Aimee Maxwell: Adrenaline and Acceptance in Australia.


Aimee Maxwell is a practicing psychologist and a moderator of the Positive Deep Adaptation Facebook group. She lives in Melbourne, Australia, where she is witnessing the effects on her community of the massive bushfires in that country.

Aimee’s house is safe from the fires, for the moment. However, she feels in herself and in others the primal anxiety caused by such a huge, existential threat.

In this interview, Aimee provides responses which are both practical and contemplative.

She provides extensive practical advice about how to cope with anxiety in a crisis, including breathing practices and physical exercises. She discusses her own struggle with “adrenaline belly,” and gives a useful overview of how the adrenal system drives our brain to protect us.

Aimee also contemplates the meaning of the disaster – in the context of Deep Adaptation, and in the larger context of how human beings should respond to these unprecedented and unimaginable threats.

(A note on the temperatures that Aimee refers to: 42 degrees Celsius is 107 degrees Fahrenheit. 47 Celsius is 116 Fahrenheit.)

Aimee has created on her professional website a page called “Australian Bushfires: Psychological Help for Trauma,” with information about Emotional First Aid and other useful topics.

Jane Dwinell: Homesteading & Deep Adaptation

Jane Dwinell is a fountain of wisdom about living independently, in harmony with nature. She has been living off the grid – and acquiring the skills required for successful homesteading – since the 1970s.

“I liked the idea of living close to the Earth, and being self-reliant, raising food, living in time with the seasons and the sun – being in relationship with the natural world all the time, not as a vacation but as part of who I was,” she says.

Being in relationship with nature does not mean being divorced from the world of human affairs. Jane spent time in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, helping to rebuild the city. She worked on the Greek island of Lesvos, helping Syrian refugees. She has worked as a nurse, tending to the newly born and to the dying. She is an ordained minister in the Unitarian Universalist Church, where she gives sermons about adapting to climate change.

Since 2004, Jane and her husband have lived in small cities. They have built eight houses together, over the years, including the 700-square-foot house they live in now. Almost all their food comes from garden beds and fruit trees in the small back yard, except for carrots and onions, which Jane buys at the local co-op.

Jane wrote a book – Freedom Through Frugality: Spend Less, Have More, which she says is really about reducing your ecological footprint. She writes a blog, with her husband who has Alzheimer’s disease, about the experience of having the disease and coping with it – Alzheimer’s Canyon.

Currently, Jane is a moderator of three Facebook groups in the Deep Adaptation universe: Positive Deep Adaptation, Practical Deep Adaptation, and Deep Adaptation Parenting. Quietly and powerfully, she adds substance to the discussions, based on her life experience and collected knowledge.

In this interview, Jane shares some choice words about the realities of homesteading and the need for living in community.

Ben Zolno & Alina Huff: Deep Adaptation and “Ok, boomer!”

When I first saw the phrase “Ok, boomer!” pop up on the Positive Deep Adaptation Facebook group, I admit I was offended. I felt like I was being blamed for something I didn’t do, and that my entire life experience was being dismissed with a snarky epithet.

As a moderator of the group, I concluded that to call someone a “boomer” like that was an insult, and thus forbidden by the rules. I ended comments on the thread, and muted the writer for a day. (Spoiler: That didn’t solve the problem!)

It was Ben Zolno who contacted me privately to say he was leaving the group, with this message:

“No one is putting responsibility on a single age cohort. That’s your emotions fogging you. The post was saying that kids see a huge portion of it is on the boomer generation. That’s just factually true. And they’re in pain, and the response of this group was, ‘Shut up, you’re hurting my ears,’ and it was rewarded.”

My eyes were opened! “Ok, boomer” is not rational statement (or not only so), it is an emotional expression. The question is not: How can we older people justify our actions in the face of sarcastic criticism? The question is: How can we, as compassionate elders, respond with empathy to this expression of pain and suffering from our younger kindred spirits?

I felt the need to learn more about how younger people actually think and feel about the catastrophe we face, and about how the Deep Adaptation group is handling it. This interview with Ben Zolno and his partner Alina Huff is my first attempt to begin that conversation.

(Further spoiler: Ben rejoined the group!)

If you have something to say about “Ok, boomer” and the generational divide – especially if you are a younger person – please contact me by email.

Alexandra Wilson – Part 2: Grief, Joy, and Returning to the Source


In the second part of our interview (first part here), Alexandra Wilson, of northern Wales in the U.K., continues with her radical approach to death and dying.  She talks about making peace with death, and about the force in each of us which wants to return to where we came from, and to find rest in the source of our being.

“When the fear of death dissipates, death itself is a joy. When the fear of loss dissipates, then loss itself contains joy,” Alexandra says.

Also, Alexandra and I engage in some heretical criticism of the Deep Adaptation philosophy.

I offer Alexandra the title “Prophetess of Doom,” which, upon consideration, she is willing to accept. “If I am a person who brings that truth to consciousness, which enables the process of grieving, such that we can collectively accept and be with the reality of what is, then I’ll take that,” she says.

If you haven’t read Alexandra’s extraordinary paper, see it here.

ADVISORY: If you are triggered by talk about death, be advised that Alexandra’s approach, though thoroughly compassionate, is unusually direct.