| 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 haven’t been feeling particularly spiritual lately. No high-brow thoughts of g/God or the meaning of life. No extraordinary moments of awe or generosity. Instead, my thoughts linger on the ordinary: what to fix for dinner, household projects and preparation for baby #2, how to motivate myself to walk more, game nights and favorite TV shows. As my emotions fluctuate from joy to sadness, loneliness to connection, anger to peace, I don’t feel at all “enlightened”; I feel deeply human....

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| Carolyn Lesmeister |

"Movement never lies. It is a barometer telling the state of the soul's weather." - Martha Graham

Our bodies tell our stories.

Old or young, large or small, wrinkled or taut; stretch-marked or scarred, they say something about who we are and what we’ve experienced.

Even more than physical characteristics that we may or may not be able to control, what we do with our bodies communicates powerful messages not only to the people around us, but also to our very own selves.

Have you ever paid attention to how you respond physically to different emotions?...

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| Anne Williamson |

We are story-telling creatures. We tell our stories at length in books and film, and in short vignettes on Facebook and Instagram. We ask our roommates - aged 2 to 102 - to tell us the stories of their day, to listen as we share ours. We shout our stories, whisper them, sing them, photograph them, pray them. And, not just our own: we love telling the stories of others too. 

All these stories we tell, we hear, they swirl around us. Are they also a part of us? Becoming so? What pieces of the stories we tell speak to the unspoken stories, beliefs, inside? What pieces of the stories we hear become the foundations of our new "unspokens"?

Because in a lifetime of telling stories, it is the unspoken ones that matter most. ...

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| Anne Williamson |

Bill Maher once said, "Everything that used to be a sin is now a disease." Interestingly, I don't know whether he said this in support or opposition of the shift. I assume he doesn't like the "religulous" word sin; and yet, I experience him as a strong believer - yes, believer - in personal responsibility, which "disease" diminishes.

Either way, remove "everything" from his statement - obviously Maher hasn't been to marriage counseling where absolutes are a major "no-no" - and it rings true. Liberal camps, even those of the religious persuasion, hate blaming sin on the sinner. Admittedly, I lean this direction too. Hang around me long enough and you're sure to hear me repeat Maya Angelou's famous words, "When you know better, you do better." 

The thing is, Maya's words aren't meant to "let us off the hook;" they're meant to call us to better....

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When I hear the word greed, my body recoils. Shame is at least part of the reason. I may not be someone who perpetually wants more but I have early, hard-to-shake memories of feeling ashamed of the much more I already had. I recoil too because greed seems to be directly and indirectly responsible for so much pain: the Earth’s; the poor’s; women’s; even, when we begin to think spiritually, the pain of greed’s perpetuators.  

Nick Hanauer, one of our country’s .01% ers, agrees… in a way. His concern for he and his fellow plutocrats is not spiritual; it’s practical. In his TED Talk, Hanauer explains why the inevitable consequences of greed in the form of historically high income inequality will be an unstable democracy and less profitable businesses – realities bad for all. In Hanauer's view, this alone should compel us to end gross inequality; he doesn’t mind the moral argument; he simply thinks it unnecessary. 

I don’t agree....

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Why talk about sin? This is a legitimate question; especially when, for centuries, we've done it so poorly. We've liked our sins obvious and binary: the either-you-did-it-or-you-didn't kind of sins. We've especially liked it when the "it" we're referring to is the big It - you know, sex. We've spent an obscene amount of time on this one: Did she do it at the right time? That is, in marriage. Did he do it with the right person? That is, female. We've used sin to control, label, judge, hate, shame. And though we've generally used it as a weapon against others, turned inward, our approaches still cut and cage.

No wonder we don't want to talk about sin!

The problem is, however understandable our resistance, not talking about sin doesn't serve us. Theologian Barbara Brown Taylor often asks the question, "What is saving your life today?" That is, what is presently giving your life meaning, deep joy, wholeness? It's a powerful question; one that helps us identify good patterns, relationships, rituals, thoughts; and dive more deeply in. But, it's also only one side of the equation. We all also have things in our life that are corrosive to it; thoughts and patterns that erode our peace and wholeness - ours and others. That is, we all also sin. To ignore this piece is inauthentic, isolating, and ultimately undermines the wholeness we seek.

This is why, for the next ten weeks in this blog post and WAYfinding's spring round of groups, we're going to be exploring sin. Each week, our entry point will be a TED Talk that addresses one of the seven deadly sins in a thought-provoking way. The conversations that follow, and weekly questions we'll explore, will serve to give sin the complexity and nuance, seriousness, humor and grace it demands. Our lens will be both practical and theoretical, personal and corporate. Our intention will be, always, to experience and create the kind of freedom, joy, peace and wholeness we all desire - for ourselves and the world.   

Sometimes we need to identify what is saving our life. And, sometimes we need to get real clear about what is killing it. I hope you'll join me through this blog and/or one of our WAYfinding groups in getting clear together.  

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It had been an exhausting week: busy work schedule; sick toddler; midnight power outage and accompanying loud, electricity workers; packing. I thought I'd feel relief when finally on the plane to Seattle; instead, I was homesick. Strangely, I longed for the familiarity of my day-to-day life, however chaotic.

Fast forward 2000 miles and 24 hours. I've slept and woken up to Mt. Rainier, showered, and am now eating delicious food with my husband, sister and her fiancé. I feel almost giddy. The energy of a new city and a vacation without a certain (beloved) child has sunk in. Life looks different and me in it. 

Such experiences remind me, remind us, new perspectives are vital to seeing clearly. Stuck looking at life from one vantage for too long, and we forget. We forget parts of ourselves, that we once saw the world differently, and therefore, might again. We need these experiences to remind us that the kaleidoscope turns and is beautiful here too.

The same is true of faith. If God or the Divine is ultimately a mystery to us - and I would argue this is necessarily the case - then trying to traverse this Mystery from one perspective is too limiting (not to mention hard). We need others to lend us their perspectives, to reach up and turn our kaleidoscope. 

This is exactly what we try and do for each other every week at WAYfinding. It's not perfect. Community never is. But, maybe, it's necessary. Maybe to see a true image of God, we have to engage in God talk with people of diverse perspectives. In the absence of perpetual travel, we have to find a way to new perspectives ourselves.

What do you think? LISTEN, LEARN, LOVE...

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I love to garden. No, that's not broad enough: I love all yard work. I do. I love being outside, digging in the dirt and listening to nature. I love the physicality; sawing off a dead limb on a tree makes me feel strong and capable. And, I love its tangible results; spend a few minutes and that bush takes shape; spend a few hours and that garden bed is alive with new colors. It's satisfying. Me + it = something I can see, a project done. 

I love spirituality too, but hardly because it behaves similar to gardening. The nature thing is there, but often it's incredibly frustrating how head and heart and intangible the whole thing feels. Whether your chosen path to connect is meditation or chanting or "accepting Jesus" or whatever, you + it doesn't always = peace, enlightenment, you name it. Changing the shape of our hearts and minds, our lives, the world, is slow work, satisfying often only in time.   

This is why I'm starting to think it takes real practice and discipline. Why "they," whoever they are, were wise folks when they named the methods we use to connect and grow in love exactly that: spiritual practices, spiritual disciplines. I'm presently smack dab in the middle of a 21-day meditation challenge, and I can hear my spirit saying, "This is what is required, if you want peace." Not necessarily meditation, but a commitment to train my "spiritual muscles," a commitment to practice until and through new habits or ways of being take shape. What do you think? LISTEN on, LEARN, LOVE...

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I've been thinking a lot about happiness lately... and not just because I love the Pharrell song. Namely, how does one "get" happy? Perhaps it is the consequence of circumstance. Or, one's natural disposition. Maybe it's more like an object, floating in and out of our life "willy nilly" at the whim of our subconscious. Or, maybe it's a choice. Perhaps a choice hindered or bolstered by other choices, daily, minute-to-minute even. LISTEN, LEARN, LOVE...

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