new era

grateful for gratitude… witnessing the re-birth of hope

marianna gratitude this weekend i had the great privilege of participating in a gathering with some amazing folks. there were people of all ages, faiths and histories, and we were all there to support a wonderful woman in our community and deepen our own healing as well. it was powerful to say the least.

i personally had some powerful things arise for healing (about which i’ll write in my next blog), but there is something that happened which i will never forget. because what happened was so deeply moving - on every level - that something fundamentally changed in how i see children.

as you may know, i have been a champion of young people and children forever, having been a mother, substitute teacher and Challenge Day Program Leader among other things. in other words, i have been extremely aware of the prevalence of adult-ism in our culture and the incredible damage it does. so, it was truly awe-inspiring to witness the awareness and encouragement from every single adult there when a beautiful little 5-year-old boy stepped up of his own accord and asked to take on a leadership role in the gathering. this was no small thing he did… let me tell you.  no small thing.

it meant stepping up in a way that many adults i know would not be comfortable doing, and he did it with joy, grace and the deepest sense of knowing that emanated from the center of his being. it was so beautiful.

it was in that moment that i reconnected to my vast store of hope for the human race.  as you may know, i’ve written more than once about my struggles with hope and my capacity to carry on with a smile in the face of all we are facing in this critical time in history. i have often felt more despair than i care to admit. but in that moment, i felt hope. real hope. a deep trust, an abiding faith that we are going to be okay.

as i sat with tears streaming down my face, i watched this child’s incredible poise and presence as he listened to all he needed to do to fulfill the role for which he had volunteered. and my heart soared as though it had wings when i watched him carry it out with more grace than most adults. this little boy, with his tiny, young body and huge, eternal heart, restored my faith in humanity.

and the beautiful thing was, i had this momentary flash of, “I’m so glad young people like him are going to fix the mess we created” but it was instantly replaced by, “no. i’m so grateful he is joining us in the task of healing what needs to be healed so we can all awaken together. i’m so glad i get to stand side-by-side with this beautiful being as we build the bridge to the New World together.” all in one moment, i was informed, inspired, ignited and illuminated. in that one moment.

IMG_0213in these last couple of days since the gathering, i have felt so different. so much more possibility and joy. and this morning, i woke up feeling so grateful… for everything. for being able to get up well before sunrise to enjoy the quiet and dark to meditate, do yoga and share time with my husband. for the privilege of living where i live, for the way trees remind me how to be still, for eating food from my own garden every day, for the vast, deep and joyful love i feel for my husband and our children, for our amazing community and all the possibilities that stand before us as we walk forward. for children who have parents who stand beside them (rather than in front of or behind them) and say, “i believe in you.”

then what i realized is that i am so deeply grateful to be grateful. to know that i am grateful and to feel gratitude pretty much every hour for my life- even the struggles. especially the struggles. and to be grateful while i’m right in the middle of them, even if i don’t understand why they’re happening.

i have truly come to believe that gratitude is the key to everything… if i can truly be grateful for every one of my circumstances, regardless of how wonderful or terrifying they seem, i can be free to trust that everything is falling into place exactly as planned.

and what i have seen, time and time again, is that gratitude and generosity are the keys to healing all wounds. if we can be grateful, we can be present. if we can be present, we can be generous. if we can be generous, we can experience moments of connection which remind us how grateful we are. and the whole cycle repeats itself as we spiral upward toward remembering who we really are.

so, in this month of Giving Thanks (at least here in the states), i say, “thank you.” to everything and everyone. to my family, my friends, this beautiful little boy who brought hope back to my heart. to the people who make the most difficult choices they can possibly make, like the courageous and beautiful Brittany Maynard. to the heroes i meet every day like my friend Mark who is helping to heal deep wounds in a native tribal community and my friend Rosendo who, although faced with possibly impossible odds, is one of the brightest, most joyful people i have ever met. to every sentient being who lives on this beautiful planet we call Home. and to our Mother Earth, who gives unceasingly, without expectation, and supports us despite it all.

i am so grateful for being grateful.

what are you grateful for?

i wish you a beautiful November filled with joy and gratitude.

erin and cow

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.

Honoring Mothers, Honoring the Earth, Honoring the Feminine

Photo credit to Petr David Josek/Associated Press I'm sure we can agree what happened in Boston and Watertown last month was a horrible tragedy. There is no doubt that all of our hearts, thoughts and prayers are likely continuing to go out to the victims, their families and these communities in shock from those events. And… what about the young men who took it into their hands to create these situations? What about their parents, friends, relatives and communities? They all need our love and prayers just as much - maybe even more.

I know that may ruffle some feathers or even anger some of you, but consider this:  when we live in a society in which people who shoot children in schools and theatres, and bomb marathons manage to slip through the cracks - whatever those cracks may be, we must all consider that it's our responsibility, as a whole, for what they did. I know that, if my son had been one of the Boston suspects or the young man who killed all those children in Sandy Hook, I would be up in the middle of the night asking, "Where did I go wrong? How did I not pay attention? What did I not see or hear? What could I have done more, differently, or better to make sure my son knew he was safe, loved, and celebrated as the beautiful, talented, amazing human being he is?"

Don't get me wrong here. I'm not saying that their mothers did anything wrong. I'm not calling their parenting into question. If anything, my heart is breaking for and with them - deeply. As a mother myself, I can only imagine what they are going through. It is truly unfathomable.

What I am saying is… how did we get here? How are we - as a society - not getting that we matter on the most fundamental level, such that young men like Adam Lanza or the Tsarnaev brothers would even consider doing something like this? How have we let ourselves come this far?

The answers are long, complex and multi-faceted, I know. And, what I am seeing more clearly every day, as life renews itself in this Spring season and I plant seeds in the cool, dark soil of the land I am so blessed to live with and on, is that we have become gravely numb to what's been happening in our world. Because there is a fundamental "out of balance" between the feminine and masculine, we have forgotten who we are. We have forgotten that we matter. This imbalance has been written about and spoken to for decades and it has come to a head whether we like it or not.

We have sacrificed the feminine at the altar of the masculine, and this is the fundamental reason why we are in the mess we are in now.

I know that that is a bold statement, but I'm prepared to stand by it. Look around you. Truly. Open your eyes to what's happening… it's crystal clear that climate change, global species loss, mass migrations of indigenous peoples due to the damming of rivers and extraction of oil, bombings in Boston (need I go on?) are symptoms of a radical dishonoring of the feminine. In ourselves  - in the drive to do more, have more, acquire more. In humanity - gang rapes on busses in India, the huge imbalance between the "haves" and "have nots," seemingly endless wars which only result in more grief for all concerned.  Of our planet - the mother without whom our lives would not even be possible who is suffering immeasurably from our unconscious actions.

It is as if we have become like the virus Agent Smith speaks of in The Matrix - the only other species on earth which consumes its host without considering that doing so will result in its own demise. And we have done so largely because we have forgotten that who we are is both the masculine and the feminine. We have forgotten to honor the slower pace rather than the quick fix, the mystery of the unknown rather than the addiction to being right, the pondering questions rather than the short answers, the organic journey rather than the straight line.

Am I making you uncomfortable? Pissing you off, even? Good.

This is not a comfortable conversation, but it is a necessary conversation.

I'm very clear that this little blog isn't going to change everything, but I hope that, by stirring things up and posing some questions, you may be ignited to make a change in your own life. Even if no one else noticed, what is one thing you could do to honor the feminine (regardless of your gender, in yourself or in the world)? What will you do to shift - for the better - your inevitable and indelible impact on the world? Will you donate to a cause you believe in? Will you drive less and walk more? Eat locally-grown, organic vegetables? Drink tap water from a glass jar instead of bottled water? Spend some time listening to a veteran who feels the way this young man does, but doesn't know how to begin to talk about their experiences? Sign a petition in support of our brothers and sisters in Guatemala, Ecuador or elsewhere?

This month we celebrate Mothers Day. Did you know that this holiday began in 1858 as a peaceful protest against war and injustice? Inaugurated to honor mothers as the care-takers, care-givers, and life-bearers of the world, I believe its origins speak to the peaceful, loving compassionate tendencies in all human beings. What started as a heartfelt cry from mothers for their sons now reverberates out through towns, states and countries, through decades more poignantly than ever before. Maybe what we need to do is take a breath, be willing to admit that we got off track somewhere along the line, humble ourselves enough to start over and do the courageous work of restoring the balance we all long for.

 

In honor of the mothers of the victims in Boston, young women in India, displaced Maasai familes, trees - the lungs our our planet - cut down in their prime, soldiers everywhere, slaughtered baby elephants… the mothers of those misguided young men, of your own mother, I ask you… what will you commit to doing differently - today - to get that you matter, love more fiercely and restore the balance?

BEing LOVE... what is your wish?

I've been spending a lot of time thinking about Being Love... especially since we just celebrated Valentine's Day, and I must say, I am truly astounded sometimes at how much Unconditional Love there is in my life and all around me. Then I remember that Love is truly the one and only most renewable resource there is. The more we give, the more flows in... the more we share, the more we attract. Sometimes, though, it can feel like a real stretch to allow ourselves to Love and be Loved unconditionally... Do you feel stretched, as if you're being fitted into a new skin that you're not quite familiar with yet?  

Last year brought so much to be grateful for… blessings to count and lessons to reap, opportunities to release the old and embrace the new. And already, in this wonderful New Year - this time of global transformation, deep and powerful awakenings are blossoming and birthing. It seems so many of us are in the midst of a personal re-evaluation or crisis… in some ways, it seems as if this is "The End of the World As We Know It!"

Do you feel as if you are being tested, "pushed" to release anything that is no longer authentically "you" or in alignment with your purpose?  

I truly believe we are being called to cultivate what we need to live the work we're here to do. And, if we want to be up to big things, we are likely feeling a deep need - even an irresistible urge - to love ourselves like never before, to shed the pieces of our identity which no longer serve us, and live in a more authentic way from the Love that we all are… to be Wayseers.

Do you have a wish for yourself or humanity that is becoming undeniable?  

What keeps you up at night? Wakes you up at four in the morning? What gives you the chills, makes you cry or takes away your breath? What is that deep interior dream that you keep close for fear it may be too fragile for the world? And, what if you took it out, watered it and grew it into a sturdy oak of a dream? What might be possible for you, your family, your community and the world if you did that? What if we Loved enough to create a true and lasting shift for humanity?

What is your wish?

In the words of my insanely courageous friend, Elisabeth Wilder, "I think the most important thing that I have realized...is the fact that life is to short to spend it doing what you think you are "supposed" to be doing. Do what you WANT to do, do what you are PASSIONATE about doing, do what you are DRIVEN to do, do what makes you SMILE, do what you LOVE, do what makes you want to DANCE, SING, LAUGH, LOVE, and FLY! Here's to living every day. Because what's the point of only living your life part of the time?"

What is my wish?

My wish is that we shed our fixation with competition, consumption and conflict, and instead openly honor and embrace collaboration, creativity and compassion – in relationship with the planet, other people and ourselves.

My wish is that everyone can experience Unconditional Love. Can you imagine what this could do to elevate our experience of life around the world? It could make “sustainability” a reality and open the door to “Peace on Earth, Goodwill toward All." We could write a new, unique and completely transformational chapter in human history.

My wish is that we step up to our greatest potential in a way we never have before… with passion, conviction and Love, to unite and find our greatest potential for good… and that we do it now.

My wish for you is that your life is "about finding the intersection of the world's greatest need and your greatest passion," as Jim Carrey shares so eloquently.

My wish for you is that you get how very much you matter and that you Love living your life ALL of the time!

Question of the Week... January 1, 2012

What do you believe is the most critical issue we face in 2012? Why and what are you inspired to learn or do about it?

(Please share your thoughts in the comments area below. We look forward to hearing from you and having a great conversation!)

100 People... 4 years. go.

A couple months ago I woke up to this blog and video on Superforest (my favorite way to greet the world when I turn on my computer!): Miniature Earth

It really made me think... even more deeply... that, if there were only 100 people in the world, I would of course want to make sure that EVERY ONE OF US had enough food, clean water, shelter, health care. I wouldn't be able to live in a world of 100 where any of the members of my little community was suffering while I was eating enough and sleeping out of the rain. So... if I wouldn't let that happen if the world only had 100 human inhabitants, why do we let that happen in a world of billions and plenty?

TO READ MORE... visit the full post on the Cafe Gratitude blogsite. Check it out and you'll see what's happening in that amazing community! Feel free to post comments here or at the Cafe Gratitude site. Thank you and blessings....

Do Your Part Two: Hope and Reconciliation in a New EraDo Your Part Two: Hope and Reconciliation in a New Era

This morning, as I was walking past our small barn admiring the beauty of the autumn colors and the unusual warmth of the November breeze, I noticed a runner approaching and wondered who it was. We don't get too many folks out here on our road, since we're about four miles from the nearest town (consisting of a post office, a bar and a trailer park). Turns out it was the pastor of our most popular local church out for his early morning exercise.

In the moments after we exchanged friendly greetings, I had a wave of compassion flood through me for this man who, I have to admit, I have judged in the past. Let me explain….

I was born and raised, and now again (after several long-term sojourns out into the "big world") live in a rural, conservative, Christian-centered county in the Sierra Foothills of California. There are pro's and con's to living here. The pace is slower, it is quieter, the Sheriff's Log reports such incidents as "suspicious person seen near gas station," folks don't have to lock their doors and most folks know each other. There are also a lot of big trucks and rifles, a clear lack of diversity and tolerance, and numerous bumper stickers stating "Flatlanders Suck." Needless to say, it can be a bit "vanilla" around here. When I was in high school, the only two darker skinned students were bi-racial brothers, and that was a big deal.

Things are changing, however, albeit slowly; with an influx of transplants from places like the San Francisco bay area, there is a little less of a "Leave It to Beaver" feel here, but sometimes I still feel like we're about 20 years behind the times. To illuminate, I remember, at my 10-year high school reunion, one of the guys asked me where I was living at the time, and when I answered, "Berkeley," he remarked, "Oooohhh," as if I had some sort of contagious disease, and slowly backed away.

The thing is, I was raised here in this sleepy little county in what was, at the time, very likely the most left-wing family in the county. I am a "flaming liberal," as one of my daughter's more conservative friends likes to say with great gusto - a card-carrying member of an extended family that is progressive to say the least.

However, even with all of my progressive ideals about equality and social justice, I have been known sling mud along with the best of them. Even though I was raised to find the best in people, to not make assumptions, to ask questions if I had them and to always give someone the benefit of the doubt, I have still bought into the cultural soup of media-saturated behaviors that permeated every area of my life. It seems inescapable and I don't even watch television!

We grow up learning to judge, dismiss, ignore, belittle and sometimes even abuse others. It's part of our culture and our psychological structure to make ourselves feel better at others' expense. But at what cost?

As I was walking home after this friendly exchange (and they have always been friendly with Dave), I began to think about all of the ways in which I had judged, said negative things about their church, and even avoided contact with folks I knew from that congregation, all because of a couple of experiences I had had with some of his members over 10 years ago. In feeling judged by some of the members of his congregation, I in turn judged the entirety of that group for being exclusionary, judgmental and fundamentalist.

I have no idea what makes this man tick, or what he is passionate about. Actually, in every interaction I have had with him, I have always walked away with the feeling that he is a good man. I have no idea what their church does for its members, for our community or for organizations it may support around the world. I do know, however, that I have judged them simply on the basis of a couple experiences and the hearsay that runs around the more liberal camps in our small community.

If that is what I've been carrying around, knowing my friend's response at my 10 year reunion (and subsequent rolled eyes during conversations with some not-so-like-minded folks over the years), what are "they" thinking, saying and avoiding about me? I'm not saying this because I care on a personal level (I used to… a whole lot) but because, if I am thinking, saying and doing these things and "they" are thinking, saying and doing these things, how in the world can we expect to heal the larger rifts in our communities, states, nations and world when this happens on such a microcosmic level?

I mean, even at the beginning of this article, I was guilty of judging the people in my community as "bad" or "less-than" for carrying rifles and driving big trucks, implying that their behavior and choices equal ignorance and intolerance. We make judgments all the time; it's part of being human.

So, what if we all admit that we have judgments, but instead of letting them run us, we acknowledge them and move toward those we judge in order to find our common ground? Isn't that what our President Elect is asking us to do? Can you imagine a world where we know we judge, but we don't let that get in between us as people, as members of groups, organizations, communities, even nations? What kind of healing could occur then?

I believe that we are all working toward the same goals, we all want the same things – a decent living, good schools for our children, to be healthy, to live lives that have meaning, to be of service in some way, to make the world a better place. How we do that may look very different. But is the how what we should be focusing on or should we be focusing on the fact that we could begin to work together, despite our differences, and actually support each other in reaching these common goals?

I believe it is time that we all come together, not only in word but in deed, recognize our differences and celebrate them. Just because we may have different paths to God/Christ/Heaven or enlightenment doesn't mean that we have to belittle each other for our chosen paths.

As the Zen story says, it's not the finger pointing at the moon that is what we need to focus on- how different it is from ours, how bony or fat, whether or not it is well-groomed- but rather the fact that it's pointing to something outside ourselves, outside of our ego structures, outside of our stories of how our path is better than someone else's path.

I am certain that this congregation, with its committed, passionate pastor, wants everyone to feel welcome, wants everyone to know the blessings of the joys they experience in knowing God in the way they do. It is not up to me to judge them for being on the path they are on, nor is it up to them to convince me that the path I am on is wrong. It is up to all of us to love and celebrate each other and carry and transform the burden of these trying times together, creating whole, healed and loving communities.

It is time that we chalk up our bad behavior to immaturity and lack of knowledge, get over our little egoic selves and come together. If we don't do it here, in my tiny little town with its liberal and conservative camps, tent stakes firmly planted in this common ground, then we have no hope for doing it anywhere else. And we have no right to judge what happens in Israel and Lebanon, Ireland and North Ireland or anywhere else. We must begin here. We must be wiling to step across that line we have drawn so arbitrarily in the sand and grasp each other's hands in a gesture of humility and hope.

I think I owe that pastor an apology.

copyright 2008

Do Your Part: Taking Responsibility in a New Era

Last week, on Tuesday November 4th, I woke up in a panic, thinking, "I haven't done enough!" I was filled with a moment of anxiety and dread, considering the possibility that I hadn't done enough to affect a real change in our country, I hadn't made enough calls or talked to enough people, and now it was too late.

Then I took a breath, got on my knees, and started to pray. I prayed hard. I asked God to help us, to guide us, regardless of the outcome of this historic election. I asked what I could do to make sure I didn't wake up feeling this way again, and I heard a gentle voice say, "Do your part."

So, taking a deep breath, I began to search my heart for what that would be... I knew I'd have to step up in a way I never have before, and I decided that what I needed to do was to write to everyone I know and encourage them to take a deep look inside, see how they can step up their own personal game, and to make a commitment they maybe have been unwilling to make before now. Now, a week later, having had time to think, process and complete this letter, I ask you now, "What is your part? And what are you going to do?"

If you ever doubted that you could effect change, now is the time to release that doubt and be willing to do your part, whatever that looks like. This is just the beginning....

For the first time in my adult life, I feel a growing sense of patriotism. According to the dictionary, patriotism is "a
pride in or devotion to the country somebody was born in or is a citizen of," and by that definition, I do feel patriotic. I feel proud of this country and devoted to it in a way I never have before. And this patriotism stems not from a feeling of panic, desperation or hopelessness, but rather from a feeling of hope.

For the first time in my life - the first time - I feel invited by the person in the highest office in our country to participate in the process of Democracy, and I am willing to do whatever I need to step up to that invitation.

Like millions of citizens of the United States, in the last few years I gave up hope for a better future. A part of me withered away to almost nothing as I watched in shock while we continued a devastating war for no good reason, as our economy took a perilous dive, as more and more people became disenfranchised, grew hopeless, and threw up their arms in despair about any possibility of a positive change ever occurring. For the first time since the cold war, I was afraid for my children's future - deeply afraid, and intensely angry.

However, I felt like I had no outlet for my fears and concerns, no way to feel heard by a "government that had no pride," (The Pretenders). I allowed myself to get lazy. I gave up hope. I didn't do the things I could have done to do my part and participate in this government as a voting member of our citizenry.

I've heard some people say that it's up to the government to take care of us - we pay taxes for that. We should be able to trust the people we elect to do their jobs so we don't have to be a watchdog over them. After having given it some thought, what I have to say to those folks is, "Has that worked in the past? Has it worked for us to not take responsibility for the things we want to see done? Has it worked to trust our politicians to take care of things for us?"

We have an opportunity now - a great opportunity - to participate in this process called Democracy. If we care about an issue, we need to make sure that we take personal responsibility for making it happen, or at least do everything we can so we know we gave it our best.

So, if you're concerned about the growing number of African and Latin American men who are incarcerated in our already overcrowded prisons, if you're passionate about making sure that every child in this country has the same access to a good education regardless of where they live, if you're dedicated to providing a decent home and health care for every citizen of this country, if you are worried about our global climate crisis, then step up. Do your part! There is no excuse - if you think you have elected someone to do a job for you, think again.

We face unprecedented challenges, not only here but around the globe, and it would be foolish of us to think that, simply because we have elected someone who stands for change and creative solutions, we can sit back and relax. On the contrary, having elected a new leader who has clearly spoken out and asked the people of this country to participate. It is time for us to step up more than we ever have before. This choice that the people of our country have made is a clarion call for change, for a radical paradigm shift and most especially for responsibility.

This is about moving from a patriarchal paradigm where the father figure says, "Trust me. I'll take care of you. Turn your power over to me and I'll handle everything." When we do this, we become numb, like the frogs in the pot of very slowly boiling water, staying in as it gets hotter and hotter, until they boil to death. We have been frogs long enough!

We put ourselves in the position of being victims and then we end up complaining to everyone around us, whining about why things aren't going the way we think they should be going. I say, "It's time to get over it and step up!" This is about making a shift from the paradigm of giving away our power to a paradigm of co-creation, of taking shared responsibility for what happens in our nation. We do not have to turn our power over to someone just because we elected them, regardless of which party - be it Republican, Democratic, Green, Independent, Libertarian or anything else.

One of the foundational elements of creating what you want is taking responsibility. Taking responsibility means that you are willing to give up your excuses for not doing, being or having all you want in your life. Taking responsibility can look like making time for your family, paying your bills on time, or making an apology you know you need to make. Taking responsibility can look like donating money to a cause you believe in, volunteering your time and effort to someone or something you support, or staying involved in our democratic process.

Our planet is in crisis, our economy is in crisis, our health, our children and the majority of our citizens are in crisis, and we can no longer afford to sit back and wait for someone else to take the lead. It is up to us! I believe it is time that we all stop blaming "them" (regardless of who "they" are) for the conditions of our lives, our pocketbooks, and most importantly our climate. It is time to stop playing the victim, do whatever we need to do to get over ourselves and take action.

If you are unwilling to take responsibility, then don't complain to me. As of today, I refuse to allow myself to complain because I have things to do, people to encourage and a planet to honor and protect. I have no time for anything that holds me back from living the purpose G-d put me here to fulfill. I commit to living my vision and I urge you to do the same.

So, what is your vision? What is your passion? What are you willing to do? How uncomfortable are you willing to get in order to make this world a better place for our children, their children and generations to come? We must do something! Regardless of your political beliefs, religious affiliations or cultural mores, you have a responsibility to do your part. If not, you can sit by quietly while the world changes around you.

We have an opportunity to recreate a true democracy. I believe the founding fathers and mothers of this country fought for that - for everyone to have a voice, a say, in what happens on every level. This creates true accountability in our government. That is what President Elect Obama is saying, "Work with me. Let's do this together."

I believe that, regardless of your opinions about his capability to lead our country for the next four years, each citizen of this country has a responsibility to step up and support him in eliciting real, lasting and positive change. There is too much at stake not to do everything we can to be the change we want to see in the world. YES WE CAN!

Endnote: Thank you, Barack Obama, Debbie Ford, Rich and Yvonne Dutra-St. John and all other courageous leaders who are willing to risk judgment for speaking their truth. You are my inspiration.

Copyright November, 2008