Tag Archives: government

Celebrate Women’s Equality Day with Those Who Paved the Way

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Today marks the 95th anniversary of American women gaining the right to vote and so, has been named Women’s Equality Day. In that time, much progress has been made and at the same time, it’s hard to believe that women have had a voice in American politics for less than a century. Time Magazine reported that only 20% of the US government is represented by a female while female voter turnout has surpassed males at every election since 1980.

With plenty of distance still to go in the world of women’s equality globally, we celebrate our ladies with words of wisdom from those who have come before and sacrificed greatly and pioneered in a variety of ways for the good of many: Continue reading

Trash: Making Beauty out of What We’ve Thrown Away

recycled orchestraWhat’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word trash?

Dirt. Germs. Land fill, maybe? Trash is what we call the things we no longer have a use for – the things we throw away and discard never to be thought of again. Even when it’s used in a derogatory sense for people it refers to them as the things we don’t want to think about, the things we wish would disappear. Trash is beneath us.

What about “recycle” though? That sounds better, right? It turns out that it’s not just plastic bottles and newspapers that can be re-used or re-created into something else. Things we throw away are being taken by very creative individuals to create new works of art. Favio Chavez is using the trash sent to a slum in Cateura, Paraguay to build instruments for his teenage students.  They make cellos out of rusted oil bins and violins out of old tin. Ordinarily a violin is worth more than a house in that slum. The families who live there raid the land fill for trash to recycle and re-sell and they’ve begun to make instruments for their children. The children then perform in the Recycled Orchestra.

They’ve managed a way to redefine something that inhabits the way they live. They’ve taken something “dirty” – the things we throw away – and made them into works of art that demand to be heard. You can find out more about their project and how you can support (and see the full movie) here.

In a different part of South America – on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil – artist Vik Muniz is trying to change the lives of a community of catadores, garbage collectors. They are an unemployed, marginalized part of society, collecting garbage in the largest landfill in the world for recyclable materials to sell and make their living. Vik creates portraits of them with the garbage they collect every day. His original intention was to create the portraits, sell them and use the money to help the catadores find an elevated station in life, but the art inevitably became a collaboration. Vik would take a picture of each of the catadores and then project it onto the floor of a nearby warehouse and every day the catadores would help him fill the picture with the recyclables they had found that day in the landfill. For three years they filmed the process and created a documentary called “Waste Land.” The workers say that the movie has lifted a stigma around their profession and the country of Brazil uses it to encourage recycling nationwide.

These stories take place in two different places, told by two different people with very similar themes. These projects force us to take another look at areas of humanity where we tend to turn a blind eye. They show us that the things we dismiss can be beautiful, the things we throw away can be works of art. So the next time you’re throwing anything away, take a deeper look.

VOD: Bill Nye Tells You Everything You Need to Know about Climate Change

The millenial generation grew up receiving their science facts from a guy with neat curly hair and a wonderful array of bow ties. Many of us are adults now and “Bill Nye the Science Guy” has long been off the air, but that doesn’t stop that magical man of science from trying to save the world anyway. In this YouTube video Bill describes what climate change is, how we got here and what we need to do to stop it.

“This climate science is no longer a matter of opinion, politics or dogma,” Bill says towards the end of the video. By the time the current population of children reaches middle age the human race’s carbon dioxide production will be double the earth’s natural carbon cycle – yet we are already seeing the hazardous effects through higher temperatures and more extreme weather. If we act now we can prevent things from getting worse but we are dangerously approaching the point of no return where we will be forced to recognize a new normal of extreme weather and unbearable temperatures. Why would we ever let that happen when there are so many clean energy sources being made available to us? That’s a question we should probably be taken more seriously.

Did you know this about climate change? Have you tried replicating Bill’s simple experiment? Let us know in the comments below!

Transparency is the New Marketing

Screen shot 2013-11-06 at 10.37.23 PMI write this post while anxiously waiting for confirmation on the passage or failure of WA State Initiative 522 that would require labeling of food products using GMO ingredients sold in the state.  Numbers are still rolling in from yesterday’s vote and even though many say it doesn’t look good, it’s still officially too close to call.  It’s no surprise the race is close – it was another David and Goliath battle, similar to the version in my own home state of California last year.  The No on 522 Campaign spent a record-setting $22M to defeat the bill.  The fact that the race is close given this statistic alone is in some way a sign of success for advocates of GMO labeling regardless of the ultimate outcome.

As I’ve said in previous posts on the issue of GMO, questions of technology and safety are, in my mind, less significant to the issue of transparency.  GMO may be good, it may be bad (if my opinion counts, I think it’s probably a mix of both), but without transparency about where it’s being used we cannot engage in a fair, thoughtful and productive debate.

To me, GMO is just an excellent poster child for the issue we are really talking about here…(Read the rest on KeeganSheridan.com)

VOD: Is Russell Brand an Anarchist or Just Smarter Than We Give Him Credit For?

Russell Brand has been known to rustle more than a few feathers for speaking his mind. He gets a bad wrap for his crude sense of stage humor or the details of his short-lived marriage to Katy Perry ending up in the tabloids. He doesn’t mind telling off reporters when they slack in asking thoughtful and researched questions and he’s all about sharing his enlightening experiences with yoga and meditation. But would you peg him for a political scholar?

He just finished a week as guest editor at New Statesman despite having never voted in his life. In a recent interview on the BBC’s Newsnight, Russell shared his disdain for the current political system and how it favors the rich hierarchy. He spends a large amount of time defending his position of not voting as his way of refusing to comply with a system that clearly doesn’t benefit the lower classes. Having grown up poor, Russell explains that’s why a lot of poor youth don’t vote – their apathy comes from growing up in a system that clearly doesn’t cater to their needs. Newsnight host bawks at Brand, saying he has no right to complain about a system that he doesn’t put a voice into – and Russell argues back that it seems pointless to voice an opinion in a system that doesn’t work. It seems like revolutionary talk, but the further he explains the more you realize it actually makes sense. Is voter apathy a sign of youth laziness or a call for political overhaul? Does it make Russell irresponsible for promoting these tactics or is he on to something?

Even if you don’t agree with Russell’s political sense, you should also check out this interview where he explains that every person is just a different physical representation of God – or the ordering force of the universe. You’ll see it sounds pretty similar to this Deepak Chopra interview. And you probably thought he was just a comedian with crazy hair.

Way to go Russell.

Congress is Acting Like Toddlers At Daycare

Washington DC Presidential InaugurationWashington lawmakers have been acting like little kids at daycare, wanting to play with the same action figure. They each grab a side and pull and pull. First, they are stuck in a stalemate – nothing happens other than both sides get angrier and more committed to having their way. So they get nastier. Then one side pulls harder and the legs or the head come off – the toy is destroyed. Now, neither side wins. When each tried to get their own way, more was damaged in the process. Congress is acting like toddlers at a daycare.

In a battle of egos instead of a commitment to results, we regress to childish behaviors. We become the center of our world and stake our claim – we refuse to relate, share or yield. I understand why 2, 3 or 4 year olds may have this response, what I don’t understand is why our elected public officials (committed to service) act like this. If we are so proud of our form of government and insist that other countries adopt it, what lesson does this behavior show them? If we are that committed to living our values of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, how does this response support this? The world sees us as acting like toddlers and justifying our childish behavior. Great lesson.

If we are truly committed to the same purpose – developing a country that lives its clearly stated core ideals – we are already all on the same side. We quickly unify when others threaten from the outside – we find our commonality and we unite. But when a challenge happens from within, we fall apart. We break into factions forgetting the value of every citizen. We see only our view. We want our way. We forget we are part of something larger. We forget that the goal of our society as created by our founding fathers is for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all of its citizens. Jacob Needleman shares in book, The American Soul – Rediscovering the Wisdom of the Founders, that the pursuit of happiness isn’t about the right to accumulate things, but rather for society to ensure the right of each of its citizens to be able to self-discover and live their intrinsic or God-given greatness – the ability to self-realize.

Religion, philosophy and science rarely agree. They do, however, agree in one specific area – that we are each created to be different, unique, amazing and great. Seeing each of us as great, valuable and important must be a critical understanding and belief of all public servants – to empower them to commit to the importance of the work of government to support a society that enables their people to be free to be all that they can be and one where everyone matters.

When we focus on our egos instead of on results, we inhibit our process of helping all of our citizens realize their greatness. We now think some are more great than others – more okay or more right than others. We create sides and insist on winners and losers. But in the analogy of the toy that gets destroyed by the fighting toddlers, we all lose when we can’t do something as fundamental as keep our government open to provide the services and functions it is responsible to do. The fact that either side could accept allowing it to shut down to get their way is akin to one of the toddlers destroying the toy just so the other toddler won’t be able to play with it – or anyone else for that matter. Congress – a day in daycare.

When we remove the ego – in life as well as in government – we allow for a focus on greatness – the greater purpose, good and view. We realize that to be a successful country, we have to work things out. We realize that collaboration and a commitment to a common purpose allows us to find solutions that evade those with an ego-driven mindset or agenda. By seeing each American as valuable, important and great, we can reframe our differences and focus on solutions that are not like Washington DC’s roads – gridlocked. In gridlock, nobody wins. No one gets their way. Nothing gets done. Instead, find the core commonality and build from there.

We own this mess because we voted these babies into office. With the vote to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling for a short time, we have been given another opportunity to show that when confronted with challenges, we don’t have to go to our Fox News and MSNBC corners and call each other names. Instead, we could look at the reason why we are here – to help everyone be all that they can be. That is what the pursuit of happiness really means – it is a call to step into our greatness. And our government has a hand in helping create a society that allows this to happen.

I can think of a perfect “time out” for this Congress – a permanent “time out” – a new Congress – one more committed to solutions, results and collaboration than egos, privilege and personal agendas.

Science reveals we are not all great at everything. That being said, we should therefore be more aware of electing to public office those whose natural abilities include negotiation, collaboration, empathy and innovation. Elect people whose passion is true service. Don’t let money elect, let ideas elect. Don’t let power elect, let solutions and effort elect.

Congress, grow up. Learn to share and you’ll still have a toy. Don’t learn to share and not only will you damage the toy, but you won’t be allowed back into daycare. The owners of the daycare have had enough of this behavior.

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Jay Forte, a former financial executive, is now a business and motivational speaker, certified life and CEO coach, author, and nationally ranked Thought Leader. As President and Founder of TGZ Group, he and his team provide customized talent-based tools that power extraordinary living and exceptional organizational results.

 He is the author of Fire Up! Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition and The Greatness Zone – Know Yourself, Find Your Fit, Transform the World. He created the workplace Fire Up! Coaching model and the life Greatness Coaching model which he uses with national and international clients.

 An avid writer, gardener and chef, he lives in Ft Lauderdale, FL.

VOD: Congress Suspended Democracy So Only One Person Could Re-Open the Government

If you haven’t been following the news regularly about the government shutdown this is one story to which you should pay attention. Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-Md) stood on the House Floor and attempted a motion to re-open the government. What followed was the revelation that on Oct. 1 House Republicans quietly passed a resolution that changed the standing House Rules so that only Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor can make a motion to re-open the government.

You read that correctly. Eric Cantor (or his designee) is the only person that can start the process of re-opening the government. That means that even if the every other Republican and Democratic representative is in favor of re-opening the government but Eric Cantor does not make the motion, the government stays shut down. Even the most powerful Republican in Congress – Speaker of the House John Boehner – can’t make the motion to re-open the government without Eric Cantor’s permission. The power to turn on the services paid for by our tax dollars and return hundreds of thousands of government workers back to their jobs is in the hands of one person.

Does that have your attention now?

Watch the video of Chris Van Hollen’s parliamentary inquiries to see for yourself.

What are your feelings on the video? How does this gel with your definition of democracy? Tell us in the comments below. 

3 Young Adult Books that Will Make You a Better Grown Up

The third week of October is annually celebrated as “Teen Read Week.” Since young adult fiction is in a golden age and having a large impact on our mainstream media (see: Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Twilight, etc) we thought we’d take a look at the section of the book store you normally leave to teenage girls.

NYT Best-selling author John Green says he has no interest in writing about adults because they are too cautious with their emotions. By writing stories about teenagers Green is able to ask and answer the tough questions directly without having to duck around the bush – teenagers go all in when it comes to their hearts and their curiosity. Through those qualities we as adults are able to be more honest with ourselves as to the questions we have about life, love, and the world we live in. Hence the reason for this list. Actually, speaking of John Green, let’s start with him.

 

1.) The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.faultinourstarsbookcover

Story:  Hazel Grace Lancaster has terminal cancer. Though doctors have miraculously found a way to stop the disease from spreading she knows she only has a limited time left and her life is defined by being a cancer patient. That’s until she meets Augustus Waters. They fall in love, go on an adventure and break your heart in every conceivable way. Obvious warning: keep a box of Kleenex with you at all times while reading this book.

Why you should read it: If you think about it, we all have the same death sentence as Hazel, hers is just sooner than most of ours. Still, Hazel’s decision to live her life to her fullest capability no matter if she has a few months, days or weeks left is inspiring. TFiOS isn’t about cancer, it’s about life. It’s about lowering our defenses to allow the important people in our lives to <i>really</i> matter. It’s about letting yourself to feel – the good, the bad, all of it – because if you don’t it doesn’t matter when your terminal date is, you’re not living anyway.

Similar reads: “Looking for Alaska” – John Green, “Everyday” – David Levithan  & “You Know Where to Find Me” – Rachel Cohn

 

the-hunger-games-wallpaper-logo-2560x16002.) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Story: To pay for the sins of uprisers 74 years before them, the citizens of the Panem districts must nominate one boy and one girl every year to participate in the Hunger Games – a sadistic, caged battle to the death for those unlucky enough to be chosen until only one “victor” remains. Katniss Everdeen volunteers as tribute for District 12 to save her sister Primrose from having to go in. As Katniss does everything she can to survive, she unknowingly sparks a revolution that could bring her entire system of life to its knees.

Why you should read it:  There is the obvious argument that by not reading these books (seeing the movies isn’t the same!) you are literally living under a rock. There is more to it than being pop-culturally relevant though. “The Hunger Games” is a story of human nature – how if we go unchecked humans have a disgusting habit of letting our egos destroy ourselves. By sparking the revolution Katniss has an inside look at how societies corrupt themselves, and has to find the strength within herself to stop the cycle from repeating. Most of us can’t relate to toppling governments or taking down dictators, but we can all learn something from breaking negative patterns and making choices to provide ourselves, and those we care about, with a better life.

Similar reads: “Divergent” – Veronica Roth & “The Maze Runner” – James Dashner

 

3.) Eleanor & Park by Rainbow RowellEleanorPark_thumb

Story: Eleanor is invited back to live with her mother after being kicked out by her abusive step-father for over a year. Every day she has to struggle to stay under the radar from his rage, while protecting her younger siblings and begging their mother to leave. Her life at home and her family’s complete lack of budget make it difficult for her to fit in at school – to the point Eleanor just wants to be invisible. Instead, she meets Park who shares his seat with her on the bus. It starts as a casual sharing of comic books so neither of them has to talk but inevitably they fall in love, and so starts the mission to save Eleanor from her hell at home and for Park to truly find himself.

Why you should read it:  It’s easy to be cynical of teenage love stories. They are too young to know better, right? “Eleanor & Park” proves that teenage naivety actually allows teenagers to fall deep enough into love to find strength and change the world, or at least the world around them. The beautiful thing about Eleanor and Park as characters is that they aren’t perfect. She isn’t a shy and clumsy, but strikingly beautiful damsel in distress. Park isn’t the smarter-than-he-wants-everyone-to-know athlete who gives a chance to the new girl. They have flaws, large ones. They have problems that are even bigger. There’s a quote that says “Love isn’t finding the perfect person, it’s seeing an imperfect person perfectly.” And these kids nail it on the first try. “Eleanor & Park” teaches us to love as deep as we can, no matter how scary it is. It’s a book about trust and inner strength and you find the people who will matter the most to you by being yourself.  By falling in love Eleanor and Park stop trying to blend in and allow themselves to really be seen for the first time.

Similar reads: “The Spectacular Now” – Tim Tharp & “Paper Towns” –  John Green

This is by no means a definitive list. What are your favorite young adult books? Was it “Catcher in the Rye” or something newer? Tell us in the comments below!

Celebrating a Practice That’s Changing Medicine

NaturopathicMedicineWeekNaturopathic Medicine Week is October 7-13th

I am a naturopathic doctor.

I represent a community of approximately 4400 practicing physicians in the United States.  We may be small in number, but what we lack in size we make up for in a passion and commitment to the philosophies we took an oath to honor:  that our bodies’ have an inherent wisdom of how to be well and our primary job as a doctor is to remove barriers to health in order to honor this ability, that at our core we are teachers and in order to truly cure, we must empower our patients to become active participants in their healing process, and that treating symptoms is not the end game, but merely clues to identify and treat the causes of disease.

When you’re small it’s often hard to be seen.  That’s why the recently passed Senate Resolution 211, establishing this week, October 7-13th, as national Naturopathic Medicine Week is such a big deal.

From the authors of the resolution,

“…naturopathic medicine provides noninvasive, holistic treatments that support the inherent self-healing capacity of the human body and encourage self-responsibility in health care”

They go on to state,

“That the Senate recognize the value of naturopathic medicine in providing safe, effective, and affordable health care; and encourage the people of the United States to learn about naturopathic medicine and the role that naturopathic physicians play in preventing chronic and debilitating illnesses and conditions.”

Awareness about what naturopathic medicine has to offer couldn’t come at a better time.  As a society, we’re really, really sick.  Two-thirds of us are overweight or obese, leaving us at risk for the development of serious diseases such as cardiovascular disease, arthritis and depression.  88 million of us have high blood pressure and 25 million have insulin resistant diabetes.  A full 75% of our national health care costs are focused on these chronic, yet largely preventable, diseases.

Naturopathic doctors (NDs) are specialists of diet and lifestyle-based treatments and it’s exactly these treatments that are proven to be the most effective medicine for the prevention and treatment of these chronic illnesses.  We receive an average of 70 hours of nutrition education and an additional 130 hours of training in therapeutic diets compared to an average of just 19 hours of basic nutrition education in conventional medical programs.  We look at the physical, emotional, environmental and social influences and approach each patient as the unique person that they are, using the least invasive (and often less expensive) treatment possible.  In addition, we tend to set up shop where we’re needed most, a full 50 percent of us work with underserved populations.

I believe naturopathic medicine is an essential part of the solution to our health care crisis.  We are a medicine that is changing medicine and it’s for this reason that I am celebrating Naturopathic Medicine Week.  To learn more about naturopathic medicine and find a naturopathic physician near you, please visit our national association, The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians.

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For more from Keegan please visit her website and make sure you follow her on Twitter

Why National Politics Are Largely Irrelevant To Your Personal Reality

shutterstock_74345122By Dr. Kulkarni

With the recent government shutdown, dysfunctional Washington politics, and passionate opinions on both sides of the political aisle, I’m going to make a bold assertion: what happens in the political world will be largely irrelevant to your personal reality.

There.  I said it.  I know it’s almost blasphemy; we are taught that being politically involved is our civic duty.  That what happens in Washington affects all of us.  That this country is doomed if (fill-in-the-blank with the party you’ve decided is evil) takes control.  And finally, that it is simple common sense to make sure that that the particular party that doesn’t represent our self-interest is stopped.

I don’t disagree with some of these premises.  Obviously, policies on healthcare, the economy, energy, and the environment do affect our daily lives on some level.  I also think in order for a democracy to work (or, rather, a Republic, which is what the United States is), we must make our individual and collective voices heard.

But with those objections preemptively addressed, I’d like you to consider whether or not a Democrat or Republican in the White House is really going to dramatically alter your daily reality.  Have you ever seen a billionaire become poor because a Democrat is now in power?  Sorry to break it to you, but people that are successful and know how to attract wealth on a personal level will just continue to do so.  They will find creative outlets, lucrative business deals, cultivate meaningful relationships, execute on ideas, and utilize the best accountants and lawyers just as they did before.  Sure, they may be taxed more or be faced with greater regulations, but their individual point of attraction and their ability to attract abundance on a spiritual / energy level is something politics won’t change.

On the flip side, do you really think someone who currently lacks abundance is going to magically be catapulted and become wealthy, productive, inspired, and motivated because of a shift in power in Washington?  The truth is, only you, as an individual, are creating your own reality.  You have the power within YOU to create opportunity, motivation, abundance, love, and creativity regardless of the political climate.  And if those traits are blocked within the individual, a shift in political power isn’t really going to help.

Think about your own life:  if you’re reading this, you’ve probably been alive in periods when both a Democrat and a Republican have been in power.  Has the trajectory of your life really changed that much in either case?  Have your relationships, your passions, your inspirations, and your goals been significantly altered?  No Democrat or Republican politician can save you from yourself, or can shift your energy for you.

For all the angst and anger about our national politics and who wins, the truth is, it’s not really affecting your ability to create your own personal reality.  You can choose to be happy, healthy, and successful through your personal choices.  And it’s these choices that are the true, effective catalysts in creating the changes you seek and the life you want, not the speech that some guy in Washington gave on election night.

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Dr. Kulkarni is a New York City based physician, spiritual author, and personal coach.  Find her @Dr_Kulkarni or visitwww.leveragingthought.com to learn more.

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