The invitation to truly “occupy” ourselves

The day I "Occupied" Wall Street

As any hermit in the woods knows–there’s a big “Occupy” movement going on in the world.  Even though I’m sometimes oblivious to national politics surrounded by Upper Peninsula trees without a TV that works, I know this much:  people seem to be sick to death of big banks, a feeling of powerlessness, and a sense that we’ve lost our moorings as a society.

First there was “Occupy Wall Street”.  (Because that’s where the big banks–and maybe the stock market–has its proverbial home.)  Then the movement spread to the cities.  There’s Occupy San Diego. (Our son and his wife went to a rally downtown San Diego back in October.)  There’s Occupy Atlanta.  There’s Occupy Marquette, for goodness sakes.  And, are you ready for this?  My friend, Bertha, went to an Occupy L’Anse group.  Four people showed up down at the park. She swears it happened.

The Occupy movement is supposedly–among other things–and I suppose you’ll correct me if I’m wrong–a response to the Tea Party movement.  The Tea Party folks are mostly right-winged conservatives and the Occupy folks are more liberal, although you have Libertarians in the Occupy movement and maybe a few liberal tea lovers in the Tea Party, so who am I to generalize?

The bottom line:  people on the right and left, and probably points in-between, want things to change.  They want things to get better.  Less unemployment, more happy faces, more money, less capitalism, more church-goers, less church-goers, more joy, less banks, more government, less government.  People point their fingers wildly in every direction saying “This is wrong, no, this is wrong, this is right, this should be changed.  Get out of my park!  No, we’re going to stay here because SOMETHING HAS TO CHANGE!”

Sad panda

There are at least two kinds of people in the world.  “Innies” and “Outies”.  (You know, like when you’re born, whether your belly button sticks out or sucks in.)  Outies are those who try to change things externally.  They look outward at what is wrong and attempt to alter it.  Then there are the Innies.  They look inward and try to change themselves first.  They believe that by changing themselves–the world will reflect that movement and change along with it.

Of course, I’ve simplified things like crazy in that preceding paragraph.  Because we all know we have both Innie and Outie tendencies.  We work both angles.  We work on ourselves, and we work on the world.  Just like the terms “liberal” and “conservative” are often polarizing words that create war and anger.  If we look deeply within ourselves, we’ll find places where we are liberal and where we’re conservative.  We’re BOTH, unless we’ve repressed ourselves into an ideal, which we often have.

Back to “occupying” ourselves.  I am 69.9% an innie.  Raise your hand if you knew that.

I believe in attempting to occupy myself.  It has been a quarter-century effort and it’s the most important thing I’ve done in this lifetime, even if full occupation never occurs.   Instead of going west like the pioneers, I’ve chosen to go inward to the mind and spirit, and it’s been more challenging than stampedes and arrows and getting lost in the Rockies and eating your fellow travelers.


As human beings, we rarely occupy ourselves.  We rarely occupy this precious sacred life, this precious sacred moment we’re experiencing.  We’re lost in mental and emotional worlds which attempt to describe, label, justify, judge, lasso, discern, understand, impress, destroy and re-create.

Our human wars are outward reflections of inner confusion and wars.  The big banks of our inner world are the belief structures which run the energy of our days.  The stock market is our investment in what we choose to think and do.  Our government is that which determines and runs our ideas and lives.

Ladies and gentlemen, in the human condition, we are so often out of control!  We have voluntarily given our allegiance to our inner banks and governments and stock markets instead of our innate inner knowing–what some people call “God” and what others call the “Higher Self”  or “awareness” and others argue doesn’t exist.

There is an inner sense in each and every one of us that knows.  It knows what we must do.  Before our first thought touches down into a cemented belief, it knows.  We cover up this knowing with a hundred–no, a thousand– beliefs which sometimes serve and sometimes don’t serve us.  This knowing exists even before we’ve labeled ourselves a separate individual self.

The invitation to truly occupy ourselves is our birthright.  We can continue to live in the “mold of man”, our mold created from childhood, or we can determine to discover what lies beneath what our thoughts attempt to convince us, day in and day out.


There are many paths to help us occupy ourselves.  Religions from time immemorial have pointed different ways.  Meditation–the act of witnessing the mind while concentrating deeply on a sole object–loosens our rigid definitions of the self and world.  Non-duality teachings point toward ways of fully occupying this present moment, this one and precious life we’re experiencing.

Zen folks often point toward having a Tea Party:  slowly mindfully preparing and brewing and sipping your tea.  If you do this consciously enough, you’ll begin to realize that so many of the arbitrary thoughts and beliefs which keep us “unoccupied” in our life are simply not true.  After many years, you may even discover the boundaries between “self” and “tea” begin to weaken.

But, enough of this!  Choose to Occupy Wall Street or Saint Louis or Chicago or L’Anse.  Choose to have your Tea Party.  But whatever you choose–choose the truest invitation of all.  The invitation to truly “occupy” ourselves and this blue-green spinning planet fully.

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
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51 Responses to The invitation to truly “occupy” ourselves

  1. holessence says:

    “I believe in attempting to occupy myself.”

    Amen siSTAR!

  2. Hi Kathy, Occupying ourselves and the planet fully is always great. But no, it is not so much a reaction to the Tea Party, since there are significant points of agreement between Occupy and Tea Party (but the real problem with Tea Party was the co-opting by the Republicans), but it was inspired by the Arab Spring and called forth by Adbusters, a Canadian activist group – see

    I’m sorry to see any link drawn between the Tea Party and mindfulness as the Tea Party is anything but Zen and conscious.

    I believe in changing myself totally and changing the world. Does that make me an Innie-Outie or an Outie-Innie? 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      I am always trying to draw links between seeming polarities, Nicole, and will probably continue to my last breath. Even those with which the majority of “me” doesn’t agree. I have met a couple of Tea Party members here in our area. Are they mindful and conscious? Sometimes. Sometimes not at all. One is in my Book Club, and has shown me that she can be a thoughtful and very mindful person. If I can remember correctly, you are an Innie-Outie, at least according to that Briggs and Myers test.

  3. By the way, I should mention here that I am very involved in Occupy Hamilton – see and

  4. Sybil says:

    Wow Kathy. You’ve taken the “occupy” movement to a very individual, level. Beautifully put.

    I visited the “Occupy Nova Scotia” site yesterday. It’s located on the parade ground in front of our city hall.

    Trouble is, the area is needed for a Holocaust Memorial service next week and Remembrance Day on Friday. So, the mayor visited the “occupy” folks, chatted with them, they chatted amongst themselves, and now they’re temporarily leaving for a new location.

    They agreed to move, out of respect for the veterans who fought in the wars, so that they would have the right to protest — to occupy — that very area.

    They’ll be back in the same location after the 11th. .

    I admire them for their varied and idealistic (but worthy) goals, And I thank them for making this gesture.

    I’m working on a post about “occupy Nova Scotia” , and hope to have it up in the next day or so.

    • Kathy says:

      I admire them for their varied and idealistic goals, too, Sybil. I admire people for trying to make a difference. Can’t wait to see what you write about.

  5. P.j. grath says:

    Coincidence again, Kathy: Just this morning I finished a book called BROKEN: A LOVE STORY, by Lisa Johns. Her boyfriend, Peter, was considering becoming a Buddhist monk, going all the way inward, while Lisa was pushing herself in a different direction, outward, toward an Arapaho healer and horse trainer. Lisa went to sweat lodges with crowds of other people. Peter closed his eyes and meditated. Are these two people going farther and farther away from each other? Will either find enlightenment? In tribe or solitude? I won’t ruin the book for you by giving away the ending. One warning: the story is very hard to read in parts, and I almost quit reading several times. Glad I finished but wouldn’t be surprised if other readers didn’t.

    I was a shy child, a constant reader, who went on to study philosophy. (Which direction do you think that took me?) Later in life, in retail bookselling, after starting day after day with my stomach in knots (I would have to speak to STRANGERS!), I began to notice how many other people are shy. They need to be made welcome. They need to be acknowledged. They need to be brought out of the isolation of their shyness as much as I needed to venture forth from mine.

    The need for quiet, for solitude, for reflection–that always remains. Activity and receptivity–yin and yang? Balance is not stasis: that is one big lesson I feel I’ve learned in life. SO MANY YET REMAIN TO BE LEARNED!

    Thank you for making me think today, Kathy!

    • Kathy says:

      This sounds like a book which I would very much like to read, having been both a meditator and in Native American sweat lodges. Like you, I was a very shy child. Afraid so much to speak to others. And, like you, I am still learning that balance is not stasis. Part of me keeps thinking it is–but it definitely is not. I am glad you to have made you think today, as well. I am thinking deeper too.

  6. What a thoughtful and thought provoking post, love it! I am a firm believer in the saying “We must be the change we wish to see in the world”, so I guess that makes me an Innie. I’ll leave it at that, as I don’t wish to start any wars on your blog 😉

    • Kathy says:

      We MUST be the change we want to see in the world. Whether Innie or Outie, it seems many people are not afraid to take up the challenge. I don’t think you’ll start any wars on this blog. If you do, we’ll put ’em out with love.

  7. bearyweather says:

    …”we all know we have both Innie and Outie tendencies. ” I agree, things are seldom just black and white. I have spent most of my life as an Innie … except when I am teaching. The Outie in me takes charge, then. Since I have always been the shy quiet kind, I am not sure where it comes from. I guess it is sort of my alter-ego.

    • Kathy says:

      Isn’t it interesting that you can identify both your Innie and Outie tendencies? I like that. Sounds like you are on track for “occupying yourself.”

  8. Susan Derozier says:

    Well said Kathy. This “innie” is always ready to take the journey with you to making sense of the “outie” world!

    • Kathy says:

      It may take a little longer to figure out that “outie” world, Susan. I’ve decided to work on the “innie” first, and then we’ll see about the outie LOL my exclamation marks and everything won’t work. Yikes

  9. Susan D says:

    I’m an Innie, a Republican, a lover of tea parties, a believer in “hands-off,” and I’m a staunch fan of blogs bearing wonderful messages and photos by a lady named Kathy.

    • Kathy says:

      Susan, I’ll bet you can find ways that your deepest inner self identifies with Outies, Democrats, coffee drinkers, hands-on and…OK, gosh, we won’t try to think of the opposite of wonderful messages and photos by a lady named Kathy. LOL If I can find my Republican self, you can find your Democratic self. And if I can find my Tea Party self…well, that’s so astounding that I probably better go Occupy something.

  10. Elisa's Spot says:

    My tea is just my tea, but the things that I notice with it and without it appear to differ. Do they really differ? Is there really a choice? Do I have an agenda when I have tea? Does it have an agenda without me?

    Do we notice everything that we occupy? Does the occupation have agenda or maybe does it never reach full until we reach a decision about a starting point and an ending one with which to measure achievement or that word I really dislike–level.

    • Kathy says:

      Elisa, I cannot answer a single one of your questions. In that case, shall we just silently sip our tea without an agenda or with an agenda if we choose? What kind of tea would you like? I am going to brew some now.

      • Elisa's Spot says:

        hehehe i’ve come back now multiple times, trying to find a funny way to shout….BLACK TEA ONLY!!! with cinnamon stick, only to think how fixed I am upon the right tea being the black tea, which of course matches my own taste of the moment
        So, I won’t say, whatever you have, though it would be fun to sniff it, should it be a new type…I just read comments about japanese tea drinking and the ‘meaning’ of tea in four different places in the last 24 hours…I wonder if the signs are signs or just silly things that God does to amuse Himself whiile we notice them.

  11. Hi Kathy, I enjoy reading your blog most of the time, and I am compelled to express about the comment you made that the Occupy Wall Street movement is “a reaction against to the Tea Party movement”. I suppose it is a valid view IF the Tea Party movement is a movement of privatizing government and public wealth/natural commons by corporations without any regulations, corporations/big business are above the law, and it is OK to “buy” government officials as long as it is in the name of “creating jobs” (I don’t believe this is what Tea Party movement is about though).

    Yes, it is useful to look inward of ourselves and see what we are willing to be responsible for, and the “US” v.s. “Them” mindset might create divisions, rather than oneness. It might look like the movement is pointing fingers at and blaming someone. But how do you suppose to hold someone accountable without pointing out those who are responsible for the crimes they commit? What about the integrity and the ethical practices of the economic and political system–do you just go along with the lies even though you know the Empire has no clothes on?

    Here is an interview done by Charlie Rose with Chris Hedges and Amy Goodman, as well as a blog post that looks at the movement as 100%

    • Kathy says:

      Hello, Hsiao, thank you for reading and offering your opinion. I’m not sure if Occupy is pointing fingers and blaming someone…I am just trying to make the point that most movements are pointing fingers and blaming someone. Heck, if I were in one of the cities, I probably would be at at Occupy gathering myself. I am actually somewhat involved in trying to make the world a better place on an outward level in many outward ways, although this blog tries to make the point that inward ways are good, too. Glad to hear that you are focusing outward to make the world a better place.

  12. Dawn says:

    You’re trying to make me think!

    We saw the occupying movement in San Fransisco when we were there last month, before I understood it was in many cities. If I had known what a big deal it was I’d have taken more photos. I don’t know where it’s all going, but it sort of feels like a “We’re made as h*#& and we’re not taking it anymore!” movement. Not original…but potentially effective.

    • Kathy says:

      I think it could be potentially effective, too, Dawn. I haven’t seen any groups gathering. Can’t believe I had almost 1,000 words to say about this!! Thank you.

  13. What a thought provoking post! Spot on observations!

    I am an “innie.” Always have been and probably always will be. I’m a big believer in occupying life with optimism, gumption, and good ol’ self reliance.

  14. OM says:

    Thank you Kathy. Thoughts worth listening to! You always have a spin on things which is expansive!
    Love, OM

    • Kathy says:

      OM, so glad you paused and read. Wanted to try to spin the Occupy movement into something the “inner self” could resonate with. Didn’t want to make this into anything polarizing. Love to you.

  15. This post is sheer brilliance. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this reflection on what it is that really needs to change and how we can make that happend. Lovely.

  16. Hi Kathy, when I saw your FB post I realised that as usual I had not checked back in after posting. Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I do respect the way you are always trying to draw links between seeming polarities. I just wanted to point out some misunderstandings about the origin of the Occupy Movement, and also raise an objection to tying Tea Party with mindfulness. I am sure that as in every group, there are individuals in the Tea Party who are very nice and maybe even mindful. What the Party stands for though and how it has been co-opted is very clear though. My objection remains with the proviso that of course as always you are free to think about anything or say whatever you wish. With love and gratitude for the special person you are…

    • Kathy says:

      Thank you for understanding, Nicole. I wanted to include the Tea Party movement in this–even though I have not always had thoughtful and mindful responses to the Tea Party movement–in an effort to be inclusive and honor individuals who have mindfully chosen that path and who may read this blog. And because “occupying myself” includes an effort not to be reactionary. And, best of all, because I love the Zen tea ceremony and wanted to work this in!

  17. I believe in trying to make myself a better person. If we believe that other people should change – we’ll go crazy trying to make that happen. Life is too short to worry about what other people are doing. I stay as far away from politics as I can. There are some things that should never be discussed without expecting an argument – and I think we all know what those topics are!

    • Kathy says:

      You are so right, Holly. We can only work on ourselves…and truly only help other people if they ask. (Although sometimes just by being ourselves we “help” others.) I usually stay pretty far away from politics, too, except when it feels urgent to speak up. And, then, to do it in as inclusive way as possible.

  18. I think the Zen tea ceremony is awesome too! 🙂

  19. Deborah says:

    My husband is usually much more attuned to politics and financial issues than I am. However, when my dear friend, Judi Ivy, took the Occupy movement in her hometown to heart, I looked closer. Now I have “adopted” (think of those old “Adopt a Child” ads on TV) 2 of the Occupy movements, as being close to my own heart (as in caring about what happens, in those locations).

    One is the city where my children were born, my doctors and dentists practice and where I can buy natural and organic foods – St Louis. The other is the city of my birth – Las Cruces. I have found, thanks to the ubiquitous presence of Facebook, that I can participate in the direction these movements go, without even sleeping in the park or marching on the street. I believe I bring some mature perspective; and I hope a wise heart, to the youth who pick up the mantle I remember from my own high school days, when youth protested the draft of our generation to fight a war that many of us did not believe we should be participating in.

    As I become more educated – not about the Occupy movement itself – but about the very serious issues that have actually plunged our country into a Depression (yes, I dare to use the word, that politicians fear to; and while it may look different than that one of the 1930s, it is a depression never-the-less), I am also zeroing in on some very good suggestions, to modify our present system. Those that arrive via Spirit’s activity, for me to consider (due to the law of attraction – where attention goes, energy flows).

    Yes, “we, the people” are finally waking up to the fact, that we can not delegate our well-being to the financial/political juggernaut, that has hijacked what was once the shining glory of our country’s (the United States of America) founding. But I also see that the process of democratization that is the Occupy movement, which uses the effective system of consensus, is not just about what is happening in the US but is a global phenomena.

    As I learn more about the Occupy movement, I will correct you Kathy, that it is not really a response to the Tea Party movement (it actually grew out of something known as Bloomberg-ville, which is why the NY movement could hit the ground so organized, they had already practiced a tent city occupation previously) – rather the driving discontent for Tea Partiers, is actually the same as it is for the Occupiers but – here’s the difference in my own opinion – the Tea Partiers are self-centered and don’t care if others “suffer”, as long as they are doing OK. The Occupiers want a world that works for everyone.

    I hope you will cross-post this blog at A New Gaia, for we are heavy in all kinds of considerations, that touch upon this movement (as you probably noticed when you last visited there). I find that the Occupy movement is very diverse as to age, occupation, and reasons for participating. It is the “I’m mad as hell about the deceptive practices that are sucking ordinary folks – the 99% – of their basic survival capabilities, to enrich a handful of others – the 1%”.

    A successful economist who predicted 4 bubble bursts, including real estate and banking, now predicts 50% unemployment (don’t believe the 9% figure recently released, true unemployment is now 24%) and a 90% plunge in stock market values. Anyone (which includes my family) who has locked themselves into an IRA by US taxation laws (and can’t cash out without penalties) ought to be feeling sick in their stomach at that thought, especially if their own “planned” retirement is within the next decade.

    All the “wants” that you identify are true, Kathy. Now don’t think because I have said all this, that I am an outie or that I am not an innie. Actually I am integrated both ways – I connect within and action flows from there. Every week now, as I do my Life Visioning weekly practice (Michael Beckwith’s method, thanks to a guided meditation by him on cd) I am addressing exactly what you are suggesting here and more. This grounds me in my center (and this is always done in the forest, away from all artificial influences, a point that I know you are sure to appreciate).

    As I do my Life Visioning practice, I am allowing a vision of how I want my life to be, to emerge from within; and what kind of quality of Life that I hope my children will inherit. I am not focusing only on what is wrong “out there”, nor am I only looking at various solutions, though I consider these seriously. I am also not focusing only on purifying myself, though a part of this practice is also “what do I need to let go of?” I am patterning, I am triangulating everything, within the crucible of my own inner self; because I truly do know that, what my emotional attachment “sees”, is what will be reflected in my outer world. This perspective has allowed me to weather many, many difficult circumstances, better than conventionally I would have had a reason to expect.

    I do like the inclusive and balancing perspective that you suggest as we see all tendencies and beliefs, as they are reflected back to us within our very beings. Your suggestion to get to know our own self fully, and to fully occupy what we actually are within, is precious and always perfect advice – regardless of whatever else is occurring in the world. I am totally on board with you, as to allowing our own inner guidance to inform us of what our personal next outer step should be. I am totally in love with discovering what is “real” within my own self; and I know that regardless of external circumstances, my life will be uniquely my own; and that I determine that mostly, for my own self.

    Therefore, I do raise my hand on this – I do choose to fully occupy myself – and I choose to be mindful about what is happening in the places that I care so much about – because they are part of occupying my self too.

    Highest regards,

    • Kathy says:

      I know you are a person who chooses to occupy herself fully–and admire and honor you for that. There is a wealth of thoughtfulness in this comment that you shared here. I think that it’s wonderful that you have “adopted” a couple of Occupy cities. What a neat idea! Glad that you know that you are both an Outie and Innie. It is a gift when people realize that fully. Thanks for stopping by, Deb, and adding your observations and feelings and thoughts.

  20. Carol says:

    I am neither an innie nor an outie. I am neither conservative nor liberal. I am both an innie and an outie. I am both conservative and liberal. I’m not sure I believe our government/big business world knows how to change, how to get back on track. Or that they have the desire to do so.
    After all of the erudite responses to your excellent post, mine is a purely emotional response.

    • Kathy says:

      Gosh, Carol, we have something in common again for I feel exactly the same way. We are so often both/and and yet our minds like to label us into being one way or another. Love that you offered an emotional response. All responses are welcome!

  21. Marcie says:

    Love the concept of ‘occupying ourselves’. I’m not sure where I stand as an innie or outie -but that it really is a wonderful idea!

    • Kathy says:

      I’ll bet you’re both an innie and outie, Marcie. Although sometimes some of us identify more with one end of the spectrum. I am glad you like the idea of occuping ourselves. 🙂

  22. Barb says:

    Many are afraid to occupy self – they see it as enemy territory.

    • Kathy says:

      That is a really wise point, Barb. But how wonderful to turn that enemy territory into a little heaven on earth. It’s possible…Somewhere over the rainbow…or maybe here, under the rainbow, too.

  23. Martha Bergin says:

    I love your thought of Occupying one’s self. That is inspirational. I just realized something else, too. I really, really love your pictures from this blog. I realized it’s because they are about urban space, people, created objects, etc. Realized I relate more to “city stuff” than “nature stuff.” Sad, I guess, but knowing what is true (Knowing!) is better than ignoring or not discovering. Thanks for this blog.

    • Kathy says:

      Martha, I was always just like you. I loved people-photography and created objects and such. However, when you live in the middle of the woods–away from people–you either learn to love what’s in front of you or you get sad. I chose the second option. Glad you’ve discovered and spoken something true about yourself. (I hope you won’t quit coming to my nature blog, boo hoo…)

  24. suzen says:

    Hi Kathy – wow, good thing I made a cup of tea to zen out with – lots of comments here! I’m a big fan of the biology of belief – both the book and the philosophy. I love your idea of occupying oneself. It may well be the only way we can figure out what we believe in and what our truth is.

    • Kathy says:

      SuZenna, I am zenning out in a few minutes with a cup of jasmine tea. I honor so much when people have consciously chosen to occupy themselves. To figure out and follow our truths…and to give hugs along the way. 🙂

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