What Would You Do If Money Were No Object?

What Would You Do If Money Were No Object?

Alan Watts likes to ask his students, when doing career counseling, “What would you do if money were no object?” He hopes to get them thinking about what they really enjoy about life, what pursuits they truly want to devote energy toward, and how they want to spend their days.  Because after all, “what we do with our days is what we do with our lives.” (Annie Dillard)

On one hand, it is quite important to ask ourselves what we would do if we didn’t need to earn money.  When we do that, we tap into the things that drive us to align our actions with our values, we find meaning in the everyday, and we teach our children to do the same.  And a society full of people who are doing what they feel called to do is one that is setting itself up for a foundation of peace and vitality.  …

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Fire Starters

Fire Starters

Act in ways that make you feel what you want to feel. ~Danielle LaPorte

I started listening to The Fire Starter Sessions a few days ago.  I was already familiar with Ms. LaPorte’s take on aligning your actions with what she calls “core desired feelings,” but listening to these audio sessions has been a good reminder to actually take that advice.  I spend a lot of time as a wellness coach asking about what underlays a desire to lose weight or stop smoking or get in better shape.  In a corporate coaching world, sometimes it’s like pulling teeth to get people to pick up the telephone for appointments, much less talk about what they truly desire for themselves.  But sometimes we go there.  Sometimes people are willing to look deeply into what is driving them to want something different. And it’s always a feeling. Continue reading “Fire Starters”

Let Wildness Find You

Let Wildness Find You

Right now the garden is thriving.  Every leaf is reaching its leaves toward the sky, and every root is nestling deep into the soil, drinking up the ample nourishment that comes with abundant rains and enough organic compost.  The sunflowers that were a foot high two weeks ago will soon be taller than me, and their flower heads follow the sun as it arcs across the sky, ending the day gazing toward the westerly hills.  There are cabbages as big as my fist, canopies of kale providing shade for the vole who munches the beets, and if you were to stretch all of the winter squash and zucchini vines out in a line they would reach down the road and around the corner.  Bees and hummingbirds are buzzing about, happily drinking up raspberry and oregano blossom nectar, doing their important pollinating work.  The scarecrow is earning his keep as the peppers, tomatoes and eggplants stake their claim and the potato plants are starting to lean over in hopes of harvest.  Eva, the resident three year old, likes to dart between the staked rows with bare feet and hide behind bouquets of wildflowers.   Like I said, everything is thriving.  And when I can remember how much life and abundance and beauty and breath catching astonishment exists just outside the door, I thrive, too. Continue reading “Let Wildness Find You”

Cultivating Community: St. Croix Valley Food Swap

Cultivating Community: St. Croix Valley Food Swap

Last fall I read an article in Taproot Magazine about the Portland Preservation Society.  The goal of the society is to provide a forum for swapping homemade food — in their case, mostly canned goods.  They meet monthly; usually in people’s homes, in each other’s gardens,  and even sometimes at local businesses to talk food, food preservation, support each other’s efforts in living sustainably and go home with a variety of things that they probably wouldn’t have made themselves.

It made me want to move to Portland and join.

And since I actually like Minnesota winters and have a community and little piece of land that I am extremely grateful to call home, it seemed like the next best thing to moving across the country to swap homemade food was the start a local group.

Enter the St. Croix Valley Food Swap.

The plan in my mind is to gather a loose collective of St. Croix Valley (eastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin along the St. Croix River area) food/sustainable living enthusiasts to meet monthly to swap homemade goods — though participation is certainly open to anyone who wants to join, regardless of geographical area.  So, if you live in Portland and want to travel to Minnesota to swap, you are most welcome. Continue reading “Cultivating Community: St. Croix Valley Food Swap”

Jars of Bliss

Jars of Bliss

Red Brush Farms

On the surface, there’s not much going on with gardens in Minnesota right now.  It’s January, the temperature outside has been consistently below zero and the view up the hill to the field is awash with brown, gray and bright white.  The hoses are wound and covered with piles of snow, the berry bushes have turned brittle with the cold and the garlic that was planted a few months ago lays in wait for the spring thaw that is still months away.  A few seed catalogues have arrived, some pots have been moved to different spot in the garage and we continue to add to the compost pile at delight of the opossum that lives nearby, but activities like baking bread, starting fires in the wood stove, skiing around the lake and reading books dictate the flow of the days.  There is the coming season’s garden to plan, to be sure……

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Little Bits of Good

Little Bits of Good

January.  A time to take stock of what’s working and what’s not.   Resolving to do better this year.   Worrying that nothing will change. Again. Losing those 30 pounds… for real this time.   Giving up all foods that contain white sugar and flour.  Going gluten free.  Joining the gym.  Taking up yoga. Quitting smoking.  Quitting drinking.  Quitting gambling.  Quitting failing.  January in the western world is full of anticipation and anxiety as we look for a fresh start – as we look for something that will keep us moving into the life that we want.

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How might we take the start of another calendar year to surrender into a version of life that is simply… enough?  What it would be like to be satisfied – really satisfied – with exactly where we are, regardless of what our external life situation might look like? How can we use our everyday actions to illustrate a way of being in the world that promotes joy instead of suffering?  How can we make January about what is, instead of what isn’t?

I wonder how to accept the present – to really, truly accept it and be in it.  I wonder how to discern the direction my life needs to take to best serve my family and the larger collective.   I wonder how to be in the world as one of the privileged, and how to accept that for what it is.  I wonder how best to use the abundance that I have to help others see their own.  I wonder how to use ideas that don’t work as stepping stones toward those that do. Continue reading “Little Bits of Good”

A ‘Wild Dare’ for Thanksgiving

A ‘Wild Dare’ for Thanksgiving

 Here in the northland, after a lovely lingering fall, we have encountered the chill of winter, with days hovering in single digits, and winter clothing quickly pulled from summer storage. It’s also the week before Thanksgiving, which probably holds as many different expectations and feelings as there are people. What’s in common, though, is the suggestion of thankfulness. Of taking a moment, in the midst of all that fills our days, to share a meal and so share our thanks for all that graces our lives. 

~Chris Heeter

Ms. Heeter, in what she calls a wild dare, invites us to stretch beyond the usual things that get said around the Thanksgiving table:

See what you find, with an open heart and mind when you explore thankfulness. Notice the feel of sun on your face or the gift of words in a good book. See how deep you can go in your gratitude, not because you are “supposed to,” but because it’s intriguing, a daring and Wild thing to explore.

Of course we are thankful for good health, family, friends, and food, if we are fortunate enough to have those things.  But what goes unnoticed, even for those who are veterans at practicing gratitude?  Maybe it’s the feel of a warm oak-plank floor as the wood stove gets going late in the evening.  Maybe it’s the contrast that a chaotic barn provides to an extra clean house when you go out to feed the chickens before the holiday guests arrive for the long weekend.  Maybe it’s the gasp of frigid air into your lungs that pierces your attention and reminds you how extraordinary it is to experience life on a living earth that is full of change.  Maybe it’s the vivid red of a cardinal against a backdrop of pure white, framed by the boughs of an old evergreen.  Maybe it’s a heart that beats, a mind that seeks clarity and the presence of something bigger than yourself that carries you through the days and reminds you that you aren’t alone, no matter how many others say grace with you at your table.

may you see grace
wherever your eyes land.

May you need not look far
to feel the humbling knee-buckling delight
in being alive.

May this season of gratitude invite you to honor the abundance that is possible when you dare to look for it.