awakening

A New Year... A New World

sunrise at The Refuge

for a while now, i’ve been pondering what to write for the New Year. it’s been exciting considering the turning of this year for many reasons, but i haven't been able to find the words to convey what i've been feeling. what could i say about this juncture that would be different and unique? what would be profound enough, meaningful enough and motivating enough? and, honestly, i haven’t been able to come up with anything that feels right… until now. i’m sitting here, enjoying the early morning quiet, remembering that this turning is significant in great part because New Years Eve was the end of a very important four year cycle - a cycle of awakening.

in November 2010 i was introduced to the FourYears.Go (4YG) campaign when i attended my first Pachamama Alliance fundraiser. i was moved to tears by their incredibly compelling video and decided that day to join the campaign. i had no idea it would become one of the most important decisions of my life. in stepping into the world of 4YG, i was given more gifts than i can possibly imagine - opportunities to stretch and grow, beautiful connections with hundreds of people and organizations, and deep friendships which i am certain will last a lifetime. besides that, i am honored to have been part of a small group of passionate and committed change agents who were given the task of getting this four-year campaign out to the world in a more public and interactive way. although the active work on the campaign ended a couple of years ago and our group dissolved, i continue to be deeply grateful for our continued connections and all i learned about collaboration, group process, consensus, the power of an “ask” and much more. then, on 12/31/14, my friend Ingrid (one of the key members of the group and founder of Iomlan), sent an email reminding us all about an exercise we did in July 2011, and i was inspired to include it in this blog and share some of my thoughts.

"Forget everything you have ever known about what 4YG has ever been and locate yourself at a celebration on 12/31/2014. Human Beings all over the world have obviously transformed. We are now being in ways that there is more life, love, connection, joy, resonance, alignment, trust, intimacy, love, freedom, co-creation. Looking back from this place to today, who did we learn to be? Who have we become over these past four years?…. How did we become a just, sustainable and fulfilling world? What values do you hold? What do you believe is possible? How do you feel about the future from this place you are holding? How did we blossom?"

in looking back over this last four years, there has been a quickening of personal transformation, social unrest, and awareness about what we have done to our planet. and what i see as the over-arching theme - on a global and personal level - is that we have been waking up. we have been waking up to the fact that this is the only home we have and that those around us are here as our guides and teachers. we have been waking up to the fact that we need to balance our thoughtfulness and capacity to consider outcomes with our desire for change and our capacity to take swift, bold action to create a real and lasting course-correction. we have been waking up to the fact that we are the ones we have been waiting for.

something has truly shifted in this last four years on what may even be an invisible, possibly cellular level wherein we, as a species, can no longer tolerate injustices and outrageously bad behavior the way we used to. our ability to connect with anyone anywhere at any time, and for news and information to be shared across borders and boundaries is creating platforms for change never before possible. we have learned better how to think critically as individuals and to question authority, even as “the powers that be” seem to be wanting us to dumb down and shut up more and more. it’s almost as if the very core of our being, the primal “NO” is rising up and taking hold in a new and different way. and i believe it is because what is rising up alongside that “no” is the most powerful, ancient, passionate “YES” to life and love and all that we truly are.

we are, in new and multi-faceted ways, creating that just, sustainable and fulfilling world in more ways that we can possibly imagine. as my dear friend Paul Hawken shared in his inspiring must-read book, Blessed Unrest, there are millions of organizations working for the good of all and hundreds of millions of people, if not billions, who are running, working for and volunteering with those organizations. if we choose to open our eyes, we can see what is happening in and to our world, but we are starting to do more than simply stand by and watch… and that is the difference that has been made in this last four years. i believe we are waking up to the possibilities for, and beginning to feel inspired about, our future. as Paul said in his 2009 commencement speech to the graduates at the University of Portland, “The most unrealistic person in the world is the cynic, not the dreamer. Hopefulness only makes sense when it doesn’t make sense to be hopeful.” we are waking up to being truly, deeply hopeful and we need to do it now.

and now, at the end of this four years, we stand on the brink of a new beginning. we have an opportunity to do it differently than ever before.

i declare 2015 the year of action - thoughtful, powerful, bold, decisive, and, yes, sometimes even messy action. we have honed our ability to see what’s really going on. we are ripping the curtain away from the little man behind it, and we are calling spades spades. we are standing up and marching and dancing and using our voices - strong and clear and powerful - in numbers like never before, and we are shouting from the top of our passionate lungs, “we’re not taking it anymore! we are done with being silent!” we know we can no longer afford to stand idly by. we know that no one is coming to rescue us and that we must do this ourselves. so i say, take Paul’s advice - “Don’t be put off by people who know what is not possible. Do what needs to be done, and check to see if it was impossible only after you are done.” the time is now… it’s been four years and i say let’s go!

how would you answer those questions above? i’d really like to know. share your comments and i promise i will reply to them.

in the meantime, check out Paul Hawken’s new website, Project Drawdown. it’s awesome! and… read about a hopeful turn of events on the climate change front… things are happening!

waking up in the Age of Awakening

farm to table photographi'm coming to the realization that the only real power i have is right here, right now. i know… it's something i've been teaching for years. but what i'm realizing, on a deeper level - yet again - is that the best place for me to make my greatest contributions to the world is right here in my own backyard. literally. this looks like growing a garden with non-GMO seeds from our local seed exchange, learning more and more how to live as lightly as possible on the earth (like carpooling with my sweetheart), raising chickens (arriving this weekend- so excited about that!) and contributing to my community in ways that are meaningful to me and hopefully helpful to others. it looks like doing things i love like writing, playing music, teaching workshops, sharing meals with family and friends, and laughing (a lot!). and it looks like opening our home to others who want to share in and co-learn this beautiful, ancient, essential way we are all re-discovering together.

if i were to be perfectly honest, i'd admit that the whole Get That You Matter "thing" started as a book - only a book. all i heard when i first got the message to write it was, "write a book." not "start a global movement" or "create a radio show" or "make a documentary" (although all of those things sound really exciting and tempting). i added all those other ideas over time as my ego got more and more involved in the ever-growing list of things i could do to make this a "really big thing." the truth is, it's the near-constant thinking that i'm not doing enough to make that stuff happen while procrastinating on finishing the book that trips me up every time and wakes me at 3am in a panic on a regular basis. does anyone relate to this?

what i'm realizing is this - it keeps coming back to one word:  simplify.

and this - for an over-achieving, relatively anxious, perfectionistic, recovering people pleaser - is a tall order. i mean, could i get by on checking facebook less than once a day? or stop compulsively signing up for emails about how to market myself bigger and better? or resist signing up for courses on how to make more money doing what i love so i can give more of it away? when i think about letting go of some of the things i could let go of in order to simplify and focus on what's in front of me, it's scary and liberating all at the same time. honestly, though, i can't tell you how much my shoulders drop, my belly softens and my breaths slow and deepen. i get quiet and feel peaceful and calm when i think about my little life "on the farm." the simple truth i'm arriving at is that living a simple life is actually one of the best ways i can contribute to the world.

i mean, if more of us (and by more, i mean millions- maybe even billions) took the time to stop or even slow down for a few minutes and really check in about where we are and what we're doing, we might actually be present. if more of us woke up to the lies we've bought about fulfillment coming from things (the stuff, the money, the cars, the constant barrage of "buy this and feel better"), we'd realize that so much of what we've been indoctrinated with is a lot of smoke and mirrors. if we realized that all that stuff just gets us more stuff, trashes the planet and drives us further away from our hearts and real, meaningful connections with each other, we'd clamor to give away what we don't need to those who could use it. we'd share more- much more. we would empty our costly storage units and tear them down to build community gardens and orchards. we'd end the so-called "demand" for useless little plastic toys and gizmos made in China which only end up in the Pacific Garbage Patch, killing Midway Island seagulls. we'd have dirt under our fingernails instead of acrylic. we'd be grateful to eat what's in season rather than participate in a system which imports pesticide-laden bananas from Ecuador so we can slice them over our genetically-modified cornflakes and antibiotic-riddled fat-free milk.

okay. you get the picture.

Here's the to the simple life

yes it is absolutely critical that we hold corporations (those pesky non-human persons run and maintained by human beings) accountable for their actions (or lack thereof) with protests and petitions and chaining ourselves to machinery. yes it is absolutely critical that we speak out for basic dignity and the rights of child prostitutes in Thailand, suicidal farmers in India, orangutans, polar bears and elephants, the Amazon rainforest and the rights of Nature herself. yes it is important - even critical - that we use the technology we have at hand to make positive impacts, to let our voices be heard and to connect with others around the globe in truly meaningful ways. and… we can do all of that while living simple, earth-honoring lives as unplugged from the machinery and corporatocracy as possible.

perhaps the thing to do is to be willing to tear down the house of cards we all helped to build, piece by piece, while transforming the vast water-sucking lawns around them into food forests maintained by formerly homeless, recovering addicts, ex-CEO's and exiled monks who live in gorgeous tiny houses built from the re-purposed materials of those Towers of Babel we now see were monuments to our own sickness.

perhaps we can sit down together at long farm tables spread with sumptuous feasts grown in those gardens and cooked in solar ovens, then dance to music played on landfill instruments around the bonfires fueled by the millions of boxes of documents we no longer need to hide or maintain and the wood from the warehouses in which we once thought we needed to keep our secrets.

but in order to get there, we are going to have to grieve - long and deep and well - all that we've done and built and ruined and lost in the name of perpetuating the grand illusion that we're separate from each other, our animal and plant companions and the very earth which supports us. only then will we be able to truly live in this beautiful, precious world in a way which sustains us all.

so, here's to the simple life. may enough of us choose to wail, weep, scream, laugh, dance, release, give away, share, re-purpose and create simple lives so we can turn the tide and truly usher in this Age of Awakening.