Thirty One Elements Service Providers Can Include in Their Premium Programs


As you begin to develop your business model, it is helpful to begin with the end in mind. What’s your most robust offer? What’s the ‘gold’ level of your offers? What’s the premium, most in depth and comprehensive version of what you offer? There’s a good chance that this will pay half of your bills. From that, you can reverse engineers the lower levels of your business model and smaller offers. You can start with the gold version and then ask yourself what the silver and bronze levels might be.

Ah… but what on Earth does one include in such a premium level program? There are more elements and options to consider than you might have thought. Here’s a menu to choose from.

Let’s imagine, for the sake of clarity, that the following is for some sort of a life or business coach – fundamentally a service provider. But most of these could be translated to those who sell products as well.


Element #1: One on One Coaching. This is the obvious one. At the premium levels, people want hand holding. They’re not paying you the big bucks for ‘more info’. They’re not paying you for empathy and context alone. No, at this level, they want guidance. It’s hard to imagine a premium package without this.

Element #2: Workshops and Retreats.  In my Mentorship Program, there are two live retreats in my living room each year. It’s included in the $400 USD/month that they pay. They just have to get themselves to Edmonton and find accommodations. Other coaches do much larger workshops that are open to the public (who pay) but their higher level clients don’t pay to attend. They come as guests. If you’re doing the workshop already, why not invite them as guests? It costs you nothing but adds a lot of value to their experience in your program. Plus, then they get to meet each other and that can deepen their connection to your program in an organic, unfocused way.

Element #3: The Batphone. Clients in my Mentorship Program get access to me via an app called Voxer (similar to WhatsApp) where they can send me texts and voice messages. I get back to them as soon as possible. Sometimes it’s easier to send a voice message than sitting down to write an email. Sometimes they just need to vent. They’re melting down and need or need to just hear themselves talk something out.

Element #4: Unlimited Email Coaching. I know some coaches who offer this to their clients. Clients can email them questions whenever they want and as much as they want. Some clients will use it a lot and some won’t ever use it at all.

Element #5: Group Calls. You can do these weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. In my Mentorship Program, I host a weekly call. It’s 90 minutes long. The entire format is Q&A. I record them. It’s just there if they need it.

Element #6: Google Doc Coaching.  In my Mentorship Program, I give my clients some Google Docs which have worksheets in them. They fill them out as well as they can and notify me when they’re ready to have it looked at. And then I do and add in my suggested edits, my questions and my comments and send it back to them for the next round. This is gold. I can help people make an immense amount of progress in honing their niche and point of view in this way in a way that we never could by just talking.

Element #7: eBooks and Homestudy Courses. If you already have a back catalogue of eBooks and a home study course or two, why not just include them in what they get? They can go through it all in their own time. It costs you nothing but could add significant value to them.

Element #8: Facebook Groups. This is very common and not everyone wants or uses them. But having some online forum where your Premium Program clients can connect with each other has benefits. In my Mentorship Program it’s mostly used for calls – people type in their Wins from the Week and Questions for the Call in the group before the call gets going (I find that this saves time rather than having everyone verbally check in). People also, from time to time, use it to ask for help from each other and to post something they want feedback on. Sometimes it’s just a big deal that they don’t feel alone in doing the work with whom they can commiserate and brainstorm solutions.

Element #9: Step by Step Checklists. Again, remember that your Premium Clients want guidance not just more information. They want ‘here’s exactly what you do first, second and third’ in order to achieve whatever result your program is promising. They want a visual, ‘I can pin this onto my fridge’ kind of map.

Element #10: ‘Templates’, ‘Worksheets’ and ‘Fill in the Blank’ Systems. One of the eBooks I recommend most often is Carrie Klassen’s How to Write a Lovable Homepage workbook.  The right resource of this type can be very helpful at the right moment because it doesn’t ask them to start from a blank page which can be utterly overwhelming.

Element #11: Partner Check Ins. You could help them find accountability partners. This can be a game changer for people. They can rely on each other for help implementing the work and on you for guidance in what to implement. The more customized this is for them the better. Finding a good buddy ain’t easy and it can go wrong in a lot of ways.

Element #12: Access to Your Network Through You. Some coaches are very well connected in their communities and this can be a big part of what they offer their clients. “I’ll hook you up with hubs, influencers and people who can offer you the technical help that you need. My rolodex is yours.” When these connections are made with care they can save people years of work. Another colleague Emerald Peaceful GreenForest offers this, “Access to rolodex of resources (or parts of it depending on the level of investment) Appearances in front of my audience via podcast or as a guest to my list once they have successfully completed again dependent on level of investment.”

Element #13: Tools, Templates & Resources. My colleague Andy Freeland had this to say, “One thing I’ve been seeing a bit more of is custom apps, plugins, etc..  And something I’m exploring now is using courses to scale my 1:1 facilitation sessions. So, instead of the approach of giving people a bunch of info and homework, I’m actually using prompts and timers to set up an automated process that guides my students through a process that I usually facilitate in a live 1:1 scenario. In this case, the course guides people through what is normally a 4hr live Brand Strategy facilitation. So it’s a bit different than the typical homestudy course approach, in that the entire thing is meant to be completed in a single session.”

Element #14:  Personalized Recordings. My colleague Mellissa Seaman shared this, “I offer my premium clients personalized recordings they can listen to in the car on the way to work – made for them by name… things they can listen to to ground and refresh, to remember their purpose- over and over.”

Element #15: One on One VIPS Days or Retreats. What if, instead of a group retreat, you offered an in depth, one on one dive where they come to you or you meet live in a location (or via phone and zoom) that would support and be supported by the work? What if you offered them a very focused and immersive time? It could be a day long or five days. You might give them an assignment to do for an hour and then come back you work through the next step together and then send them off again. 

Element #16: Laser Coaching Sessions. Mellissa Seaman shares, “My VIP executive clients do NOT have time for Facebook, hour long calls, or group stuff. They want more in less time. 20 minute coaching calls on lunch breaks, always flexible for time changes at the last minute.”

Element #17: Bespoke Homework. “They love homework that is tailored for them, not pre-made.

Element #18: Help them track results. Help them keep track of where they are in your process. Hopefully you have some general map you’re guiding them through but it’s easy for them to lose track of themselves or have assignments and work slip through the cracks as a new ‘shiny object’ appears. It can be a godsend to have someone else say, “So, where are you on this? Are you on track?” Increasingly in my Mentorship Program, I am asking clients to review their goals in a collective spreadsheet once a week to keep them up to date. And then, once a month or so, I review them and send them an email to see how it’s going on them and if they need support with any of those goals.

Element #19: Done for you Services. My colleague Eiji Morishita offers this, “If there’s any done for them that you or your team can do can be included in a high ticket. We include event site selection & negotiation plus having me MC the event for optimal Sales and coaching them onsite pre & post offer in our top program where we coach & design their multi-6 figure Signature Live Event.” Could you write their sales or landing page for them? Could you create their poster for them? Could you interview them and then create a menu for them for a month? Could you offer them copy-editing? Could you generate leads or promotional partners for them? Graphic design? Photography? Health services? Website creation? Create a speaker reel for them? Could you handle hiring, contract negotiation, sales, team training, and facilitate board meetings for them?

Element #20: Online Virtual MasterMinds. In my Mentorship Program, we do informal versions of this all the time online and my whole retreat and Living Room Sessions workshop is based on this. Online, someone might bring a sales letter in Google Doc form and we take 10 -15 minutes to have everyone look at it together to give feedback. This is incredibly helpful because you can get to that point where you can look at but no longer ‘see’ your own writing. You’re too close to it. In my weekend retreats, the whole format is hotseat or mastermind based. There’s a limit of seven people there. Each person gets two hours of time from the group. They share their issue to the whole group. We then take thirty minutes to ask questions and reflect what we’re hearing to make sure we understand. No advice is allowed. Once we are convinced we’ve ‘got it’ we move into giving advice that is laser focused on them and their issues and deeply informed by everything we’ve heard. You could also pull together a group of people to be in the mastermind for them. You could curate the mastermind group around them by pulling on your relationships with your colleagues in a ‘You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’ way.

Element #21: Photo Shoot. My dear colleague Morgana Rae offers this beautiful and out of the box touch, “I include a photo shoot at my retreat for my women to use as they choose. Most use their photos for their businesses and dating.”

Element #22: Silent Work Sessions. Some coaches will schedule a time every week and invite everyone in the program to block off that time for silent, focused work. Their coaches are available for feedback via chat for three hours. Andrea Lee speaks of this as, “get-things-done sprints at designated times, especially for writing and lead generation, aka integrity afternoons/days”.

Element #23: Coaching Critiques & Supervision. If you are offering them coaching on how to coach, you could sit in on their coaching sessions, take notes and offer them feedback after (or during) the call. This kind of feedback is gold.

Element #24: Supervised Rehearsal. If you’re a public speaking coach, you might meet with them in person or over Skype to coach them through their presentation. My colleague Kellita offers an Act Review for Burlesque dancers. But what if you’re a relationship coach and they have a scary conversation with their spouse coming up, you could help them rehearse that in a role play. Asking for a raise? Help them rehearse that too.

Element #25: Shadow Coaching. My dear colleague Andrea J. Lee points out that one thing you could offer is onsite coaching for speaking, workshop, event host, facilitation. Meaning, you would be there, watching from the back, taking notes and offering them feedback when they get ‘off stage’ to help them stay on track.

Element #26: Promotional Support. Depending on the nature of what you do, part of what you offer could be, “I’ll share what you are up to with my following via email and social media.” This could also mean you get them on your stage at an event you do.

Element #27: Extended Coaching. What if they have a spouse, business partner or team? Could you offer coaching to those others as well? If you’re a parenting coaching, you might include some low level couples counselling. You might offer conflict resolution with their business partners. You might offer to facilitate something for their team.

Element #28: Licensed Intellectual Property, White Labelling. Andrea J. Lee gives this example, “When Pink Spoon Marketing was written, it became clear that the content was useful for other markets. I sold a ‘white label’ version of it which means that all the characteristics that identified it as ‘for a certain market’ were stripped, and replaced by characteristics of the client’s market. Thus, Pink Spoon Marketing for Therapists became a version unto itself, sold and profits kept by a client, who bought the rights to package and sell within a few set parameters. The contract was a licensing agreement which as you may know is pretty flexible and can be co-created.”

Element #29: Lead Sharing. Andrea J. Lee explains, “In about 2014, I taught a class called Leading with Livestream, to introduce a new method of delivering content, teaching how to use the tech in a teacherly, coaching-friendly way. I shared leads from that student list with a client who had a service that delivered tech services for livestream events. This was done with permission from students. Other examples of this include hosting a telesummit with clients, or doing a blog carnival with clients, or other lead generation project, just in a shared way.”

Element #30: Sponsorship. Andrea J. Lee again, “At several of my events in 2014-2016, a couple of high end clients had offerings that I endorsed to my community by word of mouth. They asked whether I would sell them sponsorship status at my events. They had different ideas of what this could look like exactly, such as real estate in workbook or slides, a 10 minute spotlight from stage, a sponsored section of the training.”

Element #31: A Box in the Mail. Could you send them printed, hardcopy versions of your materials instead of just ‘another eBook’? Let’s say you do ayurvedic nutrition focused on people with fibromyalgia… well, couldn’t you send them a box full of spices, a recipe book, a book on ayurveda and another on fibromyalgia? Maybe tinctures and supplements, a meditation cushion and a yoga matt. Easy is the new free they say. For certain levels of clients they might get a box with refills every month or quarter of things they need or all at once. It’s easy to get lost in the online world and forget that people love to get things in the mail.


Lisa Cherney makes a fine point when she says, “I would add to all these features that the value is elevated when we can be specific about what they would use these access points for. Make it come alive.” I couldn’t agree more. Marketing is translating. You can do this using what I call ‘micro stories‘.

It’s also important to know that you can’t (and likely shouldn’t) try to weave in all of the above. Sometimes less is more. Easy is the new free. Simple is a gift. I’d include the minimum you need. We don’t want to overburden and confuse them with too much help. 

More Resources On Developing Your Business Model:

Other Blog Posts I’ve Written

Videos I’ve Made on Business Model

Pink Spoon Marketing by Andrea Lee

Seven Time Management Hacks for Hippies


A question I often get is, “What’s Tad short for?”

But another question I get almost as often is, “How do you do so much?”

The most honest answer I can give is, “Other things suffer.” And that’s true in just about every way we could mean it.

But, what’s also true is that I have figured out a few things about managing my time and organizing those to do lists. Because, if you’re not organized, it’s easier to just never, ever get to those important projects of yours.

This one of the central issue that appears in my program The Meantime which is about helping people out of their cashflow crunches. One of the things I see that most often puts people in such a tight spot to begin with is that they are terrible at managing their time.

And so, while this is nowhere near exhaustive, here are some thoughts.

Thought #1: Get the Right Tools. 

The only tool I use for my to do list and that has legitimately changed my life is called Things. If you have a Mac, I urge you to get it today. You will thank me. Here’s a 7-minute video where I share how I use it. Some people prefer the simpler post it note version.

Thought #2: Get Some Time Management Education:

The two books I most commend are First Things First by Stephen Covey and Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress Free Productivity by David Allen. You can watch a twenty minute video of David Allen summing up his perspective here and a 70 minute audio of Stephen Covey reading from his book here. It’s amazing what a difference education can make and how many blind spots and missed opportunities there are. 

This article is a quick read and full of gems. As is this 7-minute audio from Tara Gentile.

Thought #3: Work With, Not Against, Your Biological Clock.

There is a harsh reality to your ability to think clearly. Much of this has to do with learning how to follow your bodies ‘biological clock‘. 

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.” ~Mark Twain

Thought #4: Work Parties & Power Hours

If you feel totally stuck on something and can’t seem to even get yourself to start working on it, try one of these two approaches. The first is to have a focused Power Hour. First you pick a project you’ve been putting off for too long and that needs attention. You close all your social media off, put your phone on airplane mode, close your office door and set the timer for one hour. Once the hour is over, you’re done. There’s something about knowing ‘it’s only an hour’ that seems to let us get started. The other version of this is to book a date with a colleague or friend to meet up for a work party at a local cafe. You just sit near each other and work together for the afternoon. Of course, you’ll chit chat too but you might be amazed at how productive these work parties can be. 

“I learned to produce whether I wanted to or not. It would be easy to say oh, I have writer’s block, oh, I have to wait for my muse. I don’t. Chain that muse to your desk and get the job done.” ~ Barbara Kingsolver

Thought #5: Create More S.F.D.’s. 

A running joke in my Mentorship Program is how often I’ll ask someone for an S.F.D.. S.F.D. is an acronym for Shitty First Draft but then dubbed SFD by a participant. I often ask this of my clients when I give them homework. If I say, “Write up your homepage,” it will likely overwhelm them. The perfectionism appears. They can’t even get it started because ‘Oh Gawd! Where do I start?’ But if I ask them, “Send me a shitty first draft of your homepage,” it’s easy. Anyone can do a shitty, first draft. When we remove the pressure from the first version to be anything other than barely salvageable rubbish, we create movement. I’ve seen S.F.D.’s take folks from completely stuck on something for years to done in weeks. 

Thought #6: Get Better at Saying ‘No’.

If you are an over-promiser then you must learn how to say ‘no’. Everything else on this is useless to you if you can’t say ‘no’. Need some help? I’ve collected a messload of articles, memes and videos on this topic with you in mind.

If this is a big issue for you and you’re feeling radical, you might consider going on a 30 Day Promise Fast. The intense level is that you’re not allowed to make any promises at all. The medium version is that you are never allowed to say ‘yes’ in the moment. If someone asks you to do something, you must always say, “Let me get back to you on that.” Once you’re not right in front of them the social pressures to say ‘yes’ drop by 95% and you can sleep on it and make a sane decision. 

Thought #7: Create Your DWMQA Maintenance List

This is a game-changer of epic proportions. It’s another core practice I guide people through in my Mentorship Program

Here’s the secret. Most of business is just maintenance. It’s not sexy. It’s administrivia. It’s writing a blog post like this. It’s reply to emails. For your business to thrive, in the long-term, the basic maintenance must be done. For us to not burn out, we must give enough time to the basics. And most of us do not come anywhere close to giving those things enough time.

So what? What’s the consequence?

The main consequence is that shit slips through the cracks. Often at extremely inopportune times. Often in embarrassing ways and ways that cost you money and time.  

You can watch a 7-minute video of me walking people through the basics of this below. 

Dozens of Ideas For Your Morning & Evening Rituals

First of all, I don’t do these as consistently as I know I should. But, when I do, it’s hard to point to anything that makes a bigger difference in my quality of life.

In my 30-Day Cashflow Challenge, The Meantime I see that most people are so burned out. They come to me wanting tactics on how to generate more money quickly and, while we go into plenty of ideas on that, the most important thing we need to do is carve out space for the basics to appear in their lives. We need to get them out of panic because panic is a terrible place from which to make business decisions.

How do we create that space? Well, there are many options but how we begin and end our days has an immense impact

So, I’ve gathered some resources together to get your started on designing or freshening up your own.

Idea #1: Start Small.

If this is new to you, I recommend starting with a commitment to just five minutes for your morning ritual and five minutes for your evening ritual. Start there. Start with something you know you can do.

Morning Ritual

Idea #2: Your Morning Chug. Drink water first thing in the morning.

Before you go to bed, get yourself a mason jar full of water. I add three drops of Nascent Iodine in mine because we’re all deficient in it it seems. You can also squeeze in a bit of lemon juice to and enjoy these twenty benefits. And then chug it. If there’s nothing in your stomach, the water goes right through. Once you have any kind of food in your stomach, it will close to digest it and you can’t get any more water in. Sometimes I will, over the course of an hour or so, drink three mason jars full of water. In this modern world, 75% of us are deeply and chronically dehydrated. You can read some more facts on dehydration here. And you can learn more about all the benefits on this morning chug here and here

Idea #3: No electronics 30 minutes before bed or after rising.

It’s so easy to get instantly sucked into the screen. And, once that happens, you can kiss your morning and evening routines goodbye.

Ah. But your phone is your alarm clock isn’t it. So, I’d suggest investing in an actual alarm clock and leave your phone outside your bedroom

Idea #4: Design a Routine That Is Doable 

Not sure what to include in your morning routine? Here are a collections of articles full of possibilities. Give them a browse to see if anything new and worthwhile jumps out. 

Five Mindful Ways to Start Your Day

The Morning Routine That Might Change Your Life

Five Refreshing Things You Should Do Every Sunday Morning. No Excuses.

This Morning Routine Will Save You Twenty Hours Per Week

Spend the First Hour of the Day On Activities That Add Value to Your Life

Ten Ways To Rock Your Mornings

What Successful People Do In The First Hour of Their Work Day

Do This Four Minutes A Day and Transform Your Body

Suzanne Falter-Barnes on Morning Routines

10 Minute Foam Roller Routine

Evening Ritual:

How we end our days matters a great deal too.

For myself, I have found that I can best do most of my ‘end of the day’ things in the 30 minutes before dinner. During that time, I spend some time at my altar, plan my next day, do some stretching, drink some bitters to prepare for dinner and have some bone broth.

And then, just before bed, I just make sure that there are no electronics within 30 minutes of sleeping and I read and allow myself to wind down. I found if I tried to do that all right before sleeping, it never worked. 

And, as above, here are some articles full of ideas that can transform your evenings forever.

16 Evening Habits That Make Everything Better

A Five Step Nighttime Routine To Rewire Your Brain While You Sleep

Arianna Huffington Explains Her Bedtime Ritual (5 min)

Arianna Huffington Interviewed About her Book The Sleep Revolution (23 min)

What You Can Learn From Bedtime Routines of the Sleep Experts

Honey & Salt: A Magical Mix For Sleep & More

10 Things Healthy People Do Before Bed

Drink Turmeric Golden Milk Before Going to Bed

Thomas Delauer’s Three Ideas to End the Day With


Additional Resources:

Six Approaches to the Basics of Entrepreneurial Self Care


So, let’s talk about self care.

But first, let’s let Audre Lorde talk about it: “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

It’s easy to want to dismiss self-care as giving up or giving too little. But it might actually be a type of resistance.

Brianna Wiest also has something vital to say here,

“Self-care is often a very unbeautiful thing. It is making a spreadsheet of your debt and enforcing a morning routine and cooking yourself healthy meals and no longer just running from your problems and calling the distraction a solution.

It is often doing the ugliest thing that you have to do, like sweat through another workout or tell a toxic friend you don’t want to see them anymore or get a second job so you can have a savings account or figure out a way to accept yourself so that you’re not constantly exhausted from trying to be everything, all the time and then needing to take deliberate, mandated breaks from living to do basic things like drop some oil into a bath and read Marie Claire and turn your phone off for the day.

A world in which self-care has to be such a trendy topic is a world that is sick. Self-care should not be something we resort to because we are so absolutely exhausted that we need some reprieve from our own relentless internal pressure.

True self-care is not salt baths and chocolate cake, it is making the choice to build a life you don’t need to regularly escape from.

And that often takes doing the thing you least want to do.

It often means looking your failures and disappointments square in the eye and re-strategizing. It is not satiating your immediate desires. It is letting go. It is choosing new. It is disappointing some people. It is making sacrifices for others. It is living a way that other people won’t, so maybe you can live in a way that other people can’t.

It is letting yourself be normal. Regular. Unexceptional. It is sometimes having a dirty kitchen and deciding your ultimate goal in life isn’t going to be having abs and keeping up with your fake friends. It is deciding how much of your anxiety comes from not actualizing your latent potential, and how much comes from the way you were being trained to think before you even knew what was happening.

If you find yourself having to regularly indulge in consumer self-care, it’s because you are disconnected from actual self-care, which has very little to do with “treating yourself” and a whole lot do with parenting yourself and making choices for your long-term wellness.

It is no longer using your hectic and unreasonable life as justification for self-sabotage in the form of liquor and procrastination. It is learning how to stop trying to “fix yourself” and start trying to take care of yourself… and maybe finding that taking care lovingly attends to a lot of the problems you were trying to fix in the first place.

It means being the hero of your life, not the victim. It means rewiring what you have until your everyday life isn’t something you need therapy to recover from. It is no longer choosing a life that looks good over a life that feels good. It is giving the hell up on some goals so you can care about others. It is being honest even if that means you aren’t universally liked. It is meeting your own needs so you aren’t anxious and dependent on other people.

It is becoming the person you know you want and are meant to be. Someone who knows that salt baths and chocolate cake are ways to enjoy life – not escape from it.”

In our work, we often have to hold space for others but do we hold that same kind of space for ourselves?

If you’re looking for self-care ideas, here are a bunch. Here are seven more.

The Perils of Overwork:

If you find yourself taking a perverse pride in the amount you work and you know you’re overworking, consider these thoughts. Being too busy is killing our ability to think creatively.

How America’s ‘Culture of Hustling’ Is Dark and Empty

Starting work before 10am isn’t just soul crushing, this scientist says it’s equivalent to torture

A couple fine quotes for you:

Of all ridiculous things the most ridiculous seems to me, to be busy.” – Kierkegaard

One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am – a reluctant enthusiast….a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; you also need to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards.” – Edward Abbey

And if you’re feeling overwhelmed with too much to do, it’s time to…

Approach #1 – Get Enough Sleep:

85% of mammals nap. Why don’t we?

Napping can dramatically increase learning, memory, awareness, and more.

Routinely sleeping less than six or seven hours a night shortens your life and demolishes your immune system.

Does your phone keep you up at night? Try this.

Approach #2 – Do What You Need To Do to De-Stress:

Most of us don’t even know how stressed we are until we get space. It’s like we’ve been carrying around a huge backpack and you forgot it was one. Once you take it off, you’re amazed at how light you feel.

You Aren’t Lazy — You’re Just Terrified: On Paralysis And Perfectionism

Don’t think stress is a big deal? You’re wrong. Read this book. Or watch this 75 minute video of a talk by Gabor Mate called When The Body Says No.

Being an entrepreneur can be incredibly stressful and so here are…

20 Scientifically-Backed Ways To De-Stress Right Now

Been thinking of meditating? Studies show it’s more beneficial than taking a vacation.

Get rid of digital distractions, e.g. the notifications, pings, pop-ups on your phone & computer, You don’t need them. In a famous study of groups of workers, one worked without distractions and the other had to also respond to occasional emails, phone calls, text messages, the second group’s measured IQ was actually *lower* than a third group which worked while *on marijuana*. #truestory. Try: one full day without distractions, answering to emails once or twice. Then extend to a week. ” – George Kao

We all know that regular exercise can dramatically lower our stress levels but did you know about the impact of walking in nature, dancing or swimming and showering in cold water? If you want to explore the core water route, I commend checking out the work of Wim Hof.

You might also want to consider regularly stretching your psoas muscle.

Approach #3 – Make Sure You Have Enough Silence in Your Life:

Along with sleep and dealing with stress, with must add this third, necessary ‘s’ of silence. Scientists are now telling us that silence is much more important to our brains than we’d thought. Quiet time is needed in this loud world. But technology can be a killer of that space and silence we need. You might just want to consider doing a digital detox. It does good things for your brain and body.

Approach #4 – De-Clutter Your Life:

One of the fastest ways out of stress, and to help keep it away, is to declutter your environment. Clutter causes anxiety and stress in eight different ways. It also doesn’t help anyone’s depression. Decluttering has immense psychological benefits.

So, here are a number of worthwhile links to explore that might inspire your decluttering efforts:

Principles of Decluttering

Ten Life Changing Tips to Make Your Home So Much Cleaner

Five Ways to Declutter That Will Actually Change the World

The Thirty Day Declutter Challenge

The Simple Guide To A Clutter Free Home

If you’re really drawn to this, read Marie Kond?’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. or watch her Today Show appearance or read this case study about her work or these eight lessons someone learned from reading her book.

And, of course, many problems are solved by simply owning less.

Approach #5 – Find the Right Online Tools to Help You Stay Stress Free:

Having trouble focusing when on your lap top doing work? Check out Focus Mate.

Waste a lot of time scrolling through the newsfeed on Facebook? Install this app and kill the news feed.

Get too many emails from email newsletters? You might not once you install this.

Have a bunch of emails you don’t want to respond to for a while but you don’t want to delete them in case you forget? Boomerang let’s the reschedule those emails to vanish and reappear whenever you want.

Most people’s Gmail accounts are visually overwhelming. But if you install Priority Inbox you might be amazed at the instant relief it gives you.

Approach #6 – Get The Help You Need:

A while ago, I wrote a blog post called Getting Unstuck: The Five Minute Favour Asking Blitz. It’s a simple idea: pick somewhere you are stuck. Set a timer for five minute. Don’t stop asking for help until that timer goes off. This, of course, brings up a lot of issues for people around asking for help. Amanda Palmer has some words for you on this. And Mark Silver makes the very astute point that we must ask for help before we hit zero and totally crater in a firey burnout. Heidi Grant breaks down the science of asking for help and why our instincts around how much help to ask for are usually way off (people want to help us much more than we imagine).

Of course, calling in favours will only get you so far. At some point, you may need to hire administrative help for your business. Mark Silver has some good thoughts on this.


Note: If you could use a boost to get yourself to actually do these things, consider joining my 30-Day Cashflow Challenge, The Meantime. In it, you’ll not only learn over 30 of my best, tried and proven tactics to bring in money quickly but where you’ll also be guided to create more space in your life and deepen your self care. 

Signs of the End Times

Well, here we are.


But where are we headed?

Perhaps the answer to the question is in the opening sentence and a coming to understand where ‘here’ is.

We are at a strange time in the world indeed where much seems to be at the stake of our collective futures, tethered there as they are by our collective hopes for a better day and our unwillingness to question and let go of those same hopes. Our hopes for better seem to continue to produce the worse. Every solution brings with it, in Hydra like fashion, ten new problems. Each innovation seems to generate a need for greater innovation. We gaze upon the troubles of our times with the same unchanged eyes that first saw the troubles and the same unaltered language that conjured them. Our attempts to solve the troubles of our day seems to be a central source of the troubles that those to come will have to contend with.

In his book Come of Age, Stephen Jenkinson describes divination as “acute attention to the details of the present.” Divination is not about reading the then but about reading the now and, from that, the likely futures unfurl themselves before the well honed intuition.

So, here we are… but where is here?

The first thing to be said is that there is no global ‘here’ and yet many of the troubles that assail us will be, are and have been, global in their consequence.

And those consequences seem to be full of endings of many kinds and we seem to be in an ‘end times’ of a sort. The end of many species. The end of a stable climate. The end of many social orders (for better or worse). The end of hopes. Many things are ending now.

But end doesn’t mean ‘bad’. It just means ‘limit’. And we are certainly well past many limits in the world.

In his book Why The World Doesn’t End, Michael Meade explores the etymological roots of this word ‘end’ and gives us many loose threads on which to pull,

“The meaning of the word “end” might seem obvious and conclusive; yet root meanings reveal “tailings” and “remnants” and “that which is left over”… [it] carries the sense that the current state cannot continue and that it is too late for things to simply be repaired.

In order for things to change in a meaningful way, many things must come to and end. As archetype of radical change, [it] presents a pattern in which a shattering of forms occurs before the world as we know it can be reconstituted.

In the cosmic turn around if enough endings can be found, things can begin again… When the end seems near, ancient and lasting things are also close and waiting to be discovered… What we find at the end are both last things and things that last… Chaos not only describes the way that things fall apart at the end, but also the original state from which all creation continually arises…

In the end, all we can offer the world is the life we came here to live and the gifts our soul would have us give. When the end seems near, genuine security can only be found in taking the kind of risks that lead to a greater sense of life and a more encompassing way of being in the world…

Great crises and impossible demands often provoke hidden resources and reveal hints of the hidden wholeness and unity of life. The threat of collapse and utter loss can provoke a deeper sense of wholeness where nothing but total involvement and whole-heartedness will work… this capacity for great vision and imagination tends to awaken only after other approaches have failed.”

And so, January 1st is the beginning of the New Year.

And so, I have gathered together for you, the signs of these end times and time of endings in which you and I find ourselves in.

Now, of course, there is much good news and this is what I tend to share on my Facebook page. The wins. The small victories and the big ones.

But the good news isn’t the whole story.

Perhaps there are inaccuracies and exaggerations in some (no doubt it is so) and very likely many of them have been underestimated but if even ten of them are true and things are as they say well… then we are in it very deeply now and there is no turning back.

What might we imagine now and what future might we conjure? Fine questions but it might be best to start with a sober, sustained and sustaining gaze on how things have come to be.

I invite you to read through the list below, skimming as you go, and to open up any ten of them that seize you and read the articles or watch the videos in their entirety.

Don’t look away.

And then ask yourself, “what does knowing this ask of me?”

Might it be that we don’t become complacent in these times.

But, I also urge you not to read too many of these at once. It’s too much. The dose is too concentrated. A little adrenalin is good. Too much will kill you.

So I create this list for you in that way but also in this way: surely you have friends who remain unconvinced that things are as dire as they are and convinced that technology will, inevitably, solve everything for us. This list might be sent to them too. Use it as you will.

Might we all plant the seeds of something beautiful in the soil of what is now dying.

Might this signs be, above all, a sign of how deeply needed you are.

“Do you think it’s an accident that you were born at a time when the culture that gave you life is failing? I don’t think it is. I think you were born of necessity with your particular abilities, with our particular fears, with your particular heartaches and concerns… I think if we wait to be really compelled by something… something big, well… we’re going to wait an awful long time and I don’t know if the state of our world can tolerate our holding out until we feel utterly compelled by something. I think it’s more like this, that we have to proceed now as if we’re utterly needed given the circumstances. That takes almost something bordering on bravado, it could be mistaken for megalomania easily, though I don’t think it is. It had a certain amount of nerviness in it or boldness for sure, something that’s not highly thought of in the culture I was born into unless you’re a star or something… regular people aren’t supposed to have those qualities. I say they are of course. That’s what we’ve got to bring to the challenges at hand, not waiting to be convinced that we’re needed but proceeding as if we are. Your insignificance has been horribly overstated.” – Stephen Jenkinson


The fascist movement that has brought Mussolini back to the mainstream – Italy’s CasaPound has been central to normalising fascism again in the country of its birth. Now they’re trying to enter parliament.

How ZTE helps Venezuela create China-style social control

Unfixable? Several nations have tried to restore democracy after populist strongmen. It was never the same.

Double standard emerges as activists see special airline boarding pass designation

Since Standing Rock, 56 Bills Have Been Introduced in 30 States to Restrict Protests – In the year since the last activists were evicted, the crackdown on journalists and activists has only intensified.

Trump is creating his American caliphate, and democracy has no defence – Officials quoting a holy text to justify repressive policies is something we who grew up in the Arab world have seen before

Foe Of Endangered Species Act Lands Gig Overseeing — You Guessed It — Wildlife – It’s like “appointing an arsonist as the town fire marshal,” said one conservationist.

A Warning From Europe: The Worst Is Yet to Come Polarization. Conspiracy theories. Attacks on the free press. An obsession with loyalty. Recent events in the United States follow a pattern Europeans know all too well.



China is laying the groundwork for a post-American world order
What Is China Doing In Africa? Chinese corporations are all over Africa. In June 2017 a McKinsey & Company report estimated that there are more than 10,000 Chinese-owned firms operating in Africa.


Climate Change:

The Amazon is approaching a point of no return – but it’s not too late
New UN Climate Report Dims Hope For Averting Catastrophic Global Warming Keeping temperatures from rising beyond the Paris agreement’s ambitious target will require unprecedented social changes.
Geoengineering may be used to combat global warming, experts say IPCC authors suggest there is high agreement that injection of chemicals into stratosphere could help limit rises
Amazon at risk from Bolsonaro’s grim attack on the environment Threats to the rainforest and its people and an end to the Paris agreement are among the promises of Brazil’s presidential hopeful, reports Climate Home
UN Says Climate Genocide Is Coming. It’s Actually Worse Than That.
Climate catastrophe warnings were greeted with global silence Shortsighted folly of ignoring the IPCC will lead to drastic future policies
Doug Ford, Jason Kenney and the end of the world Stephen Maher: Only fools, cranks or politicians can ignore the scientific consensus around global warming and the urgent need to address it
Swiss residents are wrapping glaciers in blankets to keep them from melting
MONDAY Brazil new President will open Amazon indigenous reserves to mining and farming Jair Bolsonaro – who won the presidency of Latin America’s biggest country on Sunday – has made broad promises for his government but offered little detail.
Exclusive: Some Arctic Ground No Longer Freezing—Even in Winter New data from two Arctic sites suggest some surface layers are no longer freezing. If that continues, greenhouse gases from permafrost could accelerate climate change.
NASA releases time-lapse of the disappearing Arctic polar ice cap
There’s so much CO2 in the atmosphere that planting trees can no longer save us
Startling new research finds large buildup of heat in the oceans, suggesting a faster rate of global warming The findings mean the world might have less time to curb carbon emissions.
Japan’s Cherry Blossom Trees Bloom 6 Months Early

NASA Discovers Bubbling Lakes In The Remote Arctic – A Sign Of Global Warming

This glacier was featured on a postcard in 1900. A camera captured where it is today.

A warming Earth might eventually copy the greenhouse effect of Venus Modelling finds the precious equilibrium between temperature and
radiation breaks down beyond a certain point, spelling big trouble.

‘Revved up’: Land being cleared at the rate of 14 football fields a day in northern NSW –

Massive Moth ‘Cloud’ Takes Over French Town

Arctic temperatures soar 25 C above normal with sites above freezing despite midday darkness – This Arctic’s latest temperature spike is a striking indicator of the Earth’s rapidly transforming climate. These kinds of temperature anomalies in the Arctic have become commonplace in winter in the past few years.

There is a huge amount of mercury trapped in the Arctic. Which, by the way, is melting.

Polar ice is lost at sea

Some of Alberta’s ecosystems shrinking faster than Amazon rain forest: report

Nasa map of Earth over 20 years highlights astonishing impact of climate change – Animation captures planet’s seasonal fluctuations as seen from space

Climate Change Is Happening Faster Than Expected, and It’s More Extreme – New research suggests human-caused emissions will lead to bigger impacts on heat and extreme weather, and sooner than the IPCC warned just three years ago.

Humidity will make some parts of the world unlivable in 50 years

STUNNER: It’s Raining In Antarctica!!! Scientists Extremely WORRIED!!!

Earth heading for ‘mini ice age’ within 15 years – Research has predicted a new solar ‘Maunder minimum’ in the 2030s

The first wintertime megafire in California history is here

Climate scientist Paul Beckwith on the jetstream crossing and our global climate emergency

15,000 scientists give catastrophic warning about the fate of the world in new ‘letter to humanity’

Penguin disaster as only two chicks survive from colony of 40,000 – ‘Catastrophic breeding event’ leads to demands for a marine protected area to be set up in East Antarctica

A giant hole has opened up in Antarctica as scientists look to find out what is to blame – ‘It looks like you just punched a hole in the ice’

The math on staying below 2°C of global warming looks increasingly brutal

BP and Shell planning for catastrophic 5°C global warming despite publicly backing Paris climate agreement – Companies are trying to ‘have their oil and drink it’ by committing to 2°C in public while planning for much higher temperature rises, says shareholder campaign group, Share Action

Scientists Sound the Alarm: CO2 Levels Race Past Point of No Return

Release of Arctic Methane “May Be Apocalyptic,” Study Warns

India is suffering the ‘worst water crisis in its history’

I’m a woman who fought wildfires for 7 years. Climate change is absolutely making them worse. Warmer climate is creating the perfect conditions for long wildfire seasons in the West.

The Earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us – Climate breakdown could be rapid and unpredictable. We can no longer tinker around the edges and hope minor changes will avert collapse

How Extreme Weather Is Shrinking the Planet With wildfires, heat waves, and rising sea levels, large tracts of the earth are at risk of becoming uninhabitable. But the fossil-fuel industry continues its assault on the facts.

U.S. impacts of climate change are intensifying, federal report says

UN report: Greenhouse gasses at highest level in 5 million years Alarming study comes as ‘desperate’ low-lying Vanuatu plans to sue climate change culprits in energy industry.

Carbon dioxide levels soared to new global record in 2017, UN warns

World must triple efforts or face catastrophic climate change, says UN Rapid emissions turnaround needed to keep global warming at less than 2C, report suggests

Las Vegas water planners hedge bets, prepare for worst case scenario: the day the Colorado River stops at the Hoover Dam

U of A students find record levels of mercury released into Canadian Arctic waterways from thawing permafrost

Global Carbon Emissions Reached New High In 2018, Scientists Say China, India and the U.S. rank among the biggest contributors to the problem.

Climate change could wake up Canada’s dormant volcanoes

Satellite Spies Methane Bubbling up from Arctic Permafrost Radar instrument aboard a Japanese probe can spot signs of gas seeping from lakes that form as the ground thaws

As climate change bites in America’s midwest, farmers are desperate to ring the alarm


The EPA’s Climate Change Page Is Just Gone Now

Western Canada glaciers retreating at an unprecedented pace because of climate change: experts

We broke down what climate change will do, region by region Yeah, we read each chapter of the report so you don’t have to.

Climate change: Concerns over report on ocean heating

Ecological collapse of Toronto’s ravine system has begun, researcher says


Let it go: The Arctic will never be frozen again

Climate Change Could Trigger More Volcanic Eruptions, Study Finds – Expect to see “a lot more volcanic activity in areas of the world where glaciers and volcanoes interact,” the lead author says.

There’s so much CO2 in the atmosphere that planting trees can no longer save us – Most scientists agree emissions must be reduced

World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice

Scientists warn of ‘global climate emergency’ over shifting jet stream – Other scientists have since dismissed the claims as ‘total nonsense’

Rising seas: ‘Florida is about to be wiped off the map’

A Warming World Creates Desperate People

Dangerous climate tipping point is ‘about a century ahead of schedule’ warns scientist – A slowing Gulf Stream system means catastrophic East Coast flooding will get much worse.

A major climate boundary in the central U.S. has shifted 140 miles due to global warming

From Africa’s Baobabs To America’s Pines: Our Ancient Trees Are Dying. Welcome to climate change.

Red Tide Algae Bloom Wiping Out Sea Life On Florida Coast – NowThis
2018 is only halfway over, but a troubling climate change trend is already apparent –
Japan heatwave: Temperature hits new historic record 41.1C, says Japanese weather agency
Britain One Step From National Emergency In Level 3 Heatwave Warning –
The Arctic Is Burning: Wildfires Rage from Sweden to Alaska
 The Uninhabitable Earth Famine, economic collapse, a sun that cooks us: What climate change could wreak — sooner than you think.
Insane: 124.3 degrees F (51.3 Celsius) in Algeria is the hottest temperature ever recorded in Africa as the global heat wave continues –
Climate change will be deadlier, more destructive and costlier for California than previously believed, state warns
The Arctic’s ‘last bastion’ of sea ice is breaking up for the first time on record
Hothouse Earth Is Merely the Beginning of the End Not the end of the planet, but maybe the end of its human inhabitants
Here’s what Earth might look like in 100 years — if we’re lucky
How Record Heat Wreaked Havoc on Four Continents We talked to people who found themselves on the front lines of climate change this year. Here are their stories.
Sinister ‘Hunger Stones’ With Dire Warnings Have Been Surfacing in Europe “If you see me, weep.”
Arctic’s strongest sea ice breaks up for first time on record Usually frozen waters open up twice this year in phenomenon scientists described as scary
Domino-effect of climate events could move Earth into a ‘hothouse’ state Leading scientists warn that passing such a point would make efforts to reduce emissions increasingly futile

Cultural Madness:

Skim reading is the new normal. The effect on society is profound
Miyu Kojima Creates Miniature Replicas of Lonely Deaths
why face tattoos are the new normal From historical significance to candy pink dreadlocked Soundcloud rappers, the face tattoo has come a long way, and now it’s all over your mates. Better get used to them!
Panasonic’s human blinkers help people concentrate in open-plan offices
Beltbox: Sing Your Heart Out Without Angering Your Neighbors

Desks Turn Into Bulletproof Shields In Case of School or Office Shootings

Sephora Will Start Selling Entry Level Witch Kits in October:

Skim reading is the new normal. The effect on society is profound – When the reading brain skims texts, we don’t have time to grasp complexity, to understand another’s feelings or to perceive beauty. We need a new literacy for the digital age


You can now save your loved one’s tattoos after they’ve died

The Glitter Coffin Company® – Beautiful bespoke glitter and crystal coffins and caskets

Gaming disorder set to be recognized by World Health Organization – Persistent or recurrent playing despite negative consequences is a disease, policy draft says

Bulletproof rucksacks: the ultimate solution against shootings.

Government votes that “animals can’t feel pain or emotions”

EPA chief: ‘True environmentalism is using natural resources that God has blessed us with’. Another day, another attempt by Trump officials to silence scientists.

This Woman Reads 100 Books In A Month (And How You Can Too)

Witness: Teens giggled as they threw fireworks off cliff, igniting Eagle Creek fire

Look on my works, ye mighty … Ozymandias statue found in mud Can Heal Water: A Star Child Speaks, Calls for Humanity to Wake Up

New Video Game Walks in Footsteps of Thoreau at Walden Pond

Controversial Campaign Calls People With Down Syndrome ‘Endangered Species’ As prenatal testing reduces their numbers at birth, an advocacy group argues they belong on the endangered list.

LANS TO MICROCHIP UK WORKERS SPARK PRIVACY CONCERNS ‘Microchipping would give bosses even more power and control over their workers,’ a TUC spokesperson said

Being single in your 30s isn’t bad luck, it’s a global phenomenon

Pathological Consumption Has Become So Normalised That We Scarcely Notice It

You Can Now Get Christmas Fairy Lights For Beards

Now the PC police have come for ‘The Vagina Monologues’

South Koreans lock themselves up to escape prison of daily life For most people, prison is a place to escape from. For South Koreans in need of a break from the demands of everyday life, a day or two in a faux jail is the escape

Anthropologie is selling a bundle of twigs for $42 and people are seriously confused

How Restaurants Got So Loud Fashionable minimalism replaced plush opulence. That’s a recipe for commotion.

In Sweden, cash is almost extinct and people implant microchips in their hands to pay for things More than 4,000 Swedes have gone the microchip route as cash use fades and the government scrambles to figure out the effects on society and the economy A cafe in Stockhlom that is completely cash-free. Few places are tilting toward a cashless future as quickly as Sweden, which has become hooked on the convenience of paying by app and plastic.Linus Sundahi-Djerf/The New York Times

Does the ‘foreskin facial’ mark the end of the world? Kate Beckinsale is the latest celebrity to try the treatment, which uses a serum derived from babies’ circumcised penises. Has anti-ageing finally gone too far?

You can now go to prison in Canada for providing raw milk. Seriously Karen Selick: It’s time for the federal and provincial legislatures to pay attention, just as they finally did with marijuana, and remove this thorn from everyone’s side

A New Drug Could Let Us Eat Anything Without Gaining Weight Researchers might have finally cracked the code to gorging without consequence.

‘BRINGING HOME THE BACON’: IDIOMS REFERENCING MEAT MAY BECOME OBSOLETE AS VEGANISM RISES ‘Given that fiction often reflects on real world events and societal issues, it may very well be that down the line powerful meat metaphors are eschewed’ –

The winner of Statistic of the Year: 90.5 percent of plastic is not recycled

KFC is now selling a log that smells like fried chicken

Anthropologie Is Literally Selling A Bundle Of Twigs For $42, And It Sold Out Nothing says “happy holidays!” like overpriced sticks.


From Social Experiment To Reality: Bottled ‘Fresh Air’ Now Being Sold Online In India

“Our heritage jars contain pure, clean and fresh AETHAER, collected from a range of pristine locations from around the UK. Each jar is part of a limited edition set of enviro-political artworks, and while the contents can be inhaled, our jars of AETHAER are often sought as a luxurious gift for others, or are bought to be admired and function as a thought provoking display in your own office or home.”

Incels hail Toronto van driver who killed 10 as a new Elliot Rodger, talk of future acid attacks and mass rapes [UPDATED]

‘Beta Males’ Want To Kill Women Because They Can’t Get Laid

The Millennial Who Wouldn’t Move Out of His Parents’ House Is Tragic, Actually – His story is an embarrassing cry for help.  unemployed 30-year-old man named Michael Rotondo, was sued by his parents after they made many unsuccessful attempts to kick him out of their home in upstate New York.



China is Turning the Rainforest into Cheap Furniture for the U.S.

Brazil records worst annual deforestation for a decade Nearly 8,000sq kms lost in the year to July amid alarm new president Jair Bolsonaro will make situation worse

Rivers in the Sky: How Deforestation Is Affecting Global Water Cycles A growing body of evidence indicates that the continuing destruction of tropical forests is disrupting the movement of water in the atmosphere, causing major shifts in precipitation that could lead to drought in key agricultural areas in China, India, and the U.S. Midwest.

The Amazon is approaching a point of no return – but it’s not too late

Ecuador To Sell A Third Of Its Amazon Rainforest To Chinese Oil Companies Indigenous groups claim they have not consented to oil projects, as politicians visit Beijing to publicise bidding process


Death & Dying:

Why Death Does Not Exist – Never Mourn Again | Neale Donald Walsch –

Kent and Canterbury Hospital introduces ‘compassion signs’ for dying patients

High-Tech Suicide Machine Makes Death a Painless, Peaceful, Optimal Way to Go – The Sarco is a state-of-the-art death machine.

The App That Reminds You You’re Going to Die – It helped me find inner peace.

How to Outsmart Your Gross Body and Live Forever

Could we soon REVERSE death? US company to start trials ‘reawakening the dead’ in Latin America ‘in a few months’ – and this is how they’ll do it

A Doctor Built a Machine That Helps People Die “After a minute and a half, you feel disoriented. In five minutes, you’re gone.”

Scientists get the green light to resurrect the dead with stem cells

Kurzweil Accelerates Immortality Pledge From 2045 To 2029

‘Your animal life is over. Machine life has begun.’ The road to immortality

600 Miles in a Coffin-Shaped Bus, Campaigning Against Death Itself


Dimming the Sun:

Scientists weigh up stratospheric sunlight barrier to curb warming

Harvard Scientists to Release Sun-Dimming Sky Chemical in 2019 But just a tiny bit, to see what happens.

First sun-dimming experiment will test a way to cool Earth Researchers plan to spray sunlight-reflecting particles into the stratosphere, an approach that could ultimately be used to quickly lower the planet’s temperature.

Bill Gates, Harvard, To Begin Blocking Sun In Spring Of 2019

First ever sun-dimming experiment will mimic volcanic eruption in attempt to reverse global warming ‘If solar geoengineering is as good as what is shown in these models, it would be crazy not to take it seriously’ –

Developing nations to study ways to dim sunshine, slow warming –



One of the world’s largest banks has issued an alarming warning about antibiotic resistance

An all new drug-resistant pneumonia has been discovered in China and it’s deadly.

DEATH IS COMING Plague warning in NINE countries – including Brit holiday hotspots – as fears grow that BLACK DEATH could spread on flights from Madagascar. The deadly plague outbreak has struck Madagascar’s major cities sparking fears it has yet to ‘peak’ and could spread into the surrounding region



Dutch man, 69, starts legal fight to identify as 20 years younger Motivational speaker Emile Ratelband compares bid to alter age to gender change


Extinction & The Road to It:

So many animals will go extinct in the next 50 years that it will take Earth at least 3 million years to recover, a study has found
China Just Legalized Rhino Horn And Tiger Bone For Medical Use, Reversing 25-Year Ban The Chinese government has “signed a death warrant for imperiled rhinos and tigers in the wild,” environmentalists warned.
Humanity has wiped out 60% of animal populations since 1970, report finds The huge loss is a tragedy in itself but also threatens the survival of civilisation, say the world’s leading scientists
Humans Are Screwing Up Dolphins’ Abilities To Talk To Each Other Noise from ships and boats are causing dolphins to make their calls less complex, according to a new study.

Heartache in the San Juan Islands: Locals grieve as resident orcas face extinction

Mass die-off of clams fouls Revere Beach

Deformed Fish, Rabbits With Two Genitals: Canada’s Largest National Park Is Falling Apart A federal study found that out of 17 environmental indicators at Wood Buffalo National Park—the second-largest national park in the world—15 are declining.
Timber looting continues in Mozambique  trafficking links by Oxpeckers Reporters Despite a ban on the export of raw timber in Mozambique, containers filled with hardwood logs are piling up in northern harbours for export to China. Estacio Valoi investigates
Humanity Has Killed 83% of All Wild Mammals and Half of All Plants: Study Of all the birds left in the world, 70% are poultry chickens and other farmed birds.
Tropical Forests Suffered Near-Record Tree Losses in 2017
Two Of The Most Biodiverse Wildlife Parks On Earth Are Now Open To Oil Drilling
Almost every part of Canada’s largest national park deteriorating: federal study
Trump Moves to Open 1.6 Million Acres of California Public Lands to Fracking
One of the largest banks issued an alarming warning that Earth is running out of the resources to sustain life
What’s killing whales off B.C.-Alaska coast? Facebook Twitter Reddit LinkedIn Alarm raised over large die-off along the British Columbia-Alaska coast

Extinction Looms For Northern White Rhino As Last Male Nears Death – Sudan, the world’s last male northern white rhino, may not survive much longer, and there’s talk of euthanasia.

Animals in radiation zones are not doing well

The Eastern Puma Has Officially Been Pronounced Extinct!

Northern white rhino: Last male Sudan dies in Kenya

‘Catastrophe’ as France’s bird population collapses due to pesticides – Dozens of species have seen their numbers decline, in some cases by
two-thirds, because insects they feed on have disappeared

Britain has lost half its wildlife. Now’s the time to shout about it

Dire News For Endangered Right Whales: Not A Single Newborn Spotted This Year – “Right now, the sky is falling,” warns a National Marine Fisheries Service scientist.

A giant insect ecosystem is collapsing due to humans. It’s a catastrophe

Cougars Officially Declared Extinct in Eastern U.S., Removed from Endangered Species List

Earth has lost half of its wildlife in the past 40 years, says WWF – Species across land, rivers and seas decimated as humans kill for food
in unsustainable numbers and destroy habitats

Toward Extinction – The UNDP recently announced that it would no longer fund a critical Asiatic cheetah conservation program, prompting fears for the subspecies’ future.

A third of birds in North America threatened with extinction – State of North America’s Birds report finds ocean, tropical birds most threatened

‘All of our team was in tears’: Video shows polar bear starving in the North

Here are the animals that went extinct in 2017

Sixth mass extinction? Two-thirds of wildlife may be gone by 2020: WWF

Warning of ‘ecological Armageddon’ after dramatic plunge in insect numbers – Three-quarters of flying insects in nature reserves across
Germany have vanished in 25 years, with serious implications for all life on Earth, scientists say

Experts: Florida Monarch Butterfly Population Drops by 80 Percent–florida-monarch-butterfly-population-drops-by-80-percent

Ireland’s native woodlands are quietly disappearing Under 11% of country’s land is forested as State plants Sitka spruce at expense of indigenous trees

‘The level of urgency is high’: Ottawa still hasn’t acted on endangered southern mountain caribou

Jaguars killed for fangs to supply growing Chinese medicine trade Demand from Chinese workers raises demand for skin and body parts of endangered species–fangs-chinese-medicine-trade

Stop biodiversity loss or we could face our own extinction, warns UN

Across Canada, caribou are on course for extinction, a prominent expert warns. What happens after that? At a conference in Ottawa this week, Justina Ray will lay out grim predictions for animals First Nations have depended on for generations

‘Test tube trees’: An insurance policy against extinction?

The Pando aspen clone or ‘trembling giant’, the world’s largest organism, is collapsing

Humans just 0.01% of all life but have destroyed 83% of wild mammals – study Groundbreaking assessment of all life on Earth reveals humanity’s surprisingly tiny part in it as well as our disproportionate impact

Steller’s sea cow: the first historical extinction of a marine mammal at human hands

Another tipping point breached: Salmon have disappeared in Scotland: Not a single salmon caught during the entire season.

‘Hyperalarming’ study shows massive insect loss

‘We have left it too late’: scientists say some B.C. endangered species can’t be saved B.C.’s scattershot approach to helping at-risk species isn’t working, say scientists who propose a new but controversial way of prioritizing conservation that comes face to face with the grim realities and ethical dilemmas of making a business case for extinction prevention

Butterfly sanctuary expected to be plowed over for Trump’s border wall

Swift parrot habitat vital for survival of species could be destroyed by dam Environment minister will rule if Tasmanian forest that is home to the critically endangered parrot can be bulldozed

The University Of Aberdeen has issued the latest depressing news of a catastrophic die-off: 70% decline of world population for seabirds since 1970

Year Zero: The Year When Wild Animals Are Gone

Another giant has left us: the Sumatran rhino is extinct in the wild in Sabah


‘It’s a sad reality’: a troubling trend sees a 97% decline in monarch butterflies



Heat waves from climate change may zap male fertility for many species – Male flour beetles exposed to heat waves in the lab had far fewer, less fertile offspring

Sperm count drop ‘could make humans extinct’

Sperm Count Zero – A strange thing has happened to men over the past few decades: We’ve become increasingly infertile, so much so that within a generation we may lose the ability to reproduce entirely. What’s causing this mysterious drop in sperm counts—and is there any way to reverse it before it’s too late?


Food, Farming & Soil:

Supreme Court settles food fight, leaves ban on front-yard veggie gardens intact

Why are America’s farmers killing themselves in record numbers? – The suicide rate for farmers is more than double that of veterans. Former farmer Debbie Weingarten gives an insider’s perspective on farm life –and how to help

‘Great American Desert’ threatens to swallow eight US states as massive aquifer dries up

Lab-Grown Chicken Nuggets Made From Feathers to Hit Shelves By End of the Year

World’s First Cell-Grown Steak Doesn’t Cause Harm to Animals

Aging farmers with no succession plans put future of Canadian family farms at risk – 92 per cent of Canadian farms have no transition plan ready, Stats Can says

A Team of Scientists Just Made Food From Electricity — and it Could be the Solution to World Hunger

UK is 30-40 years away from ‘eradication of soil fertility’, warns Gove – Farmers must be incentivised to tackle decline in biodiversity, says environment secretary at launch of parliamentary soil body

The great nutrient collapse – The atmosphere is literally changing the food we eat, for the worse. And almost nobody is paying attention.


Med Tech:

Warning: The FDA’s Approval of Genome Therapy Is Just the Beginning

Scientists Grow Full-Sized, Beating Human Hearts From Stem Cells It’s the closest we’ve come to growing transplantable hearts in the lab

Breaking: Scientists Create An Artificial Womb

3-D printed ovaries produce healthy offspring



Sea creatures in deepest parts of ocean found to have plastic fibres in their stomachs for first time – Shocking results show there is nowhere untouched by scale of human waste

Shocking photo shows Caribbean Sea being ‘choked to death by human waste’

Ocean acidification is deadly threat to marine life, finds eight-year study – Plastic pollution, overfishing, global warming and increased acidification from burning fossil fuels means oceans are increasingly hostile to marine life

Japan plans to flush Fukushima water ‘containing radioactive material above permitted levels’ into the ocean

Earth is Eating Its Oceans Way Faster Than Originally Thought, Study Finds

Ocean circulation in North Atlantic is at its weakest for 1,500 years – and at levels that previously triggered a mini Ice Age, study warns Study shows the levels are at their lowest for 1,500 years Currents have a ‘profound effect’ on both North American and European climate Researcher found a similar weak signal during a period called the Little Ice Age, a cold spell observed between about 1600 and 1850 AD

Ocean oxygen levels are declining, and it could be devastating

Greenland Melting Is ‘Off the Charts’

Caspian Seal on verge of extinction Gorgan, Dec 16, IRNA – The Caspian seal as the only Caspian aquatic mammal due to over-hunting, being trapped in fishermen’s net, increasing sea pollution and industrial waste is facing extinction, and there is little time to permanently wipe out.

East Antarctica glacial stronghold melting as seas warm Nasa detects ice retreat probably linked to ocean changes in region once thought stable

Why are blue whales changing the frequency of their songs? Researchers suspect it could be in reaction to melting sea ice.

Almost all of the oldest, thickest ice in the Arctic Ocean is gone due to climate change

Melting Arctic ice is now pouring 14,000 tons of water per second into the ocean, scientists find A new survey finds that the region has contributed almost an inch to rising seas since 1971.

The Ocean Is Suffocating:Dead Zone Bigger Than Scotland Identified in Gulf of Oman

Shocking timelapse of the shrinking Aral Sea

Building blocks of ocean food web in rapid decline as plankton productivity plunges – Senior DFO scientist says the cause of the collapse is unknown

Half of dead baby turtles found by Australian scientists have stomachs full of plastic

Dead sperm whale in Indonesia had 115 plastic cups, 2 flip-flops in its stomach

Oceans suffocating as huge dead zones quadruple since 1950, scientists warn – Areas starved of oxygen in open ocean and by coasts have soared in recent decades, risking dire consequences for marine life and humanity

Coral Scientists Eye ‘Radical Intervention’ To Save The World’s Reefs – “The dire situation is here now,” said the coordinator of NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch.

NASA releases time-lapse of the disappearing Arctic polar ice cap

Phytoplankton Population Drops 40 Percent Since 1950 – Researchers find trouble among phytoplankton, the base of the food chain, which has implications for the marine food web and the world’s carbon cycle

Troubled waters: Nuclear radiation found in B.C. may pose health concerns

Great Pacific Garbage Patch Is Now Twice the Size of Texas and It’s Rapidly Getting Worse

Trump Moves to Open Nearly All Offshore Waters to Drilling

The Water Wars of Arizona Attracted by lax regulations, industrial agriculture has descended on a remote valley, depleting its aquifer — leaving many residents with no water at all. –
The Dying of the Dead Sea The ancient salt sea is the site of a looming environmental catastrophe Read more:
New Delhi to run out of groundwater in two years as India faces ‘day zero’ crises
The Water Crises Aren’t Coming—They’re Here. For eons, the earth has had the same amount of water—no more, no less. What the ancient Romans used for crops and Nefertiti drank? It’s the same stuff we bathe with. Yet with more than seven billion people on the planet, experts now worry we’re running out of usable water. The symptoms are here: multiyear droughts, large-scale crop failures, a major city—Cape Town—on the verge of going dry, increasing outbreaks of violence, fears of full-scale water wars. The big question: How do we keep the H20 flowing?
Why Our Oceans Will Have More Plastic Than Fish By 2050 – We have been asleep at the wheel for generations, using single-use plastics at a phenomenal scale.



Salmon farming in crisis: ‘We are seeing a chemical arms race in the seas’ – Rare only 40 years ago, farmed salmon is now taken for granted in our kitchens. But the growth of the industry has come at great cost

Mussels off the coast of Seattle test positive for opioids

Humans Have Created Enough Plastic To Cover The Eight Largest Country In The World

Oilsands ponds full of 340 billion gallons of toxic sludge spur fears of environmental catastrophe – Alberta’s tailings ponds cover about 97 square miles and hold enough waste to fill more than half a million Olympic-size swimming pool

Massive Oil Fields in Texas Are Heaving, Sinking, And Opening Up Like Mouths – 4,000 square miles of geohazard. It began with sinkholes. Two of them, gaping mouths to nowhere opening up as if to swallow the town of Wink, Texas. As they expanded, there were fears they might collide, morphing into one giant void.

Air Pollution Is Killing Millions Around The Globe Each Year – It’snot listed on death certificates, but it’s still considered “one of the great killers of our age.”

Plastic Pollution Is ‘Low Priority’ for Shoppers, Soft Drink Execs Tell Policy Officials

What would it cost to clean up Alberta’s oilpatch? $260 billion, a top official warns

EPA Plans to Allow Unlimited Dumping of Fracking Wastewater in the Gulf of Mexico

Plastic waste has reached the most remote parts of Antarctica

Humans Are Pooping Plastic, And No One’s Certain How Bad That Is There’s a frightening lack of research about plastic’s effects on human health.

Alberta Officials Are Signalling They Have No Idea How To Clean Up Toxic Oilsands Tailings Ponds

Scientists find hundreds of new toxins in blood of Canadian polar bears

100% of Sea Turtles in Global Study Found With Plastics in Their Bellies


Radicalization & Extremism:

Children of Ted Two decades after his last deadly act of ecoterrorism, the Unabomber has become an unlikely prophet to a new generation of acolytes.

Polish president and PM set to join fascist march in Warsaw

White Supremacists Recruiting On College Campuses Has Hit ‘Unprecedented’ Levels

Pagan-based white supremacy sect buys property in Tennessee


Robots & Artificial Intelligence:

Robotic bees could pollinate plants in case of insect apocalypse Dutch scientists say they can create swarms of bee-like drones to take over if the insects die out
How artificial intelligence is shaking up the job market
World’s first operational drone delivery service launched in Iceland
Life of Cyborgs: Researching human enhancement
Just 60 robots run this Alibaba warehouse in China – World Economic Forum
Weed-killing robots – Mashable
Researchers at MIT create an origami robot that can self-fold
Venezuela president Nicolas Maduro survives attack from ‘drone like devices’ armed with explosives Standing next to his wife, South American leader looked startled before broadcast transmission was cut
As Japan’s Workforce Shrinks, Companies Are Using Robots To Fill The Void Companies in Japan are looking to robots to boost the country’s shrinking workforce as its population continues to age.
New Russian Video Shows A “Doomsday Machine” Able To Trigger 300-Foot Tsunamis –
Future Human – Three-person babies. Extreme biohacking. Outposts on Mars. Cheating death. The changing nature of life as we know it. The future portends to be amazing (and terrifying), and it’s right around the corner. The July issue of Medium’s monthly magazine explores the stunning scientific, technological, social and medical advances that are changing where and how we live.
Reversed Aging, Pig Organs, and the Future of Humankind Predictions from the most influential geneticist of our time

AI reconstructs whatever you see just by reading a brain scan

Big data meets Big Brother as China moves to rate its citizens – The Chinese government plans to launch its Social Credit System in 2020. The aim? To judge the trustworthiness – or otherwise – of its 1.3 billion residents

Goodyear unveils a living moss tire that cleans the air as you drive

A Giant US Retail Corporation Just Filed a Patent For Autonomous Robot Bees

Google’s Artificial Intelligence Built Its Own AI That Outperforms Any Made by Humans

New Religion Forming in California to Worship Man-Made ‘AI Messiah’

The rise of the useless class – Historian Yuval Noah Harari offers a bracing prediction: just as mass industrialization created the working class, the AI revolution will create a new unworking class.

Robot becomes first in the world to be given citizenship

Do we want robots that comfort the dying? This designer is asking if there are limits to what should and shouldn’t be digitized.

When her best friend died, she rebuilt him using artificial intelligence

China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency debuts ‘AI anchor

This AI outperformed 20 corporate lawyers at legal work

Is China the next AI superpower?

China blacklists millions of people from booking flights as ‘social credit’ system introduced Officials say aim is to make it ‘difficult to move’ for those deemed ‘untrustworthy’

We All Hate Folding Clothes, But Is $1,000 Folding Robot Worth It?

Watch Boston Dynamics’ Atlas Go for a Run in the Woods

Can Bots Help Us Deal with Grief? How simulations can bring our loved ones back to life

A Robot that walks like a human

Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) are helping human-like robotics to interact with visitors like never before at Portugal’s Web Summit tech event.

Synthetic muscle could lead to lifelike robots

Pistol wielding robotic soldier


Using the most advanced wearable AI-driven computer vision, the OrCam MyMe device instantly recognizes faces and tells you who is in front of you – in real time – by sending a notification to your phone or smartwatch. You can then tag and organize people in circles such as Work, Friends, and Family.



Forget your car, this is awesome via Jet Capsule Forget your car, this is awesome

‘Human Uber’ Lets You Attend Events Remotely Using Someone Else’s Body

Lifeprint’s ‘Harry Potter’ Photo And Video Printer

Bitcoin emissions alone could push global warming above 2°CBitcoin is a power-hungry cryptocurrency that is increasingly used as an investment and payment system. Here we show that projected Bitcoin usage, should it follow the rate of adoption of other broadly adopted technologies, could alone produce enough CO2 emissions to push warming above 2 °C within less than three decades

Eccentric inventor creates his own FLYING CAR to avoid traffic
The Deepfake Videos Used In Porn Could Get More Dangerous (HBO)

Extreme biohacking: the tech guru who spent $250,000 trying to live for ever

Cell regeneration: Nanochip can regrow organs, heal injuries with just one touch – TomoNews

WE ARE THE GODS NOW – A Look At The Singularity

You can fly the Blackfly without a license
Breaking: Researchers at CERN break “The Speed of Light” –
Supersonic Jets For The Ultra Rich Could Be A Climate Change Disaster The revival of the futuristic planes threatens “large environmental consequences,” a new report finds.

MIT invents method to shrink objects to nanoscale using basic lab equipment

Holy moly, Dubai’s police force is testing hoverbikes

Smartphones Are Killing The Planet Faster Than Anyone Expected Researchers are sounding the alarm after an analysis showed that buying a new smartphone consumes as much energy as using an existing phone for an entire decade.

These commuters are implanting microchips in their hands to replace train tickets.

Bitcoin energy use in Iceland set to overtake homes, says local firm

Smartphones Are Killing The Planet Faster Than Anyone Expected – Researchers are sounding the alarm after an analysis showed that buying a new smartphone consumes as much energy as using an existing phone for an entire decade.

Electronics-recycling innovator is going to prison for trying to extend computers’ lives

MIT Researchers Have Developed a ‘System for Dream Control’

MIT’s wearable device can ‘hear’ the words you say in your head – Subvocalization signals are detected by electrodes and turned into words using AI.

Wearable Smart Rings

Orlando Police Testing Amazon’s Real-Time Facial Recognition

Rise of the machines: has technology evolved beyond our control? – Technology is starting to behave in intelligent and unpredictable ways that even its creators don’t understand. As machines increasingly shape global events, how can we regain control?

WHY ARE AMERICA’S WETLANDS BEING DESTROYED IN THE NAME OF RENEWABLE ENERGY? – Conservation groups report that wetland forests are being drained, logged, burned, shipped across the Atlantic, and converted to monoculture pine plantations to create biomass.



Overtourism is becoming a major issue for cities across the globe –
Donkeys Crippled Because Tourists Are ‘Too Fat’ In Santorini



Putin Says ‘Invulnerable’ New Hypersonic Nuclear Missile Is Ready For Deployment The weapon is impossible to intercept, the Russian leader boasted Wednesday.

Russia has conducted a test launch of its Satan 2 nuclear missile, the country’s defence ministry said. The rocket was fired from the Plestek Cosmodrome spaceport, roughly 500 miles north of Moscow, officials said. The missile, also known as RS-28 Sarmat, travelled 3,600 miles before hitting its target on the Kura test range, an intercontinental ballistic missile impact area in the Russian Far East. The weapon is said to be capable of carrying 12 nuclear warheads and could wipe out a whole country with a single strike.

Trump: U.S. Will ‘Build Up’ Nuclear Arsenal Until Other Nations ‘Come To Their Senses’ The threat comes on the heels of Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. from a Cold War-era nuclear deal with Russia.


“The Most Expensive Bottle of Water in the World”
Titanic ll set to sail in 2022 along the same ill-fated route, promising ‘an authentic Titanic experience’

Elon Musk Building ‘Science Fiction’ Spaceship To Take People To Mars

‘We’re moving to higher ground’: America’s era of climate mass migration is here – By the end of this century, sea level rises alone could displace 13m people. Many states will have to grapple with hordes of residents seeking dry ground. But, as one expert says, ‘No state is unaffected by this’

How tech’s richest plan to save themselves after the apocalypse –
Survival of the Richest The wealthy are plotting to leave us behind
An Evangelical University Is Helping Create A Movie About How Trump Was Chosen By God The theory that Trump was appointed by God is not that uncommon within evangelical circles.
Update: Apple just became the first $1 trillion company

Richest 1% on target to own two-thirds of all wealth by 2030 – World leaders urged to act as anger over inequality reaches a ‘tipping point’

America’s Richest 2% Made More Money in 2017 than the Cost of the Entire Safety Net – Over the past year, Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg have together accumulated over $64 billion in new wealth. And the GOP want to cut food stamps?

Every Flat in a New South London Development Has Been Sold to Foreign Investors – When the Heygate Estate was demolished there were promises
of social housing and a “community feel”, but it’s all fallen through.

Cartier boss with $7.5bn fortune says prospect of the poor rising up ‘keeps him awake at night’ – Says he is concerned about robots creating ‘structural unemployment’

Billionaires Made So Much Money Last Year They Could End Extreme Poverty Seven Times

World’s first floating nation is being built by paypals founder to liberate humanity from politicians

Why Silicon Valley billionaires are prepping for the apocalypse in New Zealand – How an extreme libertarian tract predicting the collapse of liberal democracies – written by Jacob Rees-Mogg’s father – inspired the likes of Peter Thiel to buy up property across the Pacific

Inequality gap widens as 42 people hold same wealth as 3.7bn poorest – Oxfam calls for action on gap as wealthiest people gather at World Economic Forum in Davos

In the U.S. 49.7 Million Are Now Poor, and 80% of the Total Population Is Near Poverty

Oklahoma schools go on 4-day weeks so teachers can work at Walmart on Mondays to make rent

People in rich countries are dying of loneliness

World’s richest 500 see their wealth increase by $1tn this year – Ultra-rich warned of ‘strike-back’ as global inequality hits a 100-year high and billions of poorer people see their earnings stagnate

Survival of the Richest The wealthy are plotting to leave us behind

The Shocking Doomsday Maps Of The World And The Billionaire Escape Plans

People are spending thousands on crazy Burning Man costumes

Egg Shaped Folding Selfie Drone

World’s witnessing a new Gilded Age as billionaires’ wealth swells to $6tn – Not since the time of the Carnegies, Rockefellers and Vanderbilts at the turn of the 20th century was so much owned by so few

Saudi Arabia plans to build $500bn high tech mega city 33 times bigger than NY


Well Being:

Ticking Meatmares – Lone star ticks hunt in packs and spread an allergy to beef and pork. Thanks to climate change, they’re spreading.

The world has reached the lowest level of happiness in ten years

We’re ignoring Canada’s alcohol problem, chief public health officer warns – Recent numbers show alcohol abuse among women is on the rise

The Poison We Pick – This nation pioneered modern life. Now epic numbers of Americans are killing themselves with opioids to escape it.


Vanishing Cultures and Ways of Life:

Yak Herders’ Vanishing Way of Life

Indonesia’s Orang Rimba: Forced to renounce their faith



Declining Student Resilience: A Serious Problem for Colleges College personnel everywhere are struggling with students’ increased neediness.
S2 EP 20: Privacy Pods – I want one
Raising My Child in a Doomed World Some would say the mistake was having our daughter in the first place.

6 teenagers are running for governor of Kansas

Over a million children under the age of six are currently on psychiatric drugs in America

With Teen Mental Health Deteriorating Over Five Years, There’s A Likely Culprit – After scouring several large surveys of teens for clues, I found that all of the possibilities traced back to a major change in teens’ lives: the sudden ascendance of the smartphone.

Botox Use Among Millennials Is Skyrocketing: Selfies, Social Media Could Be To Blame | TODAY

Sixth-grader writes will ‘just in case’ there’s a shooting at his school


General Signs:

Would flooding the deserts help stop global warming? The idea is “risky, unproven, even unlikely to work,” according to Y Combinator. But if it did work, it could slow climate change.

Surgery students ‘losing dexterity to stitch patients’

Plan to hang ‘world’s tallest’ skyscraper from asteroid orbiting Earth unveiled Analemma Tower would be suspended from comet 31,000 miles above planet’s surface

A controversial startup that charges $8,000 to fill your veins with young blood is opening its first clinic

Researchers just found termite mounds the size of the UK in Brazil

Earth’s Oxygen Levels Are Declining And Scientists Don’t Know Why

Our Planet Is So Fucked That Some Women Are Choosing to Not Have Kids – “It sounds dramatic, but I’m just being realistic. The way we live currently simply cannot sustain more people.”

Steve Bannon warns: ‘Anti-patriarchy movement’ is going to be bigger than the tea party – Bannon says the wave of ‘anti-patriarchy’ sentiment will disrupt politics even more than the conservative tea party movement did in 2010. “Time’s up on 10,000 years of recorded history. This is coming. This is real,” Bannon tells Bloomberg.

Mass exodus from ‘Mad Max violence’ in Venezuela: Thousands flee across bridge to Colombia amid desperate hunger and soaring crime following economic crisis

Douglas Rushkoff: “we’ve disabled the cognitive and collaborative skills needed to address climate change”

Richard Branson: Soon Killing Animals for Food Will Be a Thing of the Past

The African Continent Is Splitting in Two and It’s Happening Faster Than We Thought

In response to racist violence, more African Americans look to bear arms

President Who Bragged Of Groping Women Declares Sexual Assault Awareness Month – “Offenders too often evade accountability,” Trump said in his proclamation.

Putin Unveils New ‘Invincible’ Nuclear Weapons To Counter West – Putin has often used militaristic rhetoric to mobilize support and buttress his narrative that Russia is under siege from the West.

‘We’re doomed’: Mayer Hillman on the climate reality no one else will dare mention – The 86-year-old social scientist says accepting the impending end of most life on Earth might be the very thing needed to help us prolong it

Ex-Nasa Scientist: 30 Years On, World Is Failing ‘Miserably’ To Address Climate Change – James Hansen, who gave a climate warning in 1988 Senate testimony, says real hoax is by leaders claiming to take action.

Mammals Go Nocturnal in Bid to Avoid Humans

Paul Ehrlich: ‘Collapse of civilisation is a near certainty within decades’
The Earth Has Been Hit by 144 Major Earthquakes in the Last Week And No One Is Talking About It

The Four Steps of American Collapse – A User’s Guide to Collapsonomics

The Two Skills of Gift Giving

Well, for many people on this list, Christmas will have just happened and gifts will have been, in some fashion, given and received. If you got any gifts, there’s a good chance that you loved some of them and other ones had you utterly question your friendship with that person and wonder if they even knew you at all.

There’s that scene in Dead Poet’s Society where one of the students gets, yet again, the same Christmas gift from his father that he got last year. And the year before. And the year before that. I remember growing up and one of my aunt’s sending me books that bore no mark of her knowing of me or perhaps the full mark of her not knowing me at all. I remember looking at them, books for adults by an author who, at twelve years old, I’d never heard of and wondering, “Why?”

I am writing to you about marketing though it may not seem like it at first.

Let me come to it slowly.

Gift giving, that old, reliable, village-making and culture-feeding institution, is a big moment in a friendship but it is rarely understood as such and so rarely occurs as such. Gift giving, what gift is selected, when it is given and how, is where the whole rest of the friendship is called to appear – it’s where one finds out how much of a friendship was there in the first place.

Sadly, what is revealed, when many gifts are given, is that they were not paying much attention to you over the past year at all.

This isn’t to blame anyone. The pace of modern life is relentless, the pressures are well and truly unmanageable and we certainly carry an entitlement to the attention of others that seduces down the hill of narcissism with its constant whispers of how worthy, central and important we are while, in truth, in this fast-food, single-serving, modern world, we are lucky to be on the receiving end of the attention of others whenever it happens. There’s so much pressure on us all.

Even if the pressure is off for a while, in the dominant cultures in the world we are deeply unskilled at being on the receiving, observing, and regarding side of the world and other people.

And so this is the first of the two skills needed for gift giving.

The first is the real skill of being able to sit there and let another person’s ways have their ways with us. We live in a culture where, instead of looking at the blank screen for what it is, we project onto it. The mountain is no longer a mountain – it becomes a metaphor for struggle and triumph. A coyote is not longer a coyote, it’s a spiritual messenger meant just for us whose message we can decipher by looking it up in a book about ‘messages from spirit animals’ or calling up that native friend of ours who knows so much. The meat we eat was never a live animal. Our parents aren’t human beings who had complete lives before we showed up, they were only ever that.

And there it is, this strip-malled Empire we walk around in daily, constantly telling us, “If it’s in the world, it must be there for you.”

There is more to see but our capacity to project our unmet needs, unfulfilled desires and unprocessed feelings onto others stops us from ever, truly learning them.

How can one get a gift that would truly touch the heart of another if one doesn’t understand them at all because one has never really seen them at all for who and what they are without all of our mad and insistent projections?

It becomes further complicated because, even if we did truly see someone, we truly set aside our habitual lenses and filters, or grace descends and allows us to be on the receiving end of one we admire… in a year they’ve changed and in ten years they may resemble who they were very little.

A simple example of this being: you were vegetarian ten years ago but then stopped. You’ve eaten meat ever since. And then, for Christmas, your uncle gets you a vegetarian cookbook and you look up at him and wonder how he missed the last ten years. Then you recall eating steak with him two years ago but it didn’t seem to register.

And here is the secret: people are telling you who they are all the time. People are telling you what gifts they might want all the time. If you leave a conversation with someone with no sense of what a perfect gift for them might be, then I would submit it either wasn’t much of a conversation or you weren’t listening well or both.

It’s a fine orientation to come to an interaction with, as you sit there in their presence, to wonder, ‘What gift might I get this person that would touch their heart and show them, conclusively, that I was paying attention?’

My brother loves cooking and so, one Christmas, I got him one of those fancy, folded steel, Japanese cooking knives. I think it’s one of the best gifts I’ve ever given.

The secret to it was that I never asked him once if he wanted one or had considered them. I just paid attention. This is the test, are you attending well enough, obedient (from the roots that pertain to ‘listening’) to what they say and what goes unsaid, that you could choose a gift that would stun them with its thoughtfulness.

My friend Olenka was leaving Edmonton. She hosted a farewell potluck during which nothing was happening. There was no orchestrated farewell. And so I gave her one. I asked those present to miss her to her face. I invited them to tell her that they didn’t want her to go and to help her understand the size of the hole that she would be leaving when she left. This was my gift to Olenka. That she could be wept over and not cry alone as she’d been doing for weeks with the fears that no one would miss her and that she’d be forgotten. When my dear friend Hannah left Edmonton I wept in front of her too. This is a gift you can give to people. 

I recall Martin Shaw talking about the biggest gift you can give to friends and lovers from the past who, of their own volition, moved on from your life. “Let them go,” he said. “Let them go.”

Sometimes the best gift you can give is advice and sometimes the best advice is to give absolutely no advice at all but to just listen and give empathy instead.

I was recently up in Northern Alberta and, at the end of a daylong workshop, I was gifted the most beautiful, hand-made, felted vest. It made me cry right up there in front of everyone. The night before we had sat in a small, log cabin owned by a couple named Tim and Linda. Tim had been wearing one of these fine vests, and I fawned over it fiercely, admiring the time and energy it must have take to make it. Raising the sheep, shearing the wool by hand, washing the wool, carding it and then felting it and then cutting and sewing and embroidering it. And my new friend, Kolby, my host for the event, had bought one the next day for me and gave it to me. That is how you give a gift. I never told her I wanted it. I never asked for it. I showered it with appreciation out loud and she heard me. 

It’s not so hard. People are always telling you what they want.

You go out to a bar and you hear a friend rave about the Sake there and how rarely they get to drink it. So, next Christmas, you wrap up a bottle of it for them. You are showing them, without saying anything, “I paid attention. I am glad to know you. Here’s my proof.”

You have a friend who runs an indigenous arts festival and they are always struggling for money and so you invite them for coffee to share a fundraising model you know of that might help change things for them forever. You are showing them, without saying anything, “I see the labour you put in to make this festival happen and to carry your community on your back and this is my way of acknowledging that.”

You have a friend who is a single parent and you send them a bit of money out of the blue or tell them you’d be happy to watch the kids one night so that they can hit the town and do whatever they want. You are showing them, without saying anything, “I see the labour you put in to feed your children and this is my way of acknowledging that.”

You go over to a friend’s house and are fed an amazing dinner and so you do the dishes and clean their kitchen. You are showing them, without saying anything, “I see the labour you put in to feed me and this is my way of acknowledging that.”

People are telling you all the time what they want.

This happens all the time. We assume that we already know people and so we stop learning them.

Learning how to do this is a cultural thing. The failure to do so is a cultural failing. This is a skill that must be taught.

But then there is a second skill, the skill of translating what one has witnessed into a gift for them that they didn’t see coming. A gift can be a way of saying, “I was watching. I was listening.”

And that is its own immense skill. There is a craftsmanship here. There is a capacity to select, of all the options, the perfect one or, if no options exist, to create one.

But that second skills hinges on the first.

So these are the two skills: the first to receive the person and the second to give to them something that confirms the fact of the first. Without the first, there can be no second. And without the second, what was the point of the first? The first skill is hearing them. The second skill is offering the proof that you did.

Without these twin skills, we are left with “No no. I was listening. Trust me. I heard you.” But why should anyone trust us that we were paying attention in the face of mounting evidence saying that we haven’t been paying attention at all? It’s an unkind approach to constantly demand trust in the face of evidence to the contrary. This is called gaslighting. That fellow in the Whitehouse currently does it all of the time. Better to prove it and to do so consistently.

It could be so that your appearance amongst us is all the proof we need that our ancestors are still with us. They looked at the troubles of the times we found ourselves in and they crafted their response – you. It could be, as my Cree friend Lewis often says, “My elders told me that the reason babies come into the world with their fist closed is because they are coming with gifts to give us.”

And the communities willingness and capacity to take care of you is the proof to you that we see what a gift you are and the gifts you were laden with before you made your way here. Our caring for you and fostering those gifts is our way of saying to our ancestors, “We see you. We see what you have done for us. We are grateful. Our proof is that we take care of this one.”

Being on the receiving end of a good gift is so very rare that it stops us in our tracks when it happens. Again, it says so much more about this culture than it does about us as people.

These two skills show up in business (or they don’t) all the time.

You can translate the word ‘gift’ into the word ‘offer’ with great accuracy.

Our offers that we make to our email list and to our virtual and live audiences, are our gifts to them.

They are the proof of all of the ways that we have, or have not, being paying attention to them.

I remember hearing a story about British Airways asking their trans-atlantic, first class customers what they wanted most during the long flights. “To be left alone! Let us sleep!” was the resounding answer. They were tired of being woken up every 30 minutes by the overly helpful flight attendants.

Disney Hotels came to a similar recognition years ago when their customers told them they didn’t want or need for their rooms to be cleaned every night.

When you offer a payment plan, or PWYC option or sliding scale, it’s your way of saying, “I get it. Money can be tight.”

When you come up with a package focused on a very particular issue it’s a way of saying to your people, “I know you don’t have the time or energy to learn all of this and translate it to your own situation and so I’ve done it for you.”

When you create an online version of a popular live program, it’s a way of saying, “I know you’d love to travel to come to my workshop but I know that costs so much time and money. So let me offer it this way.”

Offering a lot of free content on your website is a way of saying, “I see how scary it is to approach someone like me. I see the risks involved. And so let me do what I can to lower that risk.”

Good customer service is your proof to your customers that you see the immense frustration they’re going through and what it has cost them.

What is it that is actually meaningful to me? A handwritten note, the kind that Mark Silver of Heart of Business sends me from time to time.

What is not meaningful to me? A card from with a printed signature – the exact same card they send to every client. Those make me angry. Why did they waste the time, money and paper on this? They could have given a meal to a homeless person for the price of this. I throw them out, unread, every single time The message these cards send is, “We are trying to do the right thing but we are too lazy to do the real thing so we thought we’d send you this facsimile.” I remember another colleague of mine sending me a video card. You opened it and a video played. It was a video of him speaking directly to me. It was clever. It was personal. And yet… it was a single use of precious resources that had to be thrown out after. Why would he send me something that couldn’t be recycled?

You customers, if you are in touch with them, are telling you what they want all the time: in every coaching session, in every workshop and on your social media feed. They are telling you – directly and indirectly – how to make the perfect offer to them.

What might the opposite of gift giving be?

Perhaps it might be theft. Perhaps when we are not thoughtful in our gift giving we aren’t giving people something that will bless them but something that will frustrate them. We are burdening them with something to deal with not something that will delight them.

When we don’t offer a payment plan, or PWYC option or sliding scale, it might be our way of saying, “I don’t get it. Just pony up. If you won’t pay the money then it’s because you clearly don’t value me and yourself.”

When we come up with a package focused on a very particular issue we might be robbing people of their time.

When we won’t create an online version of a popular live program it could be a way of robbing people of their time and money by making them fly across the world to see us.

A refusal to create free content on our websites could be a way of robbing people of their safety.

Bad customer service is your proof to your customers that you see the immense frustration they’re going through and what it has cost them. We rob them of relief.

When our copy writing is fuzzy we rob people of time and inner peace and replace it with confusion and frustration. 

It’s worth considering.

And so, you haven’t gotten an email from me over the past ten days.

Why might that be?

It could be laziness. But it could also be that it is my way of saying, “I think what you most want over the holidays is to not be disturbed. I hear about how many emails you get. I see all of the Christmas offers and my guess is that what you would prefer over another offer, during a time you are deluged with offers, is silence and space.”

It’s a small way of letting you know that I see you and what you are going through.

Further Reading:

Courting vs. Seduction in Marketing
Wrapping Your Gifts
Generous Gifts vs. Free Samples
Stop Wasting People’s Time: The Incredible Cost of Being Fuzzy

How to Create Online Courses with George Kao – (60 Min Video)

Hey there,
In case you missed it, here’s the recording of George Kao’s Facebook Live he did for my folks on How to Run Online Classes.
The feedback to it was universally positive.

Loved your enthusiasm and simplicity

This was great! Really helped with some ideas, perspective and considerations moving forward. Thank

I love the way you teach. Thank you. I’m very comfortable and learned so much from this.

Your concentric circles changed my perspective of everything! Life changing right there.

thanks for you generous sharing, I am glad for your perspective, and this impetus for just getting going. 

Absolutely fantastic! Feel like you gave us a group therapy session as well as great marketing tips!

You can watch the free, 60-minute video by clicking on the image below.
Here’s the link to buy the full course: This is an affiliate offer and so I am paid a small amount for anyone who signs up from this link.
If you feel uncomfortable with that for any reason, you can use this link instead and I won’t get any money from it:

Is it possible for spiritual healers to make a living?

A year or so ago, a dear fellow I know in London, England asked this question on Facebook: “Is it possible for spiritual healers to make a living?” I imagine he had seen a lot of people get into the business only to struggle and fail in the end.

I’ve seen it myself. It seems to me that most of the spiritual healers I know are broke. Why is that?

It’s an immense question in its own way: we need those in our communities who tend to the spiritual, the meaningful, the beautiful and the mysterious. We need those who tend to our hearts and minds when they’re damaged beyond our own capacity to tend to them.

For humanity, this seems to have begun with shamans and medicine people of various names and descriptions and then it became priests and then psychologists and artists and many other roles besides. But, as much as we need these people in our midst they, for the most part, have not been paid well and certainly, with the exception of those in dominant religions that had become more about control then compassion, they did not get rich.

My sense is that, in traditional communities, these people, these walkers between the worlds, were, if they were any good at their job – taken care of by the community. They were provisioned for and compensated for their work. There was a need for them to work not a need for them to market that work.

But we aren’t there anymore. We aren’t anywhere close to there.

And so, the first question is must be, what befell a people that their sacred workers needed to make money?

Well, of course, this would be many things: literacy and its need to keep track of transactions, the unravelling of gift economies and their dance partners the laws of hospitality and the practice of kinship and the advent of the capitalist mercantile system, the break down of village life and the roads of modernity and progress arrived bearing the wagons of civilization, loaded down with soldiers and the promise of wealth beyond imagination, the discrediting of the function of elderhood, the heralding of the young, the witch burnings and deep suspicion and marginalization of the feminine and so much more.

With it all came the separation of the spiritual from the material. There is the temple which is sacred and then there is that which is outside the temple and it is not.

It lifts up the weighty questions of whether or not those doing spiritual healing work should be paid money for their services and, if not money, then how? I don’t propose to have an answer to these moral quandries.

The question is: “Is it possible for spiritual healers to make a living?”

The first thing we must come to is that, in this dominant civilization, most of us don’t have villages or even communities anymore. We have networks and scenes. We have clubs and meet-up groups. We have jobs. But we do not have community. And if there is no community, bound by and tethered to a shared understanding of the big questions and some semblance of answers to them, then there is no community to take care of the healers.

That’s where we’re at. The healers are on their own and almost entirely so. They must take care of themselves. Virtually no one is showing up at their doorstep with a basket of food or an offer to mow their lawn for them or mend their fence.

And they now, for the most part, live in this modern, capitalist society where money is all but required to buy food and find a place to live. Of course there are those striving to live outside the system still and bless them. But the pressures of modern culture are relentless.

So, here we are and what do we do to pay the bills, and rent and buy some food in the meantime.

Let’s assume you want to go down the fraught path of making money with all of the ethical and cultural questions that brings.

How does one do it?

To me, the first question is: are you any good?

Calling one’s self a spiritual healer does not remove an obligation to actually help people get better.

To tell someone, “I’ll give you healing energy and things might happen or not,” won’t cut it. If you can’t consistently help people improve, if you have no chops and less of a track record, then you shouldn’t be a healer.

So how do you get better? In an ideal situation, you would apprentice to someone directly, and for years. But you likely don’t have such a luxury (if we can call being woken up at 3am every other night by your village shaman to help someone in distress a luxury).

In the modern setting, this means learning. It means doing the healing work without needing too much money from it. It means either being financially supported by family or a spouse or it means having a job that pays your bills while you do the work of becoming a properly qualified healer. It means waiting until you have the cops to charge what you need to charge to sustain yourself.

If people under your care get better then, in the long term, that will be your marketing. If your work is remarkable, people will make remarks about it. This is how most marketing works. It is word of mouth. Again, if you aren’t confident that you can help people get better, what is it, exactly, that you’re offering to them?

And, if your marketing is going to be based on word of mouth then setting yourself up to do your best work becomes vital.

A friend of mine said to this,

“I have seen folks experience or train in a some modality that helps them, then get highly identified with the role of ‘healer,’ or ‘wounded healer,’ or ‘artist,’ etc, and then want to claim that identity as an escape from whatever ‘system’ they now feel is no longer serving them. Identifying with the archetype of healer/artist/shaman/eccentric as a way of validating our unique selfhood, finding a voice, and learning about ourselves is not the same thing as the initiation, commitment, and long apprenticeship that goes into the actual day-to-day practice of healing work. And at the same time, we can all be healers in our own way, wherever we work and live, right now. We don’t need to throw it all over to be ‘spiritual healers’ so to speak.”

And it’s true. Do you need to hang up a shingle as a holistic practitioner or could you be a mechanic who brings healing to that? Could you be a baker, a lawyer, a crafter who brings healing to every interaction you have? Why is it that we all imagine we need to become professional healers rather than attending to bringing healing to whatever we do? Why does healing always have to look like the laying on of hands?

Another friend wrote this,

“It is a unique challenge in energy healing because we as healers KNOW that it works, and yet our clients can still not get results. So much of the process relies on the client being truly willing to receive the healing they are asking for. And what I have found is that many people are willing to pay me good money, spend all that time, but they are still dealing with a lot of unconscious resistance. So the process can take much longer, almost always far longer, than the client really wants to take. So do I produce results? Absolutely. Do I have testimonials, tons and tons. But, will it happen in a linear way that one might be able to measure with a life coach or marketing strategist? Almost always not. That is the key piece of marketing i find the most challenging to get across to my clients.”

This is a vital piece to understand if you want to make your healing work your business: if your pitch is ‘come to me and I’ll offer you up healing energy/facilitate your own and then you might notice some change or you might not. If you do, I’ll take credit for it, if not then I’ll say that that’s your own fear getting in the way’ then just get out of business already. I had a friend offer some healing work to someone and, when they didn’t immediately get better (of their rheumatoid arthritis that they’d had for years) he said to her, “Sounds like you have some fears getting in the way of the healing.”

Of course, this was after he asked her, “So, are you doing cartwheels yet?” To which she silently replied, “Fuck you.”

I’m sorry, but if your best response to someone’s fear is to subtly shame it as getting in the way of your powerful healing, then you shouldn’t be a healer. Your job would be to help those fears come to the surface so that healing can be brought to them. Your job is to get the client ready to receive the healing energies and for them to know that this is a part of the process. This means making sure your point of view includes: 1) identifying where the healing is needed 2) making sure your client understands and is at ease with what is going on and, if it’s important, that they are ready to receive the healing 3) that you help them identify and work through the fears and unconscious resistances to healing that get in the way (and understand that it’s a normal part of the healing process) 4) that, at that point, they will the deeper work. 5) This will likely take longer than they think.

Or something like this. They need to be signing on for all five of those steps. That all needs to be laid out before they buy. Sometimes people sign up because, even though results aren’t quick, they agree with the process. They buy into the point of view. Your point of view becomes a filtering process where people who aren’t up for what the journey would likely look like under your care don’t sign up with you.

If a client is surprised by how long it’s taking, you didn’t filter well.

If a client is surprised that it’s taking a non-linear path, you didn’t filter well.

If a client is surprised about much at all, chances are you didn’t filter well.

This is why I created the Are You Sure? pages for various programs.

So, all of this means that you become extremely clear with your clients about what you expect of them, not taking clients who aren’t serious about getting well, meeting people at the stage of change they’re in (and knowing which stages you work best at), not over-promising, having clear cancellation policies, finding a setting to do your work that brings out your best, firing clients who aren’t a fit and much more.

But, the more I’ve sat with this question, the more it’s come to me that, as long as the above pieces have been contended with, from a marketing perspective there’s not much that is different between being a spiritual healer and any other sort of business.

All of the basics still apply.

You still need to know your niche. A fair question to ask one’s self is “is what I’m offering needed?” As my friend said to me the other day, “Theres a difference between aspiring healers setting up in places that already have plenty of healers per capita (sometimes even, an over saturation) and places where you’re the only one in town, or one of only a few. And its not the same as even massage because everyone “believes” in massage, but not everyone believes in healing. I guess it ties back into niche, in the original sense of the word; because in many places its as if we’ve got a whole lot of ruminants, and not enough grazing to go around.”

How many generic spiritual healers can a market sustain? Not that many. This is why sorting out your niche is so vital.  Who is it you want to serve and are there enough of them locally to sustain your business? If you are a run of the mill spiritual healer who helps everybody with everything then you will struggle because of that. If you are a highly niched healer who, for example, focuses on migraines, in a town of 68 people, you will struggle because of that.

My friend reflected to me that he agreed, “On the marketing niche bit, I’d say most healers have a relationship to their craft and identity as a healer and to healing that is a-niche, or niche resistant. Most practice in a way that is general, and aren’t trained or experienced with specific things; nor are they necessarily also counsellors or life coaches with the ability to work with life scenarios or do inner work with people… which can make a niche seem redundant (unless its the niche of, say, single mothers and the healer provides a free creche and a diaper changing station in the bathroom – that kind of niching).”
If you don’t put a great deal of attention on your niche as a spiritual healer, you are almost certain to struggle.

You still need to have a clear point of view (in fact, more-so than almost any other business since it’s the most ephemeral). This would likely not have been such an issue in a village setting. You’d be living inside a deeply held, ancestral cosmology all day, every day. Every ceremony would reinforce it. Today, with no shared cosmology, we must explicitly teach these things and that can take time.

You still need to think through who your best hubs might be.

You still need to think about your business model and the structure of how you do what you do. It means not getting trapped in only working with people one on one if that’s not what you’re wanting and won’t sustain you. It means thinking through group programs, retreats, workshops, talks, being available via texting, VIP days etc. And that almost means thinking through your financing – do you have enough money to sustain you for the first few years while you grow your clientele and their business through the four stages? Most spiritual healers never consider this.

So, is it possible for a spiritual healer to make a living? Yes.

Is it possible for a spiritual healer to make a living without considering these things? I wouldn’t bet my money on it.

Additional Resources:

Who am I to Teach and Get Paid For It?

Am I Ready to Teach? – An Interview with Stephen Jenkinson

On Elderhood – An Interview with Stephen Jenkinson

On Elderhood


“Elders are the axis mundi of our mutual life”


That is a quote from Stephen Jenkinson’s new book Come of Age: The Case for Elderhood in a Time of Trouble. I’ve interviewed Stephen twice before, the first on the issue of ‘right livelihood‘ and the second around the question, ‘Am I ready to teach?‘. As his new book, quotes above, just came out and he is about to hit the road with a North American tour, I thought that the time might be ripe for another interview on this topic of elders.

Because, after all, if elders are so important, then where are they?

This seems to be the central question Stephen is asking and wondering about in his book and it’s a question I see many of my clients wondering about too. Most of them, on their healing journeys, were without the kind of ongoing, deep, sustained, cultural guidance that they now do their best to offer. Most of them did not grow up with any real elders in their lives. Almost all of them have met trainers, workshop leaders, healers, self proclaimed gurus and the like, but that’s different than what Stephen is describing above: the axis mundi of our mutual life.

“An elder Abkhasian woman who was famous for knowing many curses was asked what was the most terrifying curse than can be placed on a human being. Her answer, ‘Let there be no old folks in your house to give you wise counsel, and no young people to heed their advice.” – John Robbins, Healthy at 100

So, what happened? Stephen explores this in his new book, but for this interview I wanted to explore the relationship between the lack of elders we see and the growth of the personal development movement.

The absence of elders from the scene feels important precisely because it is not registering as important for most of us in this dominant civilization. That’s the most compelling evidence there might be that the curse this old Abkhasian woman describes is in full effect. The spell and been cast like a net and we are all caught in it unawares.

Stephen often says that ‘food makes hunger’. You forget you’re hungry until the scent of food being cooked in the kitchen reaches your nostrils.

And then it all comes at once.

You’d gotten so caught up in whatever you were doing that you’d forgotten to eat. Or, you’d been eating the cotton candy, fast food diet of this culture and, while you forgot what real food was, your body did not. It remembered the moment it smelled it.

I think many of us in this modern, dominant culture of North America, walk around with a deep ‘elder hunger’ but we don’t recognize it as such until we meet someone willing to elder. And so, I believe that this book, a visitation of eldership itself, will make hunger.

Stephen makes the case that waking up to this hunger and learning how to contend with it well might be one of the most needed things in this time and place we live in.

Stephen offers no easy answers but instead, urges us to wonder: What is an elder? What is it that crafts an elder? Can one simply pronounce one’s self to be an elder? What does an elder do? Is elder a noun (something you are) or a verb (something you do)? Where have the elders gone? Why did they go? Why aren’t they appearing now at the time when the world needs them most? Why do we have more old people now than we’ve ever had and yet so few elders? How could it be that we’ve had a hundred years of books on personal growth, personal empowerment and leadership, a rapidly growing industry of therapists, ‘shamans’, healers and life coaches, more seminars and retreats than you could shake a stick at, and yet so few elders? What do we do with our hunger for them once it appears? How is it that the elder has become an archetype and no longer a part of the architecture? How has it come to pass that we are instructed to find our inner elder but there is no real-world, institution of elderhood? And, perhaps most importantly, what might it take to conjure the practice of eldership into this world again?

I look around me and I see an immense amount of resentment of young people towards old people today.

I see old people seeking for elders themselves or for someone to recognize them as an elder.

I look around me and see the hunger for convenience, efficiency, ease, freedom and ‘more’ but perhaps we might be better served to open the pages of this book and see if a certain relationship to this old, human hunger might help us conjure the food that the soul of our culture so desperately needs.

I’ll sign off here with another quote from Come of Age. It’s a question, “What will hold the young people in good stead?” I believe that Stephen’s book and his life has been his answer to this question and the invitation to craft our days so that it might be the same.

Note: I wrote this as if you’ve read Come of Age. If you haven’t, buy the book and reread this interview. You’ll see new things you missed the first time.

To Listen to the Recording of This Interview Click Here

And before you dive into the interview, I invite you to listen to the opening track of a CD recorded from their last tour – Nights of Grief and Mystery by clicking on the album below…

Tad Hargrave: Welcome everyone. This is Tad Hargrave from and I am here today with Stephen Jenkinson who is the author of the book Come of Age: The Case for Elderhood in a Time of Trouble. Welcome, Stephen.

Stephen Jenkinson: Tad, thank you.

Tad: You write so beautifully in your book about elderhood and the function it plays in the lives of many cultures, some still and in our own cultures in times past, the consequences of its absence, and how it might have come to be that we are where we are. When I think about these cultures, where that function of elder is still intact, it seems that we’re a long way from Kansas – at least in North America these days. We seem to live – first of all, if you’re listening and you haven’t gotten a copy of Stephen’s book Come of Age, I urge you to get a copy, and if you go to get it. If you get it in a bookstore, you’re going to find that book in or near a section called personal growth. It seems that there’s some relationship of … when there aren’t elders in our midst, we seem to have this swelling raft of life coaches, therapists, semi-qualified gurus, YouTube personalities, and workshop leaders. I’m curious for you, what do you see when you look out and see that? When you see the size of half the book store in a lot of bookstores, I’m curious what your read on that is?

Stephen: First of all, that might be the only kind of bookstore there is anymore, with a fiction section tacked on the back side of it as if you can distinguish the fiction section from the self help section which I’m not persuaded that a distinction should be made between those two enterprises. There’s a lot of fiction involved in both of them.

First of all, I don’t see the characterization that you made, that there is a conscious awareness and something approaching mournfulness or a lament about “no elders in our midst.” I don’t think that’s a shared take, largely because I don’t think people have looked at it and decided otherwise. I think there’s absolutely no attention given to that question, that possibility, that rupture, that lacuna in the cultural life or whatever we have instead of a cultural life.

“So, there’s the first dilemma is that the absence of elders doesn’t detonate, doesn’t register.”

So, there’s the first dilemma is that the absence of elders doesn’t detonate, doesn’t register. It metastasizes, and you’ve described one of the tumours that people will pay for tutelage, if you will, but the understanding of what the actual qualities of the tutor might be is do they have a website or is your friend going, or do people testify to having appeared at these things with a deeply enhanced sense of purpose and reason, and give a shit, and some clarity about how to giddy-up because that’s obviously what sells, right?

Nobody goes to an event to have the world changed in a way that changes them, in a way they didn’t count on, not from what I see. All of this is to say, when I look out on this thing, I have kind of a second order malaise over and above the one that you described which is I wonder when and if, or even should the dominant culture of North America actually long after elders.

I don’t think that’s operative but it has a lot of consequences. The failure to identify that and to legitimately long for something that you’re not going to get, in all likelihood, is something I deeply recommend but I don’t see it practiced very much. I have to stand up there night after night, day after day, and week after week at these events and actually make the case for a kind of catatonia about this thing, a functional coping catatonia, which is what I think all the self help thing is.

Particularly, I don’t know what to call it. Let’s just call it a dangerous emphasis on growth. It is after all called the personal growth or the human potential, or the humanist tradition, whatever you want to call it, but all of those imply that you’re probably not good enough as you are, which, okay, that’s not an unreasonable take, depending on what the criteria are.

But, then the prescription is ‘more’. The prescription is never ‘less’. I don’t think, not that I’ve ever heard – I was talking to a guy whose kids were coming, let’s say eight, nine, ten years old, somewhere in there. We were talking about parenting and the slings and arrows of it all.

He was deeply motivated in the conversation by misgivings about whether or not he would be able to provide for them, the standard provider-gene dilemma that was coming up in the conversation. I don’t know what possessed me but I dropped this in to the midst of his lament.

I said, “Do you know, if you really want to love your kids in a way that’s contemporary and responsible both, you might consider a strange truism. Your kids deserve less than you had when you were their age.” There was absolute silence on the other side of the phone. It just didn’t go anywhere at first.

“Your kids deserve less than you had when you were their age.”

Your kids deserve less than you had when you were their age. Of course, when you start working on it, I think quietly it begins to move inside you but it sort of categorically, it’s apostasy frankly. Then you just tie a couple of things together, and it’s not. It’s a well wrought necklace, and it goes like this.

Well, the world that we have, the corner of the world that I live in is a direct consequence of several generations feeling the obligation as young parents to provide their children with more than what they had. The more is the devastation of the world. That’s where the more comes from. Period.

There’s not a lot to negotiate about that. That’s the mania and that’s the consequence. At the very least, your children – and I use the word deserve deliberately – they deserve less, not in a sense of deprivation less but in the sense of less bloating, less swelling, less walking in your own footsteps.

This is what the growth mania predicts for us all is we become more of ourselves. No matter that if people veer away from the material increment of that, still in all, the notion of growth does not imply reduction, diminishment, thinning out, winnowing away, being reduced in place and time. None of that is included.

If it does include it at all, it’s a preliminary stage from which you enter into ever deeper swaths of more, of growth and ‘if you’re not busy growing, you’re busy dying’ apparently to paraphrase Dylan. I guess my case on the whole matter is I take my cue from wine in this regard.

I wrote about it in that book. Thank you, by the way, for the acknowledgement of the quality of writing. I don’t know if that’s a boon or a challenge, or even some way that makes the reading and entering into the sorrow of it perhaps more difficult. I don’t know. In that, I wondered about wine.

I should say that I’m not a wine guy. I can’t talk about all those adjectives about wine but I’ve come to appreciate it in the second half of my allotment. I didn’t know anything about it. I thought it was either red or white, or black or white for that matter.

I’ve learned that there’s a subtlety and there’s a universe in there, and I’ve come to appreciate it, and the devotees and the rest. For all of that, we could be really deeply educated in this fashion. Let’s say you start out ten years ago with 100 gallons of grape juice, and whatever else gets added.

You’re ten years down the road, if you can afford to keep it in a bottle for ten years as a vintner. Let’s imagine that you’ve come up with some extraordinary wine over that ten year period because the vintage was kind to you, and the barrels were kind, and whatever else the reasons are.

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that the only way you got good wine from grape juice is that you ended up with less wine, and that’s how you got it, less wine. In other words, the only way to get something that good is to give up in volume what you gain in depth. In other words, the recipe there is clearly for diminishment in wine and perhaps in life too.

There’s something about depth that requires diminishment because failing that, you opt for growth. You become more capable as you go along, and I don’t know where this more is supposed to come from but like all acquisitive projects, there are holes left in the ground by virtue of your insistence on becoming all you could be.

There are holes left in the ground, and the basic humanist orientation simply is not having that, but any other program for growth, be it economic or recreational, look around and in five seconds, you’ll see a direct consequence somewhere in the world for your ability to have a recreational weekend, or whatever it might be.

There’s no program for more that doesn’t take from somewhere to contribute to the more-ness, it seems to me.

Tad: This is something I’m curious about because the orientation of so much of the new age or personal growth scene we’re talking about says, “Okay, we’ll acknowledge that there are holes in the ground and that there are troubles in the world, and the best way that we can contend with that is to put on your own oxygen mask first and to heal yourself, and that will inevitably lead to the healing of others and the world.” You don’t seem particularly convinced of that approach is my sense. I’m curious what your understanding of that is.

Stephen: First of all, the notion of healing yourself is hilarious frankly. I mean, that’s like changing your mind. It’s easy to say, and it’s not a matter of changing attitude. Changing mind is fundamental. It’s an architectural alteration that requires building permits when we’re talking about the psyche.

“the notion of healing yourself is hilarious frankly.”

Very simply put, if the enterprise is to change your mind, the question becomes who is doing the changing. The answer is you but okay, is that different from your mind? The mind that you propose to change, is that the one that’s doing the calculation for the change, that’s itemizing what kind of change and what kind of increment, and how far, and how long, and why?

Does the unchanged mind register the need for a change to the mind? Does it? How could it? It may identify itself as unhappy but this is something else. Changing mind is not changing the weather. It’s changing the architecture, it seems to me.

That’s the first dilemma is that there’s an unchanged mind simply generates from the kind of inner architectural digest magazine, the favorite kitchen and the favorite entrance way of one’s psyche and one’s soul. That’s where the notion of change comes from.

There’s a paradigm program. The problem is that the perception of the change needed comes from the unchanged. Then every prescription, every recipe for the change carries this germ of the unchanged in it, and you’re not five seconds away from what I’ve come to call junky wisdom in this regard.

Every junky knows that he or she should stop using, and they all have a solution for how to do that, at least on their better days. Every one of the solutions includes the junk. I can’t escape the parallel between that and the self help movement, or the self improvement brigade. I can’t.

The parallel is so exact and so broad that it’s inescapable. That’s not to say that your mind can’t be changed but you can’t do it yourself. It’s one of the reasons there are other humans in the world at a given time is that your world and your life is changed as a consequence of the presence of other people in it, not fundamentally as a consequence of your withdrawal into the pristine event that you have yet to become.

At least after 64 years of looking around, that’s the way it occurs to me. I think it’s fundamentally irresponsible to enter into a deal, a kind of Faustian deal that you make with yourself that says, “I know the world is in rough shape. I know my corner of the world has benefitted fiercely and unfairly, and we’re beginning to bear the signs now. That’s all true, and I feel the personal increment of that fiercely. So, what I’m going to do is withdraw from the fray and leave it to the rest of you, and I will self improve. And once I’ve done that to my apparently to my own satisfaction, you can count on me and I’ll be in for the duration,” although I don’t really hear those kinds of vows.

I’m imagining that that’s the imagining of why one works on oneself, and we ask the world to wait, or we ask the workers that are left to keep working, and apparently they’ve worked on themselves, and that’s why they’re continuing to work whereas I wouldn’t assume that for a second. At some point, there’s a choice that has to be made in a time like the one we’re in.

“There’s no retirement from the siren song of a troubled time.”  excerpt from Come of Age

We have, as the book title so gorgeously has observed, we’ve had over 100 years of psychotherapy in the west, and the world is by every measure in worse shape than it was, during the same period of time in which we’ve relished in self discovery. Now, I’m not saying it’s a simple cause and effect because it’s a complicated thing to observe but I’m saying this… that the willingness of western people to disappear or to retreat for considerable periods of time because the news is too bad, because there’s too much information – whatever the motivations are – leaves the field cleared for the convicted, for those utterly and absolutely convinced. These are the ones that Yeats was talking about in The Second Coming, “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

Alas, I have from time to time, and I don’t brag about it a bit. I’ve wrestled with myself about teaching at sort of retreat centers and things like this, and I haven’t felt that it’s a good thing to do. On occasion, I’ve done it because I wanted to find out how wrong I could be about that estimation.

Alas, I found that I wasn’t wrong about it, in principle at least. I offer this little exercise up to you, and I’ve been tempted to do it. I’ve never done it. Someday I think I will, to take the season’s offerings from a given retreat center or self help emporium and simply clip out the names of the seminars or the sessions – just the names, no other identifying information at all – and put them in a hat, walk out into the street somewhere, and shake up the hat, and ask people to reach in and choose three of these things.

Then they read them and you ask them, “What are these? Where do they come from? What are they about?” Anyway, I want to do it because I want to hear what the person on the road is likely to say about them. My guess is that there would be very little inclination to guess that these were recipes for becoming a better you.

Tad: You’d referenced James Hillman and Michael Venture’s book, and I’m curious what you see as the difference in functions, I know you worked as a counselor for awhile, and now I see you experience you, and I know many others do as well, playing this elder function very beautifully in the world. I know you’ve been on the receiving end of that as well. I’m curious how you would articulate the difference in the functions between therapist or counselor, or things in that vein and this function of eldering.

Stephen: That’s a good question. I’m going to have to think about it by answering. First thing is I wouldn’t want to drive a hard and fast wedge between those two functions. I wouldn’t want to be dogmatic about it and not be able to imagine the people whose business card says counselor or something are not capable of the elder function, or vice versa.

Maybe we could talk in a general way about what tends to characterize counseling in a general sort of way. It seems to me that you’re unlikely to make much of a living as a counselor if you do not engage, pretty thoroughly, in an act of clear and consistent corroboration. I just can’t imagine it working out for you.

What would the word-of-mouth be on you if you were not engaged in corroborating people’s basic take on life and what’s necessary, and how to get there, and things of that order? I don’t think the word would be very kind about you.

I learned this, frankly, in the death trade. This is where it occurred to me, where I realized that the basic counseling dynamics and paradigms were grotesque parodies of what dying people deserve from us, largely because dying people aren’t customers, so they aren’t to be satisfied whereas in the counseling game, there is a degree of customer so there’s a degree of customer satisfaction.

Even if you try to do it an end run around it, you’re going to recraft it so that you’re secretly satisfying the secret customer by overtly subverting the overt customer. Do you see what I mean? By prescribing things like ‘becoming comfortable with your discomfort’ as one of the classics, whereas you’re still trafficking comfort but you’ve introduced discomfort as one of the ways to become comfortable.

“It’s an utter shell game.”

It’s an utter shell game. All of this is to say two things. I had a gig on the weekend in Toronto, and I was introduced – it was a very kind introduction, and rather lengthy, so very hard to live up to, at least for the following two hours because you need a few years to live up to a lively introduction. It puts you in a bit of a hole.

One of the words she used to describe me was ‘visionary’. I don’t know why but I took that one on when I stood up, and I thanked her very much. I said, “As to the visionary thing, I’m just not persuaded about it. It’s rather lofty but divisionary maybe. It seems to me that that’s what I’ve become, not a visionary so much as a divisionary, and trying to live up to that.”

I took my cue from the death trade wherein I began to understand that people deserve things from us that they would never ask for. They deserve to die well when their intention was not to die at all. Okay, so how do you possibly get return business, generate return business, leaving aside the dying aspect of things?

How do you get return business when your fundamental obligation is to subvert people’s root conviction about what they deserve, about what life is for, about what this time of life asks of you, your fundamental obligations as a citizen, your obligations to the generations to come? How are you going to get anybody to come back if you take these things in hand when they’re not asking you to do it, because of course they come to you as a counselor with some degree of personal torment that’s brought them there?

“How do you get return business when your fundamental obligation is to subvert people’s root conviction about what they deserve?”

Then over and above all of that, you have this frankly terrible dilemma – at least to me it is – where you are about to send the person, whatever changes you were able to engineer in their psyche, out into the world, an unchanged world, the very world and its unchangedness that drove them to your door in the first place. You’re about to cast them loose into the same unchanged place. There’s just something about that conceit that I can’t abide. That’s all. I’m not saying nobody else should but I can’t. I can’t practice that way. I can’t see the world that way.

Now let me bring in the world elder here and imagine that it is in the function of elderhood, that it’s not activated by personal unhappiness, that it’s not geared to personal satisfaction because fundamentally elder is not a personality. It’s not a character type. It’s not a particular wrinkle of personality.

It’s not in that sense in any way unique. In living cultures, it’s a position if you will. It’s a kind of status. Minus that, you can still talk about it. I talk about it as a function instead of as an identify. In a world of ‘identify politics’, this is an extraordinarily radical proposition.

The function among others of elderhood is to subvert identity mania because elderhood itself is not an identity. It is when things are going well, the end of fixed identity. How does that happen? It happens because elderhood is, first of all and lastly, a child of its time.

The particular responsibilities that befall elderhood all are derived from the particular dilemmas of the time that the elder is born into. As such, the elder’s own personal life is simply a cipher or kind of a temporary surrogate until the elder catches wind of the prevailing currents of the time.

That’s where the elder’s jobs and responsibilities are derived from, from what prevails, not from personal needs, longings, hurts, slights, sacrifices, or diminishments. If I put all that together, that’s why I said I’m not saying the two functions couldn’t find their way towards one person’s work.

I’d love to believe that that’s possible. The fact that I haven’t seen it very much doesn’t mean that it’s not out there but I would say that there’s something about counseling in its way that does remain mired in the idea that you have to gain the confidence, trust, and so on of the client whereas in the circumstance of elderhood, one of the elder’s jobs is to subvert the usually occurring understanding of what constitutes trust, just for starters.

Elders are not trustworthy by an unexamined understanding of what trust is.

Tad: I’ve heard you speak about older people appearing at your events and wanting some sort of stamp of approval or certification that they are indeed elders, and wanting to be recognized in some way, validated, and yet this doesn’t seem like any manner of eldering to be obsessed with, “What about me?” and at such a late stage in life. I find myself thinking about that question that Parzival asks the Fisher King, or one of the versions of it when he asks finally, “Whom does the grail serve?” I find myself wondering whom or what does eldering serve? What is it that eldering sustains? What flourishes, if all goes well, in the presence of eldering if it’s not ‘me feeling comfortable’?

Stephen: If eldering is prevailing, there’s not much eldering going on. Why? Because it’s the elder’s principal responsibility to work themselves out of a position. If they’re doing their job well, there’s no job to do. Why? Because the fundamental understandings of the time have been democratized, that’s why, not that they’re evenly distributed across the culture but if the elder function is in full effect, it becomes so sublime as to it’s kind of hard to register, and it’s indistinguishable from old people sitting there leaning on something, appearing not to do very much. Let me take about two minutes to elaborate a kind of envisionable story. There’s the idea out there that elders are somehow inherently strong and capable but you could easily imagine elderhood or elders as being exemplars of failure and ruination.

“If eldering is prevailing, there’s not much eldering going on.”

They actually provide active and mandatory instruction in the nuances of failure, the understanding being that wherever humans are wildly successful at what they want to be successful in, the world almost inevitably suffers as a consequence. At the end of the day, to answer your question way back when, an elders principle job is that they’re anointed by the world and by their times.

That anointment is recognized by the culture but not initiated by it. The culture employs the anointed status that the world confers upon the capable elder. This is how the world continues to appear in the elder function, the nurturing after the world, the concern after the natural order of things.

One way you could understand this is probably like you, I’ve been in more than a few dentists’ offices, looking at old copies of National Geographic. In these copies, sooner or later you will find yet another “lost civilization” as they’re typically called where they’ve been digging around and they just can’t figure out what happened to these people. Of course, climate change or degradation of the soil are the usual culprits.

There’s no thought apparently lent to the considerably likely possibility that deeply cultured people cottoned onto the idea that enough of them were in the same place for a fixed period of time, that had a degrading consequence upon the place they claimed as their home, and they were claimed by.

In other words, their love of the place that they called their home eventually turns into a willingness not to be there. That’s sort of the more radical expression of a love of a place is to leave it alone and not to occupy it. This never comes up in the writings about it. It never comes up as an aspect of philosophical enquiry. Why not?

Generally speaking, it’s because our understanding of growth is incremental and acquisitive. Our understanding of love is attachment and increase, a spooky parallel to growth. There’s no notion whatsoever that an act of love could include parting from that which you love for the sake of that which you love.

That I would submit to you is an elder function, to see that necessity rising on the horizon and to deeply advocate for it. That’s what happened to some of those people in some of those places, that they looked up one day and realized that it wasn’t working, because it was, and because of that, “For God so loved the world,” I think that’s somewhere in the New Testament.

How about this? Cultured people so loved the world that they’re hard to find, they don’t stay in one place for untold generations. It’s a very strange and sort of mournful proposition but I’m suggesting to you that it is in the realm of the elder function to be willing to see the deeply unwelcome proposition that our well-intended presence has a kind of deleterious consequence that we simply don’t calculate.

It asks us to see it and to respond accordingly, lovingly, not self-hatred wise, not misanthropicly but lovingly. Misanthropy is a human’s response to our excesses and the irony about misanthropy is it’s another human excess. It’s so wretchedly unnecessary and so apparently called for but if you look around, you don’t see much of a world affirming things that comes out of misanthropy.

“Misanthropy is a human’s response to our excesses and the irony about misanthropy is it’s another human excess.”

As it happens, humans are only incidentally the victims of our excesses, only incidentally, the world considerably so. Yet it would not appear that there’s any life form in the world that has generated misanthropy as a response or as a solution to our excesses. The only life form on the planet that seems to have come up with that solution is guess who – those who are occupying the anthropy scene.

You could say self hatred is another aspect of our excess and another form of our self absorption continuing to make us a clown of creation inadvertently.

Tad: It’s interesting when you speak about the need to see this and see it lovingly. I was reflecting a few weeks ago about this theme that I see in all of your books. There’s a thread that seems to go through all of them. The first, there was How it All Could Be but then there’s the book about money, and then there’s the book about dying, and now this book about elderhoodI know you have a book coming up around matrimony. The theme that I see is that all of these are artifacts of culture. There’s a way, and I’ve heard you speak about this. It’s such a compelling approach, this way of looking at things prismatically. I remember you speaking about dying and how you could see the dominant culture of North America there at the bedside, and often in the school I hear you speak about, “It’s all here in the room. We don’t need to go anywhere,”. I think of the Dark Side of the Moon album cover where the light is going in the one side of the prism and comes out refracted on this other side. We can see the constituent elements of the light just like your books help us see the constituent elements of the artifacts of this culture (i.e. in money, dying and elderhood). This to me has been one of the more profound pieces I’ve had the pleasure of being on the receiving end for you, this capacity you have to see things prismatically; to see the culture in things. That’s the theme I see in your books, the capacity to look at ordinary things in a prismatic way and thus to really see them for the first time. I find myself wondering because this is the type of thing that people could be doing with any part of this culture, any work that they are engaged in. There’s the capacity, the possibility of seeing that thing, be it massage, woodwork, life-coaching, crafting, permaculture or more, in a prismatic way. I find myself curious how you came to that way of seeing and if there’s any wisdom you would share with people about how to see things in that way or what questions might be asked. How does one learn to do this?

Stephen: Well, it’s probably extremely expensive which is one of the reasons that it’s rare, if you say that it is. It’s extremely expensive in the sense that it’s relentlessly revealing of what would rather stay in the shadow. It’s a very costly enterprise to wonder, and then again to wonder about your wondering.

It’s not uncertainty, nor is it its opposite. It’s a kind of, I don’t know, devotion I suppose. We’re not in the most devout of times. We’re in a time that’s riddled by certainties of conviction and prejudice, but that’s not what I mean by devotion.

I think the way it probably came to me, certainly I didn’t pursue it because I never would have known anything about it and I certainly was not “instructed” in it because this is the undoing of it. If you’re not exposed to the practice of it, there’s no way for you to come to it.

Minus the practitioners, you have only teachers. I guess I would put it this way. What I was lucky enough to be in on from probably a very early age is stories of all things, and stories are not just ‘one thing after another’. Stories have a very particular arc or you could say only stories have arc.

Arguments don’t. Diatribes don’t. They have intentions. They have sometimes diabolical strategies but there’s nothing strategic about a story. A story has a kind of arc that’s somewhat user friendly but absolutely world friendly. There’s something about the arc of a story that is as naturally occurring as snowfall or the rain that’s falling just outside the door as I’m talking to you now.

“A story has a kind of arc that’s somewhat user friendly but absolutely world friendly”

Naturally occurring doesn’t mean without consequence, by the way. It doesn’t mean benign but it certainly means that it’s in the order of things, that stories virtually seem to tell themselves although God knows they need a good teller, and they need a good hearer to appear as a story. I was exposed to the arc and the lilt of storyness or storydom, or something from a very early age.

Of this I’m fairly certain because I’ve never not heard that way. It’s in my ear, not a particular story, but storyness is in my ear and everything is available to me that way. I’ve found that people credit me with a certain capacity for memory but it’s not a factual memory.

The memory that I have is a kind of nuanced Geiger counter of ‘story movement’. That’s how I remember things, because the story suggests in almost a serpentine fashion what preceded the moment that you’re enquiring after right now, and with enough attention to that, the story begins to suggest to you something about the moment that you have not quite arrived at yet.

There’s at least three increments ongoing at any given moment that are available to you, not quite past, present, future, what we normally mean by those terms but certainly they’re in there. I did an interview years ago on a little radio station. I came in and sat down.

The first thing the guy asked me was, “So it seems you’re capable of slowing down time,” which wasn’t really a question. It rather stymies what the proper answer should be but I think this is what he was talking about. I think he meant something like this.

When you’re talking about a given thing, certainly not all the time but if I’m on my game, let’s say, then there’s something in this storyness that, if we enter into it together, you can feel the thickness or the thinness of different kinds of time. You can feel the current and the currency of those different kinds.

They’re not all the same. They don’t move all the same way. They don’t have the same consequence for you. Maybe that’s what he was talking about. Certainly, that’s the way it appears to me. There’s clusters of times, and then sometimes they thin out to the point where they’re almost negligible.

If anybody is interested, though I wouldn’t know why after that description but if they are in pursuing this particular way of coming to things, prismatic sort of attention span as you’ve described it, then they could do worse and probably have done than to attend to stories, not for their own sake, not as decorative things but as a kind of an alchemy.

In that sense, it seems to me that maybe elders have a similar consequence simply by their elder function. They have a kind of alchemical consequence that ensues from them, that’s beyond inspiring or dispiriting. It’s simply beyond the realm of whether you welcome it or not.

It kind of mobilizes you in ways that would never have occurred to you, either to approve of or disapprove of. Stories and elders in that way, they’re kind of one recognizes the other. It’s no surprise that elders are fundamentally storytellers.

If you just take the Jesus example, he was a little young so he probably doesn’t qualify for the elder status but in the formulations that you read in the New Testament, he’s asked a question. It’s usually a question that’s designed to back him into a corner or get him some sort of logical impossibility to ponder.

“Who is my neighbor? Who am I supposed to pay this money to in taxes?”, or half a dozen other things, and he responds as, “You’ve heard the one about…” like that. Who knows if that actually went the way it went but the fact that that passed through God knows how many iterations before it was approved of as the canonical declaration of what Jesus actually said, and so many of them remain stories, palpably stories.

They call them teaching stories but there’s no such thing. That’s not what stories are. If they’re teaching, then they’re kind of finger wagging, and that’s not a story because a story doesn’t need a finger to wag. A story just says, “Well, there’s this guy walking down the road. Some strangers came upon him and beat him up, left him there for dead,” and you’re thinking, “My God, this is the answer to my question, ‘Who is my neighbour?’”

The point is, you’re still not told who is your neighbour because the story simply steps outside of the terms and conditions that your little question dictated. It simply steps around them and proceeds to tell the story, and invites you reinhabit the narrow confines of your question once the story is over, if you insist.

Otherwise, it gives you another kind of universe to inhabit where cause and effect are not really the story’s servants. They’re its executioners.

Tad: So many colourful threads there to weave together. It’s interesting, when I read your writing, it feels like you’re doing something very different than I see many authors doing. I see many authors essentially, at least in this personal growth scene I’ll say, there’s a lot of regurgitating the culture’s unquestioned back to the question. What is written is perhaps more acceptable because it neatly fits within, what you write about as “the spells of the west” in Come of Age. The book feels very affirming at a certain level. There’s a sense of, “Yes, that fits with what I’ve been told and I already know,” and yet you seem to be doing a very similar thing of handing people’s assumptions back to them, or their habits of thinking on them as back to them, and dropping the dye in the swirling water so they can actually see the swirl. Your focus in these four books seems to be about helping people learn the constituent elements of that which you’re discussing – using the topics of the books as a sort of prism with which to refract the light of the culture. You help make the culture apparent in it rather than reiterating the culture. So much of the work I’ve seen out there seems to facilitate and encourage, and deepen introspection, and your work seems to call for a kind of outrospection, not that there’s a binary between the two. I see this call to the see the world. One of the things I was curious to ask you about, because you brought up Jesus and parables, and storytelling… it seems like a central approach that many people use in these days in teaching all things, all matters spiritual and personal growth is that of a metaphor and similes and such. I think the way it’s rendered is, “Well yes, you see Jesus, he was using a simile. He was saying, ‘This is like this, and you already know this thing. Here is the unknown thing. This simile will be a bridge between the two,’” piercing our modern language a lot. On the ride home from the Apprentice Program, there were a few of us in the car and we played a game with it because we noticed how often we were saying “like” and it was horrifying us. “You know, like, it’s like.”

Stephen: It horrifies me too.

Tad: There’s a simile in the language because we’re not saying, “This is this.” We’re saying, “It’s like, it’s sort of, it’s as if.” We were calling each other on it. It seems very wrought in our language.

Stephen: What did you come up with as to why you have so much recourse to that word?

Tad: One is approval of each other, that to speak eloquently requires a certain slowing down and a tension, a formality in a way. One passenger in the car speaks English as a second or third language. She was sharing how of course, there’s a wanting to fit in, wanting to have the slang and wanting to be a part of the group and not speak so formally. There was that, and it also occurred to me that it’s very tied to this way of seeing the world where things are like things, so we don’t have to say the thing we think. We can hedge it. The habit was so deep. We would say it and then someone would look at us and we’d reply, “Did I just say it again?” I guess I found myself wondering what are the unintended consequences of trafficking in metaphor and simile because it’s recommended, it’s encouraged. This seems to be the way of teaching but what does it do to us, to the world, to our capacity to learn, to be trafficking in this?

Stephen: I think one of the things that it continues to do is mitigate against any possibility of seeing things otherwise. When you traffic in all the proximals, “like, such as, sort of, sort of like, kind of like,” these are more than reflexes now. These are surrogates for speaking, and not just in idle conversation either, in un-idle conversation too.

One of the consequences of doing that is you’re forever likening, literally, the thing that you’re trying to approach linguistically with the things that you’ve already approached linguistically. Now, you might think that works well when you’re trafficking in information because there’s information that people don’t know, that’s new to them.

If you find some way to compare it to something they already know, then this is some kind of entree of the new into the existing. That’s called going mainstream. A lot of people are hankering after mainstream attention and notoriety, and all the rest. How do you get it?

By resembling so faithfully something that’s already there with the particular kind of glow that all the other knowns don’t quite have because it’s been worn away. My point I guess is this, that when you do this kind of thing, you blunt pretty much permanently the ability to be wrong.

This is the first casualty. You could never be wrong if you’re trafficking in vague associative ways of speaking. If you say it’s “kind of like,” how could you be possibly be busted for that? If somebody says, “It’s not really like that.” You can reply “Well, it’s kind of like that.” It doesn’t mean anything either way anymore.

What if there are some things that are so without precedent that they’re not like anything at all? Can they even appear on your radar? My answer is not on your radar, no, but they can appear in your conscience. How can they do that? By not being obliged to lose their ramshackling power by having to fit into the scheme that you’ve already established for understanding

Many’s the time I get a response in school or otherwise that claims that the thing I’m talking about is hard to understand. Now, I use pretty simple language I think, and so it’s not a vocabulary problem. It’s not even really a conceptual vocabulary problem.

The problem that people are running into, and not really alerting themselves to, is the unwillingness to consider it, and there’s an active unwillingness to consider. Why? Because it’s too expensive to consider, because if you really consider some fundamental alternative to the current regime, there’s something about your ability to get out of bed that’s going to be compromised.

Somewhere in there, you kind of know that or you know it enough to know not to go any further. One of the classic ways of defending yourself is by “not understanding”. Isn’t that a bizarre strategy? I’ve seen it many times. One of the ways you maintain your “not understanding” is by trafficking in a language that says that you have to approach my normal way of talking with what you’re saying for me to understand you, never mind the fact that my normal way of talking precludes anything fundamentally new and challenging, and undoing, and unhinging from coming in.

That’s an awful lot to lay on a word with four letters, “like,” but there’s a reason that, to my mind, the most skillful storytellers are not people who traffic in similes or metaphor, or allegory. Why? Because all of these words point back to the known, the familiar; they’re the touchstone.

“the most skillful storytellers are not people who traffic in similes or metaphor, or allegory”

Like – I just said it myself. You see children in the mall absolutely enthralled by that shit on the shelves at Toys R Us for a little while, and depending on their age, they’ll suddenly look up from their kind of hypoglycemic exposure to these toys, and look for you know who, and if they can’t see her – more often her than him – then the whole attraction to what’s going on is suspended, and they go on a mad search for the mother-ship.

Do you see what I’m saying? People do this linguistically all the time, and that’s what “like” is. It’s groping for the mother-ship in this dark when you’re in Toys R Us and you’ve decided that the toys aren’t enough to head off the fact that you’re not quite at home after all.

“Like” is the attempt to make everything into an effigy of your home, what you’re familiar with. It’s essentially like a Best Western hotel everywhere in the world. They’re all the same. That’s what they’re selling you. When you’re in the Best Western in Dubai, you’re not in Dubai anymore, and you never were because you could just be in Dubuque, Iowa instead. It’s exactly the same.

I think that’s what “like” does for starters. I could get excited about this and really launch on the thing but that’s my misgiving. When we’re in school and this stuff starts coming up, one of the things I try to point people’s attention to is “you didn’t come here to exercise what you already know how to do. Just tell me you didn’t”.

People happily acknowledge that no, indeed, they didn’t come here to be habitually themselves. Okay, then the cost of being otherwise is in your speech (see pages 235-241 in Come of Age). If you don’t speak otherwise, you cannot think otherwise. That is a stone in the shoe because it sounds absolutely counterintuitive.

We really do imagine that our thinking leads our speech, but nothing could be further from the truth. All the habits of your speech guide your thinking, guide your perception, guide your hypotheses. All of them do. If you really want to make a revolution in this world, one of the ways to begin is to hold your speech to a degree of sustained discipline whereby the intricacies and the realities of the world begin to show up in how you formulate sentences so that your language is onomatopoeia, the way it once was many eons ago.

I think we can do this even with a kind of ornate syntax the contemporary language gives us. I’m not talking about grunting here. I’m not talking about making a sound that sounds like a sound “in the wild.” I’m saying that the wild has a syntax and can easily be understood as having its languages which are stories.

The degree to which you start saying “like” and “as” are the degree to which you’re not longer trusting the story you’re trying to tell, and you’re trying to compare it to a story that everybody “already knows” and fit it into that. That’s the mainstream thing I was telling you about earlier.

Tad: If we turn tourism into a verb, ‘touristing’ or something of that mind of wanting to turn the places we find, or the teachers we find, or whatever it is we come across into something more familiar, until it’s more and more familiar.

Stephen: Sorry Tad, until they become another thing that we know. There’s a reason for it. We don’t just do it because we don’t know what else to do. The reason that the unknown is constantly pressed into a mold that looks more and more familiar is because it’s unnerving to not know, as a “grownup”, to proceed, isn’t it?

Or worse than unnerving, it’s humiliating and it’s innervating. Nobody bargains for that. Revolutions are made this way. They deeply and truly are made this way, but I interrupted your question. Sorry. 

Tad: I think I may actually go in a different direction due to time, because this is such a rich topic that we could go on for a long time. I heard one person describe the Orphan Wisdom School – I’m always curious when people go to describe it, how they say it. He said, “It’s something about learning to be a more cultured human,” and that resonated with my experience at the school. We seem to have so little culture in this dominant civilization of North America. I’m curious about your understanding of what is culture, and what is the role of elders or eldering in the fashioning of culture?

Stephen: I wouldn’t use the characterization fashioning of culture largely because of that unchanged mind thing that we began with. If you have an idea of what culture should be and you set about creating it, which are basically what intentionally communities set out to do, what you have, what you will end up with is an expression of the unchanged part of the change you were seeking.

In other words, you will inadvertently create the thing that you were fleeing because by virtue of fleeing it, it remains preserved. You see? There’s the dilemma in a nutshell. You cannot flee what you’ve learned. You have to work it. You won’t leave it behind.

So then, rather than imagining culture as something that we fashion and take apparently some considerable pride and credit for doing, we could imagine as I’ve tried to do, that culture is an inadvertent consequence of a certain number of people proceeding in a kind of simpatico fashion when they’re held to a certain kind of standard of fundamental responsiveness or responsibility, which is actually what the word means whereby the understand that their wellbeing is derived from the wellbeing of the world.

We are on the receiving end of every good intent and every noble action that we undertake. We’re on the receiving end of it. This breeds in you a capacity for a kind of radical humility that pretty much takes care of your humiliation. This is the dilemma with learning in a place that’s hopelessly addicted to competence is that most learning is humiliation or seems to require humiliation, but it doesn’t.

“To a cultured person, learning requires humility.”

To a cultured person, learning requires humility. It requires simply ‘not knowing that’. It’s not a bad way to have a school. If I have enough time, maybe I’ll try to make a school that’s based on that idea. I think I’ve done that actually. I would say to you that culture you could understand to be born fundamentally of a grieved people’s willingness to engage their grief and recognize that the limits imposed upon them by their biology, their anatomy, and their imagination, and their home place, that all of these limits are not there to be thwarted by ever cresting levels of accomplishment.

Every one of these limits have been granted to us in order to find our capacity for a culturedness within. In other words, the real midwives of culture are limits, frailties, and failures. The real odious alternative to that is a limitless, growth addicted, competence addled, be all you can be, and if you can, you should.

Limits are there to be thwarted, and limits are only in your imagination, and so on. This is idolatry. It’s idolatry of the imagination by the imagination. Culture is an antidote to idolatry. It’s a willingness to be limited so that the world can continue, whether our iteration of what we’ve come up with continues or not.

In other words, cultured people are cultured as a consequence of being citizens of a particular place and time, and civilized people – if I could use the distinction – are people who are on the road towards being civilized. They, of course, never get there but they’re ever greater arcs of capacity and willingness to leave the path behind, and learn from “our mistakes.”

There’s no learning from mistakes in civilization. Civilization’s job is to not make mistakes. If it does, it isolates the particular evildoers, leaves them behind or exorcises them and carries on. This is why the egregious examples in human history are so useful to civilizations because we can locate the darkness in us in particular places and times, historical individuals and so on.

If we’re not “like them,” then we are free from whatever bedeviled them. Then sometimes you do that to whole races of people, don’t you? Or whole city states of people and ethnic cleansing becomes an inevitable consequence, and before you know it, you have entire non-races  of people, “white folks,” which is not a race of course.

Their young are looking desperately to find a kind of racial homeland and racial purity to offset their sense of being nobody, from nothing worth being from. They actually invent a background, invent a racial identity which is of course what we’re in the throes of now.

I’ll never forget being at a small island in the Gulf Islands off Western Canada, and an alternative community in every sense of the term. I was with maybe two dozen of the island’s young folks from about 14 to about 17. I was talking about ancestry and elderhood, so on like this.

Two aching comments will never leave my memory. One was a young girl said, “I’m beginning to see how initiation is so important. I’ve read about it but I had no idea how important it was. It makes me so sad to learn how important it is.”

I said, “Why is that?” She said, “Because it will never happen for me.” She was 14. She had it figured out, sadly. The other thing was actually more mournful but with less grief in it. It went like this.

A young guy said, “Oh, I don’t worry about this ancestry thing. I just make my own ancestry.” He was very flippant about it. Apparently ancestors, there’s an aisle in Wal-Mart where you can go shop for them. Of course that’s what a lot of comparative religion classes prompt us to, and comparative literature class, doesn’t it, who you identify with, all of that.

Oh, I don’t worry about this ancestry thing. I just make my own ancestry.

Literature of the oppressed, who do you identify with, and before you know it, you’re cherry-picking again. Nobody wants – I shouldn’t say nobody – there’s an awful lot of people on the move, adrift, trying to be from somewhere, and their option is to be from anywhere except where they’re from.

You could say culture is an antidote to that kind of aimlessness, by being willing to be from a particular somewhere and forgo all the other hypothetical possibilities of being from anywhere.

Tad: I find myself baffled by how it can be that there are so many young people these days that are starving for the sustenance that can only come from older people or this elder function in action, and yet so resistant to eating it when it appears, and I guess a lot of older people too. I suppose my final question is when this elder function appears in our midst, what might we do in response to its arrival? What might hospitality of that function look like because there’s such inhospitable environment right now to it, even though it’s so important?

Stephen: Stop trying to eat it. Okay, enquire after its appetite instead. Stop trying to consume it. Stop trying to have it. Get it inside yourself. Be it. Improve on it. Take it in. Turn it to take-aways. Digest it.

You see, it’s the same language for learning that’s used so often. Our understanding of learning basically is consumption but there’s no learning in consumption because it’s all gone. I’ll leave you with this story. You’ve probably heard me tell some version of it. This is the short version of it.

I’m appearing at an event called a prayer festival. We’re in the back room. I’m sitting beside a Tibetan priest or monk. He was in his robes and so on. He’s going to lead the Tibetan prayers I suppose, and God only knew what I was supposed to lead. I was sitting beside him, and in the vain attempt to make small talk, not knowing even if we had a language we could speak together because I don’t have much Tibetan at all.

He turned to me and said, “Why do you teach?” That’s what he asked me. That was his opening gambit, “Why do you teach?” I said to him, “Why do you ask?” He said, “They eat teachers here,” meaning North America.

My answer to him was, “That’s why I teach.” It was a devastating encounter for us both I think at some level. If you can picture a Tibetan monk being devastated, it’s not an easy picture to conjure but I was there, and I promise you, it was there too.

“They eat teachers here,”

He didn’t have a lot of equanimity that his years of training granted him at a moment like that. He was genuinely distressed at the extraordinary willingness of Western people claiming to want to learn things from elders, to trying to be elders instead, fast track everything, inhale everything, and mainline everything.

As far as I can tell, elderhood, to the degree it becomes sexy, and it may never but I think it will become a sexy beast shortly after death is removed from the front pages. It may be geezerdom instea; the new sexy thing. Somewhere in there, I think what will happen, and it will go into another degree of eclipse is that elderhood will be the next thing to inhale like ayahuasca.

It will be the next thing to do eco-tourism trips to. What am I saying? Of course it’s already in the works, right? I’ll go out in a limb here and I’ll close off by saying something like this. I was in a room full of people the other night in Toronto.

Maybe I went too far, but I said something like, “You know, there’s one guaranteed way to get a room full of white folks to use the word elder, and that’s to put someone who is older and not white up in front of them.” That’s how but you try to get a room full of white folks to use the word elder when there’s only white folks in the room, and you’re going uphill.

There’s a lot to be observed from that. I don’t say that out of any particular grievance. I’m saying that because the unwillingness to confer that word upon anyone but an exotic outsider is part of the poverty. That is not a solution.

There is a lot of shame in that, and trafficking and shame as well, and a lot of extolling the exotic and idolizing and fetishizing it, and all the rest that’s kind of obvious. The sad sort of scorpion’s tale of the thing is that you will, at least engender, another two generations of elder free existence while you hold up somebody from another continent as your template.

After all, elders are specific to times and places. There’s no generic identity to my mind. There can’t be. You can’t fetishize it. You can’t standardize it. If a time changes subtlely, then the function of elderhood changes as subtlely because it’s a servant.

“Seeing that, you can see the function of the elder in a living community. The elder is the amanuensis of the unseen, its onomato-poeia. The eclipse of early family allegiance, the concentrated frailties, the utter extinction of potential, and the wisdom that can ensue from that—in this we have elderhood, and elderhood when it is honoured in the midst of a living culture and employed in its ceremonial, political, and economic life is that culture taking dictation from the unseen, from the Great Beyond. Elders do not take their guidance from their Ancestors and their Gods nearly as much as they in their tempered, archaic, implacable ways are the mutterings of the Old Ones that the rest of us, with respect and a learned ear, get to overhear. Not the weavers, no— they are the weaving.” – excerpt from Come of Age

It’s proper that you can’t generalize. You can’t identify a particular people or a particular person and say, “That’s what that is.” The closest you can come is to say “for awhile, our times granted us that”. I certainly have understood Leonard Cohen for example in exactly those terms. I still find it not that easy to walk around with him not breathing the same air as me but, for awhile, I did, and for awhile, he was something, man.

Tad: Stephen, thank you so much for your time. I know you’re hitting the road tomorrow off to B.C., and in the blog post that accompanies this, I’ll be putting all the info about the tour that’s coming up, the Nights of Grief and Mystery Tour, and hopefully see many people there. Thank you for your time and hopefully we’ll see you down there sometime.

Stephen: Amen, thank you for your thoughtful questions. You made me work, the kind of work I appreciate. Thank you.

Tad: You’re welcome, take care.

Stephen: Okay, you too.


2018 Nights of Grief & Mystery Tour – North America

Deacon, Guelph, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, SSI, Duncan, Victoria, Seattle, Portland, Tucson, Nevada City, Mill Valley, Los Angeles, Boulder, Ithaca, New York , Turners Falls, Ypsilanti, Minneapolis, Ottawa, Toronto

For more information on Stephen’s upcoming tour with Gregory Hoskins and band click the poster below…

90 Min Video – The Art of eCourse Creation

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