clearskies, bluewater

Insights, reflections and creative imaginings for our awakening world


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Towards a year of real change for the Good

Happy new year, Dear Readers. Here we are again, standing at the precipice of what has been and what is yet to be. How are you feeling? If you are awake and breathing deeply, most likely you experience a whole gamut of emotions as we are about to embark on 2017.  2016 was one heck of a year: turbulent, uncertain, roller-coaster, full of surprises, with big doses of angst thrown in regularly. What will the new year bring to us earthlings?

Perhaps, more than ever before, we need to cultivate our imaginations. After all, the realm of imagination is one where anything can happen, where we create entire worlds, universes, and all manner of stories. We have all grown up in this world of ‘facts and reality’ that is called The Truth. We have been taught since childhood that our imaginations aren’t real, that fantasy is simply that, and often been told, quite harshly, to ‘grow up and get over it.’ But what if the greater truth is actually that what we imagine, particularly if many hold a similar imagination idea and picture, is what manifests as our common ‘reality’?  If this were true, then life could be very different for us earth walkers than the one we currently agree to be in, couldn’t it?

Dear Readers, I have written many times in this blog about the power of the imagination, and the power of Love in creating a world that is healthy, whole, and healed. A handful of those who have read these words over the past years agree with me. But when I look around at the majority of humans, I do not see this world.  Instead, I see a world that is still ruled by fear, anger, intimidation, sorrow, injustice, extreme violence, and darkness. I wonder what it will take for the majority to awaken and realize that there is another, infinitely better, more beautiful and kind world that is also right here, living parallel to the fear based one.

It is easy to be discouraged, feel small, insignificant, fearful of what may lie ahead. It is so very easy to give one’s human power away to others, to cling to the idea that you are just one tiny, powerless human being swimming in a vast ocean of humans, and that your voice, your presence, and your ideas do not matter, cannot possibly matter within the huge forces at play in this world. The majority of people seem to believe this scenario, and play it out day after day. So the world goes on, and nothing much seems to change or improve, in fact things are looking pretty bleak for the future of Earth and all of us. This is the old story, and frankly, a pretty boring one at that. Aren’t you all getting quite sick of dystopian near future worlds yet?

On the other hand, it is not so easy to stand in your nobility as a human being, to stand for strength, courage, moral high ground, integrity, dignity, compassion. These are the eternal qualities of the ones who have led humanity out of darkness since prehistory. Name your most favorite heroes, the humans who embodied qualities that spoke of divinity, of superhuman strength, of love unbound. We all know these ones, they are the saints, gods, and enlightened beings of both the ancient and modern worlds.

LightBeing-1

Our superpowers reside within us, waiting patiently for us to acknowledge and use them.

I am suggesting that it is high time, now, for the rest of us ‘ordinary’ folk to realize that we too have the very same qualities within ourselves of these our heroes and gods. That we do, in fact, receive divine help and assistance every time we ask. That the days of the old fear-based paradigm are past. That humans full of petty ego desires and maniacal schemes to rule the world and all of the people are no one to fear or even pay attention to; that by withdrawing your energy from those ones their puffed up, negatively driven speeches and threats will blow up in their faces, will be exposed for the smoke and mirror show that they truly are. We can see the Man behind the curtain so clearly now, and he is but a small, insignificant bleep on the radar screen of this world. That is, if we use our collective imagination to envisage another kind of earth, one that is held and designed with the highest moral and ethical principles kept uppermost in mind. And why, dear Readers, would we not choose to do so?

Peter Gabriel once wrote a song with the refrain, DIY. Do it yourself. Now is the time to take up this refrain in a stronger way than ever before. Our governments have failed us and will continue to do so. In 2017, let’s make a more concerted effort than ever before to Do It Ourselves: work in your neighborhoods, communities, with your local elected officials, grassroots organizing to create the new Earth. If you are already doing it, then continue and do even more. Grow your networks, create regional organizations. Lead by your good example, for many others could use your wisdom and expertise as they learn skills and hone their talents. Let the young people show the way; they have a lot of unbridled enthusiasm and energy. Teach the children what is important, real and true, and encourage their imaginations. They are the ones who will inherit this earth, and it is so very important to listen, respect and support them.

I give blessings of peace, joy and strength to everyone who reads these words. May 2017 be the year of real change towards the Good, True and Beautiful on Earth.

 

 


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Turning despair into amazement

“But there will come a time, you’ll see, with no more tears. And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears. Get over your hill and see what you find there, with grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.” –Mumford and Sons

These days, the dinner hour is the cruelest time of day. On the fortunate days when I happen to be with others (read my sweet family members), then preparing, serving and eating dinner is alright, it is really fine. But on those other days when I find myself alone and faced with cooking and eating dinner with only me for company, that is when those lonesome blues sneak around, filling the cracks and crevices of my soul with an unshakable melancholy. After years of cooking dinner for two each evening, and then sitting down to feast after feast, served with candlelight and wine, my new habit of cooking and eating alone, sometimes with a book and othertimes just me and the plate, is the nightly reminder of my newly acquired single status. Quite frankly, I do not enjoy it.

Just in the past couple of days, I have begun to feel a little hopeful again. After plummeting to the very depths during the twelve holy nights of Christmas, this week brings me some glimmerings of possibilities, of a future that could be filled with meaning, where I am living for a larger purpose and making a positive difference in others’ lives. I can nearly see this future me, happily busy at the work of creating good here in the place I find myself now. Perhaps there is hope for me yet, a small voice quietly tells me, where I can serve others in positive ways, where my voice and my actions will actually improve lives and consequently the world. Where I matter. Where I help a suffering humanity in the ways that I can, that I invent and am inspired to create. A future where self-centeredness gives way to working for the Greater Good. Where I can finally realize my long-held dreams of doing something for the world.

Mary Oliver once wrote that when death comes, she wants to be able to say that all her life she was a bride married to amazement. I think she always knew that she had it in her to do amazing, incredible things with her life, and so she went ahead and did them, through poetry and teaching and observing life and nature. For me, she embodies a life well lived, a beautiful marriage of giving oneself to the world and at the same time, making sure she always had enough time for herself, for solitude and contemplation. She has had the great fortune of a grace-filled life. She can rest in the knowledge that through her efforts, she has touched and inspired millions of people across the world. In my own humble way, I would love to be able to say, at the end of my life, that I too have been a bride married to amazement. That I too did something artistic and wonderful and giving which made a difference to others’ lives. That people grew for having known me, that they found a creative part of themselves which they hadn’t quite been able to access before. That knowing me inspired them in some way, and made their lives richer than it would have otherwise been. I don’t think this is purely an ego-desire on my part, but rather a sincere desire to share my gifts, to fulfill the purpose I was born to fulfill. I have spent the vast majority of my life not having much of a clue of what I was put on this earth to do. Finally, at mid-life, past my prime, my physical self going to the other side of that hill we all must eventually descend, I am beginning to see, starting to know why I am here, and what it is that I wish to do with my remaining time.

It is not difficult to waste one’s life on trivialities and petty dramas. People do it all the time. We humans are masters of making mountains out of molehills, and conversely, denying and covering up our actual pain and suffering so that we don’t have to deal with them. We are all grappling with being in these human forms, and the difficulties of embodiment on earth at this time. We are all aware of the consequences of this life: addictions, violence, separation, depression, suicide, dissolution, despair, desperation. What can we do, how can we deal with our anxieties and fears?

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Everybody has a story to tell here. The biggest favor we can do for each other is to listen to another tell their story. Not with judgment or condemnation, but simply for the fact that they will heal by telling it, eventually. Many of us love to read stories, whether fiction or factual matters not. We love certain characters in a novel, play or movie because he seems all too familiar, because we see ourselves in her. My story is a little bit yours too. Okay, now I don’t feel quite so alone out here on the high seas of life. Your story has given me a lifeline, something I can hold onto, a way to help me get back to shore. When I am feeling low and alone, and like no one else in the universe cares or remembers that I exist, when eating alone the tenth night in a row is making me feel completely miserable, or when the demons come in the middle of night and attack me with their punishing thoughts, what can I do? Give in, lay down in a puddle on the floor and want to end it all? No. I will not give into fear and thoughts of hopelessness. Somehow I must find strength within myself to climb out of the hole, to hold on until the morning, to find hope that I will again one day be cooking for two or twenty. Because I am not only doing this work for myself, but for every other lonely and afraid human out there also. My struggle, my battle with the darkness of my soul is everyone’s battle. The single most important work that any of us can do now, is to embrace the love and light within ourselves, while acknowledging the darkness and pain there too, and work to find all the ways, big and small, to shine it upon the world. Every single day.

By now, I am way beyond self-help books and pep talks (even though I sometimes still read and listen to them.) Life is about more than that, and is much, much more complex. Good advice is all well and good, but the times are calling for something far deeper and greater. Our world needs compassion like never before. It can be the smallest gesture, a smile or a friendly greeting to another human as we walk down the street. It can also be simply noticing others, from people to the birds in the tree above your head. Every gesture counts. Every thought also.

I am working on marrying amazement now. When I learn how to truly love what is in my own heart, it will automatically free me to love everyone and everything else which appears to be outside of me. The illusion is that there is any separation. I love you.


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Inspiration at the crossroads

Happy September, Dear Readers! There is just something about the thought of September, a combination of longing and desire, that deserves recognition. The summer is past, the winter still a distance away, but September signifies change…. wind…. colors…… beautiful light…. a turning point.

Where do you find inspiration, dear Readers? Perhaps you are one of the lucky humans who can find it the moment you step outside the door– or even within your own home. Or even within your own soul. But, if you are like me, it might take something a bit unusual, new or strange, to transport you to a place of feeling inspired. This summer was inspiring for me. I traveled in southern England for over five weeks, working on organic farms, experiencing the English people, countryside, history and natural beauty of that oddly familiar land for the first time in this life. The English charmed me through and through with their lovely voices, wonderful English expressions and mastery of my native language. To the English, things are ‘luvely’ ‘brilliant’ and they say ‘cheers’ a lot. They smile and love to laugh often, at themselves, each other and life in general. They aren’t afraid to wear bright, colorful clothing and smile at strangers. England may not be perfect, but it was perfectly wonderful to me as a first time visitor. I learned about the different English accents depending on what part of the country one comes from, and loved them all. The weather cooperated amazingly and unusually well, gracing me with hot days and warm evenings, so I really embraced the heat for the first time in a few years.

There are some incredibly ancient and wonderful trees in southern England.

There are some incredibly ancient and wonderful trees in southern England.

England was a blessing and very inspiring to me on many levels. Now I feel at a crossroads, both personally and collectively. It feels there are some big choices to be made directly ahead of us, even during this month of September. Depending on the direction we take, we will determine our future for years, and even centuries, to come. What kind of world do we wish to create, dear Readers? Words are easy enough to say, and to come up with catch phrases: Love, peace and happiness, and all of that. But. What do those words actually mean to each one of us?

How can my image of peace and happiness join with yours? Does it even need to? We throw words around unthinkingly every day. The reality of trying to make the people of the world get along with each other in a non-harmful way is something utterly HUGE in magnitude. How can we meet in the middle, at the core of our humanity? These are big questions which deserve our attention and deep consideration. Can we heal what is broken in our world if we are not healed ourselves from our own brokenness? Or can the broken parts of us act as a mechanism to break us OPEN to the heart of the world?

I was reading something recently where the author talked about finding one’s ‘edges’ in relation to healing. He explained that the edge is the place where the action is, where healing can take place, where change occurs. Looking at the news these days, it is undeniable that humanity stands at the edges of itself, at the limits of what we can stand for and what is life-giving or life-destroying. Yes we have been here before, but right now feels different in important ways. Look at England, for example. Cameron, the prime minister, was ready to say yes to going along with the United States and France’s wishes to begin an air bombing campaign in Syria. But. He changed his mind suddenly, and the reason he gave was ‘public opinion and outcry.’ In other words, The People spoke out loudly enough and said No More War, concerning this latest proposed atrocity, and the amazing part is, he listened. To me, that signifies a big change in the western world, away from Business As Usual and towards something else, something new, something having to do with Life and freedom. If Britain can make a momentous decision like this, after all the years, no, centuries, of propagating war and imperialism around the globe, then there is Hope for the rest of us: (read: the United States of America.) There IS another way to live in this world, and we who are reading these blogs and writing them and thinking about these things know it. We all KNOW things are changing. It is simply a question of time.

Ripple_effect_on_waterSince coming back to Denmark a few weeks ago, I have been unsure of how to continue with this blog. When I started it in January of 2012, my intention was to practice writing, and give voice to my thoughts, frustrations and inspirations of the world I found myself (in Denmark as a foreigner) and try to make sense of the craziness known as Life. Over the months, I have written about various subjects, and also shared articles I found interesting and that I thought you might also enjoy reading. Some of you have been following my blog quite devotedly for some time, and I am very happy and grateful to those of you who have done so. Still, this blog and my words are reaching a very small and limited group of humans, and considering the vast amount of bloggers alone currently writing and sharing their ideas and inspirations, my contribution feels like the tiniest pebble in a vast ocean.

Therefore, dear Readers, I will be taking time during the coming weeks to focus on just what it is that I wish to do with this blog, with my creative life, and also with the big changes I feel are just around the bend. I do not know if I will be posting much, if anything, for the next little while as I try to sort things out. As always, I encourage you all to hold to what is Good, True and Beautiful in your lives, in the world, and in each other, while all the time working to be courageous, to speak out from your hearts, to open up to people, to move beyond fear and aversion and anger, into the Light. It is here and available to us in every moment. All we ever need do is to reconnect.

With many blessings for your upcoming changing season, Leigh


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The four magic words of stories

As a writer I love to read stories. It seems I am always reading one, or possibly three, works of fiction at the same time. Due to the fact that I have been teaching English to Danish kids for the past 8 months, it has been a natural outcome that I have become more critically discerning while reading stories. This post is about fiction stories: what makes a story worth taking the time to read it? Or not? I will begin with some words from one of my favorite storytellers, Neil Gaiman. He says,logic_and_imagination_by_19eight_seven

“If I had a library wall to deface, I think I’d just remind people of the power of stories, of why they exist in the first place. I’d put up the four words that anyone telling a story wants to hear. The ones that show it’s working, and that pages will be turned: “… and then what happened?” The joy of fiction, for some of us, is the joy of the imagination, set free from the world and able to imagine.”

Gaiman’s words come from the introduction to a collection of stories that he, along with Al Sarrantonio, edited and contributed to with their own stories. On the subject of Fantasy, Gaiman writes,

“It seemed to us that the fantastic can be, can do, so much more than its detractors assume: it can illuminate the real, it can distort it, it can mask it, it can hide it. It can show you the world you know in a way that makes you realize you’ve never looked at it, not looked at it. G.K. Chesterton compared fantastic fiction to going on holiday– that the importance of your holiday is the moment you return, and you see the place you live through fresh eyes.” (from Stories, edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio, HarperCollins publishers, 2010)

This particular collection of stories, containing 27 works from contemporary authors of the English-speaking world, is full of horror, fantasy and magical realism, as one might expect. As a reader, my personal preferences run more to the magical realism category than horror or crime tales, preferring the gentler sides of life to the more gruesome and morbid. And yet. I would venture to guess that crime and horror stories are by far the best-selling, hence the most widely read genres of fiction in the world today. Why is this so? one might ask. As I read through this collection of stories, the answer became clear. We read fiction for lots of reasons, obviously. But one of the main purposes, since time immemorial, has to do with the experience of catharsis. According to Wikipedia, “Catharsis (from the Greek κάθαρσις katharsis meaning “purification” or “cleansing”) refers to the purification and purgation of emotions—especially pity and fear—through art or to any extreme change in emotion that results in renewal and restoration.”

Through this we can see that by reading well-crafted stories of horror, crime, violence, sexual degradation and the like, we find an outlet for our deeply hidden desires, longings and secret fantasies concerning these shadow areas of the human psyche, in a harmless way. I was reminded by one of my daughters recently of the importance of seeing ‘reality’ (as she put it) for what it is, and not shying away or pretending that those parts of the human experience do not exist, that it is unhealthy to live in a kind of fairy tale life where everything is happy-dappy all the time, etcetera. Obviously there is much to be said about this one point alone; however for my purposes today I will leave it at that. The point is, she is correct in the sense that by ignoring, or pretending that those shadow aspects of us do not exist, we are in fact doing more harm than good for the human collective. By never acknowledging my deeply hidden fascination with, say, kinky sex or disturbing images of dark magic, or some other equally mysterious and perhaps frightening subjects, I will not be able to come to terms with those sides of being human. But, if I can release my curiosity and desire to indulge in those hidden fantasies through reading really great stories about them, I can bring them out into the light of day, so to say, and therefore release their hidden power over me. Depth psychology aside, the power of stories as catharsis of the human soul cannot, nor should not, be underestimated.

power_of_imagination_by_ssilence

During the past month or more, I read a long novel, nearly 500 pages long, entitled The House of the Wind, by Titania Hardy. Having just returned from a week in Tuscany, this novel fairly jumped off the library shelf and into my hands. As I began to immerse myself in the dual story, however, I couldn’t help but notice a kind of frustration with how the story was told. It is two parallel stories told in turns, chapter after chapter, first of a young woman living in San Francisco in 2007, then of some other women living around Volterra, Tuscany during the mid 14th century. In many ways, it is a very wonderful story, and very well written. But. In another way, reading this quite long novel was rather frustrating. For one thing, I kept wishing that Hardy hadn’t included quite so many details, especially concerning the modern woman’s story. I felt there were descriptions of things that were simply unnecessary and did nothing to really enhance the story, but rather detracted from it. Hardy is a writer who has a lot of historical knowledge, and has written considerable non-fiction, and it shows in her fiction writing. But I found myself impatient, wanting the story to ‘move along’ at a better clip than it often did. From this novel, I also learned a lot about ‘showing, not telling,’ the story. She told too much about how the characters felt, what they thought about, etc., rather than having more economy of words and letting the story tell itself. What evolved into a 500 page novel, could have been accomplished in at least a third less pages, and would have resulted in a better work. Hardy got dangerously close to historical romance several times during this long story, and nearly sentimental at times, neither of which she was intending, I am certain.

In contrast to that type of writing, there are authors, blessedly, like Neil Gaiman. The magic and beauty of Gaiman’s craft shines out of the page, and reading his words becomes a joyful act. He is a writer who understands the power of word economy, and uses it beautifully in his stories. His story, Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains, contained in this collection, is a small masterpiece of word economy. Here is an excerpt:

“The clouds came down at noon and the world was blanketed by a mist that was worse than rain: droplets of water hung in the air, soaked our clothes and our skin; the rocks we walked upon became treacherous and Calum and I slowed in our ascent, stepped carefully. We were walking up the mountain, not climbing, up goat paths and craggy sharp ways. The rocks were black and slippery: we walked, and climbed and clambered and clung; we slipped and slid and stumbled and staggered, and even in the mist, Calum knew where he was going, and I followed him.”

Of course, the world is full of creative writers, and many write brilliantly although in thousands of styles and ways. I admit that my preference is for those writers who can say so much with very few words, who choose each word carefully for maximum impact, who can give us strong images without too much elaboration. Plus, I love Gaiman’s use of alliteration here! He really is brilliant.

The collection Stories has several interesting works within it which I enjoyed reading. One of the other favorites is a story called Goblin Lake, by Michael Swanwick. It falls into the magical realism category, where the main character leaves his normal, brutal reality as a soldier in the area of Germany during the 17th century, and enters a watery world at the bottom of a lake, encountering a whole different, and very lovely, reality instead. Here he is given a choice: he can remain there, as a character within the pages of a fantastic story forever, enjoying all the pleasures inherent within it, or return above ground, to his ‘real life’ where he will become old, enduring all of the pains and suffering of that world. This story is also very well-written, and offers the reader a welcome glimpse into a different reality than one’s typical life. Swanwick takes up the challenge set by Gaiman, that of “showing you the world you know in a way that makes you realize you’ve never looked at it before.”

Dear Readers, I know that nearly all of you are writers too; have you thoughts about what constitutes excellent storytelling and why? I would love to read your comments and ideas here, if you can take a few minutes to leave some. As always, thanks for reading, and for contributing your imagination to our world, in order to bring it a little higher and make it a bit better than if you hadn’t.


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The Revolution is Love

“Give yourself to love, Love is what you’re after.” – Kate Wolf

What is it about May? Perhaps it is because of all the loveliness surrounding us here in the northern hemisphere, with so many kinds of flowers blooming and all the songbirds calling from the treetops… whatever the reasons, it simply feels like there is a lot of love hanging around in the atmosphere right now. Even die-hard Danes have given up (mostly) their standard costumes of black-on-black, and are clad in spring greens and orange and blue. It is the season of color, which means Life and Love.

This past weekend I spent a lovely time in the city of Århus, located on Denmark’s mainland. It is a lovely city, with a nice balance of old architecture, new and progressive thinking and attitudes. The old, young, and everyone in the middle seem to live together in relative harmony there, and the fact that it is the home of Denmark’s second largest university gives it the fresh and free-thinking atmosphere in which good things can grow. Århus is a harbor town, situated on a large bay, and close by is a very beautiful nature area with mature beech forest and a very nice stretch of sandy beach. Here I spent some precious hours in contemplation last Saturday, taking in the colors, sounds and scents of the beautiful shoreline, for which I was extremely grateful.

One evening was spent with in-laws and a new friend, a woman a few years younger than myself. We had a nice, quiet dinner and afterwards we sat around in her airy, light living room and chatted. After a while, the conversation turned to me and my current life. She asked me several pointed questions about my work, my relationship, etc., and once she got a small sketch from me, she began to lecture. She told me many things concerning my root chakra and how important it is for me to have a grounding with some kind of basic, steady work, no matter how boring it may be. She gave me her own situation as an example, stating that though she herself has this and that education, she does very boring data entry work a few days a week, which gives her a steady paycheck and allows her the structure of a regular schedule as well as time for her more personal inner work. She talked at length about this subject, and the need for me to do something similar, regardless of my creative urges and desires. The underlying, strong message was: set aside your dreams and wishes for a while and get really practical, Leigh. No matter how dull or uninteresting the work may be, you are obligated to get some, so that you have a real grounding for your soul and can get money enough to feel independent of your man. Strong words, and I heard them loud and clear.

I-came-here-to-change-the-world-cauldrons&cupcakes=blogNow a few days have gone by. I have had increasing pain in my right foot, to the point where today it was quite painful to walk on it. Out of necessity, I bore the pain and went through my tasks anyway, all the while noticing this pain and asking it what it wants to tell me. I asked myself, are you truly ill? Possibly dying? No, was the answer. The pain is about something else.

What I know for sure is, physical pain and emotional suffering are the two quickest routes to becoming old that humans have available. The catch-phrase these days is the ‘pain body’ and it is an apt description. When the pain body kicks in, all other activities come to a quick halt. It is the number one attention-getter. On a day like today, the thought of having to work at a mindless, boring job (or any job, for that matter) becomes nearly unbearable. Today my new friend’s lecture has been replaying in my mind. Obviously there is practical wisdom in her words, that is undeniable. On the other hand, another, stronger part of my psyche seems to be crying out in protest: ‘haven’t you already been through all of that, for many years? Why would you go backwards now, when you have come so far?’

Remember the saying, “do what you love, and the money will follow?” Well I think it is high time to change that one to this instead: “Do what you love, and Love will follow.” It seems to me that the future we are beginning to create together is about Love as the new currency, not money. I am no longer interested in basic survival. That was the old me, for too many years. This new version wants to do whatever it does for the love of it, for the exchange of love given and received. Perhaps it sounds completely naïve, and yet. It seems that I am not the only one who is thinking along these lines.

Occupy-your-heartCase in point: Occupy Love. Apparently some of the people who were gathering at the Occupy Wall street protests have also been thinking along these lines. They have even made a movie, called Occupy Love. This film is about the Occupy movement as a true revolution of Love here on Earth. Yes of course it is a call for action, to stop the greedy tyrants who have been ruling our collective lives which have led us to the brink of utter catastrophe and collapse of our planet. But it is more, it is truly a time when the real call to action is a call for Love to rule. Every day, more humans are awakening from the nightmare of the illusion we have been living in for so long. Only last weekend, millions of people in over fifty countries around the globe gathered in protest of Monsanto’s atrocities with genetic food modification. People are simply tired of being slaves to an outworn, ugly and exceedingly unhealthy system of economics and energy production. They are standing up and saying Stop by the thousands and millions. Soon it will be by the billions, and eventually the tyrants will simply have to stop.

In a world ruled by Love, instead of fear, mind-numbing, work-simply-to-survive mentalities, along with the jobs that keep them in place will be non-existent. It will no longer be a society based on people ‘going to work’ as they love to say all the time in Denmark. People will think differently, and do work that they want to do, that they are glad to get up for, that isn’t simply to ‘put food on the table.’ It cannot be this mentality any longer, if society is based upon love. Then, people will be asked, ‘what is it you would like to do, what do you enjoy doing, what brings you joy?’ It isn’t that work itself is a four-letter word, it is the intention behind it. Something I read on a blog the other day suggested, Find out what seems to feel the most right to you, what fills your heart with joy, what makes you eager to begin?

Always-know-you-are-loved

When I think in these terms, I cannot imagine finding some truly boring or menial down-on-my-knees kind of work, ever again. I cannot agree with the one who lectured me that it would be good for me and grounding. Yes to steady income, at least until we are a bit further down the new evolutionary road. Yes to working with my hands and heart and mind in good, healthy, creative ways. And above all, yes to having love be the basis of all of it, every day.

related links:
http://occupylove.org/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ifa33dLp6OA

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2013/05/25/global-protests-monsanto/2361007/

http://www.activistpost.com/2013/05/hey-monsanto-did-you-hear-that.html

http://news.yahoo.com/millions-march-against-monsanto-over-400-cities-222259976.html

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Peace through music

“Everyone deserves music.” Michael Franti

It is said that music is the universal language. It is a language that cuts through all social and cultural barriers, and hits us straight in the heart and soul. Some also say that humans have our origins in the music of the spheres, that we are literally ‘frozen music.’ The first time I heard that phrase it captured my imagination utterly. Frozen music?! How lyrical, how beautiful, how mysterious!

Music has many meanings and messages for humanity. It can be made on many levels, from the most basic level of rhythm and simplest melody, to the most complex and intricate weavings and layerings of a symphony orchestra. We all have our favorite songs and melodies, our tastes change and grow over the course of living, and yet, I believe that inside us all there is a place that music touches our deepest feelings, brings us alive, gives us a particular kind of joy that cannot be had anywhere else. Music is one of the greatest gifts we have been given by our creators, which we then give to each other in turn.

These days I have taken to listening to music often through Youtube. I love Youtube because not only can I find nearly any song or piece of music I would like to hear in the moment, but also, and perhaps more importantly, because of the opportunity it gives to almost any musician to upload their music and share it with the world. It is an unprecedented opportunity for young musicians of all backgrounds and cultures (nearly) to play music and be heard by people across the globe. How amazing is that!!

Recently I discovered a wonderful group of musicians and supporters, called Playing for Change. This group of people goes around the world, finding and recording musicians who come together to play a particular song together, through the use of virtual technology. The results are brilliant. A street musician in Los Angeles might start the song, and then others join in, playing perhaps in Rio de Janeiro, Jamaica, France, The Netherlands, Israel, various countries in Africa, the list goes on. The music is simply wonderful, filled with spirit and heart and hope. They often record well-known songs, carefully chosen to be uplifting and joyful, spiritual and soulful. The introduction on Playing for Change’s website tells their story:

“Playing for Change is a multimedia movement created to inspire, connect, and bring peace to the world through music. The idea for this project arose from a common belief that music has the power to break down boundaries and overcome distances between people. No matter whether people come from different geographic, political, economic, spiritual or ideological backgrounds, music has the universal power to transcend and unite us as one human race. And with this truth firmly fixed in our minds, we set out to share it with the world.

One thing that never changed throughout the process was our commitment to create an environment for the musicians in which they could create freely and that placed no barriers between them and those who would eventually experience their music. By leading with that energy and intent everywhere we traveled, we were freely given access to musicians and locations that are usually inaccessible. In this respect, the inspiration that originally set us on this path became a co-creator of the project along with us!

Over the course of this project, we decided it was not enough for our crew just to record and share this music with the world; we wanted to create a way to give back to the musicians and their communities that had shared so much with us. And so in 2007 we created the Playing for Change Foundation, a separate nonprofit corporation whose mission is to do just that. In early 2008, we established Timeless Media, a for-profit entity that funds and extends the work of Playing for Change. Later that year, Timeless Media entered into a joint venture with the Concord Music Group. Our goal is to bring PFC’s music, videos and message to the widest possible audience.
Now, musicians from all over the world are brought together to perform benefit concerts that build music and art schools in communities that are in need of inspiration and hope. In addition to benefit concerts, the Playing for Change band also performs shows around the world. When audiences see and hear musicians who have traveled thousands of miles from their homes, united in purpose and chorus on one stage, everyone is touched by music’s unifying power.
And now, everyone can participate in this transformative experience by joining the Playing for Change Movement. People are hosting screenings, musicians are holding benefit concerts of every size, fans are spreading the message of Playing for Change through our media, and this is only the beginning. Together, we will connect the world through music!” http://www.playingforchange.com/journey/introduction

If you go to Youtube and type in Playing for Change, you will find many of their wonderful songs. Last night I spent a couple of hours listening to their playlist of nearly 50 songs, by musicians around the world. Some of the most touching songs were covers of Higher Ground, by Stevie Wonder, One Love by Bob Marley, an outstanding version of Over the Rainbow & What a Wonderful World combined, Imagine by John Lennon, and a super-great cover of I’d Rather Go Blind by Etta James. I heard songs by wonderful African musicians, Columbian musicians, Jamaican musicians, and a very soulful and mystical song by a large group of musicians from all over Anatolia, singing and playing an old folk song for the Black Sea region and it’s nature.

<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/WCoL87qingU” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen>

Listening to all of these songs and watching so many beautiful musicians singing and playing from their heart and soul, filled me with a kind of awe and the realization that music may be the most powerful force for change that exists in our world today. In the face of every conceivable degradation and destruction of our earth and her people, when the odds seem so against Life itself, as the forces of evil and death seem nearly unbeatable, hearing all of this extraordinary music, played simultaneously by people around the world who are united in the cause of Peace, Love and Humanity’s worth, was a revelation to me. A quote from their video of Imagine, by John Lennon, says, “A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is a reality.”

Dear Readers, if you love humanity and music and peace, please go to Youtube and watch Playing for Change’s videos. Go to their website and read more about their organization and see their videos there as well. Find out all of the wonderful things that bringing people together for a united dream of peace is doing in our world. And then, if you are inspired, find a friend or a dozen, and make music together! Music for love, for change, for a peaceful future world. We are united in our hearts and souls and spirits, those of us who want it. We only need to reach out and realize that, no matter what it seems from outer appearances, we are One People, and we have tremendous power in that.
http://www.playingforchange.com/


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Spilled out on paper, carved through the fingernails (and a history lesson)

A very dear friend of mine wrote a comment of encouragement to me after my last blog post. In it he wrote, ‘may you discover the raw meat, the deepest bloodline of your soul, spilled out on paper, carved through your fingernails, the bone flint in clay and mud with all that is, made whole.” (http://mokalightpoetry.wordpress.com) I wish to thank him for his wonderfully gritty and evocative poetic verse, and for the reminder that no matter how low and uninspired I may become, it is through artistic works that I can rise again, and carry on.

How easy it is to forget this! To forget that there are other precious humans in the world who are also struggling with life’s burdens, with burn-out, exhaustion, dismay, disappointment, disillusionment. That not everyone is blissed out 24-7, including those who claim they are. That now, like in times of old, humans everywhere are overwhelmed, overworked, overburdened, underpaid, underestimated, under others’ thumbs. We may well have entered the fifth dimension and begun a new world in the past little while, but as a whole we are still utterly mired in third dimensional muck, and it is a long road toward salvation, methinks.

Just to put a broader perspective on human cultural life on planet Earth, I would like to share with you some excerpts from the wonderful and enlightening book The Renaissance in Europe, by Margaret King. First, she introduces the reader to various conceptions of what the Renaissance actually was, and then goes on to explain her own concept of it:

“The Renaissance emerges because of the very special circumstances present in Italy from the twelfth century. Those circumstances encouraged a large number of artists and thinkers to integrate into the medieval culture they inherited, grounded in Christian values (themselves rooted in ancient Judaism), the values of classical antiquity. This was the second and final moment in the history of the West when the Judeo-Christian and classical traditions would coalesce. The first was in late antiquity, as Christianity spread and became integrated with classical civilization before the collapse of the western zone of the Roman empire.

This second and definitive reintegration of two ancient cultural traditions permitted European civilization to develop into its modern form. That civilization remained dominant until, in the 20th century, it was challenged by modernism, and then post-modernism, which called for the repudiation of both its classical and Christian pasts. Before that denouement, it was the civilization of the Renaissance, extending and evolving through the Enlightenment and into the 19th century, with its ancient past unforgotten, which characterized Western civilization at its height– the civilization that yielded the liberal ideals of the democratic West.” (pp. Xiii, introduction)

King describes the decline of Rome from its height (around 200 c.e.) until its decline over the following centuries as follows:

“As successor to the empires of the ancient Mediterranean world, Rome was the hub of a great commercial network. Grains, oil and wine wer the most basic commodities and these, together with the ceramics that held them, passed through all the ancient centers. Rome herself was at the time a huge city of between one to two million inhabitants, and fed by the peasant farmers of Sicily, Egypt and the Black Sea. From the edges of the empire came slaves from Africa and Europe, metals from Britain and Spain, and from further east, exotic goods– gems, perfumes, spices and especially silks carried along central Asia’s Silk Road. From the ports to the inland towns and cities, goods and money circulated, spreading and creating wealth.

This commercial system began to suffer disruption during the 3rd century, especially from reforms that the emperor Diocletian (284-305 c.e.) instituted during his critically important reign. He raised taxes, attempting to derive the maximum possible profit from the agricultural sector, but the result was the resentment of a peasant population already pressed to the limit.

Certainly, the Roman economy in the Western Empire descended into chaos during the next two centuries, as the empire languished and failed. Invasion and war contributed to already serious difficulties, commerce stagnated and withered, and the standard of living plummeted with it. The material conditions of life sank to those of a much earlier, pre-imperial ear. Many people fled the cities. Coins, especially the valuable gold coins, fled the west for the east. In the west, people either used small denominations of silver coins or else bartered for goods and services. Italy, which had known a flourishing city life during the empire, deurbanized. Many of the cities withered and nearly ceased to be urban. Rome itself shrank from between one and two million occupants to about 90,000 during the 7th century, down to its low of 35,000 by the start of the 12th century. “ (pp. 18-19)

12centItaly

Italy’s Northern republics gained power by the twelfth century.

As Rome declined, Italy’s more northern lands became more prosperous, and by the 11th and 12th centuries had created “a new social stratum: a citizen elite, composed of wealthy merchants and urbanized nobles, bound together by bonds of mutual self-interest and marriage alliances. This new group launched a “communal revolution’ which transformed the political map of Italy and had huge implications for the later development of Europe. Nowhere else in Europe did this hybrid phenomenon emerge. The nobles were not great landowners but the vassals of vassals. Their profession was violence and their aspirations were as great as their status was low. They moved into the cities, and within a generation or two, they had built fortified urban palaces for themselves. They came to be known as the ‘magnates,’ or great men of the city.” (pp. 22-23)

“From the late 1000s until the 1130s, these magnates joined together as a sworn brotherhood to seize power and jointly rule what they now called their ‘communes.’ These communes were governed as a kind of republic, with an elected council, assemblies of the people, councils and committees, secretaries, minor bureaucrats, notaries and servants. Power was decentralized, no longer in the hands of an emperor or Pope. The communal revolution attempted to replace the rule of bishops and their imperial overlords by self-rule by self-appointed leading citizens. Within a century of the first stirrings of dissident communes, there emerged another social group which launched a second, even more radical revolution. The merchants and artisans who had become enriched by the communal system wanted to have a voice in the political system as well. They called themselves the “Popolo” meaning The People. It suggests a humbler social group, the ordinary people, as opposed to a group of the rich and powerful. This group, the Popolo, was the first truly revolutionary class in modern history.” (pp. 24-25)

Of course we are only up to the earliest chapters in the story of the Renaissance by now. But I present it to you today, dear Readers, as background for what happens next: over the course of the next few centuries, these communes in northern Italy (and eventually Rome, of course) will flourish in all the arts and humanities, experiencing a rebirth of culture never experienced before or after. This rebirth and  consequently creation of the greatest works of architecture, art and writing, music, leading thoughts and discoveries of science, and philosophies concerning being a human being, all happened in a highly concentrated style during the next three centuries, giving rise to the modern western world as we know it today.

For those of you who already know all of this, (and most likely got A’s in European history class in high school) excuse my extremely concise snapshot of this era. Why is it important to know about and understand how the Renaissance came about, and even more, what the Renaissance actually was?

This is a complicated question, without a satisfying answer that says it all. In my opinion, knowing about and understanding where our common ancestors came from, what life was like during those times, and how humans developed their capacity for creativity, artistic vision, genius, and the value of being human itself (known as humanism) is invaluable for those of us who wish to understand these qualities in ourselves in our times. “Know thyself” is one of the basic requisites for developing as a human being, and one cannot truly know oneself if one is unaware of one’s history.

“The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding.” –Leonardo da Vinci
“The true work of art is but a shadow of the Divine perfection.” –Michelangelo
“All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.” –Galileo Galilei

Not only that, but when we study the works of the artists who created the masterpieces of Renaissance Italy during the 14th through 16th centuries, it is impossible not to be astounded. How did he do it, I asked myself as I stared at the paintings on the walls of the Uffizi gallery in Florence. Their faces, their expressions, their hands, the gold paint employed to create an unmistakable magic on the surface of Lippi’s paintings, down to the minutest detail, the ornate carvings in marble, in wood… the imagination of these human beings was utterly astounding. What would it take to have another renaissance of humanity of the sort that would allow that degree of genius to flourish once again on Earth, I wonder. I know I would really love to live in that world, as opposed to the one currently available. Perhaps, as my friend wrote, it could happen through digging to find the profoundly deepest blood of ones’ soul, carved through the fingernails, and through using the finest,sharpest instruments at one’s disposal and bleeding more than one ever thought they possibly could.

[footnote: all excerpts taken from The Renaissance in Europe, Margaret L. King, Laurence King Publishing 2003]

Related articles:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_Renaissance


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Turning pain to planting and power

“The basic concept of City of Joy and V-World Farm in Congo, an integrated vision and program is TURNING PAIN TO PLANTING AND POWER. How do we heal women’s bodies by healing the earth and heal the earth by healing women’s bodies.”Eve Ensler, Vday.org

Now it is another day. And today when I opened my inbox, I found something there which really gave me hope. It was a letter from Eve Ensler, the incredible woman who, through her courage, strength, vision and love (yes there is that L-word again!) is helping women turn their pain into power.

V+Day_City-of-JoyI am SO inspired by this woman!! She is creating a kind of revolution for women, giving them the courage and place to dance, to use their voices, their brains, their hearts and their Womanness to break out of long-entrenched cycles of violence and passivity in all corners of the world. Through Eve’s passionate dedication to lifting up women Everywhere, she has engaged thousands of people (some of whom have prestige, influence, and resources) to rise together and support the struggle to end violence and injustice towards Women. And that is no small achievement, dear Readers.

In honor of International Women’s Day on Friday, March 8th, I would like to present you with a few facts about women in our world.

  1. Women perform 66% of the world’s work, but receive only 11% of the world’s income, and own only 1% of the world’s land.
  2. Women make up 66% of the world’s illiterate adults.
  3. Women head 83% of single-parent families. The number of families nurtured by women alone doubled from 1970 to 1995 (from 5.6 million to 12.2 million).
  4. Women account for 55% of all college students, but even when women have equal years of education it does not translate into economic opportunities or political power.
  5. There are six million more women than men in the world.
  6. Two-thirds of the world’s children who receive less than four years of education are girls. Girls represent nearly 60% of the children not in school.
  7. Wars today affect civilians most, since they are civil wars, guerrilla actions and ethnic disputes over territory or government. 3 out of 4 fatalities of war are women and children.
  8. About 75% of the refugees and internally displaced in the world are women who have lost their families and their homes.
  9. Gender-based violence affects one out of three women and girls in the world.

Sources: http://www.dosomething.org/tipsandtools/11-poignant-facts-about-women-around-world, Amnesty International , US Census Bureau , Women’s Learning Partnership

The website Womensrightsworldwide.org has posted a list of rights that they support for all women worldwide. They state the following:

We believe that all women have certain inalienable rights that cannot be legitimately withheld under the guise of religious or cultural “laws” or “traditions.” All Women ought to have The Right…..

  • to not be physically mutilated

  • to not be killed in the name of “honor”

  • to not be forced to perform or submit to sexual acts

  • to choose whether or not to become pregnant

  • to equal education

  • to have an equal vote

  • to be literate

  • to not be forced to labor without pay

  • to choose their own religion, or lack thereof

  • to have equal access to medical care

  • to have equal driving privileges

  • to leave their home as they wish

  • to leave their country

  • to choose a career

  • to choose their own mate

  • to leave their mate

  • to take legal action against their mate or any citizen

  • to choose their own clothing

  • to be treated equally under the laws of their country

  • to listen to or perform the music of their choice

  • to read or write what they choose

  • to view or create art of their choice

  • to have the same freedoms as others (men) in their society

  • to have free and equal access to information

  • to own property

  • to hold public office

  • to enter into legal contracts

Women in the first world, where most of us live, already have obtained these ‘rights,’ at least in principle. However, there are far more women living in the developing world who continue to be denied these rights and others. It is for this reason that Eve Ensler and all who are supporting her vision are working so hard to help these women. She writes,

“We made a decision four years ago to put our energy into the grassroots women of Congo, to support their visions, their plans, their desires, their futures. To believe in their strength. To find the support for them to heal from gender violence of all forms, to be trained and educated in skills and their rights, to become leaders in their communities so that they could build a grassroots movement that eventually would be strong enough to transform this country and turn pain to power.

In one of our exercises I asked the girls to give themselves a new name, a name that would describe and carry the meaning of who they have become here and then to write their new autobiography. Some of their new names: Star, Light, Victory, Love, Sara (because she was beautiful and she worked), Queen.

There are real health issues here; aids, malaria, women arrive with all kinds of physical and mental problems and illnesses. Many have given up hope, have stopped taking care of themselves and are just waiting to die. Now they glow and shine with a transcendent beauty. Stars, Queens, Light. Their hunger to learn, to take in everything they are taught or given, their strength and their rising is breathtaking. I feel more inspired than ever to continue our work and to see how we can bring more and more girls into this process.

Joy_City_Vday.org

Today in the midst of a wild moment after the celebration of Dr. Mukwege’s birthday, 90 young women were literally dancing Christine, Dr. Mukwege and I down a path. I suddenly understood joy. It’s big, bigger than any one of us. It’s uncontrollable and it’s fierce. It’s more generous than anger and has the ability to make revolution because its tentacles and fire are infinite and it feels good.

I send my love and gratitude from that place which is the City of Joy,

Eve

To read Eve Ensler’s letter and get inspired, follow this link: http://www.vday.org/dearall


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Finding pieces of the new puzzle

Hello again, Dear Readers. The past days I feel like I have energetically found a very fascinating puzzle which I very much want to put together, have taken some of the pieces out, laid them out upon the floor, and am now trying to figure out how to proceed. Only the tricky part is, there is no shiny picture on the box to show me what it is supposed to look like: only a lot of interesting-looking pieces in all sorts of shapes, sizes, colors and textures that I know need to somehow be formed into something very beautiful and important. You see, this puzzle is about humanity’s future, and contains the map of how to get there. It is huge and incredibly interesting work, as I learn with each piece that I find that there are many other clever humans out there in the world who are also working on this same puzzle simultaneously.

This latest trail of the puzzle was prompted by my curiosity about ‘new leadership,’ a very loose term with broad implications. As I began asking what are some models for new leadership in the world, and researching through the internet, what I have been finding is that the word leadership is fraught with old, outworn and outdated concepts and connotations. Instead, people who are concerned with the future and change, are using a whole range of other words to convey new concepts about what people do together in groups, such as business, education, governance, as well as socially. I found one very interesting article, an interview with Michel Bauwens, who runs the Foundation for Peer to Peer Alternatives. Here is an excerpt of this interview:

In 2006, I founded the Foundation for Peer-to-Peer Alternatives. We are a knowledge commons and a global ‘collaboratory’ of researchers into peer production, peer governance, and peer property. I realize I need to unpack these words, so here we go.

Our key belief and hypothesis is that the internet is creating not just a great horizontalisation in communication, but also new forms of cooperation and actual ‘production’, not just of knowledge and code (software), but also the capacity of making things in a wholly new way. It is now possible for people to meet together, declare their joint intention to produce something, and go about organizing this using a combination of ‘virtual’ and ‘physical’ means.

These systems are based on people engaging with their passion, ie. doing things they actually want and like to do, to create a community around it, and to start jointly producing their knowledge online, but also physically coming together in new types of co-working such as hackerspaces, co-working hubs, and the like.

The new rule is: heavy is near, light can be far away, ie. producing locally but cooperating globally. This is happening both from the bottom-up, in every area of human life, in what we call peer production, but also top-down, as existing hierarchical and centralized institutions try to adapt, engage and even co-opt these same possibilities. Thus we have crowdsourcing, collaborative consumption, open innovation and many other trends.

Our purpose then, is to observe and analyze them, but also to work for their advancement, as we believe that freely engaging producers is a great advancement, not just in terms of economic democracy, but also in terms of human life and happiness. So we don’t believe in a utopian future (though there’s nothing wrong with dreaming of a better world) but to actually look at existing practices and seek out how to extend them.

The article, found in http://www.cruxcatalyst.com/2013/02/20/changemaker-profile-michel-bauwens/ calls Bauwens a ‘changemaker’ and I suppose you could also call him a wayshower, futurist, innovator, free thinker, and similar terms. Just within the space of the excerpt there are 10 different terms that might be as unfamiliar to some of you as they are to me. This infers that along with new thinking about humanity’s future comes a whole new language to describe it. Yes, you say, but of course, that is just what happens as new forms and concepts are created, so what?

Well, the so-what for me has to do with the simple fact that in order for people to be able to work, play and live together well, we need to be able to communicate, otherwise known as understanding each other. With the new terms, catch-phrases and lingo being created by the innovation-specialization-systems management segment of society comes a kind of danger; namely that the rest of us regular folk will be left in the dust without a clue as to what in the world these folks are talking about! So language needs to be kept simple and the changemakers need to watch for too much specialization-speak if they really want to change human society as a whole.

“A changemaker isn’t someone who simply wishes for change; they make change happen. They control their destiny through responsibility, integrity and determination. A changemaker doesn’t necessarily have to be a leader, rather someone who is a team player that adheres to their beliefs but approaches every situation with an open mind resulting in the best solution possible. A changemaker not only reaches out to others, but also inspires them to create change in their lives. “–Brianne O’Donoghue (from http://www.sandiego.edu/chalkboard/?p=266)

The articles I have found this weekend are teaching me that what I, as well as they, are really interested in is not a new kind of leadership at all, but rather new ways of being, talking with, working alongside, thinking about one another in social groups, and how these new social forms are now and will continue to shape our future world. Back to Emergentbydesign.com, I read yet more interesting articles by Venessa Miemis, one in particular where she reviews another website’s work called The Lotus.info. Here three researchers, Baan, Long and Pearlman, have written a book about “Authentic Leadership for a Just, Resilient and Thriving World.” Miemis’ blog piece reviews this book, which lays out nine basic principles that leaders should possess for creating a new, improved human world. The principles are:

1. Being Present: Being Present means being fully aware and awake in the present moment – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. This includes connecting to others, the environment around you and current reality.
2. Suspension & Letting Go: Suspension and Letting Go is the ability to actively experience and observe a thought, assumption, judgment, habitual pattern, emotion or sensation like fear, confusion, conflict or desire, and then refraining from immediately reacting or responding to the situation.
3. Intention Aligned with Higher Purpose: Intention Aligned with Higher Purpose is the alignment of one’s authentic nature with one’s internal resonance with manifested actions in the world. This alignment trickles down to all facets of life including one’s personal, professional and spiritual dimensions. “Where your deepest personal passion and the world’s greatest needs align, there is opportunity” (Peter Senge).
4. Whole System Awareness: Whole System Awareness is the capacity to quickly switch between different perspectives, scales and worldviews to see the big picture, interconnections within the system, and being able to scale down to small details. Whole System Awareness is not just cognitive – you ‘sense’ the system. It is the understanding that everything is interconnected within a system.
5. Compassion: Compassion is having unconditional acceptance and kindness toward all the dimensions of oneself and others, regardless of circumstance. Compassion involves the ability to reflect upon oneself and others without judgment, but with recognition and trust that others are doing the best they can in any given situation.
6. Whole Self-Awareness: Whole Self-Awareness is the continual, lifelong process of paying attention to knowing one’s self; it involves consciously and intentionally observing various dimensions of the self (including the physical, mental, shadow, emotional and spiritual realms). It is the capacity to observe how one is thinking, relating, feeling, sensing, and judging. Whole Self-Awareness includes perceptions beyond the rational mind, such as intuition.
7. Personal Power: Personal Power is the ability to use energy and drive to manifest wise actions in the world for the greater good, while being aware of one’s influences on a situation.
8. Dealing with Dualities & Paradox: Dealing with Dualities and Paradoxes is the capacity to sit with ambiguity in a facilitation session, manage polarities, and hold multiple perspectives.
9. Sense of Humor: A Sense of Humor, or ‘light-heartedness’, is the universal experience of simultaneous amusement, laughter and joy culminating from an experience, thought or sensation. (from: Facilitating Transformational Change toward Sustainability , reprinted on http://emergentbydesign.com/2012/01/29/9-personal-capacities-of-authentic-leaders/)

Okay, I say to myself as I read these nine principles, this all sounds just fine and quite self-aware, so far so good. But. In order to create new models of society in which all people are treated respectfully and fairly, everyone can contribute their gifts and talents freely, and all reap the mutual benefits thereof, there needs to be more than a checklist of qualifications that everybody ought to strive towards. So I turn again to the clever commentors on Emergentbydesign.com. In this article (http://emergentbydesign.com/2012/11/01/future-work-like/) Miemis explores new models for work. She asks the following questions:

What if we treated business itself as a platform to support personal and social learning?

How can we create nurturing, immersive environments for workers to satisfy their dispositions and talents? What dispositions do we want to cultivate?

How can we develop a structure for lifelong learning, mentorship and development?

How can we create motivational feedback loops to improve personal performance and modify behavior?

How can we create working environments that increase human freedom and agency to make decisions and be self-directed?

What else should we be asking as we move forward?

I think these are important and excellent questions. I also think they are not easy to understand nor to answer. One commenter replies to this article thus:

“One idea I have is to let go of the concepts of “job” and “work” and instead base a new economy of the concept of “task”. Everyone on the planet is perfectly capable of doing one task at a time. We already have all the social platforms at our disposal, to coordinate tasks. If we build structures around tasks worth doing, these structures will serve us, rather than us serving existing structures.”

Another commenter, Frank Spencer, wrote, “You allude to 2 things… hiring for ability to “learn, unlearn, and relearn”…Organizational needs are changing so rapidly that the jobs that we are hired for may be obsolete by the time we get the hang of it, and this increases the value of those individuals who can “hack” their way into any situation or need. The second idea has to do with applying the sharing model to the workforce and talent, much like bike or car sharing within cities. Today’s work environment and the expectations of a new workforce means that people will be working for multiple employers simultaneously, not exclusively. These 2 concepts alone point to a much more flexible, adaptive, resilient, and transformative future of work.”

Dear Readers, you can see from these various quotes and excerpts what I mean about the puzzle pieces. Bauwens ends his interview with these words, which I find contain wisdom and a real map towards the future that I for one would like to help create:

“Combine a steadfastness based on principles, and a long term vision of your strategy, with an adaptation to emergent realities and what the others and the universe will dictate you as the ‘next step.’ The way is the destination. In all likelihood, you will fail, but if you hadn’t made the effort, it’s much more likely that the world would be much worse off. Find the right mix between selflessness for the goal, and the enjoyment of life, ie., engagement with your own wellbeing, those of your loved ones, and the communities you are engaged with. Listen to your heart, your instincts, but also to your reason. Be integral and integrative, not monological in your search for solutions. We’re all just part of the puzzle, but each part of the puzzle is necessary, so the key is to find your right ‘fit.’

And so the research and finding and fitting together of more puzzle pieces in this vastly complex puzzle called Creating the Future of Humanity continues…. as always, your thoughts and any resources you find helpful are very welcome here.


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Deeply within and without

There is something about the last weeks of February which is simply paradoxical. On the one hand, it is unavoidably the season to go deeply within one’s soul and take yet another long look at what is living there and wishes to be freed. On the other, it is also the time to stretch body and soul, crane one’s neck upwards and apply the principles of vision, orienteering and guidance to one’s life: in short, to both go deeply within and without, cleaning the house whilst mapping out new journeys of the soul and spirit.

And so I am doing both, simultaneously. My dream life has been unbelievably rich, as I have been traveling to many places and meeting many beings, both known and unknown in waking life. On a soul-growth level, lots of work is being done to clear out the underbrush and lifetimes’ accumulations of emotional abuse, pain and suffering in order to move on and ever-upwards during this evolutionary journey we all are on. During the conscious hours of the day, my thoughts are mainly occupied with looking ahead to summertime and working to map out a plan for travel and volunteering in the British Isles. It is high time to go there, says my soul. We’ll help you find out the details, while you provide the commitment and energy to sustain the vision. Okay, then, I reply, I shall!

Healing-bodywisdomIn the meantime, I assume I am not alone in these soul-depths forays. A dear friend in the States wrote to me of a recent experience she had, where she honored and remembered her ancestors’ matrilineal line, and all the accompanying feelings of deprivation and sorrow that washed over her as she worked to release such ancient, painful memories still lodged in her own cellular memory. I read a deeply personal story of transformation by the blogger I mentioned in the last post, Venessa Miemis. I can well imagine that some of you have also been having similarly deep and poignant transformation experiences lately, dear Readers. These kind of experiences are difficult, often painful, and absolutely necessary. One thing that helps me through them is the stark realization that what I am remembering or re-experiencing, is not simply personal, but also collective. It wasn’t only me living that life, going through this or that humiliation, or carrying that life’s burdens, but I am also a conduit, doing the work for perhaps thousands of others, either in the past or possibly who are still encountering oppression, violence, dysfunction and other embodiments of fear right here, right now, in the present moment.

How exactly this works I cannot articulate, I only know that it is true. I re-experience and transform it for others as well as for myself.

Going though a dusty box of books the other day, I found again a cherished volume of poetry I got last spring while back in Wisconsin. Called Cries of the Spirit, it is a compilation of women’s voices full of powerful, moving and beautiful poetry and verse. So in the spirit of the season, and of the wider times we are currently moving through, I share with you some treasures from this book. One is an excerpt called Centering, by Mary Caroline Richards, which I posted last May, and I share with you again because I am struck again by its elegance and power. Another poem, by Marge Piercy, speaks to the theme of circle leadership, something I am thinking a lot about right now. Beginners, by Denise Levertov, speaks to hope and endurance in the struggle for the future of Earth and humanity. I hope you will read and enjoy these poems,  and take some time to contemplate their messages.

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Beginners, by Denise Levertov
But we have only begun
to love the earth.
We have only begun to imagine the fullness of life.
How could we tire of hope? So much is in bud.
How can desire fail? We have only just begun
to imagine justice and mercy, only begun to envision
how it might be to live as siblings with beast and flower,
not as oppressors.
Surely our river cannot already be hastening
into the sea of nonbeing?
Surely it cannot drag, in the silt,
all that is innocent?
Not yet, not yet–
there is too much broken that must be mended
too much hurt we have done to each other
that cannot yet be forgiven.
We have only begun to know
the power that is in us if we would join
our solitudes in the communion of struggle.
So much is unfolding that must complete its gesture,
so much is in bud.

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Councils, by Marge Piercy
We must sit down and reason together.
We must sit down: men standing want to hold forth.
They rain down upon faces lifted.
We must sit down on the floor, on the earth
on stones and mats and blankets.
There must be no front to the speaking
no platform, no rostrum, no stage or table.
We will not crane to see who is speaking.
Perhaps we should sit in the dark.
In the dark we could utter our feelings.

In the dark we could propose and describe and suggest.
In the dark we could not see who speaks and only the words
would say what they say.
No one would speak more than twice.

No one would speak less than once.
Thus saying what we feel and what we want,
what we fear for ourselves and each other
into the dark, perhaps we could begin
to begin to listen.
Perhaps we should start by speaking softly.
The women must learn to say I think this is so.
The men must bother to listen.
The men must learn to stop dancing solos on the ceiling.
After each speaks, she or he will say a ritual phrase:
It is not I who speaks but the wind.
Wind blows though me. Long after me, is the wind.

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Centering (excerpt)
by Mary Caroline Richards

But how are we to love when we are stiff and numb and disinterested? How are we to transform ourselves into limber and soft organisms lying open to the world at the quick? By what process and what agency do we perform the Great Work, transforming lowly materials into gold? Love, like its counterpart Death, is a yielding at the center. Not in the sentiment. Nor in the genitals. Look deep into my eyes and see the love-light. Figured forth in intelligent cooperation, sensitive congeniality, physical warmth. At the center love must live.

One gives up all one has for this. This is the love that resides in the self, the self-love, out of which all love pours. The fountain, the source. At the center. One gives up all the treasured sorrow and self-mistrust, all the precious loathing and suspicion, all the secret triumphs of withdrawal. One bends in the wind. There are many disciplines which strengthen one’s athleticism for love. It takes all one’s strength. And yet it takes all one’s weakness too. Sometimes it is only by having all one’s so-called strength pulverized that one is weak enough, strong enough, to yield. It takes that power of nature in one which is neither strength nor weakness but closer perhaps to virtu, person, personalized energy. Do not speak about strength and weakness, manliness and womanliness, aggressiveness and submissiveness.

Look at this flower. Look at this child. Lock at this rock with lichen growing on it. Listen to this gull scream as he drops through the air to gobble the bread I throw and clumsily rights himself in the wind. Bear ye one another’s burdens, the Lord said, and he was talking law.

Love is not a doctrine. Peace is not an international agreement. Love and Peace are beings who live as possibilities within us.

Related articles:

https://clearskiesbluewater.wordpress.com/2012/05/28/love-and-peace-are-beings-who-live-as-possibilities-within-us/