I had the pleasure and the challenge of being in the presence of Terry Patten on a couple of occasions recently. In everything he does, I learned, Terry embodies that delicate balance between being fully awake to all the real and potential horrors in our world, while embracing vision, integrity, passion and soul – truly a most courageous, compassionate, empowering, radical response in these times. I encourage you to read his book and explore his web; plug into his work however you can.

One of the things he talks so eloquently about is the need to create containers for different kinds of conversations about our present predicament and our future possibilities – ones that break free of the old patterns and stories and that allow the new and visionary to emerge. As Charles Eisenstein says “we need to ‘clear the field’ on a personal level and a social-political level. We need to ‘unlearn’ the things we assume we know. Where will this journey of unlearning take you? I hope, to a place of knowing a little less than when you started… a fertile place where something new can grow.”

This is exactly my vision for Being Change circles, both virtually here on this site and on-the-ground in the Ithaca (NY) area and beyond. And we not only have to “unlearn,” we also have to “un-do.” We have to allow for massive amounts of time and spaciousness to be still, quiet, present, and co-creative; we have to surrender to something so much bigger than busyness.

How do we create this spaciousness in an accelerating world? Where if we don’t do something quickly it’s game over? Where we’re still trying to survive and even thrive in a hostile, dying paradigm? This is yet another of the incredible paradoxes, or as Terry would say – koans – that we are being asked to hold and let tease us into a new way of “thinking” and being.

Can we find the time? Can we make the space to unlearn and undo? Surely, in my mind, it’s essential. As we sit in our circle, we commit to this as a Practice on behalf of all life and the future generations.This video meditation with Thich Nhat Hanh is profoundly grounding as we venture forth.

The Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) recently offered a ten-day on-line Summit called “The Power of Community – Climate Change & Consciousness.” There were thirty speakers in all and they were all simply brilliant. Many of us here at the ecovillage where I live gathered to view and discuss these dialogues, and I feel moved to share here some of the themes I heard throughout:

– The level of transformation in consciousness and behaviors needed is radical and urgent. We must ask ourselves deeply and courageously how, then, shall we live?
– Community is key. We can’t do this alone. The time for rugged individuality is over. We’re all in this together.
– There needs to be a consistent “container” to grapple with these issues together. People need to make time for this, indeed, make it a priority to the best of our abilities. Our future depends on it.
– This container might be designed, not as a “meeting” or “think-tank”, but as a refuge, a sanctuary for different behaviors and consciousness to “cook” and to emerge. For nurturing solidarity and trust, vision and creativity.
–  There needs to be a balance between processing emotions such as fear, grief and uncertainty, sharing stories, and imagining and implementing actions. Aim for both physical and psycho-spiritual resilience.
-There need to be opportunities to empower and celebrate each individual’s unique calling and contribution to the Great Turning as well as to celebrate the Life and the Earth we have now – with all its challenges, opportunities, joys and beauty.

A “community”, of course, can be any gathering of people, anywhere. If you’re wanting to explore all of the complex, challenging, and rewarding dimensions of “The Great Turning”, I encourage everyone to find or create one. To paraphrase Margaret Wheatley, we desperately need “islands of sanity in an insane world”.

Gordon Hempton defines “silence” not as quiet, or no sound, but as the absence of man-made noise pollution. He believes that “silence just might be on the verge of extinction and that even the most remote corners of the globe are impacted by (this) pollution.

Do we even realize the prevalence of this “noise”, do we notice it in our everyday lives or is it so “normal” that it escapes our consciousness?

How does this impact our bodies, our psyches, our souls? What are we missing by being plugged in all the time or distracted (or perhaps assaulted) by sirens, traffic, jack hammers, airplanes, horns, boom boxes, motor boats, ski mobiles, ring/text tones, construction and more construction and on and on? How telling that we should need “sanctuary.”

I believe that the Earth is always speaking. I believe that other species and other beings are always speaking. Maybe in “words”, maybe in metaphor or synchronicity, dreams, callings, or in so many ways. I believe that one of the requirements of this Great Turning is to slow down and listen. Slow waaaaaaay down, step away from the “noise” and listen.

In Sanctuaries of Silence, join Hempton on an immersive listening journey into Olympic National Park, one of the quietest places in North America.” Learn how his work has been life-changing for him. The home page of this film’s web site (scroll down a ways) offers a five-step practice of listening that can get one started in slowing down and, well, listening….


“What should I do?
Who should I be?
How can one celebrate and love this glittering world, even as it becomes a sickened and dangerous thing?
What can be said in response to the arrogance and illogic of those who would wreck the world?
What are the words to say to people who deeply care, words that will help them move forward with new joy, courage, and integrity?
How did human decisions create the climate emergencies, and how might new thinking take advantage of this last chance for civilization to start again and get it right this time?
And this most important question: How can people come together in the one thing that has the power to change history – a great rising wave of moral outrage at the plunder and the wreckage, and an affirmation of a better way?”


Thank you Kathleen Dean Moore for articulating them so beautifully.
(Questions are from “Great Tide Rising”, page 11.)

Please read this important book and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Ilarion Merculieff is the the founder of The Global Center for Indigenous Leadership and Lifeways and is an Unangan (Unungan), Aleut, raised in a traditional way. He’s on my bucket list of people I want to meet someday but, for now, I want to share this beautiful wisdom with you:

“Ilarion’s belief is that without changing consciousness, we are doomed to continue repeating past mistakes in dealing with the environment and our relationships with all life. Key to this effort is to help people to restore their sense of the sacred feminine personally and collectively.

Indigenous prophecies, particularly from the Hopi and Maori say that women will be restored to their place as original healers during this time, and that women will lead the way into a higher consciousness. The role of men is to protect the sacred space of women so they can do their work.”

What if women rose again? ….What if we could reclaim, somehow, that power and respect which women had lost? What if we could somehow dismantle this planet-destroying patriarchy and recreate a world in which we lived in balance? (1)

THIS is a question that is foremost on my mind. For many years I’ve been asking what is required of us as human beings to step up to the challenges of the times and, more and more, I believe that women are key.

The time is now for every woman to stand in her power, speak with her true voice, live her vision in the world. We do not have a moment to waste. For our children, grandchildren, and the seven generations, bring your heart, mind and soul-fire to the remaking of the world. (2)

This vision of resurrecting the wild, archetypal, historical, divine feminine and breathing life and soul and balance back into our selves and our world has become the most compelling vision for me. In all my searching and wandering, I see this being called for over and over again. So, if resurrecting, reclaiming, and re-embodying the archetypal feminine is necessary for any hope of a viable future, how do we step into that powerfully?

Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing. (3)

In all my wandering and searching, I see so many women, and men, who are doing it: exploring and embodying ways to “dismantle” the old paradigm to make way for something ancient and new. I’m doing it, Being Change is doing it. You’re probably doing it too.

The wild feminine is not only sustainable in all worlds, it sustains all worlds. Let’s admit it. We, women, are building a motherland; each with her own plot of soil eked from a night of dreams, a day of work. We are spreading this soil in larger and larger circles, slowly, slowly. One day it will be a continuous land, a resurrected land come back from the dead. (4)

Stories. Stories about nights of dreams and days of work. Indeed, there are so many out there that I fail to see how, together, we can not prevail over the darkness that seems so overwhelming. In a former post I wrote that I wanted to share these people I’m finding who are embodying this feminine energy to witness to and transform the world. I want to re-commit to that intention, starting with the next post. Please stay tuned.

  1. Sharon Blackie
  2. Marilyn Steele
  3. Arundhati Roy
  4. Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Art by Phebe Allen Gustafson

Last October I attended the final gathering of the Council of the 13 Indigenous Grandmothers in Phoenicia, New York. I was at the first gathering, also in Phoenicia, when they formed their Council twelve years ago and I had followed their progress all along the way. About halfway through their time together, they came to Ithaca, New York, where I live. They accomplished much during those twelve years and I feel forever grateful that I was able to walk some of their walk with them.

These are very powerful women. Their ceremonies, stories and spiritual presence infused the entire four days of each retreat with an energy and consciousness that I drank in like I was dying of thirst. I felt like I was Home in ways I rarely feel otherwise. And, it held up a mirror to how colonized my western (patriarchal, industrialized, rational, homogenized) mind really is. Despite years of attempting to undo all that.

I feel very strongly that I most resonate with nature and spirit, with something far wiser and deeper and larger than the cultural energy and consciousness that is destroying everything in its path. I need to trust this. I feel like there is a way for me to be most powerful if I can trust this and ground in this.

100_7429I want to build a sanctuary, for myself and for others where I can hold the space to nurture and empower peace, beauty, awe and gratitude, love and compassion, creativity and conscious evolution. And a deep, deep relationship with Earth and all beings.

It’s not that I want to ignore or run away from what’s happening in the world. It’s that I don’t want to give it any of my life force beyond being awake and engaged with it in a way that feels true and of service to the greater good. I literally want to be the change I want to see in the world.

A Council of Women has recently formed in the area where I live. The response has been extraordinary; women have been organically stepping up and mobilizing around issues of interest such as political action, education, health care, environment and more. Naturally, the one I’m most drawn to is “healing and spirituality” and I’m excited to see how it will unfold. I imagine it will provide much fodder for this blog. Stay tuned!

This video moved me to my core. It felt like a calling so deep and profound that my very cells and bones resonated. Took away breath, made tears flow, heart wide open.

Women: watch.
Men: watch with your women.

Recently I had some of my huge, crazy impossible questions.

What if hundreds, thousands, millions of women Just Said No to everything that does not serve life and the welfare of all beings? What if we said No to war, abuse, hunger, violence against and destruction of others and the Earth? What if we said No to the Monsantos, Nestles, and Exxons of the world? What if enough women did this we could shut it all down, turn it around, and work to say Yes to love, compassion, beauty, peace, cooperation, creativity, health and healing? What if we brought back to the forefront heart, soul, and spirit, ceremony, indigenous mind and a deep, experiential relationship with Nature?

Of course there are many women doing just that, but what if we put all our efforts and energies into making Yes our priority over everything else? For some, even over our jobs, even our families, even our comfort zones, our safety, our fears. What if our future depended on it?

And, of course, there are many women doing just that.

When I started asking these questions, things began coming my way: stories about the Wild Woman, the Divine Feminine, the Sacred Mother, powerful female archetypes from all over the world and across time representing a fiercely protective, regenerative energy for all of life. This is an energy we must embody and manifest in any outrageous way possible and what if, as many voices are asserting, it is the unique role of wild women to lead the way?

I want to be one of those women. I want to create relationships with other such women. I want to create relationships with men who resonate, who carry that archetypal energy in their own hearts. I want to share these people, and how they’re embodying this energy to witness to and transform the world, with you. Let’s walk this road together for a while and see what emerges. I would ask that whenever a person or project particularly resonates with you, get involved! Help them out. Contribute to the YES. Then share your experiences with me; it may end up as the next blog post.

So let’s start with Margaret Klein Salamon. If she isn’t a bodacious Wild Woman, I don’t know who is. She wants nothing less than to mobilize the Planet to “confront the climate crisis” and turn it around. An impossibly insane attempt to midwife a new world. Right? Take a look and send me your thoughts.

 “I am not interested in being hopeful
or optimistic or
working diligently to reverse the2014 Lifetime Achievement Award Winner Meg Wheatley
patterned path of history we tread
so reliably toward collapse
I am interested in being able to stay
in the midst of this terrible travesty
that degrades the human spirit
or denies we have one
caught on the balance beam of
meaningful work and terrifying times
I want to walk steady in the world
learning what balance feels like…”
Margaret Wheatley

I have been on a virtual walkabout for a while now, searching fora community of people intent on doing good work, trying to keep their hearts open, wanting to make a meaningful contribution, aspiring to stay and be of service even as situations become increasingly more difficult and disheartening.*

I have found that there are many such people out there; I want to start introducing them and sharing their stories in these pages. Who are these people searching for ways to balance beingfully engaged with the world with an open, breaking heart?* Who are these living examples of Edgewalkers: hospice workers to what is dying and midwives to what is wanting to be born?

Margaret Wheatley has made a career in pursuing the questionWho do we choose to be in service to this time?More than a career, I would say, but a spiritual journey, a quest. One that she has clearly put her heart and soul into for many years.

She has written and spoken extensively on how we degrade the human spirit when we devolve into fear and violence and self-interest, on how we have forgotten who we are and ourgreat human capacities of generosity, caring and creativity.* She asks over and over: how do we persevere in bringing forth the very best of our human capabilities despite the formidable tides pushing against us? How do we not succumb to exhaustion and despair?

Her answer to these questions was to name herself a Warrior for the Human Spirit.

She defineswarrior,in this context, assimply a decent human being who aspires to be of service in an indecent, inhumane time. We want to be of service without adding to the confusion, aggression and fear now so prevalent (in our world.) In Tibetan, the word for Warrior, Pawo, means one who is brave, brave enough to never resort to aggression or fear to accomplish their purposes.*

This, she says, is what she wants to spend the rest of her life pursuing. And she wants company. So she created the year-longTraining as Warriors for the Human Spirit.

This Training is designed to form our identity as Warriors for the Human Spirit, provide us with the skills required of this role, and create a strong and supportive community of companions whom we can rely on far into the future. This new identity either will strengthen us to do our present work or support our discernment to find new work.   Wherever we choose to use our Warrior skills, we will remain actively engaged in the world, supported by new capacities and a strong community, in dedicated service to the human spirit.”* Take a moment to learn more here.

The first cohort is just beginning, assuming she got a critical mass to make it a go. It’s a huge commitment in time and money for many, but I have a friend who signed up so I can get the inside scoop as it progresses.

Bottom line, this is an incredibly brave and beautiful effort on behalf of all beings and the Earth, and an example of someone walking their talk or, as Rilke said, living the questions. I encourage all of us to take being a warrior for the human spirit to heart and ask ourselves how we can embody this in our own lives. Margaret, I wish you the very best.

…and the point is to live everything.

Live the questions now. Perhaps then,

someday far in the future, you will gradually,

without even noticing it,

live your way into the answer.

Rainer Maria RilkeLetters To A Young Poet

* From Margaret’s web site