Don’t be overwhelmed by environmental issues

Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

Just had an email from a good friend who said: “There are no end of things we have to fight against and for these days”. And it does feel overwhelming if you’ve subscribed to receive newsletters and email announcement from various social campaign groups. More and more issues are emerging because social media is connecting us.

World environmental problems overwhelm us

How easy would it be to feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the world’s problems? How easy it would be to feel we have to fight every unethical company in the world? We assume it would be near impossible for one individual to make a difference – but is the answer to sink into lethargy?

Taking ethical action

The reality is that individuals are taking ethical action. They’re not taking on the world or ALL the big corporations who act unethically, without regard to the citizens of the world. They’re taking on one issue and acting on that.

Let’s look at some of the groups I personally know about which stand for a more ethical future :

Project Jonah – Whale rescue teams training others to act quickly whenever there is a whale stranding. They also speak out about issues that are becoming apparent for these amazing sea-going mammals.

The Sum Of Us –  a global movement of consumers, investors, and workers all around the world, standing together to hold corporations accountable for their actions and forge a new, sustainable and just path for our global economy.

Upworthy – a social media site with a focus on entertaining and enlightening. For those enrolled to receive notifications expect a steady stream of links that could shock or enlighten.  Because it’s shareable, ethical and enlightening stuff Upworthy is enabling us to  spread the word.

Greenpeace – The environmental movement that has been actively defying nations in its determination to stop environmental degradation of ecologically vulnerable areas, wildlife and peoples. Although there was no one founder (five people are given credit on the web page) the over-arching philosophy is: ‘Greenpeace exists because this fragile Earth deserves a voice. It needs solutions. It needs change. It needs action!’ The group has received varying reviews because of its members’ determination to be heard and its startling tactics.

Causes – This is the place to discover, support and organize campaigns, fundraisers, and petitions around the issues that impact you and your community. From fundraising for individuals who need support for life-saving operations to petitions about child-abuse or to stop GMO production, the topics are diverse but always about an ethical issue facing the world populations.

Revealing ethical or environmental stories

Each of the above groups were started by friends/acquaintances with the similar views – individuals who recognised that alone they could do little to cause change, but together they could use social media/the Internet to educate and join forces with millions.

They were activists. They had the courage to step outside of their comfort zones and be counted. They stopped fearing that they would be ridiculed for having an absurd idea. They stopped listening to the naysayers and the disbelievers. They felt the fear and did it anyway.

Safeguards against suppressing information

The Internet, in fact, was the key to getting the ‘other story’ out to the millions who had always believed the ‘official version’.  Why do you think that totalitarian states want to shutdown or censor internet access to their populations? Why do governments (even so-called democracies) try to counteract breaking stories about unethical activity by putting a new ‘spin’ on the stories?

Note: The word ‘spin doctor’ is only a recent addition to our language – it wasn’t in my Pocket Oxford of 1975 or even in my Collins Concise in 1995.

No group of worthy causes would be complete with out mention of Wikimedia which was founded in 2003 by Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia, as a way to fund Wikipedia and its sister projects through non-profit means. Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger launched Wikipedia on January 15, 2001. Wikipedia, the online encyclopaedia, has become one of the most visited sites for verification of information. Because of its policy that information can be edited and updated by anyone, the chances that information can be suppressed is greatly reduced.

Changing the standards you live by

Many people have felt the fear and taken a step into the unknown with an ethical idea. Here are a couple:

Snap Judgement – jointly founded by Glynn Washington – Host & Executive Producer and Mark Ristich – Executive Producer, Snap Judgement aims to bring ‘community’ back into community radio at a time when most home-grown shows are struggling to survive. According to the show’s website: before creating the Snap Judgment radio show, ‘Glynn worked as an educator, diplomat, community activist, actor, political strategist, fist-shaker, mountain-hollerer, and foot stomper’. Boy, does the World need plenty of those!

The Secret – Many of you will know about Australian Rhonda Byrne and her life-changing film The Secret. Not only did Rhonda turn her whole life around, she and her writing have brought a new positive outlook to many. Critics claim that the people she has influenced are being deluded. According to the website: Skeptoid “The “secret” turns out to be nothing more than the old motivational speaker’s standby, that positive thinking leads to positive results.” However, if millions of people are feeling happier through applying her ‘discoveries’ won’t that lift the collective energy and inspire more of us to step outside our comfort zones and help others?

Taking personal ethical action

When an email arrives in our inbox urging us to act on behalf of some cause, what happens to us:

  • We feel concerned/annoyed/uncomfortable
  • We might feel embarrassed by what our friends will think of us if we take action or pass on the information
  • We pick and choose who we’ll share it with
  • We wonder if our account is being monitored by the Secret Service and whether we’re risking promotion/economic survival if we speak out

That’s pretty much where I was a few months ago. But recently I’ve decided: “What the heck. These issues are too important to be ignored.” I’m also heartened at the number of people who ‘Like’ what I stand for and are brave enough to ‘Share’. That says to me there is a ground swell of concerned citizens of the World who are based in love and want to protect what is precious no matter what the cost.

An example of personal action

I’m going to end this post with a lovely example of two men who are taking personal action. It is a story that shows you don’t have to reach the world to take environmental action, but you can make a profound difference.

The story from China comes via another social sharing site: Bored Panda. Disabled pair plant 10,000 trees in China.

So whatever you do, whether its visit a sick neighbour, singing in church, writing a book or starting a world movement, YOU are contributing to a better world.

Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

The Moment Me Becomes You

… or when understanding strikes

I have had a few moments of intense understanding (you might call them epiphanies) when the way I operate in the world shifts forever onto a new axis. I had one today and it reminded me of a previous one which both seem to be interrelated. It seems churlish not to share them, though for YOU they may not hold the same impact.

The first moment was during a second Landmark Forum. My view of Landmark had been clouded by rumours that it was a cult, demanding greater and greater commitment (and course fees) from participants as they progressed through brain-washing courses. I wasn’t going to be taken in, I assured myself. And I wasn’t! The gift of insight I was given, however, has lasted the rest of my life and will continue to do so.

One Way Stream of Insight

I’d gone along to the first and second forums because I felt that some of the insights they offered made sense and could be applied to my life. I looked at the organisation as a group offering something to ME. I would take from it what I wanted and leave the rest.

My moment of insight came when we were confronted with a diagram of where we fit in the World – our world view. It looked something like this:


We were, the Landmark leader assured us, one and the same as our involvement in those links/groups we identified with. I did NOT merely see myself as a single entity – I saw myself as ‘part of’. Each ‘part of’ we identified ourselves with brought us closer to being world citizens. In other words, the World would not exist unless we all saw ourselves as ‘part of’ a larger whole, and just by seeing ourselves like that we were the whole.

It was one of those hair on the back of your neck experiences. I suddenly realised:

  • I was responsible for YOU and ME
  • I was responsible for the health of the world
  • What I did mattered – for good or mediocre – doing nothing has never been an option

Every cell in my body reverberated with the enormity of what I had just realised. I was excited and stunned by this new filter through which I viewed the world and everyone I met.

When selecting ‘best’ excludes the rest

That was the first moment when ME became YOU. The second moment happened this morning.

I was sharing a reading of Rhonda Byrne’s book “The Power” with my partner Tre, when we came to a quotation of Gautama Buddha (563 – 483 BC):

“If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him. If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him.”

It’s not a unique quotation; many religions have similar rules, quotations from prophets or religious texts. What struck me was my thoughts on hearing this quote.

“Buddha’s wisdom and the wisdom of those who represent him on Earth is full of peace and kindness. Perhaps I should become a Buddhist?”

Then I thought: “If I became a Buddhist I wouldn’t be able to follow the teachings of other great prophets and thinkers.”

“By choosing the best I would exclude the rest.”

And back came my learning from that Landmark Forum. Only this time it looked like this:


That central ME part, given that is also a part of my community, organisations I support, my country and the world, is also filled with the other YOU’s of the world – the people like Jesus, Buddha, Allah, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Theresa, and YOU who are reading this blog. We are all putting into the world and we are all receiving back from the world; and what we receive back is equivalent to what we send out. So if we judge, or gossip “pain follows him” but if we think or speak with kind thoughts “happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him”.

I do not have to choose who to follow: great teachers and wise people are standing on the same footprint as I am. That’s the moment when ME becomes YOU.

Heather Sylvawood, 2015

How Can You Hate ‘Hate’?

Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

The news from Pakistan is horrifying – 140 plus dead, many more injured, and most of them school children. All killed in the name of ‘honour’ or ‘religion’.

Like many of you, my heart was overcome with sorrow and my mind by disbelief. I felt angry that ‘someone’ wasn’t able to stop them. What was the Pakistan Government doing about the Taliban? Why don’t the World Forces track them down and kill them?

That’s when I realised how I was being swept up in the wave of grief and anger that always arises when senseless killings are carried out. I realised I was contributing to the hatred that spawns groups like the Taliban and allows them to recruit zealous supporters.

How Intolerance Breeds Extremists

The Taliban can only exist in a climate of ‘difference’ or intolerance – of ‘have and have not’ or ‘you’ve got what belongs to me’. When extreme organisations attract people prepared to give their lives in support of their cause the organisation cannot control the lengths to which these men are prepared to go in cruelty.

The activists of the Taliban were someone’s precious baby boy, someone’s adored toddler … then the hatred seeped in. Somewhere in their family of birth those Taliban men (and women) learned to hate. They learned to hate because they saw injustice and became tired of trying peaceful means to be heard. They wanted to belong to something strong and effective and brutal in order to ‘pay back’ the people they saw as not listening/taking away their power.

I can’t stop the Taliban; I doubt even the Pakistan Army will be able to wipe them out. And I suspect, just as all wars end in negotiations around a table, somewhere someone will grow weary of the conflict, will rein in the extremist factions of the organisation and start talking.

So why does my anger contribute to the hate?

How does personal anger keep the conflict going?

Unless I quiet my heart and mind and think of others with love, unless I act in a way that does not tolerate hatred or anger, I am no different.

Unless I stop myself from looking at other people’s DIFFERENCES and judging them, I am no better. Okay, I am highly unlikely to take up a gun and kill someone randomly, but then I do not feel deprived or unheard. I simply live in a different part of the world with a different history.

All of us have been affected by a war, whichever side our ancestors fought on. Every side believed they had ‘right on their side’ when they went into the conflict – the other side was to be despised or hated because they didn’t believe in our version of the TRUTH.

I will try not to let their actions breed violence in my heart

I believe, as the quantum physicists are discovering, that the energy I give out affects people around me – you may not. I believe that attitudes of intolerance, superiority and hatred worn like a mantle to protect me do nothing of the sort – they put me at risk. Instead, I am trying (as are many others) to find a way of looking at all people with love and compassion. That doesn’t mean I condone what these members of the Taliban, or any other warring faction, has done; it does mean I will try not to let their actions breed violence in my heart.

If we look at the differences between us they can engender fear. If we look at our mutual needs they are all the same:

  1. Shelter
  2. Food
  3. Caring family relationships
  4. Love

And education about our similarities so that the next generation of children do not feel disaffected enough to join a militant group.

Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

Which way are you looking? Life or death?

Warning: This is a morbid topic. Readers of a sensitive disposition may find the content disturbing.

It’s easy to be a young adult – most of your goals and dreams lie ahead of you. You start sentences with: “When I go to ….” or “As soon as I finish training I will …” Then along comes one of your dreams: a wonderful partner and then the family, along with the mortgage, the insurance, garden and house maintenance, school costs, and before long your head is filled with “get-by” rather than “chase your dreams”.


Of course, when you’re a young adult you don’t see life as easy. You spend most of your thinking time on trying to uncover the rules for success, until you realise that in most circumstances there are no rules, mostly only good timing. Then you begin to value those dreams again – the ones that don’t rest on having to earn mega-bucks.

Counting time as dreams run out

Your perspective on when you’ll do things in life changes. Instead of seeing life ahead as an endless reservoir of time to do things, you start to count the time you have left. You also notice that certain dreams have passed their use-by date. There is now no way I can take up tap dancing or climb a mountain when my knees creak and throb as I climb a ladder.

Until I was 50 I kept reassuring myself that I had half my life ahead of me. Once I reached that magical life-number I realised that I couldn’t kid myself any longer. Instead I tallied the years until 100 and thought about how much I could cram into them. I also started looking back and valuing what had already passed.

Looking back and looking forward

In effect I turned my back on death and started valuing life, whereas, previously I had looked at death and counted the life I had left. That was until I realised usually death doesn’t come with a ‘just a minute I haven’t finished this’ option. You die, you’re dead, your energy passes on to who knows where – there is nothing more you can do here on earth. If I haven’t finished a project, tried an activity, or hugged a loved one, time has run out and there’s no going back.

But it’s not all that bad. You won’t have any worries, and you probably won’t have any way of influencing the people left behind to deal with what you left behind. Isn’t that a weight off your mind? No need to control circumstances and happenstance.

Damn the bucket list

Recently I‘ve found some of that relief sneaking into my thinking. It doesn’t matter if this book gets published; what matters is that I wrote it. It doesn’t matter if I haven’t travelled to half the places on my dreams board. I won’t give a damn when I’m dead.

Our bucket lists and dreams boards are pegged in the now, not against some fast running-out (although unknown) bucket of time. It’s being happy now. And for me, being happy now is writing – writing novels, short stories, non-fiction and blogs. Even travelling, I find a bit irksome, if I’m unable to find time to write. Writing is my passion and my passion equates to my happiness.

So this is me being happy …


Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

US Navy now runs on seawater – celebrate!

By Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

I just have to share this article from Addicting Info . Org:

It’s just too amazing not to share. So if you don’t want to click on the link above here is a resume of the content:

After decades of experiments, U.S. Navy scientists believe they may have solved one of the world’s great challenges: how to turn seawater into fuel.

The new fuel is initially expected to cost around $3 to $6 per gallon, according to the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, which has already flown a model aircraft on it.

But as Addicting Info writer, Justin Rosario, expresses:

“Curiously, this doesn’t seem to be making much of a splash (no pun intended) on the evening news. Let’s repeat this: The United States Navy has figured out how to turn seawater into fuel and it will cost about the same as gasoline.”

“I expect the GOP to go ballistic over this and try to legislate it out of existence. It’s a threat to their fossil fuel masters because it will cost them trillions in profits. It’s also “green” technology and Republicans will despise it on those grounds alone.”

The benefits are immeasurable, here are two:

  • The process pulls carbon dioxide (the greenhouse gas driving Climate Change) out of the ocean, which has just about reached its safe limit for acidity from all of the increased carbon dioxide, which is what is destroying ecosystems like coral reef.
  • Oil rich countries such as the Middle East will no longer be of interest to the US and other major oil-dependent countries so they won’t want to meddle in Middle Eastern politics. There will be less spending on war and more leftover for humanitarian spending on citizens.
  • The use of carbon dioxide as a fuel is a carbon neutral process. The ocean is like a sponge for carbon dioxide in the air and currently has an excess amount dissolved in it. The fuel process pulls carbon dioxide out of the ocean. It’s converted and burned as fuel. This releases the carbon dioxide back into the air which is then reabsorbed by the ocean.

Also read this article from the International Business Times

So get the word out there and make it impossible for the oil giants to squash the technology.

By Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

Dilmah leads the world in conservation action

This tea company thinks globally and acts locally

by Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

First published in: Herbal-teas Blog


I have recently so much enjoyed my Dilmah tea that I started reading the box details. Although I did have other things to do, I was attracted to the claim that: “Dilmah is the world’s first truly ethical tea”, a strong claim to make. I went investigating (as one does when you sit down with a brew).

By the end of my investigation I chose to become a website ‘Fan’ of Dilmah tea and I have a trip to the Sri Lankan Dilmah tea factory and one of its amazing local initiatives on my Bucket List.

So what drew me to take that action? Here are some of the things I found out about Dilmah, along with links for you to go see for yourself.

Social responsibility to share profits

The Dilmah Tea Company is based in Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon. It uses only tea grown in Sri Lanka, and is NOT a blend. Unlike major tea monopolies, which purchase tea from anywhere at the cheapest price, the Dilmah company produces, packages and sells directly to supermarket chains in order to keep the profits in Sri Lanka.

“By supplying direct, profits are retained in Sri Lanka and are shared with workers, (and) the wider community.” (Quote from the packaging material) So where is the proof? First stop the M. J. F. Foundation ()

“The MJF Charitable Foundation was established by Dilmah Founder Merrill J. Fernando, to fulfill his commitment to make his family business a matter of human service.”

Download e-book to read how this Foundation has fulfilled that commitment. The list is extensive and focused on local people.

Social responsibility to economic development

This video sums up Merrill J Fernando’s commitment to social responsibility

As well as the Foundation, Dilmah contributes to local environmental causes. On the Dilmah Conservation website they spell this out very clearly:

“In Sri Lanka, the private sector is the engine of growth. The combination of sustaining high economic growth rates and improving the lives of marginalised communities whilst not compromising on environmental conservation and restoration is one of the biggest challenges facing the country and the Asia region as a whole.” (Quote from the Dilmah Conservation’s Business @ Biodiversity Platform)

Environmental responsibility

The company has initiated setting up Conservation’s Business @ Biodiversity Platform. This organisation focuses on conservation and environmental concerns like:

  • Ecosystems Restoration
  • Culture & Indigenous Communities
  • Environmental Education & Awareness
  • Inland Species conservation – elephants, butterflies and frogs
  • Marine Species Conservation

“The demand for resource-intensive agricultural produce is rapidly increasing in Sri Lanka. The Dilmah Conservation Sustainable Agriculture Research Centre promotes healthy living by producing healthy vegetables and fruit using only organic composting techniques and zero application of agro chemicals.” The focus is on providing fruit and vegetables off a typical family-owned piece of land in a sustainable way.

Peace and healing responsibility

By far the greatest humanitarian intention of the Dilmah MJF Charitable Foundation is its work to unify the communities of the North and East that were so affected by the civil war with the Tamil Tigers trying to over-throw the government. The war caused significant hardships for the population, environment and the economy of the country, with an estimated 80,000–100,000 people killed.

The aftermath, as in all civil wars, has left people with disabilities, under-currents of anger and feelings of disempowerment. The Charitable Foundation, however, tackles this in practical ways, engaging the communities in initiatives that improve their daily lives.

“Reconciliation has been identified as an important factor in the quest for lasting peace in Sri Lanka. Coming out of a protracted three-decade long war, reconciliation between communities is of paramount interest in the face of rifts and misunderstandings. Dilmah Conservation, having recognised this need for reconciliation among the younger generations, initiated an environmental programme to build a common Sri Lankan identity.”

Spread the word for others to follow

Go see for yourself and become a ‘Fan’ too. In my mind, the company truly deserves to be applauded for its forward social, ethical and environmental forward thinking. Bravo! May other Western companies take a lead from Dilmah.

by Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

Why do we spend so much on health care?

We kept being told that health care is getting too expensive and that there is only so much money to go around. Slowly we come to accept that more often we will be required to contribute privately to make sure our health needs are met. But is this really the case?


Take a look at this graph showing relative expenditure for nine countries, including New Zealand. It does raise some questions about the political “lines” we are being fed about what is “affordable” health care. If a country has a high taxation level (combined GST or user-pays taxation plus income tax), like New Zealand, why is it unable to provide free health care? Why does a so-called wealthy country like the US spend so much more public expenditure than other countries per person? And why is the US private health expenditure out-weigh public health expenditure?

Perhaps some of the answers are provided in the following video from Upworthy:

His First 4 Sentences Are Interesting. The 5th Blew My Mind. And Made Me A Little Sick

Doesn’t anyone believe that good health is a human right? Or is that right overruled by the belief that private business has the ultimate right to extract a profit from any field of endeavour?

A good thing to ponder given the Western World’s pre-occupation with “Peace on earth and good will toward mankind”.

Heather Sylvawood, Amazon author

The Secret Behind World Peace

When we arrive at this time of year, if you profess Christianity, we start singing songs in praise of peace. What we never quite realise is that Global Peace is within our own hands, or more accurately, within our own minds.

Rhonda Byrne, the writer and motivator behind the film “The Secret”, understands this totally. In a recent Secret Daily Teaching she said:

Change in a country begins with one person. Each country reflects the inner peace or turmoil of its mass population, and so as one person changes they affect the rest of the population. One person has the power within them to bring massive change to their country through immense love and peace within themselves. But we cannot bring about peace and well-being to our country unless we have conquered that in our own life. Do you see? You cannot give what you do not have.

Each person’s job is to bring utter harmony into their own life, and then they will become the greatest human gift for their country and the world.

Inner Peace is the first challenge

Developing inner peace is the basis of many religions including Christianity, yet we rarely see this understanding enacted by the more fanatical believers. Often it seems their reason for being is to convince non-believers of the error of their ways and force them into believing the believer’s own particular brand of religion/creed. This is so far from the true meaning of peace and its application.

It took me a long time to understand the essence of peace, and I found out you need some humility along the way. Putting it into practice constantly is even more difficult to learn. It takes constant commitment every waking minute. When your ego shouts: “That’s not fair!” peace is fading from your heart. When your ego shouts: “You’re getting more than me” peace is coiled into a corner. When your ego shouts: “You’re wrong” peace just left the building.

There are many great books and DVDs around that will help you on your way to understanding what real Peace is all about. Here are a few I have used as tools on my journey:

The Secret DVD and Book By Rhonda Byrne

The Law of Attraction by Esther and Jerry Hicks

One DVD and film featuring many great avatars and teachers

The Living Matrix movie and DVD

Eckhart Tolle’s book: A New Earth

The Voice – Director David Sereda

So during this festive season and into the New Year, I would like to wish one wish, and that is YOU are the one person it takes to tip the balance toward world peace through you own inner peace. I’m working on it but I’ve got a long way to go.

Heather Sylvawood, creator of the Facebook page WriteGear