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In a 1970’s song by America, “A Horse With No Name,” the lead singer describes the desert as an ocean with its life underground, and it’s an apt metaphor for better understanding, exploring and living in this type of environment.

So how do most organisms and other beings manage to live and thrive in the desert, where rain and snowfall are scarce, and in some years no precipitation may fall at all?

Nighttime is the big time to be active, it seems. Kangaroo rats come out of their daytime hiding places to eat, and kit foxes, coyotes and sidewinder rattlesnakes all come out as well. Yucca moths pollinate Joshua Trees, bats and owls zoom across brilliantly clear night skies in search of sustenance.

It’s vital to be resourceful, and adaptive. Some plants lose their leaves entirely during dry spells and regain them after it rains. Other plants have tough, stubby leaves that retain whatever moisture that falls; some in turn have leaves growing at angles that minimize their exposure to the intensity of direct desert sun.

Make the most of what nature and life bring you.  The desert tortoise can go up to one year without drinking water. Somehow, they can sense rain coming before we humans do. Tortoises have been observed digging shallow holes or pits where they lie and wallow and welcome rain when it comes.

Have a back-up plan and more than one option on your plate. In Joshua Tree National Park recently, we learned about the strategies of the cactus wren when it came to nesting in desert environments. We observed unoccupied nests these wrens had created in thorny clumps of cacti to distract predatory snakes hunting for their eggs (and at times, their fledgling newborn). Somehow these birds have learned it’s best to have a few decoy nests to distract those whose plans and goals are different than your own.

Be ready and able to capitalize quickly on what life gives you. So true, whether you are in the desert, or wherever your feet may be. Desert wildflower seeds may lie in the soil for a century, waiting for optimum conditions to flourish. Too much heavy rain or snow all at once doesn’t create such conditions. Instead, gentle, steady rains are the key to what may unfold in the spring here. It’s incredible that something so gorgeous and so fleeting has perhaps been 100 years in the making, such as the extensive ocean of desert gold flowers carpeting the floor of Death Valley nearly a month ago

Be humble, and know that you are not the only one out there trying to thrive and make a living.

The desert highlights the need for healthier interdependence between human-impacted versus our wilder neighboring environments. A desert garbage dump for L.A., for example, would attract ravens, which prey upon younger desert tortoises that haven’t developed their tougher adult shells. These endangered reptiles have enough challenges already to survive and thrive and a garbage dump may very well be the tipping point toward their extinction.

Another example-it makes sense for desert locations to be considered for solar and wind power projects, but location is everything. It’s better to site such projects in areas already disturbed by human activity, but not always. We have to consider other factors, such as where bighorn sheep travel over time in search of water, food, or seasonal habitat, or where desert pronghorn migration routes may still best have a chance for their long-term survival as a species.

In the end, it’s amazing that the desert country of southern California, southwestern Nevada, and Arizona is perhaps the most intact and functioning healthy desert environment we have left on the planet. Not bad for a region with over 20 million folks living in southern California, a few million people living in Las Vegas, and perhaps another five million in Phoenix alone.

It’s a vast, often quiet and unforgiving desert surrounded by an ocean of humanity that many only hurry through to get on with their busy lives. Yet it showers those who bravely venture here with its wild, unmanufactured wisdom, helping us thrive in the so-called “real world” as well.

Birdsong erupts in an awakening land
Osprey’s return is now at hand.

An elk herd gathers on a steep greening hill
Clouds drift above, the air quite still.

In higher mountains
where snow piles up deep
grizzlies and black bears emerge from their sleep.

Down by the river
a drift boat flows past
Fishermen shout as a trout strikes their cast.

Not far from the city a meadowlark sings,
bluebirds and robins, and others take wing.

Sagebrush buttercup blooms close to the earth
Marking renewal, a time of rebirth.

Energy abounds as we all shout and sing
Goodbye Old Man Winter, and welcome back spring!

Late winter in the northern hemisphere harkens a time of quickening, rapid growth and change no matter where you look. Robins, English sparrows, northern flickers and black-capped chickadees are once again bustling with activity, crocuses and other early blooming flowers are adding color to the slowly greening landscape, and overnight snows melt quickly into the earth, feeding natural rhythms and cycles that have nurtured earth and its inhabitants for eons.

Of course, human-driven forces and processes have also been around for a long while, too. Tensions between “developed” and “developing” nations, as well as between large predators and agricultural and ranching communities immediately come to mind. Add to that the seemingly never-ending struggle of preserving and conserving natural resources versus their extraction on publicly held lands, or on lands of often already displaced people with little to no political clout or voice, and you’ve got a maddening mix of competing forces and interests which never seems to abate.

Sometimes dramatic progress is made, such as this past December, when over 190 nations meeting in Paris committed to reduce carbon and other emissions in response to rapid climate change. Sometimes, it seems that when we look around, we are smacked by setbacks, which has been the case around here in Big Sky Country as of late.

In early March, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed delisting the grizzly bear in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (G.Y.E.) as a recovered species. Thus management of grizzlies could soon be handed over to the states of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, six different U.S. national forests (responding to three different regional headquarters), other federal and state land agencies, and a patchwork of private lands, replete with conflicting missions, goals and attitudes toward legally hunting and otherwise managing grizzlies within their respective boundaries..

This could happen by 2017 if not sooner, and while grizzly numbers have indeed rebounded over the past 40 years in the region, Greater Yellowstone remains an island ecosystem whose natural integrity is being threatened on multiple fronts. Continuing to manage this iconic, often maligned animal on an ecosystem-wide basis would be the wise thing to do, for when you remove grizzlies from their legal protections, it makes it easier for other forces to impact the long-term health and viability of their diminishing habitat, and of all other species that dwell there, too.

Greater Yellowstone is indeed a wild island 200 miles distant and disconnected from other grizzly bear strongholds such as the Bob Marshall-Great Bear-Scapegoat wilderness areas and Glacier National Park., where grizzlies will continue to receive protection under The Endangered Species Act. Delisted G.Y.E. grizzlies will be hard pressed to successfully disperse in search of new habitat, to adapt to conditions impacted by climate change, to respond to shortages of critical foods, and avoid conflicts in a human-dominated landscape as they do so.

The G.Y.E. bears, once delisted, would also have less genetic variability and resilience as they become more isolated from their better protected brethren farther north and west in Montana.. Montana U.S. Senator Steve Daines doesn’t think the delisting of grizzlies should stop with the Greater Yellowstone population-he advocates delisting of grizzlies throughout their range in the Northern Rockies. He neglects to mention that if this were to happen, public lands without protections for grizzlies or wilderness designation equals a green light for increased habitat fragmentation and motorized use, and for extractive industry to operate and profit in these untrammeled places..

Fortunately, within national parks such as Yellowstone and Grand Teton, grizzlies will continue to remain protected and not hunted, even if G.Y.E. grizzly bear delisting were to happen. The National Park Service continues to support the big picture here of connectivity, The N.P.S. Yellowstone National Park website states that “Efforts to reduce conflicts with people and preserve habitat for dispersal, and eventually, connecting with other populations outside of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem will be essential for future restoration.”*

By protecting areas large and contiguous enough to support grizzlies, we also support healthy watersheds, clean air, and an incredibly wild and attractive place for people to live near by and to recreate in. This also causes problems, as folks in Greater Yellowstone can attest to. The same week that G.Y.E. grizzlies were proposed for de-listing, a malfunctioning pipe at the Yellowstone Club in the Big Sky Sewer District spilled 35 million gallons of sewage water into the south branch of the West Fork of the Gallatin River.

The effluent wastewater was deemed to not be a significant threat to human health, but what about to its fragile blue-ribbon fisheries, and the integrity of the watershed? What about to farming and ranching communities downstream? Big Sky and the Yellowstone Club are not incorporated towns or cities where everyday citizens have a voice. You have to be a member of their homeowners’ association(s) in order to have one.

Shoddy construction practices, minimal oversight and private gain seem to dominate the environment there, yet everyone downstream ultimately pays the price when human-caused shit storms happen. Flint, Michigan comes to mind as well. Short-sighted short cuts serve no one.

These developments and setbacks remind me not to be naïve, not to take things at face value and assume that things will always be alright for grizzly bears, the wild lands that sustain them, and us. They remind me to be vigilant, to advocate for something that is bigger than all of us individually. They remind me that we are all connected to a larger life and to the lives of future generations, and that through greater honesty and transparency, we can transform the rampant complacency, apathy and cynicism found throughout the world.

Martin Luther King, Jr. once said that “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” I refuse to be silent. My passion for nature and the wild sparks something in me that makes me a fierce and relentless advocate on their behalf.  It’s vital for all of us to use our voice for something we are passionate about. Raise your voice, refuse to be silent. Your voice matters. We all matter.

 
*SOURCE OF GRIZZLY BEAR QUOTE www.nps.gov/yell/learn/nature/bearesa.htm


While walking home from the University of Montana campus a few weeks ago, I noticed someone hunched over, walking very deliberately, listening intently to someone he was conversing with via his mobile phone. A few moments later, he arched his back and let out an audible sigh, telling the other person “You don’t have to make perfect choices. Just make good ones.”

I love that.

You don’t have to make perfect choices. Just make good ones.

Make choices that are good for you and for your own self care, your own life journey. From that place, that inner personal compass you can also take better care of others in your family, in your workplace, and in your community.

But how the hell do you really do that?

First, get into the practice of being still and listening to your heart. Tune in to a decision you are about to make and really feel the options you are considering.Does a choice feel open, expansive and full of energy? Does it light you up, or deflate you? Does it excite you more than it scares you?

One area where many people trip themselves up is over choices they have already made in life, and feeling conflicted and fatalistic about how this may play into their present and future

After my Mom died this past October, I wallowed and dwelled in a lot of “what if’s” and other second guessing about our relationship and the occasional rocky times that we had. About three months later, I realized we had both made the best choices we could have made, and that there was nothing I could do now to go back and fix anything. Nor could my Mom.

It is what it is, a friend of mine in Bozeman likes to say. Let it go and move on. Be kind to yourself. Deep in your heart, forgive yourself and others. Wish others happiness and self-forgiveness, see and believe in the best in yourself and others. To paraphrase a quote I came across some years ago, keep only the love and the lessons learned, and apply those lessons learned in the present.
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Making good present and future choices can be just as tricky We all seem to take turns looking back at some of our decisions later, and wonder “What the hell was I thinking?” at times, but know that this is part of living and learning for everyone.The Japanese expression wabi-sabi comes to mind, meaning that in nature and in life, everything is perfectly imperfect.

Procrastinating, and postponing making choices, can contribute to our downfall as well. When we do this, we often still end up making hasty decisions and creating consequences that require considerable clean-up if we are not mindful. Give yourself contemplative time to make a choice that is good for you, and take time to define what good  really means to you Then take action and commit to that course of action. The universe loves it when we are consistent and decisive, and not wishy-washy.

People-pleasing is another contributor to making not-so-good choices. Are you doing something in order to not disappoint someone else or to be in their favor? Because you find it hard to say no to others, or yes to yourself? As someone recently asked in a business workshop, “Are these people going to pay your bills?”  Do a gut check when things get murky or feel conflicted, and decide if what others would like you to do is what you would really like to do, or not.

Here are a few more suggestions to help out when you’re feeling conflicted and stuck while considering different choices:

1.) Be conscious of your needs and desires, your core values, and what you really want to experience in life.

2.) Don’t say yes just to get along or go along.

3.) You can make course corrections at any time if you’re brave and honest enough to acknowledge what’s not working, but give yourself time to learn whether something’s working (or not working) rather than yanking the proverbial seedling out of the flower pot to see how things are going.

Perfectionism can be a formidable stumbling block to making good choices. A close friend and fellow entrepreneur is a self-described “recovering perfectionist.” She loved doing lots of research on topics and weighing their pros and cons before making still agonizing decisions. Eventually, she realized that this was also procrastinating, and getting in the way of moving her business forward. Now that she realizes this pattern and can catch herself way sooner when she slips into this mode, she’s more consistently making better choices that help her be more effective at work, and have more time to enjoy her non-working life, too!

Pessimism is yet another potential foe to making good choices. One example is believing stories others or you have created about yourself in the past and allowing them to influence future outcomes. This could range from “I’ve always sucked at math” to “No one in my family has ever been successful going it alone in business” to “it’s too late, I’m too old, I’m not deserving, or I’ll never have enough money to do X.”  Or it could come in the form of waiting or delaying something, like “only after I retire/the kids are out of the house could I ever do Y.”

Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t-you’re right.”

Perhaps pessimism is the most challenging obstacle of all in making good, and better choices in our lives, yet mastering this tendency doesn’t magically change overnight. It’s like developing any new habit or set of muscles. It takes time, commitment,  and a renewed, can-do mindset. It requires you to dig deep and find evidence that in the past you have made some good choices that fuel you into making more good ones in the present. We may fail at times, but we are never a failure if we try, and if we get back up and try again. And again. And again.

We’re only human.

We are all wabi sabi.

We’re not meant to live our lives in a vacuum thinking that our choices don’t matter, or that they don’t impact other people. We have to have thicker skin, and move beyond fear and analysis paralysis to taking courageous action. We have to do the dance of being unattached to outcomes,  how things unfold, or how things may appear as they unfold.

Somewhere out there, someone else is looking for inspiration and evidence that they, too, can do what they dream of doing. Sometimes, even when we think we are not making any progress at all, someone else notices and reminds us how far we’ve come and changed, and we in turn are inspired to keep going and growing.

Choose to keep going, no matter what  Refuse to believe that your best days are behind you.

As Winston Churchill once said,

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts.”

P.S. I’d love to hear how this article resonated with you. Feel free to email me at harehobie at gmail dot com and let me know. A book that deals with resistance and making good choices that I highly recommend is The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield.

On The Eve of Winter

Aurora Light

Dark Winter’s Night

Orion’s Belt Shines High

 

Alpenglow

Strikes Fallen Snow

A Tranquil Evening Sky.

 

It’s a time of year when millions pause

to honor love and peace,

Unity, forgiveness,

Understanding and Release.

 

The return of the Sun seems certain now

Every day we gain more Light

Still on the ground some clash around

Proclaiming Wrong or Right.

 

Beneath the Snow a Hidden World

Its Creatures Snug Inside

It’s tempting when the storms come ’round

To retreat, be still and hide.

 

Yet Love is needed everywhere

On Our One Home Planet Earth

Let’s Shine Our Light This Solstice Eve

And Honor Her Rebirth.

 

 

Copyright Hobie Hare 2015. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paris, France has been long known as “The City of Light”.  Nearly two weeks ago, a sudden darkness enveloped the city as terrorists struck at multiple locations where Parisians and others gathered, killing over 120 people and injuring several hundred more.I don’t have any easy answers or explanations for what happened, or any easy solutions to offer to end the cycle of violence and mayhem, either. What I sense, though, is that people who do not value and are willing to extinguish the lives of other human beings do not value their own lives as well.

It’s hard to tell where it all starts, this slippery slope of de-valuing people who do not believe, think, act, speak and look like themselves, to their willingness to denigrate and annihilate anyone and anything that represents what is threatening, which often means something they do not fully understand, nor wish to take the time and effort to better understand. How do people become so disconnected that they harm others and them selves? How do we do the same toward the environment in which we all live and depend upon?

We’re all complicit in this from time to time, casting for sound bite responses and solutions to complex issues, looking for the easy way out and to then move on with our busy lives, until the next crisis or misunderstanding arises. I would argue that until we start more compassionately connecting with others who are different from ourselves and the communities in which we live, not much will change, whether it is to reduce the conditions in which terrorism thrives worldwide, or to reduce the rate of global climate change that threatens our own and future generations.

Nature has and plays no favorites. There is no right or wrong, there are no favorites or rejects, their is no clear black or white. In nature, gray is o.k. Everything and everyone has a role to play and is of equal importance. We all belong-the question is “Can we all get along?”
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Spending more time in the natural world breaks down artificial barriers humans create to divide and separate themselves. More than half of the world’s population now lives in urban and suburban areas, belying the need for people to connect more consistently and deeply with nature, which is the foundation of our human and planetary community, no matter where our feet are.

Maybe it all starts with self-love, understanding, compassion and forgiveness first. Maybe there’s a healthy dose of humility thrown into this messy recipe as well. Maybe it also requires us to turn off the televisions. computers, radios, and mobile devices, to not text, read newspapers or magazines for a little while, and to spend time in person having difficult and challenging conversations with people in your own immediate circle rather than expecting to change the lives of others half a world away.

About a week ago at a networking meeting, a fellow entrepreneur said that often, challenging and difficult conversations and conflicts ultimately create an opportunity for greater connection between people. She went on to say that this often means really listening and understanding where others are coming from before expecting and demanding others to understand them first. It’s a two-way street yet nearly everyone is in a hurry, trying to pass others in a rat race that humans and their institutions have created over time. As Lily Tomlin commented, “Even if you win the rat race, you are still a rat”.

The City of Light, as myriad other cities, towns, villages and hamlets around the world have done before, is slowly recovering and rebounding after a senseless attack that plunged them into a brief darkness.

Let us give thanks that this will always be the path we choose to take when our instincts are to lash out and exact retribution from those who have caused us harm. If we take an honest and compassionate look at our own lives, we can find and seize opportunities to better understand, accept, forgive and love not only others, but ourselves as well.

Thanksgiving is a natural time to pause, reflect, and shine brightly our appreciation and love for all of humanity, and to take our own baby steps to creating peace in our hearts and world. As Jimi Hendrix once said, “When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace”.

Have a wonderful, peaceful and Happy Thanksgiving!

Amazing Grace


Sometimes it’s hard to make sense of things that happen in our lives, and the unexpected passing of my Mom in early October really shook me to my core. Given my Dad’s dementia and other age-related challenges, my four siblings and I all thought he might have gone first, as my Mom had been spry and sharp and in seemingly better shape until the week before she passed.

My Mom, Angela, had been progressing well after a seemingly successful surgery in late August, but about five weeks later, she experienced a significant downturn once more. A second surgery left her with weakened vital signs and she passed away two mornings later, another star and ray of light returning to the great unknown. Her closest friends had always called her Angel.

One thing I do know is that my mom’s spirit and love live on in all the life and lives that I am a part of. It’s hard not to think about her during one of her favorite seasons (spring is #1, fall is #2), when walking and kicking through piles of colorful leaves swirling around on sidewalks, when glancing up at brilliant blue skies decorated with white puffy cumulus clouds, when witnessing squirrels and birds zoom around the backyard preparing for winter .Or when getting ready for Halloween, as she got such a kick out of helping my brother Bill and I with costumes when we were very young, and still enjoyed seeing photos of grandchildren and her own grown children dressing up in the spirit of the season..

My mom lived her last 20-plus years in an apartment complex west of Richmond, Virginia, where my oldest sister continues to live just a few doors down from where she called home. I was always astonished by how much my mom had turned her little corner of the earth outside her place into something so personal, so beautiful, and so magical. She planted, usually with the landlords’ permission, small bushes, trees and plants to brighten up her home outside her home. She nurtured hens and chickens, forget-me-nots and other flowers in small beds outside, and had turned an old wooden barrel into a planter, leaving a hole at the bottom of the barrel intact so chipmunks had a place to hide. I wouldn’t say she was one and at peace with the squirrels, though, as she alternated between leaving crumbs out for them to eat, and then shooing at them with a broom, followed by the occasional expletive, too! She had deep roots and a strong connection to where she lived, yet she also encouraged her five children to find their own places to grow, to become rooted and call home.

As an adult, it took time, effort and lots of soul-searching before I finally found my own place to call home and put down roots here in Montana, which is where I was when my sister called about my mom’s condition following her second surgery, and where I was fitfully sleeping the morning that she died. We are honoring her request to have her ashes scattered next summer, and to have a celebration of life gathering for her instead of a funeral service.

A state of grace and calm prevail in most moments now, alongside occasional rip-currents and waves of grief and sadness. I think about my mom and how much she loved the seashore, especially Cape Hatteras and other places on the Outer Banks of North Carolina,

Imagining and envisioning being there reminds me that we are all a part of this huge ocean of love, family, community and possibility. Storms are inevitable, even hurricanes from time to time. We are all part of this tug and pull, these vast and often unknowable rhythms and cycles of life
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Even after the craziest, shittiest and darkest of storms, light returns, love remains. And if we keep nurturing that, remembering those who gave their love while they were here, encouraging us to be grateful for what we have and to do what we can to serve others and something bigger than ourselves, we are unstoppable.

“The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire” said Ferdinand Foch. My mom’s soul and spirit burned brightly her entire life.  It feels fitting that she passed at this time of year, when the maples, sumacs, oaks and other trees she loved also are aflame, before their leaves too return to where they once came from.

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