Intentionally Shifting the Shape of the World in 2012

Wow.  2012 is a breath away. When I started the Shape Shift blog I wrote: “the shape of the world is shifting. It is constantly shifting but never more so than now. This is evident in health care, education, finance, communities, technology, organizations and other systems that have become vital to how we function today.  We can be passive recipients of the impact of these shifts in the world or we can become active participants in shaping the future of the systems, organizations and communities that we feel passionate about – that are near and dear to our hearts.”  This was true when I wrote it, and started Shape Shift Strategies Inc, in August of 2009.  It is even more true as we are on the brink of 2012 – a year that has been much prophesied and written about.

If we are paying attention we can literally and figuratively feel the earth shaking underneath our feet as significant shifts take place – in the natural world and the manmade world.  Earthquakes and tsunamis in New Zealand and Japan, the Arab Spring, Occupy to name just a very few.  I say paying attention with the full awareness that there are many of us who see the greater scope of these stories and feel the significance of them in our very beings and there are many who do not yet see the stories under the stories that show up in mainstream media – a medium that is struggling with seeing and understanding the deeper patterns of these movements in the world.

If I am to imagine into 2012, I can only imagine that the chaos and complexity of our systems, our social structures and  our communities will increase.  This because of the reluctance and deep resistance of letting go of what we know, even when we know it doesn’t work anymore, to embrace what is waiting and wanting to be born.  It is so hard to see new ways when all we can see is what we have already built.  I’ve seen it in the conversations surrounding the Healthier Health Care Now gathering set for Utah early in January.  “We want you to be different, but please do it in familiar ways.  Because we don’t know how to support something that looks and feels different, especially when you cannot tell us exactly what it will look like in the end.  We have to be accountable, after all.”

How do we become accountable for our future when we are anchored to what we know, what we have always known, what already exists?  This is why the chaos will increase.  It is already telling us what we know no longer works.  Our collective response?  Hold on tighter.  Don’t let go.  How deeply shaken do we need to be to let go, let fly into the void of the unknown?

Thank God for the growing pockets of people, teams, communities and communities of practice who see a different future and who steadfastly work toward it in the not knowing.  There are so many I can name - because I am part of them – and so many I can’t because I don’t have knowledge of them but I am not so insular as to believe they don’t exist.  Paul Hawken’s work in Blessed Unrest is just one indicator of this world wide revolution that is taking place right under our very noses – whether we see it or not.

Those of us working and living  in the spaces of not knowing the specific shape of the future or of what new systems could emerge from the old as we are shaken free in the chaos, we are Warriors of the Heart.  To be a Warrior of the Heart and be well, we need personal practices that keep us connected with source and allow us to access our own resilience, courage, compassion, strength, joy and love.  There are individual and collective dimensions of practice. We build personal capacity in our individual practice.  We amplify, accelerate and activate so much more when we come together in our collective work and journey.

2012 may show us more and more the intersection between the relational field (love and loyalty) and the strategic field.  We have treated love and loyalty somewhat dismissively – the soft skills side of the equation.  In business we need to be hard – hard nosed, make hard decisions.  What if this is not true?  What  if our greatest path forward is to embrace more fully the relational field so that our choices are actually more strategic, have a longer term view and value all the things that are important to our survival in a time when so much of what we have always known seems threatened?  What becomes possible when we sink into what we’ve known even longer than what we’ve always known – the wisdom and knowledge accessible to us in ancient wisdoms that become more present to us as we pause and listen deeply – to the earth, to the whispers in our own hearts, to the yearning we have to be connected to something that has deep meaning and purpose. What would a world look like that connected through love and loyalty and then developed strategy for the highest good of us all?

The shape of the world is shifting.  It always has been.  Is it shifting faster now?  Feels that way.  What is the intentionality we can individually and collectively bring to amplify, accelerate and activate the shift we desire to see in the world?  What is the shape of the world you want to live in to?

I experience such deep gratitude and appreciation for my friends and colleagues (the ones I know and the ones I haven’t met yet) around the world.  You inspire me.  You lift me up in the moments when I have lost sight of my own light.  You give me great hope for what is possible in a new world order.  I am humbled and honoured to do amazing work in the world with people I care deeply about – from a place of open heartedness and a field of love and connection that makes possible the impossible – only seeming impossible because we can’t always see the how.  The how stops us.  The vision and intention for shaping a future we want to live into compels us all forward.

Walking the path of not knowing.  Setting strong, clear intentions for what I want to see unfold in my own path of shifting the shape of the world in 2012, letting go of the how and inviting what is ready – and urgently wanting – to show up.

Contemplating and Celebrating Turning 50!

2012 seems like an auspicious year to be 50 – for me anyway.  For the last 3 years or so I have been saying I am almost 50, unlike some who fear that round number of age and wish they were sneaking their way backward, I find myself boldly and excitedly walking my way into it.  Which makes me smile and even giggle a little bit.

From 2005 to 2009 I was in a period of great upheaval and transition.  After saying repeatedly over those years I was in transition I began to wonder if that cycle would ever complete itself.  Then, in 2009 on the heels of a one day vision quest in Gold Lake Colorado and then the first Shamanic Convergence in Nova Scotia, I began to sense the transition process had shifted into a more gentle unfolding process and that I had given birth to the second half of my life, complete with the articulation of a personal purpose statement: from this place of deep rootedness to my spiritual lineages, I boldly bring my healing gifts to the shifting shape of the world and the regeneration of its people.  It is a statement that 2 years later still resonates deeply for me even as I grow less sure of what exactly it means.

This was also a period of time when I began to embrace gifts of awareness of the non-physical or subtle realms – and began to feel deeply embraced by non-physical entities – guides, guardians, angels.  As a person who lived a very ordinary experience of the physical world up to my late 30s, this was an area I had always believed in and felt could be accessed — but by other people, certainly not by me.  My journey brought teachers and mentors to me and took me to places where the existence and substance of the subtle realms and my ability to connect with them became undeniable.  It has been a significant part of the rebirthing process and will be a growing part of the journey forward.  A few years ago, one of my teachers said this is a time when there is a growing need for and a growing number of people who can walk with one foot in the physical world and one in the non-physical world – with greater ease, seamlessness and ordinariness.

If I gave birth to the second half of my life through that lengthy transition period, now I feel like I am beginning the Fool‘s Journey all over again, dancing the dance of possibility with time and space as a playground.  In the Gateway to the Divine Tarot (my favourite at the moment), the Fool is pictured drifting high above the Earth, implying an unearthly aspect to him, with innate wisdom that lies outside the ordinary and mundane realms.   The Fool is both emptiness and infinity, bringing movement, change and fresh starts.  The path is waiting but the full course of it cannot be seen.

I have been experiencing a sense of anticipation as I approach 50.  When I was a child, even a teenager, maybe even a young adult, 50 seemed both a long way off and old, not the launching pad for something new. I’m not sure what 50 is supposed to feel like.  It is half a century after all.  In the millennia of life this is such a short period of time.  I don’t feel old, I feel strangely and beautifully ageless and more and more like age as a number doesn’t matter.  What matters is how we approach life and journey, what we are willing and able to embrace and how well we can surrender into the greater forces lighting our path.

Maybe I don’t feel old now because, in the first half of my life, I have often felt older than my years. This was partly through taking on lots of responsibility and finding myself in leadership positions at very young ages. While not feeling old now, I do feel like an elder in some ways.  Steward might be a better word.  I think of it as elder in the journey – this current physical journey in the world, but also in the sense of my soul journey and the vast expanses of eras I have traveled to be here, right now in this time.  To be 50 in 2012.  Did I plan that?

A lot of attention has been paid to 2012 – the year the Mayan calendar ends.  Some have interpreted this to mean the year the world – or civilization – ends.  It may well be the end of much of what we do know or how we have lived but I doubt it is the end of the planet.  Likely it is the end of age old patterns, the end of blindly bringing destruction to our ecological systems, the end of allowing only  a few voices to dominate.  I am of the view that the Arab spring and the Occupy Movement are manifestations of the deeper shift that is already happening in the world, the trending to a greater level of awakeness in the world.  A time of returning to greater consciousness that there is far more beyond the physical vessels our spirits inhabit and far more alive in this world than just the plants and animals, just what we can physically see.  Maybe it is  a time when our sight and awareness will collectively expand again so we can live with a greater sense of the sacred in every place and every one – including in us.

I am aware of this journey in me and of me in this journey.  I am aware of a vast array of conversations I am with people in many places in the world where this is true.  Of a greater hunger for deeper dives, greater understanding, more meaningful work, love and relationship in new and deeper ways and beyond only the intimate love relationship.

Perhaps we will look back on this time in a decade or so and see what a harbinger of change it really is.  I’m certain I will look back on my journey and affirm what I know and sense as I move into 50.  This is a time for me to break old, limiting patterns, to step more fully into what is mine to do, to completely embrace my purposeful path and live into all that has been on my own edges for awhile.  It is the year I will publish my first book, Embracing the Stranger in Me: A Journey to Open Heartedness and begin writing the second book – its companion guide.

There is such a sense of newness on my horizon of 50 and of joyous celebration.  I may have unconsciously created an association between turning 50 and embracing life in the fullness of all it has to offer.  I have been growing into it for sure in the last couple of years as I have discovered falling in love everyday, have found joy as the baseline of my experience rather than as the exceptional state and have stepped into more conscious awareness of the experience I am living in any given moment.  I have been growing my experience of and relationship with the non-physical world and particularly my own guides, guardians and angels.

I didn’t really have a plan for my life up to this point. If I did, it wouldn’t likely have included the things that have shown up.  I wouldn’t have imagined I’d be divorced once, let alone twice.  While I would have expected to have children, I wouldn’t necessarily have anticipated the quality of relationship that has emerged and been present throughout their growing up years – with them and their friends. I couldn’t have imagined the most amazing people who have shown up in my life and those that have shown me pathways, caused me to grow or reflected back to me qualities I have been invited to embrace – the delightful and profound, the challenging and mundane.

I also would never have imagined that a country like Brazil would play such a central role in my life and journey or that I would be at this point in my life and surrounded by the most amazing young leaders from Brazil and here that I get to play with, learn from and with and journey with.  Yay for what I do not know and cannot see.  And for the increasing courage and grace that allows me to embrace what is wanting to show up.

The invitation into 50 gives me shivers in the most delightful and shimmering kinds of ways.  The invitation into deeper levels of trust, forgiveness, curiosity and joy are apparent.  This invitation is flirting at the edges of 50, waiting to see my response.  Like the first half of my life, it will be filled with the imperfections of life, of me in my human journey, ambivalent at times, sad at other times, anger more freely expressed when it shows up in my experience  but in better and more life affirming ways, like other emotional experiences that are not joy and love dissipating quickly because of the freedom of expression in healthy ways. There will still be days when it is challenging to walk the path, days when my own inner judge will be alive and vociferous, days when I do not know what to do or make choices that will somehow feel wrong.  It is a human experience I am living, after all, that we all live.

However, I have come too far to go back.  Have I come far enough to fully surrender and embrace all that is waiting for me here on the edge of 50?  It seems that is part of what I will discover as I begin the Fool’s Journey anew.  I begin with child like curiosity and playfulness and anticipation. I begin with joy brimming over the top.  I look forward to seeing where and how your path intersects mine and I am eternally grateful for the path, people and circumstances that have brought me here to the edge of what’s next. 50, here I come.  Are you ready for me?

Why Don’t Those Occupiers Just Go Home?

The Occupy Movement seems to have hit a perplexing moment – yet another one, that is.  Officials in many cities across North America are trying to figure out how to make the occupiers go home.  Fall is settling in to many places and what many assumed was a passing fad hasn’t yet faded away with the cooler temperatures or fiercer weather.  If they didn’t have any demands like typical protestors and no proposed solutions to the problems that others could then shoot down, then why haven’t they just packed up and gone home?

So now, many officials are trying to figure out how to get them to disburse while opinions of the movement and the occupiers vary dramatically within the media and within communities in each of the cities.  Some people think they are an eyesore filled with people, mostly young, who don’t have jobs and are only looking for a handout.  People who have this perception seem to just want them to go home and find a job like everyone else.  Public officials are certainly playing off of the perceived dangers pointing to drugs, alcohol and even some deaths in some cities as reasons to disband the occupiers.

Other people see them as vibrant communities that people flow in and out of, people with and without jobs, people on traditional career trajectories and those on alternative career trajectories, who are standing up for democracy and “voting” by their very presence in public spaces.  My own bias or world view is that there is something more going on here, something deeper, something fundamental to understanding the shifting shape of the world.

Occupiers have been gathering long enough that minimum structures and process have emerged.  These tent villages include library and food tents as central points of focus.   They have been working with consensus decision making and ways of being heard in large crowds where any kind of speaker system has been denied.  The movements have stayed largely peaceful even in the face of being provoked at times.  They are communities that are taking care of each other in some beautiful and perfectly imperfect ways.

They are example of translocal communities that are learning from and with each other and supporting each other.  They exist in individual cities and they are part of a field of attraction that makes them more than any single city.  That the movement spread so quickly and virally from one place to the next points to its magnetic attraction and the sense that there is something more going on here.

Maybe the occupiers haven’t presented demands or proposed solutions because they know we don’t know what the solutions to our problems are and they won’t be solved by a few people locked away in a room brainstorming or strategizing our future.  The greatest likelihood of deep, systemic solutions appearing is the collective curiosity and discovery of what is possible through intentional dialog the likes of which we may have not seen before – like the 1000 table, 10,000 person cafe conversations that took place in Tel Aviv earlier this year – the first of its kind but surely not the last.

Our culture is such that any one person or group presenting solutions feeds into our predominant public and social structure of debate – giving people something to latch onto to elucidate all the reasons those solutions won’t work and dividing us into camps of right and wrong, good and bad, smart and stupid.  What happens when we invite ourselves to see past the dichotomies to hold the paradoxes and allow all possibilities to exist in the same moment?  The very idea is perplexing in a world that has become beautifully complex and yet where some still want to boil it all down into nifty little compartments of thought and action.  We don’t live in that world anymore.  We haven’t for some time.

Our systems – financial, health care, education, transportation, environment, to name a few – are in deep trouble.  For the most part, they no longer support themselves.  They are out of integrity.  Most of them would be financially bankrupt if we let them be.  Officials can try to make the occupiers go home – in fact, as I’m writing this I got a test message saying police in Halifax are forcibly trying to remove the Halifax Occupiers from Victoria Park right now, in the pouring rain.  But taking them out of public spaces does not change the condition of these systems or the condition of the globe in this moment.  It might allow some to pretend that we can go back to business as usual, but we have long since passed that point.

So, if we opt out of the ways we have always done things, where does that take us?  To the field out beyond right and wrong (to badly paraphrase Rumi)?  If enough of us were able to let go of everything we think we know and allow ourselves to surrender into the edges of our learning and experience, maybe collectively we will begin to imagine what’s next and lean into creating the conditions for that emergence – emergence meaning we all left with something no one brought.

The deliciousness of possibility has me salivating with eternal hope.  The inquiries I am in around stewarding what wants to emerge along with the deeper underlying patterns inherent in the work I am called to do make me deeply curious about the Occupy movement, the staying power of it and how it will influence the shifting shape of the world and the regeneration of its people.