Women's rights, peace and social-justice activist Leymah Gbowee, one of three women who shared the Nobel Peace Prize this year, helped organize more than 3,000 Christian and Muslim women to peacefully protest Liberia's civil war, helping to end the horrific violence there. The award-winning documentary Pray the Devil Back to Hell (click here to view the trailer) depicts the movement that the women carried out. Not only did they risk their lives to challenge Liberia's leaders, they leveraged all of their power, including refusing to have sex with their husbands until the war ended.
Many of us are experiencing far less devastating circumstances yet feel powerless to act and unable to overcome them. Gbowee's experience can inspire us. She suggests:
If you have a situation that seems endless and negative, don't wait for a Ghandi, don't wait for a King, don't wait for a Mandela. You are your own Mandela, you are your own Ghandi, you are your own King. You know your issues, you know your concerns, and you know the solution. Rise up and do something to change your situation around.
Recently I had the amazing opportunity to attend the birthday party of a centenarian. Mrs. Eula Cousins turned 109 this month, and as happens every year, a group of women gathered to celebrate her life. This particular group is what my friend Jackie Radford has labeled a "wisdom circle". It consists of women from every decade of life--from their teens, through young adulthood, through middle age, through the senior years, and though the old-old and Mrs. Cousins herself. And its intention is to share information inter-generationally. "Older women have a lot of information to share, but you have to ask them," Jackie says. Mrs. Cousins' cut buddies consist of a group of 4 or 5 90-something-year-old-women, so experience abounds. Each year, these women share pearls--big fat Hope diamonds, actually--of wisdom, advice for better living, marvel at our lives-- and rejoice that they don't have to live them.
This year our elders kept returning to a similar theme: God has a plan. They repeated this statement so many times--using these words and others--that I wondered if there are things they can see from the vantage point of their senior years that the rest of us cannot because we are too young. So I asked them: From the vantage point of having lived nearly a century or more, can you look back over your life and see patterns, or make sense of what took place, in ways that you cannot when you are younger? That is to say: Can you connect the dots of your life?
Their answer? A resounding yes. This response made the remainder of their advice make tremendous sense. It was:
1. Relax. There's no need to worry or stress ourselves out the way that we do. In the end, things are going to be okay.
2. Become less attached to material things. They're meaningless, our elders told us, and we're way too tied to them. They detract from our peace of mind, hinder our freedom and cause us to worry and stress out too much—major reasons we struggle to relax.
3. Get less caught up in the circumstances of our lives. Just as material possessions come and go, circumstances do also. When you look back on them later in life, the women said, life's happenings mean something entirely different--carry an entirely different significance--than they did at the time that they happened. To me, this suggests that things don't mean what we think they do—that we should stop judging, assigning meaning to and beating ourselves up about them.
We "young" women of the wisdom circle found this advice very timely and wise. And in this post Great Recession/ Depression era, anything we can do to reduce the pressure on our finances and reduce our stress can vastly improve our quality of life.
Anyone who steps off of the beaten path to change their career, or follow a Spiritual Calling or dream, is bound to feel disoriented or discombobulated from time to time. Here I share some advice based on my experience of following my passion into my dream career -- a process I embarked upon when I left corporate America in 1992 -- and landing on my feet. Since I began working for myself and pursuing my Spiritual Calling, even thought I'm self employed I haven't looked for work for over 10 years.
When the economy’s rocky, you’re on pins and needles about your job (or perhaps have already been laid off) and money’s too tight to mention, it can be hard to feel good about yourself -- much less, like you’re operating from position of strength to make the best decisions for your life. If you’re like most people, you’re beating back feelings of vulnerability -- if not downright panic -- and feel, at best, like your options are limited. When you -- and your friends are caught up in this mindset, it can be hard to see a way out.
Watch enough episodes of Animal Planet and you’ll become abundantly clear that God has endowed every creature with the innate ability to care for itself in its natural environment.
Take lion cubs, for example.
"How can I become a professional artist without ‘starving?’" a friend recently asked. “I really need your help.”
I’m not sure that I have a definitive answer, but I do have a suggestion -- one I that I have used myself: Focus your attention upon creative people who are succeeding rather than so-called “starving artists”.
In my experience, thriving artists and starving artists sometimes behave differently.
We don’t get to see this type of public example very often, so it’s important that we not miss the opportunity to learn.
Barack Obama personifies the consummate example of the power of one person's spirit -- in particular, a vision carried out withtremendous determination and mastery, unwavering focus and commitment.
One of a series of postings on the process of identifying your spiritual Purpose.
More thoughts on how to know whether or not you’re on the right track to uncovering your spiritual Purpose. Look for those aspects of your life where: