At the end of the week, I flew (there went any environmental savings accrued during the week!) to St. Louis to celebrate with Julie. She had helped to organize the National Eating Disorders Awareness Walk in St. Louis this fall, and was scheduled to speak after the walk. It was a beautiful day, in all ways. Julie, her boyfriend Greg, her roommate Lucy, pup Paolo, and I joined several dozen people in this fund-raising event. One group of walkers had raised quite a bit of money in memory of their loved one, Erika, who had died the previous year from complications related to her eating disorder. Brave people.
So I listened to Julie and her friend Jess talk about life after ED - the richness and satisfaction and amazingly normal ups and downs that they have both experienced in the last few years. From a window two floors above the parking lot where we were meeting, several young women, too weak and ill to walk, watched and listened. Beautiful young women with big hearts and big dreams lying dormant - dreams that will hopefully become reality for them in the not-so-distant future. I looked at them and remembered my own fears during the frightening years of Julie's illness, and said prayers of gratitude for Julie's health and prayers of hope for the other women's futures.
Julie, Greg, and I spent lots of time together over the weekend celebrating. What were we celebrating? Just being alive and being in one another's lives. We ate a lot of good food - very good food - talked about work and school and travels, and just hung out together. The time we spent together had a big impact on me - it refilled my heart with Julie-love which will hopefully last until Thanksgiving.
When we hear and talk about environmental issues and sustainability, one common experience is to learn about sacrifices that we must make in the future, if the earth and its inhabitants are to stay healthy. What must we give up? How can we lower our impact on the earth? Many such conversations focus on the "take-away" column. I love talking to and learning about people who know about other ways to view the changes that may lie ahead - these folks think about how wonderful it can be to pull back and look at what is most important, most essential in life - and most of the time what they are looking at is relationships. We will buy and consume less, and will spend more time with one another. If material resources do decline, we will offer help to our neighbors and friends, and receive help from them in turn. And hey! Maybe we should just do that now anyway! Two exciting and creative views are offered by Transition groups across the world (check this out to learn about one such group in Pittsburgh) and by Colin Beavan, the No Impact Man.
So it was a week of greater awareness of the impact of my own carbon footprint, followed by several days of appreciating and celebrating the big impact of my daughter's life - on my own life and on the lives of other loved ones. Where are the big, amazing, powerful, and positive impacts in your life - around you and within you?