Tuesday, May 16, 2006

400 gallons for every American

The interdependency between oil and food is not one that the average American really understands. In reality, our food travels on average over 1500 miles from field to plate. This is a huge impact on the environment but that is only one of many ways that oil shows up in our food.

Recently, an article in the Oregonian newspaper highlighted how much oil goes into our food: To feed every American, 400 gallons are necessary in the following ways:
33% of the 400 gallons goes to fertlizers
20% of the 400 gallons goes to operate machinery like tractors
16% of the 400 gallons goes to transport food
13% of the 400 gallons goes to irrigation processes
8% of the 400 gallons goes to raise livestock
5% of the 400 gallons goes to pesticides
5% of the 400 gallons goes to miscellaneous needs.

With over 275 million people @ 400 gallons each, it is easy to see that local food production can have a serious impact on our oil dependency. Add to that changes in growing methods towards more organic vs. industrial farming using tons of pesticides and fertlizers and again our need for oil can also be reduced.

Its up to us--the choices we make in how our foods are grown and where our foods are grown can be proactive. Make an attempt to buy local, join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm, grow some of your own food in Earthboxes, buy organic whenever possible. Every choice you make can reduce your 400 gallons and if enough of us do this, it could have a serious impact while improving our communities and environments!

I know I need to but I don't want to

I was talking with a new client who had just finished her Life Puzzle assessment. As we looked at her scores, the nutrition and exercise areas were very low. At the same time, she was dealing with lots of anxiety and emotional issues. So I said to her, "In Life Puzzle--every piece impacts the whole--so by improving your nutrition choices and beginning an exercise program, a lot of your anxiety and emotional issues will also be improved."

She responded--"Yes, I know I need to start exercising, eat better and stop smoking but right now I don't want to". And she said it so matter of factually. Then she continued saying that for her at least--exercising, eating well and not smoking were all activities that were going to require attention, effort and hard work. From her current perspective, this 'need' was in conflict with her more immediate 'want' of having relief from her anxiety and emotional stress.

What she was essentially acknowledging was the 'reactive, quick fix', 0-5 side of the Choosing Continuum--where choices are made to 'fix problems' that are presently in front of me at the time. From this perspective, we usually look to find the easiest, instant gratification choices--even if they only provide symptom relief. And for her, this was the option to smoke, have a few cocktails and eat the easily available foods.

It made me reflect on the 'want vs. need' relative to the two sides of the Choosing Continuum.
When you operate your life primarily from the 0-5 style, 'wants' are immediate, quick fix, problem removers. 'Needs" on the other hand are the things you should do, but they require effort and sometimes hard work as you make the changes necessary.

But what happens when you operate your life primarily from the 6-10 side of the Choosing continuum? Now, 'wants' are such that making choices are focused on long-term outcomes, whole life making--such that the effort made is not seen as hard but as joyful because it leads to such better long term results. I want to eat a healthy balanced nutritious lifestyle not because I'm supposed to but because I want to--because I want a great, whole and dynamic life. Needs and wants now merge together! Yes, I know I also 'need' to exercise, but that takes a back seat to I want to exercise because I know the result is feeling great and without exercise, I rob myself.

As I've noted many times--90% of the population is operating their lives from 0-5 and has this want/need dilemma! Everyone opts first for 'feel good right now' vs. feel good for a lifetime. Shifting to the 6-10 is the discovery of building your Life Puzzle such that choices that look like a need for 0-5ers become wants instead.

For example, when someone asks me what I eat, I always say, "I eat whatever I want". People respond, "Oh, I could never do that--because from their 0-5 way of seeing things "eating anything I want means not eating the foods I need/should eat". But for me, my 'want' is great, healthy and whole food--because I know how good it feels to live when I eat like that. I don't feel like I give up anything I want because my 6-10 focus is such that I want to create a lifestyle vs. quick fix, immediate gratification of eating junk food."

It wasn't always like that for me--I was a junkfood junkie and I can remember a friend suggesting I make changes--and saying pretty much what my client said to me--"I want to eat these foods." My friend said, "That's fine...just add a few more of these other foods". In time, the foods I wanted shifted to the foods I needed. Then, need and want merged into Life Puzzle making.

That's what I hope will happen with my client and everyone who uses Life Puzzle model as a framework for building a great life. Where your 'wants' meet your needs and you can live vibrantly every day!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Marriage is a lot like yoga...10 years before you're really into the practice!

I was talking to a friend who is a yoga instructor. The topic however was marriage. I was saying that I thought we give up too early on our marriages--that it really isn't until about the 10th year of marriage that one is actually getting into the groove of a good marriage. Her comment kind of surprised me as she said "That's what they say about yoga practice too. It takes about 10 years before you're really into the groove of practicing yoga."

We then went on to discuss the parallels of what it means to work on a marriage relative to what it means to practice on the yoga mat. If you've ever practiced yoga--you know that it is in the repetition and consistency of returning to the mat that transforms you. I know when I started practicing yoga--the first video I used, I couldn't even complete! It wasn't that it was so very difficult--but it was more than I knew how to do. But, I just kept practicing that tape, over and over. Today, I can do that tape with ease, but it was only by returning to the mat over and over again that I could reach that level.

The same is true with marriage! In the first few years, learning how to live with another person, build good communication channels, setting goals, etc., is very challenging and difficult. Most of us, quite frankly, aren't very good at it! We make lots of mistakes, blame our partners for not being any better at it than we are and wake up a few years into the marriage wondering what the heck we're doing here! Much like the early years of being on the mat--it is tempting to just give it up altogether! What's the point--it's hard work, you don't often see immediate results and there's a lot of other places you could put your energy and have more fun!

And so we do give up on our marriages--way too soon. We walk out in the hard part, afraid to trust that, like yoga, if we try again, we can learn to be better communicators, we can know our selves better and thus be able to open ourselves to knowing our partners on a deeper level.

As a marriage counselor, I try hard to convince couples to give their marriages more time because I've seen time and time again those couples who, despite being in a very unsettled period of their marriage, stick it out and receive incredible benefits as a result. They take the angst they're in and dive into it--doing both individual work and couples work. Little by little they learn new communication techniques, they confront some of their own issues and move through them so that these issues no long stunt their marriage.

I won't kid you--its hard work--but you know, like yoga--with each return to the mat, you get just a little bit better at it and one day you look back and realize, 'wow, I can hold that pose for two minutes when just three months ago I couldn't hold it for two seconds! My clients who hang on through the angst times of their marriage also look back and realize that the partner they could barely stand to look at during the tough times they are now deeply in love with! This is the joy that is only possible by staying and working in a marriage.

If you look at any great marriage--or any yoga master, all will say that there were good times, hard times, times they all felt like quitting. But the yoga master stayed and can now look back on all those tough times and enjoy what those challenges produced. The same is true for long term marriages--you can only look back to see the joy of what those challenges produced if you keep the marriage together.

In its own way, building your marriage is just like building your Life Puzzle--it is a life-long learning experience. Like the yoga master, mastering your Life Puzzle and building a great marriage is a daily process--it isn't finished until the day you die. As you return to the mat, over and over again--return to your marriage each day as well. In both, the effort extended is the only way to produce the change and growth you desire!