MOGO Tip: Add Something Good to Your Life

boyroseTo many, making MOGO choices can seem like a lot of “giving up” something — certain foods and clothes, transportation options, stuff, personal products, etc. Living a MOGO life isn’t about deprivation or sacrifice; it is about making choices that do the most good and least harm, and that can sometimes mean making a different choice that involves going without something we used to do or have. And sometimes, we become focused on getting rid of destructive products and choices and on “giving up” more harmful habits.

In living a healthy, balanced MOGO life, it’s also important to ADD positive things to our lives — things that bring us balance and joy and meaning. Whether that means spending more time in nature, taking time to pursue a hobby, connecting more with friends and loved ones, pursuing a spiritual practice, volunteering for worthy causes, or sharing what we’ve learned with others, focusing on adding good to our lives is just as important a part of MOGO (if not more important) than ridding ourselves of harmful choices.

Lately, my husband and I have been more focused on adding “good” to our lives – to doing more that’s positive, healthy, and restorative, and less that’s stressful, lacking in meaning and not aligned with our values. Recently we’ve started a new experiment: we choose one positive thing that we want to add to our lives and do it every day for 30 days for at least 10 minutes a day.

My husband, John, chose drawing, something that he loved to do when he was younger and has longed to begin again. I chose practicing my guitar, something I’ve managed to alternately pursue briefly and neglect excessively for many years. We were only successful with the experiment for the first 11 days of March…and then my mom came to visit; we’ve postponed our efforts until next month. But, in the 11 days that we did the experiment, both of us found a great deal of joy and fulfillment in just those 10 minutes a day. We hope to add something new and positive to our lives each month for the rest of year, and then to reflect on how we’ve changed, and whether our lives are more joyful and values-aligned. Some of my future planned experiments include yoga (for health), bicycling (for the health of me and the planet), writing emails to legislators and policy-makers (to practice my citizen activism), and exploring the natural world (to help remind me why I work so hard to live a MOGO life and encourage others to do the same).

Of course, there are a lot of ways to add something new and MOGO to your life, so consider what healthy, sustainable, restorative, positive, life-affirming MOGO action you could take. You could try the 30 days/10 minutes experiment, or something else that better resonates with you.

If you’re considering taking on a significant life change and need some major support (in addition to the friends and family around you), you might consider using a tool like First 30 Days. I ran across this website recently, and it has tips and support for dealing with the first 30 days of all sorts of changes, from managing a disease to adopting a pet (or child) to living better in all sorts of ways. You can even sign up to get a tip a day sent to your email inbox.

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Mark Your Calendar: Jeffrey Masson at Powell’s April 3

faceonyourplateWell-known for diving into the depths of animal emotions in books such as Dogs Never Lie About Love, When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals, and The Pig Who Sang to the Moon: The Emotional World of Farm Animals, author Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson has a new book out this month that focuses on who ends up on our plates and the consequences of eating them.  Heralded by one reviewer as “Intelligent, absorbing and very easy to digest, this is an essential book for any person who thinks and/or eats,” The Face on Your Plate: The Truth About Food (W.W. Norton, 2009) examines the health, environmental and spiritual impacts of industrial agriculture and of eating animals.

Masson will be appearing at Powell’s (1005 W. Burnside) here in Portland, Oregon  on Friday, April 3, at 7:30 pm. Here’s his current book tour schedule.

Earth Hour: A Vote for the Planet (But Not a Very Big One)

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On Saturday, March 28, families, businesses and organizations around the world will be turning out the lights in order to turn on support for the planet. Earth Hour is a campaign, sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund, encouraging people to turn off their lights for an hour, from 8:30 pm – 9:30 pm in their timezone, in order to bring awareness to the importance of our energy (and other environmental) choices and of the crisis issue of climate change. This year, turning off the lights is also being considered a “vote” for the earth (not turning them out is being considered a “vote” for global warming). So far the campaign has more than 2,700 cities and towns in 83 countries participating.  The goal is to get 1 billion people to “vote” by switching off their lights for that hour.

On the one hand, I think that it’s really terrific that so many people are participating in a collective action. I know the folks organizing this are completely serious about it being a major tool for positive change, and I applaud their efforts. Hopefully this worldwide event will inspire families, businesses and policy makers to commit to making significant choices that will help curb climate change and protect the planet.

But, really, the action people are taking is turning off a few lights (and using social media to encourage other people to do so). I worry that the message this sends is that all we have to do to help create a sustainable, just world is a few simple actions, like using less electricity or switching to compact fluorescent bulbs. And, while small steps are an important beginning, it’s important that people become aware that it’s going to take significant positive changes, both in our personal lives, and in society’s systems, in order to have a humane world.

Imagine if 1 billion people signed up to turn off the TV,  computer or radio and volunteer in their communities. Or to take an hour and clean up their streets. Or to take an hour and feed some hungry folks. Or, if 1 billion people agreed to stop eating animal products for 1 day. Or to shop locally. Or to write letters to their lawmakers in support of the 350 policy, or in support of an end to slavery, or any other significant topic.

I’ll be participating in Earth Hour, because I want to be supportive. But, I’ll continue to seek significant MOGO choices that can have a larger positive impact on the planet.

~ Marsha

20 Years After the Exxon Valdez: A Great Time to Kick the Oil Habit

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, reportedly the largest oil spill in U.S. history. Nearly 11 million gallons of oil poured from a gash in the ship’s hull, spreading  out into one of the most pristine and delicate areas of the U.S.: Prince William Sound. The spill eventually covered more than 1,200 miles of coastline, killed millions of animals and devastated numerous communities.

Nature has written an article about the spill, reflecting on the disaster and examining the impact that lingers today, and you’ll find plenty of other media coverage.

People, animals and the planet are still feeling the impact of that spill. What a great reminder that our actions can have enormous and long-lasting consequences. What a great time to pay attention to all the choices we make that involve the use of oil — not just for transportation, but for our food, the products we buy, and so on.

Today, make a list of  all the connections you can think of that your life has to oil. Then brainstorm ways that you can reduce your impact, such as:

  • walking or biking whenever you can
  • eating a plant-based diet
  • using natural alternatives to petroleum products
  • choosing renewable energy options
  • writing your editor, legislators and other people in authority to encourage them to create systems that are sustainable and restorative.

Why support something that can cause enormous suffering and destruction (Iraq War, anyone?), when we can create and use the humane alternatives available to us now, and continue to work for better future alternatives?

~ Marsha

Image courtesy of USGS.

What’s Your Water Footprint?

Sometimes it can be challenging to really get a good sense of how much water we use, especially when we don’t think about all the water it takes to grow our food, create the products we use, and so on. Good Magazine has a great chart that maps out your potential water use and impact throughout the day, from what you eat to how much you use to shower, and do laundry and dishes. The chart also offers a few suggested water savers and notes the amount of water savings.

This is a great tool to use for sparking discussions with loved ones and colleagues about  water use and/or the hidden impacts of our choices.

There’s also a great little online water footprint calculator from H20 Conserve that helps you estimate your water footprint and gives suggestions for reducing your water use. A friend told me about this tool, and she says that her college students are “fascinated with it.”

~ Marsha

(Thanks, Cool People Care, for the heads up about the chart.)

The Quotosphere: It Always Matters…

This one’s on my fridge:

“Your life does matter. It always matters whether you reach out in friendship or lash out in anger. It always matters whether you live with compassion and awareness or whether you succumb to distractions and trivia. It always matters how you treat other people, how you treat animals, and how you treat yourself. It always matters what you do. It always matters what you say. And it always matters what you eat.

“When you choose to affirm the dignity inherent in life and to uphold the beauty, the magic, and the mystery of the living Earth, something happens. It happens whether or not anyone else recognizes your efforts, and it happens regardless of how wounded and flawed you are. What happens is you join the long lineage of human beings who have stood for and helped to bring about a future worthy of all the tears and prayers our species has known. Your life becomes a statement of human possibility. Your life becomes an instrument through which a healthier, more compassionate, and more sustainable future will come to be.”

~ John Robbins (from The Food Revolution)

Celebrate Spring: Connect With the Natural World

Whenever I step into a forest, it’s as if my body and soul give a sigh – as if they know that I’ve come back to who and where I’m supposed to be. The sound of flowing water – especially that of a waterfall – flows through every molecule in me, calming and soothing. Whenever I’m on a hike, I always take a moment to put my hands on a big tree and thank it for being, and to send some of my energy to the tree. I swear that sometimes I can feel it sending energy back. And, there’s almost nothing that gives me a bigger thrill than watching animals in the wild going about their lives…completely oblivious to us and our baggage.

I have grown deeply attached to the natural world. I didn’t used to feel this way. I grew up in a dry, desolate part of the Midwest, where nature is often something to be overcome, dispatched and/or used. But over the years I have developed a deep reverence and respect for (almost) all aspects of the natural world, and I am grateful for the connection I now have. It helps keep me grounded, sane, and aware of the impact of my choices.

What we love, we tend to protect with all our might. Our reverence inspires our sense of responsibility. Today is the first day of Spring, and thus a terrific day for connecting with the natural world. Even if it’s just for a few minutes, find time to go outdoors to a natural area nearby and simply observe the plants and animals; notice the natural world through all your senses. Try to make a commitment to do so every day.

~ Marsha