Lead by Example

Because the only thing we have control over is ourselves

As humans sharing a planet, I believe we have a responsibility to one another to be the best versions of ourselves. Earth is the shared space in which we live. It is our home. I know there are many who don’t live by this value but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t.

When my kids are on the brink of explosion and ready to battle to the death, I tell them to knock their crap off. Once the threat of one being fried by the other’s laser beam eyes dies down, I talk with them rationally.

As they ramble on about how they’re perfect and the other is the instigator of all things, I tend to cut them off and say, “two wrongs don’t make a right,” and “if you want him/ her to treat you better then start treating him/her the way you’d like to be treated,” and “be the bigger person.”

I catch wind of the cruel and horrid acts in this angry world via social media, email, the newspaper, town gossip, my apocalyptic prepared, catastrophizing husband and delivered by pigeon when nothing else works. It seems there is no escape. I can’t block it out, either.

The internet provides convenience to all arm chair critics, who are more likely perpetuating the situation than helping it. We all have our own opinions and expressing them can be constructive (or a total disaster), but it’s not necessarily action.

Action is the only guarantee that we will move forward and progress. We must act.

As I watch the current state of the world continue to unravel before my eyes, I challenge my own morals and values. I question what more I can do on an individual level to create a positive impact.

I have a concrete understanding that the actions of one have limited power but the goal is to reach one (and hope it starts a trend from there?)

Here are five things I believe I can do to generate a positive impact.

Lead by Example

I’ll skip the details and assume we’re all aware of the terrible shit currently going on in the world. If you’re not, you can Google the words, “terrible shit currently going on in the world” and get caught up to speed.

Just as the media can spread this negativity all over the world via the internet, I can send messages filled with positivity such as, “we will prevail!” and “Homemade deep fried burritos fix everything!” And cat photos.

The system is designed so that when it comes down to it we can be viewed as an ideation of a society or we can choose to stand out as an individual.

I know it’s not possible to rid the world of all the negative stuff, just thinking about it is exhausting and soul crushing, but I can extend kindness and compassion, and develop connection and build strong relationships. I can take small steps that will eventually become big strides.

Sustainability

My family and I have steadily been working on becoming a 100% self sustaining homestead for a few years now. We’re nowhere near our big picture goal but with each new project brings a sense of empowerment. We have a long way to go and we’ll get there.

It’ll be a great deal of work to continuously maintain a self sustaining homestead but at the same time it will also be rewarding. This requires that each family member to do their part in order for our household to remain a functioning community.

For now, we’re feeding ourselves off our own land, engineering means of survival from useless junk piled up and recycling items we no longer want by donating them to others in need.

Less= more. More head space, more value, more unity, more sustainability.

My reason for wanting to do so is to decrease our dependency on steady paychecks, civilization and simply to prove it can be done in the age of technology and conveniences.

It’s my definition of minimalism. We’ll be utilizing less ‘on the grid resources’ that take from the earth, producing less waste and less dependency. It’s a life with purpose, and not materialism or social status.

It’s a process of constant learning. It’s a process of utilizing our abilities to create and also accepting failures as they arise. It’s consistently developing and building with our minds and working with our hands, and letting go of the desire for instant gratification.

Creativity

A teacher once told me that literature, art and music have the power to heal. In 2019, the internet has the power to cover the globe. I use social media sites to share my creative work, and with the number of platforms out there, the types of medium and genre are limitless.

I take my camera with me everywhere I go. The thousands of photographs I’ve taken help me see there is a tremendous amount of good in the world, too. Everyone should get to see the world and all its glory, and thanks to Instagram, they can.

As creatives, sharing our work is a powerful tool to connect and inspire others. In a sense it’s our voice and the voice of so many others who can’t speak up. We need to keep at it until we are heard, and then keep going from there.

“A true artist is not one who is inspired, but one who inspires others.”― Salvador Dali

Community

I want to invest more of myself and my time on community goals. We read a lot about self-help and personal development but as a society we lack in the fundamental skills to function as a community. Our government makes our decisions for us as we walk around like mice in a maze.

Empowering communities to create and reach goals together may be the most positive form of impact on human population.

When I refer to community I mean any and every type of community or cultural group. A few examples would be my neighborhood, the town where I live, the library writing community, home or office environment, or my immediate circle of family and friends.

I have yet to read a ‘how to’ article, listicle or life hacking approach reaching out to the masses to work together. As a whole we focus on personal goals for our own gain, when we could be focused on entire communities and improving the environment around us.

Again, we must act. In order to be successful it will require we step outside our front doors, into our communities and take action. It means we must work toward the greater good.

Share my Books

By sharing books we share adventure, knowledge we’ve learned, the characters we fell in love with. We travel back in history, dream of the future, solve mysteries and live magical moments. We experience the emotions of triumph and failure. We lose sleep when we can’t bring ourselves to put the book down.

With all this wonder it feels selfish not to share. Books are treasures. They are immortal. Our time will come to pass but our books will always remain. It’s a far more enchanting notion to leave our books behind in the hands of the world rather than housed on the shelves in our homes.

Not only do we catch a glimpse of who the author is but each book we read is also a reflection of who we are. We pass along pieces of ourselves when we pass along our books.

This is a tradition I hope to pass down to my children and I hope they will pass it down to generations yet to come. In a world that at times is not at its best there will always be stories to strengthen human connection.

Newspaper reporter in Eastern Iowa. The views expressed are mine alone.

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