Activism/Advocacy

Take up space ... please!

I'm slowly reading - or maybe experiencing is a better word -  Margaret J. Wheatley's book "Who Do We Choose To Be?"  It's one of those books that offers unglazed reality so wisely, with such compassion, that I cannot rush through, nor can I stop. I keep going back to read bits over and let them sink deeper into my body. 

The words are jiggling loose unconscious assumptions - the kind that have been keeping my choices small and meek. Cracking my little bubble world more and more open. Holding up uncomfortable truth with such clarity I find myself drawing closer, rather than turning away. 

Her subtitle really gets to the heart of what she explores in this work, "Facing Reality. Claiming Leadership. Restoring Sanity."

The world has been feeling like a pretty intense and insane place lately.

That's why I'm asking ... encouraging ... imploring you, body-wise, highly sensitive, multipotentialed folks to take up space. 

Let me explain...

The more intense the world feels, the more likely we are to retreat - anemone-like - into ourselves. Staying present feels hard. Taking up more space than usual - harder. It seems to be the opposite of what feels safe and looks sensible. 

Yet, our ability to sense underlying emotions, to observe and absorb information others are not seeing, to deeply process and integrate all that input and see long-range possible outcomes not obvious to 80% of the world -- that's the role we play for our species. That's what we're wired to do. 

So especially now, when western cultures are locked into extremes of behavior and beliefs, retreating into lizard-brained survival mode, now is when our trait is deeply needed. When our leadership is deeply needed. 

Taking up space becomes both revolutionary and evolutionary. Literally evolutionary, in the biologic sense.

Janine Benyus said, "Life creates circumstances conducive to life." Ecosystems - and human communities are absolutely ecosystems - respond to threats to life by evolving new resiliency strategies...by foregrounding the members who enhance life-affirming acts. When we take up space, we're creating circumstances conducive to life.

We love, we empathize, we feel what’s happening to our communities in our marrow. AND…we are uniquely qualified to midwife small, local changes that will make a difference.

We do it every day when we use the gift of our differentness in our practices, easing people who are suffering. 

"So much is possible if we consciously and wisely choose how best to step forward as leaders for this time." M. Wheatley

(If you find taking up space daunting, let’s have a (free, no pressure) tea….)

Terrified and hopeful

Recently, driven by a restless yearning for thinking of substance and concern for the future of this country I call home, I've been drinking in great gulps of Terry Tempest Williams' "The Open Space of Democracy."

It started because I’ve been trying to stay present and engaged in the events of this world and that’s tumbled me like a river stone and deposited me into a space both terrified and hopeful. I’m qware of systems - natural, social, and political - collapsing. I can smell the salty tang of evolution in the wind.

My wild she-who-remembers-her-interconnectedness self understands what’s happening. My indoctrinated-in-separateness human self wants to panic.

When I take several steps back and look from the outside, this divisive and chaotic mess looks like the decay it is. In our collective ecosystem, diseased old trees are beginning to fall. Space in the canopy is being cleared for sunlight to reach through. Soil is being made. Fertile places are being prepared for new systems to set their roots. It’s death so rebirth can happen.

Seen through the eyes of one fragile human who depends - or thinks she depends - on the collapsing systems for survival, it's hard to remember this. Hopelessness and apathy stalk me, snarling softly.

So I turn to the words of one who has walked this trail before me, finding both solace and warning.

"Expect anything.
Patience is more powerful than anger. Humor is more attractive than fear.
Pay attention. Listen. We are most alive when discovering.
Humility is the capacity to see.
Suffering comes, we do not have to create it,
We are meant to live simply.
We are meant to be joyful.
Life continues with and without us.
Beauty is another word for God."
- Terry Tempest Williams "The Open Space of Democracy"

Image credit: Unsplash


Poet's Rebellion

Despite having blogged fairly prolifically over the past decade, lately I haven't wanted to put pen to paper (or fingers to keys) in that way. I mean, the aversion has been almost visceral. I haven't even wanted to journal. And though I've never been wildly consistent about journaling, it's always felt like home.

Trusting my voice, my internal guidance system, has been an unfolding and daily practice throughout my life. So, it took a bit for me to realize that I wasn't just being lazy or crazy, or avoiding writing. My body wisdom was adjusting how I move through my days to meet my emerging, changing creative rhythms as a crone. I didn't want to write the way I had been writing because my writing needs to take on a different cultural role.

An oh-so-wise pre-crone friend reminded me that, as crones, we've moved outside the confines of patriarchal attention and expectation. We've been dismissed, therefore we're off the radar. Which is bullshit, yes. Their loss, definitely. And...it also offers us maneuvering room those still being tracked don't have. We're in a position to be uniquely subversive.

When I finally wrote again this morning, what flowed from my heart to my fingers was a poem I've called Poet's Rebellion. Because confining my words to well-regulated structures? Yeah. Not happening.

constraining my
wet-from-the-muse-womb
words to structures
breaks me a little
each time

to confine them in boxes created
by a culture gone mad
with categorizing and naming and
keywording and tagging

I
simply
cannot

each word
each breath-infused
syllable
is a tiny fragment
of livingness

and yes life,
she has rhythms and
patterns and
life-giving structures
that teach unfolding
generations how to
create life anew

but - oh my aching heart -
they are life-giving structures
not the stranglehold of
stagnating expectations found
in so many corners
down so many virtual alleys
in this conform or
be shunned culture
in this conform
and die slowly
society

to type letters
and coalesce them into
wordscapes meant to free
is both smile-inducing gift
and shoulder-bowing responsibility
to give them life
then shackle them to
the weight of “musts” and
tangle them in the bindweed
of “isms”

I
simply
cannot.

Poet’s Rebellion © 2019 Tracie Nichols

Applying nature’s wisdom to social change work

Applying nature’s wisdom to social change work

I have these groovy cards (kinda like flashcards) from Toby Lynn Herzlich of Biomimicry for Social Innovation.

They talk about applying nature’s wisdom to our social change work.

To restructuring leadership and organizations as living systems so they are more effective.

To making organizations function as living systems based on the principles of life so they are creating conditions conducive to life for all life. Human, more-than-human. All of us.