One Year Later

Today marks the one year anniversary of our We-All-Can project! Thank you to everyone who has posted, followed, and encouraged! It is the sunset of our year of Mindful Living and Conscious Consuming, and the dawn of Heart 2 Heart Strong.

Heart 2 Heart Strong ( www.heart2heartstrong.org )is the result of our We- All- Can project. Because we learned how to manage a website and Facebook page with We- All-Can, we were able to quickly respond with support after the Aztec High school shooting. Heart 2 Heart strong is a new website dedicated to healing from the unspeakable tragedies of school shootings. It is a series of short videos with clergy, counselors, and other healers including a therapy dog trainer. We hope you will share this information widely within communities impacted by the horror of a school shooting. It also applies to healing from all types of grief, tragedy, and loss, whatever the cause; be it a natural disaster, an accident, a shooting, or terrorism. We hope that it provides some comfort and encouragement.

It is taking longer to get our Heart2heartstrong website up and running than we hoped, so if you visit the link above, you will see that it is darker than we want it to be and that it doesn’t load properly on a phone. We’re working on getting it functional! But, until then, please see the initial videos on the Heart 2 Heart tab on this website.

Now for the 2nd part of our year long project…what we learned over the course of the Year of Mindful Living. Firstly, the personal observations are quite similar to our conclusions at the 6 month evaluation. Everything is easier, simpler, and sweeter because of the way we have taken much of the distractions of consumption off of the table. We have more ease and enjoyment in our life, even through the frustrating and challenging events that crop up. This is something to cherish and nurture. Additionally, it is easier to sustain our focus, joy, and aliveness throughout the day; it just flows naturally out of a sense of dominion and unity. These are gifts from a year of living more simply and deliberately.

What are our next steps? We want to play around with days of silence and disengagement from time. Our idea is to begin with a day where we cover all clocks and just see how things unfold. We want to do the same thing without speaking, reading, or engaging with media. We’ll likely combine the two and will also play with multiple days, just for the fun of it.

Life is an amazing gift! We enjoy experimenting in the ways shown through this blog and over the year. How do you enjoy learning, challenging, and enjoying yourself?

We wish you all inspiring experiences and rewarding relationships. Together, We-All-Can live joyously and courageously, and that really does make a difference!

Moving through Overwhelm

I’m feeling overwhelmed and have been stuck in and out of that space for a couple of weeks; I’m feeling a little frozen, not unlike the scene outside of our windows.  The project has grown in many unanticipated ways and demands more work and constantly learning new skills.  While it’s invigorating, it’s also exhausting.  Never, when we began this project, did we anticipate making a video series on healing from grief, loss, and trauma.  But, here we are making the Healing Heart to Heart series, creating a YouTube channel, and needing to learn more about sharing on social media.  We feel like we’re not doing any of it to the quality and consistency that it deserves.

So, what keeps us working on it and learning all that’s necessary to keep up?  We are still inspired by the idea of We-All-Can, because we really believe that the many daily kindnesses and courageous thoughts and deeds can lead to real change and healing; and that providing a platform to encourage, comfort, and inspire each other is worthy work.

We are also inspired by the feedback we have been receiving.  Many of you let us know that you have been uplifted by the site.  Several Facebook posts received more than 500 looks and one got nearly 6000.  We are encouraged by our invitation to present We-All-Can at the Mayor’s Volunteer Program Appreciation Awards Banquet with an anticipated audience of over 300.

We are encouraged by your help and kindness.  Pastor Jonathan Dobbs introduced me to the tripod for my phone to film Healing Heart to Heart videos.  Counselor Kelly Anglin spent two patient hours with me filming her video because  my technology didn’t work correctly.  Each person interviewed gave heartfelt wisdom and shared so very generously.  I learned and was blessed by each of you!

Thank you, to each of you who checks out the site, “likes,” or shares.  Thank you to all of you who live your lives with kindness and courage; you inspire us and are our beacon to continue.

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Community Tragedy and Unity

Report Card Continued:

What we have learned about community

What we have learned thus far on our project is more complicated to communicate than our previous report card section on areas of reduced consumption  While we expected surprises, we never anticipated that our little community of Aztec would fall victim to a school shooting.  We reflected on how to help heal the shock, pain, loss and grief and are devoting We-All-Can’s Facebook page to that service.   We have posted a lot of information and nightly prayers for the first two weeks after the shooting.  These are now weekly prayers, on Thursday nights, because the shootings occurred on December 7th, a Thursday Morning.

Healing Heart to Heart, a video series, is our response to help heal from tragedy.  It can be found at the new tab across the top of the We-All-Can homepage.  Healing Heart to Heart is a series of interwiews with healers, clergy, counselors, and leaders about how to respond and heal from loss and tragedy.  We hope the interviews will provide encouragement and comfort.  We hope they provide insight about how to speak to and support individuals and families experiencing tragic loss.  We hope that it will give ideas to parents and teens about how to support themselves and each other.  We hope it will be a place to begin when you are stabbing in the dark and want to move forward.  We hope it will help you to feel less alone and to help others know that they are not alone.  I am grateful for all those who have contributed their wisdom so far, and hope to grow our library of interviews so that they can be available to anyone, anywhere, at any time, who is healing from any type of tragedy.

We have learned much about our community’s resilience, compassion, ingenuity, talent and love.  Healing Heart to Heart videos are testimony to that, as is the information provided on Facebook@weallcaninspire.  The return to wholeness will be a long journey with many bends; it will vary for each person impacted.  We will become whole again, but our new identity as individuals and as a community will be forever changed.  We are touched by the outpouring of love, unity, and support.  It is beautiful.  I pray that others can find ways to bring these beauties in their communities to the forefront without the presence of tragedy.

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Unity from Tragedy

Unspeakable events in our small community occurred yesterday with the shooting death of 2 Aztec high school students, Casey and Francisco, also called Paco. Last night’s vigil was a way to come together.  It is important to remember that we are never alone.  We are not alone in our sorrow, we are not alone in our confusion, we are not alone in our healing.  We have each other; we have the Divine.  To the unfathomably grieving families, we offer our love, hope, and prayers.  To the confused and sorrowful students, we offer comfort and safety.  To our shocked and grieving community, we offer togetherness.  To Governor Martinez, first responders, law enforcement, teachers and Aztec High School staff, we offer our gratitude.

Please see our facebook page for support information, news, and prayers.  facebook@weallcaninspire

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Having Fun is Being Human

                                                   

 

Last week I was talking with my dear friend, Rachel, and she asked about the project.  I mentioned that a delightful and unexpected result is a newfound sense of freedom, renewed curiosity, and fun.

After our conversation, Rachel sent me an email with some thoughts; here is part of her wisdom.  ” We were talking a little about your project, and what it’s brought you that’s unexpected: how you’ve discovered that the lifestyle changes you created for the project have opened up room in your minds and lives for – learning how to fix the mower motor! You talked about the freedom you feel, to have the time and energy do such a thing – although it wasn’t what you thought would flow into the life spaces vacated by screens, too much information and too much news. What a gift! Your newfound time is spent being human: discovering an interest, seeking out information, solving a new problem, using your body (hands, at least!), living through the time it takes for all the pieces to come together, letting your intelligence feed your physical ability to build/fix something you need to care for  your own environment.”

In the space that has opened up as we remove much of the distractions caused by consumption, Bill and I are exploring new arenas.  He’s mentioned fixing the mower and his fun with compost.  We’re also enjoying a Great Courses lecture series on comparative religions and I’m taking up the guitar and piano (ok, in fits and starts but it’s still fun to try and to honor my small accomplishments :)).  Our conversations on weekend mornings tend to focus on how we want to be agents of change and healing in the world (baby steps again).  Gone is the domination of duties and obligations that were very present when we allowed more of the noise of consuming into our lives.

In my conversation with Rachel, I mentioned how much more fun all aspects of our lives are.  She reflected,” It’s all play, really, now that I think of it: it’s how we human animals play. Only in our pressured lives it’s not play unless it’s by choice! We do a lot of this stuff much of the time, but against a backdrop of obligation and necessity. And then often we are allowed to do only some parts of the playing, and have to do too much of those other parts, and we don’t get to complete the process. Repair a motor, build a labyrinth. What a relief to discover  that what your mind and body choose, given an opportunity, is to be human, and play.”

Rachel also reflected that it’s important to see others engaged in real play, and that in doing so, we open our humanness to each other, and that is precious!  Thanks, Rachel, for your wonderful way of describing play and fun!

 

Watch this amazing video about living trash free for 30 days!

Click below and get ready to be inspired and impressed with the effort!  Living trash free for 30 days proved to be an inspiring and creative challenge.  Concluding remarks are about starting small and that everyone makes a difference :)!

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I Tried Living Trash-Free For 30 Days

I Tried Living Trash-Free For 30 Days

Posted by BuzzFeed Video on Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Fun at the School of Hard Knocks

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Here’s an interesting thing about slowing things down to make more considered choices — Slowing down actually increases one’s ability to choose!

Here’s an example.  Prior to our project, I allowed myself to be overwhelmed with things I needed or “ought” to do so that I thought I never had enough time to work on something new. I would avoid the project because  I thought I couldn’t “afford” the time to figure out what needed to be done and how to do it.

Example No. 1  Setting of 6 acres needing to be mowed, Riding Mower breaks (again). Problem: won’t start.  What could be wrong? This list includes the need to test electrical circuits, fuel flow, flywheel mechanics, etc.  Previously I would have punted and winched the thing up on the trailer and handed it off to a “certified” Cub Cadet mower mechanic.

The new and improved more reflective me is now capable of considering and spending the time to think it through, learn what I need to know (thank God for You-Tube Instructorials – of variable quality), and allow myself time for trial and error.  The reflective change also curiously includes an enhanced willingness to be wrong and make mistakes.  This particular process lead to changing out the spark plug, changing out the fuel filter, testing and changing out the Solenoid (figuring out what that does) re-wiring the Solenoid, and using a remote starter to jump and test the starter motor.  All of that included a fair amount of instruction by error, including guessing wrongly when in town buying parts that I had a 3 pole Solenoid and not a 4 pole one.  Whew! (helpful hint: if possible bring the part you are replacing with you when buying a new one)

-The cool thing was: I enjoyed all of this.  Errors and all.  I enjoyed giving myself permission to learn this way — and guess what?  It is not just a cliche that at times the “school of hard knocks is the best teacher.”  Figure it out and understand it all by your lonesome (video teachers aside) – awesome!

Example No. 2.  Being a guy interested in having backup electrical power (limited) I had talked Susan into the purchase of a back up Solar Generator Kit.  The problem being that when it arrived (a year ago), I was in the old hurry and be overwhelmed mode.  Take a look at the pictures — without an adequate background in things electrical — I proceeded to literally open and close the lid on this project several times without getting what I had bought figured out.

Now the new me.  It was actually possible to open the kits, begin reading the manuals and get started.  I have given myself permission to take whatever time I need to get this thing figured out and operational.  It may not seem like much, but I am doing it now, and previously in the “era BMP” (before mindfulness project) I had found starting IMPOSSIBLE!????  Human beings are curious things, no?

Creative Masterpiece!

 

These amazing photos speak for themselves!

Our neighbors, Rae and Bob, have been creating this fabulous greenhouse for over 2 years.  They used recycled windows and glass doors from the Habitat for Humanity store and built the stunning thermal mass walls from stones Rae has collected over the years.  She created a design like a tree using petrified wood for the branches and carefully selected stones and glass for the leaves.  Some of the stones have faces, as you can see above, and Rae added her “Earth Mother” sculpture as well.  The effect is a stunning testimony of creativity, vision, sustainability, and stick-to-itness.

Their creativity and hard work are an inspiration to me not to give up on my creative dreams.  Perhaps you also have some creative projects you are dreaming of,  are working on now, or have completed and are enjoying.  Please share them here or on the facebook page.  There is also a video of Rae discussing her greenhouse on www.facebook.com/weallcaninspire/

Bob and Rae, you rock! (pun intended :))

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Making Dandelion Tincture

As Bill mentioned in the previous post, we followed the process of making an herbal remedy from dandelions that is in the Herbal Medicine Maker’s Handbook by James Green.  It was simple and fun.  The remedy can be used for a variety of ills including gentle detoxification, skin disorders, and lowering cholesterol.  Who knew that this common weed held such treasures?!

First, we went into our field and dug some dandelions.  This was easy because it had rained the night before.  We washed these thoroughly.

Next, we chopped the dandelions.

We then put the choppings into a quart jar, shook vigorously, and poured vodka over them to serve as the preservative and carrier agent.  These will sit in a cool spot for 14 days.

And, as James Green, suggests, we admired the tincture.  Fun work, with a touch of magic about it!

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Skipping the old, discovering the new

One of the things that a commitment to the mindfulness project brings is a degree of mindfulness when one would rather be mindless (AKA :”vegging out”).  Huh?  Today Susan and I were, for the first time in weeks, unobligated to a planned  activity.  Really, since the launch of this project it seems we have been constantly engaged socially – or preparing to host friends or family.  All of it was wonderful, but it does leave us a bit behind in the project and other areas of routine living.

In the era “BTSMP” (Before The Start of the Mindfulness Project) we would have likely chosen to select some  passive process like sitting through a movie, and having someone else prepare and serve a meal, as a mode of “relaxing”.  This was now off the table of choice.

So instead we chose to focus on starting to learn a new skill – and with it tweak our usual relationship to weeds.  Huh, again?  Part of being mindful includes the relationship to place.  In this case, to the property we live on.  The homstead sits on nearly 6 acres.  When we first discovered this place, weeds of all descriptions largely held sway.

Among many fledgling desires I hold are: 1) Live in harmony with the natural world and 2) develop a first hand and practical knowledge of herbal medicine.  So instead of  heading to town for a meal and a movie we harvested dandelions.  Yup.  After recent rains we had a spontaneous new crop.  We then set about preparing a dandelion tincture.  This was remarkably simple to do.  We dug up the entire plant, washed it thoroughly, chopped it finely, put it in a jar and poured Vodka over it.  The vodka provides the alcohol vehicle for the tincture.

Katrina Blair, something of a local folk hero for the large contingent of “do it with nature” folks in our area has written an awsome book http://www.chelseagreen.com/the-wild-wisdom-of-weeds.  As it turns out, this ubiquitous plant has a noble pedigree in wild crafted eating and in medicinal herbs.  It’s medicinal value includes gentle detoxification, enhancing digestion, and easing hangovers.

We ended up following the process in chapter one of “the Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook” http://bookstore.bastyr.edu/products/328-herbal-medicine-makers-handbook.aspx to get started in this new awareness and developing this new skill.

I think the curious satisfaction of this simple task, and the prospect of opening a new awareness and facility with knowledge and skills that enrich our appreciation and connection to nature, we recognize as another real benefit of just slowing life down and being open to discovery of the new.

Share how you care – your way of appreciating the natural world.