Archive for July, 2009

Do You Think About Greening Your Business?

As a thank-you for taking this survey, we are happy to offer a F*R*E*E 20-minute consult with you. If these questions get you thinking and you’d like to talk with Julie Gabrielli in more depth, please email her at julie(at) to set up an appointment.

Big, Bad Things Over Which We Have No Control


Baeth Davis recently reminded me of this great scene from 1989’s "Sex, Lies, and Videotape," in which Andie MacDowell’s character worries about what we’re going to do with all the garbage. She so perfectly portrays our modern angst that has us focused on big problems that are seemingly beyond our ability to solve. What’s the alternative? she asks. Happiness is not all it’s cracked up to be. After all, she says, the last time I was really happy, I gained 25 pounds!

GOforChange has always been focused on what we CAN do, which, interestingly, starts with appreciation , wonder, awe , and gratitude . All that "happy" stuff. Why? Because one of the laws of the universe is that what we focus on, expands. So, if we spend most of our days worrying about the state of the environment, melting polar ice caps, the Pacific Trash Vortex, shrimp by-catch, mountaintop removal, topsoil loss, oil spills — I could go on and on and on (and in the past,  I have!), I have a stunning bit of news: we will get more of the same.

This is a paradox that, believe me, I am just as stumped by as the next tree-hugger. I plan to devote a lot of brainpower to this in the coming months. HOW can we tread that fine line between raising awareness of our impact and painting a compelling picture of how we could be living? I maintain that we CAN — and indeed, must — focus on happiness in order to realign our lives to be good for the earth.  And, don’t worry — if you are eating a lot of locally-sourced plant-based foods and whole grains, you can even maintain a healthy weight.

8 Lessons from Harry Potter on the Law of Wisdom

“Before you can do something, you first must be something.” Goethe

This summer, my son and I have been listening to Jim Dale’s unparalleled recorded books of the Harry Potter series. We’re on the final one now: “Deathly Hallows,” which I read two years ago (a lifetime!). After a few CDs of the recording, one night I was so curious about how it ends that I read the final hundred pages of the book. Ah! That’s right: Harry dies, but not really. He goes back to finish his business, Neville does a hero’s task, and all is saved. They do, indeed, live happily ever after.

Satisfied that it all comes out neatly in the end, I found myself drawn back into the story where we had left off. It certainly is good reading. Eventful, imaginative, with vivid, real characters and a good dose of humor.

As I read, it dawned on me that this is not only a great Quest tale; it’s also a dramatization of the Law of Wisdom in action. Think about it: Harry is given by Professor Dumbledore the task of hunting and destroying the Horcuxes , which – if he is successful – will bring down Lord Voldemort and restore the wizarding world to peace and harmony. Only Harry, and he alone, is suited to the job. It is, in effect, his Life Purpose .

And he struggles with it: he is torn between trust in his mission and the many questions he has about it. Why didn’t Dumbledore spell it out for him more clearly? Why is there no grand plan, no set of instructions to follow, step by step, to achieve his goal? How is he expected to lead others into danger, if he doesn’t even know what’s next?

Does any of this sound familiar? It’s called “life.” When we are truly in our Life Purpose, we act a great deal on trust. It’s like driving at night: we have a general idea of where we’re going, yet the headlights only illuminate a short bit of road ahead. So, we keep driving, and more is continually revealed as we go. That doesn’t guarantee we might not meet challenges. Maybe a deer will bound across the road. Maybe we’ll take a wrong turn or run out of gas. But we can trust that those headlights are showing us as much as we need to know for now.

(N.B. The form of these 8 lessons is taken from a recent coaching call by Coco Fossland, who is a brilliant teacher and guide. I’m in her yearlong coaching group , and have received such great support both from her and my cohorts.)

Those familiar with Potter’s story will recognize that he acts frequently on impulse. He is decisive and quick, very important qualities. Not only does his decisiveness save his skin – and that of his friends – on many occasions, it also is perfectly aligned with the Law of Wisdom. And, so the 8 Lessons are:

1. Wisdom is present at every moment.

When Harry asks and listens, the guidance is always there. Sometimes he asks, but doesn’t listen, doesn’t trust the answer he is given. This is all too human; we all do this. It’s when Harry gets bursts of intuition and acts quickly that great things happen.

2. Wisdom speaks through everything.

We don’t have to meditate to hear our inner wisdom; it will speak any way it can to reach us. Continued

Three Revelations about 21st Century Eating

I had the luxury while on our sailing trip to read an entire book, start to finish. I didn’t just read it – I DEVOURED it. Fitting, then, that it was a book about food and eating: In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan.

I’ve been a Michael Pollan devotee forever. I still remember where I was sitting when I read his brilliant essay, "Weeds Are Us," in the NYTimes Sunday Magazine. That wonderful meditation on the push-pull of nature and culture is in his book, Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education . But I digress. We’re talking food here.

This book is so full of great observations, factoids for those of us who are info-obsessed, philosophy, and downright good sense. All packaged in Pollan’s signature intelligent, pleasure-to-read prose. It’s conversational, but not condescending. Among the MANY gems, three themes particularly spoke to me.

1. Good for us = good for the earth

Right off the bat, he makes the observation that good personal choices are usually good ecologically. I completely agree! It’s at the heart of our EcoBlueprint program; right down to my example showing how Thanksgiving dinner meets multiple needs beyond simple sustenance: family connection, aesthetics in choice and arrangement of the food, expressing love, giving care, pleasure, support of local economies, participation in the great cycle of life. I LOVE that he defends the pleasure of eating, and I’m just so glad that he’s not the only one singing that song lately.

2. All about relationships

Another great theme is that of food relationships. In nature, food is all about relationships among species: we call them food chains. Pollan takes a clear-eyed look at our place in this chain. Who better to guide us than the man who has spent much of his writing life on the topic of the intertwining of nature and culture? Culture, he says, has played a critical role in helping to mediate people’s relationship to nature. Eating is one of the most important manifestations of that relationship.

This is likely why, in the ever-growing sustainability movement, food is often a first entry point. We all have to eat! Buying our food directly from farmers is an excellent way to experience this connection . Pollan’s advice is to shake the hand that feeds you: meet the people who grow and raise the food you eat.

3. Traditional + now = a way forward

In another brilliantly creative passage, he likens traditional diets to vernacular architecture . Continued

The Other Side, Revealed!

 photo by: Julie

You know how, when you are stuck on a problem, you find yourself thinking, what I wouldn’t give to be able to see this from a different angle? I experienced just how easy this can actually be, while on a walk with my camera one recent morning. [Tip of the camera to Sheila Finkelstein, a wonderful, creative teacher with whom I recently took a photography class . She introduced me to the lovely concept of "taking a walk with your camera."]

I began admiring the way the sun was illuminating flowers in such a strong way. Yet, when I took a picture, it just looked flat, and – honestly – a bit trite. Too literal. Flowers in sunlight: big deal.

I noticed how blue the sky was. What would those flowers look like against that too-blue sky? Somehow, following an impulse, I began taking the pictures upside-down. Aiming the camera up from below, with that incredibly deep-blue sky as the background, rather than the green foliage. I didn’t fuss over the set-up, I just took a bunch of photos and had fun. (That’s the beauty of digital – you do get instant feedback!)

Back at my computer, looking at the results, I was very pleased. It’s truly a new perspective, a new way to appreciate the beauty that I don’t even notice half the time.

This experience was exactly like a good brainstorming session. Simply by following a tiny impulse to look at it another way – upside down! – I was richly rewarded with something new. The key is that I didn’t tell myself, oh that’s stupid, or get overly analytical about it. I just went with the impulse.

I intend to use this technique the next time I am fixated on something that’s not working.

Five Steps to a Green Canine and Feline Footprint

photo courtesy of Nedda Wittels

by guest writer Nedda Wittels

Help Yourself, Help the Animals, Help the Earth.

How can having a greener footprint benefit our animals? Here are some thoughts and insights that have changed the way I care for my animal family members.

1. Feed Your Animals Naturally

Have you ever read the labels on your cat and dog food packages? Admittedly, you may need a magnifying glass to do so, but it is well worth the $10 or so investment to discover what you are actually feeding them.

Unfortunately, most of the pet foods readily available and promoted on TV are really full of things that no animal should be eating: chemical preservatives, artificial flavoring, meat by-products, and so on. Do you know what the big, long, barely pronounceable words in the contents list actually stand for? I challenge you to look them up online and discover what you are feeding your animals.

The expression, "You are what you eat " is correct, and today we and our animals are sicker than ever before. A lot of it has to do with what we are eating.

It’s time to tell the corporations that we want to feed our animals natural foods, not foods filled with industrial waste products. Companies are getting rid of industrial waste by putting it into your pet’s food.

Feeding organic foods (and some "all natural" foods) will mean healthier dogs and cats. Animals need foods filled with nutritious substances that are readily available to their bodies.

For example, what is a "meat by-product"? Do you ever see it in the meat section of your supermarket? Do you know that it’s the parts of the slaughtered animal that is considered unfit for human consumption? If humans shouldn’t be eating it, neither should our animals!!

Do you know WHY some pet food have artificial flavorings? Because no animal would touch the food if the real flavoring wasn’t covered up. Continued

The Evolution of Animal Health Care

photo of Cleophas by Karen Nowak

My friend Karen Nowak has put together a fascinating tele-series on animal wellness and health care.

Are you someone who has wanted to see Traditional Veterinary Medicine and Complimentary Animal Healing modalities work together?

Are you someone who has wanted to help change the climate of Animal HealthCare?

Are you someone who has wanted to utilize both Traditional Veterinary Medicine and Complementary Healing in your animal’s health care program?

Then this tele-series "The Evolution of Animal Health Care " Is For You.

Once a week for 8 weeks you will hear experts in :

  • Over-all animal health care – Dr Christina Chambreau D.V.M
  • Raw Food Diets – Bette Schubert & Dr Alexis Soutter D.V.M
  • Homeopathy – Dr Christina Chambreau D.V.M
  • Acupuncture – Dr Gregory Todd D.V.M, CVA
  • Herbs in Western Veterinary Use – Greg Tilford well known Herbalist and owner of Animal Essentials .
  • Animal Communication – Karen Nowak owner of Freedom Reins LLC
  • Food Therapy and Chinese Herbs -Terri Grow owner of Pet Sage
  • Complementary Acute & Chronic Pain Management – Dr Lynn Peck D.V.M

If you would like to help pioneer change in Animal Health Care please visit The Gentle Knowledge website and sign up today. You may continue to sign up throughout the series.