Balance For Today: Lessons from a Rock Cairn

Yesterday I took to the woods in the afternoon.  It’s the first week in about ten years when I don’t have any sort of schedule.  There is no work calendar hovering in the background, I’m not on vacation for a certain amount of time, there are no appointments to plan around.  I’m a free agent, at least for now.  So I did what I do when I can do whatever I want – I went to the woods.

Going to the woods is what I tend to do when I am feeling melancholy, unsure, anxious, or angry.  It’s a place to go when I’m grieving, wondering, lamenting, or stewing about something outside of my control.  Basically, going to the woods (or prairie, or ocean, or any other natural area) is healing.  It’s a place to go in celebration as well, but lately, its role in my days has been one of holding space for what needs to rise from the ashes of what has recently burnt away.  Continue reading “Balance For Today: Lessons from a Rock Cairn”

A New Better Off: Living the Good Life

Courtney E. Martin, in her new book called The New Better Off argues that our society is moving away from what was once considered “the good life.”  For years, people said things like “well, I want my kids to be better off than I was,” and often times that meant hoping those kids got a steadier job, or a nicer/bigger house, or into a better financial situation.  But perhaps there’s a cost to putting all of life’s meaning under the old definition of “better off.”  In her introduction Martin says,

…what’s more, some of the things we have associated with success actually endanger our health [and leave us unhappy.] Underneath the appearance of uplift, a complex [success] story weighs us down. This could play out in a number of ways…like when people set aside authentic career ambitions in favor of more lucrative paths; or when a father knows his colleagues better than he does his own kids; or a mother leans in so hard she falls flat on her face.  Pressure and debt, missed get togethers, living for the weekend, living someone else’s dream. “Better off” left uninterrogated, can be fucking dangerous.

Continue reading “A New Better Off: Living the Good Life”

Bits of Astonishment

An excerpt from Woodland Manitou: To Be on Earth – available wherever books are sold. 

 

About a month ago, we pulled into the driveway after a great five days up along the north shore of Minnesota, still reveling in the tonic that is Lake Superior, anticipating a low key few days of unpacking before returning to the usual work schedule.  We ambled down the path from the garage, happy to be out of the car and walked into the house to a putrid smell and reports that the septic alarm had been going off for an indeterminate amount of time in our absence.  Awesome.  Turns out a little creature of some sort had chewed through the cord that powered the septic pump, shorting it out.  Could have been much worse.  All and all and easy fix for Nick, and we were back in business.  But the smell….remained.  For another day we pondered just what could be making the kitchen stink.  Eventually we followed some clues and found a decomposing mouse behind the fridge.  Again, awesome.  But we got rid of it, gave the cats a pep talk and life carried on.  Then I got a call that my credit card number had been stolen and there was someone in Texas trying to charge a trip to Thailand on my Visa.  And the grass needed to be mowed and the garden weeded.   Then the water heater broke, one of our indoor cats got out and was lost for a day and a half, and my retreat co-leader broke her foot and couldn’t come to the retreat we had been planning for several months.   And then the road construction workers cut the phone lines that run to our house and we were down phone and internet for several days…and still are, truth be told.  Not a big deal, really, except for when you work from home calling people and working on the internet.   (And that’s just what happened in my own little privileged bubble – the events happening in tandem with my own mini dramas in terms of racial inequality and war and planetary destruction would make this little list much, much longer.)

It’s been a rough month. Continue reading “Bits of Astonishment”