I absolutely love this time of year. Reflecting and giving gratitude for the highlights and fueled by a new year and season’s emergence, recommitting to be the change, living each moment more richly while making my best contribution to the healthy, just, resilient world being born. From the Daily Acts lens this involves setting goals in three areas – self-care, sustainable living and community engagement. Why? Because a cornerstone of healthy and resilient communities are healthy, resilient people who are modeling self-care and sustainability and encouraging others to do the same.
January mostly had a great flow in regard to these three goal areas. Which is perfect, because my word for the year is flow. Last month I read an article on 10 ways to set a refreshing tone for the year. One of the tips that stuck was to pick a word to set the tone for the year.
According to the book flow, flow or optimal experience is the state in which people are so engaged in an activity that nothing else matters. It’s when there is order in consciousness, which happens when attention is invested in realistic goals and one has the skills to match the opportunities for action. Through time these experiences can add up to a sense of mastery, of determining the contents of life. A focus on mindful daily actions and setting goals for self-care, sustainable living and community engagementhelps me both find flow and make my best contribution. Flow for me is balanced service to self, family, home, garden and community. For self-care, it’s more time meditating, writing, studying, being in nature and in the garden. For sustainable living, it’s more meals from the garden with family and friends and doing projects that have been on my mind for a while like making more kraut, clearing paths and adding more rainwater catchment. For community engagement it ranges from helping neighbors in their gardens, to my work with Daily Acts and volunteering on the board of the Norcal Community Resilience Network and Transition U.S.
Feeling my flow the other night, I excitedly whipped home from the office. Soon I had my headlamp on and was transplanting strawberries and onion starts in the garden, mindless of cold or dark and feeling crazily inspired. Earlier that day, our neighbor, daily actor and good friend Hanna had sent me a text thanking me for the inspiration. She had potted up 100 dill starts and a dozen artichoke plants that were popping up all over the place. What got her going was seeing her pathway cleaned up after I took an hour to clear out and move our cold frame, a project that occupied a small portion of my mind every time I walked by for the last couple of years. In the process, I potted up cuttings from a tasty, red mystery grape that Ella had found while we were grazing in the garden last fall. I LOVE that my 3 year-old daughter discovered a new variety of grapes I didn’t know we had. In our driveway no less! As is the nature of things, once I got this small win I had momentum to go further. So I cut willow from our greywater wetland, found a few miscellaneous stakes and wove a willow garden bed wall, further opening the path. Often getting started is the toughest but most important thing. Once we do, agency and momentum builds and can even spread to others.
Then a former neighbor saw me in the garden and stopped by. He had a sparkle in his eyes and sense of vitality and enthusiasm. Jim had recently moved to a different neighborhood. Having been to a few Daily Acts workshops and having shared together many an inspired front yard talk, he transformed his lawn. Now at his new place, he did it again with support from Petaluma’s Mulch Madness program, also adding 2,500 gallons of rainwater catchment. He’s taken cuttings from the Cavanagh Center food forestfor his new garden, talked with curious neighbors about what he was doing and even welcomed in disapproving passerby’s who gave him ‘the look’ for watering in a drought. Once they saw the rain tanks and what he was doing, they wanted him to help with their gardens! His sense of inspiration and empowerment was palpable and infectious. He told me how he used to have lots of ideas but wouldn’t do anything about them until an inspired and encouraging neighbor introduced him to Daily Acts. Now he gets ideas and makes them happen; inspiring, engaging and educating others along the way, just the way we’ve been spreading and growing since the beginning. Inspiration feels good, wants to be shared and is infectious and thus effective.
So are ya in? Are you ready to make this your most inspired and empowered year yet, to do things that help you sustain your self, to live more sustainably and to share this contagious energy with others so we can spread this movement for richer lives and a better world? While I don’t need to remind you of the huge crises we face, what I do want to remember and share is the incredible power of small daily actions to nurture and transform self, community and world. We are absolutely upping our commitment to living this way personally, and as an organization and to support YOU and our communities to do the same. So join us and share with others. Drop us a line about your word for 2016 and your own goals for living what you love.