FINDING FULLNESS

WORDS & IMAGE: KATE WEINER

My life has been very busy lately but it hasn't necessarily felt "full." During weeks like these, when I'm tired of careening from one thing to the next and hungry for moments of transcendence, it helps to ground myself in those small moments, however fleeting, when I feel deliciously present. Today was a gorgeous cool spring day. I spent my lunch break walking through the sweet air and it was so sumptuous to simply be, enjoying the birdies & the pink buds & my ginger tea. 

One of my greatest struggles as an activist is that in my urgent desire to create radical change, I find myself conforming to capitalist systems of productivity. There will be weeks when I am almost always either on my screen or at strategizing sessions, writing, working, thinking, fighting, because I'm afraid that I can't afford the luxury of sitting still. 

 I spend so much time searching and working and wracking up experiences. And sometimes, it makes me feel full, and sometimes, it just makes the days busy. I almost always want more.

But I want to continue to hunger, to dream, to act, without losing the ability to savor the simplicity of the moment and the soul-nourishing necessity of a lazy day. More isn't always better. 

When I think about the times I have felt most full in my life, most alive, it is when I'm loving & being loved & not much else. And I think the key to cultivating a sustainable relationship with our planet is to recognize that's all we really need to do, most of the time. 

So my challenge to myself (and to you all) is to pursue something, someone, some place, that makes you feel full this week. Find the love you have been looking for and soak it up.

THE CONSCIOUS KITCHEN: ENVIRONMENTALISM & INTUITIVE EATING

WORDS & IMAGE: HOLLY LOWERY

Since I was in gradeschool I have been hyper aware of my impact on the earth. From being the nerdy kid who asked her peers to stop littering on the playground, to becoming the president of my school’s ECO club, I have always had this deeper concern for the environment.

But I remember always thinking to myself, “I could do better.” There always seemed to be someone who was doing more than I was, and it quickly turned into that comparison trap; where it was no longer all about creating a smaller footprint but instead convoluted by a desire to compete.

Fast forward a decade or so, a lot of self study, and even more self awareness and I no longer feel the need to be the perfect environmental activist.

For those who aren’t familiar with my work I am a health coach and an anti-diet advocate. In my line of work I get to do a lot -maybe too much sometimes- of reflection. And in that reflection I’ve come to draw quite a few parallels between embracing the anti-diet [rejecting the diet mentality, eating intuitively and feeling comfy in your body] and living with more awareness of our impact on the earth.

 

1. Both require a conscious curiosity

Conscious curiosity is the act of consciously and deliberately asking yourself questions. All. The. Time. Getting curious about your impact and your relationship with food + body opens a door for change. Asking yourself a question like, “How is THIS act going to affect the environment? Where is this trash going to end up?” starts an inner dialogue that will begin to subtly impact your consumer choices. Asking yourself a question like, “How am I feeling right now, physically and emotionally? What do I really want right now?” allows you to see deeper into your true desires, and often times shows you that what you thought you wanted [better abs, another piece of cake, another drink, etc.] isn’t really what you want after all. And sometimes it is what you want; but having that deep curiosity allows you to get clear about it.

2. Perfectionism can’t play a part

Life is never perfect. We all logically know this, yet somehow we usually end up in a constant pursuit of perfection; and when that perfection isn’t met we beat ourselves up over it. Dieting is especially good at making us feel like failures; at triggering the all or nothing thinking. But just like when I was younger and thought I could be a better activist, I eventually learned that feeling GOOD has absolutely nothing to do with being perfect. And in fact,a large part of learning to eat intuitively again is about embracing that imperfection and being kind to yourself. Just like we don’t live in a circular economy, we also don’t live in a world where gentle nutrition is prioritized over perfectionism, so we have to use that conscious curiosity to embrace the imperfection; ‘cause it’s going to happen!

3. You must get clear about your values

What do you value in this life? What are the things that make you light up? What parts of your life are really working for you right now? Which parts aren’t? How do you want to feel? These questions of curiosity are crucial in defining your values. The Zero Waste lifestyle is all about getting clear about what you value most and using those values to guide you in your consumer choices. Intuitive eating and anti-dieting are also deeply rooted in values; in order to make choices that consistently honor your body, mind and spirit, you’ve first got to know what you value most- what you really want out of this life.

Write those values down and keep them at top of mind. They’re going to be your pocket map to feeling GOOD about your body and your choices.

4. Keep it simple

Don’t go nuts and throw out everything you own at once, start only eating plants and relocate to the jungle- unless that’s what you really want [use that conscious curiosity!] For most people that’s not sustainable, and quite honestly not the most beneficial. Instead work towards simplifying—your home, your closet, your shopping. Over time these shifts towards simplicity make the biggest impact. Making more intuitive choices with food is very similar; it can literally be as simple as asking yourself, “What sounds really good right now?” Okay cool. Now go eat that. Sometimes it’s the pizza, sometimes it's the smoothie; don’t overthink it.

5. Both result in empowerment

Knowing that the choices you’re making on the day-to-day are coming from a deep connection to your values; knowing that your choices are a direct result of what YOU want- that’s empowerment. Again, you’ve first got to get curious and clear about those values but once you’ve done that, honoring them basically becomes a no-brainer. 

SHED YOUR SKIN

WORDS: LILY MYERS

My baby cornsnake, Calliope H. Danger, just shed her skin for the first time. I woke up and was thrilled to see the translucent outline of her body, left where she’d wriggled out of it the night before. Having grown in the past month, she needed a larger sheath of skin to inhabit. And the paper-thin, scaly remnants (which I took pictures of like a proud mother) are all that remain of the old Calliope. Now, with her old layer of skin gone, she’s ready to continue expanding.

Snakes intuit when it’s time to begin shedding (a process called ecdysis). Once they’re ready, they rub their head against an object to loosen the skin, which they can then slither out of. Immediately afterward, the snake enters the “resting stage”, according to Harvey B. Lillywhite’s book How Snakes Work. Then, the skin enters its “renewal stage”, in which fresh, more vibrant skin is formed. Though the cycle’s length varies for each species, all snakes go through this process. Because their scales contain the rigid material keratin, their skin can’t stretch and grow with them. To grow, they must leave the old scales behind.

I learned once in a yoga class that when you chant the syllable Om, you release everything that no longer serves you. Now whenever I chant this syllable, I imagine no-longer-helpful patterns and habits dissolving away, falling off me like an old skin. I imagine stepping out of these old ways of being, the rigid rules I used to wear that now keep me from growing. Like snakes, we must shed the old structures of our lives in order to expand.

I’ve come to think that rigidity is the antithesis of growth. If we refuse to be flexible in our habits and lives, we’ll find ourselves stagnant and frustrated. Rigid rules do not work well in real life; there are too many wild factors, too many changes and emotions and unpredictable occurrences. We must be able to face each day with fluidity, with the ability to adapt and shift. We need to be able to change our minds, to admit mistakes, to see things differently. We need to shed our old, stiff skin, and embrace something fluid and new.

This often means letting go of ideas about who, and how, we are. We become so many different people in the course of our lives. Who you are today is a vastly different human than who you were a year ago, or five years, or ten. You’ve shed your skin many times, even if you weren’t aware of it. You released notions of who you were-- where you lived, how you looked, how you identified. Identity is empowering and important, of course, but identities change. And refusing to accept that is like trying to stuff ourselves into skin that no longer fits.

Take, for instance, the identity you assume when you’re in a romantic relationship. You become someone’s significant other, and you fully adopt that role. You identify as part of a pair, and you often identify with the other person’s life path, family members, etc. Then, when you break up, that identity shatters. You must assume a new identity; you don a newer, vibrant skin after shedding the papery remnants of the old. Of course, this can be an extremely difficult and confusing process. Saying goodbye to an old identity can be heart-wrenching. But when we turn to embrace the new— that shinier level of fresh skin that arises during the “renewal stage”, we find something that fits us even better. An identity that’s up-to-date, a skin that fits our current needs to move and shake and grow.

That’s why it feels so good to make physical changes during phases of transitional “skin-shedding”; a drastic haircut or a new look is a way of announcing to ourselves and the world that we’re newer, wiser, different. After a particularly special women’s retreat recently, during a tough transitional time, I cut off nine inches of my hair on impulse. It felt so intensely right. It was a clear signal to myself that I was entering a new phase of my life. I’d shed an old skin, and symbolizing it physically felt liberating.

This morning, Calliope peeked her head out from beneath her water bowl (her favorite hiding spot). In the glow of the infrared light I could see the more vibrant grey-brown skin on her growing body. Me too, Cal, me too, I thought.

 

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE AN ACTIVIST?

WORDS: KATE WEINER

IMAGE: CHRISTIAN O'ROURKE

I want to tell stories that make a difference in this world. That inspire people to fall in love with our sensuous & spellbinding earth. That make you wake up hungry to fight. That give you the tangible tools to do so.

As a writer, however, I struggle to claim my work as "activism." I consider the time I spend in strategizing sessions, rallying in public, and organizing community events to be activism. I look at my own art as less than.

Since the election, we've been getting many more messages than usual at Loam thanking us for our work. I've had folks share that Loam is inspiring them to take concrete action during a time of profound crisis. And I'm starting to realize that if I want to turn the wild hope these loves notes bring into tangible change—if I want to move Loam from a magazine and toward a movement—I have to claim the work that I do to be as valid and vital a branch of activism as the work of my badass climate organizer friends.

From our very beginning, Loam has believed that art is activism. We celebrate dancers and musicians and herbalists who are using their unique skills to reimagine our relationship to our infinitely precious planet. Why wouldn't I extend that same appreciation to my own work? Stories shape the steps we take. 

I know I'm not alone in this. Many of us are socialized to dismiss the power of our passions. But when our world needs every one of us fighting for her, we can't afford to throw our power away. 

Each one of us is an activist when we catalyze our passions to inspire change. Activism isn't only about direct action, although being a body in this world is very much a part of it. It's about embodying hope, both on the streets and in the sanctuary of your home. 

You can feel this weirdly warm winter in your bones and mourn what our world will look like—parched, hot, barren—if business continues as usual. And that can scare you into staying the same.

Or you can lean into the reality and plant your feet firmly in that fertile strip of hope that separates the present moment from the hypothetical future. You can believe that you have the power to be the tipping point because you make art that stirs your soul and anything that stirs your soul has the potential to stir others. You can take ownership of your actions and the collective impact of your everyday decisions. Because if you can't embody hope for the world you want, the world you want will never exist. 

You are a revolution unto yourself. And sometimes, the very first step toward embracing that fiery, raw, nervy power is reclaiming the role of "activist." It's a small reframe that can help you truly believe in your capacity to change. 

WHY LANGUAGE MATTERS

How we talk about our current political climate will shape how fiercely we fight Trump's terrifying policies. In the last week alone, Trump's slew of executive orders has left our world infinitely less safe. As frightening as it is, we need to be ungovernable. We need to talk in terms that inspire action, sustain hope, and turn our valid rage into vessels of change. 

Herewith, three ways to rethink where we are and what we can do. 

FASCIST VS DEMOCRACY

We are now living in a fascist state. And it's important to call it what it is because it reminds all of us how high the stakes are when we take to the streets, pressure our politicians to have a heart, and advocate for grassroots change. 

PROTECTORS VS PROTESTORS

In Yes! Magazine, David Korten writes: 

Resistance and protest are reactions against an unjust act or regime. Protection is a positive affirmation of what we value, what we hold sacred.

When we call ourselves protectors, we cast our role as fulfilling our responsibility to the community that sustains us—not for our personal benefit, but for the benefit of all.

I value resistance. I think the terms embodies the kind of work we are doing right now to fight for our precious earth and fundamental human rights, But if we are always "reacting" as Korten argues, we risk losing steam. We have to rebuild at the same time as we resist. And that's what I love about seeing our work as protecting rather than protesting—it reminds us of what matters most. 

REGULATIONS VS PROTECTIONS

George Lakoff has it right in this essay on semantics. When any politician argues for the removal of regulations for short-term profit, they are really removing protections that keep us safe from harm. 

 

We have the power to shift the narrative. To tell a story of resilience and renewal and resistance. And that begins by truly reflecting on the words we use and the power that they can gift us. 

 

CAST YOUR VOTE

WORDS & IMAGE: EVAN HAZELETT

On Saturday, millions of demonstrators across the country came together in solidarity to let the world know that women’s rights are human rights, that we won’t sit idly while an insecure sexist and bigot takes aim at our dignity and our safety.

In every major city, turnout substantially exceeded expectations. Washington anticipated 250,000 marchers, but saw half a million strong. Boston expected 40,000 and was greeted by 150,000 voices. Los Angeles expected 80,000, and was engulfed by a cascade of 750,000 hopeful feet in the streets.

Everywhere, the story was the same. The aerial footage is awe-inspiring. I am tremendously proud of those who took a stand, both the strong and brave women and men I know as well as all the strangers who are truly my soul sisters and brothers.

Yet, despite the intense pride and invigoration I experienced on Saturday, I found myself split down the middle, and still do. I am incredibly angry, on the one hand. I want to fight. I want to shout. If only I could scream so loud all the injustice would melt away. I am invigorated. I am inspired. I know how much work there is to be done. I will be a part of that work. I'm ready to get after it.

On the other hand, I just want to curl up in a ball and cry. I'm hurting a lot. My heart soaks up the world's hurt through osmosis. Under the fight is a deeper sadness. That we should even have to fight this fight in the first place. That we should even have to scream. That there are hearts made of stone, woven with prejudice and hatred, who would sooner cause suffering than relinquish an ounce of privilege and power. That the rights of my mom, and my partner, and my aunts and cousins, and all my other sisters out there are threatened daily, their value as humans deemed lesser. That black and brown bodies are deemed lesser. That their struggle is generations old, pain generations old, a struggle I can't possibly begin to comprehend. Overwhelmed by this pain. My lungs freeze and my chest shrinks as I cringe with this pain. I can't even fathom the hate. If I stare too long into its jaws my eyes begin to sting, blurring my conviction.

But in the wake of this historical day, I have swept away the haze, my purpose scorching back into focus with eyes set on the weeks to come. This crushing sadness I feel is nothing to the rage that lives inside me. I will not tolerate an abhorrent world of suffering and inequality. I never have and I never will. I have and will continue to dedicate my life to educating and inspiring and transforming our broken systems. 

It didn't start today. It started yesterday. It started a month ago. A year ago. Twenty-five years ago when I was born, this fight had already made a home beneath my ribs. It's been burning and building and evolving and growing. I will not stop. We cannot stop. The power of collective action on display Saturday is but a foundation. We must keep that energy alive, assembling the structures from which we will mount our resistance. 

But don’t overwhelm yourself with unrealistic expectations. Your resistance doesn’t have to be groundbreaking, top-down, system-shattering change. One of the biggest ways you can make a difference is to simply cast your vote every single day. 

I'm not talking about voting for elected officials. I'm talking about taking ownership over every decision you make, every single day. So you marched on Saturday — that's a great starting point. But now what?

Access the power in your daily decisions. Do you buy cheaper soap that hurts the planet? Stop that. Do you buy cheaper meat that is the product of cruelty? Stop that. Do you keep your emotions from your partner? Stop that. Do you stay silent when your friend is being racist or sexist? Stop that. Are you a business owner who pays your Latina workers less to cut costs? Stop that. Do you buy and buy and buy things you don't need? Stop that. Do you accept plastic bags at stores because it's more convenient than bringing your own? Stop that. Are you complicit in social systems that perpetuate misogyny? Stop that. Do you drive alone when you could easily carpool or, better yet, bike or take public transit? Stop that!

If you stand for something, then walk the walk. Though you may not always see the results of your efforts, you are not powerless. Every decision you make supports one thing and ignores something else. There is never abstaining, only choosing. “Opting out” is merely “opting in” for the opposite cause. 

So, put your support, your money, and your voice where your heart is. Just as tens of millions of individual, seemingly unrelated votes aggregate to a force that determines a presidency, so too do millions of consumer decisions, relationship decisions, and personal decisions aggregate to a force that determines the direction of the world. 

Respect life beyond the big moments. Take pride in the quotidian.

In my lowest moment on Saturday, I found comfort and empowerment in poetry. And the wonderful Rupi Kaur in Milk and Honey was really speaking to me. Her poem below is a perfect example of the agency we have as individuals in changing the world. The actions of every child’s parents, appearing disparate in isolation, aggregate to the collective rearing of the next generation. 

Your actions never exist in a vacuum. They are always part of a greater whole.

To every father out there, read closely:

every time you
tell your daughter
you yell at her
out of love
you teach her to confuse
anger with kindness
which seems like a good idea
till she grows up to
trust men who hurt her
cause they look so much
like you


- to fathers with daughters

 

ANGRY AT THE WORLD?

WORDS AND IMAGE: KATE WEINER

Like millions of Americans, I have woken up the last few days angry and anxious. We are living in a nightmare and it can be overwhelming to find the resolve to fight against this evil when every damn day brings with it a fresh horror—an executive order to resume the Dakota Access Pipeline, a freeze on grants to the EPA, a call to suspend funding to international organizations that provide access to abortions. It's surreal to have an administration in office that aggressively doesn't give a shit about its constituents. 

But to be demoralized would give Trump what he wants—the more we live in fear, in helplessness, in sorrow, the more power we gift him. And I sure as hell am not going to do anything to make that money-grubbing monster feel at ease in the world. My will to activate change and willingness to pursue joy are radical acts of resistance. 

So even though it can be very difficult, we have to fight. This means taking it day by day rather than spiraling into existential despair (I'm not always good at this, but I try). We have to remember that change always happens from the ground up. We are ungovernable. We are powerful. And we have proven that. Think back to earlier this month. What happened when the Republicans announced their intention to gut the Ethics Committee? Thousands of Americans phoned in to voice their rage and the Republicans dropped it. Trump might not give a fuck about our country—those who voted for him will be as screwed over as those who voted against him—but many of our Senators and Representatives do, if only because it will increase their likelihood of reelection. 

Put pressure on our politicians. Restore power to the people. Honor intersectionality across movements. And bring the following actions into practice this very day to remind yourself of your wild, reckless, world-changing power. 

PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS

If you are afraid of what the completed construction of Keystone and DAPL will mean for us (because we are our environment) consider the ways that your everyday actions support the fossil fuel industry. Maybe you belong to a corporate bank with a vested interest in the destruction of water resources and the decimation of Native liberation. Maybe you buy many of your beauty products, medicines, food, and cleaning supplies in plastic packaging (plastic production keeps the fossil fuel industry afloat). Maybe you are continuing to pay your energy bill to a company that relies on a fossil fueled grid. Whatever it is, you can challenge your dependence on this toxic industry today. Here's how:

  • DIVEST. Yes! Magazine has an excellent resource guide on where to move your money. 
  • GO TRASH-LIGHT. It's a simple and satisfying way to not only infuse your everyday with abundance, but also to weaken your reliance on fossil fuels. 
  • SUPPORT RENEWABLE. If you rent an apartment, consider signing up for Arcadia Power, a clean energy company that invests in wind and solar farms. In most cities, the energy powering the grid can be derived from multiple sources. Arcadia can ensure that a greater percentage of that energy comes from renewable sources. 
  • GIVE WEEKLY. Set up monthly donations to vital resources such as the NRDC, Planned Parenthood, 350, and the Southern Poverty Law Center. No amount of money is too little to give. 

CALL CONGRESS

Put it in your planner every single day to call your State Senators and Representatives at 202-224-3121 (an operator will hook you up to the relevant office) to voice your dissent. Democratic AND Republicans alike need to hear from you. It takes two minutes to state your name, zip code, and reason for calling. This week, the attention will be on appointments. Ask your Democrats to do everything in their power to fight the confirmation of folks like Scott Pruitt and Betsy DeVos. And ask your Republicans to reconsider the ways that their support will drastically impact your state (Pruitt's plans for deregulation, for example, will worsen air quality and cause contamination in our precious waterways. This affects EVERYONE, regardless of affiliation). 

SUPPORT INTERSECTIONALITY

If you weren't already, start having conversations with people in movements different than the ones you are in. The struggles and successes of Black Lives Matter, LGBTQI, Muslim, feminist, environmentalist, Latinx, and immigration activists are profoundly interwoven. We have to uplift, support, love, and listen to one another. 

CREATE SPACE FOR JOY

This is a non-negotiable. Self-care is not selfish—you deserve to live a love-filled and luscious life, and you cannot let Trump take that away from you. Fight everyday. Wholeheartedly. But never fight without fitting in the time to hike in your hometown or share a meal with friends or spend a delicious evening making art. 

Rage. Resist. Rest. That's all we can do. And we will do it. 

FEAR IS NOT THE SAME AS THE TRUTH

WORDS & IMAGES: KATE WEINER

I went to a climbing gym this past weekend for the first time in forever. I had kind of forgotten that I am terrified of manmade heights. I can happily scramble up an exposed mountainside but will cling to the wall if I'm ever in a skyscraper. More than halfway up a wall, I found myself paralyzed by fear. I knew I was safe because I could wildly swing five feet to the left and my friend belaying would still have my back (tested that move once or twice). But I felt rooted in place by fear. I really couldn't go one more inch higher, no matter the reality. 

This experience reawakened my understanding that primal fear isn't the truth. Fear is powerful but it's not omnipotent. 

For our readers across the world—in the U.S., in Canada, in Italy, in New Zealand—Trump's impending Inauguration can feel catastrophic. Many of us have been overwhelmed by fear. I'm writing this now at five in the morning, wrested into waking by nightmares. I'm a fierce fighter most days but nights are so freaking hard. All my sadnesses crawl out. Deep sleep is elusive. I get up and turn on my twinkly lights and try to breathe. 

But then I say to myself—as I did this morning curled up under the covers—fear is not the same as the truth. My anger is real and valid and warranted. But my fear?

Fear to my mind's eye means we don't have agency. And we do. We have tremendous power. We have on our side not only radical love and a ruthless desire to protect the people and places that matter most to us, but we also have a growing army of lobbyists, artists, activists, scientists, farmers, and organizers who are using their skills to advocate for and activate real change.

We have the potential really, to become ungovernable. That's a theory that can feel isolating until we start to put it into practice. Until we show up at Town Hall meetings and realize that there are so many people in our community who share our suffering and our vision for change. Until we commit to supporting renewable energy and find that in just a few weeks, we have inspired ten of our nearest and dearest to do the same. Until we refuse to allow Trump's brutality toward ethnic and sexual minorities to be normalized by supporting our brothers and sisters in our collective pursuit of justice.  

Fear homogenizes the world. It assumes we exist in linear planes of actions and reactions. But hope—and the ability to act within that hope—lives within the rich nuances of reality. Hope makes room for multiple ways of being. 

Reminding myself that fear is not the same as truth doesn't necessarily free me from fear. Sometimes when I'm caught in the throes of panic, I wish I could go back to what it felt like to fall asleep in my boyfriend's arms when we were still in love and Obama was President and I had so many dreams stirring up my soul. It's the last time that I remember feeling truly at ease in spite of my eco-anxiety. And sometimes, I wish I could go back even further, to when I was five or six and couldn't sleep and my mom would rub my back and sing "Dream A Little Dream" to me. I wonder if I'll ever feel the safe again. It makes me said I might not.

But I am also alive to the world in ways I never was before. I have fear but also a drive to fight. I have anxiety but also the ability to soak up the beauty of a morning hike. When I say to myself fear is not the same as the truth, I'm reminding myself that I am made up of multiple truths. And that's what gives me the freedom to grow, to imagine, to work for a better world.