WAYfinders & Friends,

It’s hard to believe WAYfinding was four years old this past October. It’s been quite a journey.

From the very beginning, WAYfinding has been both scrappy experiment and grand vision. It’s been four years of giving ideas a shot, watching some work and others sputter, and ultimately, always trying again. Four years of being and growing, and yet always also imagining and discerning what comes next. Four years of creating a beautiful community movement where folks from diverse theological and ideological perspectives can come together to explore the big questions and practice what it means to be compassionate and loving. And, four years of growing from 8 people in one group to, this fall, 60 people in seven groups and 20 WAYkids.

I am proud of what we’ve created. I hope you are too.

It has also been four years of piecing together a scrappy budget. This is okay. Sweat equity and “making it work” is all part of building something new. But, it’s important we begin making big leaps toward becoming a financially sustainable organization. We need to support the work we’re doing, if we want to continue it and innovate.

To this end, as we head into 2017, I am writing you with a financial update and ask....

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| Rev. Carolyn Lesmeister |

Regular “exercise” is part of the daily lives of many octogenarians, but for those in Blue Zone communities, that doesn’t mean what you might think.

Rather than spending extra hours at the gym or walking for the sake of accumulating miles, such people live in environments conducive to making regular movement a natural part of their everyday lives. They don’t have to go out of their way to get exercise because it is structured into what they already do.

Often, this is as simple as doing regular tasks by hand, the old-fashioned way, without the assistance of modern technology and devices....

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| Ashley Parsons |

When I was a massage therapist, I would ask my clients, “Do you treat your car better than your body?” When we buy a car, the dealer tells us to make sure we use the right gasoline, change our oil regularly, keep coolant in the radiator and make sure to go to our regular maintenance inspections.  What would happen if we didn’t? At best, our cars would stop running. Would we ever put anything other than gasoline in our engine? Not unless you wanted to replace your engine. Would you drive your car on a highway at 90 mph for days or weeks on end, without a break? Probably not. Yet, we (me included) do this everyday with our bodies. We go all day long, with no breaks, and we refuel with nutrient deficient foods. Unfortunately, our bodies don’t have a check engine light they can turn on, nor do we start smoking out of our ears or get a flat tire.  Our bodies do start to get run down and not function at their optimal levels. Our “parts” get overworked and worn out.

When it comes to food, the things we put in our mouth have changed tremendously over the past 100 years....

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| Anne Williamson | 

Saturday, many from the WAYfinding community gathered for dinner and conversation around creating meaningful meals. We prepped and served spaghetti and salad - delicious, and inspired by last week's "Friday Night Meatballs" article, intentionally simple. Then, while the kids engaged in their own learning activities, the adults heard from Indiana farmer Jeff Hawkins of Hawkins Family Farms. What a joy! Jeff and his family's approach to farming is holistic and deeply thoughtful. I, and others, left feeling inspired and hopeful for Indiana agriculture.

So engrossed in the conversation with Jeff, we didn't get to part 2: creating a more meaningful experience around the dinner table. It's about being intentional with this time - living into our values - rather than simply going through the motions when we eat. So in lieu of that conversation, and for others who may be interested, I invite you to reflect personally on the below questions as well as consider integrating some of the suggested ideas....

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| Anne Williamson |

Always curious, even anxious, about what I was meant to do with my life, as a teenager, my parents lovingly took me to a career counselor. The process took nearly all day, as there were numerous interviews, and aptitude and personality tests. Finally, all three of us sat down with the head honcho to hear his analysis of my results. What would he say? Was my vocational destiny finally to be revealed?
It was not. I remember only two things from that conversation. One, he did not say I would one day become an unconventional minister. And, two, he did say I was “neurotically self-reliant.”
It is for this second remembrance that I share this story. I often think our entire society shares my disease....

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| Anne Williamson | 

Watching Dan Buettner's 2011 TEDMED Talk on Blue Zones fills me with both relief and dread. In it, Buettner shares the key to health and vitality he's discovered through studying pockets of people around the world with the highest proportion of people who reach 100 (i.e. Blue Zones) as well as those rare communities who have improved their health and maintained it: the whole system must be addressed. Perhaps you now understand my contradictory response.

On the one hand, my health and vitality is not, cannot be, entirely in my hands. What a relief! Shame, be gone! On the other hand, my health and vitality is not entirely in my hands, meaning a whole system must be corrected! The Yiddish exclamation "oy vey" comes to mind. This is bound to be a complicated, lengthy process! Can we really change all the misguided systems and policies that affect our collective health in this country? Can we change culture? 

Sure. Of course we can. Culture is changing all the time. And, what I love about this particular collective calling is how beautifully the science mirrors our own growing spiritual intuition: we are all interconnected. I cannot be deeply healthy, truly whole, unless you are too. And, not just the "you" next door or half way around the world, but also the "you" generations from now; our interconnectedness is across time as well as geography. 

Is this reality more complicated, messy? Of course. But, it's also more beautiful and filled with meaning. Health and vitality is truly a holistic pursuit. I, for one, as part of the One, am glad.  


Our spring round kicks off this week! Dan Buettner's TEDTalk as well as this article on how income inequality affects health will shape our conversation. In addition, we'll reflect personally on how fulfilled we currently are in nine interconnected, good health categories using the "Fulfillment Wheel" pictured. At the round's end, after addressing each category, we'll fill out the wheel again and see what's changed. It's going to be a great round! And, there is always more room at the table! If you are interested in joining the conversation, learn more and sign-up here. You are welcome to simply check a group out the first week or two; if it's not for you, no need to continue. 


| Anne Williamson | 

I am not the poster child for simple living. I don’t live in a tiny house in the woods off the grid. I don’t raise livestock, darn socks or knit. I enjoy eating out, and many nights, thank g/God for TV dinners. We own two cars and more stuff than we need.

This does not mean I don’t strive to live simpler. Over a span of 15 years, I have made significant changes in the way I live and interact with “stuff.” I started off making these changes out of concern for my fellow humans and our planet. I kept making changes because I found peace in doing so.

This peace has come not with any sort of “arrival” but through the journey of gradually eliminating some things so that other things may speak more freely, may take up more space, in my life....

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| Chase Tibbs | 

The western hills of Pennsylvania were a wonderful place to grow up. I spent the first eighteen years of my life loved and supported by people who invested deeply in me. Some of you will undoubtedly resonate with my story. Some of you will not. Because, what I did not recognize were the other factors that played into my life. I did not see the privileges that brought my goals into closer reach.

In awakening to my privilege, I can’t say as soon as I realized it I was very comfortable with it. In fact, I’m still not. To be male, to be white, to be heterosexual, to be Protestant Christian, to be born into a middle class family, to be American; to say that these parts of me (and I say parts) are major influences of where I am today would not have made sense to me when I was growing up....

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| Amanda Thrasher |

Will 2016 finally be the year we lose weight, get fit, pray or meditate more, spend more time with family, and better manage our finances? 

Skeptics answer with a resounding "no," many choosing to forego making any New Year's resolutions altogether. The more years we have not lived up to our high expectations for ourselves, the more sure we are the entire idea of New Year's resolution-making is a hoax. 

For those of us who harshly critique ourselves when we "fail" and expect nothing less than an externally imposed measure of "success," resolutions at the New Year can do more damage to our sense of self than good. They often encourage us to strive for an unhealthy perfectionism instead of a healthy self-acceptance. As we inevitably fail to reach such perfection, we may begin to harden our hearts to the hope of any lasting personal growth and change.

Despite such negative realities, I am not convinced we should relinquish the idea of the New Year's resolution altogether....

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| Anne Williamson |

Life has been a little nutty for me lately. Between the pregnancy nausea and fatigue, busy work schedule, house to-dos, and I-must-try-out-every-emotion-available-in-the-next-30-seconds threenager living with us, I collapse into bed most nights. Perhaps you do too. It seems to be the way of things for all of us some of the time.

This is okay. Busy seasons of life are to be expected. What I don't like, what doesn't feel okay, is the stress. This daily anxiety of things left undone, opportunities missed - whether in work or with my child, husband, friends. Some of this stress feels unavoidable right now; but some, I must admit, is beginning to feel like a choice: a choice to wallow in it, a choice to not remind myself all is well. Choices that feel particularly misguided amid all the suffering I see. Choices the holiday season will prey on with its "never enough" drum beat. 

This is why, when discerning a blog post for this Thanksgiving, I felt the message I most need to hear, to speak once again, is the same as last year: gratefulness. Once again, and over and over, gratefulness. Perhaps you do too...

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| Anne Williamson |

It's November 1. You're still tearing open Halloween candy and storing away spiders, skulls and pumpkins. Perhaps Thanksgiving plans have been set, but the day itself is a surprising three and a half weeks away. And, if you purchase a tree at all, most likely you won't consider doing so until after the turkey - or tofurky - has been cut. All this may be true, but so is this... the Christmas season is here. 

Turn on a TV tonight, walk in a store tomorrow, and you're almost certain to see it: red and green ornaments; white lights; a jolly old man and his elves; ads trying to convince you the product they're selling is exactly what you, or mom or dad, or partner Tom, or little Johnny needs. Even if you don't celebrate Christmas, it assaults you. It cannot be ignored completely.    

This isn't necessarily bad. Many of us enjoy Christmas; I know I do. But, even if you don't or it's not your tradition's holiday, it's still worth asking, "Is this season as joyful as it can be for me? My family? Community? Is it really the most wonderful time of the year?" ...

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| Chase Tibbs |

When I was 16 years old, my family and I embarked on a journey to the West for one final trip together. My older brother had just graduated from high school and was moving 500 miles away to start his undergraduate education. My parents saw it to be the perfect time to seize what could be the last chance for the five of us to spend two weeks together, packed tight in a Honda Odyssey, chasing the miraculous beauty of western America.

Existence itself is something we take for granted. The truth that what is is, rather than is not, is awe-inspiring. Think about it for a moment. Existence is beautiful. It may even be beauty itself. There are no words that could ever describe the intricate complexity that forms our very being, that holds the earth together, that makes up what we call the Milky Way Galaxy, that is within the dynamic relationship of electrons, neutrons, and protons. The fact that you are simultaneously many as you are also one, deserves a lifetime of humble reverence (or at least two weeks of family vacation).

It was on this Tibbs’ Summer Vacation that I began my journey of intentionally practicing reverence....

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