Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Dial Down Your Eco-Anxiety

Climate change concern, especially in the era of crazy, polarized politics, can lead to eco-anxiety. What exactly is that? Eco-Anxiety is the nerve-racking mix of worriness, nervousness, uncertainty, and other levels of distress that come about due to being aware of our planetary environmental issues. Sometimes it falls in the category of hyper-focus or overthinking... and sometimes it comes from having an overly sensitive and caring heart. But, it's hard to leave your empathy behind when you care about the planet and feel helpless or hopeless about what to do with the growing environmental concerns.
I ran across this Intersectional Environmentalist post, which inspired me to create this visual below on May it serve you well if you are inspired to take to journal writing, which is always a good way to deal with emotions. 
Eco Anxiety by Vicki Dabrowka

For more reading on the subject of eco-anxiety and what you can do to help yourself out, check out these articles:
Additionally, here are some times when I've alluded to eco-anxiety in the past here on GTG:
If you are finding yourself completely overwhelmed or distraught with climate/environmental anxiety, please seek help through loved ones or trained mental health professionals

Saturday, November 26, 2022

The Benefits of Birds

There are a lot of sayings and idioms that involve birds: 
  • Like a duck to water
  • Birds of a feather flock together
  • Free as a bird
  • Birds eye view
And these are just a few. [For more, check out The Spruce's article Bird Idioms Explained.]

But the fact that they impact our language so much pays tribute to how readily available our flying feathered friends are. 

And lucky for us...birds do not just influence our language. They apparently serve our mind, body and spirit! Mary Jo DiLonardo addressed this fact in her 11/9/2022 Treehugger article "Seeing or Hearing Birds Is Good for Well-Being"

Researcher Ryan Hammoud (from King's College in London) led the study, finding that having birds in our sights or sound-space can actually provide positive emotional benefits for up to 8 hours. His goal in his research: to use the information for combining health, urban design, and city plannning. Hammoud noted that there has been a lot of studies focusing around the healthy impacts of Vitamin N--Nature, but not specifically centered on birds. (Vitamin FF--Feathered Friends?? 😉) 

Using the app Urban Mind, his experiments focused on 1,292 people who completed almost 27,000 assessments, surveys, and follow up questions. Three times a day, these experiment participants were asked questions about their proximity to birds as well as their current emotions--both positive ones (like self-assured, joyful, relaxed) and negative ones (like apprehension, overwhelm, and detached). Additionally, they took data on participants' diaagnosed mental health conditions. Researchers wanted to determine if there was any correlation between the birds and their mental well-being.

Results showed that regardless of diagnosis of mental health, all participants showed a positive spike in their emotional state when birds were factored in (regardless of other environmental stimuli)--sometimes lasting up to 8 hours. This was the first evidentiary study to prove that both the songbirds' melodies and watching them in fanciful flight or simply dining at the bird feeder. It also provided scientific confirmation that the biodiversity that surrounds us when we are out in nature (the flora, the fauna, and the feathered) all are part of that Vitamin N. [Go here to read the entire scientific report of the study.]

Additionally, this scientific study supports the efforts of and their pursuit to protect bird populations. According to their statistics, we no longer have 1 of every 4 birds we had in 1970. This species loss we now know also has a significant impact on our mental health (particularly depression). By raising conservation efforts when it comes to birds, we also--once again--are giving ourselves and our planet the gift of health.

My husband and I joke about how the older we get, the more bird feeders and birdhouses we seem to be acquiring. Little did we know we were just being proactive about our mental health! That's definitely "something to crow about," and may just be the key to being "happy as a lark."

* Bonus: Want to bring more nature sounds into your life to help create some calm while you "get your ducks in a row?" Check out this 3 hour soundtrack of bird songs from Acerting Arts on YouTube.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Hope & Happy Thanksgiving

Given a little Halloween frightfest at the hospital this year (aka: scheduled surgery), I've been back to being laid up with more "wintering" and recovery happening at home. 

What does that mean for me? A lot of sleeping, reading, some TV binging, and repeating... once again. 

The timing of it is such that it has hit a lot of holidays: starting with Halloween, then spanning my Thanksgiving and Christmas, with the return being hopefully at the start of the new year. 

I did this purposefully to take advantages of the Thanksgiving and Winter Breaks, because ahhh... the calendar as decided by the teacher's school year!

One of the many books I read during this span of time was Hope: A User's Manual by MaryAnn McKibben Dana. I got it for a friend of mine who is troubled by the global climate crisis and how we always seem to miss our mark. As can happen with climate conversations, the level of doom and gloom can get you down. 

I wanted to give my friend "hope." Given "hope" has been a frequent theme in my own book choices, I felt I could use another dose of it myself, and got myself a copy as well.

The thing I really liked about this book (and something that made it fascinating to be reading it while sequestered at home during election season earlier this month), is that it referenced hope through the lens of so many things. 

Included in this list: elections, insurrections, social justice, systemic racism, climate change, pandemic pandemonium, and more. Many of these things are the exact concepts that (over the last half dozen years) still feel so heavy on me. Hope: A User's Manual met my post-hospitalization-hibernation well. I utilized this time to sleep, recover, and reflect on it all along with many other things. The author admitted early on the mere writing of the book, during the pandemic, was an attempt to "write herself back into a sense of hope" [p. 11]. 

I needed that book too.

MaryAnn McKibben Dana paints hope as different than optimism, toxic positivity, pithy platitudes, gaslighting, perfectionism, or over-romanticized nigglings and notions. 

Instead, hope is a "muscle to be exercised" [p. 22]. 

It is active not passive. 

It sometimes is quiet, and sometimes it gains fire from an anger that burns within. 

It can sometimes stem from joy and laughter and play. 

It can often times be uncomfortable--but we don't grow through comfort. 

It is a story we cultivate. 

It's the micro-movements we make. 

It's the breaths that stablize us. 

It's the beauty in nature that surrounds us. 

It's the small beacon of light on a dark day. 

It's the hard things that don't get fixed quickly or sometimes even in our generation, but that improve over time. 

It's the collective good fight to create a better world. 

It is grace, compassion, self-kindness, and perseverance. 

To me, hope has a lot of the same power as gratitude.

Gratitude is what alters your perspective toward what you have, not what you need. It can inspire you to give to those who need appreciation. It can lead you to give to grow your thankful heart.

May you have a Thanksgiving holiday filled with gratitude, friendship, countless blessings, and hope

Photos from, from the same website gallery: Slide 5Slide 2Slide 12Slide 16Slide 21slide 22Slide 25Slide 29Slide 32; Banner created at

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Take Time to Sit & Watch

Maybe because it's starting to get late in the fall season...

Or, maybe because the beauty of autumn and the color spectrum of leaves always causes me to take pause...

Or, maybe because I simply have leaves on my mind (see my last post)....

This image and quote combination from 1000 Hours really spoke to me.

Save time this season for more of this:

Image from

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Reaching 8 Billion

Yesterday (Tuesday, November 15th, 2022) was the Day of 8 Billion. It was the day we, as a planet, reached the global milestone of 8 billion (with a "B") people. This feat took only 12 years to go from 7 billion (in 2010) to 8 billion.

Ever since yesterday when I heard the news of it being 8 Billion Day, I've periodically checked in on WorldOMeter's website. It shows the current population numbers in live time, with numbers changing by the second. It's amazing to see the incredible jump from this time today versus the same time yesterday!

Watching the trajectory historically as we gain each additional billion is fascinating. The graph below--as well as the data in the chart I made--were from Population Education's website and their post by Marian Starkey [July 6, 2022] entitled "8 Billion and Growing: World Population Milestones Throughout History." Both data visualizations are eye-opening and jaw-dropping when you think of how that rate has increased over time. The startling point too is how flat the line on the graph was for population growth from year 0 to 1800 (which you can see on the graph shown here).

While it's looking like United Nation projections don't have us hitting 9 million until 2037 (15 years, a bit of a bigger jump than what we just saw between 7 and 8 billion), there clearly are ramifications across almost every field of study and interest. Of course, there are the environmental impacts of an ever-crowding planet. Technology and medicine have made it possible to have fuller, richer, healthier, and longer lives. Growing population means we need to have the resources available for us to live here on our planet as well as to provide us with food for all of these growing people. 

To learn more about the Day of 8 Billion and how 8 billion people impact our planet, check out these sites:

  • "How Big Is a Billion" benchmarks from Population Education so you can begin to wrap your head around just how big IS 8 billion??!
  • Click this GTG archived link from back in February of 2015 (way back when there were only 7.3 billion people) to see Population Education's 7 minute map-animated video of population over time from 0 to current day and projected to 2050
  • Also from February 2015 and my "Framing Education Around Population" post about Population Education, find the map of what countries would look like if their land mass matched their population.
  • Population Riddles you can use in class with to get your students math minds bending around these really big numbers.

Intro image from graph from; chart created from data on, video from

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Mighty Leaf Mosaics

The winds and rain whirled powerfully around the last 2 nights from the aftermath of Hurricane Nicole making her way up the Atlantic Coast. Watching as the leaves whipped by my window, it reminded me of something beautiful I saw earlier in the week on social media.

Every year, it's a welcome surprise how beautiful leaves are as they light our landscape on fire with their changing reds, oranges, yellows, browns, and purples. Yet, Nikola Faller has shown how those leaves can be repurposed again into a different kind of art. Annually and autumnly Nikola Faller, an academic sculptor and land artist from Osijek, Croatia creates amazing works of art that are perfect for drone photography. Designing a pattern then raking leaves into shape, Faller creates colorful, amazing, earthy mosaics. Leaves and rakes (and perhaps even a well-placed leaf blower) serve as the medium he uses to create these mosaics. The grassy ground acts as his green canvas. His museums are local parks nearby, and he showcases his work on his Slama.Land.Art Instagram page.

Off-season, with no leaves in sight, his canvases are beaches with his art meticulously drawn in the sand... or straw-based art after harvest. To find more images that are specifically fall-focused, check out's article entitled "Artist Creates Art from Falling Leaves."

Saturday, November 5, 2022

The Begley-Cohen Test

The word "test" is one of those words that instinctively ramps up the anxiety levels and beads of sweat.

Luckily, the Begley-Cohen Test isn't that kind of test. Instead, it is patterned off of the Bechdel-Wallace Test which measures female representation in film and television. 

The Begley and Cohen of test namesake are environmentalist and actor Ed Begley Jr. and Dianna Cohen, Co-Founder and CEO of Plastic Pollution Coalition. The point of the Begley-Cohen Test is to analyze media for their use of single-use plastic. A movie or show passes the test if no single-use plastics are shown OR if they are shown, they are portrayed as problematic and discuss the environmental matter. 

Not only is their goal to "flip the script on plastics," but there is another section of the Plastic Pollution Coalition website with their media blitz campaign entitled "Flip the Script on Plastics." They want to normalize that plastics don't just magically disappear into the abyss, but that it's a real overuse on fossil fuels and petroleum to make plastic that then endangers our wildlife. 

On this website, members of the entertainment industry are invited and encouraged to sign the pledge to rethink both their usage and the use of plastics on the sets and in storylines. 

Also on the site are resources about plastic pollution and real world solutions.

The Begley-Cohen Test was introduced on social media and on the Plastic Pollution Coalition blog on October 6, 2022. With it being a new investigation just a month old, following these hashtags are the ones to follow: 

Video from and image from and

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Maps, Maps, and More Maps

As an elementary teacher, sometimes a good map to use in the classroom is about as elusive as the Loch Ness Monster or the Abominable Snowman. The world of Google is great, but the billions of possibilities when searching is like trying to land that needle in that haystack.

Therefore, landing on the following tweet by Brendan O'Sullivan was like finding the Holy Grail of maps as he pointed to Laura Pellegrino's curated Google file of well over 100 mapping blackline masters.

This is a must-have for anyone who teaches or anyone who ever needs a map! 🌍