I have to admit something: I have no graceful introduction for this post. This post was born out of my personal crisis experience of the last six weeks (in the beginning of 2018), my complete loss of hope and passion, and the tools that helped me rediscover my focus. I hope that it helps you too, and please be sure to comment below with whatever tools you have to breathe through adversity, refocus, and step into power. Many thanks.
As someone who spent the better part of three years deeply entrenched in the New Age Southern California Yoga scene, I was often told that I should be a “human BEING,” rather than a “human DOING.” But hey – that was then and this is now. Injustice is rampant, the environment is radically shifting, and we are being convinced that we have no power to change things. That last one? That’s a myth! Now is the time where we need doers, and that doesn’t have to look like you locking yourself to a tree to save it from being cut down (though that is very groovy, indeed.) In order to whole-heartedly act, we need to narrow it down.
Below are some ideas on how you can tap into your own gifts to create the change you want to see in this world.
1.) DREAM BIG
Make a list or mind map of your big picture dreams. Don’t limit yourself here; this is the chance for you to dream BIG. What excites you? What saddens or sickens you? What do you want to change? This is a safe space. Write anything! Here are some ideas: Bring back the Salmon! Smash the patriarchy! Ensure reproductive rights! End Slavery! Break free from Fossil Fuels!
Don’t worry so much about the hows and whys just yet, they will come. Imbibe in whatever herbal elixirs, flower essences, smoke, or music that will help you release the shackles of judgment. If it helps, remember that no one ever has to see this list. Don’t limit yourself. Did I mention Dream Big?
2.) NARROW IT DOWN
OK, so you’ve given yourself permission to Dream Big – didn’t that feel good? Now, we need to get grounded and narrow it down. Take the time to look over your big picture dream list, and choose three that you’d like to commit your energy to. Modern technology convinces us that we can do a million things at once, and as a result we are being spread thin; our talents are being wasted. Take your time to narrow it down, but be firm in your choices.
The issues we are facing are real and they are big. They require deep commitment and respect. So pick your three, sleep on it, and check your list in the morning. Have your priorities changed? Check again in a week. Still feel good about these three things? Great! Can you narrow it down even more to just one or two focuses?
3.) MAKE A LIST OF YOUR GIFTS & ABILITIES
Now is the time that you are invited to fall in love with yourself. YOU are full of unique gifts and abilities that no one else has. Yes – you! What did you study? What were you always fascinated by as a child? What can you spend hours doing with out noticing the time fly by? What makes you feel accomplished, alive, excited? What would you be doing with your time if money wasn’t an issue? Every single one of us has a talent – it’s time to name it and claim it.
Of course, I understand that there are times when we just don’t think we have any gifts. It can be tough. If it is helpful, ask your loved ones, your employer, your therapist, or anyone you trust to write down what it is they love/respect about you. Seeing yourself through the eyes of another is extremely empowering, eye-opening, and exciting. Breathe deep and own it!
4.) LOCALIZE, LOCALIZE, LOCALIZE
The age of social media has made entrepreneurs out of a lot of us. This can be a grand thing, as creative solutions to social injustice, environmental stewardship, and political shift seem to be absolutely exploding.
However, with our eagerness and excitement, it’s easy to forget that there are TONS of people who have been doing this work for a long, long time. These are your greatest resources – the teachers, the activists, the organizers, the elders. Reach out to organizations local to your area who need your help. Partnering with people who have been doing this work is a wonderful way to create instant community, and chances are, they will be very happy to have fresh energy in the mix. We are stronger together – the greater the web, the greater our resilience.
5.) BE OPEN TO ADVERSITY
Look, times are really, really tense right now. The reality is that not everyone is going to agree with you, and that can be OK. Diversity of thought and feeling have always been a reality in human culture, my guess is that we just feel it A LOT more than in other times in history due to the “world wide web.” Create space for other opinions.
IMPORTANT – even though your job is to create safe space, you have every right to reign in anyone who is trying to hijack the conversation or is being outright violent. The purpose of discourse is to expand thought, not to promote hatred, close-mindedness, and fear. If you feel unprepared or unable to dissolve conflict and your cause has the potential to create some, reach out to a community member who has experience in conflict resolution.
6.) REMEMBER THE EARTH AND HER FIRST PEOPLE
No matter what your issue is, you are invited to always remember the Earth and her People. Our planet is radically shifting to the point where we can no longer separate social justice issues from environmental issues. How can thinking of the Earth and standing in solidarity with Indigenous people help bring your dream to fruition? Are you focused solely on social or economic issues? I invite you to remember that victory in these areas won’t last long on a dead planet. No matter what “side” you are on, the Earth is your home, and deserves your attention. In the same vein, I believe it’s important to look to the Indigenous cultures that lived and continue to live on this Earth in right relationship long before patriarchy, colonialism, and imperialism. What do we have to learn from them? How do we show them great respect and support?
7.) GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO ACT IN YOUR OWN WAY
Tying back to point #3, we have to remember that every single one of us is a unique person. You don’t have to march in the streets, tie yourself to a bulldozer, or get arrested to be an activist. You can write letters or make phone calls to government officials or corporations from home, pray with your spiritual/religious community, meditate on the future you dream of, teach your children well, or create ritual around healing people and places. There is space for every single one of us. Even if you don’t fit into the social “norm” for what an activist is, you have a unique gift to share. This is our time to unite, express, and create a new reality.
In closing, I’d like to share some advice from my good friend Milla: “When you are feeling lonely, don’t mourn, organize!”
What are some of your dreams? What are some of the organizations you respect? How do you get clear about your actions? Share your thoughts below so we can create a wider web.
Proud daughter of Mexican immigrants, gardener, advocate for la tierra buena, and professional belly laugher, I strive to live my life with purpose and joy. After years of chronic illness and self-destructive habits, my life changed in an instant when a clinician offered me a bottle of herbal extract as medicine in 2009. Since then, I’ve been amazed time and again by the effectiveness and power of nature’s medicine.
Motivated by the ever-quickening loss of our intricate web of life, I am often a passionate (and sometimes frank) voice for local, regenerative herbalism in the name of earth renewal. I strongly believe that a village herbalist belongs in every community and am happy to support this dream’s birth in to reality.