Posts Tagged ‘change’

“Today I am grateful for love over hate, yes over no, the future over the past, hope over fear and WE THE PEOPLE over billionaires, corporations and Super PACs.  VERY VERY VERY grateful!”

That’s what I wrote on FaceBook on November 7.  It’s been a long and often vitriolic election season.  Our country has been so divided.  And, as was true for me in another highly charged time – 1968 and 1972 – it has affected me personally as the political divide in my family has caused pain on both sides.

When I was a child one of my father’s maxims was “if  you  can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all” – and after the obvious differences in our family got highlighted with the whole Chik-Fil-A anti-gay-marriage event, my upset has kept me from my blog.

But I woke up on the morning of November 7 after what was, for me, the single best overall election in my lifetime of voting, realizing that I had just participated in a historic event.

The tide has been turned.

The discord isn’t over and there are challenges ahead.

But a very significant change has occurred – we have crossed a threshold and there is no going back.  America, which has been slowly and inexorably changing, crossed a tipping point.  Ward and June Cleaver are dead – the new day has dawned!

The coalition of purported ‘minorities’ are, in fact, the new majority – Latinos, African-Africans, Asians, and single women.

This nation has long been known as a melting pot – and now that reality is the new order.

One of the insightful articles I read (Manchester Guardian? Josh Levs? How I wish I had bookmarked and can’t now find it) said that this election showed that the culture wars of the sixties won.

20 women senators! Our country’s first gay senator!  Gay marriage gets a boost in 4 states – from the PEOPLE, not the courts!

When I was young we dreamed of, longed for, and some worked towards “The Revolution.”  It took 44 years, but it has finally come to pass!

Now comes the work that I personally mapped out for myself at the beginning of this year, and from which I got sorely distracted by divisive politics – Create. Positive. Change

I am very excited about the prospects for America.  I believe in Hope.  I believe in Forward.  I believe in – and embrace – positive change.  Most of all, I embrace “We the People”.  And, as I posted on FaceBook – I am SO energized and ecstatic that We the People won:

“WE THE PEOPLE won – Not the Koch Brothers, Not Addleson, not Citizens United, Not corporations – WE THE PEOPLE.”

God Bless America, land that I love!

From the most re-tweeted tweet ever – victory!

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“Supply Change”

My ‘cousin’ Tone in Oslo who is a writer covering the fashion industry just posted an article from “Tout Le Monde” about a new organization called “The Supply Change.”  Besides being a clever take on the rather boring business term “supply chain”, I found it a perfect directive for all of us!

The Supply Change organization has a very cool website and is about sustainable fashion.  I could not be further from a fashionista so I’ll let my more sartorially elegant friends check that out (though the site is just gorgeous to look at).

I’m just delighted with that directive:  Supply. Change.

I also read this morning (only up 28 minutes and look at all this information I’m consuming) that seniors who are physically active – even those in the 80+ crowd – can stave off dementia and Alzheimer’s.  The seniors at risk are those most sedentary.

These two thought streams DO tie together with a maxim I used to spout back in my first big corporate job:  Act or be acted upon.

It seems like many people’s lives are ruts, interrupted by externally imposed chaotic change.

It doesn’t have to be that way.  Yes, life will throw you curve balls – of that we can be sure.  But if we are masters of change – because we are SUPPLYING CHANGE – not just reacting to it, the externally imposed change will be less disruptive.

I’m getting some real-world ‘put your money where your mouth is’ experience on this subject this week as I start yet another new job (as an IT contractor starting/stopping work is part of the deal).  A colleague from my last assignment lost her job recently in a spate of layoffs and the whole process of job seeking is a foreign land to her.  It’s disruptive.

So a big thanks to my ‘cousin’ Tone for her post on this intriguing organization, Supply Change, and the opportunity to add a subtitle to my year’s theme (Create.Positive.Change).

How about you – are you SUPPLYING Change or being assaulted by it?  I’d really like to know!

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I started my new contract IT job yesterday.  I was talking to my dad about it Sunday, and started to tell him some hesitations I had.  I had barely begun to voice my fears/negative expectations when my wise father said:

“Diane, stop!  Don’t even begin to think that way.  Go in with an open mind and positive expectations and do your best.”

Isn’t he smart?!

I also have added the injunction to go in with an open heart.  Warmth towards my fellow-travelers on this part of the journey.  Sure knowledge that they are teachers are on my path (else they would not be there).  And that, like me, they are complex beings – filled with joys and sorrows – and a wee bit of baggage that has nothing to do with me.

I got to work and all the usual technical craziness of a first day on the job as a contractor were non-existent.  My new company obviously has onboarding contractors down to a science – it was so easy!  And I get to sit across from my friend Sam!

Even reading the 85 page technical design document (after lunch, no less!) was much more interesting than dull.

Miracles happen when I show up willingly and with an open heart.  I am grateful.

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Create. Positive. Change.

Create Positive Change – that’s my theme for 2012.  A Facebook meme asked that question – what are your three words for 2012?  “Create positive change” — alternately “Create. Positive. Change” (more on that in a moment) came to me immediately.

Temperamentally, I tend towards ‘warrior’ energy.  Fighting Irish? Well, that’s likely part of it.  My astrological community would cite natal Mars conjunct the Sun and the Midheaven.  Yep.  Oldest kid in  a family with a sick mom – I was “Hector the Protector”.

So my inclination is to fight for what I believe in.

But I’ve noticed that sometimes ‘fighting for change’ (which I believe can be positive) has turned into kvetching – which is another form of powerlessness.

In case I didn’t get that my theme was the correct one for me for this change-laden year, it was presented quite clearly yesterday.

I hadn’t been attending my Unity church for a few months and with a little prompting from my church-friend Jane, I decided to go back on Sunday morning.  Pastor Tom Wendt’s sermon included a great visual of this same principle.  He had two vases on the lectern.  One held 3 lovely long-stemmed yellow roses.  The other held 3 rose-stems – with no flowers, lots of thorns and very wilted leaves.  He asked us which we’d like to receive as a bouquet.  Why, the yellow roses, please!  But then he said what he’s seen people do is to put away the lovely yellow roses and spend a lot of time complaining about, critiquing and railing against the wilted/flower-less roses.

Oh.  Yeah.  I do that.

There’s a bumpersticker I like that says “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.”  I think that’s true.  We live in a transitional time and the order that is passing away is decidedly following Dylan Thomas’s advice – “Do not go gentle into that good night – rage, rage, against the dying of the light.”

Every day I am outraged.  And I read a lot – and what I’ve been reading gives me more facts with which to become even more alarmed, upset and angry.

But I’m not so sure those are the facts that are serving me right now.

We live in a culture where Tom’s yellow roses have been yanked away from us – leaving us with the wilted stems.  I can bemoan that.  Or try to go grab the flowers from the rich guys who stole them.

Or I can tend the garden I have and create beautiful new flowers – so abundant, beautiful and lovely that I’ll end up, down the road, being glad that I didn’t settle for 3 yellow roses when the whole world was there waiting for me to be its gardener.

When I break down my theme for 2012, I like what I see:

Create.  I’m WAY happier when I am creating – be it a blog entry, a baby-blanket (and since my family is running wild with babies, I have plenty of opportunities!), a lovely meal, a new friendship.  It’s an exponential win when my creativity nourishes others in some way, too.  Creativity – yes!

Positive.  My farm-girl grandma used to say “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” (I always wondered about catching flies, but then I didn’t live in a drafty old farm house).  We’re drawn to positive messages of hope.  I really DO understand, at an emotional level, why the right-wing veers away from ‘inconvenient truths’ when the message is delivered as ‘thou shalt not’.  I don’t applaud putting one’s head in the sand, but I get how human nature would rather hear good news.  So I like celebrating the good news that surrounds us (ala Ode Magazine!)

Change.  A common conception is that people don’t like change.  I must not be a people, because I DO like change.  Not all of it, and certainly I very often resist change not initiated by me – at least at the start.  But when things are difficult, the prospect of change is liberating.  Hope-giving.  Affirming.

A favored quote – one which I like so much that it is on a prominent bumpersticker on my car – is “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”  So in 2012, I will create positive change.  And I will create.  I will be positive.  I will change myself, my attitudes, my focus.  Yep, I still see that weedy garden.  I see the rich guy hogging the flowers he stole from us.  But I’m going to focus on growing love, beauty, community, justice and peace.

Wanna join me?

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Mondays are Physical Day here at Taking it to the Streets

Usually on Mondays I write about food, or sustainability or things about Planet Earth.  Today I ***should*** make it Politics Day with the big event of Osama bin Laden’s death.

My topic though is much more personal to me today.  And it involves a little test for you, my readers, if you’re willing to humor me (test at the end – trust me, it’s easy).

This past winter I had 5 deaths in 14 weeks.  Followed by a $10,000 tax return.  It was a heady combination.  Watching my friend die of cancer was probably the hardest thing in my life and besides making me sad, angry, frustrated, and, at times, feeling hopeless, it also made me fall in love with being alive and all that it entails.  I live in my head – a lot.  Books, the Internet, even conversation with others – all very heady activities.  I use my head to make money (IT stuff).  My body?  Well, it hauls my big brain around, doncha know (and my big mouth, too…)

After Becky’s death I knew I had to engage more fully in life and live a bit more full out.  Mary Oliver’s dictum rang in my ears “What are you going to do with your one wild and precious life?”

I bought a Harley Davidson motorcycle.

Bought it at the end of March and haven’t said a word, except to a very small circle.  Took the class to learn to ride this past weekend.  My plan had been to take my licensing test this morning, pass the test and maybe possibly ride to the home of my friend Annemarie (Becky’s widow) soon to show her.  Look! Here’s my response to death stealing our Becky away – I am saying YES to living out loud!

Well, I didn’t pass the test —– yet!  I found that motorcycles are very visceral and while I have zero test anxiety with mentally-based tests (even those on which I end up doing not terrific – I’m always calm) I was beyond anxious about this test.  Which kind of nailed me.  To my astonishment, in part of the test I was going too slow (if you’ve driven in a car with me you’d know why this seems quizzical).

So my friends Kim and Candace and Bill K will all help me learn and I’ll take the test again and I’ll pass and then I get to be a Harley chick – well, then and a few thousand hours of riding. 

So I was thinking I should wait to say anything publicly until I had the motorcycle license.  But I decided that’s my ego getting in the way of letting my body have a chance for once.  So even though my ego says “never admit you’ve failed – show up triumphantly”, my body wanted me to tell you:

Hey! I got a Harley! And I can ride a motorcycle!  Not perfectly, not great, not fast and I’m not fabulous at shifting gears – but guess what?  I can ride a motorcycle!  Whoo hoo!

I get to be reborn to being a different me – in many ways regaining the sense of wildness and freedom of my youth but without all the troublesome intoxicants involved.  If this turns out as I think it will, I believe it will add to my spiritual path – the whole reason I’m drawn to motorcycling is the visceral oneness with the bike and nature and me.  And my friend Kim says she’ll have me out there riding with her in no time flat. 

So here’s the test (my ego wanted some payback for letting the body steal the show) – if you’re one of my Facebook friends and you’ve read this blog, don’t give away our little secret directly – but do post something along the lines of “Vroom!” on my page.  Just enough so I know you read it, but not enough to spill the beans yet.  Game?

Oh – a few postscripts: Yes, I have a permit (so I’m allowed to go out with licensed riders and practice). And yes, I will always wear a helmet. And no, I don’t have a death wish.  And, yes, it was every bit as fun as I thought it would be – and that was only in first and second gear!

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Building on yesterday’s post here’s my initial proposal to start a TRUE revolution in this country.  The America I grew up in was the leader of the world in virtually all measures – not a plutocracy, with people’s day-to-day quality of life falling behind. I think we can use the Army of the Unemployed to turn this ship of state around.  Please dialogue with me – this is simply an initial offering.


  • LifeSchool – learning what we REALLY need to know; each one teach one
  • BodyShop – real HEALTH with CARE – taking back our bodies, not turning them over to BigPharma
  • Earth Forces (the REAL “Green {Hats}”)
  • S.O.S. – Save Our Society

Program overview

We all have talents and abilities.  The unemployed, the retired and the generous have time to donate.  There are ghost-towns of empty buildings available.  Instead of “wasting time in the unemployment lines, standing around waiting for a promotion” (nod to Tracy Chapman); instead of waiting for the government or (imho, worse yet) the corporations or the rich – let’s roll up OUR shirtsleeves ala Greg Mortenson and turn this ship around.  So this is all about things regular people could do by, for and with each other (remember the Gettysburg Address).  OUR country – not the rich people’s or the corporations (or, to give a nod to my friends on the right – of the government).


Let’s set up free schools with volunteer teachers and administrators (or – someone who can write grants, write a grant to get money for building space and a SchoolMom/SchoolDad – someone to organize the thing).  “each one teach one” – people who know things can teach people who want to learn those things.  I see 5 initial curriculum:

  • Strengthening your Self (personal skills, including a tie-in to BodyShop)
  • Strengthening your Relationships – relationships of all kinds:  parenting classes, negotiating skills, marriage-strengthening, getting along at work, etc.
  • Work and Money Skills – Create your own job, find a job, job skills, money 101, investment classes, frugality, buying a house, anti-foreclosure classes
  • LifeSkills – cooking, plumbing, fix your car, write a grant, gardening, etc.
  • Save the World – getting beyond yourself to help your community, the world, how to make a difference, setting up your own Grameen-Bank-like skill/money co-op, etc.

BodyShop (REAL Health CARE – taking charge of your own health)

  • Natural Healing classes of all kinds (herbs, Chinese medicine, ayurveda, first aid)
  • Fitness Camp – personal training you can do at home with very little equipment or info about cheap gyms, etc.  Free classes (spin, aerobics, circuit training)
  • Food & Nutrition – cover basics, nutritional defense for specific diseases, build your immune system, fast and easy nutritious meals, eating healthfully when you’re broke, good food for people who don’t like to cook, etc.
  • Cooking classes – beyond just educating – big kitchen, group cooking, hands-on fix a meal.  Use Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution idea – learn a meal, then teach your neighbor.  Eating healthfully, inexpensively with meals that are tasty and easy/fast to prepare.
  • Emotional Health – things YOU can do to help with what ails you – EFT, support groups, exercise, nutrition, mentoring

EarthForces (Green Baseball Hats? – smile and nod to the other Greenhat guys…)

  • Classes on sustainability
  • Green your home
  • Habitat-for-Humanity like group to focus on weatherizing homes for the poor, elderly, infirm, etc.
  • Johnny Appleseed Corps – tree planting  – help people, public spaces, unused land – fill it with trees
  • WaterWorks – water conservation – from in your house to in your country – water action!
  • Garden Guerrillas – turn this land into food  – teach gardening, encourage community gardens, ask to put gardens in unused land, etc.

S.O.S. – Save our Society

  • Take back Food:  localvorism, CSAs, food co-ops.  Move AWAY from the industrial agriculture that is killing us and is outrageously inhumane to animals.
  • Take back Money:  Buy local! Say no to Big Box stores
  • Take back Money, Part 2:  barter economy, skill banks, stop outsourcing your life

What’s Next?

Your “yes, we can” ideas.  I’m sure some of you have 100 “that will never work” ideas, which you are welcome to ponder while we move into action ala Greg Mortenson.

What I’m interested in:

  • Feedback on these ideas
  • YOUR ideas – what else can the army of unemployed, under-employed, retired or generous folks do with their ‘spare’ time?
  • Interested folks.  You don’t have to be local.  I somewhat suspect Chicago is not the only town that could use an initiative like this.  Start a school/movement/group in YOUR town!
  • But if you are local and would be interested in seeing what we could collectively create let me know – send an email to lifeschool.chicago@gmail.com

“We can change the world.  Rearrange the world.  It’s dying.” (nod to CSNY for lyrics, nod to YOU for wanting to change the world).

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I just finished reading Greg Mortenson’s “Three Cups of Tea” about his extensive work in building school for girls in remote, rural Pakistan and Afghanistan.  What an inspiring book!  I DO hope he gets  a Nobel Peace Prize – surely he deserves one.

For those of you who haven’t read the book, Greg went from being broken, lost, and with a huge sense of failure with little help or direction.  From those very dismal beginnings he has made a HUGE impact on the lives of tens (hundreds?) of thousands of poor girls and has been a force for peace and understanding.

I finished the book the night before last and then this morning heard on some snippet on the radio that the average length of unemployment in this country is now 33+ weeks – the longest ever recorded.

That juxtapositioning has stayed with me. 

Awhile back my friend Mary Anderson noted that there surely MUST be something that the army of unemployed can do to change the world as they await employment.

This idea continues to percolate for me.  Today my friend Diane Shak is working on an all-women crew building a Habitat for Humanity house.  People with a little time on their hands (employed or not) making a big difference in the world – and a HUGE difference for the family who will end up in that house.

Can we talk about this?  How can the folks who are unemployed and discouraged band together and change the world while still attending to their own pressing need – to get work that PAYS so they can meet their own needs? 

I will continue to let this percolate – but I sense that it is YOU GUYS who have some deciding ideas that can do for  the US what Greg Mortenson has done for rural Pakistan and Afghanistan.

And by the way – if you haven’t read Three Cups of Tea- do.  It’s positively inspiring, well-written, and very very hopeful.

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