The Third Way

The Third Way

 Text; The third wayYears ago, I had a conversation with my therapist around accepting certain family dynamics as they were.  

You see, I’d been living in a paradigm that allowed only two options; tolerate what was intolerable, or resist, fight it with everything you’ve got.

And what I hadn’t known was that there was a third way.

There was the potential to step out of that paradigm altogether, but it would require a radical acceptance of what was.

And I’m not going to lie: I struggled with this.  

I wanted things to be different so bad.  I felt they should be different – that things as they were just weren’t right.

But, with great compassion, she pointed out to me that I could go on wishing, hoping, insisting that life – and other people – should be different, staying stuck in the stalemate of arguing with reality.  

Or I could surrender my fight with what is, and see what emerged from total acceptance.

Now I wish I could say that things changed overnight, but – like all meaningful work – acceptance is a practice.  

And with acceptance also came grief and a certain, intangible kind of loss.  

But I came to understand that acceptance didn’t mean there was no potential for change, or that I wouldn’t still desire or enjoy a change.  

Rather it meant that my wellbeing and sanity were not dependent on things changing.  

That some things were what they were no matter how loud I insisted they shouldn’t be.

And through acceptance – through the third way that wasn’t tolerating the intolerable or fighting what was – that I could allow real change to occur.

Because from acceptance comes agency, power and creativity.  

From acceptance comes freedom.

To choose who and how we want to be.  

To choose how we want to respond and engage.

To live our values and to act with intention, care and precision.

It’s through acceptance – not resignation, not tolerance, not resistance – that we create the conditions for life’s myriad possibilities to unfold.

It’s in the third way that we can stop fighting paradigms, and transcend them.  

So if you’re in need of a little acceptance today, here are my prompts for you:

1. Where might I confuse acceptance with tolerance or resignation, and how might they be different?

2. What do I feel if I sit with this moment, right now, surrendering the need to fix or change? What space opens up?

3. What might be different if my actions were rooted in acceptance?

Laura x 

Hope in an age of despair

Hope in an age of despair

Hope is a practice.

It is the stubborn commitment to believe in possibilities that we cannot yet see.

And in times of despair, we need hope more than ever.

But I’ve had so many conversations this week about hope; hope that seemed impossible to find, or naive to believe in.  

Hope that lived slightly out of reach.

There was worry, what if I hope and things don’t turn out? What if I’m wrong? What if my heart breaks?

What if I’m seen as naïve or idealistic? What if people scoff?

There was despair; fear and pain pushing hope into the distance.  

Refuge sought in cynicism and armour.   

Guards at our heart to protect from disappointment.

The dull, bitter ache of apathy more tolerable than the sharp pain of life. 

But I believe in the power of hope.

Not a naïve positive thinking, detached from the pain of the world.

Not an innocent longing, that knows nothing of struggle. 

But a hope that is grounded in potential.

That knows there is a field with myriad possibilities; ones we may never see or touch but that nonetheless still exist.

I believe in a hope that is less feeling, and more practice. 

So, if you’re in need of a little hope this week, I invite you to explore these practices.

1. Beauty-Making: The practice of finding or making beauty wherever we are.

Maybe it’s in the clouds, the sky, the birds or flowers. Maybe you can help make it through art, an act of kindness, a delicious meal.  Maybe it’s a sunset or the lake at dusk. 

Hope and beauty are close friends.  Where can you find beauty today? How can you make it?


2. Imagine. Imagination is the lovechild of hope. If possibilities exist, what might they look like? What ‘third way’ can we find? Can we allow ourselves time to dream, play and create? 


3. Grieve. Hope is not detached from reality; we cannot feel hope without the fullness of our emotions.  And while hope often looks dark from the midst of grief, grief in an age of despair is a sign of our humanity.  It is the consequence of our love, and to offer it ritual and honour is part of what makes hope possible.  


4. Look backwards. We often think of hope as a forward looking thing – and it is.  But sometimes we generate most by looking backwards. 

Where in our lives has change seemed impossible?  Where has it happened anyway?

Where throughout history might change have seemed impossible? Where has it happened anyway?

Who have you thought to be impossible of change? How might they have changed anyway?

Life is made of possibility.


5. Surrender.  Part of our struggle with hope is our need to see the outcome.  Our need for things to be a certain way. Our need to not be wrong, to know with certainty that things will turn out – often with a nice, neat arc and ending.

We confuse hope with control, hope with certainty, hope with knowing, hope with a fixed ending, hope with utopia, hope with relief, hope with the end of anxiety… each time missing what hope really is. 

Because hope, at its most raw, is the willingness to live in a story that is not yet complete.

A story that we are not the only author of. 

And a story that never really ends.  

Laura x 

Seeing the Water

Seeing the Water

Have you heard this David Foster Wallace story? There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys! How’s the water?”

And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”.  

It’s great, right? I think we can all relate to it.

Most of us grow up in environments where we’re not taught how to see the water and yet, it’s one of the most valuable skills we can have.

The water, depending on context, can be many different things.

It can be as small as family dynamics, or as big as capitalism & patriarchy. 

One of the first ways I learnt to see the water was travel.  I spent a lot of my 20’s backpacking, and I was fortunate to go places as diverse as the Colombian Amazon to the Wakhan Valley to the Arctic Circle of Norway. 

My family could never understand my love of travel so much (particularly to more remote places), but as someone with a non-traditional education, it became a form of learning for me.

Travel taught me the many different ways of being human. 

It showed me patterns. 

And it taught me how to see the water. 

Because in each of these places I saw the patterns of our interconnection.  The shared love we all have for our communities & family, music and art, our shared questioning and searching for something divine. 

But also the patterns & interconnection of injustice.  

The burning of the Amazon isn’t an isolated problem of South America. It’s directly tied to a global economic system (ahem, #capitalism) that requires infinite growth, that is founded on our disconnection from the Earth and each other. 

The suffering of Afghanistan and the surrounds is not a ‘them’ problem. It’s directly tied to neocolonial policies and power politics of the global north (which are founded on the same belief patterns of patriarchy, capitalism & white supremacy). 

And the struggles many of us experience in day to day life, and consider normal – that’s right, I’m talking about burnout, perfectionism, shame-cycles, imposter syndrome – are not actually normal.

They’re a product of a toxic culture, that likes to individualise and otherise systemic injustice.  

As changemakers, I believe our work is in learning to see the water of our culture, and learning to recognise patterns. 

Travel’s one way, but it’s not the only one. 

We can all practice this by asking the right questions. 

Who benefits when I’m burnt out or exhausted?

Who or what goes unchallenged?

What pattern might there be here, where can I see this story in culture? 

Seeing the water is the first step to Getting Free. 

From there, we can learn to hand the story back. 

To steward our power.

And lead our communities from the world as it is to the world as it could be. 

Kingian Nonviolence

Kingian Nonviolence

Kingian Nonviolence & Conflict Reconciliation

The principles, steps and model for change. 

“Now Bernard, the next movement we’re going to have is to institutionalise and internationalise nonviolence.” – Dr Martin Luther King to Dr Bernard Lafayette Jr shortly before his assassination.


Dr Martin Luther King

Kingian Nonviolence

Kingian Nonviolence is a model of nonviolent conflict reconciliation, influenced by the philosophy & teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King and the organising strategies of the US Civil Rights Movement.

While non-violence is often seen as the passive, non-reaction opposite to violence, Kingian Nonviolence takes a different stance, seeing true nonviolence as the active resistance to systems of harm and injustice. 

It focuses on the transformation of conflict, rather than its management. 

Bringing value to activists, changemakers & organisations, it offers a wide lens view of conflict and violence, and how we can all be part of its transformation. 

The Six Principles

Principle One: Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people. Nonviolence is not passive non-resistance to injustice. It’s active, vocal and rises to the occasion.  Nonviolence can be applied to all areas of our lives, and is a path for the courageous to challenge the social inequities of our culture. 

Principle Two: The Beloved Community is the framework of the future. Relationship is the foundation and the glue of social transformation.  It is what we must always be striving for. The Beloved Community is one in which all life can flourish, and conflict can be reconciled without violence. 

Principle Three: Attack forces of evil, not persons doing evil. Or rather, we look upstream to focus on systems and root causes rather than individual actions or players.  To paraphrase an Extinction Rebellion principle, we are all products of a toxic system, and no one individual is to blame. 

Principle Four: Accept suffering without retaliation for the sake of the cause to achieve a goal.  Embracing suffering is not the same as martyrdom or victimhood.  This principle speaks to the importance of sacrifice, and recognising that when we willingly embrace suffering, we can also channel its powers of redemption, moral shame and transformation.  

Principle Five: Avoid internal violence of the spirit as well as external physical violence. Nonviolence isn’t just about our external actions, it’s also an embodiment in our thoughts, words and actions. The ways we treat ourselves matter as much as we treat others, and if we’re to end the cycle of violence, we must also end the violence within ourself.

Principle Six: The universe is on the side of justice.  That there is an underlying value of nonviolence, aligned with universal principles.  The Golden Rule within all the world’s great religions points to compassion, nonviolence and justice.  For the nonviolent leader, this principle recognises that nonviolence is both the means and ends, and that we make the path by walking. 

The Six Steps of Kingian Nonviolence


Better understood as cycles, rather than checkpoints, the steps of Kingian Nonviolence are not linear, and during a campaign or action may not always go in the order listed.

  1. Step One: Information Gathering Understanding and determining the facts, the options at hand, and the urgency of change.  This is a collective process, informed by a variety of sources, and always those most impacted by injustice.

Step Two: Education Developing strong, honest, articulate leaders who are informed on the issue and options.  This could include community conversations, media liaison work, and outreach roles.

Step Three: Personal Commitment This requires the nonviolent leader to examine their internal and external commitment in the action and campaign, including how long change may take.  This means assessing the very real risks involved, the ‘why’ for joining, and understanding what can be offered.

Step Four: Negotiation This is where the conflict is ‘formalised’.  Negotiation is held with the opponent, with the intention of arriving at a just outcome.  If negotiation is not successful, step five – dramatic direct action – is employed. 

Step Five: Dramatic Direct Action Nonviolent direct action, or civil disobedience, is the tactic for when negotiations ave failed.  This could include protest, sit-ins, strikes, road-blocks, boycotts and more – but all within the framework and principles of nonviolence.

Step Six: Reconciliation The closing step, and often the most missed.  When the both sides can come together after the conflict, with joint leadership to carry change.  The step that cements the formation of the Beloved Community.

Contact Me

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Reading a Room for Power

Reading a Room for Power

from meeting rooms to boardrooms, the leveraging of power through shame is the hallmark of patriarchyOne of the most valuable skills we can cultivate as changemakers is the ability to read a room for power. 

To understand the power dynamics at play, so they can be shifted in the balance of justice.

Let’s say you’re in a meeting or other group situation.

Take a moment to breathe, and settle into your body.  Feel the ground, and trust your breath to keep you in the role of observer, just for a moment.  (Side note: this is just one reason mindfulness & meditation practices can be really helpful for changemakers: the ability to ground ourselves in our body & breath when needed). 

Notice who has power. How does it manifest?

Does it manifest as dominance? A subtle talking-over others, or a dismissal of ideas.

Does it manifest through respect? A reverence for a particular individual and their voice or ideas.

Does it manifest as collective power? For example, two womxn who choose to back each other vocally, thus increasing their reach and impact.

Does it manifest through the silent fear of shame? An environment in which people are afraid to share their ideas, or embarrassed to speak up.

From meeting rooms to magazines, the leveraging of power through shame is the hallmark of patriarchy. 

Because what happens when you feel ashamed?

You get small.

You hide.

And the one who leverages that shame, is in power.

When we can read a room for power, and understand the dynamics at play, we have the opportunity to change them.

Notice the dominance or dismissal scenario above? Gather collective power, build relationships with people who can help validate and back your ideas. Speak truth to power and step out of the shame response below.

Notice the power of respect? Take the time to understand where that respect comes from. Honour it, and cultivate the qualities that you respect in others.

Notice shame or fear? Get free. 

Shame has been wielded as a method of control for centuries. 

It’s been taught to us about our bodies & their sizes or shapes, our sexuality, our personality (Too loud? Too bossy? Too quiet?), our mistakes (not good enough syndrome). 

But you are not a problem to be fixed. You are human in a messy world.

And when we can learn to free ourselves from the expectation of others, to find acceptance in ourselves and ultimately a new, inner compass – guess what?

Shame can no longer be wielded in the name of power. 

Instead, we can stand up in our full embodiment. 

Because acceptance, honesty, authenticity and truth are some of the strongest manifestations of power.

Today I invite you to notice the rooms you’re in: the meeting rooms, the zoom calls, the dinner tables, the organising committees, the press conferences. 

Take a deep breath, ground yourself in your breath and body.

And read the room for power.

What can you offer in this moment? Where can you challenge the dynamic at play? 

Note: Shifting the balance to justice means we must also understand who doesn’t have power, and how it can be shared. If we’re not inviting everyone to the table, we’re recreating the current paradigm. More on this soon. 

As always, let me know what you think, and how this goes for you. 

Laura x 

The Language of Separation

The Language of Separation

I saw this sign in Montreal recently, & want to talk about why rhetoric like this is so problematic.

Humans and nature are not on a collision course – because humans are not separate from nature. We never have been and never can be.

Language like this implies that somehow we are separate, and feeds into the very paradigm of domination (man v wild / ‘man was giveth dominion’ / humans & the ‘natural’ world) that is at the root of the climate crisis.

The separation of humans from the more-than-human world is what has fed extraction, separation and colonialism for centuries.

There’s no collision ahead of us. There’s no ‘one moment’ of climate change, as the language implies. And there’s also no world in which we flourish, and the land around us suffers.

It might seem pernickety to care about language here – there’s more important things to focus on right?

But language shapes our understanding of the world. For each sentence we read we unconsciously absorb layers of meaning behind it.

Language that separates us is a symptom of the disease, and fails to understand the level of healing we actually require: an end to the paradigm of separation.

Other similar toxic ideas that get thrown around: “humans don’t deserve…”, “the Earth will be better without humans…”

The problems we face don’t stem from our humanity, they stem from our systems: from capitalism, neocolonialism and a mindset that sees us as separate and in opposition to everything around us.

Until we heal that mindset in ourselves and our communities, we will continue to recreate it in our wider systems.

So today, I invite you to take a few moments outside.

Put your feet on the grass.

Feel the air on your skin.

Take a few deep breath and remember that we are nature.

Ask yourself from this space: where am I being called to act? And what is my next best step in that direction?