All Posts Tagged With: "Gratitude"

What’s Your Motivation Costing You?

collage Julie
In working with my clients, I’ve observed four common mistakes people make when greening their business. They relate to motivation, mindset, methods, and mentorship. Each mistake is costly in terms of wasted time, money, good will, credibility – it’s a long list.

Be honest – why do you want to go green in the first place? Are you worried about the state of the environment? About those poor polar bears and their shrinking ice floes? About toxic materials accumulating in the soil, water, and your body? About running out of resources?

Well, guess what? That’s the first mistake: to start from a motivation of fear, scarcity, anxiety, even anger. These can be excellent short-term motivators, as in the case of a medical emergency or a mugging. But for the long-term work that is sustainability, they are wholly inadequate, even exhausting. Not the foundation for the creative, joyful project of greening your business.

These gloom-n-doom environmental messages are the WORST way to try to stay motivated for the challenges of greening your business. They actually keep us in a state of separation from the very natural world with which we seek to reconnect, causing us to overlook potentially lucrative ideas and opportunities.

It is far more effective to move towards something we want, than to rail against something we don’t want. Think about it. When you are cold, you don’t get angry and struggle against the cold; you light a fire, you put on a sweater. You do something in the positive. When it’s dark, the way to change that is to turn on a light, not to complain and push against the darkness.

In the face of all the negative, disempowering messages we get about the state of the environment, how can we tap into a positive motivation and a deep sense of connection with the natural world? It’s really a practice, requiring continuous awareness and feedback. It’s also a call to be gentle with ourselves as we walk this green path. As Maya Angelou said, “You did what you knew how to do, and when you knew better, you did better.”

Here are three rich practices that work for my clients. They will help you tap into this inner awareness, sense of connection, and positive motivation. Try them and let me know how they work for you.

Practice 1: Gratitude

Here’s something we did in a recent “Green in 15” class. Treat yourself and go for a nice walk. Enjoy the springy weather, all the glory and abundance of the natural world as it is beginning to awaken from its winter slumbers. When you come back inside, make a list of everything you’re grateful for, right here, right now, today.

This is an excellent practice to draw your attention away from seeing only problems, challenges, things that are broken and need fixing.

Practice 2: Mission

Why do you care about green? What does going green mean to your business, to your personal sense of mission? How is this expressed your business? What does that mean for you – your sense of purpose, your vision of the future, your values, your influence in the world?

When a recent client did this, their Green Charter became infused throughout the company, marshalling creativity and accelerating their results. These include tremendous energy and water savings, dramatic reduction of CO2 emissions, reduced nitrates going into the Chesapeake Bay from their operations, and a popular employee challenge program to take similar actions at home.

Practice 3: Networks

Nature is organized in networks of networks, and we are a part of that system. Think of one aspect of your business and make a list of relationships – the people, systems, and technologies that you are connected to. Now, answer these questions:

1. For systems or technologies, how did this get here?
2. What did it take to get it to me?
3. What is it made of? (Or, In the case of relationships, how did I meet this person?)
4. What has this connection brought into my life?
5. What have I brought into this person’s life?
6. What has this connection led to?
7. What might it lead to in the future?

What was your experience in trying these practices? I would love to hear from you.

Thankful Thursday: Making Lemonade

We are starting a new tradition called Thankful Thursday. Each week, we will post on someone or something that we are particularly grateful for, including mentors, inspiring green business owners, and clients. The intent is to pause and reflect on the wealth that is always present. Comments are welcome!

To start off, today I want to write about my husband, Peter Garver.

If I really let fly, this post is likely to be long enough to read until next Thursday! Instead, I will keep it to this one topic. Two days ago, Peter was mugged in broad daylight while walking near his office. It’s a hip complex of restored old mills, now offices, Starbucks, a wine store, and a Whole Foods. Not exactly a high-crime area.

Peter is 6′-4″, so is not used to feeling threatened in any setting. Two guys tackled him from behind, and before he knew it he was face-down on the pavement being subjected to some rather brutal treatment. They took his wallet, but thankfully left his car keys and cellphone.

Besides the keys and the phone, what else is there to be thankful for in this dismal story?

1. Peter suffered injuries that required a trip to the ER (the ambulance was overkill, but adds to the story). Thankfully, he needed only three stitches in his elbow and a tiny staple in his scalp (ouch!). Given that we live in Baltimore (home of “The Wire“), this could have been so much worse.

2. He immediately understood how lucky he is and has spent very little, if any, time dwelling on his anger. He has kept the perspective that we live a rather charmed life in a city that has too many areas where people feel unsafe all the time.

3. He has instead channeled his anger and sadness to working with our City Council representative to get a security camera installed in this somewhat isolated stretch of walkway. This will ripple forth and be of benefit throughout our community.

4. The outpouring of sympathy and support from neighbors, friends, and colleagues has been phenomenal. These connections are always there; we just don’t often take the time to really feel and acknowledge them.

5. Peter opened himself to receiving the care and attention of many people. He even went for some bodywork, to clear out the energy and help to heal pulled muscles, bumps and bruises. In our culture, needing help is taken to be a sign of weakness that can be very uncomfortable. I have seen nothing but grace and humility from him.

6. Last (and best!), he demonstrates over and over the magic of a sense of humor. From his first, twinkle-eyed comment to me to the occasional black-humor quip, Peter has performed his own special brand of alchemy on this terrible event.

I hope these reflections trigger something in you that you are thankful for, whether in your personal life or business. If you are so moved, I’d love to read your comments.

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.

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

Are You Cultivating Abundance?

photo: Sarah Sloboda

You know that children’s song, "Make new friends, and keep the old. One is silver and the other gold?" Well, I’d like to introduce two friends — one silver and the other gold.

Sarah Sloboda is a New York-based photographer, who also blogs at University of Sarah: The Art School of Optimism. Her recent post, "How to Use a Little Money to Create a Lot of Joy ," will delight you with its wonderfully simple ideas on how to cultivate a sense of gratitude for the abundance that is all around us. Sarah suggests taking stock of what you DO have; offering your services to someone who admires and needs you; supporting small businesses; and counting your blessings. She asks, "What would the world not have unless you bring it?" Be sure to check out the information about her upcoming free teleclass, "True Voice: How to Begin to Hear It. "

Which brings me to my dear friend of many years, writer and gardener Mare Cromwell ‘s recent posts, "Alternative Currency of Kindness and Gratitude ," and the follow-up "Further Thoughts on Alternative Banking ." Some of you may know that alternative currency is one of my (many) interests. I wrote an article on it in a past issue of the Urbanite magazine. I just love the community-building aspects of it, the idea that money is simply a convenient form of exchange and that there are others. Like time, creativity, and caring.

Both of these brilliant writers are getting at something that is dear to me — partnership . Sharing our talents, cultivation of what is best in ourselves and in others. Being of service and practicing gratitude for all that we have and all that we are. I’d love to read your reactions to these great articles.

President Obama: Change to Spare

photo by: LaKaye Mbah

We at GOforChange are thrilled about the new leadership that will be coming into Washington in 2009. We are overwhelmed with gratitude to the millions of people who helped Obama’s campaign, voted for him, and otherwise brought about this historic result. Words fail us and we are just basking in the feelings of relief, hope, pride, and optimism for the future.

Obama is so inspiring because he embodies this thought by Thich Nhat Hanh : "Once there is seeing, there must be acting. Otherwise, what is the use of seeing?" Obama answered the call and now makes the tremendous sacrifice of leading our country forward. He is also realistic — he can’t do this by himself. He needs all of us to work with him and with each other — even when we disagree.

President-Elect Obama is someone who knows the value of forging community out of conflict.  For more thoughts on his vision, see our previous post from his visit to Maryland back in February.

Miniature Earth


A friend and colleague just sent me a link to this video. Take three minutes out from your busy life and bask in the beauty of the visuals and the music. We plan to watch it whenever our enthusiasm for our mission wanes or we forget just how grateful we are for all that we have and are able to do.