We are traveling next week, traveling further than we do on a weekly basis where, because of living in a remote area we travel regularly, we travel to the shops in the bigger town for more variety and better prices, we travel for our weekly Tai Chi class and to get really good coffee, freshly roasted in Co Leitrim. Sometimes we travel for about 3hours, nearly 100miles to see family, to walk by the sea and to visit my mum, who due to Alzheimers disease, does a lot of traveling herself, often time traveling decades in minutes.
We are very excited to have been nominated for the Save Our Planet Awards in which voting is currently open. I’ll wait right here while you pop over to vote for us.
These awards are in their second year in the North West of Ireland where we live and are a great way to find out about local green business or organisations. It means a lot to us to be nominated for an award that is focused in the North West, the area of Ireland that we have chosen to make our home.
The Save our Planet Awards celebrate groups, organizations, businesses, and individuals who are outstanding examples in implementing good environmental practice and initiatives, and who, in their own way, are “saving the planet”! You can have that person or organization recognized and acknowledged in a real way, and, in the process, highlight the difference that small actions and real commitment can make to the earth, amid the major threats facing it from climate change, and environmental damage.
We have been nominated because we run a number of green businesses and have done so for a few years now. Many people know us as the “windmill people” because we have been teaching people to build their own wind turbines since 2007. We have taught many courses in our local area of Co. Leitrim and have also been teaching further afield – both in Co Kilkenny and Portugal.
These courses are fully hands on and can be quite challenging from an energy point of view as we go full blast and build a wind turbine from scratch during the six days. This work is great fun as we get to interact with all sorts of wonderful and interesting people, it’s a good length of time to get to know people when you both work and eat together. Of course the fact that we also get to travel is very cool and we have loved that wind turbines have brought us to Portugal a number of times in the past few years.
We also design and install other renewable energy systems and have helped a number of people in Ireland to set up off-grid electrical systems. We often end up in the most wonderful of settings during this work and it is very rewarding when we see how happy people are to become self sufficient as far as electricity is concerned.
We are perhaps less well know for our Green Web Hosting and we often think that this is where we could have the biggest impact on reducing pollution and helping people to reduce their carbon footprint. Did you know that the internet is set to outrun the Air Traffic Industry as the dirtiest industry in just a few short years?
Do you know where your website resides? All websites live on a server somewhere so they live in large server farms and data centers – these are not really idyllic areas of rolling pasture with trees blowing blissfully in the breeze. They are large industrial warehouses with very large electrical bills for cooling and running the servers (really powerful computers). A web server on average produces more than 630kg of CO2 and consumes 1,000 KWh of energy annually (Wikipedia).
What can we do about this? We could stop using the internet… Yeah, didn’t think so, me neither. We can move our websites onto green servers – server farms that are powered directly by renewable energy. It’s easy to do and we can do all the techy side of things for you – arrange the movers and pack the boxes, load the moving van as it were. We keep our eyes out for the best green servers around the world because that sort of thing is important to us. It only costs a little more than having your website smoking coal and just think about the benefits.
What can we do if we don’t have a website or don’t want to move it until the rental period is up?
Switch off the data connection on our phones for a few hours every day – this also gives you the benefit of a quiet period. I have a free android app (break free) on my phone that automatically switches off the data from midnight until 10am. I can choose to easily switch it back on if I wish to be internet active earlier in the morning however I often find that I don’t want to.
Switch off your phone at night – fully! If you need the alarm to function as I often do then switch your phone onto flight mode until you are up and about. Who needs all those notifications before your first coffee anyway?
Turn off your laptop and desktops when they are not in use, especially overnight. Double whammy here – you save electricity reducing your bill and you also stop the computer accessing information and updating etc.
Switch off your smart tv when it is not in use.
Switch off your DAB radio when you are not listening to it.
Are you noticing a theme here? I guess it’s obvious however sometimes the obvious is not so easy to see. It’s easy to forget that our smartphones are responsible for energy use even when they are not plugged in to charge.
But before you switch off – don’t forget to pop on over to vote for us in the Save Our Planet Awards. If we are successful then more people will hear about us and we can get more people to make the switch – switch over to green hosting and switch off.
Loss is never easy. Letting go can be difficult too. I lost a wonderful friend and teacher last week when after a long illness she passed away peacefully.
I am grateful to have had this friend in my life for the last seven years or so, I can’t count the blessings that have followed me since I first met her, the amazing friendships that have resulted from knowing her, the tears and laughter that have flowed.
I have difficulty letting go of things. I still wear clothing that is older than some of my grown up nephews and nieces so letting go is something that I’m learning to work on.
Letting go of people is even harder. I believe that when we hold on we restrain the spirit from continuing on it’s journey, whatever that journey may be. It’s not our business to hold on, it is our business to let go. I know I’m lucky that this death was not unexpected so I didn’t have the violence of surprise to deal with, also that this is not the first death of someone close to me. However I’m not sure that death is something you become used to, even after many losses, I’m not sure it’s something you become good at accepting. I do know that support is a great help, that it’s wonderful to talk with people who loved the departed, to tell stories, to weep together, to say how you feel right now, to ask friends to light candles. It’s not a time to pretend to be all grown up, death can make children of us all.
On the evening of her funeral I took a walk up the hill behind us, through the forest, as the light was fading. The wind was blowing hard to the north, clouds were flying on the wind as were my thoughts and tears. In the pocket of my old rain coat my fingers found a beach pebble, I often find pebbles in coat or jacket pockets, usually placed there shortly after getting the clothing so this pebble was probably in my pocket for some fifteen years or more. I played with it as I walked, enjoying the texture, it helped me to feel present.
I sang a song that was special to us and wondered how to let her go, I didn’t want to, I wanted to hold on to her selfishly, to bind her to me however I knew that I couldn’t. I knew that I had too much respect for her and had learnt too much from her to hold on so I waited for the panic to subside, then I let go of the pebble.
Do you have a morning ritual or practice? Is it a spiritual practice or a physical exercise routine? This morning I enjoyed both although that wasn’t my intention.
I went for a hour long walk, at least that was the intention, I don’t know how long I was as I didn’t bring a phone and I haven’t owned a watch in a very long time. I hadn’t slept as well as I usually do as there was something bothering me and I wanted to leave it behind on my walk. I wanted to not be thinking about it all day so I set out on a walk that I know takes about an hour. It’s a there and back walk, not a circuit as our road actually becomes a gravel forest track and ends in the Sitka Spruce plantations, it is used by the foresters when they cut or plant the pine trees and very rarely has any traffic on it. The route that I took this morning is a new extension though, the forestry lads built it during the year to extend their ability to access more trees for cutting and hauling and it has given me a new route for walking.
For awhile on the walk I was still bothered by what I didn’t want to be thinking about and so I was trying to not think about it. Have you ever done that? If you have then I’m sure you know how fruitless that endeavor is. The more you try to not think about it the more it rattles around in your head and grows, you hear imaginary conversations about the issue with other people, it grows legs and can outpace me any day.
After a while I did become distracted by my surroundings and thought about it less and less. Sometimes distraction is just what you need. I recognised the stand of trees where I saw a red squirrel earlier in the year and so I was walking more quietly and becoming more observant in the hopes that I might spot it again. Before I knew it I was at the end of the track and went to investigate the amazing toadstools and mushrooms that I saw a few days ago. I didn’t have a camera with me so I can’t share them with you today, perhaps another day.
I felt drawn into the woods and crossed a ditch so that I was in among the Sitka spruce. We’ve had weeks here with no rain so the ditches are dry as was the forest floor, in fact the forest floor looked so soft and inviting that I put my wind-cheater down on the pine needles and lay under the trees, just at the edge so that I could look up through the trees and also out across the track to see the sky.
At first I moved around a little, finding a comfy spot on the soft ground, just feeling and enjoying the connection of the earth to my body. I became quiet and began to notice all the other sounds that were not connected with me. There was a surprising amount of wonderful birdsong, I cannot recognise many different birds by song and didn’t try to, I just enjoyed listening to them, real surround sound. I enjoyed the play of the branches above me and how the light danced between the needles until it reached me. Every now and then there was sound that was just like rain falling however I knew that it wasn’t raining and after a time I saw what was making the sound. Across the track, above and behind the pine trees I could see wild growing Aspen trees moving in the slight breeze, their rounded leaves rattling and dancing against each other and then quieting again as the breeze died away.
If I hadn’t been so bothered I’m sure my walk would have been just that – a walk. I’m grateful for the experience it became when I got out of the way.
I’m glad to have re-learnt that I cannot “not think” about something, rather I need to replace the thought, much like it’s very difficult to get rid of a bad habit, you will be so much more successful changing the habit than trying to eradicate it. I’m happy to have found some beautiful Aspen in the midst of the pine and will enjoy sharing my find with a tree-wise part-time neighbour who has taught me much about trees and our neigbbourhood because he sees it with different eyes.
Do you have a morning ritual or practice you would like to share? Please leave a comment, I ‘d love to hear from you.