| 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 | 

It’s 5:00a, and I can’t sleep. I am listening to Daniel Goleman talk to Oprah about his ground-breaking work on emotional intelligence. I remember when his initial book on the subject came out. It was 1995; I was 14 years old and struggling beneath an eating disorder and depression. His book was a life line for me: for the first time, I glimpsed a future where my deep emotions and thoughts might not be weights on my life, but propellers toward success, or what I now call wholeness. Goleman’s work cracked open my current paradigm. Thank g/God.

In any particular moment in time, it is easy to believe nothing will ever shift our perspective so dramatically....

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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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I am a (Holy) Spirit person. I like to think of and experience God as a divine spirit or energy, moving in and through all things. I believe this Spirit moves us to be and love extravagantly every day, every moment. We don't always hear its calling - the divine voice is still and small, everything our culture is not - but it's there nonetheless, constant and patient.

The Spirit's unwillingness to shout can be frustrating. Even when we think we hear Its "voice," well, that's scary because the promptings usually take vulnerability and courage. And, we wonder, "What if I didn't really hear what I thought I heard? What if it's all mind games and nonsense?" Scarer still, we eventually realize we can't ever know, not really.  Faith, even thoughtful faith, always takes some, well, faith.

So instead of living into the mystery, some religious folks idolize the Bible or other sacred texts. Words are certain, right? Other folks stop listening all together. From my perspective, neither works very well. The Spirit's call is to consciousness, wholeness, peace; because we want this too, it's a call that becomes an ache when ignored.

But, it is scary. To think we'd hear the Spirit wrong. To know others assign It to their violence and greed. I don't dismiss this. I simply think these possibilities aren't worth a world disconnected from and unpracticed in hearing the Spirit. This divine energy not only guides us to our own wholeness, it guides the world to wholeness and our role in getting it there. We each have a unique calling, a vocation - things we're here to learn and be and do. The Spirit opens us to this calling, this wholeness, if we're willing. Want to risk it with me? 

What do you think of the idea of Spirit? A Divine Energy? Is it important, even possible, to learn to recognize Its "voice?" LISTEN, LEARN, LOVE... 

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