When Changing One Thing Changes Everything

Keystone XL demonstration, White House,8-23-20...
Keystone XL demonstration, White House,8-23-2011 Photo Credit: Josh Lopez (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I had planned to write about my own personal journeys with change today, but then read Julia Butterfly Hill’s blog about the Keystone XL pipeline, which made me reconsider what to share this evening.  You can read my earlier reblog to connect to her informative blog if you are so inspired.

This pipeline is a controversial subject, especially for people like me who have been involved with sustainability projects.  Most environmentalists I know are vehemently opposed to this project.  Many of them banded together to get Obama to stop the project and seemed to have succeeded.

As Julia’s blog shows, Obama then went on to reverse course and expedite the project. I have to believe he did this primarily for political reasons to get re-elected.  I understand  his choice when at least half the country is more concerned about the price of gasoline than a pipeline that they will never see. This reversal gets very little media coverage, and it makes me sad that most people don’t understand the impact of this pipeline.  If this pipeline goes through, it could be a change that causes immeasurable damage.  Yet, not everyone agrees including Paul Ryan.

As someone who cares deeply about green issues, I find myself wanting to vote for the green candidate, Jill Stein, who was not allowed or asked to participate in the presidential debates this week, and was actually taken to jail for trying to enter the debates.  You might read Democracy Now to get another perspective of current events in America.  Unlike some other countries like Germany, a green party doesn’t get much respect in America.  Unfortunately, Romney is so anti-environment that if I don’t vote for Obama I’m likely voting for an even dimmer future for America.

I had planned on writing about the concept that sometimes changing one major thing in our life can affect the entirety of our lives deeply. My move to a new home this fall has been like that for me.  It’s been a fresh start that has changed my whole way of living.

I wonder what would it take for America and the broader world to have a fresh start. Is there one thing that we could all agree upon to change in our collective life and society that would change everything for the better?

I believe increasing our support of safeguarding the ecosystems that support life on this planet is incredibly important.  I also believe we have the technology now and the capacity to make the world into an Enchanted Oasis for all life, but don’t have the collective will to do so.  Yet maybe the most important change isn’t greening the planet, maybe it’s something else.

Perhaps the most important change to make that happen would be to elevate the status of women around the world.  For if we look at those who are fighting for health, for peace, and for a more beautiful green earth, we see the importance of women like Rachel Carson to  Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma and Wangari Maathai in Africa.  Imagine if all women had greater power and respect.

What big change would you love to see happen that might change everything for the better?

Today’s Contemplation:

Is there one thing that you could change that would improve every area of your life?

Is there one thing that working with others you could affect change that might broadly improve the future for everyone?

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The Value of the Exhaustion of Repetition

Louisville, Kentucky

I love driving on road trips.  I don’t mind that the highways can all look the same after a while, or even the exhaustion of driving thousands of miles.

In fact, there is a special value to the exhaustion of repetition that road trips provide, at least for me.

I find that a good road trip clears my mind, and despite the monotony at times, all roads are a little different.  My soul and heart feel alive when I’m on the road to a place I’ve not visited before.  The more I travel the U.S. to our various national parks,  the more I love and appreciate our earth as the vast and varied enchanted oasis that it is.

Do any of you enjoy the meditative-like qualities of road trips?

Daily Contemplation:

Is there any activity that brings you value from the exhaustion of repetition?

P.S.  We are all fairly exhausted from our first day of travel to Louisville.  We’re only passing through on this trip. Even though to me it wasn’t a very long distance, 4 hours sleep the night before the trip began didn’t help.  Nevertheless, it’s great to be out on the road again.  Hope to have some road trip photos to share soon!

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Creating an Enchanted Oasis in a World Where Violence Too Often Occurs

Enchanted 1955

I had planned to share a post on symbols of enchantment today, but with the latest tragic gun violence in Colorado last night, it seemed appropriate to talk about the challenges of daring to live an enchanting life when we live in a world that is filled with injustice, tragedy, and senseless actions of the few that affect the many.

Whether we see senseless violence in the world or ongoing injustices, we can feel that creating peace and beauty for ourselves is frivolous or a way of burying our heads in the sand.

I felt a tinge of guilt for my own prosperity when I was reading Behind the beautiful forevers Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity  a book by the Pulitzer prize-winning journalist, Katherine Boo, about life in the slums of India.  She spent four years observing Annawadi, a makeshift settlement in the shadow of luxury hotels near the Mumbai airport.  As I read the book, I couldn’t help but be struck by the injustice of so much wealth juxtaposed next to such dire poverty.  For most of us, the way forward is not to all become impoverished but bring balance to our abundance and prosperity.

Yesterday, I heard a riveting radio program that talked about research that has shown that countries where income inequality is high experience increases in a large number of undesirable effects including mental illness, while countries with greater income balance experience more of the good things we all want. In my other blog, I wrote about the increasing amounts of data pointing to the societal problems caused from income inequality in America and other countries around the world.   You might be surprised to find how poorly America shows up on the income inequality scale, or maybe you wouldn’t if you have been paying attention to what has been happening in this country during the last 30 years.

We are living in a time when the questions for all of us include:

  1. How do we keep our heart and mind open to the injustices and tragedies in the world, at the same time that we allow ourselves to experience and create enchantment in our own lives?
  2. Can we use positive thinking and prayers to change the inequities in the world around us?
  3. Is there a change we feel called to make in our own lifestyle?
  4. How can we improve lives for ourselves and help others when we live in less than ideal cultures and social systems?
  5. Can we do something to change the inequalities in our own world?

When I hear or read about a tragic event like the shooting in Colorado, I choose to focus not only on the causes of the senseless violence, but on the outpouring of the kindness of strangers to those who have been hurt.  There is so much goodness in the world, and we need to remember that too.

The enchanted symbols that I’ll return to discussing tomorrow can help us realize that our questions are the same ones that humans have struggled to answer for millennia.  Perhaps seeking a more enchanting life individually can lead to new understandings of how to create a better world for all of us.

Remembering the Strength of Interdependence on Independence Day

The Earth seen from Apollo 17.
The Earth seen from Apollo 17. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Happy 4th of July to American readers!

This is an important day for so many of us Americans, because America has always been a country that values freedom and independence.

On this day of celebration, I also want to mention a strength of American character that we don’t always remember.  At our best, Americans are not just masters of independence, we are also masters of interdependence.  We care about the whole world, not just America.

My family experienced this gift of interdependence this week, when so many of you kindly sent well wishes and prayers from around the world for our little Lhasa Apso Ginger, who is doing much better now.  I believe the energy you sent made a difference!  I’ll share an update about her in another post.

Today, I want to remember our deep strengths of interdependence in not only America, but most places in the world.  The majority of us care about family, community, fairness, social equity, and prosperity.  We sacrifice so that our children can have better lives than we did.  We do our very best to make the world a slightly better place because we are in it.

Lately, many of us have realized that America’s culture and economic systems aren’t optimized to help the whole of America to prosper.  Economists have noted that the majority of middle class Americans have seen our standard of living decrease in the last ten years.  Despite advances in technology and productivity and global interconnection, the wealth created by the work of millions and millions of people has largely been absorbed by a small percentage of our population.  Americans have had tough times like this before, but never has the disparity between rich and poor been so great as it is now.  Perhaps, that’s because we have glorified money and independence too much.

Yet, money is not our real problem.  Money is only valuable because we give it value, and our political and economic systems exist only because we allow them to keep going.  If enough Americans chose to live differently, our lifestyles could change dramatically for the better.

My intuition makes me quite optimistic.  I believe a positive global change is underway and that we are on the brink of a better era in both American and global history.  I see this as a new collective energy moving into the world.

We are moving into a new era when both independence and interdependence are required.  In America, we can choose to be masters of both aspects of human character because the foundations of respect for human life give our country strength.  If we lose our connection to interdependence, our independence means very little.

Yet going forward, I believe honoring ourselves and others for past and current positive change is more helpful than blaming others for past and even current mistakes.

I’d like to suggest that you honor yourself for the choices of interdependence and independence that you have already made in your life.

If you have the time in the next week or so, ask yourself this question:

How do I use my independence, including my special gifts and talents and unique voice, to strengthen the ties of interdependence in my part of the world?

There are probably many ways in which you already do this, but maybe you could do even more.

The more you become a master of both independence and interdependence, the better this world will become!  None of us can make the world a better place alone, but working together we can create miracles.

Have a wonderful Independence Day and don’t forget to remember all of those men and women who gave their lives out of a sense of interdependence to create your freedom!

Savor Your Freedom

Fireworks
Fireworks (Photo credit: brianteutsch)

As we approach Independence Day here in America,  I wanted to give thanks for the freedoms that I hold dear in my life.

  • The freedom to pursue my dreams whether or not they lead to fame and fortune.
  • The freedom to share my authentic voice as a woman, knowing this is not true in too many places in the world.
  • The freedom to value time more than money, and live my life unconventionally.
  • The freedom to care for my body and be a master of my own life.
  • The freedom to make mistakes and not have my whole life defined by one mistake or set of mistakes.
  • The freedom to live by my own set of beliefs.
  • The freedom to travel across this big and beautiful country with my family

This is just a short list of the freedoms that I treasure. You probably have your own list.

What freedoms  do you hold dear?

Take some time to savor them this week!

Quantum Leaps and Summer Vacation

English: The Quantum Leap
English: The Quantum Leap (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I work on the plans for our family summer vacation today, I started to think about the opportunity we have to make quantum leaps.

I have tended to like summer and winter because they are times when certain expectations slow down.   I don’t usually associate these times with quantum leaps.  Instead,  I’ve tended to see these seasons as ones when big changes aren’t really possible.

Yet, I have to remind myself that remarkable discoveries, breakthroughs and accomplishments can happen at any time. If you could make a quantum leap in any of your life or your whole life in the next three months, what would it be?

I’m taking my family on a road trip this summer.  In the course of a few weeks we’ll be driving across a couple thousand miles of roads across America.

English: Redwood Sequoia sempervirens forest i...
English: Redwood Sequoia sempervirens forest in California (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A few years ago, we drove 5000 miles in 9 days.  There was work involved in that trip, but compared to what it would have taken a hundred years ago to make the same trip, it was simple.  The ability to make a cross country trip is a quantum leap that we don’t think about much.

I’m just an average American, with perhaps an above average love of road trips.  For me, making road trips is easy, fun, and part of a long-term goal for my kids.

For some people, taking a vacation every year is a frivolous, waste of money.  I sometimes wonder if people who can’t see the value of travel also have trouble making quantum leaps.

There’s something about going on adventures to places you’ve never been that deepens your ability to believe that things can change drastically in an instant.   You see different ways of living are possible when you travel Within a few hours, sometimes even a few minutes, you can be seeing an entirely different type of landscape and culture.

Quantum leaps aren’t limited to travel.  They are all around us.  And some of them are making us nervous, because quantum leaps in outsourcing, technology, etc are changing the way of life in America.  We don’t tend to notice how available quantum leaps are to us.  If we don’t take advantage of the tools that humankind has created, we won’t make the journeys or quantum leaps that we could.

What would you really love to do in the next 90 days that you’ve never done before? With some imagination, determination, and focused play, you just might surprise yourself at the places you could see or the person you could become.

For today, just imagine what it would feel like to make a quantum leap in the next 90 days!

Perhaps over the next few days, together we can brainstorm some ways to radically change our lives, which aren’t necessarily magical, but leave us feeling that life is bigger and more wondrous than we imagined!

Are You a Master of Your Destiny?

Certificate of the Master title in the United ...
Certificate of the Master title in the United States of America. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I once had a teacher who taught that each person would be wise to work towards becoming a Master of their own life.  To do this, she said we need to learn how to serve others.

 

There all kinds of masters.   We can become masters of our craft or career.  Some people are the master of their family.   Others master their time on earth.

If all masters served their students or followers or a higher good, I would find the term master to be something to seek after.  Unfortunately, being a master has often provided opportunities for abusing power over others. I tend to associate with patriarchal power used against the defenseless.

 

Yet, there is something about becoming a master of our own destiny that is an inherent aspect of not only American culture but personal development.  The type of master that has most appealed to me in recent years is becoming a spiritual master.  I have seen glimpses of the one reality that underpins all of life during my spiritual questing in the last few years.  There were even times when I have been able to hold on to states of bliss for months on end.  However, attaining bliss is not a form of spiritual mastery that satisfies me when so much of humanity deserves to be able to live in states of greater security, balance and comfort.

 

skills-3
skills-3 (Photo credit: Vancouver Island University)

It bothers me that the technology and skill to feed everyone on the planet exists, yet I’m not sure what I could do to help that process.  The earth is the home to billions of people who if we could work together could create paradise on earth. Instead, most of us stay stuck living the same old materialist life.

It’s not so much that there are a few people who are truly evil that are making the rest of us suffer.  It seems to me that the problem lies in the challenge that we don’t know how to master collaborative living.

In America, we have a country of basically good people in America who can’t come to agreement on how to move into the future, even though we all know the visions for the next era of human growth cannot be the same as the last era that brought us to this stage of our development.  It’s not just the top 1% of America that is clinging to a materialist way of life, it’s much of our society.

 

A composed satellite photograph of North Ameri...
A composed satellite photograph of North America in orthographic projection. The observer is centered at (40° N, 95° W), at Moon distance above the Earth. Español: Imagen de satélite de América del Norte (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My sense is that the earth and nature want to teach us a new way of being a master, and for the next few days I’ll share some ideas about the era of learning self-mastery in partnership with nature, as well as the idea of collaborative mastery without all of us becoming borgs or robots.I sincerely hope that North America can take the lead in a new kind of personal and group mastery.

We have the resources to do this if we can find the will and wisdom!