Marie Goodwin is a writer, activist, and recovering academic who is de-schooling herself while unschooling her two teens. She wears many hats (archaeologist, herbalist, writer, mother), but her ‘day job’ is Personal Assistant (or ‘Chief Plate-Spinner and External Hard-Drive’) for author/speaker Charles Eisenstein. She will accompany Charles to the CCC19 conference. See here what Charles has to say about their relationship. Marie is currently birthing her first novel of historical fiction, but you can find some of her writing on her blog, Personal Mycology, and on Shareable.com.
I cannot separate how I feel about the situation on this planet from motherhood. Having children changed everything for me. When my kids came, I was mired in the final stages of a PhD program in Aegean archaeology, looking around at others’ activism and all the work that so desperately needed doing, and I kept thinking, “Rome is burning. Why am I navel-gazing, thinking about a dissertation that five people will read and that has nothing to offer the gathering crisis?” So, in the end, my internal infrastructure of “goals” and “dreams” and “plans” fell apart and my life became intolerable to itself. I left academia and began activism on several levels: I grew my own food, learned how to make my own medicine, I re-skilled myself, taught my own children, and learned permaculture. I became a local currency and gift-economy activist and began public speaking and holding large conferences on topics that mattered to me, I was active in my local Transition Town initiative and community. And I also began working with thought leaders and authors to promote their important work, amplifying their message and, in doing so, hoping to be in service to something larger than myself. I felt that activism was needed at every level and that the clock was ticking.
And after several years, I burned out rather spectacularly and had to regroup. I had to get honest with myself. What do I serve? Where are my skills and gifts most needed? How can I transform my work in the world to be in the service to the rising crisis of climate chaos? And slowly, after a period of latency, some surprising paths have shown themselves to me. While I remain dedicated to educating my children outside of institutions, more personal work is calling me; a reconnection to ancestral lands; to take responsibility for living my life as an ancestor; to re-learn the old ways — old stories, old skills — and then commit to passing them on. I am also being called to write new stories, my own stories, and share them with others. As I write this, I’ve just finished the manuscript for my first novel.
The crisis we face needs people who challenge institutions of our culture. This is absolutely true. That kind of work will arise from the people who see that the story is broken. They will see that we live in conditions that do not support our best selves and a healing biosphere But we also need people who are willing to pause and listen, to hear the voice of the living planet, to listen to her whispers and what she is calling us to do, in this time, in our particular landscapes. Not everyone will be called to “big” work. Some of it is small and anonymous; some of it has seemingly nothing to do with climate change. But the transformation we need in this time is for more people to trust that what wants to be born, what will be useful and right in these challenging times, is knocking at the doors inside all of us. We only have to develop ears to listen.
I see CCC19 as a place where these types of conversations might be held and empowered, where we can support each other in developing the capacity to listen to what the Earth is calling from each of us. My wish is to learn and connect on every level, but primarily I wish to work in an embodied way, perhaps through ritual, to transform the despair I sometimes feel into power. I want to take all of this back to my community and work with others who feel challenged by the times we find ourselves facing. And, perhaps most importantly, I want to be a part of empowering the next generation to do this work, for surely it will only intensify in the years to come.