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Category — Democracy

We Were Made for These Times

Thank you Clarissa Pinkola Estes for your inspiring words to carry us in to 2014

My friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times. I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world now. Ours is a time of almost daily astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most to civilized, visionary people.

You are right in your assessments. The lustre and hubris some have aspired to while endorsing acts so heinous against children, elders, everyday people, the poor, the unguarded, the helpless, is breathtaking. Yet, I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is that we were made for these times. Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement.

I grew up on the Great Lakes and recognize a seaworthy vessel when I see one. Regarding awakened souls, there have never been more able vessels in the waters than there are right now across the world. And they are fully provisioned and able to signal one another as never before in the history of humankind.

Look out over the prow; there are millions of boats of righteous souls on the waters with you. Even though your veneers may shiver from every wave in this stormy roil, I assure you that the long timbers composing your prow and rudder come from a greater forest. That long-grained lumber is known to withstand storms, to hold together, to hold its own, and to advance, regardless.

In any dark time, there is a tendency to veer toward fainting over how much is wrong or unmended in the world. Do not focus on that. There is a tendency, too, to fall into being weakened by dwelling on what is outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not focus there. That is spending the wind without raising the sails.

We are needed, that is all we can know. And though we meet resistance, we more so will meet great souls who will hail us, love us and guide us, and we will know them when they appear. Didn’t you say you were a believer? Didn’t you say you pledged to listen to a voice greater? Didn’t you ask for grace? Don’t you remember that to be in grace means to submit to the voice greater?

Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.

What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take everyone on Earth to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.

One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these – to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.
Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.

There will always be times when you feel discouraged. I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it. I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate.

The reason is this: In my uttermost bones I know something, as do you. It is that there can be no despair when you remember why you came to Earth, who you serve, and who sent you here. The good words we say and the good deeds we do are not ours. They are the words and deeds of the One who brought us here. In that spirit, I hope you will write this on your wall: When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for.

December 31, 2013   4 Comments

A question of focus

Well, my garden leave neatly dovetailed in to another ocean escape, so here I am, back in Norfolk, breathing out and watching the most stunning sunsets over my precious salt marsh, where our caravan lives.

Of course it isn’t all one big picnic…that journey took a circuitous route via GCSE’s, orthodontists appointments, doctor’s visits, card orders, tax returns, car insurance, housework, and the general hassle of living. But after a trek across London and East Anglia with a backpack, at last I’m here, and even though I have brought work with me, this is an official week of escape.

Stiffkey is a small village on the north Norfolk coast, and I’ve been coming here for nearly 25 years; it feels like home. And it’s small shop has the best cake ever…didn’t dare photograph the cake incase lemon lips had me arrested (I’m on a final warning) but here are some other lovely things i found there…

I love my time here. There are long walks in pine woodlands, walking and splishing by the shoreline, and supper with old friends

This week we’ve even had a small piece of summer (clever me for catching it, as it flitted across England, bound for luckier places like Spain) – here I am bleaching out, crisping up and tuning in to my favourite iPod playlists

There are fab things to rest your eyes on here – miles of pristine unspoilt salt marsh, hares in the fields at dusk, wild, empty beaches. Beauty is everywhere. It made me realise how very hard I sometimes have to work to see beauty back in my everyday world. And yet it is there, despite the nonsense that we are fed from the news and in the papers about what a dangerous, nightmare of a society we live in. Sure, there are some pretty scary things going down. But listen up! The EC has banned neonicotinoid pesticides to help our bees. Saudi Arabia has its first women in its previously all-male Shura Council, and Scotland is aiming to meet 50% of its electricity needs from renewables, having just exceeded its previous target.

Shall I go on? O.k, well, the Governments’ plan to sell our woodlands has been dropped after overwhelming public pressure, vandalism and gun crime has fallen to a 20 year low *, and proposals to protect the Arctic by creating a global sanctuary around the North Pole have drawn worldwide support.

And lastly, just to get it off my chest, whilst this is not a peaceful world, there are actually fewer wars now than ever, and 48% of the world’s populations are living in established democracies. So don’t let this over culture of lies tell you otherwise. Ooops, I think all this sea air has made me a little feisty. Seriously, good things are happening people….its all just a question of where we put our focus.

So, let me put my focus back onto the lovelies that I have been spying all around me up in these parts….

and finally these….

Forgive me for drawing you in with nice pictures and then wham! A big hit of world politics….but there are so very many things to be excited about, that are simply not being reported. O.k, time for me to get back behind my camera…and go and chill out with the seagulls. Sending love and sea breezes from the wild English coast.

* Official figures from the Crime Survey of England and Wales, 2013

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May 29, 2013   1 Comment

A quiet surviving….

Quietly, without ceremony or fanfare, Imbolc arrives. Candles are lit, Brigid’s crosses are woven, and my eyes scan my days for bluer skies and light returning. I have made it this far through the winter.

What is Imbolc then? What does it bring? It is a wonderful fire festival, a reminder of what burns inside, what endures. What waits and grows. The seed, a dream, dream seeds. And just to help us remember that all things return, the very first snowdrops arrive in our woods.

When everything seems bare, and barely there, what is it that keeps me going? Where are my strong roots? What is it that I believe in?

Do I have roots that I can trust, or am I just the palest of flowers that is brave enough or foolish enough to poke my head above this cold winter earth?

I want to tell you about a woman who is surviving, who is enduring, who will not let go or give up. A woman with strong, strong roots. Her name is Haneen Zoabi, she is my age, and she is a Palestinian Israeli citizen, committed to finding peaceful solutions. She was brave enough to stand for Knesset, parliament, in the recent elections, despite continued bullying and death threats by people who are afraid. I am not for or against any person, group or cultural idenity. I am pro-peace and I love her vision and absolute resilience.

She is the first female MK in an Arab party (Balad), and she is focused on employment for women, an end to violence against women and girls, education and children’s rights. She believes, as I do, in equality for all. Those are deep roots.

While the world keeps turning, wars keep going around and around in circles, and my little stream keeps flowing through my valley – we need a quiet surviving of spirits that are determined and brave, that will not be flattened by strong winds, by winter, by darkness.

People who carry on, no matter what. Women who can ride storms, live with being afraid and hated and still weave amazing ideas in to a big scary not-ready-for-them world.

This woman, like so many intrepid women today, means business. In 2009 she met with Code Pink and the Women’s Coalition for Peace, in 2010 she boarded a flotilla with other activists to protest the Occupation of Gaza. And then there is my small world. Where is my energy this Imbolc, where will my thoughts be in the coming seasons? Where we put our words and our hearts, well – it counts. What we focus on grows.

This Imbolc, let there be colour, imagination, growth in brave directions, a holding out for better ways, more peaceful days. Let us cheer on these women, in their quiet surviving.

February 2, 2013   2 Comments

Road to Nowhere….

I will tell you what I know. I know that the earth is not flat, I know that pigs do not fly, and I know that nuclear power is not safe.

I also know that sometimes women who would normally prefer the gentle art of sofa crochet to a rugged hike over rough terrain are driven by a passionate love of this land to do rather terrifying and crazy things. Like scale fences at nuclear power stations. It seems I may be one of those women.

So armed with my lucky pants, rescue remedy, and of course my crochet hook, I set off in the company of two rather fantastic and dear friends for a protest demo at Hinkley. Never mind that it was grey and rainy. I was much cheered by my splendidly foxy and totally pink wellingtons.


Along with a heavy police presence, and a team of Gurkhas and security guards with snapping dogs, I also came across some wonderful and inspiring activists who regularly take part in non-violent direct actions because their hearts tell them that protecting this precious earth for our children is the right thing to do.


EDF, the French company wanting to build a new nuclear reactor on this existing site, doesn’t have planning permission yet. But work has started already, despite this being an insane and lethal energy plan for our small island where renewable energy could thrive.


Friends, do you know how wildly tricky it is to climb a 7 foot high fence with barbed wire at the top? No, neither did I. My friend Kesty was awesomely intrepid and leapt over like a gazelle. Despite lots of shoving and pushing by security, she fell dramatically into the arms of cheering, waiting women.

Did you notice the wool? It seems that knitting and activism go together. Yaaaayyyy! It was a powerful and amazing event. Lots of people willing to join in a mass trespass even though they faced arrest. And I was one of them. One. Of. Them. I crossed a threshold in myself that I didn’t even know I had. And I am shining.

Of course I could not have done it without dear sisters holding me, being right there by my side, and not minding when I arrived over the fence and stupidly left my bags on the wrong side. What an amateur!!!! (Thank you Lisa for your patience and good humour yesterday, I hope me and my bobble hat didn’t compromise your activist cred…..). I tell you, I was so happy skipping across that meadow, doing a little victory dance to the cheers of the activists, that I nearly flashed my lucky pants at the police. Now that would have got me arrested.

You know, walking the lanes, up to the main gate, I saw the most beautiful hedgerows, alive with bramble, agrimony, fig wort, meadowsweet and chamomile. These are not blackberries you want to put in a pie though, with two dirty great nuclear reactors across the field, and a third one planned. So there the berries stayed. Unwanted, wasted. The pain of that was enough to make me cry.



But there are other ways. Alternative pathways, because we have wind turbines, solar thermal, wave power, people power and where energy is concerned we can learn to live with less.I believe that’s worth a shot.

This was a pretty exciting day for me. The day I not only jumped a fence, but stepped over a line in my own head, that had been telling me that everything is o.k, play by the rules, behave. Everything is not o.k, and never more so have we needed acts of civil disobedience to send a clear message out to the waiting world: ENOUGH.

So I salute you Theo Simon, Angie Zelter, Natalie Bennett (elected Green Party Leader), and all the other people who got us there, who cared enough. What a great camp, an inspiring day, and to round it off, as it so often does in my world, cake…..



October 9, 2012   9 Comments

Today, I celebrate…..

Today I celebrate Democracy, our right to voice what burns inside, and what little plurality remains in our fragile newspapers, radio, and broadcast news. As these last thin shreds of the rights we still have cling to winter trees, lets hold on tight, and nuture our defiance. It’s what keeps us alive and passionate, keeps us earthed in a changing world.

“Cause I need freedom now, and I need to know how, to live my life how it’s meant to be….and I will hold on hope” Mumford & Sons

March 3, 2011   1 Comment