Why "Growing Edge?"

Earth Hey! Life is amazing and if you aren't paying attention, it just may be passing you by. Slow down! Observe what is around you. Plant a garden. Make your own food. Create Beauty.

Welcome to our blog. We love discovering what Earth has to teach anyone willing to be on the Growing Edge of life.

--Denise Rushing, New Story Center
--Loretta McCarthy aka EarthWalker, Soulwork Adventures

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

What is your story of awakening to the reality of Planet Earth?

My friend and colleague @RyanEliason often describes an experience that took place when he was nineteen years old and encountered a clear cut in a forest that he had enjoyed as a youngster.  At first the nineteen-year-old Ryan was just shocked, as he surveyed the land now scraped down to its clay soil.  As he observed the damage and stopped to let the reality of the situation sink in, the enormity of the loss hit him.   The sacred place he loved was gone forever.  He began to sob. 
For Ryan this was a moment of deep truth, of profound awakening—and the experience changed him forever.  Even today, as he tells this story, his authenticity shines through and transforms those around him.

In my own life, especially as a sensitive, young person, I braced myself against such a moment for years. To me, these losses seemed so painful that I pushed the experience away, even as I felt a pervasive sadness over the state of the world and worked to “save it”.  This was  more of a depression that a deep awakening.  Then, after attending Sophia Center in Oakland, California, I traveled to Genesis Farm Center for Earth Literacy in New Jersey where my own awakening awaited me and the story of Earth finally sank in fully. 

The day it happened day started innocently enough. I was engaged in a course on genetics taught by Harvard-trained chemist, Larry Edwards and was loving the deep knowledge of the genome.  As we studied the magical evolution of life, I came to understand the story of how this genetic instruction code was passed to every being along the way to our becoming human.  Our class walked through 3.7 billion years of evolutionary R&D and I was captivated.   I experienced deep awe and thought: “This is so amazing… so elegant… and so very sacred.” 


Then it hit me: the human, evolved from a pre-cellular creature into the thinking complex conscious being with these instructions. The physical evolution that took place over 3.7 billion years is re-created in nine months in the womb: from single cell, to multi-cell, to growing a tail, to evolving the cortex, all of it.  We remember the instructions step-by-step.  The human being remembers, within this special set of instructions, what brought us from molten rock to this day.  Alongside us, the living systems of which we are an integral part, evolved as we did.  We were designed to be here together—living together in a system with all of creation.  We are preprogrammed to expect beauty and awe as part of our experience.

When I fully understood our current moment, I was filled with an awareness of what our species was doing to the genome in our short time on this planet.  From accelerating and causing extinction events, to nuclear releases and genetic experimentation… I suddenly felt the enormity of our arrogance and the weight of the loss.   Like Ryan, I  too, and just as suddenly, began to sob.

Some may see these tears as weak or even ridiculous.  I see them differently.  These tears are a spontaneous response to desecration.  It is what happens when you allow the pain of the world, the loss of the sacred, to really sink in. 

This grief, like all grief, can change you forever.  And like all grief, we walk through the denial and sadness and anger to emerge with a commitment and purpose.
It is as if Earth and the Universe are filling our human awareness with these sudden moments of clarity.  That is why when I am asked to defend what it means to be “green” or am stereotyped as a bleeding heart or a tree hugger, I sometimes find it difficult to respond in words.  Is a response even possible?  Certainly not without recalling the story of how it came to be.  I see the world so differently than how I saw it before that profound moment. There is no question about that.   The transformation happened in a process that I can only describe as grace. 

In my case, devotion to preserving, protecting and restoring living systems is not something I chose to undertake or even dreamed up; rather it is something that happened to me.  If you spend enough time quietly studying or being with the natural world, and contemplating its beauty, its amazing science, and its interconnection, I predict it will happen to you too.  

Science is not at odds with the sacred—it serves a doorway—the more we learn, the more awe is possible.

Do you have your own story of profound awakening?  I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

SoulWork Adventures

These "soulwork adventures" really work!  Loretta's book: Discovering Your Heart Voice: Ten Simple, Grounded Ways to Access Your Inner Wisdom, is now available for $2.99 on Amazon. Free download days are Nov 1st and 2nd






Saturday, October 25, 2014

Entrepreneurs and the New Story

My next book, Entrepreneurs and the New Story: Essential Earth Wisdom for True Prosperity, is available via preorder on Amazon kindle now (if you sign up for the Creativity Cafe, I will let you know when the "free download days" are happening).  December 31 at 10am pacific, I will be interviewed by Katie Curtin in the virtual Creativity Cafe on  the topic of Spiritual Entrepreneurship.




Katie and I are joining efforts to bring conversations about creativity and thought leadership to the Creativity Cafe, with the view that creativity in commerce can transform humanity's broken story into a new way forward.  If you haven't yet joined Creativity Cafe,  click the button to sign up. :-)

Join us in the Creativity Cafe

Discovering Your Heart Voice

Discovering Your Heart Voice by Loretta McCarthy
Loretta McCarthy's new book: Discovering Your Heart Voice: Ten Simple Grounded Ways to Access Your Inner Wisdom is now available on Amazon Kindle.  She will offer the book for free kindle download in November.. but in the meantime, you can pick it up for only $2.99

Buy on Amazon.com

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Autumn Beauty

Walnuts are in.  Rains have arrived... and we are graced with the beauty and peace of a job well done at the farm.  Truly, I love my life.


Friday, October 10, 2014

Dare to Dream

Aligning with a “Big Why” - the dream that comes from your heart - is cited by many entrepreneurs as the biggest single factor in creating focus and taking quantum leaps forward.  This was confirmed in my interview with successful entrepreneur and business coach Ryan Eliason in The Big Why Telesummit earlier this year, I asked him to what he attributed his success.  His answer: committing fully to his biggest vision-- his “Big Why.”   Doing so clarifies what we want and need, helps us identify what needs to happen next, and it helps us more easily say “no” to distractions so that we can say “yes” to the most difficult next step.
I am still uncovering my purpose.  I do not always know what it is, but I definitely know when I’m not aligned with it.
“I did not know.  Turns out, it is something I discovered gradually”.

“When the energy is right sometimes it’s like a magnet you just cannot resist.”

“There have been many long years when I personally had no idea what my “big why” was but I was still guided by it. It was the fact that there was a “Big Why” that comforted me in those times.”

“My “Big Why?”  This is something I just feel in my bones.”

Our “Big Why” can also be described as our audacious intention or plan, something that resonates with both our mind and our heart.    It may be a life purpose, a goal or dream or even a deep need.  It is usually something that we are deeply passionate about and it almost always is a stretch to achieve.  If the thought of your purpose both passionately excites you and creates butterflies in your stomach at the thought of pursuing it, then you are on the right track.

 The root of the word "audacious" is "to dare," or “to be daring”.  When one chooses to be daring, it is as if the world organizes itself to help make it happen.  The intention acts as “a compass” You may not necessarily know what form the plan or organization is going to take and what you are going to need when you start, but with a compass, you can at least know if you are pointed in the right direction.

The first step in an entrepreneurial endeavor is to commit to your most audacious Big Why The approach  doesn't have to be perfect, it's not going to necessarily be the only thing of which you decide, but a decision has to be made to commit to a big intention

The steps for finding your “Big Why” may vary for you—you may already know it or maybe you do not.  I would challenge you to experiment.  Explore and discover the nutrients that you need—activities, practices or ways of being that feed the soil of your spirit so YOU can create the conditions for your work to emerge into the world--whatever it is meant to be—large or small.  When we set our intention—it helps to think big, audacious even.  Our intention fuels our further work.  


Edge Effect

In the natural world, at the place where grasslands merge into forests or where the shore melds into the oceans or other places where two ecosystems meet, diversity and abundance seem to flourish.  This is known as edge effect

An online dictionary defines edge effect this way:
The influence that two ecological communities have on each other along the boundary that separates them. Because such an area contains habitats common to both communities as well as others unique to the transition zone itself, the edge effect is typically characterized by greater species diversity and population density than occur in either of the individual communities.
In living systems, profound creativity takes place on the edges—where ocean meets shore, in estuaries, where grasslands meet forest edge, in wetlands and tidal pools, along streambanks and in the top few inches of soil. 

Why is this?  What can we learn from the edges?

Edges are a place where different elements meet.  In human systems, these might be differing points of view, cultures, lifestyles or ideas.

Edges are a place of transition—where one mode or way of being meets another.  It is neither one nor the other, but an in-between transitional place.

Greater edge provides a greater surface area, therefore offering a place for productivity, increased relationship opportunities, more places to create and work and evolve.

Edges are a place of creative tension and risk.  In our personal inner world, the edges are the places of discomfort and often are that “creative edge” where we experience the most personal growth. 

Our edges can be chaotic and unsettled—where the old and familiar is no longer a possibility but where a new harmony and balance has yet to emerge.

In our communities, the greatest creativity takes place where edges are being explored—coastal cities have more cultural interaction so something new emerges that isolated cultures could not have produced on their own. To make something happen in business, an entrepreneur must ”jump off the edge”—take a risk to follow a dream or learn a new skill. 

It helps to observe and notice the “edges” in our communities, our endeavors and in our lives and cultivate a deeper awareness of the gifts present there.

Where are the edges in your life or work?
What risk must you take to follow your dream?

Monday, October 06, 2014

Infinite Creativity - Interview with Drew Dellinger

Once upon a time, nearly 13.7 Billion years ago, we flared forth as light.  We underwent a series of
irreversible transformations until we arrived where we are here and now—writing a story about our journey.

It took awhile, but that’s how far we’ve come.  We essentially burst forth as light and after changing a bit, we arrived as a living system together with our fellow travellers on a small blue planet in a dark sea of space.  As a result of these transformations, we can now contemplate that flaring forth 13.7 billion years later.  We are energy transformed… contemplating the first energy that flared forth.

Let’s pause for a moment and let that sink in.

Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme, in The Universe Story, call our understanding of this epic a “new cosmology” or "the New Story."

Stories are about meaning and connection…They help us understand things, they help us connect to one another, they help us connect to Earth when we realize that we are a part of the planetary story.

This year, I had the opportunity to chat with poet and activist Drew Dellinger about The New Story and how it has influenced his own work.  This is what Drew shared:

"One of the biggest moments was my encounter with the work and the writings of Thomas Berry when I was just starting college--Prescott college in Arizona in 1990 and just before that a friend of mine, Steve Snyder had found Thomas Berry’s book, The Dream of the Earth, and we were like, “Oh my God. This is amazing.”

"The back story is that we had been in a multiyear process of trying to find meaning in the middle of a corporate capitalist society while going to a public high school in North Carolina. There was not a lot of creativity, spirituality or intellectual stimulation. They’re great folks but not a lot of folks asking that question about what is important, and what is the big why, what is the deeper meaning.

And so, when we read Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry’s book, “The Universe is a Green Dragon”, they were saying we need to have a new approach to the Universe.  I had never been interested in Science-- like space and stars.   I thought they were kind of cool but I was never galvanized by the sciences --but all of a sudden Thomas Berry is saying, “We have a new comprehensive understanding of the Universe itself.”

I never heard anybody writing about the Universe itself.  The cosmos is a new context for education.  What?  Well, this is wild.  We need to understand ourselves as the embodied expression of the Universe.  As the Taoist would say, the ten thousand things, it’s the one Tao.  It’s the one energy.  The Universe is a seamless, unfolding energy that is both spiritual and psychic and physical and material from the very beginning. Richard Dunn would say, “The spiritual and the material are interwoven, matter, spiritualizes.”  Matter has spirit at its heart.  Matter is not just matter but spirit in motion, these types of things so I’m assuming you’re going like, wow this little brief encounter with some of these essays is really shifting my world view making me think about the planet in a new way.  Very simple things, very subtle shifts, that’s  scientific in a certain way but just with a new twist and new perspectives.

So reading Thomas Berry and then later coming to study with him…he’s saying, “We are the earth, we are the Universe,” and when a whale sings an incredibly complex song, that’s the earth that composed the song.  When a bird flies, the earth is flying and when humans write poetry, when humans commune with each other, when humans celebrate that’s Earth celebrating.

And so, when you talk about the big why that comes in from Berry’s thinking.  He would say, “That’s what we’re here for.  We’re here to celebrate.  We are the space in which the Universe reflects on and celebrate itself.”

So, all of a sudden I had something that made sense.  That made sense to me, capitalism, consumerism, advertising, that didn’t make much sense.  War, racism, sexism, economic exploitation… that didn’t make sense.  Working at an occupation that one feels is grinding one soul down on a daily basis and doing that for 50 years and then retiring, that didn’t make much sense, but the humanist, the space in which the Universe itself can celebrate and reflect on itself -- now that made sense.

Compassion

Sun, my sail and moon, my rudder,
As I ply the starry sea,
Leaning over the edge in wonder,
Casting questions into the deep.
Drifting here with my ship's companions,
All we kindred pilgrim souls,
Making our way by the lights of the heavens,
In our beautiful blue boat home.

--Peter Mayer, Blue Boat Home

A few years ago, our local Lake County Board of Supervisors issued a proclamation in support of the International Charter for Compassion in order to draw attention to the fact that we are all one community.   How we treat each other matters to the quality of our life together.  As our community concludes another season of political campaigning, cultivating compassion is as important as ever. 

As I see it, we need to ask ourselves in our deeds and in our language: What are we teaching our children about what it means to be human?    Compassion is not weakness—it is, in fact, a decision to connect and relate with our fellow sojourners, both human and non-human, and in the process  engage in the positive transformation of ourselves and our world.  Compassion may be one of the more powerful ways we transform our world for the better: it allows us to see things from another point of view and it is one means by which we can live our positive intentions. 

Cultivating compassion starts with self-compassion: understanding what motivates us, suspending self-judgment and negative self-talk, and allowing ourselves to be present to whatever we are experiencing in the moment.   The act of noticing, of paying attention and of experiencing gives us the information we need to make decisions and choices about where to spend our energies. This ultimately leads us to take action that transforms our own internal structures and, in doing so, the world around us.   Compassion is a gift, and thus both to offer and to receive compassion is a blessing.   Paradoxically, by cultivating compassion, we also experience the pain of our world and the pain of others while at the same time living life more fully.

Cultivating compassion, as a practice, creates the conditions for positive change in our own lives.   The decision to cultivate compassion, and the powerful practice of noticing but not judging, in itself creates good benefit. 

Many communities around the globe are endorsing the International Charter for Compassion as a way to bring awareness to their own community and promoting the cultivation of community compassion through action.  The Charter for Compassion is a worldwide effort launched by noted religious scholar Karen Armstrong and elaborated in her book Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life.  The Charter for Compassion document, now translated into more than 30 languages, transcends religious, ideological and national difference, and is supported by many leading thinkers from many spiritual traditions.  From the Charter:

“We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world. Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment, and indispensible to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community.”
The full text of the Charter for Compassion is well worth reading and can be online at www.charterforcompassion.org.  

…The wide universe is the ocean I travel,
And the Earth is my blue boat home.

What is Permaculture?


Permaculture (permanent agriculture) is an ecological design framework inspired by living systems. The ethics, root practices and principles in permaculture can be applied to the garden, the farm, and indeed any living system including human structures.