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Evolution, Not Revolution

daffodils next to blacktop driveway with trees in the background

When we moved into our house 9 years ago, I had no idea that there were daffodils planted along the north side of our drive, down by the road. We moved in the middle of the summer, so the daffodils had already bloomed and were taking care of daffodil business outside of my ability to notice.

So it was a lovely surprise that first spring to note a few of them waving at me in the breeze one morning as I stopped at the mailbox. All kinds of questions came to mind-- who had planted them? How should I care for them? How long would they stay?

Since that introduction to these unexpected delights at the end of the driveway, they've reappeared each spring, and they have spread and multiplied. I took the photo at the top of the page earlier this year as a note to myself, to help me remember when spring rolls around again what the spring before looked like there.

Nature is a Wise Teacher

Dear Reader, if you've spent any time with me at all, you've likely heard me mention that nature is one of my wisest teachers. And if you happen to follow me on Instagram, you've probably seen photos of all manner of trees, fungi, and woodland creatures, along with a note about how astounded I am to learn, AGAIN, that one of these more-than-human kin have elegantly demonstrated one of the simple-but-not-easy teachings that I can't seem to grasp.

What do I mean by this? I mean I tend to need reminding that our more-than-human kin have taken to heart many of the lessons that I find difficult to remember. Take, for instance, the deciduous trees who live near me. Each year, I watch as they bud, then leaf, then grow through the summer, and then gracefully, their leaves turn colors and drop. From what I can understand, they don't seem to get worked up about this process. They just engage in it without any "I wish I could hold onto these leaves" or "I can't believe it's going to be winter again soon" or "The days are getting shorter, and the nights are getting longer-- WAHHH!".

Our more-than-human kin also seem to have grasped that evolution is a more accessible way to navigate change than revolution. For instance, the deer who share the woods around our home have been taking a little different route because our new neighbors to the north have cleared some trees, and their kids are exploring an area that had previously been lightly-traveled by humans. We've watched as new-to-us deer have begun spending more time in our yard and have shifted where they graze and bed down.

Navigating Change

Much of my work at Thought Kitchen consists of companioning people through change they want to make. It's not uncommon for a high level of enthusiasm and expectation of big, flashy, exciting, measurable change to be expected when we first start discussing working together. This idea of bigger is better, more is better, faster is better is totally entrenched in our Western culture. How often have you seen an ad for a product or service that says, "Hey, look-- it's slightly better than before!"?

But here's what I've noticed-- evolution is more accessible and sustainable than revolution, especially when it comes to a change I'd like to make.

Making a small shift (evolution) that supports an intention I set about a change I want to make is easier to implement than a big shift (revolution).

Making a small shift (evolution) that supports an intention I set about a change I want to make is easier to implement than a big shift (revolution). For instance, I set an intention to spend less time on my phone during weekends. My first attempt was to park my phone in the bedroom on Saturday morning and tell people, "If you need to reach me over the weekend, call or text Mark!". But then I needed to pick up the Kroger ClickList order or the Target Pick Up order or get on the wait list for breakfast at our favorite diner, or Mark was like, "Hey, I'm not keen on screening your calls and texts," and I was all "I will NEVER get away from my phone for the rest of my life!".

When the No Screen Revolution didn't work too well, I shifted tactics. I started intentionally setting aside parts of the weekend for no screen time. For instance, we meet my mom for breakfast most Sundays. I take my phone with me, but I leave it in the car when we go into the restaurant. I've also started leaving it in the windowsill above the kitchen sink and will check it a couple of times during the day, much like in the olden days of checking messages from time to time. Thus far, the No Screen Evolution is actually working, and when it doesn't, I remember that in every moment, I have the choice to Begin Again.

I've also noted as I practice with Evolution, Not Revolution that I am much more likely to actually start making small shifts than I am to make a bigger shift. For instance, if I set an intention to move more during the day, and set a reminder for twice a day to "get up and move around for five minutes," I actually do get up and move around for five minutes twice a day about 90% of the time. When I set the intention to move more during the day and added go to gym for 30 minutes of cardio to my To Do List, I did, quite enthusiastically, a couple of times a week for a couple of weeks before I stopped. After a few weeks of moving around for five minutes twice a day, I noticed that I was actually moving around for more than five minutes more than twice a day. Evolution, Not Revolution.

Sometimes Revolution Happens... Then What?

Sometimes, Revolution happens, even when I didn't want it to. A colleague leaves. My job role changes. There's a new boss. Somebody I love dies. A project unexpectedly ends. Or something else that feels much more revolution-y than evolution-y. Then what?

The only thing I have control over is how I show up and relate to the outcome of the Revolution. This is where the practices and sangha are supportive to me. I've found that if I share the hard stuff that I'm experiencing in the aftermath of the Revolution with others, I don't feel alone, and I have thought partners in figuring out next steps. And returning to the practices helps me remember impermanence, interconnection, and that I have the agency to Begin Again, which generally leads me back to a path of Evolution in response to the Revolution.


If any of this is landing for you, I invite you to consider three opportunities for exploration:

  1. If you're curious about how mindfulness-based practices can support you in making change, check out our freely-offered Kitchen Essentials course. It's seven lessons, delivered daily, one-at-a-time, and will take you less than 10 minutes each day. These are the seven essential lessons you need to kick start your mindfulness practice.

  2. If you're ready to make some changes and are wondering if coaching might be supportive, you can schedule a freely-offered 30 minute discovery call with Loretta or me.

  3. If you'd like to check out practicing with a sangha, register for an upcoming Weekly Sangha Sit to try it on for size.

And remember-- even evolution starts with the decision to take a step. What change would you like to make? The time is now to take the first, tiny step in making it.

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