Eco-Grief & Eco-Anxiety. Help For A New Reality.

12 Jan

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Eco-grief is the grief felt in response to experienced or anticipated ecological loss. Eco-anxiety is a chronic fear of environmental doom. Creeping environmental changes are now cascading ahead at a catastrophic pace and have been rightly upgraded to a climate emergency. 

When our senses are inundated with a torrent of news, filled with the horror and sadness of global disasters, sensitive people begin to wobble and topple.

Scientists are telling us “like it is.” We need to listen. Dire warnings, horrific natural disasters, death, displaced people, species extinction, rising seas, soaring temperatures, extreme drought, diminished air quality, degradation of waterways and raging bushfires destroying trees, homes, animals, people and even those saving the people, are becoming more and more commonplace.

Even when it’s not us experiencing terror, fear, anger and trauma from injury, loss and damage to lives, property and livelihoods first-hand, second-hand it has the potential to flood us with helplessness. This can cause feelings of grief, anxiety, despair and panic which can overwhelm and dull our ability to act. The more we see planet Earth going to hell in a handcart, the more emotional distress we are going to feel. The social impact will make our hearts ache. We need balance. The media needs to communicate facts to make us care, rather than cause panic. We need to research positive news stories, search for kindness and gather as much information as we can to find out what we can do that’s helpful.

We didn’t expect to begin 2020 with Australia, our neighbour, burning. Areas that aren’t burning are choking from the smoke. Over a billion animals have already died horribly in those fires. And what about the frogs and bees and other insects? Maybe now their climate denial PM will stop selling cheap coal to China and India? The least we can do is to embrace this new reality. We need to wake up and quit avoiding the demise. We need to take more self-responsibility to change what we can. We need to help one person, one cause or donate to help many. Then we need to question and demand business, societal and political change.

If you’re upset, know that it’s okay. Validate your feelings, know that we are all in this together in this world and if you are suffering, reach out and get help expressing and normalising difficult feelings. Part of the solution is to take action. Action counteracts hopelessness. Below are some of my ideas to encourage action.

  • Look at humanities better traits. Who is working to fix things? Read articles like this one from Skip Spritzer and learn more about climate change and disrupted eco systems.
  • Keep being self-responsible. Make many changes. This is the time to turn me into we and think of the greater good of the planet.
  • Find even more ways to be mindful of your impact, like how you use and produce food, water, and energy. Read this brilliant article by Jonathan Foley.
  • Learn from people trained to deal with long term catastrophes. The world is full of passionate people. Policy makers. Climate researchers. Trauma researchers. Infrastructure experts. Mental health workers. Animal welfare specialists.
  • Every problem requires different solutions. Try to pick one or two that resonate the most with you.
  • Practise mindfulness and meditation and bear witness to both joy and suffering and help build your emotional strength and resilience.
  • Empathy leads to right action. It encourages and motivates us to become a part of the solution. If you can’t do it alone join a group.
  • Sign petitions. Write letters. Donate if you’re in a position to.
  • Speak up and question business practices that could be improved.
  • Vote with your dollars. Food is a good starting place where personal action can impact the planet.
  • Inspire social change and follow accounts that do.

Is it time to give up? I say a big fat NO. Get therapy to grieve healthily, reduce anxiety and keep hope in your heart. And this one I love – Find a way to be a force of good.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tis the Season. Will it Be Sensational or Stink?

7 Dec

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Many Christmas’s in my life and yours too I imagine, have been so amazing, filled with love and tinsel, a sparkly stream of fabulous family, amazing food, children’s squeals, handmade goodies, laden Christmas trees, thoughtful presents, shared stories, goofy games and loud laughter.

Some are sensational and some are far from it. Some are just stink.

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Brooches from SewEmSew

There are many reasons why some homes, some years, overflow with seasonal joy, and others not so much. Life can occasionally just fall apart at the seams. Illness, loss, geographical distance, natural disasters, conflicted family, depression, dementia, stress, divorce, addiction, lack of finances, not having a home, you name it, some years have it. People we love die and we miss them terribly. Grief can slide the glitter and magic right off the season.

Another thing that makes it stink, is people who just can’t help piling on a bit of pressure, mixed in with a dose of projected disappointment and righteous expectation, telling people how they should do Christmas and why. Trying to control what other people should do or say, or eat or not, or where they should go or who they should visit is never a good idea.

Here’s what to do if that happens to you: Continue reading

50 Reflective End of Year Family Questions.

3 Dec

How about introducing a new self reflective ritual into your family? As the year winds down it’s the perfect time to choose an evening or afternoon to gather together and consider things like: How was the past year? What worked and what did not work so well? What do I want to create in the year to come? 

Set the scene, make some popcorn, pour your drinks, ditch all interruptions and distractions and choose one person to ask the questions. Each one of you gets to answer one question as best as you can, without discussion, feedback, justification or defence, and then you move onto the next question. The rules are to listen and speak with respect, kindness and honesty. It’s not the time to judge or argue. Afterwards feel free to make notes for yourself and then, if you want, open it up to a great discussion and planning session for the upcoming year.

  1. What was the best day of your year?
  2. What was the worst or hardest day?
  3. What’s your fondest memory from the year?
  4. What filled you with wonder and delight?
  5. What if anything, may have consistently angered you this year?
  6. What do you wish had never happened?
  7. Name something that went really well.
  8. Name something that could’ve gone better.
  9. Who do you wish you could’ve spent more time with?
  10. Who do you wish you could’ve spent less time with?
  11. What is the best thing about being part of this family?
  12. What goals did you set at the beginning of the year that you achieved?
  13. Which goals didn’t you achieve that you still might like to?
  14. What was the nicest thing you remember anyone saying about you?
  15. Did you make any mistakes that in turn taught you something?
  16. Are there any areas where you feel stuck?
  17. What might you need help with?
  18. Which world culture is the most fascinating to you right now?
  19. What’s your best quality or super power?
  20. What has challenged you in the world of social media?
  21. How you feel about the boundaries you have set for yourself around screen time?
  22. What habits would you like to break?
  23. What might you need to do in order to take better care of yourself?
  24. What acts of kindness did you show towards others this year?
  25. Who was especially kind to you?
  26. What are you most proud of having done emotionally this year?
  27. What are you most proud of achieving physically this year?
  28. What have you longed for lately?
  29. What was your biggest achievement this year?
  30. What did you do creatively that you loved?
  31. What boundary did you set with yourself that you feel proud of?
  32. What boundary did you set with others that you’re proud of?
  33. What’s your biggest regret this year?
  34. What has caused you the most sadness?
  35. Is there anything you think you should/could let go of?
  36. Name someone you look up to.
  37. If you couldn’t fail, what might you attempt?
  38. What country would you most like to visit next?
  39. What skill or talent did you learn or master?
  40. What would you like to be better at?
  41. What might you need to do in order to be better at that?
  42. What would you like us to do to help you with that?
  43. What was the most delicious meal you ate all year?
  44. If you could pick something you would love to have made for you, what would you like?
  45. If you could have dinner with anyone in the world who would it be?
  46. Who would you especially like to thank this year?
  47. What is your favourite family tradition?
  48. What’s your best quality?
  49. What do you wish we understood better about you?
  50. If we could wave a magic wand and wish you the best year ever for yourself next year, what sorts of things might you wish for?

Continue reading

Why are Some Homes Predictably Unpredictable?

27 Nov

When a parent is addicted to a substance, home life is often tense and unpredictable, and family members may either try to deny the addicts behaviour, make excuses for it, or attempt to control or stop it. For the one choosing to drink or drug, it’s hard to maintain rewarding healthy connections and be emotionally available.

So much time and energy gets gobbled up trying to either recover, obtain, use, and/or try to keep it secret. Addiction messes with mood and sleep and has personal, social, financial, health, relationship and even legal consequences. 

If one or both parents are emotionally or physically unavailable long term, children can develop a fear of abandonment and learn that holding onto toxic relationships is better than being alone. Drinking and/or drugging is also so boring to grow up around. When the “substance” of choice is the priority, the child isn’t, and that reaffirms their sense of  not really being worthy enough to get to know, listen to, learn about or have an in-depth relationship with.

Growing up around addiction, kids have to guess at what normal is. They are more subjected to chaos and Continue reading

To Judge or Not To Judge, That is The Question.

20 Nov
Art Credit – https://nikkimiles.design/

Judge away. Everyone judges, it’s an automatic process. A part of our brain called the amygdala works out trustworthiness in a flash, giving us a a gut feeling which then mixes in with a jumble of thoughts and flashes of life experience, and just like that, the foundation for our unique, perceptual lens of reality, informs our decisions.

So if we think about our judgements as super-personalised opinions rather than facts or universal truths, a little discernment may be needed before they fully inform our decision making. It’s helpful to bring our unconscious into mindful conscious focus. We could invite the observer self in and be curious about what we say, how we say it and why we say it. For instance, if we’re in the habit of expressing overly strong opinions/judgements that leave little room for others to have or share their own experience, it could be time to learn to choose more neutral descriptions. Or we might need to express things in a way that puts more personal ownership onto our observations. It might require us to decide which judgements are worthy of acting on and which are better to trash or transform? Consider if sharing them is kind? Necessary? Or could we instead emotionally investigate Continue reading

Don’t Fight Crocodiles in a Swamp.

11 Nov

I’m sure I’m not alone in observing negative behavioural changes in society, online and in the media. What appears to be happening is that it’s getting more divided and extreme, and that voicing outrage and unleashing opinions, bitter criticism and malice towards others is becoming a new normal. What I would like to question is, are we unconsciously being encouraged or forced to accept bullying as normal rather than challenging systems that allow it?

Nearly every episode of the Block NZ 2019 was uncomfortable to watch, because of bullying, and at times triggered people with trauma, so I still feel compelled to write about it. Writing about it at the time would have been like fighting a crocodile in a swamp and I didn’t fancy myself being swallowed whole by those who thought the targets deserved it. The bullying was overt and mostly unchallenged, and we the viewers, whether we liked it or not, were put in a “bystander” position, powerless to stop it; which further perpetuates the acceptability of bullying and inevitably, yet again, it becomes even more embedded in our culture as the norm. 

It’s reality tv you might say. Why even watch it? Because Continue reading

The Super Blood Wolf Moon.

20 Jan

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Art by Neal Sutton.

In New Zealand, Monday morning, at 12.16am the moon eclipses while the sun is in Aquarius and the moon is in Leo. 

I like to try to research what this might mean and come up with a simplistic version that gives a little direction to those of us interested in personal transformation. Whilst we won’t be able to see the total eclipse in this part of the world,  the moon is 15% larger and 30% brighter so we are more likely to feel the power of the moon and the speeding up of change.

It’s the last of five eclipses in Leo that take place that began in February 2017 and end now in January 2019. Something that you may have started two years ago, can come to a close now.

Tonight is a great time to step away from distractions and tune in to your deeper intuition and if you’re so inclined, angel guidance. Questions around major life lessons in the area of our astrological chart that contains Leo can be answered.

The sun and moon make a T-square to the planet Uranus which can bring unexpected opportunities and the possibility of breakthroughs, bringing those a-ha now I get it moments.

Tune in and allow answers to surface around

  • what do I know I have to clear away
  • what do I want to release that no longer serves me
  • what do I wish to move forward into that actually would allow me to live to my full potential?