Today is the first day of Evie's half-term break so mornings will be a little calmer for a week or so. It's much needed by all of us. I found my favourite field to be empty this morning (that's it above, mid-afternoon) so, while Dooley and Zo ran around, I stood and paid my respects to the directions and the All-Spirit in the way I did here, daily, at this time last year. Maybe it will become a habit again, I hope so, but I'm realistic about how I've yet to adjust to getting up early enough to do it. Our clocks go back this weekend and I've no idea if that will help or hinder my efforts! Either way, it was and is a wonderful way to start the day.
I'm halfway through reading Active Hope and enjoying it even more than I'd thought I would. It's accessible, clear, inspiring and exactly what I need right now. I wanted lessons in advocacy and here, in their gentle, intelligent words, I get to spend time with two of the best: Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone. I cannot recommend this book highly enough to anyone who feels overwhelmed by 'the state of things' and the pain we see around us.
It's easy - because it's the part of the online world in which I used to spend a lot of time - for me to fall into the trap of thinking that unless I'm creating and offering an online course, holding in-person circles, coaching or marching on Westminster then I am not being of service. And serving is important to me.
I still believe that - to use the old Robert Ingersoll line - 'we rise by lifting others'. I am full of admiration for those who do it via the methods I've mentioned but they aren't a fit for me. So what is? I think about this stuff all the time. Am I crazy or do you do it too? Or both? Heh.
As an example, the vegan movement is a very interesting place these days - more and more people (12% of the adult population in the UK) are choosing a vegetarian diet and then finding they're inspired to take it to the next level. Even if you put some of it down to passing trends, there seems to be a genuine shift towards being mindful of how and who/what we eat. With so many people trying to be conscious about how they live, I am still surprised that so few of them extend that consciousness to their plates, however there are inspiring people embodying the vegan philosophy in a gentle, compassionate way, just leading by example and I do believe change is building momentum because of this.
Recurring themes in the New (Un)Campaigning are, to use veganism as a model:
- Add to your plate, don't take away (don't deny pleasure, add new ones)
- Your palate will change of its own accord (such is my belief in the beneficial results of this that I trust it will raise your vibration to a point where you no longer crave the old ways)
- You are helping others while you help yourself (it's okay to just think about yourself) (Not everyone needs this one but many do. I am trying to learn not to judge that.)
- You will hardly notice the difference in taste (don't panic, the actual change involved for you is minimal)
- It's really easy to be healthy these days (you don't have to do much)
- I'm not perfect (you don't need to be perfect)
- Days when you eat cheese are okay (you're not going to hell if you go back to the old ways now and then)
- Make changes slowly, this isn't 'A Diet' (it's a practice)
- Be kind to yourself too (be kind to yourself too)
That's a pretty good list. Personally, I have to add in that there are days when I am not compassionate and not flexible and I want to Hulk-Smash All The Things That Hurt Animals which is rubbish of me and a bit this minus the irony, but is also my truth at the moment. So I turn to that last bullet point and I take a deep breath, acknowledge the pain and its cause, practice self-compassion and remind myself a battering ram does not work any better than the battering of rams (see what I did there?). While that kind of fire burns, the planet and all its inhabitants suffer.
To practice Active Hope is - put simply - to visualise/imagine the world as you hope it could be and then actively go about trying to make that happen around you. Step by step, person by person, thought by thought. Yep...be the change. I am working on having that as my model of service.