Tennesseetransitions


My Lucky Break
December 31, 2015, 7:44 PM
Filed under: Adapting to Change, Wellness | Tags: , , , , ,

I last posted on this blog September 26th. I tripped on some brick steps in the middle of a workday on October 14th and while the resulting wrist break was ’cause for pause’ the additional discovery of Stage 4 lung cancer changed my life forever. With my arm in a cast and unable to type, I simply gave up on the blog until I could type again. The cast finally came off last week and it turns out that typing seems to be good physical therapy for the newly-healed bone. Then mid-day  on this New Year’s Eve, it occurred to me that THIS was probably a good day to return to something I enjoy doing, with the hopes that you’ll enjoy reading.

I’ll start by showing off the four big cabbages I harvested today from my plot in the community garden-perfect for tomorrow’s traditional New Year’s day, good-luck meal of Hoppin’ John and fried cabbage. If you’re not familiar with Hoppin’ John, it’s a rather spicy, Creole-tasting sacrament made with the perfect trifecta of onions, celery and peppers along with black-eyed peas, sausage, tomatoes, rice and greens, with a coin hidden in the pot to symbolize wealth in the coming year. Many people make this southern dish with greens (mostly collards) but I like to fry cabbage to go with my Hoppin’ John and nature provided her very best for this special occasion. Surely I will have a healthy and wealthy 2016!

cabbages

All of this is simply to say that, just as nature transformed my seeds into cabbage heads, and transformed my broken bone into a well-mended wrist once again, I have confidence that my cancer can and will be ‘cured’ and I’ll be able to make the transition from cancer patient to survivor.

Even though this blog will remain focused on ways that we can create a way of living that’s significantly more connected, more vibrant and more fulfilling than the one we find ourselves in today, I can’t simply ignore the transition that my body is currently going through. To that end, I plan to focus more on healthy ways that we can create that way of living. Without good health, we have nothing. I can honestly say that the fall, with broken wrist, was MY LUCKY BREAK. I was feeling very well prior to its’ discovery and without the trip to the ER the cancer may not have been diagnosed until months down the road. Months that I didn’t have to spare.

I am also editing this blog’s ‘About Page’ to include the words ‘and personal’.  Now is the time to take stock and to re-create our future in ways that are not based on cheap, plentiful and polluting oil but on localized food, sustainable energy sources, resilient local economies and an enlivened sense of community and personal well-being.

I wish you the best for the coming year and always.  Eating some greens and Hoppin’ John on New Year’s Day practically ensures that you will get your own ‘lucky break’ in 2016. Happy New Year everyone!

hoppin john



Redefining Prosperity
January 27, 2015, 9:32 PM
Filed under: Adapting to Change | Tags: , , ,

My dictionary defines prosperity thusly: “a successful, flourishing, or thriving condition, especially in financial respects; good fortune.” This definition says to me that if I’m not especially fortunate to have plenty of money, then I’m not prosperous. That thinking is sooo out of touch, and I feel compelled to redefine it, if for no other reason than to reflect on my own personal feelings about prosperity.

Sometimes I’ll get an idea for a post on this blog, but it may take a while for my thoughts to come together enough to be able to convey to you how that idea might pertain to you, especially in the context of transitioning. I’ve given this idea of redefining prosperity a lot of reflection over the last week or so, and then, I got my ‘sign’ that I was on the right track for this post…

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This card was given to me by my friend Lisa the day before she left Tennessee to move to Georgia. We were having tea together, and Lisa was leaving the area to basically, redefine her own life. She gave me this card, which happened to be one in a set, created by a favorite author of mine, Sark. Neither of us had any idea that her card would reappear when I needed it most, after being tucked away in a book that I’d had on my nightstand and opened up on a whim last night. How many signs have you been given recently that pointed directly to ‘redefining prosperity’? Exactly. So, after this lengthy introduction, I’ll attempt to make the best of this can of worms I’ve opened. By the way, Lisa did manage to redefine her own prosperity, and is now living in a beautiful log home of her own, doing work she loves and contra dancing on Saturday nights with many new friends in her Georgia community. She doesn’t have a lot of money but I’d certainly call her ‘prosperous’.

I believe that this period of transitioning that we are facing/are a part of, will give us reason to redefine a lot of things in our lives. I’ve held a fascination with Cuba ever since I took Spanish in the 6th grade from a Cuban refugee that I adored. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, that little island nation suffered extreme socioeconomic collapse. To their credit, they named that decade of learning to produce most of their own food and live without, “The Special Period”. (I love that name). They absolutely redefined prosperity for themselves, in spite of starvation and sanctions. To Cubans, prosperity came to mean ‘able to feed themselves’ -and well!  Perhaps that’s why I always thought my teacher was so wonderful, because even though she was going through what must have been a very difficult transition of her own, Mrs. Zabarro prospered in her own way. She was able to eventually bring her family members, one by one, to this country, and though they had so little in the way of material things, they were the happiest family I knew! There’s a saying: “Prosperity without well-being is simply a contradiction.” La prosperidad sin bienestar es sencillamente una contradicción.

These real-life stories I’ve shared with you prove that prosperity, when based especially on financial standing, is just not a completely accurate picture of it. My personal redefinition began in 1998 when I attended an eight-week ‘Voluntary Simplicity’ course. Unknown to me at the time, I was obviously seeking answers in my life by taking the course to begin with. After reaching a top rung in my career, raising my children and buying my dream home, I’d begun to realize that my own financial status wasn’t bringing me well-being or happiness. The things that make me feel positively prosperous are good health, loving relationships, close friendships and a sense of having ‘enough’ of the things I need. 

As we continue to see the effects of a changing climate, the deterioration of world markets and of our oil-based economy, the erosion of the middle class and peak everything, what new measures of prosperity will we use to determine how we’re doing? The ability to feed ourselves and to produce sustainable, community-supplied energy will be the gold standards of a prosperous community. Being a valid part of a walkable or bikeable community that is able to provide its’ residents with the locally-produced goods and services that are needed for well-being (there’s that word again) will be highly desirable. Gated communities will open their gates or perish.

The new definition of a prosperous person will be defined as one who loves and is loved, one who has enough to share and does so willingly with those who don’t, and one who is willing to be a good neighbor and steward of the Earth. A prosperous person will be someone who will pull her share, can laugh at life, and plays well with others. A prosperous person will be one who has skills and abilities that can earn her a bit of money, and then wisely use her hard-earned cash to purchase the things she cannot produce for herself. A prosperous person will have a center of well being that takes into account all of these aspects of our daily lives. I hope it will be a ‘special period’ for us all.

well-being




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