Whether you identify as an underachiever, an overachiever, or as a balanced "achiever", I know each of you can close your eyes and recall a time when you felt a bit overwhelmed. Was there a time when there were dishes overflowing from your sink, and because the task of washing all of that mess was completely overwhelming, you continued to procrastinate and the mountain only grew larger? Was there a time when you had gone over a month without exercising and just *knew* every muscle that once existed in your body could not have survived, and you wondered what was even holding your bones and body upright? A jog was 100% out of the question. Maybe there was a time when the clutter on your desk had accumulated to the point where you decided to forfeit having a desk space, let the clutter claim ownership, and took to working on your laptop from a new desk (also known as "the couch")?

Although these scenarios vary, I think the underlying feeling of overwhelm or the state of being "too far gone" can be universal. A time when I am triggered by this state, is when I go to the beach. Close your eyes again and picture me (Brennan) excitedly heading to the coast for some swimming, sun, and relaxation. The weather is perfect, the Mara Hoffman bathing suit is fitting just right (watch out fellas!), and I have my favorite worn-in towel under my arm. As I spread my towel out and lay my body over the warm sand, I squint to look out at the soothing view and BOOM... at the corner of my towel I spy a cigarette butt... and a little bit to the right of that, I see the cap to a plastic water bottle.... wait, wait, is that a tampon applicator? How did that even get here? Beach day, ruined.

As someone who is pretty passionate about picking up litter, there is a certain anger that sets in (coupled with my overwhelm) when I am gearing up for a relaxing beach day and I arrive at a chore. Not only do I feel as though I have arrived at a chore but it is a monumentally LARGE chore: I now feel as though I need to collect every piece of litter on the beach. This thought can be paralyzing and I can enter the inner dialogue of, "There's too much trash, I could never possibly pick it all up, so I am just going to 'take the day off' and enjoy the beach day I deserve and not worry about the planet today. There. It is settled." (Then the guilt sets in.) This common dilemma and inner dialogue is exactly why organizations like Take 3 are freaking genius. After learning about Take 3, I now changed my inner dialogue to go a little something like this (cue the music):

"Brennan, you do deserve a relaxing beach day. You are a goddess of all goddesses and sometimes goddesses need a little salt water and vitamin D. Do-you, girl, do-you. But, before you leave... grab 3 pieces of trash and put them in the trash bin on your walk off the beach." In fact, I usually end up being able to grab more than 3 pieces quickly at the end of my beach excursions. No, I did not clean the entire beach or ocean in one day, but I did leave the beach looking nicer than when I arrived and I did not give into the paralyzation of overwhelm.

The litter invasion does not only exist on our beautiful beaches, it can be found far too many places in nature. One day, when I was walking with a friend on a trail along the Gunpowder River in Maryland, I unconsciously bent down here and there to pick up pieces of trash along the way. Where we were walking was the section of hike and bike trail that my mother and I volunteered to keep clean when I was a young girl. While I was deep in conversation with my girlfriend, the part of me that was conditioned to keep that trail clean was on autopilot. I collected a small amount of trash on our walk and we did not comment on the fact that I was picking up litter, and I did not think much of the multitasking I was doing: exercise-gossip-clean the planet. A little bit of time went by and I met my friend for another walk. She told me, almost immediately, that each walk she had taken since our previous walk had been different for her because, now, she was aware of the trash on the trail and she just had to stop and pick it up. What had happened to her is that her awareness was drawn to something she had not been hyper aware of previously, and once her awareness was there, there was no going back. If you, too, cannot walk down the sidewalk unconscious of litter, then you can relate. Does the phrase "Ignorance is bliss." come to mind? It can be incredibly annoying to be aware of all of the litter around us. It is sad and can be disheartening. I know, I get it. My purpose for acknowledging the gloom and overwhelm that can result in being aware of all of the litter around us (whether it be on the beach, trails, or highways), is to encourage you to keep your head up and just, "Take 3". You are not going to clean the oceans on one walk or trip to the beach, but you can easily slip 3 tiny pieces of plastic into your hand, sports bra, sock, or fanny pack and know that you are a total badass and warrior for this planet. Know that I thank you and Mother Earth thanks you each time you shuffle a little litter further from our storm drains or further away from the high tide line.

Before I end this writing, I want to share a point of reflection, but before I do that, I want to enter this disclaimer:

DISCLAIMER: If, previous to reading this post, you never noticed litter on your outdoor excursions and, after reading this article, your blinders are gone, I apologize. However, I cannot be held responsible or liable for the decreased pleasure you experience out in nature. I can tell you that, when faced with litter, if you "Take 3" your self-esteem will increase and your pleasure levels will sky rocket. Go get 'em tiger!

As promised, a reflection: In my travels as a dog walker and beachcomber, I found that the majority of litter I was collecting consisted of cigarette butts and packaging, fast food containers, and beer cans. Can you guess the picture I am trying to paint here? I was finding that the individuals who are not taking care of their bodies are also not taking care of their planet. In the comments section, tell me what you see is the correlation between the degree to which someone loves and takes care of themselves and the degree to which someone loves and takes care of our oceans.

Thank you for reading along, love, Brennan

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Source: 5GYRES & Take 3

What I ate for breakfast today:

In keeping with the theme of be-7 and connecting us all through common ritual, I will always share what I had for breakfast (my favorite meal of the day) on the day I wrote a certain post. If it features someone else, you will get to hear what they ate. Who knows, you could even get some ideas to shake your morning routine up a bit?

"Quinoa Fresca" from The Bee

  • quinoa
  • spinach
  • corn
  • red pepper
  • avocado 
  • citrus dressing
  • pink himalayan salt