Archive for May, 2010

Why I’m Grateful for My Divorce… or Going Green & Getting Happy

In my first blog post, I promised to include excerpts from my book and offer suggestions on how to use your spheres of influence to protect the planet. I’m getting ready to find a publisher and would love your help building my list so that publishers know there is an audience for an inspiring eco-message that is intended to move people from awareness into action.

Well, here is the first excerpt from the draft of Fierce Love: How One Mother Reinvented Herself by Saving the Planet, followed by some thoughts on how you can make a difference.

Here goes, from the Preface:

I don’t wish divorce on anyone. Anyone. But in the summer of 2006, in the midst of a divorce with two little guys in diapers– really thanks to my divorce– I found a cause. And I will never be the same.

That day in June, sitting on the coach in the family room, I learned that our addiction to oil poses a serious threat to the health and well being of my children, now and in the future. Since that defining moment, I’ve decided to use my psychological expertise in behavior change and addictions to serve as a catalyst to protect the planet for my children — for all children.

I couldn’t see it at the time, but I now see that it’s no accident that my moment of awakening occurred while I was going through a divorce— with two toddlers in tow, no less. There rsugre things in my life, big things, over which I had little or no corol; the life that I had known was coming apart. In that state, a space cracked open in me that made me feel that I needed to control what I could in order to offer my children the best life possible under the circumstances. For the first time in my life, I really wanted, needed, to make a difference in the world. So into that space came… the problem of our planetary crisis.

Love motivated me not just to recycle – perhaps a little obsessively — but to speak out, to become an involved voter, and in spite of my natural reserve, to become a more public person. I have become what I call an “unlikely environmentalist.” And I’ve carved out a role as a catalyst for others to use their spheres of influence, however big or small. My life, my work, my world have changed. I’ve changed.

I hope you’ll join me in reaping the rewards of going green. It’s an adventure!

What can you do?

Here’s how you can use your spheres of influence and join the growing movement of unlikely environmentalists:

1. Reading the first two chapters and posting a comment on my website will help me with my mission enlist the unenlisted which will entail getting a contract with one of the big NY publishing houses. Your comment will help demonstrate that I have an engaged audience! to download and comment.

Please share with friends if you like it! You’ll use your spheres of influence to help me use mine. Thanks!

2. Please subscribe to this blog. This, too, will help me show publishers that people want to hear what I have to say. Subscribe on the site on the right side:

3. Subscribe to mailing list!  This will also show publishers that people want to be inspired to protect the planet. (Can you tell I’m getting ready to pitch my book?) And you’ll stay informed about monthly podcasts, events and ways to make a difference!

4. Last but far from least: Call your Senator to ensure their support for passing and strengthening what is now called the American Power Act. This is the single most effective and empowering action you can take!

Calling or snail-mailing is more effective than email. And it can take only a handful of constituents to sway an elected official. Your voice counts!

Not sure what to say? Check out for helpful pointers. If I can do this, you can too!

May 27, 2010 at 12:07 am 2 comments

My son says “I want to protect marine life now as much as later”

The Spheres of Influence blog now launches –officially– with an example of one kind of blog I’ll be posting– a story that I hope will inspire you to use your voice to protect the planet– and reap personal rewards. I will also blog about “unlikely environmentalists,” how we can use “shop our values,”  and post excerpts from my forthcoming book, Fierce Love: How One Mother Reinvented Herself by Saving the Planet.

This weekend, my sons made me proud. I took my two young rascals to see Disney’s Oceans. My brother, Brad, was in town for Mother’s Day.  Brad is a marine expert who is working to get policies in place that protect our oceans,especially from the poisonous effects of the C02 we emit as we heat and cool our buildings, and move ourselves around in planes, trains and automobiles.

At Mother’s Day brunch, I asked my brother to tell my sons, who are 5 and 7, what they can most effectively do to protect the oceans they love.

He said, “Write a letter to Rep. Markey who will be chairing upcoming hearings on offshore drilling. Ask them to put it in the record. Kids’ voices matter a whole lot.”

So, we went home, and the boys wrote the following letters to Rep. Markey…

From my five year-old: “We need to protect all the creatures in the ocean. Please help us to do that. If people keep throwing bad stuff in the ocean, I will write a book if people keep doing this.” (As the author of the forthcoming book Fierce Love, I love this!)

From my seven-year: “I want to be a marine biologist when I grow up. I don’t want there to be nothing to protect when I’m old enough to get a job. Then I won’t be able to eat or have a family. I love marine mammals because they are so unique…. I want to protect marine life now as much as I do later. So please stop drilling for more oil…. Thank you for your work.”

My sons drew pictures, too, of marine life and the threats posed to all living creatures– including us!

Am I a proud mom? Yes! I’m thrilled that my older son wants to be a marine biologist so that he can study and protect marine life– and I love that my younger son threatens to write a book if we keep destroying the oceans!

Without healthy oceans, we cannot be healthy as people– we literally depend on the oceans, not just for seafood but for other things like cooling the air. Not to mention beauty that feeds our souls

What kind of world do we want to leave our children, and their children?

Congress needs to hear from you and your children, too.

Using your voice is the the single most important step you can take to ensure a bright future for your kids. Don’t fret about forgetting your reusable shopping bags- use your voice and be rewarded by being empowered, and by empowering your children to participate in democracy!

I never contacted an elected official until I realized that our addiction to oil– and coal– posed a threat to my children’s health and wellbeing.  Now I know that they actually want to hear from me– which is really cool.

Here’s how to call or send a letter:

It’s my understanding that calls and letters are way more effective than email which can be seen as “junk” email.

To contact Rep. Markey who will chair hearings on offshore drilling:

2108 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

If you want to contact your US Congressional Representative:

If you want to contact your US Senator:

If you want to contact the President:                                                                                                                                                            

The White House

1 00 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest
Washington, DC 20500
(202) 395-2020

Want more tips on what to say? (I get it!)

Find more information about the issues here:

Use your voice! Help your kids discover their voices! You won’t be sorry!

May 10, 2010 at 11:54 pm

Addiction to Oil– and the Path to Recovery

The phrase addiction to oil has been bandied about for a few years but is underscored at this moment as we face the disaster of the BP oil spill.

Tom Friedman, author of Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution–and How It Can Renew America, has referred to us as addicted to oil. President Bush, who has slowly come to acknowledge the reality of global warming, has referred to “our addiction to oil.”

But this notion of addiction to fossil fuels hasn’t been fully developed as a concept.

As a psychologist with a subspecialization in addictions, I’d like to offer my reflections on the matter of our addiction to oil– and the possibility of recovery.

So the rhetoric of addiction to oil is part of the discourse. And as an addictions expert, I can attest that the mechanisms of addiction — denial and rationalization,– come into play in our use of fossil fuels.

It’s as if we’ve been on a collective binge since about 1960-only instead of drinking, we’ve been directly and indirectly consuming lots of fossil fuels. And instead of getting DUIs and lab results telling us that our liver is shot, we’re getting global warming and a host of related complications that take the problem to a crisis level. Our actions have caught up with us. 

And just as alcoholics can go into recovery, we as a society can recover from our addiction to oil. 

We don’t just ask alcoholics to change their behavior– we regulate alcohol. We treat the problem of excessive use of alcohol not just as a matter of personal responsiblity but as a policy issue.

We also hold liquor companies responsible for the ways that market their products.

To go into recovery, we need to get out of denial, shift to a state of awareness, and move from awareness into concerted action. As a society we are moving into a state of awareness of the consequences of our dependence on oil. From there we need to move into collective action– now.  We need to start to reduce our dependence on oil– and when we “relapse” we need to get back on track. We need to confront our resistances to change, individually and collectively. And we need to create the policy conditions that support us in shifting away from oil and coal.   And we need to hold the purveyors accountable.

As a society, we can go into recovery.  We can change our lifestyles, our business practices and our policies. We can share with recovering alcoholics and addicts the rewards of a new way of life–including the knowlege that we’re doing right by our children.

Recovery: Hope and Rewards

The good news is that as an addiction specialist, Dr. Sarah Warren can say that there is hope. Recovery is possible. She has helped many drug addicts and alcoholics change their habits. And they have to go through physical withdrawal, which thankfully we don’t when we walk the kids to school instead of driving– or when we overhaul our policies to incentivize renewable energy.

Change is hard-and necessary, and possible. And the rewards are immeasurable.

Won’t you join us in confronting our addiction?

May 1, 2010 at 9:05 am

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