Our Planet Needs Us

When I was a little girl I spent a lot of time playing in the basement of our house.  When I wasn’t down there I remember being outside playing in the woods in our backyard, making forts or exploring the ravine or river.  On rainy days, the basement held many attractions, including: wooden blocks which I loved to use to make mazes for my gerbil; a rope ladder to climb; my “Puff the Magic Dragon” record which I could never get enough of; and one particularly special book.  This book had a picture of Earth on the cover. Pasted over top of Earth was a band-aid.  The book was about helping our Earth become healthy since it was hurting and sick.   That image of our Earth with a band-aid on it has stayed with me for all these years.   I still love to explore outside and build forts, now with my children.  However, I am always wondering what will become of our Earth that is hurt and sick, with a band-aid on it.  I often feel helpless and sad about this, at a loss for how I can make a difference.  Lately, I have concluded that one way I can make a difference is to help me and others be more connected to what is really, really important to us, rather than some external imposition of what’s important.

Today, on my shelf in my office, I have a more modern and adult version of my children’s book called “Your Planet Needs You: a handbook for creating the world that we want”, by Jon Symes.  This book also has a picture of our Earth on its cover.  In this case, Earth looks like an inflatable balloon that is losing it’s air.  Blowing out of Earth is this quote:  “Only after the last tree has been cut down, only after the last river has been poisoned, only after the last fish has been caught, only then will you find that money can not be eaten.”    See Jon’s website for more information: www.yourplanetneedsyou.org.

I see a direct connection between what Jon Symes is getting at here and my coaching work.   My dream is to help myself and others gain more self-awareness so that we are living more in line with what is important to us. If more of us live that way, my hope is that we will all be in a better position to build a way of a life that is sustainable (since the path we are on now is surely not sustainable).   Jon Symes’ book covers this in detail, especially on page 68, entitled “First being willing to transform me” and discusses loving ourselves, living authentically and being ready to change and adapt.  I will blog more about this too.

I bought this book in the Fall of 2008 at my first International Coach Federation conference, held in Montreal.  I was so excited to attend and didn’t know quite what to expect.   My experience there was incredibly powerful.  The conference was about social change.   I could feel the energy around this issue crackling in the air the whole time I was there.  Two memories stand out.  One was when a coach named Neil Scotton from the UK went up to receive the ICF President’s Award in recognition for his outstanding contribution to the coaching profession.   He took me, and I am sure, others, by surprise when he shared his thoughts with us.   As I recall, he said that when he is a grandfather sitting in a beautiful field with his grandchildren and they ask him what he did when the world was dying, he wants to be able to say he did his best to save the world.  I was so moved by this little speech that I began crying.  Embarrassingly, once the tears started I had an extremely hard time shutting them off for the next few days.

The next day, still at the conference, I attended a symposium called “Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream” put on by the Pachamama Alliance.  See www.AwakeningTheDreamer.org It was an incredibly moving and informative symposium led by Dave and Bonnie Collacut and Jon Symes, mentioned above.  The goal of the symposium is to support the Alliance’s work: “Bringing forth an environmentally sustainable, spiritually fulfilling and socially just world as the guiding principle of our time.”  Needless to say, my tears kept coming during and after the Symposium.  Eventually they dried up but the ideas that made the tears flow did not.  I was definitely more awake to the issues.  The question for me was, “Now what?”

I am no paragon of virtue when it comes to being green or living a sustainable lifestyle.  In fact, it has taken me ages to work up the courage to write this blog post since I wondered, “Who am I to talk about sustainability?”  However, I would like to think that I am moving a little bit closer to sustainability every day.  I say to myself often: “Small is powerful…small steps in the right direction…am I in the game yet? How am I in the sustainability game?”   I don’t want to feel helpless and sad about sustainability.  I want to feel hopeful and energized and moved to action, one small step at a time.

How about you? What one small thing can you do differently from now on that is connected to one of your core values (i.e. what is really, really important to you)?  This is not easy work: it can require much reflection.   I have faith that the more we all live in line with our core values, more authentically, the more likely it is that we will be able to build a sustainable world.  You will know you are on to something if you feel energized at the prospect of making this goal happen.  I would love to hear from you about these issues.  We can support each other, one small step at a time.

Other Thoughts:

Also, you may contact me to arrange a values brainstorming session with follow-up support to: 1) help you become really clear about what your core values are; and 2) develop and reach goals that are in line with those values.

Another step I am taking: I am very much looking forward to running a workshop on April 28, at our neighbourhood school, Palmerston Jr. PS, entitled: “Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time:  Create a Sustainable You and Build a Sustainable World.” This is what I have written to the participants:You will learn about four types of energy, how to manage each one, and how they can relate to each other.  Further, you will become aware of how one of the first steps towards building a sustainable world is to become sustainable as an individual, to be motivated and fuelled more by what’s inside you rather than what you get from outside sources.  I will invite you to create a goal connected to managing your energy and then offer you free support and accountability in achieving that goal for three months following the workshop.”  No doubt I will be blogging about this workshop after it takes place.

The Workshop is inspired by:

Drive by Daniel Pink

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck

The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Your Energy, Not Your Time is the Key To High Performance and Personal Renewal by Tony Schwartz and Jim Loehr

Conversations That Matter: A Path to Personal and Professional Growth by Lorne Ellingson

Take Time for Your Life by Cheryl Richardson

Your Planet Needs You by Jon Symes

Green for Life: 200 Simple Eco-Ideas for Every Day by Gillian Deacon

and others!


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4 Responses to Our Planet Needs Us
  1. Donna
    April 23, 2011 | 10:37 am

    Thank you for this post with so many useful resources and so many touching thoughts. I share your dream “to help myself and other gain more self-awareness so that we are living more in line with what is important to us.” and agree with your belief that “If more of us live that way, my hope is that we will all be in a better position to build a way of a life that is sustainable.” I admire the courageous and bold people who accept your generous offer of ongoing support. And I’m moved by your resonance with the speaker who said that “when he is a grandfather sitting in a beautiful field with his grandchildren and they ask him what he did when the world was dying, he wants to be able to say he did his best to save the world” Surely, you will have good things to say to your grandchildren too.
    I also want to add one link to your list in the spirit of supporting each of our commitments: Are you ready to Give it Up for Earth Day?… http://bit.ly/gGEd43
    Yayyy, big blue mamma earth!

    • Milisa Burns
      May 12, 2011 | 5:29 pm

      Donna, thanks so much for your comment. I love your optimism and willingness to tell us all what moved you. Thanks for sharing!

  2. laura coramai
    May 8, 2011 | 12:23 am

    Lovely piece Milisa and yes, when it comes down to it, what will we answer to our grandchildren/all children in the future when asked what we did to help the earth that is so in need of our help from what we have created…the subtle aspect of your blog is that it’s about finding the drive from within to do what you have energy to do and not to do what is necessarily about what you think you ought to be doing. I am working on this in terms of not spinning my wheels but getting down and dirty to help in a way that will be sustainable for myself and, naturally, for mother earth. Lovely blog in general, and with my email sent to you, do sign me up and I’ll follow, Best, Laura

    • Milisa Burns
      May 12, 2011 | 5:33 pm

      Thanks for the comment, Laura! I am so glad to hear you are thinking similar thoughts and taking similar actions. I look forward to more conversations and I will certainly add you to my email list. I would also invite you to download my free PDF on reflection and would love to hear whether it was helpful to you. Warmly, Milisa

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