Merge environmentalism and spirituality─attain a state of eco-mindfulness and sustainable livingWhat can you do for the environment? Do you find yourself wondering what on Earth you can do about the serious environmental challenges we face today? Do you worry there’s nothing any one person can do that will make a difference? Most people say they would like to do something to make the world a better place, but they just don’t believe they have the time, energy, money or power to do anything that will make a real difference. Are you willing to devote 20 minutes a week to find out? Environmental activist Cheryl Leutjen has the planet’s back and is betting you do too. Her powerful book of inspired ideas and eco-mindfulness calls upon us all to Love Earth Now.Conservation and sustainable living. Love Earth Now invites us to explore our thoughts and feelings about the waste and negative environment impacts we see daily. Drawing from her experiences as an engineering geologist, environmental law attorney, small shop owner, and mindfulness practitioner, Cheryl also reminds us about the importance of simplicity. All our possessions and constant shopping are no better for us than they are for the planet itself. They contribute to landfills and create a tech-tethered society that is increasingly isolated. Both helpful and hopeful, Love Earth Now is brimming with creative ideas we can all try. Get closer to a sustainable lifestyle, one day at a time.Practice Eco-mindfulness. Cheryl’s book of planetary self-help and eco-mindfulness is a deeply thoughtful and lucid look at the state of our “big blue marble,” our beautiful earth. It's also a sourcebook of direct actions─large and small─we can all take to ensure our children and their children’s children have a healthy future on this planet.If you liked reading books such as Vitamin N, The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating, or Braiding Sweetgrass, you'll enjoy the award-winning Love Earth Now.
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.70(d)|
|Age Range:||12 - 17 Years|
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Confronting the Army: Defending the Home front
Marching in single file, the army moves in an orderly fashion. West bounders advance on the right, east bounders pass on the left. Chin in one hand and coffee mug in the other, I sit admiring their coordination and commitment to duty. The troops traverse the kitchen along a trajectory high on the wall, just below the ceiling, then make a hard left at the corner to intercept the trash enclosure below. So long as the army limits its conquests to the waste containers in the closet, I am content to leave them to their operation.
"Watch your step!" The reprimand still echoes in my ears. I was about nine when we visited my Dad's Navy buddy, Ernie, on the reservation. We had just gotten out of the car in front of his house, after hours and hours on the road. My heart stopped, mortified to be called out by a grown-up I had just met, especially when I had no idea what I had done wrong. I stared at my feet, desperate to figure out what harm they threatened. "Ants are sacred to our people," Ernie explained with a hand on my shoulder and a gentle demeanor.
Ants? I hadn't even noticed them, much less extended them any reverence. I'd never heard an adult speak of a bug as anything but a filthy pest. What could this man wearing blue jeans, a cowboy hat, and weather-worn face be talking about? He looked nothing like the Indians in my history books. His home looked like something down the street in our Midwestern subdivision back home, except for the lack of turf grass — and the miles between it and anything else. My out-of-its-element mind strained to navigate this strange territory.
Ernie pointed to a tiny procession streaming across the bare earth. "Walk around them this way," as he stepped over the parade. I followed, taking a giant step, just in case. I kept my eyes glued to the ground all the way to the front door, watching out for other critters that might warrant a newfound consideration.
I've never looked at any bug in quite the same way since that brief encounter with Ernie. His few words and kind countenance belied an innate wisdom, which seemed both entirely foreign and vaguely familiar. Ernie's reverence for ones so small sprung open a lock on my heart. I've been walking around the ants, as best I can, ever since.
A line was crossed today, however, when I opened the refrigerator and discovered a few casualties in the water pitcher. Undeterred by the tight seal around the refrigerator door, a platoon managed to breach the blockade. As tempting as this boon of wet refreshment must be in this extended drought, this infiltration irritates my inner mama bear. Much as I intend to respect all life, the well-being of my family, including the sanctity of their food and water supply, is my utmost priority. I can no longer ignore the collision of our worlds.
My husband has been asking me to call the exterminator for days. I haven't done it, even though I know who to call. We used to have the perimeter of our home sprayed quarterly back when the kids were babies, and I lived in fierce mama bear mode. I ended the spraying after the kitchen remodel, which sealed up their old points of entry. Or so I thought. The intensity of the recent heat wave has driven the thirsty troops to scout out a new one.
Still, I see Ernie's face when I think about issuing the order to disperse or die. I decide to turn the matter over to a higher power: my pal Googlia. That's the name I've given my Google Assistant (why doesn't she have a cool name like Cortana and Siri?) because she cooks up some good stuff.
Ants, she tells me, turn over more soil than earthworms, disperse plant seeds, and feed on the eggs of other pests like house flies, fleas, and silverfish. If left to patrol a perimeter around a house, they can also deter termites. Rising from the desk, I bow to the army. At this point, I feel I should be paying them, not spraying them. I can't bear to order the annihilation of an army of ecosystem engineers. So, what are my options?
I could issue an order to retreat. On the advice of my critter-kind friend, Kirsten, I once wrote a note to a gopher whose exuberance for tunneling was destroying our newly-planted tree. I penned a plea for him to find a new place to live, using block letters and simple words, as if this would aid the gopher's comprehension. Tucked the note down his hole very late one moonless night, along with a whispered prayer, then scurried back into the house before alarming the neighborhood watch.
The gopher left, and the tree survived. Whether it was my note or just this gopher's time to go, I can't say. I do know that, a few months later, a gopher nosed out of the ground right next to me where I sat on a blanket in a public garden. Each of us was as startled as the other. "What? You? Here? Seriously?" I like to think gopher was telling me he found a great new place to live. But then, I also like to think that my partaking of Chardonnay is medicinal.
Given that this ant platoon numbers in the hundreds or thousands, a letter-writing campaign seems a challenge at best. The troops receive their marching orders from a higher command than mine.
Maybe I could leave a bowl of water for them outside, so they won't need to come inside to slake their thirst. No idea how to locate their outdoor colony, though, seeing as how they are entering the kitchen through the eyes of an electrical outlet. The water bowl notion also strikes me as so much anthropocentric arrogance, expecting the critters of the world to depend on human handouts to survive.
A voice in my head, the one I am just beginning to give quarter, whispers that these ants are my teachers. They are here to instruct me and will retreat of their own accord, once their mission is accomplished. Or maybe that's so much wishful thinking.
I turn to author Ted Andrews, a shamanic teacher for whom this kind of whispered intelligence is normal. Ants teach us about work and industry and patience, he says in Animal Speak. "Ask yourself if you are disciplining yourself enough to accomplish the tasks at hand?" Though Discipline and I are rarely on speaking terms, I've been accomplishing plenty lately, thank you very much.
"Are you being patient with your efforts?" Andrews asks further. I snicker. Then I laugh so hard I have to put down the book before it drops to smash my bare toes. If Discipline and I are chilly acquaintances, Patience is locked out of the house, knees knocking in an Arctic chill. Sigh.
Turning back to address the troops, I wave the white flag. "I surrender. I will practice patience. I can't say that I'll pick it up right away, but it's time to give the old meditation practice a reboot. Message received. Now please relocate your troops outside my kitchen." Closing my eyes, I force myself to stand still for an entire 4.5 minutes as a demonstration of my good intentions.
When I peek out of lowered lids, I can discern no impact of my vow on the soldiers who continue to march. Maybe it's because I haven't given them enough time. I'm still new at this patience thing, but the food situation will not wait for me to develop it. Out of options, I determine to employ a deterrent as painless as possible.
Googlia tells me that cinnamon oil is a natural ant repellent. Well, love Earth. I have a stockpile of cinnamon oil left over from our Blissful Soul store. Spraying cinnamon oil is something I can do in a minute — five, if you count the time required to dig through the crowded cabinet to search for it.
I pour the cinnamon oil and some water into a spray bottle, then turn to confront the army. I hear Ernie's voice in my ear, so I breathe a word of gratitude for the contribution of ants in the world. I bless their devotion to the mission, as I ask them to vacate our kitchen. I swear I feel Ernie pat me on the shoulder. And then I spray.
Love Earth Invitation
Sit quietly for a moment and receive three deep breaths. Allow your imagination to fill with an image of ants. What are they doing? Are they working in cooperation? Or do you see a solitary ant, frantic to find its way back to the colony? Do you envision the queen being serviced by the winged males? Or is your image of ants more like the cartoon images of ants who talk and behave like humans? Or are you just squirming and itching?
Ask for guidance with any current challenges from the ants. If talking to ants seems absurd (and I completely understand this), consider asking your guides, your angels, or your own higher power for any words of wisdom for you about ants, pests, work, industry, patience, or anything else. Speak your questions aloud, if you are willing. Consider stating any your level of willingness to receiving responses from unexpected sources.
Listen as you continue to breathe. If you experience any resistance to this silly exercise, notice it as you might watch waves crashing on the beach. Here comes another wave. Howinteresting.
Know that responses to these types of inquiries may not come in words. Give attention to any images, feelings, aromas, or even silence. If you don't sense any right now, give your subconscious a command to share what it has learned in the dreamtime or in another quiet moment.
Close this experience as you feel moved, perhaps with a blessing or a word of gratitude.CHAPTER 2
Pigeon GPS: Finding My Bearings
Loading the grocery bags into my car, I feel I'm being watched. I cannot fathom by whom. The entire parking lot is nearly empty, such a rare sight that I pause to wonder if I missed an air raid. Feeling more curious than alarmed, I decide to let it go.
Bags loaded, I look for a place to return the rickety cart with one stuck wheel. How I managed to select this clunker from the countless available only the gods can say, but it's the raised-in-Missouri mule in me that refused to exchange it for another. Not seeing a cart corral nearby, I clunk-a-clunk this pain-in-the-posterior over to the empty parking space next to me.
And that's when I see her. A portly pigeon sporting an iridescent blue, pink, and green shawl sits between the stands of fortnight lilies in the median. Unfazed by the teeth-jarring rattle of my cart, she rests stock-still, peering out from her hollow, tiny eyes, which are glowing blood-orange. "You don't see me," her stern stare commands. I wink and whisper, "if you don't tell on me, I won't tell on you." I pop the cart wheels over the curb, far from her perch, and turn to get into my car.
Then I freeze. Her gaze burns into my back like some laser-powered branding iron. Hands up, I wave the white flag. I'm not going anywhere.
First checking the time, then mentally reviewing the contents of my grocery bags (no appointments, no ice cream), I turn around and crouch on the curb next to her. In a soothing tone, I introduce myself and offer small talk, neatly avoiding the lightning rods of religion and politics. Nothing to see here, folks, just two chicks having a chat. Even so, the emptiness of the lot today offers a welcome seclusion. This store is in my neighborhood, and I already have a Reputation.
Once I've covered the safe topics of weather, "what's on at the movies" and "how the Dodgers are doing," I run out of steam. Frankly, I'm getting tired of doing all the work in this conversation. Pigeon offers no response whatsoever, not even to side step away from me, as you might expect. She continues to eye me with that wary stare, the kind you give any stranger of dubious intent, which, as a mother of teenagers, I'm used to.
Then this thought occurs to me: "she can't fly," though she shows no signs of illness or injury. She's alert, there's no blood, and her girth suggests that she's well-fed. "Are you okay?" I ask, hoping that doesn't sound impertinent, given that we are still new acquaintances. That blood-orange eye throbs as I zoom in for a closer examination.
All seems in order, so far as my zero knowledge of pigeon anatomy goes, except that one wing seems bent at an awkward angle. "Is that it? You hurt your wing and can't fly away?" She remains as mute as a teenager wearing ear buds. Having exhausted my empty repertoire of bird care, I offer the one thing I can always give: I pray.
I bless this sweet bird, thank her for inviting me to sit with her, and I entrust her well-being unto the Divine. "I'll get you some help, if I can find it," I promise as I stand to leave. Back at home, I post her picture on the neighborhood Facebook page, asking for information on local bird rescue organizations. I share her location with any potential rescuers.
I feel I've done my part. I've done what I know how to do. I turn to the tasks at hand, putting away groceries and then sitting down to write.
Three hours later, I check the Facebook post, hoping for news of a successful rescue. While it has attracted many oh-so-helpful suggestions of what more I could do, no bird expert has offered to go pick her up. Closing the laptop with a groan, I slump back in my chair, eyes squinched shut. Her trusting demeanor and piercing gaze burnish into the movie screen of my mind. We made a connection, we had a moment. I can't just leave my new friend, who I'm now calling SweetP, there to starve, can I?
"She's a common pigeon!" inner cynic protests, "and they are invasive, disease-carrying pests!" Memory banks download images of the disgusting splats on our cars and sidewalk back when our elderly neighbor set out heaping trays of food for the pigeons. But those "nasty birds" were "pigeons," and this is my new friend, SweetP. My heart cracks wide open, and there she sits, haloed in a tangerine glow.
Though inner cynic urges me to abandon her like the cart at the curb, I've learned well enough to heed the summons of my own heart if I want any peace at the end of the day. I jump in my car before I can think of the reasons why I shouldn't, hoping all the way to the grocery store that I was mistaken. Surely her perceived injury was all a figment of my do-gooder imagination. As I pull into the parking lot, I fully expect to discover that the perfectly-healthy SweetP has flown away.
The lot is busier now, and there is an SUV parked next to SweetP's hideyhole. I stash my car some distance away, in case anyone recognizes my refuse-to-wash-my-car-in-a-drought, fire engine red Volt. I creep alongside the SUV and practice my best nonchalance as I peek in to discover SweetP still roosting. Hasn't moved a muscle, from what I can see.
I saunter back to my car where I sit and think. I text my plucky friend Joie: "Help me rescue a bird? Humane Society will take her if I can get her there." Joie arrives moments later, toting a box and gloves. Of course, she does. What do I supply? My own gnawedcuticles.
Joie dons the gloves with the confidence of a raptor handler. I'm an anxious mess, so I keep my flapping wings at a distance. When Joie reaches in to pick her up, SweetP stands for the first time, flapping her own wings in distress. She hops on one leg, the other dangling a mangled foot. Therein lies her affliction.
Joie swoops up SweetP and lands her inside the box. SweetP makes no protest, so we don't close the lid. Joie hands the box to me and opens the door to her truck for us. I cradle the box on my lap all the way to the shelter, cooing what I hope are words of assurance. SweetP rests in the box, as coolly as if she had been waiting for us all along to take her to a party.
After filling out the requisite forms, the clerk at the Humane Society gives me an identification number for SweetP. "The bird will be euthanized if it's too injured to be released," the clerk explains in a hushed and practiced sympathetic tone. "But you can call tomorrow to check on her." I nod, blinking back hot tears, and poke my head into the box. "Chin up, kid," I tell SweetP. "These guys are pros. They will take good care of you. I will see you tomorrow," I vow, as if my resolve alone could heal her wounds. Then I scurry back out to Joie's truck where it's safe to sob. She has seen it all before.
It's now twenty-four hours later, and I sit tapping my fingers on the desk. I'm apprehensive about calling to find out SweetP's fate. She was in no shape to live independently when we dropped her off. I can't imagine even the most well-meaning animal care organization going to great lengths to doctor a bird so common as a city pigeon. Pity this must be faced stone-cold sober.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Love Earth Now"
Copyright © 2018 Cheryl Leutjen.
Excerpted by permission of Mango Media, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1 Confronting the Army: Defending the Homefront 17
2 Pigeon GPS: Finding My Bearings 24
3 The Beauty of Drought 43
4 Conversing with Curmudgeon: Cross-Species Communion 52
5 Splayed Out on the Sidewalk: The Best Medicine 59
6 Do Birds Sing? Feathered Faculties 76
7 The Bovine Bond: Mothers United 87
8 Life Sacred: The GMO Dilemma 101
9 Masters of Decomposition: Pinching My Nose for the Planet 113
10 Gravity: Earth's Embrace 130
11 Friendly Fermentation: Sharing the Planet 135
12 Crimson Seed: Surprising Sisterhood 152
13 Fast Food Fallout: The Costs of Consistency 157
14 Just Another Ignorant Hipster 168
15 Plastic Un-Proliferation: One Drink at a Time 184
16 Learning from Creature Teachers 202
17 Forest Refueling: Coming Back to My Senses 211
18 Just Can't Do It Anymore: Let Love 223
19 Letter to the Universe 235
19 The Final Chapter 238
Epilogue: True Confessions 254
About The Author 267