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Daily Writing: A Summer Day

Today started with recording my essential oil master class, twice. I didn’t get the Zoom link sent to my attendee in time, so the recording would have to do. Zoom has a beautiful way of doing teleconferences, on the cheap. You can get up to 40 minutes free, and have most of the features that make that program great. And, you can do this without having some mystical Cisco account. 

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I have found though, that Keynote does a much crisper, cleaner job of recording slide shows. So, even though you don’t get the picture in picture with my face, you get a better presentation. So, the morning and after lunch was spent tidying up the recording, making the actual video in iMovie, and uploading it to YouTube. Sign up for my newsletter (left or right) and get access to all sorts of fun things.

Once I got those things done, I was determined to go to the pool. Levi has been asking for this for a long time, and I just didn’t want to spend the money. Husband and I shifted some things around, and I made it a goal to go at least once this week. My desire to play and work on my money story at 1:20 pm PST was not lost on me. 

So, play we did. We are back home now, changed, drying, and enjoying some individual screen time. I am writing. The kiddo is playing a bumble bee game in Roblox. For an hour and a half, though, we played. We floated, practiced swimming, we looked for rings. We dodged fellow pool-goers, and we even swam some laps. 

Community pools fascinate me. I didn’t really grow up with one. I grew up with free swimming access by way of my grandparents, my aunt and uncle who live on Lake Superior, or the local beaches in my hometown. The idea that one pays to swim is a strange one, but in the city for quick access, that indeed is what we do. 

I’m okay with paying, as the pool is well-staffed with young lifeguards, and it is kept clean. The community pool dynamic, though, offers a slice of a microcosm that I think is fun to acknowledge. 

First, the diversity of people is wider than most places we frequent. There are varied ages, ethnic backgrounds, and maybe varied education levels. We all congregate in this shared place. Typically there is one or two obvious goals: play and exercise. Today, there were two or three groups of boys who looked like they were between 13 and 16 playing basketball in the water. There was a boy of about 10 and his sister of about 8 or 9 playing together by tossing a ball and splashing each other. There were several moms with babies, floating and playing in the water. And more. This brings me to point number two, there was no disagreement between parties. That is, the boy and girl didn’t interact with the basketball players. The moms and kids stayed to themselves. There was a quiet choreography as we all shared the shallow end, dodging, smiling and nodding, and playing nice. 

I’ve observed this trend, specifically in the pool, on more than one occasion. I’ve observed this at community ponds/lakes where sometimes there is a lifeguard on duty, and sometimes not. It’s probably a visible trend on the playground too, but I haven’t specifically noticed that. There seems to be something about pool play, where maybe because of the heightened danger, that people seem to be more respectful. Maybe it’s just our local pool that is walking distance to our house?

I don’t know what the answer is to my observable trend. But, on this day, this full moon, lunar eclipse Friday, I wanted to acknowledge how easy people were at being kind. And, I’d like to invite you to pass it along. Remember, kindness is free, so give it away. 

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Deconstructing Privi​leg​e

Two people I love shared this dated opinion. So, now I feel like I must respond. It is an opinion piece called “What Has America Become“, and is written by a man named Ken Huber. It was printed in the Iosco County Herald on June 9, 2010. The current originating Facebook post shows it as being shared in 2013. I note this because the copied image is without the date, and by posting it three years later, and then being repeatedly shared 5 years after that, it has a timeless quality that isn’t actually wholly relevant to today.

Mr. Huber complains that America has become the land of the double standard, and he continues to list a series of ironies he feels are unfair. You must understand that I live on the “left coast“, where my progressive politics color my views.

He has a list of complaints, where he sees Congress and Progressives getting their way and ruining our country. He even goes on to claim that “communists” and “Socialists” threats are just rebranded progressives. He complains about unfair border policies and lack of God in schools. If I shall opine for a moment, this sounds like complaints from an old, angry, white man, whose privilege is coming under question, and he doesn’t like how it feels.

Well, if Progressives are so bad, what do they believe? Check out this “Progressive Manifesto“, where ThinkProgress defines four tenants of freedom, opportunity, responsibility, and cooperation. Progressivism has a history that goes back more than 100 years, with a definition more akin to “[an association] with science, rationality and an approach to government and society reliant on knowledge and empirical methods”. (NPR 2016)

So Progressives want to think critically, using verifiable facts to create policy? 

Mr. Huber essentially complains that he can’t be racist, we are letting too many people into our country, and we have to restrict personal liberties because he believes his God would want it that way. 

What Mr. Huber is missing is that he has lived on the top of privilege his whole life. What he is seeing is all people are created equal with unalienable rights coming to claim their rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And, that means the white, property-owning male has to share the stage. 

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Happy Belated Birthday, Cristi – Support a Domestic Violence Center Near You

cristi graduation

Domestic violence rudely entered our lives on July 19, 2007. Today, you would be 40, having had your birthday just two months ago. Eleven years ago, I hope I called you on your birthday. Ten years ago, I didn’t know that would be the last birthday you would celebrate. Eleven years ago, on July 20, I became educated on the reach of domestic violence.

A year ago, I spent the day with a new friend. She’s a PR professional expanding her local reach. The day ended with a light dinner at her sponsored table for an event. The event was “Roots of Resilience”, the annual fundraiser for SAFE of Columbia County.

Before that fateful day, I knew of domestic violence in abstract terms. I remember an SNL skit that laughed at Bill and Hillary’s relationship, suggesting that he was the victim. (1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of [some form of] physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime. ) I knew of domestic violence with other bad jokes of men in “wife beater” tank tops, the illusion that only uneducated, poor, white men are the perpetrators of abuse. The truth is grayer. The truth shows us that domestic violence crosses all demographics: race, socio-economic, education. Though poor economies can raise the effects of abuse, economics is not a cause of domestic violence.

The Wheel of Power and Control

When I got home from your funeral, I spent a little time educating myself on domestic violence. Learning some of the harsh truths and taking the time to understand patterns of control. In a sense, I find I am hypersensitive to language when I hear things that sound like controlling behavior. I found this widely shared image that helped put things in perspective for me. I wish I had known about it before you died. Maybe we could have had a conversation about what you needed to feel safe in your relationships.

Wheel of Power and Control
From the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project, www.duluth-model.org, shared by SAFE of Columbia County.

Help Us Really Hear

One of the reasons I think we didn’t talk about all those things is that the busy-ness of our lives – we let it get in the way. We don’t listen to each other. We don’t really hear each other. We allow bad behavior to be swept under the rug instead of standing up to abuses and intolerance. We all have our own lives to lead and live, after all. 

In honor of the 1 and 3 women and 1 and 4 men, I encourage you to stand up to oppression far and wide. Start saying, “NO!” You will not tolerate that racist slur, that minimization, that gas lighting. It’s not right, it’s hurtful, and it doesn’t help those we love. 

Sources

SAFE of Columbia County
The Gateway Center of Portland
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Statistics
Dispelling the Stereotypes
7. How does the economy affect domestic violence?

Other Notes

This post was started on May 13, 2017. That would have been Cristi’s 39th birthday. At the time of publishing, we both would be in our 5th decade. I will celebrate the lessons I’ve been gifted through this grief and awareness. 

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The Right to a Green Life

Here, Levi is 3 years old. He is stirring a homemade batch of liquid laundry soap in a 5 gallon container. It’s simple. It’s toxic free. And it’s friendly to the pocket book – no matter the budget.

I was talking to a friend recently, and she was helping me dig deeper into why going green is important to me. I found it was hard for me to describe, as it’s kind of like breathing. In my writing the other day, I was able to clarify for myself. Going green is like teaching our kids not to hit. We do this because we accept and agree that our kids hitting other kids is wrong. It hurts the other child, physically and emotionally, and that’s not right. Going green ensures we have a lifestyle that doesn’t hit each other. That’s the grossest way I can think to describe why this is important. So, going green is the safest, kindest way, we can ensure we don’t hurt each other and future generations.

What does this mean? We know that all sorts of chemicals in our daily use increase the risk of cancer. We know that our industry, our car driving, our polluting the air causes breathing difficulties. We know that industry and agriculture that runs off into our waters causes our drinking water to be contaminated to the point it is not healthy to drink, that is, we get sick. We know that contamination sometimes contains lead which stunts the growth and brain development of children. Sometimes that contamination contains chemicals that cause cancer or other illnesses.

We know that cancer is expensive to treat, sometimes fast progressing, a disease that cripples the people who have it and the families that support the people with it. We know that making people sick prevents them from living their best selves.
I believe that we are given certain things in our lives that help makes us stronger. I believe we all have lessons to learn. I also believe that once we learn those lessons, we have a responsibility to (attempt) to teach others (peers or future generations) our lessons so they can make new, different, and more interesting mistakes.

Causing cancer, or illness, in others is a mistake and we know how to solve it – at least part of it. When, as a society, we do things – use chemicals in our home that runoff in the water, make the air hard to breathe, deplete living things in the water, and ruin our soil – we are making a mistake. We are making a mistake that kills people and makes their lives hard to live. We are the child hitting the other child to the point the other child is in tears and can no longer have fun playing a game.

This game, this game is the game of life, and I believe we all deserve to be able to show up as our best selves with our best feet forward to play our best. When, as a society, we intentionally make choices that cripple other people’s choices, we are ruining their chances of playing the game. We are hitting those people, just as the child who hits another.

In 1776, Thomas Jefferson wrote in the American Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Our social contract says it’s not okay to hit other people. Clearly, when you hit me, you are infringing upon my right to life and my right to the pursuit of happiness. To clarify that boundary, it has been said by many that, “Your rights end where my nose begins.” In 1882, John B. Finch orated on this matter when discussing prohibition, that is we have the right to eat and drink what we please until that drinking causes us to hit another.

There are so many things in our world that permeate our beings, things that go beneath the surface of our physical bodies, beyond a fist to the nose. As such, we need to expand our understanding of our social contract to include breathing clean air, drinking clean water, and growing clean food in the clean soil. While it is not another person directly hitting us, when these things enter our bodies – beyond our noses – they cause damage. For example, an industry making a thing and polluting our environment causes us to get sick, their right to commerce conflicts with my right to life. That can be reduced to barbarism. You do not have a right to step into my right to life.

That’s why I promote a green life – because it is our right to life, our right to our pursuit of happiness.

Resources

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Here are some fun self-care recipes for Valentine’s Day!

Valentine’s Day is here and that probably means one of two things. Either you are excited for a fun romantic date out with your loved one or you’re preparing for Galentine’s. (My “Galentine’s” will be co-leading a book discussion on Brené Brown’s Braving the Wilderness.) Did you read my newsletter this month? Well, I talked a lot about self-care, so another thing you can do for Valentine’s is to simply love yourself. When I get home from the book discussion, after I put the kiddo in bed, after I get ready for tomorrow, I fully plan on turning on a favorite show and a favorite diffuser blend while I pamper myself. This is one of my favorite things to do. Here are more ways for you to explore “Pamper Days”:

  1. Epsom Salt Bath: This will help detox and destress you from your everyday life plus it will help soothe your muscles. I gave my feet an Epsom salt bath last week after the kiddo’s birthday party.
  2. Sugar Lip Scrub: Growing up, I had the most terrible chapped lips that were always peeling so this is something I like to do on a routine basis to help my lips stay smooth and soft.
  3. Clay Facial Mask:  This is made with Bentonite clay which has a ton of nourishing properties for your skin to get you back to glowing.
  4. Strawberry-Lime Sugar Scrub: This is one that will make your skin as soft as a baby’s bottom.  It also helps your skin feel bright and fresh.
  5. Bergamot Foot Mask: Feet should not be out of mind just because they might be out of sight. Don’t forget to show them a little love too.
  6. Use one or more of these diffuser blends!

What are some of your favorite self-care recipes?

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The Oily Research I Use

Here’s a snapshot of most of my books I use for essential oil research.

A Little Background

Let’s talk about research for a hot minute. It took me 12 years to get my bachelor’s degree. I ended my time, transferred to Portland State University, submerged in 400 level courses where we looked at primary sources for – well – everything. Something in my view changed, and I cared less about secondary sources, and now, whenever I read something, I’m scrounging for their primary sources where they formulated their opinions.

This thinking, now ingrained in my soul, was shaken to its core while helping my fifth grader with his homework the other week. He was working on a research project. (The fifth grade got a sink or swim project in research, you know, thrown in the deep end, then given a life raft.) We worked on this over a course of several weeks, doing research first, then weeks later putting it together in his presentation. My darling fifth grader, when I probed him for his sources, said, “I don’t know, I guess I just knew it. I don’t know how it got in my head.”

It’s moments like these that test my patience and help me grow as a person. I’m sure my deep sigh, intake of breath, is an alert that momma is not pleased. I tried so hard to say in the nicest way possible that he got the information from somewhere, though I am sure irritation and a little disgust eked through. He is surviving, and I think it’s okay to show our distasteful emotions so children know adults have them too. Showing these emotions also alerts both of us a boundary has been breached! After we worked through it, he remembered all the sources, and we were able to properly document his project.

That said, if you’re following me on Facebook, you may be wondering – where the heck is your sourcing Michelle? You say all these things, what did you just miraculously materialize the info? Short answer – no. Yet, I don’t make space to source my posts within the posts. So, I’m going to give you my annotated bibliography here.

The Sources I Use

I have curated this collection of sources for the last three to four years. Some of these are secondary, yet still useful. I am always on the hunt for primary sources to better describe how the chemistry works with our human bodies. Here is my list of current essential oil education research.

Emotions & Essential Oils: a Reference Guide for Emotional Healing, 6th Edition (Enlighten Healing, LLC, 2017)

Though I got into the oils because of how they can positively support my health, I turn to the emotional aspect even more. This concise book works through all the single oils and blends I use describing their emotional aspects with a short story, a summary of positive and negative effects, and handy tables and indexes to guide my research.

Essentials of the Earth, 7th Edition (EoEBooks, 2017)

This small, spiral bound book works like an encyclopedia of oils and issues. Everything is in alphabetical order, it’s concise, and gives a range of oils to use for any issue. This also has a corresponding app for your phone.

Fritz, Stephanie, Essential Oils for Pregnancy, Birth & Babies, 2nd Edition (Gently Born Productions, 2015)

In my oil community, this gem is the go-to resource for anything pregnancy related. Stephanie goes through the oils, how they can support all phases of pregnancy and postpartum. If you know someone expecting, definitely check out this book.

Gillerman, Hope, Essential Oils Every Day: Rituals and Remedies for Healing, Happiness, and Beauty (HarperCollins, 2016)

Essential Oils Every Day is new to me, acquired from my local bookstore (Powell’s). I am enjoying learning through this very different resource than I have previously acquired. She goes through different oils offering various blends and use ideas with some wisdom along the way on how to generally use essential oils.

Lawless, Julie, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils: The Complete Guide to the Use of Oils in Aromatherapy and Herbalism (Element Books, 1995)

I purchased this book at my local bookstore (Powell’s) while acquiring a few others. I chose to get this older version, Julia had a newer version, because I wanted to show that the way we talk about essential oils has a few decades of history under its belt. This book, this encyclopedia has beautiful drawings and images of the oils and their respective plants. She offers good summaries of a variety of oils and interesting ways to use them.

Mangandog, Desiree, LAc, MSTOM, I Am Fabulous: Blends for Emotional Well-Being (Bear Nature, LLC / DNA Essentials Inc., 2017)

Are you stuck? Feeling down? Hoping to get more magic in your life? Desiree, a student of Chinese medicine for over 13 years, has compiled this book of blends to address a myriad of emotions we experience daily. Check out her protocols and blends. For more information, see all her offerings at www.desireemangandog.com.

Modern Essentials: a Contemporary Guide to the Therapeutic Use of Essential Oils, 7th Edition (AromaTools, 2015)

This was my first essential oil book purchase. I was drawn to its amazing summary of oil history, how they are produced and tested, and its beautiful index of issues, wonderfully cross-referenced. In between, the publishers go through all the oils I use starting with singles and then blends. This is by far my favorite book as an all-in-one reference for the oils I use daily, some background on their chemical makeup, and some amazing insights on how the oils can support my physical and emotional health.

Schnaubelt, Kurt, PhD, The Healing Intelligence of Essential Oils: The Science of Advanced Aromatherapy (Healing Arts Press, 2011)

This was my first purchase outside my oil community. This book does a great job of explaining why I’m okay with using oils internally, topically (and neat sometimes), and aromatically. Dr. Schnaubelt breaks up his book in sections where he discusses understanding the language of plants, exploring authentic essential oils, and healing with essential oils. The latter portion is great if you’re looking for general protocols and guidance.

The Essential Life: A Simple Guide to Living the Wellness Lifestyle, 2nd Edition (Total Wellness Publishing, 2015)

Total Wellness Publishing launched their first edition in 2014 or early 2015. I gave that copy away! This is an amazing compliment to the Modern Essentials book and offers more for those more motivated by beautiful pictures. This book breaks down oil use by body system and offers a lot of uses for around the house. It is an amazing resource and one of my go-tos as I conduct this “a year of oils” campaign.

Worwood, Valerie Ann, The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy, 25th Anniversary Edition (New World Library, 2016)

I picked up this resource to engage more third-party ideas of how to use oils. I wanted another voice to explain different ways of diluting, different use, and get a sense of oils not in my collection. I have not been disappointed. Valerie does an incredible comprehensive job of detailing all the many ways we can use essential oils and offering many blends and protocols for anything you could think of.

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Desiree Mangandog: A Review

Monday night initiated the 2018 Empowered Life series. This event, unlike the others, was a paid event. We were blessed to hear the insights and knowledge of Desiree Mangandog. This was the first time I saw her live, though I finally acquired her book during the 2017 Convention.

Desiree has quite the loving, inspired reputation among my essential oil community. She is known to assess the energy of a room, immediately. As such, I loved how she started this “Healers Workshop” with diving right into our auric field.

Desiree walked us through various ways to shore up our boundaries, in a healthful, managed way, while being open to creating our own loving tribe just for us. All the while sprinkling in her wisdom gleaned from years of study.

She walked us through managing our auric field to learning about the energy hooks we receive and leave on those we encounter. We did a beautiful exercise of removing those energy hooks, repairing the cracks, and reinforcing our boundaries. We left with a three-week protocol to establish our boundary so we can share our gifts and love with the world. I applied this blend of petitgrain and melaleuca multiple times Tuesday.

In teaching us how to clear things – she went through the thinking that we need to 1) clear out the bad, 2) be open to the good, and 3) harmonize. The last piece, she repeated, often, was essential to support good rhythmic flow.

Desiree walked us through how the ego affects us. I loved that we spent a little bit of time here discussing symptoms to look for when the ego is bruised, such as: worrying about our bodies, time, or what’s going on around us (environment). She encouraged us to be mission-centered, believing in and staying connected with the divine (infinite love, wisdom, gifts). Previously when she presented here, she stopped addressing source as God because she sensed the attendees weren’t open to it. Monday, she simply said, “I don’t work that way, and I don’t understand that thinking.” I was endeared how she called the elephant out with her beliefs and how they might conflict with those in the room.

We also spent time removing limitations, though she cautioned we may have a tough time on Tuesday. I did do this protocol during the event, so was sure to apply helichrysum multiple times to offset any challenges. While discussing limitations, she brought up a common oil use of wild orange. We oilers often cling to its emotional properties, the oil of abundance. She cautioned us though – if we are submerged in limitations when we use wild orange, we may be inviting an abundance of limitations. So, clear your limitations first, then use your wild orange for abundance.

So many blends, and so many protocols for getting in touch with the divine, clearing residual energies, listening to our hearts, and more. This workshop was well worth the $30 (ish) price tag. (The event time/location is usually free). We walked away with so much information. After I finish checking over this post, I’ll be making my own labels to get my stash of rollers ready for when I need them.

To learn more about Desiree, visit her at www.desireemangandog.com.

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2018 Empowered Life Series

In anything, especially network marketing, when you are a part of a thing, you are often a part of a larger thing. The larger essential oil community I belong to hosts monthly events in downtown Portland. On the third Monday of the month, we have free education to help us all learn more about essential oils. The 2018 topics and dates are set, and I am so excited. These events get better and better every year! Let’s live this empowered life, together!

Date Topic
Jan 15 I Am Empowered: A Healer’s Workshop
Desiree Manandog, MS
Feb 19 Natural Solutions for Empowered, Healthy Living
Aisha Harley & Josie Schmidt, ND
Mar 19 Taming the Tiger: The Trinity of Frankincense, Copaiba, Siberian Fir
Josie Schmidt, ND; Will Wan, MSOM, LAc; Micaela Coria-Carew, ND, LAc
Apr 16 Home Detox: Simple, Healthy Home & Personal Care Solutions
Jeffrey Tufenkian
May 21 Essential Fitness
Stephanie king, BS, Exercise Science, Personal Trainer
Jun 18 Microbiome & Gut Health
Rachel Hess, LMT, ND
Jul 16 Cancer: Integrative Care for the Body, Mind & Soul
Kelly Keigwin
Aug 20 Raidiant Skincare
JoDee M Anderson, MD, MEd; Elizabeth McElligott, ND
Sep 11 Addiction & Recovery
Arianna Harley
Oct 15 Oils for Healing Trauma: From Stress to PTSD
Louise Rose, ND
Nov 5 Unlocking the Mighty Mitochondria: Enhancing Brain Health & Function
Jennifer Tufenkian, ND
Dec 3 Essential Wellness Holiday Bazaar

Be sure to get these dates on your calendar. RSVP at https://www.eventbrite.com/o/essential-wellness-community-3100641616 or essentialwellnesscommunity.eventbrite.com. And, let me know if you’ll be coming! We can swap notes and ideas.

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Computers – A Gripe and an Offering

I hardly ever talk about computers here. What? Crazy, right? If you know me, I’m your go-to tech gal. So, why am I not talking about computer stuff here? That, I am aiming to change this year. The focus will be oils, connecting women, and technology.

Why the heck would I even do technology? Well, back to point one – which is, if you know me, I’m your go-to tech gal. Point two, it’s needed. Do you know what I did at the time of this writing? I spent 90 minutes with a fairly tech savvy gal helping her navigate an operating system and its ‘compatible’ notebook software. WEIRDNESS! NINETY MINUTES! It was time well spent. I do not bemoan the time. I simply want to acknowledge that it’s unnecessary. We should be smarter than this. We know, collectively, how to do so many clever things with computers. We advertise synchronicity, and then we don’t back it up. This is nonsense!

So, I talk and coach about computers. I prefer to talk to women as a woman. Why? Because it too is so needed. I’m sure you’ve read many articles about man-splaining or the challenges of women talking to men when vulnerability comes up. I take all that away. I’m not going to explain your problems away. I will validate you. I will coach you. I will show you that 1) you are not crazy, 2) you can figure this out, and 3) I will be there guiding you every step of the way.

We are in a strange technological space right now. We can do all the things, and sometimes it works really well. And sometimes it doesn’t. When it doesn’t work, that’s where I come in. I will help you figure it out.

How does this fit with my connecting women, oils, or balance, or any of the other things I do? I am naturally gifted at understanding how software works. I am not afraid to press buttons, and I explain things in a way most people can understand. I am your liaison between engineer talk and every day talk.

We rely on computers and phones for nearly every facet of life. We communicate to our relatives. We share our photos, our lives. We share our stories. And, we don’t want someone telling us we are stupid while we’re trying to figure it out. I’ve met so many people who have had amazing careers – teachers, executives, business owners – very clever people who figure all sorts of stuff out, very smartly, in the day to day. What I have found is that all the technology presented to us is too confusing – even for these very clever people, so I help you navigate that. I make it simple, so you can understand.

When I started using technology for work, the year was 1998. Windows ’98 had just come out, with the invention of the right click. I boasted about 7 software programs and 3 operating systems on my resume. Today? I have well over 30 software programs and about 5 or 6 operating systems – depending on how you want to count phones, laptops, and more. I am tech savvy. I am ahead of the curve when it comes to interest in learning new technologies. I am not the masses. Technology, it appears, is built for people like me more ahead of me (you know, the people who always get the latest greatest when it comes out), not for the masses. Because technology moves so fast, appealing to such a small group of people, there are people left behind. And, I am here to serve those people, primarily women. I am here to help you navigate the confusing map of technology and make sense of it, so you can do your day to day with ease.

When I set out to write this, I was going to detail the problems we witnessed in that 90 minute phone conversation. My intuition had other plans. Book your 30 minute consultation today – and I will show you how I can help you navigate your technology.

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Start with Women

Packed train from the 2017 Women’s March

Go green. Sustainability. Stable state system. Equitable. Environmentally friendly. So many buzz words, what does it all mean? It means our world is aching, we have sores all over the place, and we are crying for healing. I believe for that healing to work, we must start with women.

Why

First, why do we care? Why do we care about “going green” and sustainability and all of this? I care because I care about being a good steward. As a mother, I wouldn’t leave my house littered with broken glass, toxic smelling things, and donuts all over the house. If I did this, my family would have cut feet, be unable to breathe, and die of heart related diseases. I wouldn’t be responsible for my son or be healthfully supporting my husband. And, I certainly wouldn’t be helping myself.

I define sustainability around the “triple bottom line”. That is, we balance three things in equilibrium. We balance people, planet, and profits. Another way to word this is economy (profits), environment (planet or place), and equity (people) are balanced together. They are all a part of a three-legged stool, and if one leg is shorter than another, the whole thing falls over. If one of these factors is out of balance, our balance sheet doesn’t balance.

I’ve written about this before. And, I will write about this again. Until we have achieved sustainability in a majority of countries, we will still need to hear this message.

Every time I write about sustainability, I peel back more layers. When my aunt gave me the book 50 Ways You Can Save the Planet I was introduced to the environmental layer of measuring the health of our world. When carbon offsets were introduced, it was a market based approach to merge both the environmental and economic layers of sustainability for business. This allowed companies to take another stab at showing up as responsible to our world. And, when we mention things like equal pay we are introducing the layer of equity, or people, in one attempt to balance the people portion of the balance sheet.

Women are the Canary

I will argue that we need to look at women as the canary in the coal mine. This should be our current litmus test on whether or not we are on the road to sustainability. And, we owe it to ourselves and future generations to be on the road to sustainability.

It’s 2018, and though the wage gap is closing (by how much depends on the resource you use), in many cases, the gap is still about 20%. That is, women still make about 80% of what men make, and yes, in the same industry. So, women are not equal when it comes to monetary possessions, or economy.

So, with less money, women age, and then outlive their partners. With less money, they are more at risk to be in poverty. Aging, is already rife with challenges. Add the burden of fewer resources, and I have to question, are we setting women up for success as they age? We can and should do better as a wealthy society, ensuring those who have “paid” into systems are taken care of regardless if they outlive partners.

When we are connected, when our social capital is high, we have less disease, less depression, and longer lives. Robert Putnam, in his 1995 (reprint 2000) book Bowling Alone described our decline in social capital, in detail. And he noted how it’s related to many of our noted ills in society. A follow-up book, Better Together, breaks down how we are better together. While all relationships and social networks can benefit from higher social capital, I believe women being more connected have a cornerstone importance to change our society to a more sustainable world.

Connect Women First

We need to connect women first. Reconnect women to each other, and then I believe we will have a ripple effect of connectedness across gender, age, and social class.

Relearn Basics

To start this, we need to reconnect with the basics. We need to relearn how to truly listen. We need to get back in touch with that which brings us joy. And, we need to lead with love.

Listen

Steven Covey said that people often listen with the intent to respond. That is, in conversation, we aren’t truly listening. We aren’t practicing empathy – truly joining someone in their emotional journey, the kind of support we really need. We might be sympathetic, noting their emotion, but then we follow it up with advice. Brené Brown talks about this is a short empathy video, where she reminds us that sympathy usually starts with “at least…”

Truly listening means sitting with someone withholding judgement, truly trying to hear their story, to understand, and join them on their emotional journey.

Live in Joy

Another key point I believe women need to focus on is living in intention, and specifically in joy. I will speak from a women approaching 40, 10+ years a mother, and 10+ years a wife. This is my lens.

It was so easy to get into the role of get up, make the bed, get the food, clean the things, and do it all over again once my son was born. Caring for an infant, and then a toddler, and then a school aged child, routines became set. That routine lead itself to forgetting, where self-forgetting became easy. Forgetting my self-care for others’ care became easy. There was (is) always something else to do. Then, one day, in a mini-retreat, I made a joy list. I compared that joy list to the things I was doing every day. The two were wildly different. I made the commitment to myself to live more in intentions that brought me joy. Doing so, I was more easily able to show up with joy for myself, and then for those I care for. Namely, my husband, and my son.

Live in Love

Now that we are living in joy and truly know how to listen, our next ask is to show up with love. We are listening to our sisters, we understand their stories better, and now we can show up with deeper empathy and compassion to truly walk with them in their path. All these steps will build our social capital. Build our connections to each other. Bring us closer together.

Share with others

By bringing us closer together, sharing this vision with others, because we want to. I do believe we need to, but let’s do this because we want to. When we come together from a place of healing, we will create a stronger fabric of social capital among each other. When we have that strong fabric, knit together, we will better be able to solve the problems the world has thrown at us.

Call to Action

I am calling for a rise of the feminine. Let us come together, do this together. Be together. Truly, we are better together, and together we can do so much.

Resources

Better Together, by Robert D. Putnam & Lewis M. Feldstein, 2003

Bowling Alone, by Robert D. Putnam, 2000

Empathy Animation, voice by Brené Brown, 2013, https://youtu.be/1Evwgu369Jw

Gap between men’s and women’s life expectancy no longer closing, data suggests, Sep 27, 2017, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/09/27/gap-mens-womens-life-expectancy-no-longer-closing-data-suggests/

Gender Disparities in Health and Mortality, 2007, http://www.prb.org/Publications/Articles/2007/genderdispa9e5b7bddc5c

Gender wage gap just shrank for the first time in a decade, the, Sep 15, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/09/15/the-gender-wage-gap-just-shrank-for-the-first-time-in-a-decade/?utm_term=.a9e5b7bddc5c

In which countries do women outlive men by more than a decade?, May 20, 2016, https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/05/countries-where-women-outlive-meowed-spouses

Life Expectancy at Birth (in years), by Gender, 2009, https://www.kff.org/other/state-indicator/life-expectancy-by-gender/?currentTimeframe=0&sortModel=%7B%22colId%22:%22Location%22,%22sort%22:%22asc%22%7D

Narrowing, but persistent, gender gap in pay, the, April 3, 2017, http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/04/03/gender-pay-gap-facts/

Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap, the, 2016, https://www.aauw.org/research/the-simple-truth-about-the-gender-pay-gap/

Social Security for Widowed Spouses in Retirement, https://www.nasi.org/learn/socialsecurity/widowed-spouses

Why is life expectancy longer for women than it is for men?, https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-is-life-ex-of-marriage/

Women, Men and the New Economics of Marriage, Jan 19, 2010, http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2010/01/19/women-men-and-the-new-economics-of-marriage/

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