Subtle but Sweet Changes

That everything is a little easier and richer is the unexpected gift from this project so far.  We live in nature, and the appreciation of that beauty is greater.  We have difficulties but they are not as stressful as they may have been previously.  We attend to our health and diet, and that is more fun.

What does this have to do with removing the distractions of consumption?

One thing is that there is less stress and drama from our cultural noise because we don’t watch tv, listen to radio talk/news, or surf the web unless we want to learn something (ex: a recipe or fixing the mower).

We are concerned about the destruction caused by our recent hurricanes and wanted to learn more as we considered making some donations, so I turned on the radio to hear the news.  There were multiple updates about Puerto Rico but sandwiched between those reports were stories about the new television season.  Just listening to the descriptions of the shows was stressful!  It made me wonder what the impact of watching hours of such violence and angst has on our well being and relationships, particularly in regard to children.  There are studies showing that the effects of watching violence has a desensitizing impact on our tolerance for violence, but I am thinking of more subtle, daily impacts.  Are we less patient with each other because of the violence, control, selfishness, and bullying so prevalent in our entertainment?  Do we eat more junk?  Do we react to family members more harshly?  I don’t know the answer to these questions but I found the descriptions of the shows to be so distasteful that I turned off the radio.

Another result is that we pay more attention to what we do because there is less rush, so everything takes on a quality of richness and enjoyment, even the most mundane of chores.  While mindfulness and presence are things we have practiced for years, we have a clearer experience that simple tasks performed with the love of others in mind (e.g. folding clothes for the family), or with the simple determination to do this small thing well (because attention to quality in all things honors others, honors yourself, and honors your Creator)  raises the resonance of love and joy in life.  We are experiencing a greater sense of ease and flow, even about events that are challenging.   This is a subtle and unexpected gift that we are grateful for.


Serius Dog Days

Serius is the brightest star in the sky and is located in the constellation Canis Major (big dog) which is why it is know as the “dog star.”  You can see Serius in the east before sunrise in late summer, which is why these late summer days can also be called the “dog days of summer.”  Many ancient and contemporary spiritual traditions particularly note the days between July 23 and September 23 as a powerful time in relation to Serius.

So what can this mean for us?  These dog days and the approach of the equinox speak to me of reflection about the future.  These days invite us to go within and to imagine who and how we want to be for ourselves, those we love, and for the world.  Then, we take action in our lives with the intention of being the person we dream of.  This seems like a tall order, but there are simple ways to practice.

First, find a time each day to imagine who and how you want to be in a particular area of your life.  What do you value about yourself that you would want to share?  How would you share it?  What would be the result of that sharing; joy, intimacy, vulnerability?  Are you frightened, exhilarated, both?  Do you doubt yourself?

How can you develop that area of self more?  How does this “best you” go about her/his day?  What thoughts do you have when you wake up?  How do you go about your routine?  How do you respond to success or frustration?  How do you treat yourself…what do you eat, do you have supportive or critical thoughts about yourself?  How does this version of  you love, notice beauty, share kindness?

What do you need to heal or forgive to more fully be that best version of yourself?  How can you begin to share more of who you are in your current relationships and work?  How do you feel about that?

Really, the imagining is fun and it has a powerful way of helping you to set goals and to allow yourself to move past your own limitations.  The key and maybe the hardest part, is to give yourself permission to dream the best you, to create time daily (maybe as you go to bed or before you rise in the morning), and to allow this to change you.  Once you have practice, try doing it in all other areas of your life.  Have fun with it, allow you to inspire yourself:).

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What kind of future do you want?

“May it be the real I who speaks.  May it be the real Thou that I speak to,” C.S. Lewis.

I think a lot about the future of humanity and how our thoughts and actions have impact well beyond the obvious.

Our mission for We-All-Can includes that, ” We envision a global community where people of all nationalities, ages, creeds, and walks of life ignite each other’s imaginations for a world where dignity, compassion, hope, and safety are the norm.  We believe a paradigm shift is possible where growth and change are born out of vision, imagination, and love more than out of response to deprivation or tragedy.  We imagine solutions emerging that were previously hidden and leaders stepping up because of the encouragement and inspiration that we all generate.”

What kind of future do you imagine?  For me it isn’t one where today’s problems are “fixed.”  Rather it is one where solutions and ways of being are truly new (not a better version of the old).  What does that mean?  Well, I’m not sure because it is by definition something beyond what we are now experiencing.  For me there are bridges between the present and the New.  These bridges include imagination, compassion, dignity, love, unity, and the safety to dream.

What are your hopes and dreams?

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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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Slowing Down

The land that we love

Because we have been traveling and enjoying guests so much this summer, we are behind in caring for our home. This past week was the first one since early June that we have had our normal routine, and since we have nearly 6 acres, our time was packed with long overdue chores.  Irrigating, mowing, weeding, hauling broken branches, fertilizing, tending the labyrinth…  The days were long, hot, dirty, and sweaty.  They were also satisfying.  It is fulfilling to care for a place that you love.

One fun result of this project of removing the distractions of consumption is that most tasks are taking on a richer quality.  We do not have the radio reporting in the background as we go about our morning.  We are not interrupting the flow of chores to run into town for the odd piece of hardware that makes things easier but isn’t really necessary. We are not then stopping for lunch and returning to find that the hours have flown by and we now feel stressed and rushed to finish.

In a forum post I mentioned the value of pausing (!/mindfulness ).  What I am noticing is that these pauses are expanding on their own.   The beauty and romance of the living of life, previously apparent but needing to be acknowledged,  is now a constant companion.  I am grateful.

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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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