Category Archives: Inspiration

Set Back, Set Up, Step Up

I feel stuck. Broken. Like a failure.

My eczema (atopic dermatitis)) is flaring. My skin is flaking, dry, irritated. Yesterday there were pinprick infections, like a slow boil under the skin surfacing as tiny boils. I can’t remember when I haven’t had some crack or raw spot somewhere on my skin.

It’s like my most important interface between my inner and outer world, my skin, just doesn’t work properly.

My dry beat up hand, her plump lovely young hand.

I’m so fed up. I’m afraid nothing will work for me and I’ll be stuck like this. I look at my beautiful healthy robust daughter and I’m afraid I might infect her with my dis-ease, or that it will get so bad I can’t take care of her. But I also look at her and try to remember that I can be like that, too. That this too shall pass. I’m tired, maybe because I feel like my body is fighting herself. It is possible there is something I can change about my environment, but I’m fed up of trying to fix things, trying to figure out what is broken in me that I cannot see or touch. And similarly, trying to fix things in my environment I can’t see or feel.

And I know it is mostly in my brain. The symptoms are real. There is a long list of things that seem to irritate and exacerbate my skin. But the question that haunts me, pursues me, torments me, is: Why is my body so hyper-reactive? The allergens and irritants are mostly harmless. Except to me, and only because of the way my body reacts to them.

I also know my skin is really not that bad. It irritates me, distracts me, derails me, makes me feel stifled and limited, but my conscious brain knows it is not that serious. However, my brain does not seem to react rationally to my skin symptoms. I spin my wheels in my rut, trying to figure out what else I can DO to heal my skin. Even though I know it is futile. I’ve already done so much. Further restricting my diet, further controlling my environment – perhaps these draining activities might reduce my symptoms temporarily. But this busy Doing (versus Being) still does not answer the above question: Why is my body so hyper-reactive?

I tried the Dynamic Neural Retraining System but failed to uphold my promise to myself to do the practice as per the training, for an hour every day for six months. I am also doing Body Talk sessions, tantalized by the possibility of feeling much better quickly, but not sure if it has made a difference despite feeling profound insights during the sessions themselves.

And I keep wondering if I could just do MY work, my writing and music, if it would all just heal. If I got my song “Skin” recorded, if that would help.

I am so frustrated. I want to care for my daughter, I want to create. I don’t know how to make this all work, since I don’t have much financial security or resources to support me.

I want to go outside to my favourite trees when my baby wakes, but I don’t want to be seen by anyone. I want to sleep and wake up and feel good in my body. I want to escape, but it isn’t really where I am, it is me.

And I cannot run away from myself.

From this messy un-healed place of becoming, I write anyway.

Shine,
Julie

Faith Is Peace: A Story And Invitation

Imagine that there was a sudden shift in Canada’s social and political landscape, and your religion or spiritual practice was outlawed. Those of you who attempt to maintain your faith are persecuted if caught. You continue to practice your faith in secret. You have all been evicted from your Church, Synagogue, Mosque or Temple; let’s call it your Sacred Place. Companies vie for the chance to use the property. Your Sacred Place becomes a factory, and is desecrated and polluted.

In time, Canada becomes more equitable and fair towards followers of your religion. And the factory in your Sacred Place closes down. Your city agrees to return your Sacred Place to your community, since its industrial use has ended. One of your faith leaders has a beautiful vision for restoring your Sacred Place to its former glory and to be the place for you to worship and take refuge once again. You are very close to getting your Sacred Place back, but have not quite raised enough money to restore it.

And then a local company, BlowHard, announces it will buy your desecrated Sacred Place and transform it into eco condos and retail space called “Faithy.” Despite protests from your community members and allies, the City allows your Sacred Place’s land to be rezoned for this proposed development.

Your community was hit hard by the former repression, and now BlowHard approaches community members offering them work – if, and only if, they will work on further defiling their Sacred Place. BlowHard manages to hire some community members, and with slick and expensive media campaigns is busily convincing the mainstream public that your community supports the Faithy project and that it will create jobs for your community members.

What would you do?

Akikodijiwan behind bars

This is what happened to the Anishinabe (Algonquin) who were pushed away from their Sacred Place, Akikodjiwan. Akikodjiwan is comprised of the Chaudière Falls, which were dammed 200 years ago and are inaccessible, and the islands downstream: Albert, Chaudière, and Victoria.  Akikodjiwan was and continues to be a sacred site for the Anishinabe and many other Indigenous Peoples.

Organized religions and some spiritual communities make human-built buildings their places of worship, their Sacred Places. But the Anishinabe and many other Indigenous Peoples identify their sacred sites in nature. They then pray and conduct their ceremonies at these sacred sites, like Akikodjiwan.

The fact that there are no buildings at many Indigenous sacred sites does not make them any less sacred or important than a Temple, Church, Mosque, or Synagogue. The land is just as soaked with prayer at Indigenous sacred sites as it is beneath a sacred building.

With Akikodjiwan, we know hundreds of generations of Indigenous peoples have offered tobacco to the majestic falls, and conducted their ceremonies on the islands downstream. If anything, the land and waters of Akikodjiwan are far more soaked with prayer than the much younger religious buildings built by settlers.

Anishinabe Elder South Wind (Albert Dumont) has called for support to protect Akikodjiwan. We are all invited to Faith Is Peace: Walk For Our Sacred Site, Akikodjiwan on Friday, June 23, 2017. This is our chance to support Anishinabe elders and activists seeking the return of their sacred site.

I will be walking in solidarity. With my baby. With all of you. For the future generations of all my relations.

Walk with you then!
Julie

More information​ about the Faith is Peace Walk

23 June 2017 Schedule:
10am: Gather on Victoria Island, at the Booth Street entrance. Prayers and ceremonies.
11am: Walk to Parliament Hill.
12pm (approximately): Reach Parliament Hill, gather for speakers

Call to action: http://albertdumont.com/indigenous-spirituality-is-precious/

“Indigenous roots intertwined and locked as one with settler roots, shoulder to shoulder, we will walk in prayer to the nation’s Parliament Buildings. Together, we will show the world that Indigenous spirituality is real and is as rich with the blessings of Creator as are all the other faiths practised by the citizenry who make up the population of Canada.”

Website: http://albertdumont.com/faith-is-peace-walk/

FB event to share share share: https//www.facebook.com/events/1906106689612742

Pictures and media from last year’s It Is Sacred walk: http://www.itissacred.ca/

Gratitude for my Body

Nap Trapped Thoughts: There were times when I felt so broken. I even questioned whether I deserved to live, because it seemed to take so many more resources for me to function. If another person took my place, they would likely thrive on just a fraction of the blessings I needed.

Intellectually I knew this was not a helpful way to look at my situation, but emotionally I felt undeserving.

I’m sure it must have been a hurtful and discouraging message to be sending to my body. There she was, breathing, heart beating powerfully, powering my brain to think these ungrateful thoughts, digesting (even if not to my satisfaction), moving, etc. And yet I was sending the message she wasn’t good enough. Yikes!

I tried to practice gratitude for my body, and self-love, and I do think it helped. But it’s like I was doing this short helpful practice and yet the background thoughts and beliefs were overwhelmingly negative about my body.

I think she noticed.

I continued to spend a lot of energy managing symptoms, rather than on my soul’s purpose, or even on more mundane and practical things, like doing my taxes and tidying my office.

Then I got pregnant. And my baby thrived in my womb.

Then I had an unmedicated birth. And when I held my daughter for the first time, I was in awe of what I had co-created.

She was strong, healthy, beautiful. My body had carried her in an embrace for 9 months. Had been her exclusive source of nourishment. Had then birthed her into the world. And now, as I experienced this awe, gratitude, and love, she started nursing. And so my body again was nourishing her.

If my body was capable of co-creating this wonderful young creature, then that was proof I was in fact whole, healthy, and strong. And if my body could create this healthy creature, then surely she could recreate herself as a healthy creature.

And so I’m excited about the Dynamic Neural Retraining System (DNRS) I’m doing right now.

Awe. Gratitude. Love. Perhaps all my body needs is to feel that to heal. To be treated with kindness and gratitude, and to tone down the stress response. To be allowed to be relaxed, and spend more time in the “Rest & Digest” state instead of in “Fight or Flight.”

Thank you, body.

For everything.

Shine,
Julie

Non-Violent Communication: Lesson for Business

I’m on maternity leave and massively in debt thanks to my PhD. I also love Mother Earth. And I have a baby, so of course care about her health and about the planet she will inherit.

And I needed a mop.

Something that wouldn’t just push dirty water around. The cleanliness of my floor had suddenly become more important since my baby spends so much time on it!

In fact, having a baby brought housework into the foreground. I now have more to clean, and less time to clean. Being sanitary is more important, but without using toxic cleaning products.

A friend invited me to her Norwex party, and there, along with other Cool Things, was a mop that sounded too good to be true! It cleans without any floor cleaner. Just water. Thanks to the microfiber it is made of.

I consider myself to be a very conscientious shopper. I know that every dollar I spend on something tells its manufacturer, “Yes! I like that! Do it again.” For obvious reasons, this means I don’t buy plastic toxic crap made in sweatshops.

So I fired a bunch of tough questions at the Norwex Independent Consultant running the party, and was impressed by her good work in getting answers. One thing lead to another, and suddenly… I became a Norwex Independent Consultant, too!

After the initial mop and Enviro Cloth euphoria (“I can clean anything with Norwex microfiber and plain water! I am UNSTOPPABLE!!”), it dawned on me I had my own small eco-business. And that I had to Do Stuff to make sales. The products are excellent. But no one will buy any of they don’t know about them.

To encourage performance, Norwex clearly subscribes to dangling tantalizing carrots instead of using a stick. It works. I did not have to hit my first sales target, but I really really wanted to. Because then I would get free products which I either use myself or can offer to customers, which helps build my business.

But with a baby and a late start, I did not set myself up for success. There was not enough lead time before my launch party. Both the in-person and online versions flopped. Following up was slowly working, but it was now noon of the day my orders were due, and I was not even close.

A delightful and gregarious friend had been away during my launch party, and had just gotten home. She cares about me, loves Mother Earth, so I figured she would love the Norwex gear and be keen to buy some and host a party. Voila! Problem solved.

I kept working my other leads, but really I just wanted to meet up with her.

But she was busy, and I felt the clock ticking. My partner was out, and my baby not terribly cooperative about Mommy’s business.

Finally we met at 7:30pm. And she was not interested. At. All.

It was rather awkward and icky for a few moments as we navigated the fact I’d had an expectation of her that she was not willing to meet.

We were both honest about it. And I took a deep breath and reminded myself about my (albeit brief) training in non-violent communication (NVC).

Besides healthier and more compassionate communication, the gift of NVC is the shift in perspective. One of the premises of NVC is that the purpose of communication is to meet our needs. A source of conflict is when it seems our needs are not being met. A “no,” seems far worse about something I really need, versus something not that important to me.

But the truth is there are usually multiple ways to have our needs met. Suffering comes from thinking only this specific person, or that specific action, will meet our need. When I have an expectation of a specific person, for example, then I’m disappointed if they refuse to meet my need. And they may feel bad, too. But meanwhile, someone else may have been thrilled to meet my need.

And that is exactly what happened that night. In the afternoon, I had flung out a last minute Hail Mary post on FB. Basically, just being honest about what I was trying to achieve with my business that day, and that I would really appreciate it if my friends would check out my website and consider placing an order with me.

And as I talked with my uninterested friend about non-Norwex subjects, other friends were placing orders online.

In the end, I surpassed my goal. And had a lovely visit with my friend, who delighted my baby and regaled me with her adventures while away.

I’m sharing this because I think it’s valuable to remember when we get stressed out and are not thinking clearly that there really are multiple ways our needs can be met.

This is freedom. To ask for what we need, and be delighted by a “yes,” and to know that a “no,” just means a different way or person will say “yes.”

And then we can enjoy the gift of each other’s presence without expectation or disappointment.

AND be UNSTOPPABLE!!

Keep Shining,
Julie

The Little Grief: Losing the Exclusive Relationship of Pregancy

Éléa & me (little grief)I was breastfeeding my 6-day-old daughter, Éléa, side-line (both on our sides) when I was overcome with sadness and love. She is a beautiful, healthy, robust little creature with a hearty appetite, and I could feel the gentle tugs from her nursing. Then she drifted off to sleep, and I thought about how our relationship had already changed since her birth.

For the previous nine months, I held her in a full body embrace. Physically and metaphorically, I held her closer to my heart than I could ever hold anyone.

I will never hold her that close again.

Being her mother will be a profound ongoing lesson that everything changes, and of letting go while still loving fiercely and fully.

But right now I cry and grieve a little for what I had with her. Even though I so wanted to meet her and hold her in my arms. Even though wanting to meet her outside my womb was part of what gave me the strength and determination to push past pain and fatigue and push her into the world.

Before, we were connected by the umbilical cord, and her every need had been met through my body. Now, my breast is the closest thing she has to the warm liquid womb-home she once knew, and this is one way I meet her needs. Another way is by holding her as close as I can.

I realize that motherhood teaches us to be less selfish. My daughter is no longer only “mine.” She can be loved and soothed and cared for by her father and so many other people who love her. By birthing her, I lost the exclusivity of pregnancy. And she gained a whole new world of people and other beings to love and be loved by.

My Little Grief is worth this expanded horizon of love.

Shine,
Julie.

River Dialogue

Dawn on Victoria Island, June 2015. ©juliecomber.comI have a confession.

 

I talk with rivers.

 

 

 

 

Mostly with the Kichi Sipi (Ottawa River) because I live near Britannia Beach and watch the sunsets there, and travel from the west end of Ottawa by bus or bike to downtown. A lot of songs and poems have come to me while I watch the river along the Ottawa Parkway. More recently, I started doing a kind of meditation, especially if I’m on the bus. I ask the River if she has anything to say to me. Is there anything she needs from me? What is my responsibility to her? A river in New Zealand, Whanganui, was just granted legal personhood. So let’s get talking!

It has been an interesting process. One of the recurring messages to me is “drop your ego.” Pretty good advice to a member of a species notorious for hubris. I don’t know if I’m connecting with the spirit of Kichi Sipi or with my own intuition or if this is fantasy, but there is something compelling and I feel I need to share what I’ve been hearing from the River.

Here’s the most recent river poem, that came during the bus ride to a meeting about Akikodjiwan (Chaudière Falls, on the Kichi Sipi in unceded Algonquin territory ) on the morning of 13 September 2015. I asked the River for guidance about this meeting, and how to interact with the people at the meeting in a good way.

Kichi Sipi, what do you say?

look beyond egos
including your own
 
the forces of the false gods of capitalism
are constantly seducing you away
from me
from all other beings on this planet
and into an anthropocentric thrall of technology
 
You ARE a child of the Universe
no less than the trees and the stars
but no MORE than the trees and the stars
no more than any other species on this planet
your species has gained powers undreamed of before you evolved
you need to grow up and wield these powers responsibly
you ARE subject to the same laws of the Universe as everyone else
the same limits of energy and resources this one mother earth can provide
 
you need to connect with your heart
people don’t see me
even when they do see me, stand in me, swim in me
still, some don’t connect to me
don’t truly love me
they are somewhere else
 

but the heart connects even if your brain is deceived
your heart knows me and the light in everyone

connect. drink the water. you are the water.
and so you are Love.

*******************

Let me know what you think. Do you talk with rivers? If folks are interested, I’m happy to post more of these river dialogues.
Shine,
Julie.

Raspberry Placebo

I gently pick each raspberry with gratitude and with the Intention that the berry will be Medicine. A delicious, natural, side-effect free Medicine for me and anyone else who consumes the raspberries.

I’m taking Dr. Lissa Rankin’s “Take Back Your Health” teleclass, which allows students to go deeper into the Six Steps to Heal Yourself described in Lissa’s bestselling Mind Over Medicine. In the first call of the teleclass, Lissa talked about the placebo-effect. Most of us have heard of placebos, but few of us realize just how exciting the placebo effect is! Its not just something Big Pharma needs to control in their Gold Standard double-blind placebo controlled trials. Its something YOU can harness to potentially avoid Big Pharma’s drugs!

A placebo does not have to be prescribed by a doctor. The healing relationship you have with your doctor, acupuncturist, shaman, or Elder is very important to help any kind of healing strategy to work. And if a doctor lovingly gives you a sugar pill or saline injection, you’re probably off to the healing races! But you can also prescribe your very own placebo to yourself. For Lissa, this is Green Juice. And the more often you take the placebo, the better. The Green Juice is a good example, since Lissa drinks that 4-5 times a day.

In the first call, I was delighted to hear Dr. Anne Davin (Lissa’s co-pilot for the teleclass) speak on Indigenous ways of understanding health & dis-ease. I was so excited, I just had to call in and say so! I had the privilege to interview Algonquin Elder Albert Dumont about Lissa’s book (guest blog post here), and I deeply value Indigenous ways of understanding and healing illness. Albert was ideal to speak with about Lissa’s book because he is living proof we can heal ourselves! Whenever I get discouraged about my symptoms, I just remember that Albert recovered from a broken back, including healing his paralyzed arm that “experts” said he would never move again. With that example in mind, I know anything is possible!

Given the first teleclass talked about placebos, I thought it would be helpful to write a bit about a beautiful suggestion from Albert that I just tried out. Albert told me that according to his tradition, wild berries are very healing. They are Medicine. And a way to make them an even more potent Medicine is to pick the berries as a Ceremony, with the Intention that each berry will be Medicine.

add salt lamp goodness to those berries!If you like the idea of berries as your placebo, here’s what Albert suggested. Go find a patch of wild berries. If laying tobacco down or calling in the four directions is meaningful to you, go for it! And of course you can Pray and set your Intention before you start picking. Then as you pick each berry, stay with that Intention that the berry will be Medicine. Acknowledge everything around you, such as the birds, bugs, plants, and rocks you encounter while picking. Gratitude is the attitude. When you get home with your berry treasure, make jam or freeze them. You can freeze them individually on a cookie sheet, then put them in ziplock bags. Then you can savour a few berries whenever you need your placebo-hit. They are a frozen flavourful healthy alternative to a sugar pill you can take many times a day! And who needs an apple a day when you can have berries many times a day?

To make even more Marvellous Medicine for myself, I combined the raspberry picking with a Ceremony my brother and I do every year to honour the memory of Edna, our beautiful Guyanese nanny whose unconditional love is with us always. We make jam each year, adding a bit of the last year’s batch to the new year’s batch. And so we stay physically and spiritually connected to the last batch of jam she made for us in 2009.

As I sit and write this, I am savouring a few frozen berries. They remind me of that day picking, both under clouds and then under strong sun. They remind me of All My Relations with me then, that Albert told me to acknowledge. The trees, chokecherries, butterflies, flies, thorns, sun, clouds, breeze, and stones. The raspberries remind me of Edna’s unconditional love. Of Albert’s Ceremonies. Of Lissa’s advice. And each raspberry reminds me I will heal.

Keep Shining,
Julie.

Mind Over Medicine: Time to Renew My Prescription!

outside my wooden window. ©juliecomber.com
Beautiful Rupununi just outside my wooden window. ©juliecomber.com

I lay in bed crying, under my mosquito net, one infected knee so swollen and painful I could barely walk, my ear infections aching, small abscesses in my armpits and other places I won’t mention, my guts also feeling unmentionably icky, and covered in a dry irritated and irritating rash. Outside the closed wooden windows was sunlit savannah grass, red dirt trails, countless birds, and the nearby emerald rainforest. And my Rupununi friends. My tears were not due to the physical pain and discomfort, but my frustration of being sick, alone, inside, wondering when I would finally, really, live.

Today’s release of Dr. Lissa Rankin’s new book Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof You Can Heal Yourself prompted me to revisit that dark time. Part of my intense frustration back then was I felt I “got it” about having the power to heal myself, and truly believed in my ability to heal. But I was still sick. Why?

It was October 2011, and I had hit rock bottom with my health. Again. Even in my beloved Guyana paradise. I was finishing up data collection for my PhD in beautiful North Rupununi communities full of beautiful Makushi Amerindian friends who were very concerned about my health. I had my laptop, and the generator happened to be on that day, and the slow satellite Internet was working. So one thing I could do in the dim indoor light was check my email. In sailed Lissa’s Newsletter. I had started following Lissa’s blog on OwnignPink.com because her posts about health really resonated with me. And then I got hooked on her “Inner Pilot Light” daily messages.

When I read the Newsletter about Lissa putting her one-on-one consults on sale, I managed to dig my credit card out of my packsack and paid up. I was an exhausted PhD Candidate out of funding, and not quite sure how I’d pay off my credit card purchase, and I didn’t care. My health was worth it. If I could have figured out on my own how to heal myself, I would have done it already. Time to get help.

I had my phone-consult once I was back in Canada and my doctor had some labwork done beforehand. It was lovely to talk with Lissa, healing vibes just emanated from the phone. I had filled out a very thorough and holistic patient intake form, and Lissa had gone through my labwork, too. It was possible that I had mild hypothyroidism, but more interesting to Lissa was this PhD thang, because it was clearly the source of much of my stress.

“Do you really have to finish your PhD, Julie?” She asked.

Wow. This was a difficult and very important question. Of course I had asked myself this very same question many times before, but there was something about Lissa asking that made me go deeper and be more attentive to my answer. I had lots of reasons why I felt I should keep at it. I felt a sense of duty towards the communities in the Rupununi that I had worked with. I was so close to finishing, how could I stop now? And I felt that the PhD would help me achieve my Dreams.

“OK,” said Lissa, “since you are determined to finish, what if you absolutely knew that for the next four or six or twelve months that it takes you to write this Thesis, you’d have these symptoms you described. And as soon as you finish, you will heal. Would you still want to work on it until you finish?”

“Yes!”

The rest of the consult focused on what to do so I would be able to finish my PhD and still be happy and healthy. The final step was for me to write my own Prescription – and act on it! So that was my introduction to The Prescription, which you can now read all about in Mind Over Medicine.

As a recovering scientist (my first MSc is in genetics; Yes, folks, I know how to wield a pipette), I appreciate Lissa’s careful and thorough review of the scientific literature on our ability to heal ourselves. As someone with chronic allergic and digestive illnesses that I knew in my bones, in my soul, could not be fixed with a pill, I appreciate her message that yes, oh yes, we can heal. From almost anything.

In the third part of Mind Over Medicine, you learn how to write your own Diagnosis by answering a series of questions. These are the same questions I filled out in my patient intake form for my one-on-one with Lissa. Then, you write your Prescription. While your Prescription may include following your doctor’s conventional medical prescriptions, it will likely include holistic changes that will bring about the relaxation response, which will allow your body to heal. A key thing is to have unshakable belief you can heal, just like Algonquin Elder Albert Dumont had when he healed his paralyzed arm (Albert is a poster boy for self-healing!).

I dug up my Prescription from January 2012, and had things like “take one day off a week for my music and writing”, “eat more veggies and diversify the kinds of veggies by juicing”… and “commit to getting my Thesis deposited by 31 August 2012.”

Ouch. Its May 2013, and guess what I am still working on?!

While it does not make me particularly happy to own up to the fact I have not kept some key commitments to myself, perhaps my story may be helpful for others to hear. I still have nagging illnesses and fatigue, and I will write more in a future post about my ongoing conversations with my immune system (AKA my Inner Warrior) and my work to re-program my subconscious mind.

For now, three tips to get the maximum benefit from Lissa’s fabulous book:

  1. Once you write your Prescription, act on it!!!
  2. Make sure your Prescription is written down and posted where you can see it.
  3. Be honest with yourself if it is not working for you. If you are still sick, did you really follow your Prescription? If you did, does it need to be revised?

The next best thing to a consult with Lissa is her book. Whether you’re sick and know you can heal, or are healthy and want to stay that way, Mind Over Medicine is the best medicine! An now, I have my own Prescription to renew…

fire danceKeep Shining Bright,
Julie.

 

You can get Mind Over Medicine online, and it was launched in bookstores on 7 May. To learn more about Dr. Lissa Rankin and her work, go to http://lissarankin.com.

Do you have stories about self-healing? What do you think about our power to heal ourselves? Please share your comments!

PowerShifting from the Heart

Nothing crystallizes your resolve to make the world a better place quite like cradling a newborn.

Holding my niece for the first time made me think of how different the world is now compared to when I was born. So much beautiful land has been lost. Including land right here in Ottawa, that I fought to protect, which has been destroyed for short-term profit. My niece will not be able to play in the forests her Dad and I loved so much. At the global level, hundreds of species have been lost since I was the size of my niece. There is so much inequity, injustice and suffering for humans and other sentient beings. And underlying so much of this loss of biodiversity and beauty is Climate Change.

Then I sang the lullaby I wrote for her, “All Your Relations Love You”. The song is about interconnectedness and being a beloved part of a the biotic community, of the more-than-human world. It also shows how we can move forward: with Creativity. With Beauty. With Courage. With Humility. With Love.

My niece is one example of someone who helps remind me of my purpose. For you, perhaps it helps to hold in mind the image of someone you love, a place you love, a community you love. And when you feel yourself straying in this world of information-overload and distraction, go back to that image. Better yet, ground yourself in the presence of that which you love. Then expand that sphere of love ever outwards to encompass this whole precious blue and green Earth.

Including other species within our sphere of moral concern is part of what I’ll speak about on the not to be missed PowerShift Panel “Starving Injustice, Hungry for Change: How Climate Change Impacts Food Systems, and Pathways Towards Solutions“. I’m so excited to learn from my fellow Panelists! Devlin Kuyek of GRAIN will explore the global scale impacts of food systems on climate change, and how in turn, our food system is impacted by climate change. Chris Bisson will dig into how we can build resiliency through permaculture at a local level. And I’ll speak about what Industrial Animal Production reveals about the human relationship with other species and our effort to combat climate change. We’re on at 11:30am on October 27th, in Desmarais 1110.

It is love that fuels our fight against climate change. It is love for my niece, for All My Relations, that moves me to care beyond my own brief existence on this planet, to care about more than my own immediate wants and needs. Love fuels the Action. It is opportunities like PowerShift 2012 that help us learn how to make our Actions effective.

That’s why I’m going to PowerShift. How about you?

Keep Shining,
Julie.

Falling Feathers: Pick Them Up and Fly Again

As the feather falls, my heart falls. The pain and sorrow of Algonquin Grandmother Louise Wawatie and her brother Joseph, in a video of them just released from prison, radiates off the screen. They were imprisoned for 8 days, and the Land they stood up for has been logged in the meantime.

While I suppose it is fitting they were released on International Day for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the fact they were arrested at all and held for so long is proof Canada has a long way to go when it comes to respecting Indigenous Rights.

Louise and Joseph were arrested on charges of mischief and breaking an injunction forbidding them from protesting the clear-cut logging by Resolute Forestry Products near Lac Poigan. They both refused conditions of bail, asserting their sovereign rights over their unceded territory where Resolute continues to clear-cut. The sister and brother were held in Maniwaki, Quebec, until this morning when they appeared in court and were released. The video of Joseph explaining the conditions of his release means he can’t even go home, and of Louise dropping the feathers, were shot outside the courthouse.

Louise’s brother, Jacob (Mowegan) Wawatie explains that “the meaning of the feathers falling is: Who is going to stand up for the collective nation that walks upon Mother Earth? This Grandmother is calling to all Nations to stand for the future generations. It is for the world of the future and may the youth of this world voice their own destiny.”

While our hearts sink to see Elders treated with disrespect, and to see beautiful Land destroyed, this is a call to action, not to wallow in despair. The feathers must be picked up, and we must fly together to a future where we live in harmony with the rest of Creation, a future where we can each flourish.

Will you answer this call and stand up for future generations? One small but important step: share the video and Louise’s message, far and wide.

Keep Shining,

Julie

Note: see this post for more background, and a video illustrating why they sought to protect this Land.