Sunday, October 26, 2014

Why Reform Just Won't Cut It

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I have some hang-ups about money. I think it’s safe to say I’m not alone in this. For a long time I thought if I made a lot of money I would turn into a jerk, which is kind of silly because to paraphrase Henry Ford, money doesn't change people, it merely unmasks them. If a person is naturally selfish or arrogant or greedy, the money brings that out. I’m not naturally mean spirited so I think it’s safe to say making more money won’t bring those qualities out in me.

Once I cleared that hurdle, the idea of being a “conscious millionaire” started to appeal to me. It sounds great! Someone who is kind and compassionate, but also has money. Someone who can donate to her favorite charities and change some things because as we’re all aware, in this day in age, money equals power. If I became the richest person in the world then I could change the rules and make things better for everyone! Except, in a conversation I had with a friend on Friday night, I realized being a conscious millionaire is not enough.

I want to live in a world where the mantra isn't "consume."

I’m currently in the middle of nowhere Missouri. I mean really middle of nowhere. The closest town (about 20 minutes away) has a population of around 2,000. When I think “middle of nowhere,” I think cheap. When I asked my friend how much he’s paying for internet, I nearly choked on my tea when he said a telephone and internet combo is costing him $100 a month. For a speed of 1.5 mbps! If I was in California, I could pay $65 a month for a speed of 45 mbps! What makes this all the more depressing is my location isn’t exactly booming economically, meaning the people who are the least likely able to afford $100 a month for a regular landline phone and DSL are the ones getting price gouged. The wealthy areas are where people are paying less for phone and internet service.

It was in that moment that I realized being a conscious millionaire would only help so much. Sure, I can donate to my favorite charities and help family and friends, but what about the people I’ll never meet? Those in the Ozarks or the Bible Belt or the Midwest? My millions won’t help them at all. The only thing that will help them is a complete dismantling of our current economic system. And that requires an economic revolution. A “reform” just won’t cut it. The very principles of capitalism are founded on greed and selfishness, and greed and selfishness have given us the world we currently live in.

But we don’t have to keep living in that world. Alternative economic systems exist. I’ve written about it before, but Prout – the Progressive Utilization Theory – is an alternative to capitalism and communism. Prout is economics based on compassion and love, on understanding all beings are worthy of love and respect. It takes out exploitation and gives more power to workers through its emphasis on cooperatives. The utilities – water, electricity, and in this day and age I would argue, internet – would be taken care of by the government so we no longer have a situation where someone in Missouri is paying $100 for slow speeds and poor service.

In the words of John Lennon, “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”

I dream of a world where economics is based on taking care of everyone rather than exploitation. A world where we share more than we consume. A world where we are stewards of the Earth rather than masters over it. A world where we’ve revolutionized our economy.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Inspired Action

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There are many areas of my life where I have no idea what I’m doing. Because I have no idea what I’m doing, I look to other people for guidance because obviously they’ll know more than me. One such area is getting media coverage for myself as an inspirational speaker and for my book.

I’ve signed up for courses and seminars. I’ve read books, watched videos. I’ve been told this, like getting a job or a life partner, is a numbers game. That the more I blanket various media outlets the more likely something will pan out. Kind of like throwing spaghetti against the wall – at least one noodle will stick.

This seemed like an appropriate picture, no?
This seemed like an appropriate picture, no?

However, none of this has worked for me. When I complained to a new friend yesterday she said, “Of course, because you’re trying to replicate someone else’s experience. You’re on your own journey so you have to do what works for you.” The older I get the more I find this to be true. What works for others doesn’t work for me, and as much as I’d like to follow a formula, life isn’t like that. When I reflect on my past I very clearly see a guiding force, so perhaps it’s time to start trusting that force more and taking action when I am called to do so.

The other day this ad kept popping up for a website called “Help a Reporter Out.” I tried four times to close out the tab to no avail. Finally, I gave in and signed up. Wouldn’t you know it, the next day I received an email from a reporter looking for someone with my expertise. I kid you not.

I don’t know that it will amount to anything because stories get shelved all the time, but that’s not the point. The point is when I take inspired action, it always works out. The radio show I was interviewed for, the websites that published my work, they all came to fruition because an internal voice told me to contact them. What if instead of wasting my time querying people I don’t feel any resonance with, I only took action when I felt called to do so?

I dream of a world where we start listening to ourselves more. A world where we understand what works for others may not work for us. A world where we take action when it’s backed by intuition or spiritual knowledge. A world where our actions are inspired.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Which Way to Go?

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All week it seems the thing I keep saying over and over again to friends is, “There is no ‘wrong’ choice,” so I decided it must be something to blog about.

When I’m confronted with a choice I’m often stricken with a sense of paralysis. “Oh no! Which way to go? What choice is the right one?” I freeze up because I’m so scared of making a mistake, that I’ll start down a certain road and realize it’s the most horrible one ever.

I know I usually write captions but all I really want to say is can you believe this picture? Photo credit: David Marcu.

Something that soothes me and also feels liberating is remembering nothing is permanent. I know that sentiment often encourages people to live life to the fullest, or as if today was our last, but for me it also means if I make a “bad” choice, I can choose again. I can choose to navigate in a different direction. Nothing is stuck, or static, or stale.

What a relief to remember that. I think about when I was applying for colleges. It seemed like a weighty decision. That wherever I went would set me on a course for life so choosing wisely was imperative. So I did. And the school I went to was a terrible fit. What did I do? I transferred schools. There was no need for me to suffer where I was even though a part of me felt like I had to, that because I made this choice I must stick with it.

I know our society is all about sticking with things. Quitting is for losers or some such nonsense. I’m a believer in following things through to the end – if I say I’ll do something, I will, but when I feel like I have to stick with something just because I made the decision to do so, what am I really accomplishing? Wouldn’t it be better for me to have the flexibility to change my mind?

A while back I wrote a post on being unconventional. In it, I realized I’ve been looking for a home that feels like “the one.” A home that I’ll settle down in. A home that I’ll live in for years. These days, I’m not looking for “the one.” I’m realizing oh-so-clearly that I have to take a chance, and then if it doesn’t work out, I take another one. I don’t have to remain committed to a toxic situation. Now, when I’m looking for places to live, it’s not so serious. It’s not a life-or-death, I’m-locked-into-this-so-I-better-choose-wisely thing. It’s more of an, “OK, I’ll try this out for a while, see how it goes,” kind of thing.

We human beings were not made for staticity, we were made for movement. So when our choices seem not so great, we can make other ones. There are very few things that we truly can’t undo. I’m not saying there won’t be consequences – there are always consequences, but perhaps we don’t need to agonize quite so much at the beginning.

I dream of a world where we realize we have the power of choice and that means we can always choose again. A world where we realize if things are headed in a direction we don’t like, we can turn around. A world where we realize life is more flexible than it seems.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

It Can Happen Fast

For the audio version of this post, scroll to the bottom.

My recovery mentor often says to me, “Change happens on higher power’s timeline, and when it happens, it happens fast, so be ready.” Today I’m marveling at how true that is, particularly because I’m in a place that has seasons. In the Bay Area, there are two seasons: the dry season and the rainy season. In Missouri, there is a proper spring, summer, fall, and winter.

Last Wednesday, I was in shorts and t-shirt, dipping my legs in the lake. The very next day we had a thunderstorm replete with rain and lightning and then it was cold. Like, pull-out-my-fall- jacket cold. Like, turn-the-heat-on cold. It went from summer to fall in the course of a day. I realize comparing change to the seasons is not so valid anymore, considering that today the temperature is back up to the 70s, but change happens quickly in life too.

I do have to say, it's really nice to have leaves like this again.
I read an interview about the recently departed Joan Rivers who I’d always unfairly dismissed as a mean-spirited comedian. There was a point in her life when she was blacklisted from The Tonight Show, her husband Edgar had killed himself, and her career was floundering. She seriously contemplated suicide. She said, “What saved me was my dog jumped into my lap. I thought, 'No one will take care of him.'... I had the gun in my lap, and the dog sat on the gun. I lecture on suicide because things turn around. I tell people this is a horrible, awful, dark moment, but it will change and you must know it’s going to change and you push forward. I look back and think, 'Life is great, life goes on. It changes.'"

As we all know, Joan went on to have a successful career and a rich life, but there was a point when she was thinking about ending it all. I also reflect on the turn of events for friends of mine. They're getting married this winter and they didn't even know each other a year ago! They met in the winter of 2013, got engaged in June 2014, and now they’re getting married.

Even in my own life I’ve seen how change happens quickly. One day I was settling into my new abode and within an hour a sweet situation turned sour and I started making plans to live elsewhere.

I often think change happens painfully slowly, that it’s gradual – and that is certainly true – but sometimes it also happens quickly, and we have no idea it’s coming even 10 minutes prior. At this point in my life when things are so up in the air, when I have no idea where I’ll be next, what will happen next, what lies before me, it’s heartening to remember my life won’t always look this way. That change happens on the universe’s timeline, and when it happens it can happen fast so I need to be ready.

I dream of a world where we have hope for the future. A world where we realize life can change for the better in an instant. A world where we understand our troubles will pass and we’ll be glad we stuck around to see it.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.