Report Card Time



We’re about half way through the year long project of Mindful Living and Conscious Consuming so it’s time for a self assessment.  Some things have pleasantly surprised us, some things we have done well, and some we have failed.  This assessment will take a few posts, here is the first one.

The wonderful surprise is the sense of greater ease that we feel; this is something that we’ve written about previously.  In taking much of the noise and distractions of our media and purchasing off of the table, time has become more fluid and flexible and the beauty and wonder of life is more evident in all aspects of our life, both the fabulous and the challenging.

Now for the detail of how we think we’ve been doing.  I’ll begin with the areas of consumption and will address the areas of change following this assessment.

Purchases:  We give ourselves a grade of  B

We have mindfully bought things that we needed, like more irrigation hose and the parts to fix the mower.  We have also purchased some gifts that were “things” rather than experiences.  This marginally fits with our goals.  One of our sons lives overseas and one is training with the Coast Guard.  Both had birthdays this autumn.  We purchased scuba experiences for them but, as a mom, I simply wanted to send them a package with something to unwrap.  So, I indulged that with some small gifts.  We have also made a couple of purchases that were not necessary.  One is a new winter jacket for Bill, the other was shoes for me.  Bill lost his favorite jacket (light weight down that is flexible for working outside).  After searching for a month, we replaced it.  I purchased some new shoes because I injured my back and needed shoes that supported that healing process.  I could have worn my athletic shoes for this purpose, but they don’t go with the type of clothing I often wear, so I indulged in a pair.  We have also bought books.  We’re using the library more, but we have purchased some books that we want to keep as resources; most of these are about gardening and spirituality.

There are other purchases that we make that support our mindful consuming.  One is that we have a habit of buying meals for others when we are out.  For example, a few weeks ago I was grabbing a bite of dinner before an evening meeting and noticed a family with 3 daughters.  They were playing a clapping game while waiting for their food.  Once the food was delivered, the family was conversing and laughing together.  This is in contrast to many we see in restaurants who ignore others at the table while they scroll through their phones, or play a movie for their children rather than engage with them.  I bought the family a gift card for that restaurant and let them know how wonderful it was to witness their loving interaction.

We live in a small town (population around 6000) and decided that we would spend money at our local businesses.  Last weekend we went to two businesses with nothing we needed in mind but just to buy from our local community. Thank you Aztec Hardware and Lil Aztec Flower Shop for contributing to our community!  Because of the recent shootings, to further support our community, we to attended Aztec Sparkles, a community night and parade, and sought to buy a little something from as many businesses as possible.  We appreciate those who attended the event and the businesses that participated!


We have watched 5 films in the last 6 months.  The most recent was downloading a Christmas movie on Netflix the day after the Aztec High School Shooting.  We, like most of our community, were exhausted and needed some rest.  Another was Lion, the film version of a book club book.  We watched it because I was the only one in the club who hadn’t seen the film.  We went to one movie, All Saints, on an afternoon when we were just tired and wanted an escape.  It was based on a true story and was uplifting.  We also downloaded one film to watch on a cold, dark night after the time changed from daylight savings.  We do watch something when we work out because it helps us motivate to use those exercise machines.  Bill has a collection of old DVDs he watches.  One of them broke before the end of the movie, so we Netflixed it to see the ending.  Other than that, we have engaged in no television or movies.

Travel:  B

Our goal was to reduce our  routine driving and to observe our patterns with trips.  We have been successful in using our cars less, partially because we are purchasing less.  We can still improve here in terms of planning our trips to town.

We have taken several small trips.  What all trips but one have in common is that they were about building relationship.  We attended a wedding, graduation, friends’ daughter’s concert, and went camping with our son.  The one trip that doesn’t fit that pattern is our Thanksgiving sojourn to the Grand Canyon.  Nearly a decade ago Bill and I promised ourselves that we would travel on the first holiday that neither of our sons came home.  That happened to be this Thanksgiving and we chose to spend it in the grandeur of that magnificent canyon.

Food:  D

We did well in the summer with our local and organic purchases.  We also had a moderately successful garden.  We purchased beef from a 4-H youth and pork from one of Bill’s coworkers.  Our pantry is well stocked with a variety of local and home grown foods.

We utterly failed on the eating out component.  We mentioned this in a previous blog.  It’s largely a result of living in a rural area so we can’t pop home to grab a bite when we have 12 or 14 hour days caused by evening meetings after work.  That was further complicated by Bill being on a no carb diet for most of that time.  It was so much effort to continually make appetizing food that would travel well and meet Bill’s diet that we got weary and partially gave up.  This is an area where we need to set new goals and recommit!

Watching/listening to News:  Susan  A-, Bill  D     Exploring a topic from multiple perspectives:  F

I, Susan, have found it easy not to engage in the news.  I don’t miss NPR or checking out things online.  Occasionally I’ll listen to radio news when I drive but I usually find it to be disappointing.  Our news is often about things that I believe miss the boat or are not important.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t engage in community or world events, but that I do so from an energetic perspective.  More on that in the next part of our assessment.

Bill has a hard time not listening to the news or talk radio when he drives and he also regularly visits some blog sites.  We purchased some Great Courses cds to help with this but he’s having a hard time breaking his habit.  The course he’s currently enjoying is a CD set on “Books that have made History: Books that can change your life.”  In general, Bill thinks that taking some of the “dead time” spent in driving to further his liberal education is a very good thing.  As in everything else, what one chooses to attend to is key.  Does it develop my understanding of the world?  Does it enhance my appreciation for the magnificence of Nature or the higher callings of human beings?  Discernment is central this whole media question.

We thought that we’d jump into exploring how a topic is being discussed in multiple places around the world.  We were very excited about artificial intelligence and how it is being developed and discussed because it seems that we are at a decision point with this technology where we can either hurt or enhance humanity and we need to raise our voices.  Surprisingly, we haven’t had passion to engage in the research.  We have followed the areas of our project that excite us most and this one has fallen by the wayside.  Perhaps we’ll engage in it as the project continues.

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Not shopping



I’ve needed to buy a couple of items lately, most recently a candle for a ceremony that I was gifting to my goddaughter, Risa.  In the store, I wandered past the sales on summer clothing and attractively displayed autumn decorations and teasers.  Usually I would have browsed, maybe bought something just because it was on sale, and picked up an autumn do-dad.  I bought only the item that I needed and left the store.

It was empowering!  Not browsing and getting sucked into our consumer temptations was fun and rewarding!

A number of years ago we tried an experiment of only buying essentials for one month, just to see what we learned.  The memory of that ultimately fun month helped to fuel this current project.  You may want to try it sometimes and see what you notice.

A related impact of this is noting that we often vote with how we spend our money.  Our purchases say what we are and aren’t willing to support concerning human rights and the environment.  I remember years ago when people boycotted Burger King because they were clear cutting forests in Central America to graze their cattle.  They changed their practices because of it.  You can likely think of many other examples.  Many free trade products and “clean” companies are the result of consumer demand.

You may enjoy observing your own shopping patterns to see if they support what you value and care about, and then take a little more action toward what you value when purchasing.  Check out the Try This Tab for a few more details:   It’s fun and empowering, really!

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Not choosing convenience and expediency

Increased life and spiritual satisfaction can come from a line of small wholesome choices.

When we started our mindful living project I knew I would come up against deciding not to pull the trigger so routinely on the things that offer convenience in my life.  Like most 21st century Americans I have acquired a pretty “busy” life.   Long work day? Ok, I’ll eat out.  No time to do that?  Ok, there are snacks at the gas station, etc.  Deciding to put aside much of that convenience has meant that I have to plan my life better — I have to engage my life more directly.  Plan the lunch, cook the meal, pack the meal, take the meal, and actually use the meal I packed, etc.

Those are first layer realizations.  They constitute the stuff of daily life.  Second layer realizations include choices I could make to foster convenience.   Packaged, this.  Pre-cooked that, etc.

Third layer realizations:  What about the quality of what I’m buying?  Organic?  Yes, If its not too expensive.  All natural?  Sustainable?, etc.

Fourth layer realizations:  Where did that food come from?  1,500 miles?  15 miles?  Do I trust the label?  “Organic these days often means someone has a lot of infrastructure and bureaucracy attached to their process. Is the process wholly dependent of affordable diesel fuel?  Do I know the farmer, no?  Why not?

Here we start tripping over the expediency of making  good (wholesome, respectful of workers, honoring nature) choices.  Here I mean real choices connected to real people, with real faces, whose kids really do need dental work, for whom retirement seems impossible, etc.

Commercial farmers often use round up (or other chemicals) because it’s what they know, and it looks like part of the expedient process for getting cash out of their crop. ( Incidentally this is a bad idea when it comes to downstream effects all of the someone elses will have to manage (all of us).  (Dave Murphy – Glycophosphate: unsafe on any plate.)) Your supermarket will truck in “organic” produce from 1,500 miles away because it is the expedient way to meet our consumer demands.  This, as opposed to developing a robust local natural foods community/economy.

Too hard to be on top of all that this discussion implies?  Yes, and what I am saying  is that the creation of new local natural and safe food economies will only evolve if we as individuals get out there, and put in the time to make more desireable decisions.  It won’t be convenience or expedient.  However, it will be rewarding and satisfying.  It all happens in small incremental steps.  So far my small discoveries in this vein are things I go to bed smiling about.

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Finding a little order in chaos

Wonderful camping trip with our son and puppy!

It’s been  about 5 weeks since we launched We All Can, and only one of those has been “normal.”  We have taken 3 short trips (graduation, camping, wedding) and have had visits from our wonderful sons totaling 3 weeks.

While very fun, this lack of schedule has been a challenge as we try and launch this new project.  Challenges come in the form of time and fatigue. We haven’t been consistently able to post or to address any area in depth.  We have also discovered that we need to attend to Facebook to get the word out, but since we have no experience with it and our schedules have been discombobulated, learning an additional set of actions and online expectations has been difficult.

We have only this one week before we are off to another short trip and visit from friends.   Most of you are likely well versed in Facebook and other social media.  It is new for us and hopefully we’ll be a quick study and will be able to attend to the We All Can page like a pro (and many of you 🙂 ).

Through all of the fun and frenzy, my focus has been on mindfulness.  I have tried to be more attentive to the way I approach activities.  I am forcing myself to walk slower and to appreciate the movement of my body as I complete daily activities.  I am noticing more details about the play of light and shadow as I cross our land to regulate irrigation systems.  I am focusing on listening carefully to others to honor their beauty and experience.  The result of this had been deeper levels of fun and a magnified richness of the romance of living life.

What do you do when your schedule is hectic and you are tired?  How do you find beauty, rest, or fun?

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