Farewell and Thank You

Well, it’s been a long time in the making. After much thought, I have decided to close out The New Pursuit and move on. This will be the final post.

It’s been a wonderful two years — and all the thanks go to all of you who have supported me with your readership, thoughtful comments, and well-wishes. My journey here has been one of discovery, as I have learned to live deeper each day and in some small way share that with you.

I’d like to also thank some specific people for their special support helping this blog get off the ground and making it what into what it was:

So where will I be going and what will I be doing?

I’m not really going anywhere. Still taking things day-by-day here in our small Rhode Island town. Still being a husband and dad. Still being a Town Councilor (at least for the remainder of my term). Summer draws near and it’s time to get back in the garden and out into the woods for hikes. Time for quiet contemplation and meditation.

I feel the need to re-charge the batteries when it comes to figuring out my next writing/blogging adventure. There are so many things I’d like to tackle and share — I just need some time to pull it all together.

So until then, I wish you all the best. Remember, it’s up to each one of us to be a catalyst, a light, and a leader. Feel free to connect on Facebook or Twitter. Perhaps I’ll reach out again when the next adventure begins.

Be well, friends.

Bill

 

On Being Grateful for Gifts the Earth Gives Freely

image: jasontheaker“The earth is what we all have in common.” ~ Wendell Berry

The other day I stumbled on Timber Hawkeye and his message of embracing gratitude in our everyday lives. His message, while not new in the broad sense of things, resonated because of the quiet conviction with which he delivers it. One of his most powerful statements was about how it’s not about our beliefs, but ultimately, our behavior, that makes us a better person.

Since then, I’ve thought a lot about the role gratitude plays in my own life and the life of others. And while I believe Timber was focused mainly on our behavior towards one another (human to human), I couldn’t help but go beyond that. Why stop with just people? Why not other life forms on this beautiful planet of ours? Why not the Earth itself?

And so with that, I compiled a list of all those gifts that the Earth gives me — and every one of us — each day without giving pause for who we are, where we live, or what we believe. Gifts that She gives without prejudice, pride or any grand pronouncement. These are simple gifts that deserve profound gratitude from all of us.

  • Air to breathe
  • Water to quench the thirst of all living beings
  • Food to sustain our bodies and minds
  • Trees to build our abodes
  • Other flora to create our medicines
  • Metals to make our machines
  • Fuels to make our machines run
  • Breezes to cool our sweaty brows Read More

Kids and Money: Six Reasons to Start the Conversation Now

piggy bankEditor’s Note: For the record, I am not a financial adviser — just a parent who wants to see his kids get off on the right foot and be able to pursue their dreams without financial baggage weighing them down. With the New Year upon us, there’s no better time than now to start these conversations.

Over the past few weeks I’ve found myself on more than one occasion discussing the topic of personal finance with our oldest son. At almost ten years old, I have to hand it to him: His level of inquisitiveness on this topic is encouraging. Perhaps it’s been spurred by a couple of visits to our community bank to make deposits in his savings account. Or maybe even on the heels of some situation where we’ve had to pass on something because of it being “too much for our budget”.

Whatever the reason, I’m thankful to have these opportunities to plant a seed that with proper nurturing will bear the fruit of a healthy relationship to money and a sound financial footing as he begins his adulthood.

As I think about the obstacles that keep many (including myself) from fulfilling their own new pursuits in life, debt and heavy financial burdens rank right up there. Why? As individuals living in a hyper-consumer world, we’ve been conditioned from the get-go that to spend and acquire is the surest way to find happiness. Living beyond our financial means is the norm if we are to blend in and be like the Joneses. Who cares about the downstream effects… whether that to our selves, our families, our community or our planet. To challenge the throwaway culture of convenience is to be a cultural heretic.

Or is it?

That’s why my wife and I are taking every opportunity to talk about money with our kids — our relationship to it, how we manage it (and can continue to manage it better), lessons from when we were younger, and why it’s important to learn these lessons now. So whether it is us or you and your family, think of talking about money and finances as an investment that can pay dividends for many years to come. Here are some reasons to start now: Read More

Embracing the Phases of Our Lives

Full Moon“To reach a port, we must sail — sail, not tie at anchor, sail not drift.” ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Certainly, I’ve broken every rule of blogging: Not posting regularly, not promoting myself, not figuring out how to drive more traffic, hits, comments, and interactions. So be it.

Life has thrown other things my way since my last post in August. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I still am doing everything I can to live as simply and deliberately as possible; still doing my best to be mindful in all that I do; still seeking every opportunity to connect with the living world around me. But I’ve been busy. Let me explain.

In August, I announced that I was running for public office in an attempt to try my hand at driving positive change from inside the system. Well, it was a LOT of work running my humble campaign, but in the end it paid off and I was one of seven people elected to our Town Council. Even now, after being sworn into office, I continue to be humbled by the support and excited at the prospect of being able to help move our town in a direction that can benefit all.

While perhaps the most visibly symbolic, this new responsibility has me thinking about the phases in our lives: How they come and go; what drives them; and how they can change our behaviors and call into question every aspect of what makes us who and what we are.

For instance, after three years of committing to a vegetarian diet, I ate my first cheeseburger the other night. Sure, this might sound trivial but for me it was a really big deal. For the past month, I’ve thought a lot about the reasons our family embraced this lifestyle (animal cruelty, environmental impact of factory farming, spiritual beliefs of not killing other beings). I’ve also balanced that with researching and understanding more about some of the local farmers in my area who are committed to raising cattle (and other meat animals) in ways that address the concerns I had originally (small herds, birthing and raising on the farm, 100% grass-fed, no hormones, using animal husbandry as part of a more holistic approach towards keeping the farm health and vibrant, etc.).

In the final analysis, I think such phases are natural, representing our own mini-evolutions as we grow and learn about ourselves and the world around us. We are not static beings, forever committed to a single path in life. There is far too much out there to experience and learn from. It’s like the natural cycle of the moon — waxing and waning between being “full” and being “new” again. This cycle should ground us and comfort us knowing that we can always change and continue to become the person we want to be.

Be well,
Bill

Image: penguinbush

The Newest Pursuit: Public Office

Picture of my official campaign Facebook siteLong-time readers of The New Pursuit will have undoubtedly noticed that posts here have been fewer and farther between over the last couple of months. This has been for a variety of reasons: Our kids are getting older and are involved in more things as they explore what interests them; work continues to grow in scope and responsibility; and I’ve launched my campaign for public office.

Yes, public office.

After years of trying to drive change from outside the system, I’ve decided to try my hand at driving change from the inside. I am running for one of seven seats on what is know here in Tiverton as the “Town Council”. Similar to a Board of Selectmen, this is the governing body of our local municipal government, having responsibility for all Town affairs, policy, etc. It is a two-year position.

The decision to run has taken a long time. I considered it both in 2008 and 2010 but for various personal and professional reasons the timing wasn’t right. Now that the kids are older and a bit more autonomous, and I can take a step back from other volunteer activities, the bandwidth to take this on should be there. Couple that with a growing contingency of what I would characterize as anti-community, overly-tax-focused, new-to-town transplants taking over more and more elected positions in town — it has created a strong impetus to get involved and try and change the course of things. I’ve written about community many times here on this blog and I see this move as another way of rolling up my sleeves and continuing to foster it.

Truth be told: I’m a bit nervous about what winning in the November election could do to our family life and my personal quest of ‘deep living’ — simplicity, sustainability, spirituality. My wife has been and continues to be incredibly supportive. But I have always had a tendency to max out my volunteer bandwidth, doing lots of things for different organizations and needs. Serving on our Town Council would be a huge bandwidth sucker so I’m taking steps now to lessen my commitments in other areas. Overload would do no one and no cause any good.

Truth be told (again): I’m also hopeful that by doing this I can help inspire others — especially those of similar age and family status — to get more involved in our community. There are so many needs and everyone (and I mean everyone) has some talent or knowledge or passion to give and pay forward. You can’t help change the world for the better if you don’t get involved.

If you’d like to learn more about and/or support my campaign, feel free to checkout my official campaign site and official campaign Facebook site. Thanks.

Be well,
Bill

 

Three Jewels of Mindful Parenting

bodhi building a cairn at the beach“Life affords no greater responsibility, no greater privilege, than the raising of the next generation.” ~ C. Everett Koop

Parenting is one of the toughest jobs you’ll ever love.

If you have kids, you know what I mean. If you don’t, go out on a limb and trust me.

We have three kids — ages 9, 7 and 3 years. Two boys — on the bookends — and a girl. Each with their own personality and at-the-moment passion. Each with their own idiosyncrasies and authentic individualism. I couldn’t imagine our little family any other way.

Being a parent has been one of my biggest challenges in life. There are lots of ups — and lots of downs. Good days, bad days and everything in-between. It takes lots of hard work to be a good parent. A parent who can approach each and every situation with clarity and the ability create those lasting lessons out of thin air. A parent who can always find silver linings, make lemonade out of lemons and turn tears into laughter.

Still, if the foundation is solid and strong, what you build in your children will forever be a testament to all that effort you put into to making them who they are and what they become.

Since embracing the practice of mindfulness some years ago, I’ve been able to see my role as a parent with new eyes. Eyes that are clearer, deeper and more sensitive to understanding the why’s and how’s of the swings of parenting bliss. I’ve boiled it down to the three things — or ‘jewels’ as I’m calling them — that for me, represent the framework for my approach to parenting. Before I explain, it’s important to note two things: 1) My list is not necessarily your list; these are not THE three jewels of mindful parenting; and 2) I am not successful 100 percent of the time in approaching day-to-day parenting in this way. It is something that I aspire to and as such, work hard at. Read More