transformation

Gratitude Postings: a list & an insight

I expect there are some readers who already “get,” along with me, that gratitude is a powerful – even transformative – force. And perhaps some who don't yet get it.

Whatever! You can lead a horse to water, as they say, but you cannot make it drink…

For me, gratitude comes up again & again & again, because it seems to me an utterly essential thing for all of us to practice faithfully. Heads filled with appreciative thoughts tend to lose their negative ones, & how can we ourselves (& the world around us) not benefit from that??

Anyway, rather than start repeating things I’ve already said about gratitude in other postings, here is a list of the ones that focus partly or exclusively on the phenomenon of gratitude. Here they are, in alphabetical order & reached easily using the links [[[[[***** Except these links are all dead now! Go here for a listing of gratitude postings]]]

Janet

p.s. Gratitude is even actually pretty much a radical act in this odd, uniquely rapacious culture of ours. As Joanna Macy has pointed out, “Thankfulness loosens the grip of the industrial growth society by contradicting its predominant message: that we are insufficient and inadequate. The forces of late capitalism continually tell us that we need more – more stuff, more money, more approval, more comfort, more entertainment. The dissatisfaction it breeds is profound. It infects people with a compulsion to acquire that delivers them into the cruel, humiliating bondage of debt. So gratitude is liberating. It is subversive. It helps us realize that we are sufficient, and that realization frees us. Elders of indigenous cultures have retained this knowledge, and we can learn from their practices.” [World as Lover, World as Self – Courage for Global Justice & Ecological Renewal, Joanna Macy, Parallax Press, 2007.]

p.p.s. Gratitude quotes listed here, in the 'Quotation Central!' section.

'Quote of the Day' with this post:  “Just to live is holy. To be is a blessing.” – Rabbi Abraham Heschel

Everyday Magic

<August ‘08>

I’ve written elsewhere about my sensation of being the wealthiest woman in the world. I feel this way for a variety of reasons, I suppose – none of them having anything whatsoever to do with money – but one of them is surely that I am simply a “cheap date,” as it were. I take joy from a hundred things other people don’t even seem to notice.

I see magic everywhere.

For example, to me, gratitude is magic. The more I work on & practice active gratitude for the many blessings of my own life & Life itself, & the wonders of this amazing, wondrous beautiful Earth & Universe, the more I seem to open up to a whole range of other magical phenomena.

Conversation, for example, I find, is surely also quite magical. It can never be predicted or directed or made to go where one has meant for it to go – most often veers wildly off any pathway we’d planned for it – & it too opens things up wide. New thoughts & inspirations are sparked, memories are triggered, & whole new avenues of possibility open up. How many times have I had a spark of inspiration for a new project as a result of conversation? Tons! It’s magical! (For me, writing is much the same. The pen gets into my hand & gets on its way, & away it goes! Out come all kinds of unexpected thoughts & ideas…)

Silence & solitude are magical, too, I think. They’re spacious & wide & opening – & the thought is coming to me, as I write this, that all of these magical things – the things I’ve now long conceived of as “everyday magic” – are opening things. So the thought as I write this is that magic is about opening. Life is about opening. Closing up – being all closed up – is a form of death…don’t you think??

Well. Other magical things…

Walking is definitely magical. One foot in front of the other, destination unimportant – eyes & mind open – and oh, the things that arise! Ideas, gratitude for the beauty of the Earth – sudden solutions to problems rising to the surface, quite entirely unbidden & un-asked for. Peace. Expansion. The feeling of endless possibility.

Laughter! Friendship! Singing!! Talk about opening – we’re wide open when we sing – wide open & empty & also simultaneously full – filled with endless joy & possibility…

I once began a list of examples of “everyday magic” & in the act of writing it found more & more of them as my hand raced across the page. What I realized too, as I wrote, was that all of the examples can be seen & understood to be magical, because each one has the potential to be transformative.

Even simple friendliness! The sun shining down on us – a friend or neighbour or even (especially!) a stranger being friendly to us, out of the blue – greeting us with a smile. For sure, I’ve felt the tone of a day change entirely when someone I don’t know has greeted me with a smile & a friendly “Good morning!”

Ah yes, apologies. Utterly, utterly magical & transformative at times. And again, so opening. Breaking up blocks & hardenings & encrusted resentments.

Honesty. Honesty & openness. Omigoodness, eh? If only people could begin being more honest & open – not walking around all the time harbouring a million secrets & lies (our society seems to me to be built upon secrets & lies – holding a lid down firmly on our potential, or so it seems very much to me). Now, it’s easy for me to say this, because in my case it’s my (Aries) personality that requires me to be open & honest – perhaps too much so, at times, or so it appears, I think, to some of the people in my life….

Resentments are something many of us seem to harbour a lot of – & I think when we learn to do some of the aforementioned magical/transformative things on a regular basis, we also learn to “let go” – yet another magical, transformative, opening-up activity – & since holding onto lots of resentment makes us miserable & hunched & grumpy, it’s definitely magical to learn to “let go,” & dump the resentments. They make us ill & miserable, so who needs ‘em???

Well, I reckon I could go on here some more, listing more examples of what I conceive of as “everyday magic,” but I think by now you’ve surely grasped my point. Magic is about transformation – & about opening – & there is plenty of it all around us, once we open up our eyes to it. In fact, the magic is infinite – because that’s what transformation, magic & opening show us. It’s an infinite Universe, so the potential is also infinite. Our potential is infinite. We are infinite!

Holy smokes, eh??

Janet

 

Transformation Now! (Why Wait??)

<March 3‘09>

I’ve been writing about change for 20 years now; how we need to “change the world” – change the way we do things. After several years of writing & (environmental) activism aimed at changing the world, I had that “Aha!” realization that Buddhists have long spoken of.

If we want peace in the world, we must first find peace within.

This is harder than it sounds, of course. Things always are, hmm?

Well. Life has conspired to keep teaching me useful lessons. Parenthood, marriage & Relationships 101 just keep the lessons coming. It never ends.

The biggest & best one in my life has been about the powerful magic of gratitude. I’ve written about this elsewhere, & it keeps coming up over & over in what I write; sorry to be such a broken record about this, but it’s such a key lesson, I seem to need to keep on & on about it.

Gratitude is magic. When we really practice it in a focused way, it makes us feel different from the in-side out. Another big lesson I’ve learned along the way is that what we focus on expands.

I think a lot of us focus on fear-based feelings an awful lot of the time. We obsess about what we don’t have, have lost, wish we had, can’t have. On jealousy & resentment & victimhood.

“Oh poor me.”

Since what we focus on expands, that stuff fills us right up. It recycles itself endlessly, too, hmm?

Me, I prefer to fill up on the love-based side of the life equation. Gratitude – joy – energy – passion.

And, since what we focus on expands, I tend to be a pretty joyful person a lot of the time.

Now, it so happens I’m in a bit of a personal…shall we say, challenging…patch right now. Some of the tough stuff – loss, loneliness, pain – is very much present at the moment.

So it’s more work than usual, staying joyful & positive.

Gratitude isn’t the only “everyday magic” I call on – I also use daily walking – frequent singing – hanging out with friends – & meaningful work – & writing! – to keep my spirits up.

For sure, though, gratitude is the one that transformed my life, back 12 or so years ago now.

I think there are quite a few things that can help us transform ourselves (& then, hopefully, the world!). Given the current state of the world, I’d say there is a pretty clear need for transformations of many kinds, wouldn’t you? Counselling & books & various sorts of workshops & experiences can be enormously helpful for individual-level transformation – & I’ve made use of many of those too, over the years.(1)

But I’m utterly convinced that gratitude is the very best place for any of us to start.

Janet

p.s. I've done quite a few postings about gratitude. They're all listed on the one called 'Gratitude Postings: A list & an insight.' You can link to all of them from that page.

 

(1) You’ll find information on "4 Great Opportunities for Personal Growth” under the ‘Recommended’ tab on this blog. You’ll also find some really helpful books to read – 2 different lists' worth of good books (one is more for personal-level transformation,the other more, shall we say, globally oriented).

(2) Louise Hay is wonderfully helpful on personal transformation. Her DVD "You Can Heal Your Life" is a gem! 4-minute trailer of the film here

 

Life & Death...& life & death...& so on…

<Nov. 2008>

For the past 13 years, almost anything of any significance that's happened in my life (hmmm – maybe we had better drop that “almost” qualifier) has been seeded by death of one kind or another.

Now don’t desert me, Reader – I’m one of the most ALIVE (& joyful!) people you’re liable to meet; this is not some sort of funeral dirge, alright? Hang in there with me…

The realization that this is so has only come to me in the past 24 hours, although I guess it’s kind of been sneaking up on me for a while.

Last night I attended a showing of the new NFB film ‘Griefwalker’ & listened to Stephen Jenkinson (the movie’s subject) speak about some of his experiences & learnings in the world of palliative care. A week before this, I’d attended a workshop he gave in Peterborough to a crowd of 140 or so palliative care professionals & volunteers.(1)

For some reason, I keep being drawn – over & over again – to the profound experience of people’s deaths. And it isn’t a downer – or at least not wholly so, by a very long shot. It’s deep & opening & rewarding & quite special.

It all began 9 years ago, when my Mom was dying. I hung out at the hospital with her pretty much 24/7 for a while there and was with her when she took her last breath. This was an unexpectedly rich experience. It took me by surprise on a number of levels.

Then, right after I “lost” my mother, a new man came into my life. It kind of set the pattern that Helen Keller articulated when she said, “When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us.”

Two years later my dear friend Irene was killed in a car accident. She was only 40 years old & an incredibly dear, generous, special soul. Her death brought some key new people into my life – people with whom I would otherwise not have had the opportunity to rub shoulders. I’m very grateful for that!

Only a year-and-a-half after Irene’s death, her brother Henry was diagnosed with brain cancer. After a valiant fight, Henry died on Christmas day 2005. I was there with his wife & sister when he took his last breath.

Again, to my surprise, there was much more to the experience than I could possibly have anticipated. For one thing, it was a great honour to be present at Henry’s death. It was an honour to count a man like Henry as a friend; it was very much an honour to be welcome at his deathbed.

Of course, a profound experience like that is bound to change you, at least a little.

Two-and-a-half years after Henry’s death, two more friends were diagnosed with cancer. I spent three weeks with my friend Barb while her partner died, at home, of liver cancer (I wrote about this in the “Near Death Experience” essay).

Again, two & two added up to a lot more than four.

Now, I know I said in the opening paragraph that my death-inspired experiences began 13 years ago, then proceeded to explain only the past nine.

The death that took place 13 years ago was that of my marriage. This was most definitely a death – &, at the time, a huge personal tragedy for me. It was the death of a whole way of life…and for sure, nothing has been the same since.

I’ve been re-born any number of times since that death.

In a sense, I think I could even argue that the end of my marriage was born out of an even earlier birth & death from six years before, when I’d thrown myself into environmental activism.

The death? The death of my innocence, I suppose, or my complacency, at the birth of my incarnation into an environmental activist - when the realization dawned on me that the existence of clean air, clean water & a clean & healthy planet could no longer be taken for granted. As a mother, concerned about the future for my children, I was galvanized into action.

That signalled a new life of purpose for me.(2)  I can’t say I have no regrets – but this is a hugely rich life I’ve worked my way into.

It takes a lot of distance, sometimes, to develop a full & accurate perspective on the events of our lives, doesn’t it?

Stephen Jenkinson, palliative care dude, says in ‘Griefwalker’ “The crucible of making human beings is death.”

I’m pretty sure he’s onto something very big there.

He has plenty of other challenging, insightful & provocative things to say.

Such as, for just one, that we live in a “death-phobic” culture.

Is this not screamingly obviously so?

We fear it, we hate it, we deny it, we shunt it aside; we prolong life to an absurd & even inhuman degree (at both ends of the life spectrum). We do not teach ourselves & each other how to die – or how to die well – &, Jenkinson maintains, in so doing, we fail to grasp that we cannot truly live unless we do it in full awareness (even embrace?) of, our eventual death.

Endings & beginnings & endings & beginnings…all of it an endless circle of life & death – but with so much potential richness & meaning obscured by our refusal to live it with clear vision.

Our denial – our many, many ways of practicing denial in this culture – as individuals, as families, as communities, as a society & a “civilization” – keep us all from living fully – from recognizing & tapping into our truly astounding potential as human beings.

But hey! I’m writing elsewhere about how transformation is not merely free, it’s only a breath (or a thought, or choice) or two away. We needn’t remain “stuck” in any of these unhelpful beliefs & mindsets & behaviours.

Life, after all, is about change, growth & evolution ... is it not?

Karen Kaiser Clark said, “Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely.”

I can’t put it any better than that.

Janet

 

(1) Stephen Jenkinson’s Web site is here. If you go there, you can get on a list for his e-mail newsletters & learn more about ‘Griefwalker’ & the great resources you can order from him.

(2)  Fortunately, not all relationships will necessarily keel over as the result of one partner’s embrace of a new raison d’être. Relationship breakdown is a complex matter, I’ve come to believe, generally involving a constellation of circumstances, not one single factor, event or “reason.”

Landmark Experience

<drafted in October 2005>

It's 3½ years ago now (i.e., Oct. 2005) that I took part in a Landmark Forum weekend. This was a very memorable and, I’d have to say, even life-changing experience.

It was inspiring – enlightening – exhilarating – powerful – emotional – draining – empowering – & transformational!

While there, I gained some major insights about human nature & human society, & also about my own life, shortcomings & unfortunate tendencies.

The language of the Landmark Forum (LMF from here on in) is that we are each “whole, complete & perfect” – a most affirming concept; a valuable, empowering, wonderful, generous concept. One that many of us are able to grasp (if at all) only in an intellectual sort of way. Down in our guts, it probably feels pretty un-graspable for most of us, I suspect…

Importantly, the language of the LMF is not about fixing. However much we may feel broken, we are assured that we are whole, complete & perfect, & that the LMF is not about fixing ourselves (or anyone else!) – it’s about transformation.

Other key LMF terms are authenticity (we learn that many of our relationships have been inauthentic) – possibility (we learn that when we begin to behave authentically, we create possibility) – & integrity.

The LMF weekend is constructed as a series of conversations. The leader has her/his pieces of curriculum to cover (& it’s fairly powerful stuff!) – but much of the real gut-level learning comes from listening to people at the microphones talk about the experiences & lessons of their own lives.

It’s a very emotional weekend. Sometimes the people at the microphone cry; very often those listening cry as well, as I did on more than one occasion.

A key piece of learning that emerges is that all of us have been hurt in our lives – & that, while the circumstances vary widely, the hurts – the emotions – are very, very similar (or the same) from one person to another.(1)

What an amazing (& transformational!) experience to learn that not only is none of us alone (although we sometimes feel that way), we are all in good company – in very, very abundant company – as human beings who have been damaged or hurt.

I ought to point out that not everyone in attendance at a LMF weekend does choose to get up to the microphone – that’s a choice not everyone makes. Some of us (myself among them) learned from the experience that there are some of us who may sometimes need to do a little more listening & a little less talking…a bit of a paradox, in that the power of the LMF is in the magic of listening to & participating in conversation. The power of conversation is very much a strong feature in the LMF…

Another powerful lesson for me during the LMF weekend was that not everything that happens is all about me. This was a huge opportunity & lesson for me. I learned it as the result of a rather negative or charged dynamic that seemed to have sprung up between the LMF leader & me.

This woman seemed to turn a “disapproving mother” face on me, for some reason. I had evidently said something to her that offended her, & for the rest of the weekend she was impatient & curt with me. This was a bit of a challenge for me to deal with, but I got quiet with it, said to myself “Hmm. This feels really, really, really uncomfortable. I wonder, what am I meant to get from this experience?"

What I learned was very valuable. I realized that the “Disapproving Mother” face the leader kept turning on me is probably the very same face I have turned on some of the important people in my own life – & that it sure as heck can’t be a whole lot of fun for them, either!

What I gained from this was a very powerful lesson about mirroring. This woman held up a mirror for me & helped me see something I very much needed to see. It made relating with her pretty awkward – pretty uncomfortable – but hooey! – did it ever teach me an important lesson! This in itself is, I think, a pretty important lesson for all of us. The people in our lives do hold up mirrors for us. If we’re too afraid to look into them, we 'll miss grasping things we'd do well to grasp.(2)

One very key lesson we learned during the LMF weekend is that a lot of what we do in our lives is really a reaction to events that took place a very, very long time ago – that whatever it was that took place, we created a story about it, & we have lived our lives as a reaction to that story we constructed decades & decades ago. In doing so, most of us have robbed ourselves of a great deal of energy, vitality & possibility.(3)

Possibility is a word that comes up a lot in the LMF. “Rackets” & “strong suits” are also discussed. We’ve all created “rackets” that we play out endlessly. For example, a lot of us who were damaged by the behaviour of our parents have learned to play the “Look – see how strong I am now!” game in reaction to our life circumstances. This one has been a significant one in my own life, I reckon. Other ones I can think of are the martyr & the “Oh poor me” victim racket. Plenty of us are caught up in these – or our parents were, & many of us have created our own roles & rackets in reaction to their rackets.

A unique element of the LMF weekend is the frequent exhorting of participants to make contact with family members/loved ones, to begin the work of being authentic with them – then reporting back to the group. (When I attended, there were about 135 in the group, &, as I say, not all went up to the mikes. Too, some folks dropped out as the weekend proceeded; for some, perhaps, LMF methods are not quite their “cup of tea.”)

Creating authentic relationships in the present is a way we can put the past back into the past, where it belongs, & eliminate the endless dramas many of us choose to create in our lives from day to day. This creates vitality & possibility, & who among us can say they don’t want a piece of that? It’s about creating the kind of life we want to live now –  moving into a future of possibility, & not living so much out of our past that we create a present & future that are virtually repeat performances of our now-distant (& not always very pleasant) past.

Another teaching of the LMF is that, when we live out of our past, we tend, among other things, to “make people wrong” – something I know I’ve done plenty – & see many people around me doing also – so reflexively that they are perhaps not even aware they're doing it.

At one point in the LMF weekend, our facilitator led a meditation in which she asked us to confront our fear. I have no way of knowing what others saw or experienced during this meditation – I know that it was a moving & powerful & emotional experience for me. I re-visited a childhood incident – & then recalled a rather significant dream I’d had just before the LMF weekend. What I realized was that some of the fear I experienced in childhood had led me to circumscribe my own potential as an adult – & that, 40 or 50 years later, it is surely past time to drop that ancient fear!

There are some other key, highly useful learnings in the LMF. I can honestly say I can’t think of a single person I know who would not benefit from the LMF experience!

I think far too many of us drag around baggage, wounds & experiences from our childhoods into our day-to-day lives – ancient hurts & grudges, resentments & pain – that hobble our present & our future. Most of us live our lives out of an old, old story that is not merely terribly out-of-date, but also highly unhelpful to us as we attempt to live now. It’s kind of like trying to drive a car down the highway while never facing forward – always relying on the view in the rearview mirror. This way of living limits not only our own selves, but also our relations with the people we love the most.

For me personally, the three LMF days taught me some very useful & practical concepts that opened up for me distinct hope for possibility in my relationships – as well as helping me understand better how so many of us limit ourselves as individuals, & even how we limit ourselves as a species. Real personal & life transformation can & do emerge for some of us as the result of a LMF experience.

In my case, a friend who’d “done” the LMF weekend had offered to pay my way for me (I was in a pretty unstable financial situation at the time). She was convinced that I am “worth it” – & I agree. I am worth it.

I think you are too. We all are. I also know that transformations of a variety of kinds are very much needed here on Planet Earth, at this unique time in human history.

Ask yourself this: what do you have to lose?

Janet

P.S. This is not the only kind of powerful emotional learning experience I’ve had. I’ve also taken part in one-on-one counselling on several occasions. As well, I’ve attended other kinds of workshops. I recommend all of these, including the Art of Living courses & the couples’ workshop on ‘The Dance of Wounds in Couples’ Relationships’ that I attended at Serenity Renewal in Ottawa. Each of these has helped me gain insights for which I’m very grateful. I’m pretty convinced our personal growth is meant to be a lifelong process. These days, I'm reading, re-reading & re-reading yet again, Eckhart Tolle’s book A New Earth – Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose – & also listening (over & over) to his audio CD’s (gaining new insights each time!). This is a very, very challenging world we live in, & it’s also a uniquely challenging time in the history of our species. I think most of us need all the help we can get!?

P.P.S. The posts 'Looking Good' & 'Looking Stupid' may be of interest, since both arose out of musings about LMF concepts.

(1) This was reinforced for me at another weekend workshop I attended – ‘The Dance of Wounds in Couples’ Relationships’. One key emotion I’ve come to think is universal is a sense of abandonment. Many of us have experienced emotional or literal abandonment in any one of a number of possible ways. Our experiences vary widely, but our emotions are very much shared… Feeling abandoned leaves us feeling lonely – scared – unsafe – & alienated. I suspect every human being on the planet has felt abandonment deep in her/his guts at one time or another. It is not a sensation we want to feel often…

(2) I do feel the LMF leader’s behaviour toward me was inappropriate & unprofessional, & it made me sad to think how this tendency on her part (I was not the only one who seemed to meet with her disapproval) probably really did a number on anyone who had actually grown up with a disapproving mother & who was struggling with self-esteem issues as a result. I wrote her a lengthy letter after the weekend to tell her of my thoughts. Like so many things in life, negative situations can lead to great learning. I wish she hadn’t behaved this way…and yet, happily, I was able to gain quite a lot from it.

(3) Of course more recently, many of us have heard much the same kind of message from the inspiring & amazing Eckhart Tolle & his books, CD’s & Webcasts with Oprah….

Everything is all About ME…right?

<written Oct.’06/Dec.‘07/Jan.’09> <much later & similar-in-intent posting called 'Head Up Arse Disease'>

I guess there are a few things we could point to as the root cause of all the messes in this unbelievably mixed-up world we live in, in this the year of our Lord (as they say) 2009.

One of the things that strikes me as a largish problem is that so many of us seem to operate out of a mindset that whispers seductively inside our head – silently, but endlessly – “Everything is all about ME.”

We seem to have (in so many cases) lost the ability to see ourselves as members of a tribe upon whom the wellbeing of all depends – & we seem to think life here on Planet Earth is all about our own very personal gratification.

I think there are at least a couple of major contributors to this very unhelpful (and destructive) mindset.

One is that so many of us are products of terribly dysfunctional families – families in which our most basic needs were not met. We may have been given enough food to get us by, but so few of us were properly nourished – properly cherished.

We learn how to be – how to love and how to be – in our “family of origin.” Far too many of us didn’t get what we needed – what we deserved – & as a result, many of us have tended to spend the rest of our lives trying to fill up the hole that was left inside of us.

Post-World War II, along came television and the advertising business – primed to make us all “look good” through materialism. Pushing product was their raison d’être (a mighty profitable one, I might add), and now we’re all saps for products that promise to make us rich/attractive/thin/happy – but which in fact very seldom indeed live up to those endless seductive promises. (1)

Why did our parents mess us up the way they did? Why have our families screwed up so badly?? Well – they were only passing along what they had learned, Gentle Reader; they were doing the best they could under very-much-less-than-ideal circumstances of their own. And so on, and so on, back through the generations. Think war, Reader – generation after generation of patriarchy and wars that crippled men and fathers and women and families and children… on & on & on…

What can we see in our mind’s eye if we peer way, way back in human history?

A time when human beings lived in tribes – in very small communities. A time when it was neither expected nor even conceived of that the so-called “nuclear family” – one mother, one father & a bunch of young’uns – could ever be enough for each other.

Imagine a time when each baby was born into a tribe of people who looked after her every need from Day 1. She was fed, clothed, held & played with – & her village was a community of people who cared for her and for all her brothers, sisters and cousins. All of them people s/he could trust. Parenthetical thought: for some folks on the planet – unlike for me and my white fellow citizens & our ancestors – this kind of life has existed almost up to the present day, although of course those of us reared on the “Everything is all about ME” philosophy have been relentlessly eradicating such conditions as we speak… We want their land, we want their diamonds, we want their oil, we want their uranium. We have wanted and we have been helping ourselves to all these things for hundreds of years now (colonialism and capitalism, yes?), & on we go, wanting, & wanting & wanting...

So…most of us are not properly nourished as children, & we then go on to fail similarly with our own offspring. We tell them that clothes & houses & cars & machines & toys & gadgets will fill them up – & we rape & pillage our way all over the face of the Earth in our desperate attempts to prop up an entire civilization (I use the term loosely) predicated on the notion that “Everything is all about ME.” And we fail to properly nourish our children’s innocent, trusting, incomparable souls…

Well…so what? you ask. What else is new?

What’s…well, not new, exactly, but pressing, very pressing surely – is the state of our world today, on the eve of another year. I think there cannot be too many intelligent, thoughtful people among us who think things are just ducky here on Planet Earth today.

What are we all waiting for? Are we waiting for “Someone Else” to effect our own transformation & the other transformations that are required? No one & nothing can transform us but ourselves, people.

Change begins where we are. We can begin our own with as simple a practice as the frequent self-reminder, “Everything isn’t all about me.”

We are all on this lovely Earthship together, dear Reader, as surely as rivers & lakes & sky don’t recognize borders & air & water pollution know no boundaries.

We are all connected, the way the spokes of a wheel are connected & necessary to one another and to the functioning of the bicycle.

The world’s religions (some of them, anyway) have been trying for thousands of years to help us grasp the deep mutuality of everything and everyone on the planet, but our tendency (both individual and collective) to be petty and small-minded mires us in self-serving rules and regulations and nonsensical notions about exclusivity. (I recall once seeing a cemetery with a sign over the entrance that said “Christian Cemetery.” I thought “Omigoodness, how absurd is that??”)

I don’t say organized religion is useless (although I do believe it has done and continues to do much harm), just that we need to transform or transmute the divisiveness that much of it seems all too determined to perpetuate. (I like to joke that I don't like organized religion & much prefer the unorganized kind...)

What if we try living out the radical notion that God/Allah/the Creator/the Great Spirit/the Goddess/Christ is in-side us rather than out-side?  This challenges us to act well at all times & in all situations, not just on “holy days” or when someone else is watching – or, at the very least, it can help us strive to be the best person we can possibly be – all the time.(2)

“Everything isn’t all about me” as a mantra, often repeated, reminds me frequently that my thoughts & actions matter, that sometimes (often, even) my own selfish desires & schemes & agenda may have to be set aside for the sake of a greater challenge or good. It’s also true that when I think and behave well & unselfishly, the benefits come back to me just as much as they benefit those toward whom I’ve behaved well or unselfishly. “What goes around, comes around,” as they say, hmmm?

I can think of a hundred things and situations – a thousand! – that can and will benefit if more of us begin to recite this simple mantra regularly.

Dysfunctionality is all around us – no question. It’s in every family, every institution humankind has created (think health care, government, politics, bureaucracy, educational system, “justice” system…and any other system you care to name) – but it is not an incurable disease.

Much, much help, and much, much healing are available.

Actually, they aren’t just available; they’re all around us! And in-side all of us. They are no further than our very own thoughts.

Miracles and transformation are really only a breath – a thought – away.

Change begins where you are.

Make that two new mantras that can help us all!

Janet

(1)  Watch the 20-minute video ‘The Story of Stuff’ for some powerful insights on this score… 

(2) I think we ought never to discount the power of our personal conscience. I think we need to make it a personal discipline to live according to our conscience (assuming we have one) – not by some seat-of-the-pants ethic of “Well, everyone else is doing it, so I guess I might as well do it too…” I find it a very useful personal guideline to act according to my own conscience, then detach from the outcome. What comes out of what I do is not the point; doing what I believe is right, is.