Image by Gerd Altmann
In 2018, Swedish school student Greta Thunberg staged the first school strike for the climate. She skipped school and stood outside the Swedish parliament building, demanding that the Swedish government honor its commitment to the United Nations 2015 Paris Agreement and take action to reduce carbon emissions. Her actions catalyzed the international #ClimateStrike movement, which has seen thousands of school students all around the world walk out of school on Friday mornings, demanding that their governments take rapid action to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases.
“I want you to panic, and I want you to feel the fear I feel every day,” Greta told the global elite who were attending their annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in January 2019.
Another movement that surged to prominence in the UK in 2018 and went global is Extinction Rebellion, or XR. As part of Extinction Rebellion, people of all ages around the world are using creative forms of protest, including nonviolent civil disobedience, to bring attention to the planetary ecocide that is currently occurring. They are so concerned about what’s happening to the planet that they’re willing to be arrested as a way to gain media attention and make more of us aware of the need to take action.
In April 2019, more than one thousand people were arrested in London over several weeks of ongoing nonviolent civil disobedience. The activists’ work put climate change at the top of the media agenda every day. Finally, people were engaging with the issue. Even an early morning money program on BBC radio had climate change as its primary topic every day that week.
Regenerative Living and Leading
Regenerative Living and Leading, and the Life Design process described in this book, is not about getting arrested or going on strike. It is about identifying the ways in which your lifestyle perpetuates degenerative planetary destruction and transforming it through strategic, radical changes to a lifestyle in which you make a life-affirming, regenerative contribution through your daily choices and actions. Getting arrested or going on strike may emerge as an action you will take as a result of your personal Life Design process, but you can also participate powerfully from the comfort of your own home.
I have heard women say, “I don’t know where to begin.” We begin with ourselves; we then work together to make changes on a local and community level and campaign at the national level, using the power of our government to introduce legislation requiring that corporations rapidly transition to regenerative, life-supporting practices in their business models.
If you just want to focus on the positive, bright side of life, this book is not for you. There will be a bright side, certainly, but before you get there, you will have to be willing to dig deep, look at the ugly parts of your life, transform those parts you’ve pushed away, and integrate what you discover into a way of living you consciously choose.
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Goal Setting and Defining Success
I originally conceived of the Life Design process as an annual goal-setting workbook. I wanted to provide women with a goal-setting structure in which they could define what success looked like to them and include the planet in those goals. It became clear, though, that I needed to provide more context, including my belief that we need to change the way we set our goals, and also to clarify the design process.
I wrote for my peers: women in their forties into their sixties, who are at a stage in their life in which they have time to reflect and chart a more meaningful course. For these women, this time has opened up perhaps because they are established in their career, they have a stable home life, or their children (if they had them) are grown to a point that they are no longer relying on Mom. For many women in this age range, it’s also the time when we go through menopause, so the energy our bodies used to maintain the monthly cycle of activating an egg for fertilization can now be consciously directed in other creative ways.
During the writing process, however, I met younger women who, when they heard what I was doing, said: “I want to read that!” My intention with the Life Design process is not to give you the answers; it’s to encourage you to think, reflect, and explore your way into your life, for yourself.
Giving Birth to the Future
As a result of our biological ability to give birth—and for some, the longing to have children—women embody the future. We can give, and have literally given, birth to the future by birthing the next generation. Those of us who have had children have created a connection to the future, carried it in our bodies for nine months, and birthed it as our children, and in time, their children. The act of having children is a declaration of the desire for humanity to continue existing.
Women have yet to fully play an equivalent role in shaping life on Earth. The majority of human systems set up to meet our needs and create wealth have been designed by men—specifically, white men who have a particular life experience and perspective. For women to have equivalence with men, we need to change the worldview—one that isn’t working for 99 percent of the population of this planet, or for nature and the millions of species of animals and plants.
At a time when humanity has so much to lose, women have nothing to lose and much to gain by strategically, authentically, and urgently responding to the overshoot crisis of the planetary boundaries and the gaping cracks in our collective social foundations. As a result of the courageous pioneering work of women who lived and struggled for equivalence in the past, the opportunities for us now to have a say in how things are done is increasing, and yet we still have a long way to go.
These human-designed systems were conceived at a time when we didn’t understand that we need to live within a safe operating space that ensures that nature’s life-support systems can function. We have known for decades that it is impossible to have a wealth-creating system solely focused on financial and material gain without causing suffering to others, not to mention, dire consequences for the future of life on Earth. And yet, we carry on.
Achieving A More Life-Affirming Outcome
Women are increasingly looking for ways to live that cause less pain and suffering in the world and to the planet. I know this from talking with them. I organize and teach Regenerative Design courses, providing participants with ideas, tools, and skills for living a more sustainable, regenerative life, and 80 percent of the course participants are women. When I ask them why they come, they share their concerns about what is happening around them, and that they are worried about the future of life on Earth. They want to learn ways to change the way they live and be able to meaningfully influence and contribute to how that is being done in their families and communities. They want to achieve a more life-affirming outcome.
Women who live in countries that have been operating within the Western economic worldview for decades recognize they have benefitted from the material advances that stem from this worldview. They are also aware that there is no such thing as an externality, and that the economic model creates intractable problems for people and the planet. Women are actively looking for new ways of doing things.
This is an invitation to embark on the journey of a lifetime—a journey in conscious personal transformation for the sake of all life on Earth, a journey in which you design your life, design for life, and design with Life.
When embarking on any journey, it is helpful to know a bit about the path you’ll be walking. Your unique details will emerge as you explore your life.
©2020 by Ariane Burgess. All Rights Reserved.
Excerpted from the book: Life Design for Women
Publisher: Findhorn Press, a divn. of Inner Traditions Intl..
Life Design for Women: Conscious Living as a Force for Positive Change
by Ariane Burgess
Life Design for Women engages you in a simple, reflective visioning process to help you redesign your life to be more satisfying, meaningful, and aligned with your goals. Step by step, you will examine your life as it is, the influences of your past, and the future you envision for yourself. You will survey the domains of your life--from how you create “home” to your relationships with loved ones, food, your body, the Earth, and even Death. Applying the regenerative principles of sustainability to life design, author Ariane Burgess provides reflective exercises and practical tools to help you examine each of these domains, engage with natural systems, honor the feminine life force, and design your future. (Also available as a Kindle edition.)
About the Author
Ariane Burgess is a regenerative designer. She is constantly designing and implementing regenerative projects, which include the Labyrinth for Contemplation in Battery Park, New York, and the Findhorn Food Forest in Scotland. She is passionate about facilitating transformative learning spaces for people who want to embrace regenerative design as a response to the crisis points currently converging on Earth. She lives in the Findhorn community, Scotland.