Monday, October 30, 2006

our greatest fear

Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate,
but that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us.
We ask ourselves,
Who am I to be brilliant,
gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.
It is not just in some; it is in everyone.
And, as we let our own light shine, we consciously
give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.

- Marianne Williamson in A Return to Love

Two things happened yesterday that really helped center me, which came at a good a time since I've been fairly stressed. First, I watched the movie Akeelah and the Bee with Matt and the kids. What an inspiring movie. It included the above quote, which I'd heard before. I love it though, and it really speaks to me, as I often struggle with alternating feelings of insecurity and powerlessness with feelings of being "too much" and and do not want to convey that to others. How can I be proud of my accomplishments, and the knowledge of how far I've come in my life, without it coming across as if I am haughty, especially when I do not feel that way in my heart?

I am my own fiercest critic, both professionally and personally. That said, it is incredibly common for me to internalize the perceived (and real) negative messages and vibes that come across from others, and allow that negativity to rule my thoughts rather than the more loving truth of grace - that I am ok exactly as I am on this lifelong journey toward becoming more whole, more real, more loving, more kind, more forgiving, more gentle - with myself and others. And it helped remind me that it is ok to admit my strengths and not be ashamed, as if acknowledging my strengths somehow makes me un-humble.

The other thing is a moment I will treasure in my heart for years to come. Around 10pm I picked up my best friend Daline from her sister's wedding - and back at my house, she sang me a song she had written and it was one of those moments that filled me with a truly centering uplifting grace. She has spent the last 9 mo or so in a Buddhist monastery, and when we left Peru there were some tensions, but we'd gotten past them before she got here though we talk less because of her schedule. But she was in such a beautiful gentle place, and when she sang this song, it brought tears to my eyes, and as she sang it she was smiling the whole time. You could feel the presence of God. It was very moving and powerful. I recorded it on my phone, and she has a beautiful voice (I've never heard her sing!) and an incredibly moving spirit. I am so blessed to have shared her genuine friendship for the past 15 years.

This to me is what life is all about, and I want to surround myself with people like her, people that forgive, and that strive to accept and to love even when we have bumps in the relationship. Here are some of the lyrics though it is most powerful radiating from her voice...

here are a few verses, starting about halfway through:

When I see we all do the best we can
When I seek first to understand
When what I have is more than plenty
When I reach out to lend a hand
When I can see you in every bird and bee
Every river every tree
When I’m connected to that place inside
When I can see you in all of humankind
I know I’ll never be alone

You’re in my heart, You’re in my touch
You’re in my laugh, You’re in my eyes
You’re in my words, You’re in my silence
You’re in my joyful cries
Your warmth within me radiates
A smile is on my lips
Your energy it fills my sail
I have the strength to steer my ship

Sometimes I can’t hear you
My thoughts they drown you out
I get overwhelmed and fearful
I want to cry and scream and shout

(silent pause)

But when I stop when I listen
I can hear you loud and clear
When I stop when I quiet
I can feel you oh so near

- (c) Daline Limbaugh

Sunday, October 29, 2006

back from the east

i just got in a bit ago from vermont and the society of environmental journalists (SEJ) conference. it snowed on the field trip day to camel's hump (a mountain with two humps...) and it was so neat. the field excursion was on acid rain, which you never hear about in the media but apparently it is still a problem though more nitric acids than sulfuric acids. and i asked why do we not have this in houston, where we have lots of air pollution? the answer is that our soils are limestone and basic so they neutralize the acidic rain. the question i still would like to answer is whether the rain itself is more acidic because of pollutants, whether or not it causes death of trees etc. it seems it could lend itself to a quick and easy analysis with some ph paper if one had some historic data, or looked at different regions like up or downwind of some of the plants (need knowledge of how the winds go).

anyway just some food for thought. i asked the guy leading one of the talks if it was ok for me to eat the snow, because after all, you can't go see snow and not eat it (as long as it is not yellow). :) and he said yes, his kids eat the icicles all the time, but if you were to test the snow it would probably show elevated mercury levels. mmm, just a little madness with your snow, no worries. so i ate some snow. then i asked him, would you get mad if i pegged you with a snowball? lol. and he said no, so i did. that made the trip. my kids are jealous... they told me before i left i had to bring them some snow back. i was like, how exactly do you expect me to do that?!

anyway, my highlight was hearing ben cohen talk, the founder of ben & jerry's ice cream ( and it was very interesting indeed. he discussed how our government is spending their money using plastic oreo cookies... he runs a nonprofit group 'true majority' which i was unaware of before. he also told about the company history, and some of the interesting concepts about running a business in a way that helps rather than detracts from the community and the environment, and how he made positive change in vermont and in business due to this. i had no idea!

i also really enjoyed the blog session by amy gahran and adam glenn ( i'm going to try some of their techniques and see how it goes... one of the things mentioned was to comment on other people's blogs which i rarely do because of time constraints -- too busy. but i'm going to see how it goes, and try to. i also enjoyed catching up with many friends and got to give a 60-second pitch to a panel of 6 editors - from smithsonian, audubon, sierra, national geographic, scientific american and orion. i was so nervous (which i normally am not when giving a talk, but as one editor rightly said it was like the christians in the coloseum with the lions! lol). fortunately they were all very respectful and kind in their feedback to all. i got one editor who told me right away there to send it in (the query) so that was great. lots and lots of writers came up to me and told me I did really well and they liked my pitch, and more than anything that made me feel good about that session.

A creek at Camel's Hump, Vermont

Monday, October 23, 2006

the free agent

I love this... this is me!

"The Organization Man is history. Taking his place is America's new economic icon: the Free Agent: the job-hopping, tech-savvy, fulfillment-seeking, self-reliant, independent worker. Already 30 million strong, these new "dis-organization" men & women are transforming America in ways both profound & exhilarating."

--Daniel H. Pink

Sunday, October 22, 2006


i haven't posted because i've been just utterly swamped. life isn't meant to be this way, but i'm scrambling to make ends meet a bit, and trying to finish some major projects. i have one article on top of another due, plus one trip after another. i love to travel but i'm honestly ready to slow down for a while. trying to figure out a way to make that happen a bit better.

so, just to update - i finished a website i'm very proud of - the spring creek greenway - - (screen shot to right of the main page, and below of the subpages - the fawn photo and the lizardtail are my images and some others on the site). i helped montgomery county get a grant from the texas forest service earlier and then got the gig to create the website, a brochure and - get this - a video! i wrote the script and produced my first video.

i really enjoyed doing it. i put on the site a 1974 booklet called Papa Stahl's Wild Stuff Cookbook there (go to The Creek tab, then you'll see the link) and it has recipes for all these native edible plants, most are found throughout the nation.

i really respect and like the author Carmine Stahl - you'll see his photo there with his wife of 56 years!!!! he is 80 i think and is sharp as a tack and so kind and i really appreciate his life experiences. at around age 56, i think, he retired as a methodist minister, and then worked for another 20-some years as a naturalist at our local harris county jesse jones park - a beautiful forested preserve along spring creek (hence the website). however i had done some biological surveys with him before, and recently completed an article profiling him as a conservation legend for texas parks & wildlife magazine. he said recently i must get exhuasted with all i do, and i was like, uh huh, yep that is exactly the word!! absolutely buggered, as they say in australia. so i'm trying to just slog through a bit and hopefully i'll get to a bright spot again.

wednesday i fly to burlington, vt for the society of environmental journalists (sej) conference, and i'm really excited about that. i made some good friends last year and it will be good to see them, and also to network with some editors from magazines i write for, and want to write for like national geographic!! it is also my first ever trip to the NE, and i hope there is some remnant fall color.

when i get back, two days later i jet off to west texas with my girlfriends. i'm so excited! i'm writing an article and will need to climb the tallest peak in texas, guadalupe peak! we'll also get out to see the mcdonald observatory in the davis mountains. i've never been to either of these places. should be very cool. but i'm really excited that my dear friends paige (who i just visited in LA) and laurie who i roomed with for a 3-week program at texas a&m a few years back (and who makes me laugh so much) are probably flying out to go on the trip with me!! good friends close by make so much difference. i need my girls right now, been soooo stressed. i hate stress!

i'll post some more later. gotta get back to work!

Friday, October 13, 2006

big thicket

A lake at Chain O'Lakes Resort in the Big Thicket outside of Romayor, TX.

I'm heading to the Big Thicket today for a couple stories I'm working on, which is a National Preserve about 2 hours east of Houston - the "biological crossroads" of North America where southwest deserts, southeastern swamps, northeast forests and western plains meet. It has a very diverse flora. I don't have time to write, but wanted to post a brief update! Will be back with photos next week!

These 3 photos I took on this trip to the Big Thicket. I stayed at Chain O'Lakes Resort and the owners Jimmy and Helena showed me around and were so gracious. Jimmy showed me one of the lakes by boat, and we drove around to the various parts of the resort. I was impressed by his love of the forest and land, and how much conservation ethic he has. When Hurricane Rita downed a bunch of old trees, he and his son salvaged them and created beautiful tables and slabs to help build walls in some new lodges, rather than let them go to waste.

Friday, October 06, 2006

the carrot tip of texas

I spent last weekend in the carrot tip of deep south Texas visiting the new Estero Llano Grande State Park and Resaca de la Palma State Park for an article- and here are a couple photos from the trip - both actually were taken at nearby Laguna Atascosa NWR. I have been so busy, no time to ramble on in my blog! I'm trying to do my writing in my backyard during these nice fall days, because my office is not a very inspirational place to write.

This is a Texas tortoise, a state threatened species, due to the pet trade. They are so adorable! We actually saw this at Laguna Atascosa NWR which I also visited, home of Texas' ocelot population (though I did not see any of those).

A Sabal Palm and I believe that us purple sage in the foreground - overlooking Laguna Madre.

This was actually taken in DC at the National Zoo but it's so cute I had to put it on here!