Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Practicing gratitude isn't always easy. When you hate your job, it's hard to feel thankful. But that is exactly the moment to be grateful for the fact that a job is had at all, even if it's not matching up to your expectations or ideals. Whether it is work, relationships, finances, or health, we can be grateful for what we have and are able to do, no matter how small. Refocusing our energy on the things that are right instead of wrong may take considerable effort some days, thus it is a practice of gratitude - something that you attempt each day, over and over, and get better at each time. And, remarkably, even the most difficult challenges are opportunities to be grateful for.
Here is a wonderful gratitude prayer (thanks to zen habits) that can help you start or expand your gratitude practice. Enjoy!
Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire,
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?
Be thankful when you don’t know something
For it gives you the opportunity to learn.
Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.
Be thankful for your limitations
Because they give you opportunities for improvement.
Be thankful for each new challenge
Because it will build your strength and character.
Be thankful for your mistakes
They will teach you valuable lessons.
Be thankful when you’re tired and weary
Because it means you’ve made a difference.
It is easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are
also thankful for the setbacks.
GRATITUDE can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles
and they can become your blessings.~ Author Unknown ~
Friday, November 18, 2011
The holiday season is here and it is the season of giving - and giving back. This season offers a wonderful opportunity to teach our children many important family values and also to exercise the principles that are important to us. It is a great time to think about fairness and justice, about supporting local farmers, and about empowering others. How? Through fair trade.
What is Fair Trade? According to the Fair Trade Federation, fair trade "is a holistic approach to trade and development that aims to alter the ways in which commerce is conducted, so that trade can empower the poorest of the poor." The principles of fair trade are simple: create opportunities for disadvantaged producers, do not maximize profit at the expense of the producers, pay a fair price, abolish child and forced labor, and encourage sustainable technologies, among others.
Bearing a certification for fair trade means that a product has been produced according to fair trade standards which are designed to support the sustainable development of small-scale producers and agricultural workers in the poorest countries in the world. Buying Fair Trade products is a powerful way to support producers in developing countries. Fair trade helps workers and farmers to earn a decent living and secure a better life for themselves. To find fair trade products, look for a certification on some common household items including: bananas, cocoa/chocolate, coffee, cotton, flowers, honey, sugar, and rice.
Why should we support fair trade? According to Global Exchange, fair trade brings the benefits of trade into the hands of communities that need it most. It sets new social and environmental standards for international companies and demonstrates that trade can indeed be a vehicle for sustainable development. Unfortunately, the benefits of fair trade are not reaching all fair trade farmers because of insufficient demand for their crops. Producers sell an average of 20% of their crop at fair trade terms; the rest goes through the world market at much lower prices. The same story goes for artisans. That is why we need to build a market for fair trade though demand for these products.
How can you bring fair trade into your holiday season? Consider purchasing fair trade products (chocolate, coffee, tea, etc.) for your holiday gatherings and check out Fair Trade USA's Fair Trade Holiday Gift Guide for ideas and suggestions!
And you can win a bag of fair trade samples and treats from Fair Trade USA by helping to spread the word about fair trade! Tweet this blog and come share your tweet url in the comments section for a chance to in! A winner will be randomly chosen and notified on November 30th.
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Particularly egregious are the actions of Eli Lilly, the sole manufacturer of rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone), an artificial growth hormone found in milk which has also been linked to breast cancer. Although rBGH is banned in many countries, here in the United States it is a profit-making enterprise. But even more alarming is that not only does Eli Lilly profit from the sales of rBGH but also from the sales of cancer drugs they produce used to treat women with breast cancer. In fact, "Eli Lilly’s cancer drugs made $2,683,000,000 for the company in 2008" according to Breast Cancer Action, inspiring their "Milking Cancer" campaign. (Fortunately, organic dairy products do not contain rBGH.)
These "washing" campaigns are intended to disillusion consumers and create a belief in corporate "caring" and "community" to build brand loyalty and, ultimately, to enrich one's bottom line. The consequence, however, is devastating for our entire business and commericial sector. What such practices have created is an alarming amount of corporate and organization distrust among consumers. My generation of parents are beyond skeptical. We have little or no faith in the claims made by corporations, organizations, and governments. We scorn advertising campaigns and corporate sponsored activities. We distrust ads and ties to companies. We shun institutions who align with brands and criticize magazines and even non-profit organizations for working hand-in-hand with businesses. And this culture of distrust leaves us so cynical that we have disengaged, become less participatory and more frustrated by the world around us.
While much of the distrust is well earned, there are many corporations and organizations out there doing good work. There are still islands of integrity and transparency. There are companies who are not "washed" but who are sincerely, ethically, green and sustainable. Yes, they need to earn money to survive. Yes, they have products to sell. But they are doing so with honesty and integrity. As parents we need to discover the resources to locate these companies, organizations, and individuals. We need to be wary but open to the fact that there are still people out there trying to make an honest living. And we need to support those companies and organizations - wholeheartedly - who are truly working in our best interests.