Thing the First: Helping Others. One of the most beautiful things we have the capacity for is compassion, and the real treasure is in taking the next step from compassion by turning it into tangible help for others ~ either through hands-on help, or by enabling others to do the helping.
I was at a raptor center the other day where they rehabilitate injured birds, and for those whom can't be released, provide dedicated, long-term care. Walking through the pathways, visiting with and reading about the individual birds, I noticed one that's been in residence since 1986 ~ so they're in it for the long haul. Not only that, but the birds all seem very well cared for, are fully attentive & look great. One time a raven there surprised me by mimicking my vocalizations with perfect-pitch after I started talking to it! Hearing your voice come out of a raven's beak? ~pure magic~
Whether it's raptors, bats, oceans, the homeless, the disaster-stricken, or even just a neighbor who could use some company or a surprise gift of dinner being brought over, find something you care about, and figure out a way to turn that care into a verb. It doesn't have to be a big, popular cause & your help/time/effort/donation doesn't need to be huge to matter. Think back to when someone's said a kind word out of the blue, extended an unexpected gesture of kindness, or took the time to listen and be there for you, and how much that meant, the difference it made... We all have the capacity to do this for something or someone else.
Thing the Second: Vegetarianism. *Caveat: I don't judge others for not being vegetarian, much like I don't judge negatively for having a different spiritual practice. This is simply what's right for me, and a few thoughts behind it.
In 1986, I decided to be vegetarian. The fact that I'd recently bought The Smiths' "Meat is Murder" surely wasn't coincidental, combined with the fact I'd been thinking about what food was before being turned into oft-unrecognizable "products". That day, my mom said I'd die young due to malnutrition. Well, it's 28 years later and this is a natural part of who I am. I see all creatures as part of the same Earth-family, and don't personally view them as "food" or have any desire to take their life when there are countless other easily attainable & deliciously sustaining options available. When I first became vegetarian, there were cravings I sometimes had and there weren't yet any substitutes. No "craving" was worth another's life to me so I ignored it and moved on. Since then, loads of basically identical tasting veggie alternatives have come out, so there's never a reason to feel anything's lacking (& the original cravings have been replaced with new favourites) :)
In the animal world creatures kill others for food (they don't have handy grocery stores & farmers markets <-- click the link to find ones local to you), but they do it in a way where they for the most part take only what they need. Generally, their behaviours can be naturally sustained and balance out. Raising animals in cramped, inhumane factory farms is neither humane, nor naturally sustainable (causing growth hormones & antibiotics to be used in bulk), and long-line fishing clears sea life from whole swaths of ocean in a way that takes the lives of unfathomable amounts of "byproduct/undesired" sea life beyond the targeted catch. It's simply not the same as some fisherman off the coast of Sicily casting his net to catch enough for his family to use that day. One is sustainable, the other wreaks havoc on the vital balance of an ecosystem. It's unlikely the entire human race will ever become vegetarian, but I'm glad I did, and ~maybe~ for each person who does, there will be that much less of a demand for mass-produced "meat" and that much more focus on organic, plant-based, nutrient rich foods. For those who aren't vegetarian or vegan, it's still possible to help the big picture by being conscientious about what you're eating, where it comes from, and the conditions under which it was raised (this is also true for clothing and anything else we buy). We all demonstrate power through what we choose to consume, to show what we do not, and what we *do* support.
Thing the Third: Supporting the Creative Arts in all its many forms. For this artist, 2014 marks the 20th anniversary of a certain premiere collection's black catalogue of clothing designs going out into the world with hand-tattered ribbons, with ornately handwritten silver writing on black linen envelopes and postage stamps with paintings of Japanese cranes (a symbol of longevity). My hope was that those pages would wing their way to other souls around the world ~ giving a glimpse into another time & place, and showing how beauty could come out of a place where most saw only darkness. I never considered that 20 years later this would still be my vocation, but looking back on the heart and soul that was poured into every detail, it makes sense. That said, all the passion, vision, and dedication in the world might not have meant much if there weren't others to actively help support that vision by making sure these creations could continue to be made & find loving homes. It's been such an honour and heart-joy to see these offerings go on to be worn for some of the most special occasions in people's lives, as well as to simply make the every day a bit more personal & enchanting.
To this day, I'm so grateful for each order. In 1994 we celebrated with nachos every time one arrived in the mail (probably a good thing we curtailed that practice)! I mean it sincerely when I say each and every one of you are so appreciated. I wish I could do a collage with *everyone* who's shown support through the years, but here are a few photos I quickly cobbled together of some of our wonderful customers (who are often friends, which means so much!). You are all so inspiring, lift my spirit, and oftentimes, keep me going by providing a tangible reason to keep creating. This isn't just how it is for me, but for any independent artist/creator/musician/writer/designer/p
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