Guest Post by Ambrosia Dove - The Wrong Side of ConformityI recently had to metaphorically smack myself over the head. For I realized that I had been stepping on my own toes most of my life. Possibly the ultimate fumbling of self-awareness.
We have, some of us, played small, inferior, and lived up to many of the unreasonable expectations that some people in our lives seem to have of us. That's not to say there haven't been many encouraging glimpses of our inner sparkle, but we downplay it far too much. We ingratiate ourselves to others and lose our true voices, our souls' expression. We regularly allow others to influence our steps, even overriding our inner wisdom. And why???
Why would any of us dabble in such inanity, throwing away our power so carelessly?
I will not offer an explanation on anyone else's behalf, but for me the reason was as follows: a fear of feeling lonely. I wanted to be among the crowd rather than outside of it, or worse, in front of it! I had a fear of being disconnected from a collective, not understanding that disconnection is something we have 'achieved' from ourselves; but being separate from anything especially others is, as rumour has it, mere illusion.
Let's face it; being outside the throngs of 'normal' can seem terrifyingly lonely...but I realize now that it is so only if someone is not comfortable in their own company. It takes a lot of courage to stand alone...with yourself.
We are constantly reminded that we are social creatures and somehow we learn that to enjoy society and companionship we must alter who we truly are, to fit in with everyone around us.
Majority-wise, we have been looking at it entirely the wrong way. We could create our societies to 'fit in' with the fact we are all unique. To do this we must learn to accept ourselves, and thus be able to accept others in their own space and unique expression. You can defiantly and courageously be yourself and dare to walk in front of the crowd. Anyone who is looking ahead and not behind themselves, collectively speaking, will notice you, very likely take heart, and draw their own courage from your inspiring steps.
Happily enough, the more others choose to leave the comfort of the crowd, the more people will gather on the other side of conformity. Then a new crowd can form; a unified crowd of uniqueness. And we can all feel connected in our ability to shine differently.
Ironically, we will see that we were far lonelier in this crowd of comfort and familiarity. For once we reconcile with our uniqueness we will reconcile with our differences, and therein lies our unity and harmony.
And the beauty is that it wasn't the crowd holding you back - those who have stepped out already have shown us that there are no constraints. The shackles truly are ours and ours alone. So throw them off and be free! You can shine whenever you want to. My hope for you, me, those around us and our beautiful planet, is you are ready to be unique Do it now. SHINE!
You can find Ambrosia Dove at:
Stars in Apples
Some other favourite links on FB:
An Earth Angels Guidance
Discover a New You
The Road to Me
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Guest Post by Susan Letourneau - A Change of HeartI often ask myself how change for the better is going to come about. I truly believe it will happen, and is happening, but when I hear about some of the things that man is doing to his fellow man around the world, I can easily feel daunted. So it was with hope and interest that I listened to a recent CBC interview with a former 'skinhead' turned humanitarian. Arno Michaelis spent years as part of a Neo-Nazi gang which sought out black and gay people to torment. If they couldn't find a black or gay person, they often beat up whoever was at hand. They had righteousness on their side - everyone should be a white supremacist and anyone who didn't share their views deserved their wrath. Arno's descriptions of the beatings they delivered to innocent people are hair-raising to listen to.
The skinhead gang provided a family of sorts for Arno, and a sense of validation as a person, where none had been present in this life before. For the first time, Arno felt he had value and a place to belong. It was a powerful experience and he desperately wanted to hold onto it.
But something disturbing began to happen to Arno. Everywhere he went, the people he had vowed to hate were kind to him. They were clearly good people and it took more and more effort to continue to demonize them, to the point that he was exhausted all the time and had to go through more and more mental machinations to maintain his position of hatred. Finally, he couldn't maintain that position anymore. He left the gang, began an entirely new life and today, he is a peace educator.
I think it is fair to say that any retribution Arno would have experienced would have affirmed his position to hatred. An 'eye for an eye' was fuel for his gang. It was only unrelenting kindness that finally made its way down through his tattooed skin and into his heart.
Arno's story seems very significant to me. It reminds me of a photo I once saw of a tiny drip of water which had been falling on a rock below for decades, creating a hole right through the rock. Slow but powerful.
We all want quick change. I know I do. But I see that legislation is not going to create change in the hearts of those who are angry and full of hate. Prison and jail terms are not going to change hearts. And without change in the hearts of those who hate, crime is just going to change location but never stop. Only love can drive out hate. I am reminded of the Dalai Lama saying that his religion is kindness. So I ask myself, is there somewhere I can be kind today? Can I find it in my heart to be kind to someone I am afraid of rather than avoiding them? Can I let go of judgement and move into kindness? Can I let go of being daunted by the enormity of the problem and allow myself to be a very very tiny part of the solution? Yes I can.
You can hear the interview with Arno here.
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The Red Threads
Guest post by Maureen Cameron
We never know when or why the simplest event catches our attention and alters us in some way: a glimpse, a sound and a shared moment.
I returned recently from three months in the Central Highlands of Guatemala volunteering for Project Somos. They are creating an Eco Sustainable Village in Chivarabal, Tecpan, consisting of seven homes with seven foster moms to provide a family experience for 49 abandoned and orphaned children, of which there are an estimated 370,000 in state care. The area includes traditional and modern Mayan communities.
'Two Red Threads' references one moment among countless experiences. I caught a glimpse of life in Guatemala. I heard and saw enough to pique my curiosity about how people meet life exactly where it is under conditions I might declare a sure reason to be unhappy. Anyone who has traveled to the third world usually speaks of gratitude and an appreciation of our way of life. "What do I have to complain about?" was spoken by many a volunteer.
Being here for the first time, I could not ignore the full palette of this life. Eventually it became a multimedia collage of contrasting experiences and I more of a witness, less judgmental and in awe of the reality. I cried and laughed the more present I became. I was left wondering about my urge to 'fix things' because 'something is wrong'.
Antolin, a Mayan spiritual leader in this area is also the crew boss and a project manager at Project Somos. During several gatherings at the land, I heard him say that Maya is not a relition, it is a way of life. He spoke of right relationship to nature, each other and an understanding of the cycles of man within cycles of time. He emphasized the importance of flowing with change, that what is enduring are not the things of life, and that how we live in awareness is vital. He also spoke of 'no mistake and nothing wrong' (my paraphrasing), that our purpose is to be aware (or not) of how we act in this life, and know that we live with the consequences, choosing our own path.
He led the Baktun 13 fire ceremony on December 21, 2012 in the Botanical Reserve Forest near Iximche, Tecpan. The ceremony, like so many others around the world represented an honouring of life, nature, the directions, masculine and feminine and devotion to a higher good. Two red threads were given to each of us, one to be tied on the left leg, one on the right. The left represented all our life up to now, with all the perceived good and bad. Tying the left thread meant we acknowledged it all, honoured it and let it go. The right thread symbolized now and a new life, carrying forward what is good and setting our intention for the next cycle, knowing we must flow with change and not hold onto the past. We were invited to use this symbolic ritual in our life to 'notice which foot we are stepping into our life with . . . the right or the left.'
I don't know what lies ahead; I do know that this volunteering experience is more than I could have hoped for. Yes, the world beckons with all its stories, yet I think I've learned that whatever action I take in response will be informed by remembering the red threads and noticing with which foot I'm stepping forward.
(With huge appreciation to Heather Knox and Greg Kemp of Project Somos (here), whose life and work is inspired by 'What would love do?' and for inviting me to this amazing adventure.)
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In a perfect world....
there would be peace.
There would be love.
There would be food for all.
There would be acceptance that embraces every race, colour, creed, sexual orientation and difference imaginable. There would be compassion, empathy, balance, tolerance, engagement, sharing of knowledge, richly cultured growth in the humanities and conscious parenting. We would inhabit a truly healthy planet.
There would be understanding that we are each the only person in our life who can chart a course through our inner world, pilot the ship, crew it and bring it safely into the harbour. We would know that only as we examine our own selves, acknowledge the light and the dark within, and heal those parts that are wounded can we create the world we envision.
Socrates said 'The unexamined life is not worth living'. How are you dispersing the darkness? What light do you bring forth?
The question we need to ask is not 'Why has our economy / environment / gun control, etc. gone wrong?', but 'How have I injured my own economic stability / the environment / relationships?'
The next question is 'How can I repair the damage in my world?' For with each of us examining how we live our life and repairing our own wounded selves, we can create our perfect world.
Every person we meet, every challenge we face and overcome, every negative emotion we dance through and each bit of darkness we dispel in our own psyche is one more step towards living on a planet of peace.
The third question could well be 'How can I make this world a better place?'; Mahatma Gandhi answers that by directing us to 'Be the change you want to see in the world'.