Can you blame war survivors for wanting strawberries in winter?

Why don’t we like blue tomatoes? Are potato-crisps still enjoyable when they sound like jelly? Why do we eat when we’re not hungry? How did the food you’re eating get on your plate?

Just some of the questions that come up as Marije Vogelzang designs eating around her 8 point philosophy of Senses, Nature, Culture, Technique & Material, Science, Psychology, The Action of Food and Society.

I stumbled on this Dutch “eating designer” recently and have been relishing her work. Breathtakingly delicious. She believes that nature has already designed food perfectly, so she focuses her creativity around the verb of eating – harvesting, cooking, sharing and digesting food

The cure for hopelessness isn't hope

Have you ever consoled somebody with “don’t worry, everything will be alright” or “things will workout – don’t give up hope” and felt a sense of utter emptiness in your words, no matter how well intentioned they were? That you were trying to impose a fabricated, highy improbable fairy tale that nobody – not least the person in pain - was buying into?

We’ve all been there. Even looking back on our dark nights of the soul – was it really hope that kept us alive?

Hope is defined as ”the general feeling that some desire will be fulfilled; to intend with some possibility of fulfillment.”

Don’t get me wrong. In the battle between despair and hope, I will fight to death for the latter. They don’t call me an optimist for nothing.  Hope is beautiful, uplifting, inspiring and a mesmerising image of what could be.

However, inherent in the definition of hope is the notion of some nebulous, unpredictable future tense. And this is what makes is so fragile – prone to easily crumbling to the vagaries of our circumstances, thoughts, moods and emotions.

Can you tell the Story of Stuff?

In case you’ve been living in seclusion, or just haven’t gotten around to it yet, here’s a treat for you.

Grab a cup of tea and watch The Story of Stuff – an incredibly articulate, funny, and creative description of – well – stuff! You know, everything around us. How does it get to us? What goes into making it? What is all that production and consumption doing to our planet?

Besides the content of this 20 min film, just the energy and passion of author Annie Leonard for environmental health and justice is inspiring.

Move over carbon footprints - Watts are in

magine having a “nutrition” label on all the products you use and activities you engage in daily - from reading the New York Times to using your laptop to drinking a glass of wine.

Except instead of “fat” and “carbohydrate” percentages, it would breakdown the power being used each step of the way.

Though “energy labels” are still a few years away, genius and prolific inventor Saul Griffith has created a method to calculate your current daily energy consumption! 

WattzOn is a free online tool that you can use to calculate and keep track of the power needed to maintain your lifestyle. You can compare it to the world wide average and get tons of fun insights on how to cut back on whatever is sucking up the most energy.

Death to SMART goals

My condolences to the inventor of SMART goals. You know the one who recommended we rally around projects that are Specific, Measurable, Agreed upon, Realistic and Time based?

REALISTIC!!????

I can hear all you inspired changemakers shudder in unison.

If human beings only set sight on what they thought was achievable, we’d probably still be huddled around each other (cause even the concept of a fire would have been unrealistic) in a dark cave somewhere, trying to agree upon the words of kumbaya.

It is precisely the act of being completely unreasonable that makes inspired change possible.

There's something about Ben

May be its his boyish charm and good looks.

May be its his English accent. May be its the fact that in 2004 he trekked solo on foot to the North Pole, becoming the youngest explorer in history to accomplish this feat. May be its his impressive physical fitness – a keen long distance skier, ultramarathoner, mountain biker, and of course, polar explorer.

Mostly I feel connected with the intention behind Ben Saunder’s exploration – to test the limits and push the boundaries of human potential.

It's a bird! A plane! Ummm….it's just…Ueli at the office?

This post is dedicated to the memory of a legendary aerialist Ueli Gegenschatz.

Skydiving, paragliding, BASE jumping, sky surfing, freeflying……this Swiss wingsuit donning daredevil did it all.

And how!

A pioneer extreme athlete, he was driven by more than just stunts & adrenalin – his was a desire to perfect human flight.

Along the way he jumped off the Eiffel and Petronas towers, off a bridge from a moving truck (yes, you read that correctly) in Turkey, and the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau mountain peaks.

Did you give yourself an A today?

Or did you flunk out of life even before you got out of bed?

And what grade did you dole out to the people in your life – at work, at home, on the street?

Einstein famously said that it was nonsense to found a theory on observable facts alone, since in reality the very opposite happens: “It is theory which decides what we can observe.”

In other words, we take the world our senses offer us and give it meaning through the filter of whatever assumptions we have chosen to accept as true i.e. the theory behind our lives. As maverick Boston Philharmonic conductor Benjamin Zander  wrote in his amazing book The Art of Possibility,“….its all invented anyway, so we might as well invent a story or a framework of meaning that enhances our quality of life and the life of those around us.”

Shout out to Buddha the neuroscientist!

A thought is just an artifact of the mind.

That’s right. It’s nothing but a mundane, run-of-the-mill widget manufactured wholesale by the endless synaptic activity of the neurons in your brain. 

Ah. I can hear you bristle with argument. Isn’t the human brain one of the most ingenious, incredible biological marvels? Thought is produced by 100 billion nerve cells in a complex circuit that even the most advanced computer networks can’t hold a candle to. Surely that deserves some respect?

I couldn’t agree more. But if that is true, dear changemaker, why do you spend most of your waking hours at thought sites of historical interest digging up ancient stories or mired in the imagined ruins of the future?

The Buddha spent his life investigating the nature of mind and thought. Central to his teachings is the reminder to never accept a theory on face value, but to try it on for size in our own lives.

Take a cue from the Buddha. Hang up your archaeological hat. Become a scientist instead. Your mind is an amazing laboratory where you can turn thought artifacts from relics to objects of art. Here’s how.

300 million unconscious acts, mind-bending art and a Zen koan

The artist statement for American photographer Chris Jordan’s series Intolerable Beauty: Portraits of American Mass Consumption reads:

“Exploring around our country’s shipping ports and industrial yards, where the accumulated detritus of our consumption is exposed to view like eroded layers in the Grand Canyon, I find evidence of a slow-motion apocalypse in progress……The immense scale of our consumption can appear desolate, macabre, oddly comical and ironic, and even darkly beautiful; for me its consistent feature is a staggering complexity.

The pervasiveness of our consumerism holds a seductive kind of mob mentality. Collectively we are committing a vast and unsustainable act of taking, but we each are anonymous and no one is in charge or accountable for the consequences….

As an American consumer myself, I am in no position to finger wag; but I do know that when we reflect on a difficult question in the absence of an answer, our attention can turn inward, and in that space may exist the possibility of some evolution of thought or action.

So my hope is that these photographs can serve as portals to a kind of cultural self-inquiry. It may not be the most comfortable terrain, but I have heard it said that in risking self-awareness, at least we know that we are awake.”