  • A country that values EVERY life as unique and valuable.
  • A country that stands for the premise that women are the absolute equal to men.
  • A country that finally recognizes when its highest duty is to remove a fascist president from office.