From the Archives — The Story of Stuff

Last night I was reading through some of my old blog posts. I’m having the crazy idea of compiling some of those posts into themes that I can share with others, teams, etc. It’s a bit like cleaning out an old closet. There’s a few things that can definitely go. There’s a few that are ready for repurposing. There’s a few that are deliciously distracting. There’s a few that stir, which is so often what I intend. Stirred consciousness, in a good human to human way, that changes how we are together in our varied settings.

One post that I loved was this video on The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard and a few others. This 20-minute film was released in 2007. The same principles animated then are keenly needed now. It’s informative. It’s painful.

We have a problem with Stuff. We use too much, too much of it is toxic and we don’t share it very well. But that’s not the way things have to be. Together, we can build a society based on better not more, sharing not selfishness, community not division.

The Story of Stuff, originally released in December 2007, is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It’ll teach you something, it’ll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the Stuff in your life forever.

From their website, I appreciate the repeated call to a movement. Explore a bunch on their website. There are several “Story of ____” videos. I love the clarity.



Every couple of months it seems that I find myself revisiting some of the most simple narratives I can find about the work I do and the life I live. Every couple of months it seems I find myself re-digging further into re-understanding and being with groups.

It gets complicated doesn’t it. Family. Community. Work. Self. Nation. Globe. Politics. Climate Change. Immigration. Healthcare. Education. Technology. Kids turn to teenagers and want to drive the car — got one of those. Communities morn the loss of a friend or neighbor who dies way too soon. People work amidst layoffs and reorganization. 850 year-old cathedrals burn as people watch in horror.

There is much to pay attention to for all of us. Some of us seek to see and understand and evolve the whole of things. Some of us surrender to days on which we just try take one step of kindness.

This week it seems that my revisit to a simple narrative is words spoken by my friend and colleague through The Art of Hosting network (and initially, Berkana), Toke Moeller. Toke has a way of naming the simple in a way that feels wise to me. And catchable.

“What if we were just trying to create and support each other in practices of being more kind, more conscious, and more in flow with life itself?”

I’ve often used this question with groups. One guy that I worked with even created a kind of jingle tune out of it. I love the simplicity that it calls me back to. I love the momentary grounding that it creates for so many of us in so much complexity.

I won’t expound much upon what each of these words mean, could mean, or should mean. Rather, I’ll give myself permission to just be in wrapping that such principles can create.

Kindness, because we owe it to ourselves and to others. We are all in our mixes of complex challenges. We are all in our versions of needs, excitements, demands, offerings, wounds, joys.

Consciousness, because, I continue to learn through good practices like The Circle Way that there is a center to touch with each other that holds an intelligence related to but different than what we hold individually.

Flow, because, I continue to learn that there is an abundant kind of energy in life itself, an undeniable life force, despite the many human attempts to mechanize all layers of human existence. The picture above is from a Flow Game that uses questions to create access to a bit more of that life energy.

Every couple of months, I need to sit by my window in the morning sun, seeing the rainbow refracting dew on the grass (welcome spring), the trees budding in their own pace, the blue sky being vast, and remember in my bones that there is a broader story that I believe we are all a part of.

I best become aware of it with kindness, consciousness, and a welcome of flowing with life, and it flowing through me.

This Place

I did something on a whim this morning. Didn’t follow the routine, good as it generally is — journal, meditate / breath, blog, exercise, shower, breakfast snack, start Pandora station Classical for Study, work.

I went for a walk. Down Lakeview Road (once upon a time before development the lake was a bit more viewable). Past the horse pastures in which each year a couple of new ones come along. To Pheasant Brook Park. The moon was still up and near full. The mountains were purplish in their wakened morning hue.

I brought my journal with me. In the park, I sat on a bench to breath, casually. A bit more deeply, as the mountains and something about being outside in the early morning, does in fact, inspire. And on that bench, I wrote two of last night’s dreams that I could catch.

My friend Ann Pelo reminds me in her book, The Goodness of Rain: Developing an Ecological Identity in Young Children, that it is important to walk the land. That’s Chapter 2, though it isn’t numbered. Ann is smart enough to challenge linearity. And, it’s in that chapter that Ann quotes Gary Snyder, American Pulitzer Winning Poet, Environmental Activist —

“Walking is the great adventure, the first meditation, a practice of heartiness and soul.”

My walking today was meditation. A different kind. Needed. Not sitting on my chair. Not with candle. My stillness was in movement. My light was the fading full moon and rising sun over Utah’s Wasatch Mountains.

I think I need some shake up. I don’t think I’m alone in this. Even from good habits that have become a bit stale and rigid. Practice is one thing, and the discipline it takes to establish practice as more that “a few times and then forget about it.” To get back to another kind of source. It’s likely “out there.” It’s likely also “in here.” My best teachers have always pointed me back to self and to simplicity.

I’m guessing that many of my posts in the next 30 days will simply be about place. Noticings of what is in front of me (isn’t this core for so many of us as needed skill and as hungered-for experience), with perhaps a bit of reflection, or perhaps, simply images.

This place.


Three Practices — Kindness, Consciousness, and Flow

I know that many of us are refining our practices. Essential practices that define who we are, or perhaps, what are work is in everything from the personal to the professional, the individual to the communal.

It can get a bit confusing, this refining — I find this. Even simple practices can become too much when stacked on top of each other into a toppling pile of albeit, great references. It means that most of us need to make some choices. Choosing a few that remain in our hearts with little effort, rather than compiling infinitely into a figurative or literal spreadsheet to occupy our brains. Of the many choices, I’ve always leaned, inevitably, to what I can hold in my heart.

It is sometimes through the confusion, because of the confusion, that many of us find a new layer of clarity. An erasing of the big list to reclaim a new marker of simplicity. I had some of that recently.

I’d gotten a bit tired by my own use of language around leadership practices. Through my work with hosting. Through my use of methodologies. Through my own teaching. Like most, I’ve been trying to offer helpful frameworks that are really invitations for people to be in good work together and that keep us honest with one another. Sometimes my language has been directed at the “doubters and the skeptics.” I really don’t like “convincing” people when there are underlaying fears that obscure what we are really up to. Sometimes my language as been for those ready to imagine further, with ease, and again with honesty. That’s a treat.

My three practices that I find myself returning to are words spoken by one of my dearest friends and colleagues — Toke Moeller. We met 20 years ago. It was his “being” that helped shape so much of what I would become, and what I would reiterate into. I can hear his voice in my ears and my heart speaking of these practices. There was nothing fancy about them. It was just raw honesty.

Kindness, because first and foremost, that is perhaps what we are trying to restore or reclaim in these many expressions of societal life. Kindness isn’t just about being nice to each other. It is so much more than that. It is reclaiming respect of other, of self, of possibility, and of wonder. What would it look like to practice more kindness together?

Consciousness, because it just seems that we have so much more that we can choose together, even in very complex environments, that bring us into a unique kind of wisdom together. Wiser together. Yes, this is something that I inherently believe we can do and must do together. So much more seems possible.

Flow, because there is so much available in the organic orientation. There are of course situations that require our good, linear planning with very detailed steps. Let’s celebrate the clarity of that. And, however, it seems that there is so much more of life that is partnering with the energy of life itself. It has intuition and spontaneity. It has life force in it that we sometimes get to feel more significantly. That, changes everything in who we are as human beings together.

So, I reclaim my attention to these three practices as I move further into 2018 and the people I’m working with. Smart people. Good people. Hungry people. Even a few skeptical people. These three practices — kindness, consciousness, and flow — at the level of scale that is self to family, team to community and organization.

It was Toke who early on (early 2000s) spoke this words, that I feel invite these three core practices. I’m grateful.


It Is Time

the train time is over
for those of us who can hear the call
of the heart and the times

my real soul work
has begun on the next level
for me at least

courage is
to do what calls me
but I may be afraid of

we need to work together
in a very deep sense
to open and hold spaces
spheres of energy
in which our imagination
and other people’s
transformation can occur

none of us can do it alone

the warriors of joy are gathering
to find each other
to train together
to do some good work
from the heart with no attachment
and throw it
in the river

no religion, no cult, no politics
just flow with life itself as it
unfolds in the now…

what is my Work?
what is our Work?