The Summer of Smoke # 2

 

nakulaWith all of this smoke around we have not seen the blue skies and blue water that make the Gold Coast a sparkling destination for some time now. Only yesterday I drove home from work in a car covered in dust and looked out onto dirty dusty streets,  littered with withered leaves and with a smoke haze covering the city.  But for the oppressive heat it was easy to imagine it was autumn.  Yellow grass, dried leaves blowing about. You get the picture.

So in all of this gloom I’ve decided to write about something that has made me happy in the last few days.  Nakula Yoghurt.  The reason it makes me happy is that it ticks all the boxes.  No animal products (tick), deliciously fabulous and creamy (tick), made in Australia (tick tick tick) and also the business has partnered with Planet-water.org to provide water to local communities in Thailand meaning by supporting them, you are supporting broader communities. You can see this for yourself here.

That’s nice you say but in the midst of probably the greatest bushfire in Australian history and with approximately 2000 koalas burnt alive, why even both about something as trivial as yoghurt?

The reason I am writing about yoghurt it because while driving to work this morning, smelling the smoke, feeling depressed and powerless about it all, I made a decision.  It’s pretty obvious that we are on our own. By “we” I mean humanity and all the birds and the beasts that share this planet with us.  Governments and multinationals are not going to stop their rape and pillage of every resource they can dig out of the ground.  They don’t give a shit about the koalas or the fact that while some people have no water  we are planning to explore to Mars.  Hello?

It’s down to us, all of us on an individual level, to support grassroots initiatives and businesses that seem to have an ethical mission statement. I am not anti-capitalist or people making money from good initiatives, but I AM against wrecking the planet for personal gain.

The choices we make about what yoghurt to eat or shampoo to buy affects the planet and anything that effects the planet effects every creature on it.  From now on I am going to be super scrupulous who I give my money too.

The only way we can affect change is through personal decision making.  Our power of purchase, our collective will to say no to rampant, mindless consumerism, is power.  Use it wisely.  The future of humanity sits with you.

ps.  No, I’m not on the payroll.

 

 

 

The Summer of Smoke

Unknown-3I’ve become increasingly fixated on water.  For someone who used to whinge when it rained because I would get my running shoes wet, I have a new respect for something  I’ve always taken for granted. Rain will come, the tap will produce water, day follows night. Right?

That is until I lived in a city ringed by smoke.  Until birds dropped out of the sky and died of dehydration.  Until the bodies of flying foxes littered the roads like discarded plastic bags, dead from dehydration.  Until the day I sat at work right next to a water fountain which was turned off because of maintenance, and listened to the irritation of gym goers who simply expected cold water to fall from the tap at the press of a button.  This on a day when we were told to stay indoors because the smoke from the bushfires raging across two states had made the air quality dangerous to health.  It suddenly occurred to me.  What if one day we opened a tap and nothing happened?”

As I write this, the brief respite we had over the weekend, when a sprinkling of rain gave everyone hope, has given way to hot, wild winds which whip the dry leaves around and re-invigorate the fires which have been blazing for weeks. I can’t even begin to imagine the scale of wildlife loss or what the survivors, human or animals, face with the environment blackened around them.  I can’t even imagine, how much water has been used fighting these fires which were started by the dearth of water in the first place.  I can’t imagine life without the koala, a likely scenario in my lifetime.

I think of the absurdity of teaching an aqua class with the smell of smoke all around us.  People exercising and going for coffee while 20km away others are losing their homes as our fragile ecosystem goes up in smoke. And 20kms is not far when the winds rage, as they do today.

For the first time in my life I have become afraid of the weather.  What usually happens “over there” is now happening “over here” and it’s frightening.  Despite this, and still, developers are carving up swathes of bushland for tourists who want to come to Australia to see koalas.  The irony seems to be lost on just about everybody.

We are a selfish, self-interested species. We don’t see the dead birds in the roads who have died of thirst while we complain in the gym that the tap has run dry.  We need to realise that we are but ONE part of a complex but vulnerable ecosystem that will not survive if stay on our current course.  If the ecosystem collapses so do we.

What can you do?

Reduce, recycle, recalibrate. Stop wanting so much. Donate to wildlife funds to help protect what we have before it’s too late. And if nothing else, help us save the koalas by donating here.

 

 

Bless and Flick

Few things press my buttons faster or harder than experiencing white male privilege in action. After 64 years on this planet I am done.

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To give an example of what I mean let me take to you to the side of pool with me yesterday where I was teaching a deep water running class.  It was 7:00am.  I was halfway through my regular class and things were going well.

Enter white male privilege stage right.

I had seen this person around before.  A doctor, late forties, distinguished looking. “Can you turn your music down” he said, “I came here for a quiet swim and it’s disturbing me.”  The old me would have scuttled off, turned the sound down, and propitiated my way into a thousand apologies.  But I am not the old me anymore and this was my turf.  Plus he had interrupted me halfway through my class  without thought or respect for what I was doing or the 23 people who had paid to be there.

“No” I said, “I am teaching a class and the participants at the far end of the pool can’t hear me.”  “Well I can hear you and I want to swim in peace” he bellowed, moving into full rage at the word ‘no.’  “Who do you work for?”  “Who is your supervisor?” Before stomping off to report me to someone.

The implication behind those words irked me.  At its heart was a threat and an assumption.  The threat was punishment that I had not jumped to appease his needs and an assumption of who I was as a person based on the fact that I was standing at the side of pool in a uniform.  Someone incapable of making an informed decision or standing my truth.  Someone who hadn’t owned businesses or might even be more degreed than him.  Someone whose space was up for occupation and ownership.  A mere employee rather than a multifaceted individual who has lived many lives and who possesses multiple knowledges. Someone who could be threatened with the boss.  

As a South African who grew up under the Apartheid regime I am particularly susceptible to this type of bullying.  I understand the shadow play and the language of power very well. It was used to intimidate and cow black people into submission on a daily basis, as in “if you don’t do what I say I will call the police.”  It was used to intimidate women who stood up to male power as in  “No-one likes you because you’ve got an attitude problem.” The voice of my ex-husband still echoes in my ears.

The power play behind language is designed to keep us under the yoke. To doubt ourselves and our truth. To consider ourselves unworthy and hold ourselves back.  To play small rather than risk the ire of the boss.  The fact that we still don’t get it sends me in paroxysms.

I wish I could tell you I handled it well.  I wish I could tell you that rage didn’t flare  through my body and incinerate my cells.  It did.  But I had a class to finish and for the next 20 minutes I had to keep a lid on it.  During the cool down however, I burst into tears.  I wasn’t hurt or scared. I was enraged and this kept me a mess for the rest of the day.

It was not that I was asked to turn the music down, I have asked people to do that myself.  What annoyed me was the assumption that his needs should be met instantly, regardless of the needs of the 23 people in my class or the fact that he had interrupted a scheduled event to demand it. What annoyed me was his breath-taking, unexamined sense of entitlement.

It was amazing how so miniscule an event had the power to cloud my day.  I’m not proud of that.

After I left work I was listless.  I was supposed to go to gym but I didn’t.  I was supposed to go to yoga afterwards but I didn’t do that either.  In short I punished myself for his behaviour.  Instead of doing something uplifting, I spent my time slouched on the couch scrolling Facebook on my phone.

But then there other words and different languages. Maybe I was meant to spend an afternoon on the couch in order to watch a video that profoundly resonated and might even have changed me.

I am not a Christian but the message Rachel offers is universal.  If you want to change the world you have to start with yourself.  Only when you live in light can you light the way for others.  The world will always be full of people who vex us.  People, regardless of race, gender or class, who think they are better and deserve more than us.  People who bully and scream and demand their needs be attended to first are as old as time itself.  What has to change is how we respond to it. Rage keeps us captive to the situation.  If you look around the world today clearly rage is not working for us.

I came away from the video really want to understand and change that part of myself that reacts badly to these types of situations.  In doing so, I understood something else too.  We are all connected.  Everyone has a story.  Not every story resonates with with every single person which is why we need multiple stories. You never know when someone random can teach you something.  Rachel, for instance, is a Christian.  I am not.  Normally I would not have watched a Christian testimony.  I stumbled onto her video because I was following the trail of sport.  I wanted to understand who she was because of her marriage to the Captain of the South African rugby team.  I was not expecting profundity.  But there it was.  Everyone holds a key that might unlock something in someone else.

So even though we know this, how do we implement it?  What daily steps can we take to live in light?  Well it takes conscious commitment.  It is not easy to love those who do you wrong or yell in your face.  But as I discovered, dwelling on darkness affects not only you, but the people around you.  For each person that falls into shadow there is one less who moves into the light.  And the world needs light.

Moving forward my strategy will be one I learned @myhealthyoga.  It’s called “bless and flick”. If you imagine the bully you’re facing, or the challenging situation you’re in as a light switch, bless the darkness, flick the switch and move on.  You’ve better things to do.

 

Hello!

Keryn Clark 11

Hello!  Welcome to my site.  My website as it now stands is in a constant state of evolution, just as I am in a state of evolution along with the rest of the planet.  Nothing is permanent and this is a good thing.

Fitness Heaven is my evolving business.  Fitness does not only refer to building muscle and exercise, although I work in that industry, but it is also about what concerns emotional wellness and feeling connected in a world that is disconnected what from truly makes us happy.  In the coming posts I hope to share my thoughts on the subject and any information that I find valuable.  I am particularly interested in the mind/body connection to health and what I hope to create here is a gentle space that explores this subject.

There are good energies in the world, particularly coming from the young, which promise to blow in much needed change.  We can no longer consume, distract or trundle our way across the world oblivious to the havoc we, as humans, are causing to the environment and to the other creatures who share this world with us.  We don’t own the world.  We owe the world a duty to protect it along with everything that lives upon it.

For a long time now I have felt stuck in a state of flux.  Bewildered by choice, dumbstruck by the sheer volume of information out there on any given subject, strangled by the need to feel seen or heard which of course is a social marketing tactic to keep us striving and pushing without really asking ourselves what it is we are striving for.

Then one day a voice rose up inside me and it said STOP! Just stop. Do the things you want to do, share the information that resonates with you and if someone is interested they will find you.

So hello someone, nice to have you here. Pleased to meet you.

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