The First Turning

A worldwide climate of positive change and hope for the future.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the First Turning

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For the first time in my life I am on the sidelines of the circus out there—all the issues, events, chaos, and change that made me thrive before… before I went under for surgery for ovarian cancer, before chemo treatment became a regular recurrence.

Where I used to be caught up in the activity of each day, instead I have days that stretch out before me. This at first was terrifying, and once in awhile is still terrifying. But what I am learning to do is to have things to look forward to that do not involve engagement with the huge worldwide arena.


Teddy Roosevelt wrote of “the man in the arena” who “dares greatly.”

My “daring greatly” has been of a different kind.

  • I lean into the fear. When I have feelings of fear, as any person in cancer recovery is apt to have, I let it happen—not for hours or days, but for a little while. Then I meditate. Just as some use prayer, I use meditation to clear my mind and center me. Both prayer and meditation have the same effect of grounding all of us in a higher power, whether that be a mainstream religion or the universe.
  • I recognize what I have. Because chemo keeps me close to home with its unexpected side effects, I looked around at what I had. What I found was a beautiful home that was beginning to look frayed. So out came the paintbrush and the sander, and voila! (Well, not so voila, it was a lot of work!). My 20-year-old Adirondack patio furniture was refurbished, complete with repairs to rotted wood. It now looks elegant instead of forgotten.

And that was just the beginning. I am slowly transforming every room in my house with new paint, new pictures, re-arranged furniture. I am told that this is Morita Therapy, a Japanese method for lifting the spirit by changing the physical perspective. Whatever it’s called, it works.

  • I found my people. Using social media to relay my progress was a given—in many ways, social media is where I live. What I did not count on, however, was the tight-knit support group that sprang up overnight to help with the day-to-day emotions, and the issues that arise in recovery. This group appointed themselves. I’ve told them that they are now stuck with me forever. They don’t seem to mind.

The First Turning does not have to be a mega-event. It does not need to be a technological revolution. It has come quietly, as Carl Sandberg wrote “on little cat feet.” Compassion brings out the best in all of us. My recovery has created within me a sense of gratitude, for all of the events and people who have sprung forward to assist me. I have learned to accept help, which to this point was nearly impossible, For me, giving help was easy… but receiving? That meant showing my vulnerability and thankfulness. It is somehow a relief to do so.

This is indeed a personal First Turning. It is a kinder, more collaborative world. And it started, not in Silicon Valley, or at the Vatican, but in my own backyard.


Author: thefirstturning

This blog was created as a way to continue sharing the information and emotion behind The First Turning: A Vision of America and a World at Peace. I wanted a platform that could persist beyond the stories and anecdotes published in the book, where an active dialogue can be maintained about the global community as we seek to uncover a new, more peaceful world. My book builds off of the work of William Strauss and Neil Howe in The Fourth Turning, in which the authors identified a distinct generational pattern in American history that they further segmented into a four-fold cycle to describe the corresponding shifts in cultural mood, each one spanning approximately 20 years. Their research extended back to the 16th century and was consistent for over 400 years. The First Turning is a High—a post-crisis emergence of strong societal collectiveness. The Second Turning is an Awakening—an era in which public process is at its peak and people are eager to recapture personal authenticity. The Third Turning is an Unraveling—a time when individualism is flourishing but institutions are weak. The Fourth Turning is Crisis—a time when the nation’s survival seems threatened. Fascinated by their work after, I began to pay attention more closely to the national climate and discourse surrounding daily happenings. At the time, in 2009, we were deep in crisis. Economic collapse, war, natural disasters… I listened to and absorbed the chaos. While I was able to actively apply their findings and theory to the world around me, I noticed something different—something not fully accounted for in their work. I noticed on the one hand that it wasn’t just our nation in disrepair but, in many ways, the world. I noticed too that the dialogue surrounding these events was broad and diverse, not limited to our national citizenry. As my research deepened and expanded, it became clear to me that today’s technological globalization—only a distant vision when Strauss and Howe published their work in 1997—was creating both a domino effect among the economies and societies across the world, and that that same technology was also responsible for repairing the hardship. Technology today is animating our ability to reach beyond borders and barriers to inspire collaboration and affect change in every corner of the earth. As a result of this, it occurred to me that we as a civilization were nearing a First Turning much sooner than anticipated. Technology is actively influencing humankind’s evolution in the context of these generational tides. It is that evolution that I wanted to capture in The First Turning: A Vision of America and a World at Peace, and that I hope to continue with here.

One thought on “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the First Turning

  1. A wonderful lesson shared here despite the difficult circumstances that brought you to it. This slowing down, and paying attention to things before me has always been difficult. More so since I returned to school, and then the world of education, and work. I stepped into a whirlwind when I accepted a position as a gifted intervention specialist two years ago which meant returning to school, again, being a first year resident educator, and doing a second job for the position for which I felt even less prepared. I survived but at the end of each year I was exhausted. Although not a popular decision I asked to step away from gifted education and return to the world of special education which is where I was headed in the first place. Such a huge weight lifted from my shoulders when I said, “yes”. I’m looking forward to stepping back into the familiar which I hope will also help me become more focused on this place called home, and especially on my family. Thank you, Carol, for sharing your journey. I am thankful that in the face of your own fears and trials that you are still “teaching” us. Bless you, and know that my prayers for your full recovery continue.

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