One Grandmother’s Awakening

Renee headshot


One Grandmother’s Awakening

by Tara Faulkner, PhD

“I constantly remind myself that this is not a dress rehearsal. It’s the main act we’ve all been waiting for throughout countless lifetimes.”


Renee Clare is a slender, soft-spoken woman in her late fifties who has spent a lifetime in service to others, frequently at her own expense. The oldest of five children, Renee was raised by a single mother after her father died suddenly of a brain hemorrhage. She was thirteen. Renee has experienced the stress of financial insecurity firsthand, from an early age and throughout much of her life.

Like so many members of the Baby Boomer generation, Renee inherently knew she didn’t fit within the box of consensus reality, embracing instead the values of the countercultural revolution in her twenties and early thirties. It was during this time that she married, gave birth to her three children and began a long, often soul-crushing struggle to provide for their needs as a newly divorced mother on a very limited budget.

Housing Now! March 1989With a BA in Social Science, Renee gravitated toward the nonprofit sector where she found work in various administrative and advocacy capacities for over three decades. Early in her career, she was hired as the Communications Director of a statewide housing advocacy coalition in Michigan. She helped coordinate the historic Housing Now! March on Washington, DC, in 1989, followed by a sleep-in of homeless people and their allies on the lawn of Michigan’s State Capitol in the dead of winter with a foot of snow on the ground.

During her service work to the needy, Renee and her young children were often on the verge of homelessness themselves, even moving in with her mother to make ends meet. Reflecting on those years of single motherhood and social activism, Renee had this perspective to share:

Nothing really changed much back then, despite all the hard work by so many good-hearted, well-intentioned people. We couldn’t get any real traction because “the system” was so completely rigged, though we had no idea of the extent to which this was true at the time. We just kept bumping up against “the powers that be” and getting knocked back down. There was a lot of burnout and disillusionment in the ranks, myself included.

I did the best I could on the periphery of the system, but living on the margins put me in a tenuous position, both financially and emotionally. I raised my kids in poverty and under considerable stress during most of their formative years. (Unfortunately, my youngest daughter is still showing the symptoms of PTSD from that experience.) On a personal level, I never really felt valued. My self-esteem and health suffered and my sense of the goodness of life was seriously undermined, as well. I would shake my fist at God sometimes, but on some level I always knew God had a better plan for us. We just needed to get in alignment with it collectively.

Renee’s life-long sense that something was fundamentally wrong with the system has come into sharper focus in the last couple of years, and especially in the past six months. The Zeitgeist and Thrive documentaries helped part the veil for her, and soon she was doing her own research, drilling down more deeply than ever before, seeking her own rock-bottom understanding, with the help of the Internet, plus like-minded siblings and friends.

Overall, she’s been able to clarify and confirm to her own satisfaction that all roads do, indeed, lead to the monetary/corporate system that has insinuated itself into our world at every level, like a giant, all-pervasive parasite. As summed up in a recent Facebook posting: “We’ve given private banks the ability to create money out of thin air and been destroying each other and the planet ever since, in order to repay them.” As Renee sums up her perspective:

This is insanity! But the good news is we are NOW waking up to how we’ve been colluding with our own suffering and enslavement. We can take back our power. We can refuse to participate. We can strategically disengage.

Renee is in the process of doing just that. About a year ago, she closed out her checking account with Chase Bank and transferred her limited funds to a local credit union.

Renee Clare w her twin sisterShe’s recently downsized her life significantly, moving out of her apartment in New Orleans and co-creating a “cell of sanity” with her twin sister. Together with her sister’s boyfriend they live in a mortgage-free home with a big yard and an overflowing garden. She’s also sold her car and is now sharing a small, fuel-efficient vehicle.

With fewer expenses, Renee’s been able to continue to say NO to soul-deadening work in the heavily corporatized nursing industry (after naively acquiring an RN degree in her mid-fifties). Instead she said YES to a relatively low-paying position as a bookkeeper/cashier for a local Food Co-op serving the New Orleans’ community in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

These days, Renee’s life is much more in balance and she’s feeling cautiously optimistic about what the future may hold for her children and five grandchildren (ages 7 months to 4 years). With time to pause and reflect, she’s even begun developing a presentation on the inner workings of the monetary/corporate system, which she plans to post on the Internet and also share at local gatherings with friends, family, coworkers and members of the community.

 I truly believe that “We, the People,” can eliminate the inhumane, parasitic aspects of the current monetary/corporate system once we find the collective will to do so. We can and will do away with the centralized banking system, the fractional reserve system, the stock market, and the practice of charging interest on loans, for example. In so doing, we will eliminate all debt from the face of the earth, once and for all.

Renee w grandson Ultimately, I know we have it in our hearts as a species to eradicate the profit motive and consequently the need for money, all together, in favor of the free exchange of energy and a true gift economy.

What doesn’t work from an evolutionary standpoint, doesn’t survive. What’s in place right now will not survive because it does not work. I’m living that reality one day at a time. Every day I ask for guidance and the courage to do the next best thing, whatever that may be, by whatever non-violent means necessary, for the sake of my children, their children and all the children of the earth.

Bottom line, it’s the innocence and vulnerability of my grandchildren that gets me out of bed everyday determined to be my best possible self. I constantly remind myself that this is not a dress rehearsal. It’s the main act we’ve all been waiting for throughout countless lifetimes. We each have an important role to play in the unfolding drama and I’m committed to playing my part full out! 


Tara Faulkner
Tara Faulkner is a writer/editor of books, articles and blogs at the intersection of spirituality, psychology and culture. She has a PhD in Comparative Religion and Women’s Spirituality from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, and is co-author of The Triple Goddess Tarot (with Isha Lerner). Tara is also a practicing astrologer, specializing in issues related to destiny, root archetypes and soul codes ( She currently lives in New Orleans, Louisiana.