Wednesday, January 19, 2011

How Change Happens

Far too many people feel helpless against the social and political forces of our culture and think that as one person they cannot make a difference. Or at least not without countless hours of volunteer service, letter writing, or marching on Washington.

But change is created every single day, bit by bit, by living our passions. As Gandhi so famously said "Be the change you wish to see in the world." Just living how you want the world to be - making choices you believe in, teaching your kids the values you feel strongly about, and raising awareness around you by being is how change happens.

As a self-confessed coffee addict, I frequent a coffee bar in town almost daily. I'm a "regular" and I look forward to stopping in, not only for a tasty coffee treat but to see familiar faces and to say hello. And as I chit-chat with the owner (who is perpetually there) and the staff, our conversations have evolved beyond the weather and weekend plans, to global warming and holistic living. I explain why I often bring my own cup or tote a reusable bag. We chat about why my kids can't eat the many treats they have lining their counter. And they laugh whenever I take an extra shot in my latte because the kids didn't sleep well or I have a long work day ahead.

One of the staff, a savvy young blond with dreadlocks, is an eco-conscious vegetarian. We talk about recipes, gluten free diets, and even converse about making informed vaccination choices as I wait for my latte. The owner joins in, asks questions, and nods gracefully as we chat. The other day, he expressed his concerns over his teenage daughter's eating habits. We talked for a few minutes about easy ways to eat healthier, offering natural and fresh snack options, and juicing. Today, he proudly told me that she is now working with a holistic nutritionist. Although he was lamenting the cost of all the organic food they purchased to start her new plan, I couldn't help but smile. Be the change. I shared a link about "the dirty dozen" foods and how to pick out the produce that you should try to buy organic and suggested saving on others. I congratulated him and told him to keep me posted on her progress.

I never go into my local coffee bar with the intention of changing the world. I go in for a latte. But I am true to who I am every minute. I am who I am and I don't try to hide it. And, inevitably, these things happen. I get into conversations about holistic living. Sometimes, people shake their heads or shrug it off. But often, change results. Whether it's one person or a whole family, the simple act of getting my daily coffee turns into a spark to ignite change. Going for coffee soon means helping an entire family to eat better to learn about why organic matters. The change may last or it may be fleeting. But the seed is planted and awareness is created. And I realize, as I sip my latte, that it tastes particularly sweet today. It's always a good day for creating change.

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