Last night, around 9:30pm (LA time) when it was clear Trump would win, I sat in bed with my girls as they both cried. They are 14 and 12 and completely engaged in politics and the world. They were hurt, scared, confused. How could this happen? What will happen to women, immigrants, Muslims? Are we going to move? It took everything in me to assure them it will be ok. We have checks and balances in this country. I ended up just going to bed with them, and skipping the remaining results. This morning, we woke up to tears once again knowing this is our reality.
But we made a commitment, before getting ready for school, that we will not to engage in the hysteria. We are going to keep the tvs off. We are keeping our schedules today. We are not talking about moving. We are focusing on family, friends, school, work.
And as the reality of this new world settles (which truly affects the whole world), we will do our part to stand up. We will strive to be more compassionate and understanding, but also strong and bold about living every day with intent and purpose.
My name is Tara, and I am fourteen years old. Today, I ask of you a simple task: on Tuesday, November 8th (or before if you can), go out and vote for not only your country’s President, but arguably one of the most powerful people in the world.
I am not going to avoid saying this either. I honestly hope you vote for Hillary Clinton.
I cannot vote, but if you can, I urge you to take advantage of a constitutional right that our founding fathers gave us 200 years ago. Not voting is a direct translation of not caring who the next President of your country is, and it does not matter if your favored candidate did not win the primaries, or you strongly dislike Clinton, Trump, Gary Johnson, and Jill Stein. You have to picture who would be best sitting in the Oval Office next January, and you have to put their name on the ballot. It’s essential because that is the way our country works.
I am a girl living in Los Angeles. I am surrounded by people of all genders, religions, backgrounds, skin colors, and ideals. Depending on who you elect to the White House, some of those people or all of those people will be represented in our government. I know its hard – this election seems like a joke to many adults, and I know it is painstakingly hard not to laugh when my teachers discuss what a candidate said at the last debate or rallying speech, but its also important to realize that this election is not a joke. Its especially not a joke to the people whose jobs, homes, education, etc. are at stake depending on who takes the Oval.
Personally, I am worried about Tuesday. What will happen? Will my Muslim family friends be looked at differently when they walk down the streets, or be under “extreme vetting” merely because of the things they believe in? Will our world’s climate continue to worsen because it is looked at as a hoax created by another country? Will my fellow gender, the women of America, be allowed to make an extremely hard decision when they become pregnant or not? I’m really not sure. Continue reading →
Traveling from Los Angeles to Iowa, a group of 6th graders experienced the political process in a remarkable and personal way. The day of the Iowa Caucus, where the first votes for the next president of the United States will be cast, these kids were meeting candidates, interviewing political reporters and touring the site of this important event.
“As the next generation of voters, it’s important that we study the candidates, issues and process. Our classroom is on the front lines.” -Carlthorp Student
I followed their twitter feed throughout the Caucus, inspired and hopeful for the future. Here are their impressions and learnings in their own words… Continue reading →
Today marks the 95th anniversary of American women gaining the right to vote and so, has been named Women’s Equality Day. In that time, much progress has been made and at the same time, it’s hard to believe that women have had a voice in American politics for less than a century. Time Magazine reported that only 20% of the US government is represented by a female while female voter turnout has surpassed males at every election since 1980.
With plenty of distance still to go in the world of women’s equality globally, we celebrate our ladies with words of wisdom from those who have come before and sacrificed greatly and pioneered in a variety of ways for the good of many: Continue reading →
For many, yoga is a rigorous form of exercise, a challenge in stamina and flexibility. For others, it’s a way of decompressing after a long day. But at its core, yoga is a spiritual discipline. From Sanskrit, the word literally means “to yoke” or “to unite.” Thus we can imagine the practice of yoga as the joining of breath and motion, of mind and body, of intent and action.
But have you ever considered yoga as a form of activism? It seems counter-intuitive for a practice bounded within the perimeter of a 72 by 24-inch mat (at least for most Western practitioners). But conceptualized more broadly, yoga can be a vehicle for transformation. For Seane Corn, an internationally acclaimed yoga instructor, activism is at the heart of the practice. She discusses this and more with Deepak Chopra on The Chopra Well’s WHO ARE YOU?.
It starts on the mat. A new yogini explores her flexibility and breath. She learns to quiet her mind and lean into discomfort. As she develops her practice, she watches her body stretch and bend in new ways. She feels her lungs expand to accommodate deep, thick breath. Somewhere down the road she finds herself listening more thoroughly at work, eating with a mind attuned to the body’s needs, and calming herself and others in stressful moments. And eventually she may find herself asking, “Now what?”
Seane describes her own trajectory in this way. At the beginning, the practice of yoga was about “my body, my life, my health.” Over time, the focus shifted to: How can I, through the practice of yoga, begin to impact or change the world? That’s why, in 2007, Seane co-founded the grassroots organization, Off the Mat, Into the World (OTM). From their website:
OTM uses the power of yoga to inspire conscious, sustainable activism and ignite grassroots social change. We do this by facilitating personal empowerment through leadership trainings, fostering community collaboration, and initiating local and global service projects.
In addition to workshops and teacher trainings, OTM has taken their work around the world to address critical global issues. In 2012 they have focused on grassroots efforts against sex trafficking in India. As Seane explains to Deepak, OTM’s efforts are successful because they offer yogis practical tools to take their health, their “light,” and share it with the world. Being healthy and feeling good might be enough for some. But, as Seane describes, many who practice yoga strive to make a broader impact. Off the Mat harnesses this passion and yokes intent with action in the purest sense of the word “yoga.”
Like a true activist, Seane doesn’t stop there. In preparation for the upcoming presidential election in the United States, Seane has thrown her energy into YogaVotes – a national, non-partisan organization that encourages yogis to take their values to the political arena and VOTE! At 20 million strong in the U.S., the yoga community is a constituency, Seane says, that should have a voice in democracy.
Clearly, yoga is much more than a form of exercise. It’s more than a tool for personal growth. Seane emphasizes that yoga is a path of conscious living that extends from the body to the soul, and from the mat to the world. Consider this next time you unroll your mat for a 90-minute class. Awareness and quietude don’t have to end when the class is over. It’s the spirit of transformation and unity that you carry with you. On the mat, off the mat, everywhere you go.
“How poor are they who have not patience! What wound did ever heal but by degrees.”
William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616)
We are an impatient people. In our hurry-up-and-get-it-done pace, which informs not only how we work and plan but also how we treat each other, we often hurry by what we have been looking for or give up too soon. Whether it is the misguided belief that time is money and shouldn’t be wasted or the even more insidious and silent value that we should be able to change our life situation at our whim, our collective disrespect for both time and process in life is rampant.
On a macro level we see our impatience playing out in our government at least every two years. An impatient and anxiety-driven electorate creates political movements that are not based on rational, confident decision-making and long-term planning. Instead these movements appeal to the collective impatience and anxiety to be the leader. We expect instant results from our cumbersome political process, even if the problems they are challenged by were created over decades. Not surprisingly we swing between parties at an ever quickening pace, not allowing either one the chance to work together.
Our impatience fuels our failing personal relationships as well. Most of us grow up with little education and value for the art and practice of a patient heart. Instead, our knee jerk reactions to the anxiety we experience when our relationships falter is to give up on the challenges of intimacy before we really know what is next. Too often we don’t wait, and in our haste to remove the discomfort, we dispense with our promises and relationships as though they are easily replaceable. We witness the deep repercussions of this false expendability within our family structures and even our connections to our community.
Looking around, it is easy to see the source of all this impatience. It begins in each of us, when our immediate gratification of our goals is thwarted or even just delayed; we leap to giving up instead of learning to wait. We seldom recognize the discouragement and failure we experience as a symptom of our own impatience. Our impatience with our own process and our intolerance of our own shortcomings multiplies in our personal relationships and as a part of the greater whole in our community and country.
The truth is that developing patience is an act of emotional generosity and a true measure of social maturity. When we allow others and ourselves the space and time for the process of learning to unfold, we agree to a life that can improve by degree. Patience is a form of continuous forgiveness, it offers the benefit of the doubt to ourselves, the people we care for, and the people we have trusted to lead us. By believing in the premise that we are all doing the best we can at any given moment, we accept a relationship with time that carries a wisdom greater than our own and are willing to let go of our own sense of timing.
Da Vinci, one of the great innovators of the Western world said this:
“Patience serves as a protection against wrongs as clothes do against cold. For if you put on more clothes as the cold increases, it will have no power to hurt you. So in like manner you must grow in patience when you meet with great wrongs, and they will then be powerless to vex your mind.”
Long seen as the companion of wisdom, patience is the one character virtue of humanity that has a big enough platform to build all the others. We have to learn to wait; we have to be willing to stay with a process even when it doesn’t immediately gratify us.
Adding the quiet power of patience to our relationships is a soothing balm that transforms them. The daily annoyances, the missed signals and miscommunication, the conflicting levels of desire and togetherness that characterize all long term relationships become part of an ongoing process that has its peaks and valleys. We don’t measure our relationship by the feelings we have at this moment, rather they become part of a process that has its own lessons and wisdom. We get to see what is beyond what feels impossible to us, because we have the heart to wait out our challenges.
This election day, make choices with a patient heart. Go home and offer the same wisdom to your family and friends. Start with yourself; give yourself the patience you deserve.
Congratulations to the final winners of the 2011 Intent Web Awards!
We want to give much admiration and gratitude to ALL of the website nominees for inspiring their readers to achieve their intentions on a personal, social, global and spiritual level.
And finally, thank you to each and every single one of you online voters for supporting these inspirational, informative and positive online spaces by voting and helping spread the word about the Intent Web Awards. We always need more votes of YES for websites and blogs that challenge us to harness our greatest potential as individuals and as communities.
I actually have a blog outside of Intent that I post to everyday. It’s called Uncle Fatlips–LA’s Daily Survival Cheat Sheet.
Uncle Fatlips has consumed most of my free time over the past month and a half since I started it. I post things like news, arts & entertainment items, sales/bargains, rants and consumer advocacy stuff. It’s still a work in progress and it is evolving at its own pace into my vision of it when I decided that I wanted to create a blog several months ago. Anyway, the following is a news update post from today. My language can be salty at times so please forgive…I’m just a salty kinda’ guy. But the passion is in the right place. I’d announced in an earlier post that I was taking the day off in honor of Obama’s election. But then I got wind of the latest developments with Prop. 8. I had to write about it right then and post it.
Election Day got off to a rousing start over breakfast when my nearly three-year-old son stubbornly announced that he would NOT be going with me to "boat" because he did not want his feet to get wet. This, as his precocious twin sister pointed to a glamorous shot of Governor Sarah Palin in the newspaper and proudly exclaimed Palin should "win" because, "She looks like a princess!" Welcome to my world.
Our family had been discussing this roller coaster of an election season with the kids since Hillary Clinton was considered a shoo-in. Back then, my preschoolers amazingly memorized the names and faces of the candidates. They LOVED saying Huck-a-bee. And of course, O-ba-ma was another fun one to for my chatty little guys to scream over and over. In the liberal and politically active neighborhood where we live, you could barely walk a block without spotting those campaign signs with the iconic image of the now President-elect and the slogan, "Hope." It made an impression. Through the historic primary season, the conventions and the debates, we didn’t have to try very hard to keep their little minds interested. They listened to my husband and I casually debate the issues over morning coffee and were star struck any time they caught a glimpse of any of the presidential hopefuls on TV. They haven’t quite grasped what the White House is or even where it is or what it stands for. But there was something really sentimental to us about teaching our toddlers what we could about the race electrifying the country.
I had been anticipating taking the children with me to the polls for months. Now that the day was upon us, I realized it might not be as easy as I planned. The weather forecast called for rain. But I wanted to walk – since maneuvering two very active two-and-half year olds in and out of the car can be fraught with pitfalls. With record turnout expected, I thought we’d hit our station after the morning rush and still have time to make it to Mommy & Me.
After a bit of explaining, I finally convinced my son that voting has nothing to do with "boating" or water for that matter – "Just wait and see," I told him. "And," I offered, "You might even get a sticker." That attractive prospect motivated both of the little monkeys to quickly find their Crocs and get ready to go.
By 9:30, we were loaded into the stroller and on our way to the Methodist Church hosting the balloting. Along the way, I looked at the campaign signs posted on lawns and taped on telephone poles with fresh eyes. I pointed out the flags and the people wearing the I Voted stickers and campaign related garb and buttons. I suddenly wanted to take in everything about this day and I didn’t want the babies to miss a thing. I had no idea that voting for the first time as a mother would mean so much to me. Somehow the stakes this year resonated with me on a totally new and different level. The possibility for real change in this country moved me in ways I hadn’t considered before parenthood.
The lines were indeed long. I fretted for a minute over forgetting to bring toys or books with us. But once we took our place among the droves of voters – the children seemed curious and engaged by all of the activity. We had snacks, counted flags, played I-Spy and soaked up the excitement in the room. So many other parents also brought along young children. It was heartening to feel a collective sense of citizenship – a kinship you don’t often feel with strangers just strolling down the street. I barely felt self-conscious when my son started belting out the ABC’s.
Thirty minutes later, we finally took our turn at the booth. I tried to explain to the kids without holding up the line what I was doing. By this point, though, they were getting restless. The crowd graciously waited patiently when I lifted each child out of the stroller to see my ballot card. My princess-obsessed daughter beamed as she handed it over to the election worker. Tantrums averted. Mission accomplished.
With the red, white and blue stickers adhered to our jackets, we proudly strolled out into the late morning sun and set off on what would turn into a truly historic day – one I hope my little ones will remember, too. I know I will.