“You bring the Green Bean Casserole,” your mother tells you in a voice, a bit stressed, a bit annoyed sounding which is not unusual during the Holiday season.

“Why?” You say. Just as you did last year, and the year before, and the year before that. “Hardly any ever gets eaten and I throw most of it away.”

“It’s a tradition!” Your mother voice now is full of annoyance. Her tone is very clear. How can a child she raised to be so dense. It’s a tradition! We always did it that way.  And by golly, we always will. “It’s a tradition” says it all. End of discussion!

Does this scenario sound familiar to you? Food on the table nobody really likes; gifts which have to be purchased, wrapped and given to people one hardly knows or cares about; families gather even though many a stomach ties into knots just thinking about the hours spent together – and the list goes on.

Right now, we are close to Christmas, which has become an event lasting several weeks inundated with all kinds of rites and traditions. We are decorating our houses inside and out; write endless cards to people on “the list”; buy lots of gifts, often more than we can afford. We attend and give parties featuring food that is delicious, but also full of fat and sugar, making it almost impossible to keep our waistlines where they are supposed to be. Oh well, that in itself is the cause for another great tradition: Joining a Gym at the beginning of the New Year and setting all kinds of good intentions – weight loss being one of the all time favorites.

Christmas and all that comes with it seems to have been adopted by people of many religions as a secular holiday – maybe to fit in, maybe because it is so much fun. But it is by no means the only holiday which can create stress to those participating, please insert whichever applies to your situation: Hanukah, Eid, Kwanzaa, Thanksgiving, various New Years, Birthdays and more.

Maybe you are one of the lucky ones who just loves everything associated with holidays and celebrations. If you are, good for you! But read on, maybe you’ll find something you might like to add as part of your festivities.

Every culture, every nation and almost every family has traditions which sometimes define them and often create a sense of belonging, identity and continuity. Some of those are practiced with great purpose and intentions, others are just adhered to without much awareness of their existence and their purpose. “It’s how it is done,” or “we always did it this way,” would be  possible answers to the question of “why?”

Traditions can be a wonderful thing, but, as the short story “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson illustrates so eloquently, they can also have a negative impact or simply make no sense. If you fall into the camp of experiencing more stress than enjoyment, more “shoulds” and “musts” than “wants” while preparing and participating in a holiday, it is high time to reassess which of your family customs are in urgent need to be replaced.

In a recent Blab Conversation/podcast, we addressed the topic of creating a stress free holiday in some detail. One very good point Brad Rowland shared is to make sure to discuss a change of tradition with the rest of the stakeholders – be they family, friends, co-workers or members of your communities. Apparently, making unilateral changes does not go over very well.

As with any change, the first step is to find out the what and why. Now is a good time to become really aware of all the ways which are part of your celebrations. That could be certain foods; gathering in a particular place with a particular group of people; gift exchanges; watching a show together; having the yearly political debate – you get the picture.  Write them down.

Next, pay attention to how you feel. Are you excited and can hardly wait for (fill in the action) to happen, or, are you deep down wishing for any excuse to get out of it? Of course, there is anything from indifferent, to slightly annoyed, to finding it pleasant. Make yourself a scale. For example, 10 stands for super excited, 5 for neutral and 0 for absolutely hate it – the other numbers for your personal shades of feelings.

Assign a numbers to each and every one of the traditions you recognized as being part of you. Also write down the ones you are not practicing, but you think you should. Sometimes they are the ones causing the most stress.

Obviously, all the tens are keepers. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy. The zeros on the other hand are calling for some serious attention. If there are several, it might be a good idea to choose only one to start with. The first question to ask oneself is why? Why is this particular rite stressing me out?

This could be simple: The whole family, all 30 of them, are gathering at my house every holiday and it is stressing me out because I have a lot of meal preparation, cleanup and no space to find solitude and quiet during that whole time.

The next question is a why – again. Why are we doing it this way?

Again, there could be a simple answer: We had/have the only house big enough for the whole family to fit. Or, our house is centrally located and the most convenient to get to.

Now, ask yourself: Does it have to be the way we always did it? Are there other options?

Most likely, there are an array of options to change any tradition which earned a rating below five or six. In this example, several options come to mind.

  • Some other family member might now have a big house as well and can be the host.
  • The family takes a cruise together.
  • The family goes camping together.
  • The gathering takes place at a vacation area – instead of a destination wedding, a destination christmas or other holiday.
  • Everybody comes to my town, but doesn’t stay at my house. Another house can be rented or several rooms and meals are eaten at a restaurant.
  • Meals are catered and a person responsible for clean up is hired.
  • The host rents him/herself a room to have a retreat area from the crowd.
  • Every family member takes a turn hosting the gathering and they arrange it according to their choice.

This is an excellent example of the importance of involving everybody concerned in making the change, from brainstorming to the implementation of the new ritual. Many minds will come up with brilliant ideas and even the nay-sayers have an easier time adjusting to a change if they had a chance to participate in the decision making.

However, change does not always have to be the result of soul-searching, discussions and coming up with solutions. Sometimes, magic just happens when people gather in joy.  A new tradition is born because it was so much fun the first time it came about! This happened for Brad Rowland. Here are the ingredients: A guitar and a player, several singers and a camera. Please enjoy Brad and his nieces performing Be Thou My Vision, a poem first recorded in “Old Irish Celtic” in the 6th century.

Check back soon for this year’s performance and video.

A gathering of friends and family around good food, good cheer, laughter, stories and fun – that’s what most of us hope to experience during the holidays.

But too often our holidays are about rushing to find the right gifts; creating the perfect dishes; worrying about troubled relatives, staying within our budgets and trying to stay healthy without the aid of adequate rest and nutritious food.

So just how do we put our hearts into the holiday experience in a way that maintains our health and happiness?

Join us this Friday, December 18 at 9 am PT for a discussion on this topic.  We’ll share tips, tricks and thoughts about how to have a meaningful holiday experience that nourishes the soul and doesn’t break the bank or our health.

We’ll look at stress factors such as money, time and family issues and how to deal with each in a way that doesn’t drain us.

We will also discuss solutions to common problems such as decorating, gift giving and parties with budgetary limitations in mind. We’ll also discuss alternatives to traditional practices that can result in a more satisfying holiday experience for everyone involved.

So grab some eggnog, get comfy and join us for a chat designed to support you in creating a holiday experience that leaves you feeling warm and satisfied instead of drained and haggard.



envisioning peace on earth

The human race has experienced century upon century of struggle, oppression and war. For countless generations this way of being has been the norm.  But a growing number of us are beginning to see that drastic change is necessary if we want to continue to exist as a species.

As we chart a course toward a different future, it’s important to have a clear destination in mind – a picture, if you will, of what a peaceful, harmonious and happy world would look like.

So we have scheduled a live streamed video discussion on the topic.

Please join us Friday, December 11 at 9 am PT for a discussion on, “Envisioning Peace on Earth.”

We’ll brainstorm about what Peace on Earth would look like? Then we’ll delve onto, how will it be achieved; how  politics, science, critical thinking and spiritual evolution will play a part; and what individuals can do now.

Resources for Creating a Sustainable Home

During our podcast on this topic we mentioned quite a few ideas and resources that may come in handy if you are looking to make your home more sustainable.  Here are a few:


  • weather strip windows
  • heavy curtains longer than the door to avoid drafts – could be a heavy wool blanket
  • cold climate: create some kind of weather protected entrance
  • replace windows with better insulation
  • In hot climate: paint roof white
  • Natural insulation: Wool, old denim, cork, recycled plastic (better not to use plastic)
  • living roof if structure allows the weight

Why Norwegians Rule When it Comest to Keeping Indoor Heating Costs Down

Green Mini-Makeovers to Transform Your Space

15 House Plants to Improve Indoor Air Quality

Keeping Warm With Minimal Heating: Small Scale Solutions

Art Ludwig’s Grey Water Forum on Permies.Com

Indoor Clay Cover Instead of Paint

Old Fashioned Milk Paint

Roof Top Insulation

Natural Insulation Materials




Most homes today are not designed with sustainability as a priority element.  But there is much that can be done to green these existing homes.

This week we will envision what the ideal sustainable home would look like and how what we can do to create it using an existing structure. Join us Friday, December 4 for a live-streamed discussion on “Envisioning: The Sustainable Home.”

Just click on this link at 9 am PST. https://blab.im/jenise-fryatt-envisioning-the-sustainable-home

Two thousand, two hundred people are locked out of their jobs due to a contract dispute.

That is a lot of people out of work!

And, I am sure, a lot of people are very worried right now. The Holiday Season is just about to start – a time when many tend to spend more than they really can afford and any loss of income can feel like disaster has stricken. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Vicki Highfield’s husband is one of the 2200 who found locked doors when they went to work. Now, both are without a job. Vicki had quit hers a while back as part of a plan to build a homestead and become self-sufficient.

Jenise interviewed Vicki just a few weeks ago and we were introduced to their four year plan for self sufficiency. The goal was for her husband to also be able to quit his job. In four years. Not now. That episode was titled How to Live Happily Without a Job.
Well, Vicki and her husband got a much earlier then expected chance to see if their plan is working.

Here are Vicki’s words on how they are doing:

“It Pays To Be Prepared…”

Years ago my husband and I started our plans of being self-sufficient.
We both had full time jobs and spent the majority of our time making money for someone else. We were living, but didn’t have a life.

We paid down all of our debt, and as soon as we became debt free, I was able to quit my job to grow food for our home. We have an orchard started for our fruit needs, a garden large enough to feed us and sell the excess, and animals are in the plans for next year.

We learned how to barter and trade for needed items, so no money has to change hands. We recycle, reuse and re-purpose everything we can.

Our plans included my husband being finished with his job in the next three and a half years, but then the unthinkable happened. The company he works for had a contract dispute and locked out all of the employees in August of this year. Over 2,200 people are without their jobs, and many are panicking because their homes and cars are in danger of being repossessed. They cannot pay their credit card bills, or their utilities.

How are we doing? We are just fine. We have no outstanding debt and a freezer and cabinet full of enough food to last at least 6 months. Hunting season is coming, so we will be well stocked with meat.

Many of his co-workers have asked how we remain so calm during this trying time, and our answer is simple. We have what we need and are happy with what we have. We know how to take care of ourselves without the need for currency.

The local news did a story about the locked out workers, and my husband was interviewed by them as he sat outside of the company, asking for his job to be reinstated. We are still hoping that he and the 2,200 other people can get back to work soon, but if not, we will be okay.”

We are very happy that Vicki and her husband are doing okay. At the same time, we want to ask each and every one of you: Are you prepared? Would you do okay? What is your plan?

Please share your tips and your experiences weathering an unexpected change in income or life as we know it.

Vicky Highfield's husband and a co- worker trying to get their jobs back

Vicki Highfield’s husband and a co- worker trying to get their jobs back

We only scratched the surface of all the information available on the topic of  “Free or Cheap Energy. ”  It really is quite a rabbit hole once you start investigating.

But I, for one, highly recommend that you take the time, if this topic interests you at all.  Not only will you be encouraged by the efforts that are being made right now, but you will probably learn important information about how our world has been shaped by energy and the efforts to control it.

To get you started, you may want to check out the following links:

The Keshe Foundation

Billions in Change

Solar Cookers

Micro Grids

Predictive Innovation

From the Keshe Foundation to Stage 2 Innovations to independent thinkers worldwide;  the desire to transform and benefit humanity by making clean, sustainable energy available for all is captivating creative minds.

It’s not a new idea.  Nikola Tesla, as well as many others, had ideas for providing electricity free or very inexpensively.  But Big Business always seemed to get in the way.

Perhaps humanity just couldn’t envision such a world…. then.

But that was before the Internet. Decentralization of information may have turned clamping down on innovation into a losing game of Whack-a-Mole, even for big corporations with infinite resources.

We now stand at a point in history where anything seems possible – that is, IF we can imagine it.

Envision a world where energy is cheap or free with us Friday, November 6 at 12 pm ET on Blab. Lurkers are welcome and participation is encouraged! Just click here Friday at 12 pm ET.



It’s been called many things: the sharing economy, collaborative consumption, prosumerism, etc.

These terms may not always be accurate. However they all seek to put a name to a shift in the way we create items of value, use services and products and exchange with each other on an economic basis.

How do we accurately define these new practices? And how will they best help us to create a thriving sustainable economy and culture in the future?

Join us  Friday, October 30 at 12 noon ET for a fascinating discussion in which we welcome your ideas and thoughts about what a truly collaborative economy might look like. Audience participation is encouraged!

To attend, simply click on this link at 12 noon ET, October 30.



Life in the jungle of Peru is as different from university life on a well manicured campus overlooking the ocean in San Diego as it can be. After finishing school, Courtney Walters (click here to check out our interview with Courtney) headed to Peru to live in a community dedicated to sustainable living and permaculture. Being close to nature and the source of food had been important to Courtney ever since she was a child growing up on an urban farm.

The first cup of coffee Courtney drank in Peru had not much in common with the typical brew many drink in the United States. Courtney found that it was so delicious, so different from anything she had tasted that she wanted to find out why this coffee was so special.

This picture shows Courtney in her home in Peru, sipping a cup of the delicious coffee.


She got to know the land and the people quiet well while working on projects and visiting many coffee and cacao plantations.


In Peru, Courtney spent a lot of time in the jungle. Sitting in a tree is probably as close to immersing oneself in nature as possible.  This picture is of a cacao tree.



While surrounded by trees and wildlife, she practiced meditation on a regular basis. During her practice, she realized that family and community were and are very important to her. Even though Courtney loved her life in Peru, she realized that her ties, her family and her community were in San Diego. However, she also had made great friends and become part of a community in Peru. Add to this her now extensive knowledge about anything having to do with coffee, and an idea was born.


Enter Jorge Urquieta. This picture was taken in Pacasmayo Peru. Jorge is the son of a local farmer who was able to attend University and then return to the farm. He is working with local farmers to only use the most sustainable methods in growing their crops and to sell their coffee directly to the roasters instead of going to countless middlemen. This not only ensures a fair compensation to the farmer, but also gives a better coffee end product. Between Jorge’s knowledge and activism on behalf of the farmers and Courtney’s desire to return to her home community in the United States, but to still stay connected to her new community in Peru, a plan and a business were born. Jorge and Courtney became business partners in the great importing adventure of bringing coffee from the farm to the end consumer in the US.


Courtney now makes her home and as much of a garden as she can in Ocean Beach and is busy learning and executing the in and outs of importing and running a business. She also has returned to her University, USD in San Diego, but this time, she is teaching the classes, not taking them. She is reviving a garden on campus which she hopes will with time grow bigger and bigger and will provide fresh fruit and vegetables to students.

here is the link to Courtney’s website: UW Traders