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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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Books, Libraries, Local Booksellers

I am the type of guy that is reading 10-12 books at a time.  A few paragraphs there, a chapter here, etc.  Since stepping into our mindfulness project the public library has been getting more attention from me.  There a few edges with this choice that I am trying to get comfortable with.

First there is issue of actually getting to the library.  Our hometown book haven is a 30 minute drive from home.  So ok, I go when I am otherwise “going to town”.  Cutting down on extraneous trips, and planning ahead to cover many purposes in one trip is a feature of a great deal of our minding where we go, how often and what for.  Then there is selecting the books – wandering isles can be fun and yield unexpected treasures.  I am still figuring out the library website and on-line catalog.  There is waiting for the volume I want to be checked in (another corollary to Murphy’s Law seems to be: the book I want is the one someone is persistently forgetting to return).  But, there again, I have developing a greater friendship with patience as another of my ambitions.  Finally, there’s the issue of books I want that our library does not have.  Interlibrary loan can work but represents another blessing in the dance with patience.  New works?  Usually means waiting a couple of years.  Yet on balance, the benefits of using the library make this generally well worthwhile.

There is saving money, always a good start.  There is becoming aware of community events, typically offered at or advertised by the library.  There is also the phenomena of meeting real people with whom to share ideas.  It’s a place where you bump into old friends and discover new ones lurking in the stacks.

There are still some books I will find justification for purchasing.  Typically they are references in the “how to” genre.  Now since, among other things, I am learning to become “the gentleman farmer” (I am not sure why this characterization appeals to me), when I find a book like  “Home Grown Pantry”  http://www.barbarapleasant.com/mygardeningbooks/homegrownpantry.html,  I am likely to dog ear, underline, annotate, and highlight enough to make purchasing one seem like good manners.

Well ok, I have justified the purchase, now where to cast the required donero.  Amazon is a very convenient place to shop and prices are typically good.  However, there is a seamy underside to serpents from this particular jungle.  I have just reviewed a sobering podcast “The Amazon-ization of the Nation and its Long Term Consequences” at https://mcalvanyweeklycommentary.com/.  By virtue of the fact that Amazon has access to enough funding that they don’t have to make a profit on what the sell they can out compete any independent bookseller.  We have seen  the demise of many community bookstores.  The town I work in lost two book stores this year.  So my favorite independent and local bookshop, “Maria’s” http://www.mariasbookshop.com/ will get this order.  It will cost a few more bucks, I will have to wait a while longer, (another gifting of required patience), and I’ll have to spend time on the phone, or in person, actually talking to another human being that lives in my community.  Very old fashioned, I know.  It is however, satisfying in a way that “one-click” shopping is not.

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Evaluation of the initial two weeks

We are off and running, despite a couple of hectic weeks!  Travel, visitors, and Jessie (our website designer, wolffmediadesigns ) marrying and moving presented some challenges.  We embraced the chaos and learned a lot.  Before addressing the categories we’re choosing to mindfully consume (purchases, entertainment, news, food, travel), I’ll address what we have learned in the areas we’re examining when the distractions generated by consumption are minimized (time, nature, spirituality, money, new skills, community).  Three of these areas stand out:  new skills, community, and spirituality.

Learning new skills is the area that rises to the top.  Prior to this project, neither of us had any experience with websites or social media.  Our learning curve was very steep in order to get the site up and running (thanks for your patience, Jesse!).  It has also been quite the challenge to learn how to moderate and update the blog and forum.  We still bumble around and aren’t quite sure how to relate the web site to Facebook, but we are learning and appreciate your patience and support!

Community and spirituality also stand out as we read your posts on the forum.  You have contributed fun, useful, and wise information that have encouraged us to pause amid the chaos.  You are creating a space of dialog and community that uplifts us and that we hope is also uplifting for you.  Thank you!

Now for the areas of consumption:  entertainment and food are where we indulged a little; travel was present, we made a couple of purchases, and we didn’t have time to focus on news.

As mentioned in a previous blog post, I traveled for our son’s graduation.  He then spent 5 days at home before heading off to more school and a new career.  Two things stood out about the trip.  One is the accomplishment and pride of our son, the other is the kindness of strangers

http://www.we-all-can.org/forum/#!/actsoflovekindnesscourage.  We’ll see what patterns emerge with travel as the year progresses.

Because our son was here for less than a week, and during that time he was both resting and packing for his next steps, what he needed was a sense of normality.  This included visiting his favorite restaurant and catching up on the final episodes of a couple of his favorite shows.  Indulging his desires in these areas felt supportive of his transition and in the spirit of our project.  We also bought him some new towels and school supplies, because it was helpful and because I can’t resist being a mom :).

 

Wonderful Support

The Atlantic at sunset; a gorgeous site for a desert dweller

Travel is one of the categories that we are observing to see what patterns may emerge.  Several things stand out about a trip I took last week:  the joy of celebrating our son, the kindness of strangers, and the support of your posts.

Likely many of you know the joy of celebrating the achievements of someone you love, and that was certainly the highlight of a trip I took across the country last week for our son’s graduation.  Graduations are particularly lovely events because they are clear demarcations of the ending of one phase and beginning of something new. They are a reason to pause, to reflect, to celebrate, to dream.  We hope many of you have experienced this particular joy!

Andrea and Doug Sendebry were wondrous angels as they saved the day by stepping in to pay for my rental car.  Your heart will be warmed and you will be inspired by their actions; see post in the Forum under “Acts of kindness, love, courage” for the full story of their kindness!

http://www.we-all-can.org/forum/#!/actsoflovekindnesscourage

The previous couple of weeks were hectic as we prepared to launch this site, created the ceremony to celebrate a world with more compassion and dignity, and continued to learn new skills so we could moderate the site.  I was exhausted by the time I checked in to my hotel and logged into We All Can.  I read the wonderful forum posts about mindfulness and was inspired to sink into my fatigue rather than resist it.  Because of your wisdom, I began to enjoy the fatigue and found myself smiling at the beauty of life.  Shortly after, I walked to the beach and took the photo above.

 

 

 

First Day

labyrinth circle                     Animas River Blessing Water

This morning held excitement.  It felt fresh and new, like when I was a child and it was a holiday with presents waiting to be opened.  I savored the beauty of yesterday’s We All Can launch and labyrinth ceremony for a vision of a world with more compassion, safety, and dignity.  I thought about a young man who noted that he thinks the world needs more fun, and that while walking the labyrinth and looking into another’s eyes, he realized that fun for him is connection.  Beautiful.

Changes are already afoot in the way we go about our days because of our desire to remove the distractions created by consumption.  I dropped a car off this morning to have some work done.  Ordinarily I would stop by a coffee shop while waiting.  This morning I realized that buying a latte was outside of our goal of not consuming restaurant food unless there is a broader social purpose.  I felt a little bummed; I could taste that latte!  Thankfully, the sense of potential returned and I felt reinvigorated.

All new projects and beginnings contain the unknown, and that can be unsettling as well as alluring. I am grateful that this project feels rich, ripe, and full of potential.  This is partly due to to our curiosity to see what we learn.

It is also due to you, to those of you who choose to follow the project and try out portions for yourself.  It is due to those of you who read the forum, Inspiring Each Other, and contribute your thoughts and experiences.  It is due to those of you who click the “like” button and share with friends.  It because of those of you who previewed the site and found glitches, who helped us hone the text and make the videos, who encouraged the idea, who share the curiosity and vision for a world becoming new.  I am sure that we will need to draw on your strength as we journey.

For now, I savor this moment of innocence that inhabits the beginning of journeys.  I am grateful for it and for your encouragement; they propel us forward.