Under the Cold Surface . . .

the heart

The heart is the toughest part of the body.
Tenderness is in the hands.  ~ 
Carolyn Forché

“Be real with love! We have so little time here.” – Randi Vanessa Taylor-Habib

“If you work really hard, and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.” ~ Conan O’Brien

love on  summer day (c) 2014 Holly Troy“I love you also means I love you more than anyone loves you, or has loved you, or will love you, and also, I love you in a way that no one loves you, or has loved you, or will love you, and also, I love you in a way that I love no one else, and never have loved anyone else, and never will love anyone else.” ― Jonathan Safran Foer

“To love at all is to be vulnerable.” – C.S. Lewis

“Certainly the modern poets I cherish most are disturbing spirits; they do not come to coo.” ~ Stanley Kunitz

“Grief changes shape, but it never ends. People have a misconception that you can deal
with it and say, ‘It’s gone, and I’m better.’ They’re wrong.” — Keanu Reeves

“Come on people, now, smile on your brother,
Everybody get together, try to love one another
right now…. ”
—Chet (Chester Williams) Powers, Jr. (1937-1994)
AKA Dino Valenti, Jesse Oris Farrow,
“Let’s Get Together” (1963)

“If we begin to get in touch with whatever we feel with some kind of kindness, our protective shells will melt, and we’ll find that more areas of our lives are workable. AS we learn to have compassion for ourselves, the circle of compassion for others—what and whom we can work with, and how—becomes wider.” – Pema Chodron

“The only reason that we don’t open our hearts and minds to other people is that they trigger confusion in us that we don’t feel brave enough or sane enough to deal with. To the degree that we look clearly and compassionately at ourselves, we feel confident and fearless about looking into someone else’s eyes.” – Pema Chodron

“From the very beginning to the very end, pointing to our own hearts to discover what is true isn’t just a matter of honesty but also of compassion and respect for what we see.” – Pema Chodron

“I grabbed my book and opened it up. I wanted to smell it. Heck, I wanted to kiss it. Yes, kiss it. That’s right, I am a book kisser. Maybe that’s kind of perverted or maybe it’s just romantic and highly intelligent.”  ― Sherman Alexie

“Compassion is the basis of morality.” ~ Arthur Schopenhauer

“Love comforteth like sunshine after rain.” ~ William Shakespeare

A strange passion is moving in my head.
My heart has become a bird
Which searches in the sky.
Every part of me goes in different directions.
Is it really so
That the one I love is everywhere? ~ Rumi

 more heart quotes here . . . 

Ban the Bag! My Letter to Flagstaff City Council

peaks (c) 2015 Holly TroyIf you have been following my blog, you may already get that I am awed by the beauty of Flagstaff. The landscape and the people here are special, and they are in my heart. A recent city council proposal has come up to ban plastic bags, so I wrote a letter. If you are a resident of Flagstaff, I urge you to write a letter to the city council as well. (council@flagstaffaz.gov) If you live somewhere else, I urge you to start up a conversation in your own community. My letter includes a list of cities across the United States that have already banned the bag – I hope it inspires you.

Think Globally – Act Locally! 


 

Dear Flagstaff City Council,

I love Flagstaff. Coming from New York City, I’m aware that most people from back east don’t even know Flagstaff exists – unless they come out here to visit the Grand Canyon. Every day that I look up and see the peaks and feel the sun shining on my face, I am grateful for this place. We have an ecosytem that is not only unique, but exquisitely beautiful. If people can’t wrap their minds around the environmental damage we suffer from plastic packaging, then, plastic bags and other trash marring the loveliness of our landscape alone should be enough to make people think twice about utilizing single-use plastic bags at the grocery checkout.
 
While the people of Flagstaff have diverse political backgrounds, I think most of us care about the environment. Banning bags seems like a simple way to begin to protect our surroundings. One shop that I frequent, Natural Grocers, has already done away with using bags at all. Instead, Natural Grocers reuses the boxes their packaged food is shipped in. Brilliant and simple! The shop has a lot less box recycling to deal with and customers make it home with their groceries intact.
 
I was interested in finding out which cities in the U.S. have banned single-use plastic bags, so I did a little research. First of all, more cities than I thought have banned plastic bags! Some of those cities are pretty big, too – San Francisco (California), Los Angeles (California), Chicago (Illinois), Austin (Texas), Dallas (Texas), and Portland (Oregon) all have bans. Many of the cities have a $.10 to $.25 fee for reusable bags and paper bags. The first poerson to comment on Eva Putzova’s Special to the AZ Daily Sun, Would A Ban on Plastic Bags Do Much Good? Yes suggests a fee for bags and to “let the market decide.” OK, but make fees expensive, like Brownsville, Texas has done, and charge $1.00 each for reusable plastics and paper bags.
 
Below is a list of cities in the United States that have plastic bag ban ordinances. The cities in blue have links to their ordinances. The years listed after the cities are when the plastic bag bans went into effect, not when the ordinances were drawn up. 
 
Alaska

Bethel 2010
Homer Bay 2010

Arizona
Bisbee 2014

California
Arcata 2014
Belmont 2013
Belvedere 2015Brisbane 2013
Burlingame 2013 

Calabasas 2011

Calistoga 2015
Campbell 2014 
Capitola 2013
Carmel-by-the-Sea 2013
Carpinteria 2013
Chico 2015/2016
Colma 2013
Culver City 2013
Cupertino 2013
Daly City 2013
Dana Point 2013
Danville 2016
Davis 2014.
Desert Hot Springs 2014/2015 
East Palo Alto 2013
El Cerrito 2014
Encinitas 2015

Fairfax Fairfax adopted its ban on plastic bags August 2007. After a legal challenge by the plastic industry, Fairfax voters overwhelmingly adopted a plastic bag ban by initiative in November 2008.

Fort Bragg 2013
Foster City 2103
Glendale 2014
Gonzales 2015
Grass Valley 2015
Greenfield 2015
Half Moon Bay 2013
Hercules 2015
Huntington Beach 2013
Indio 2014/2015
King City 2015
Lafayette 2015
Laguna Beach 2013
Larkspur 2014
Long Beach 2011/2012
Los Altos 2013
Los Angeles City 2014

Los Angeles County 2011/2012

Los Gatos 2014

Malibu 2008

Manhattan Beach The Manhattan Beach City Council voted to ban plastic bags in July 2008. The CA Supreme Court overturned a legal challenge to the ordinance in July 2011 and the bag ordinance went into effect six months later. The council modified the ordinance in 2012 and again in 2014.

Marin County 2012
Marina 2014
Martinez 2014/2015
Mendocino County The County Board of Supervisors adopted a plastic bag ban with a ten cent paper bag charge on June 12, 2012. Effective in large stores in January 2013, and all other retailers in January 2014. Amendments to expand the ordinance to restaurants was adopted February 25, 2014, effective August 12, 2014. Unincorporated County areas only.
Menlo Park 2013
Mill Valley 2013
Millbrae 2012 in all retail establishments, except for restaurants, non-profits, and dry-cleaners
Monrovia 2015 
Monterey 2011
Monterey County 2014
Mountain View 2013
Napa 2014
Nevada City 2015
Novato 2014
Ojai 2012
Pacific Grove 2015
Pacifica 2013
Palm Desert 2015
Palm Springs 2015
Palo Alto In 2013, the Palo Alto City Council adopted an expansion of a 2009 ordinance to include all stores and restaurants under its plastic bag ban. Paper and reusable bags would be available with a minimum charge. Previously, the ordinance only applied to plastic bags at large supermarkets.
Pasadena 2012
Pico Rivera 2016
Pittsburg 2014
Portola Valley 2013
Redwood City 2013
Richmond 2014  
Ross 2014
Salinas 2014
San Anselmo 2015
San Bruno 2013
San Carlos 2013

San Francisco 2007

San Jose 2012
San Luis Obispo County and City, Arroyo Grande, Atascadero, Grover Beach, Morro Bay, Paso Robles, Pismo Beach 2012
San Mateo City 2013
San Mateo County 2013
San Pablo 2014
San Rafael 2014
Santa Barbara City 2014
Santa Clara City 2014
Santa Clara County 2012
Santa Cruz City 2013
Santa Cruz County 2012, 2013
Santa Monica 2011
Santa Rosa 2014
Sausalito 2014
Seaside 2014/2015
Solana Beach 2012
Soledad 2015
Sonoma County Waste Management Agency (Sonoma City and County, Cloverdale, Cotati, Healdsburg, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Sebastopol, Windsor) 2014
South Lake Tahoe 2014
South Pasadena 2014
South San Francisco 2013
St Helena 2015
Sunnyvale 2013
Tiburon 2014
Truckee 2014
Ukiah 2012
Walnut Creek 2014
Watsonville 2012
West Hollywood 2012

Colorado
Aspen 2012
Boulder 2013
Carbondale The Carbondale Board of Trustees approved an ordinance in October 2011. Like Aspen’s ordinance, it bans plastic bags and places a 20 cent charge on paper bags in grocery stores with 3,500 square feet or more. A referendum placed the ordinance on the ballot in April 2012 and voters in Carbondale affirmed the Trustees’ decision. Effective May 2012.
Fort Collins 2015
Telluride 2011

Connecticut
Westport 2008

Washington, DC
Washington The District of Columbia Council voted June 2009 to require retailers to charge a $0.05 fee on all carryout bags. 

Hawaii
Hawaii County 2012
Honolulu County 2012
Kauai County 2011
Maui County 2011

Illinois
Chicago Passed April 30th, 2014.  Effective August 2015 for retailers of more than 10,000 square feet. The ban will extend to smaller chain stores and franchises August, 2016. Small independent or non-franchise stores and restaurants will not be affected. 
Evanston 2015

Iowa

Marshall County 2009

Maine

Portland In 2014, Portland adopted a 5 cent charge per single-use bag in grocery stores. Effective April 15, 2015.

Maryland
Montgomery County The County followed the example of the neighboring District of Columbia and passed a 5 cent minimum price requirement on single-use plastic and paper bags in May 2011. It is effective January 2012. Applies to all retailers.
Chestertown 2012

Massachusetts
Brookline 2013
Falmouth 2016
Great Barrington 2014
Manchester  2013
Marblehead 2015
Nantucket 1990
Newport 2016
Provincetown 2015

New Mexico
Santa Fe 2013
Silver City 2014

New York
East Hampton Town 2015
East Hampton Village 2012
Hastings-on-Hudson 2015
Larchmont 2013
Mamaroneck 2013
New Paltz Village 2015
Rye 2012
Southampton Town 2015
Southampton Village 2011

North Carolina
Hyde, Currituck and Dare Counties The North Carolina Legislatures banned plastic in the Barrier Islands in June 2009. The ban was extended to all businesses in the three counties in 2010.

Oregon
Corvallis 2012
Eugene 2013
Portland 2013

Rhode Island
Barrington 2015

Texas
Austin 2013
Brownsville 2011
Dallas 2015
Fort Stockton 2011
Freer 2013
Kermit 2013
Laguna Vista 2013
Laredo 2015
Port Aransas 2016
South Padre Island 2012
Sunset Valley 2013

Washington
Bainbridge Island 2012
Bellingham 2011
Edmonds 2009
Issaquah 2013/2014
Lacey 2014
Mukilteo 2013
Olympia 2014
Port Townsend 2012
Shoreline 2014
Thurston County 2014
Tumwater 2014

The above list may be found on Californians Against Waste – National List of Local Plastic Bag Ordinances

To go even further, I decided to see where bags are banned around the world. This is just a partial list from The Surfider Foundation

INTERNATIONAL 

Australia – The Government of South Australia enacted a ban on plastic checkout bags effective May 2009 while the Northern Territory has a similar ban effective since September 2011.  The Australian Capitol Territory passed and enacted their plastic bag ban in 2011 also.  Woorabinda is the first city in Queensland with a plastic bag ban, effective November 2012.  Fremantle was the first city in West Australia to ban thin plastic bags in January, 2013.  Tasmania passed a plastic checkout bag ban in 2013 that is effective November 2013.

Bangladesh – In 2002 Bangladesh was the first country to ban plastic bags, a big reason was that littered bags exacerbated flooding.  Results have been mixed due to a lack of enforcement.

Cameroon – In August 2013, authorities in Cameroon have begun rolling out a campaign to eliminate non-degradable plastic bags by early 2014.

Chile – In June 2013, Pucon became the first city to address plastic litter with a plastic bag ban.

China – In 2008 China banned the manufacture or use of the thinnest types of plastic bags. They also prohibit supermarkets, department stores, and grocery stores from giving away thicker varieties, requiring them to charge customers for the bags.  The government claims big reductions while others claim more enforcement is needed.

Haiti – Haiti’s government ordered a plastic bag and foam foodware ban effective October 2012 but early reports claim a lack of enforcement as alternatives are sourced.

India – Efforts are underway to ban plastic bags in various parts of the county but there are no solid reports of effective programs or legislation to date.

Ireland – One of the first plastic bag reduction programs on a large scale started in Ireland in 2002 with their plastic bag fee.  The latest figures (in 2013) suggest there has been a 20-fold decrease since the levy was introduced in 2002.

Italy - In 2011 the Italian government announced a nationwide plastic checkout bag effective March 2012.  Merchants must discontinue the use of traditional single-use plastic bags in favor of bioplastic bags that are biodegradable and compostable or meet other specific requirements.

Ivory Coast – The Prime Minister announced a law banning the production, use and selling of plastic bags in the Ivory Coast effective December 2013.

Mali – The Malian government will ban the production, importation, possession, sale and use of non-biodegradable plastic bags, under a law passed in 2012 and effective 2013.

Mauritania – “Mauritania has banned the use of plastic bags to protect the environment and the lives of land and sea animals.  More than 70% of cattle and sheep that die in the capital, Nouakchott, are killed by eating plastic bags, environment ministry official Mohamed Yahya.”

Northern Ireland – The Northern Ireland Executive passed the Carrier Bag Levy in 2011 and it is effective April 2013.  Retailers in Northern Ireland charge at least five pence for each carrier bag handed out to customers, as part of a drive across the province to reduce plastic waste.

Pakistan – The Islamabad Capital Territory passed a plastic bag ban that takes effect on April 1, 2013.  This law bans conventional plastic bag but allows for ‘oxo biodegradable’ bags, which allows bags to degrade into plastic pieces quicker.  Not the best solution.

Phillippeans – The Philippines financial capital of Makati has banned disposable plastic shopping bags and EPS foam food containers starting in June 2013.  The law is partly to help deal with increased flooding from plastic litter.

Rwanda - A countrywide ban on plastic bags was enacted in 2008 with positive reports through to late 2013.

South Africa – A countrywide levy on plastic checkout bags went into effect in May 2003 with proceeds intended to fund a national recycling program.  Reports have been mixed:  plastic bag consumption is down and litter is likely down but there is no data to accurately report on litter.  A 2010 analysis concluded that the levy was too low to be truly effective.  

Tanzania – A countrywide ban on plastic bags has been urged by the federal governemnt since 1996 with minimal results.  Pembra Island has been successful in curbing plastic bag litter according to a 2012 news story.

Wales – The Welsh Government has introduced a 5p minimum charge on all bags (including paper bags) effective October 2011.

* * * * 

Flagstaff is a special, beautiful place. Let’s keep it that way. Ban plastic bags.

Thank you for your consideration and time.

Best,

Holly Troy (Flagstaff resident since 2007)

 

Squeezing Time and Letting Go

Where does the time go? Yesterday I was so blue about all the time I spend at work – 45 hours a week. After the day is over I feel like I have nothing left. I work hard. No creative energy/stuck physical energy = no good. I have to move my body to push the sadness out.

Tom told me I’d feel better after a ride, and of course, he was right. It wasn’t too cold – we did hill repeats (I did three, he did five) up a very steep street by the railroad tracks. Endorphins and exhaustion are often good remedies for anything that ails me. My legs hurt today.

Performing with The Halfbreeds, 1996. Francis Didonato on guitar. Photo by George Tiboni.

Performing with The Halfbreeds, 1996. Francis DiDonato on guitar. Photo by George Tiboni.

I looked at the full moon last night and thought about painting and writing, and how when I was in a band I managed to paint and write and rehearse and work and go to school – and now – I am lucky if I can squeeze out maybe an hour of writing a day, go to work, and ride my bike. (Of course, when I was capable of juggling so much, I was about twenty years younger and I lived in New York, and, I had a creative community where feedback was immediate so the work was energizing). I asked the moon to give me the strength and energy to follow through with my creative ideas while still having time for relationships and work.

When I ride I get clarity on things. Last night it became clear to me that I am afraid that if I have a career as an artist (and/or writer), I will not be able to maintain a love relationship. That fear has got to go! For me, career is part of my identity. Since last spring, I’ve stopped pushing creative work; I’ve been reevaluating what is important to me. Mostly, I’d rather cook and enjoy a shared meal, or stay in bed lying close to my man, than carve out the time for art. It’s been good to relax, though sometimes I feel like I’ve found myself in the middle of deep water with no land in sight. Maybe I am overfilling the well!

The longing to create is surfacing. “What next?” is the big question – why does it scare me? How do I make art a fun part of my life again?

Today I feel more open and hopeful. I feel alright about acknowledging the things that need balance and improvement – now I can take action. I edited the final three poems in a manuscript I’m submitting to a writing program. Two were attempts I began while taking a class with Nada Gordon at the Poetry Project, and another was from a journal entry.

And now I am taking baby steps. I came across two affirmations yesterday that are working for me:

There is always enough time for everything.

Everything happens in the right time.

I made this one up:

I surrender all fear to the healing power of love.

“What next?” is going to be fun.

Of course I can’t look ahead without looking back. I made a video a few years ago to go with some basic tracks of a song I recorded with my 90s band, The Halfbreeds. It’s a cover of Roky Erikson’s Slip Inside This House. The band was recording an album, when the project came to a halt. We never released it, nor got past basic tracks. This is a reminder that I don’t ever want to leave a creative project unfinished again.

So, on I go to, “What next?”

Om shanti.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red Rocks and Scottish Crags

Red Rocks

Red Rocks

I am so used to riding in the desert – but what would it be like to bike in a damp place. Flagstaff can be cold, but it is rarely damp.

I rode in Sedona today, and it was a little cold with some wind. I thought of this video when I came across a section of trail that could only be done by hiking the bike (which is what I did) or bunny hopping up the segment.

The riding and the place in this film is stunning, breathtaking, and in some places, scary as shit.

Happiness Jar – A Repost By Elizabeth Gilbert

I play all kinds of games with myself in order to remain optimistic. When I remember stuff, I usually cycle through the things that have made me sad or angry first, before I see the bright side of the situation (and I usually do see the bright side of even the darkest stuff – eventually . . .)

I came across this post by Elizabeth Gilbert, it’s a great exercise in gratitude and awareness – and I can think of at least half a dozen people who could use this idea – so I am sharing.

HAPPINESS JARS!
Dear Ones –
Here it is the end of the year, and I thought it might be a good time to re-introduce to you all the concept of a Happiness Jar.
Here’s me with mine!

Elizabeth Gilbert with her Happiness Jar.

Elizabeth Gilbert with her Happiness Jar.

What is a Happiness Jar? The simplest thing in the world. You get yourself a jar (or a box, or a vessel of any kind) and every day, at the end of the day, you grab a slip of paper and write down on it the happiest moment of the day.
Even on lousy days, you do this. Because even on lousy days, there is one best moment (or at least, one least-worst moment.)

You stick that little piece of paper in the jar.
Over the years, you have a record of your happiness.
On bad days, I will thrust my fist in that jar and go fishing — pulling up a handful of great moments that I would have utterly forgotten, had I not documented them.
I’ve been doing this practice for years, and I love it.
If my house ever caught on fire, this would be the one material object I would grab before I ran out the door…because what’s inside this jar? THAT’S WHERE IT’S AT — the whole point of this life.
Over the years, my Happiness Jar has taught me much. What continually amazes me is what ends up on the slip of paper every day. Not awesome events, not huge achievements — usually just a small and tiny thing, a moment of awareness…that moment when you step outside and between the house and the car you get hit on the top of the head with a beam of sunlight, and suddenly feel awash with gratitude simply for being alive, and you think, “Yes. This is it.”
It’s usually something that small — and something that grand.
I know that many of you have started this practice, too — and I love seeing the pictures of your jars, and hearing how you have adapted this to your own lives. I love the woman who put one in the middle of her dining room table, and she and her kids each put an entry in there every day — what a cool family practice! And I love the woman who wrote to me last week saying that she had the hardest year of her life, but she kept her Happiness Jar practice going the whole time, and today — on the last day of the year, she’s going to pull out each piece of paper in the jar, to remind her that even now, even in hard times, there was always one good moment a day.
So if anyone wants to begin this practice tomorrow, a New Year is always a great place to start!
Sending love, and, of course, wishing you all an abundance of Happy Moments in 2015!
ONWARD,
LG

A good way to start the New Year!

Om shanti om.

Holly

Taking Time and Navigating the Mundane

I haven’t written in a while – but this is a start. As fall was settling in, and since my sister’s death, I’ve retreated. This has been an assessment period. My energy has been low – and I’ve been looking at where I need to cut back and stop leaking energy.

I know I have been branching my energy out far too wide for years. Anger and grief are showing me where my energy drains are. There is a shift in my awareness.

One of my biggest energy and money sucks sadly has been yoga instruction. Teaching a one hour class (which in itself is just weird – way too short) – was costing me about three hours of time for each class. A few classes a week plus a full-time job were cutting into my personal relationships, my creative energy, fun, and just plain old rest. While I love teaching, the return on my time investment alone isn’t worth it anymore. Maybe that will change, but for now, my practice is personal.

Who am I spending my time with? In the last couple of weeks I realized there are some people who I just don’t need to be around. I don’t have to like everyone I meet. I can walk away and do other things with my time rather than be around people I dislike. I don’t have to analyze the situation further than that. This is a difficult one for me. Usually I can glean something from any connection, any point of view, but sometimes enough is enough. If after spending time with a person I feel agitated/anxious/drained/angry – that person, or our combination of personalities, is toxic. I don’t need to change that person’s behavior – I can choose to change my own behavior, and at this point, rather than argue or put up with negativity, I can leave and do something else (like riding my bike, or writing, and hanging out with a real friend).

I really like the people I work with – and I like my job. 40 hours a week is a lot of time. And, with not getting paid for lunch, it’s actually 45 hours a week. My perspective about my day has to stay positive.  I don’t make enough money to “move ahead” in life, or have an accident – basically I live paycheck to paycheck. No matter what, I will always do my best at my job. No matter whether I make just enough to survive or more than I could ever imagine, it’s important for me to: connect with the people I work with, always do my best, inspire others to do their best, laugh everyday, and learn something new everyday. Currently, all of those things happen for me at work. They are important. I am grateful. They keep me from thinking about work when I am not there. I am also aware of my value – compensation for my time is a new focus in my thinking. Over the next six months to the next year I will work with that focus and see what kinds of changes I can create.

rosemary (c) Holly Troy 2014Those are some of the big things that are in my awareness right now. What am I willing to continue and what am I willing to release? What is of value to me and how can I be of most value to others? Allowing myself to live “one day at a time” while having a loose plan about where I’d like to be is helpful. I don’t have to be constantly productive, though I do like having the time and energy to follow through on my creative ideas.

What’s important in my life? The shortlist: Love, connection, creativity, learning, higher learning, cycling, nature, literature, art, good company, good food, being outdoors, health.

The process is slow. Energy flows in short bursts right now. I’m learning to use the energy while I have it – and the low energy is a lesson in conservation. It is never wise to squander resources. It’s good to replenish the stores. Let’s see where my resources take me.

 

 

 

Checkin’ In

Penny Dog lickin' her Chops.Finally had a chance to just be alone today. Took Penny Dog for a walk in the woods. Thought about my sister. She would have liked the walk.

Talked to my mom on Wednesday, she sounded tired but a bit more at peace. I can’t imagine how my mom feels, but I was relieved to hear her say she feels like she is surrounded by a white light and that she feels my sister is in a good place now.

And I feel okay. too.

Spooky conditions . . .

Of course, live is the real deal . . .