People are nervous. They are asking questions. They’ve overheard remarks about transformation, change and metamorphosis and some folks are downright worried. What do you mean? Is everything all right? I saw what you posted on Facebook and, really, if you need anything…. they are concerned, for us, for themselves. What will it mean for me? For us? They appear somehow threatened.
Relax. Please. Thank you for your caring. It means a great deal to us and, we love you, too. And…everything is fine. Really. And I don’t mean F.I.N.E. (as in F**ked up, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional, as a friend once explained it to me). I mean, everything is going along in a really good fashion, we are healthy, business is good, we love each other, our friends and family, and we are making optimistic plans for the future. It’s all good.
So, why then, are we having weekly meetings at local restaurants, eating great food, sipping lovely crisp white wines and talking about transformation, alchemy and other esoterica? What does it mean?
It means, simply, that we are committed to living intentional lives, in so far as possible (given that you can’t control or predict the unpredictable and uncontrollable!). About every six months or so for the past five years, we carve out time from very busy schedules, away from home and work, and we go through various exercises that help us focus on what is going on—as individuals, as a couple, and in our various business and creative pursuits. We make lists. We compare lists. We brainstorm. We eat. We sip wine. We ask a lot of questions. We get excited. We agree and disagree. We agree to disagree. We laugh. Sometimes, we cry. We talk and scheme and wonder: What if? We invite all manner of possibility to the table and nothing is forbidden or censored.
What comes out is often surprising. It is, after all, an alchemical process—taking one thing and by bringing focused energy to it, changing it into something unexpected and potentially wonderful (because, face it, not all the ideas are good ones!).
The impetus for doing this, now, is that I was in a funk back in April, for absolutely no good reason. But I was. I was fed up with the farm and Panama and the drought and the nematodes killing my young coffee. I was tired and bored. I had no creative impulse in any direction. Our lovely Boquete was looking trashy and decidedly down at the heels. I talked of selling everything and moving away (dragging Dianne with me). For a brief moment, we even considered moving to Australia and becoming activists for women’s rights in the Outback!
Then we went away to the beach for a few days, I survived yet another birthday, the rains came back and started turning the crispy brown earth green…and the funk evaporated. It did, however, leave us saying: Right. It’s time to reassess. What are we doing? Why are we doing it? What, in Dianne’s phrase, is the wind beneath our wings that lifts us up in the morning?
So we spent such an afternoon last week and the conversation meandered up and down and around many different themes, but the one that stood out was: We are in a transformational period. We have been going along for a few years now, growing the businesses, solidifying our knowledge base, maintaining and sustaining ourselves and now, quite simply, the energy is changing and we can either change with it, consciously, or go down resisting.
We met again, this week at our beloved Panamonte, and the theme that came out, to be coupled with Transformation, was Connection. How are we connected to the world? to our community? to each other? to the plants we grow and the products we make and sell? to our clients? to our creative desires? to our bodies?
Next week we will see how these two themes intertwine and we will refine our lists, moving from the general to the particular: What specifically needs to change at the farm, in the herbal business, in our creative pursuits, in our health? How will we do that? When will we do that? What continues to wake us up filled with gratitude for each new day? And, what has passed its time and is no longer serving us? In each area, we will ask: how does this promote (or hinder) Transformation and Connection.
Far from being threatening, it is a process that energizes and inspires us. It keeps us authentic, active and interested in our lives. It opens the door to opportunities.
Socrates said, The unexamined life is not worth living. Intentional living requires frequent examination. We recommend it.
Transformation is not always a big, huge all-at-one-time leap. LaoTzu said: The 1,000 mile journey begins with the first step. Think caterpillar inside cocoon slowly morphing into butterfly. Takes time. Here are a few areas to consider:
Spiritual health – Casteñeda (Don Juan) wrote that it takes the same amount of work to be happy as to be miserable. Buddha taught: Misery is optional (though suffering is part of life). It’s a paradox. Read spiritual books. Go to a workshop. Seek a community. Practice gratitude. Meditate, pray, open yourself to the miracle of a new day, every day. Many people are dead and don’t get to do that, and all too soon, we’ll all be dead, too. Just a fact.
Physical Health — We suggest Diet Evolution for a well-researched look at physical health and diet. Written by Dr. Stephen Gundry. He is a top cardiologist and researcher with decades of experience. He is also a bio-evolutionist and has some very interesting things to say about how to take charge of your health so that, even though the end game is death, old(er) age doesn’t have to be a long, unpleasant decline filled with dis-ease, chronic pain and ongoing medical interventions and drugs. Here’s a link that looks at populations around the world who regularly live to over 90 and are still active, contributing and valued members of their communities: The Blue Zones.
If you aren’t engaged in any kind of regular physical activity, look to see what you could do here. Walking, tai chi (LOVE LOVE LOVE it!), yoga, swimming, dancing, gardening — make it fun. Do something, anything, that engages you in your body and makes you smile. The old adage, “no pain, no gain” is bullsh*t. Just move and breathe. A little bit. Then a little bit more.
Mental Health — LEARN something NEW. Take a look at Coursera, a huge link with hundreds of FREE on-line courses from top universities around the world. Chicken husbandry, astronomy, bioethics, crochet, physiology–if you can think of a subject, there is a course in it. Engage the brain you were born with!
A former client once lamented, I’ve always wanted to learn to play the piano, but now I’m too old. (He was 50). So,in 20 years, I said, if you start now, you will be same age as you will be if you don’t learn. He started taking lessons the following week.
Environmentt — take a look around at your living space. Is it comfortable? Appealing to the senses? Does it welcome you? If not, what could you change? A plant? a throw pillow? a new coat of paint? rearrange the furniture? a collection of candles? a keyhole garden outside the kitchen? clean out the clutter?
Hobbies, volunteer work, creative pursuits — Make a list of what you’ve always wanted to do, of what intrigues you, then do one thing. Then another.
You will doubtless have other categories that you want to consider. The point is to focus and be intentional. It helps to have a a lively curiosity about the world, to enjoy learning, to be willing to experiment and try new things without worrying too much about whether you are doing it right, or you look like a fool, or what the neighbors may think, or if you are going to be “successful.” Bust out of your comfort zone.
During the rainy season, we practice weekly Out of the Box activities. We choose to do or experience one thing, each week, that is different from our normal routines and we just do it. (One Saturday we ended up with glitter all over our faces!). Ruts are comfortable and easy, but life is short. Get off Facebook and live it!