Alternative Or Mainstream – It Depends On Your Perspective


Can You Help Alternative Ideals Become Mainstream Norms?

Hello my friends, welcome to Chapter 53 of Sanguine Stories.

A little light housekeeping before we get started:

This month’s topic and last month’s will be a huge part of what I’ll be sharing and teaching in 2019. I’ll be sharing all the content/lessons in a different way, using Patreon as my homebase and a private facebook group for those who want to go deeper into the conversation and receive additional support in living their ONE beautiful life in a wildhearted sanguine way. I would love to connect with you there.

If you’re in my community and receive my weekly emails, you’ll be receiving more info about that in the coming weeks. And for those who aren’t, I’ll pop a link into the show notes on how to sign up and receive more information.

Okay, on to the last podcast for 2018…

Last month, we started the conversation on how to look within. To be more mindful. To live with more intention. To take care of ourselves. This month we’re exploring how to expand out. To be more kind, compassionate and open-minded out in the world, in our everyday life.

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I love words. I’ve written about them here and here. Words can have an incredible impact, not only on ourselves and how we’re choosing to show up in the world but also on everyone around us.

My intention is to share my words, my voice and hopefully, by doing so, to build community and create more harmony in the world. That is my purpose. To support people in living more happy, healthy and harmonious lives, for themselves and out in the world.

Because words play such a big part of our purpose, and since they also make an impact on how we show up in the world – highlighting two of the 11 Sanguine Elements, today I wanted to share with you some examples of how the words we use can make an impact.

What Difference Can A Word Make?

Flashback to nearly 10 years ago now, I was in a large break out session at a Yoga Journal conference in San Francisco, my grad school advisor, Laura (read about her teaching yoga to inner city youth here) was sitting next to me, Michael Franti, musician / activist, was singing and Sharon Gannon, co-founder of Jivamukti Yoga was teaching.

As Sharon guided our practice from a high lunge to Parsvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose) she made the comment (I’m paraphrasing here, giving you the gist of what she said, not word for word, it has been 10 years after all.)

I could tell you to make your leg straight here.  But I’m not going to. Because straight can be seen as a negative conventional word in terms of sexuality.  And while we’re doing yoga here, not in a group discussion about sexuality, I want to include this teaching on the words we use and how we can shift them to be more inclusive and less likely to ostracize.

Around the same time, I started following Colleen Patrick Goudreau, an author and animal advocate.  She said: Instead of using expressions like: Kill two birds with one stone”, that implies killing and negativity, use a more positive and healthy expression, ie: “Cut two carrots with one knife”.

I once worked with a Caucasian man, in his mid-30’s from the US, who kept referring to his wife as his “surf widow”. I was raised if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all, and in this instance, being so enraged, all I could think of saying was – so your wife is so pathetic that when you’re surfing she just sits around and doesn’t know what to do with herself?  Obviously, that hurts the wife more than the husband and hence why I didn’t say anything. I’m sure his wife isn’t pathetic – but that’s the stereotype he’s portraying of her when he chooses to use those words.

These examples might seem minor and trivial. You may not see them as making all that much of a difference, or you might even be thinking, how silly. To be concerned over a little word or an expression.

But language – the words we choose to use – are powerful.  Words not only become our actions but also define who we are. They help us live our purpose and express our vision of what we believe in.

What’s ‘Normal’ Anyway?

Take the words mainstream and conventional.  Those two words signify what is “normal” in society.  Then think of the word “alternative”. What does it conjure up for you?  For some people, what’s alternative is normal. But for others, it creates fear and hesitation.  

For example, alternative medicine could be viewed as “witch doctors” or seen in a positive light like “holistic health practitioner”.

Soy “milk” is an alternative to cow’s milk.  And all too often tofu terrifies people – when really, it’s just soybeans and it absorbs whatever flavor you mix with it. Like edamame? That’s basically tofu.

Biofuel is an alternative to war-causing gasoline.  Hybrids are an alternative to gas guzzling SUV’s.

At one point in time, “organic farming” was the norm. Before the industrial revolution happened and toxic chemicals were created. When I first got into the whole “eco” movement, one of the first books I read was Rachel Carson’s, Silent Spring. That was an eye-opener for sure.

Now what if we switched everything that is alternative and made it mainstream?  What if we shifted our mindsets so that throwing out the trash is alternative and composting and recycling is conventional?  What if all food was just organic and the alternative had to be labeled as “chemically grown with potentially cancer-causing pesticides”?  

What if driving a hybrid is what is popular and driving an SUV is something that is looked down upon by society, rather than revered for its status.  That people who drink milk that came out of a cow are considered weird and people who drink soy, hemp, oat or almond “milk” are normal.

Can We Dispose Of The Disposable?

Reusable is another word that often gets put into the weird “alternative” box.

But what if we all carried around reusable bags and had to pay $5 for each paper or plastic bag? (which thankfully, more and more cities are indeed adopting a bring your own bag or pay a fee policy).

Even something as simple as a paper napkin. Dr. Seuss, another eco-pioneer, had the Lorax ask everyone, Who will speak up for the trees?

Yes, who will? Growing up, my family ALWAYS used paper napkins at every meal. Decades of one-time use paper napkins. Most of the families I knew did the same. But then in my 30’s, I worked for a nonprofit organization and in their shop, they sold hemp napkins. Quite the concept, right? Reusable, washable napkins? Who would have thought of such a crazy idea?

Oh yes, people who like the air they breathe and prefer that trees aren’t cut down.

I bought a bunch of the hemp napkins, kept a few for myself and sent a few to my parents. Which both they and I are still using today, over a decade later. We are speaking up for the trees. Will you?

To wrap this all up with a nice Sanguine bow…

We ARE making progress and many people are shifting the alternative, making it the mainstream.  So, don’t be left behind, accept the new mainstream and make it a choice in your daily life…This isn’t a bandwagon to jump on; it’s a lifestyle to embrace fully every day.

How do you want to show up in the world in terms of the words you use and the actions you take? Is it in a positive, supportive way or in an unintentionally negative or even harmful way?

My friends, that wraps up our year long exploration of the Sanguine Elements. In 2019, we’ll be going deeper, applying the concepts of mindful living and the 11 elements in our everyday life.

Once again, I’ll be sharing all the content in a different way, using Patreon as my homebase and a private facebook group for those who want to go deeper into the conversation and receive additional support in living their ONE beautiful life in a wildhearted sanguine way.  I so hope you’ll join me.

Share the love…

I’d love to hear from you… How are you creating change by intentionally choosing your words or actions, what or who you’re speaking up for or what help you need in learning to expand outwards, to be a cosmopolitan, a citizen of the earth. g


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chrissy gruningerChrissy Gruninger is an author and mindset coach. She mentors people on how to live their ONE beautiful life, wherever they may be. Her latest book, Lost and Found in the Land of Mañana explores her life in Costa Rica and both the challenges of working and living abroad as well as the beautiful life we can create from those experiences.

She loves her rainforest beach shack in Costa Rica, the sunshine and the rain and passionately believes that through intentional actions we create more happiness, health and harmony in the world. 

Her goal: to empower others to thrive in an imperfect world.