giving the opportunity to give!

Chris Corrigan presented an idea that simply has me humming!
What is missing is companies (and their people) figuring out how to actually use the power of corporations to become givers. Corporate philanthropy is a step in this direction, but can it be taken down to the individual level? What if a corporation took a portion of its philanthropic budget and gave it to individuals within the company to pursue their personal giving plans in their communities, encouraging individual staff members to bond through sharing their gifts of time and money? Can we enable that for our staff? For our citizens? There must be some companies that do this. Are there countries that support their citizens' engagement with their gifts?

does anyone know of such a system in place? it seems like a phenomenal idea. even inviting staff to write up a brief proposal for their personal giving plan could inspire the gift of movement (getting excited about giving, filling themselves with the belief that they have the ABILITY to give, turning attention away from daily stresses and worries and towards better-ment and sharing with others, etc.). it could inspire cohesion as well, "what organization are you proposing a gift to?" "wow, i didn't know you were interested in that, tell me more..." and the process could potentially motivate the individual to give, regardless of being selected by the company.

i'd love to hear any thoughts about this and perhaps suggestions of companies that would be interested in such an idea.

this format could easily be implemented by parents, teachers, clubs, etc. i love the idea of spending time with children deciding where we will donate our money and as they get old enough, giving them the freedom to decide where the money goes. i assume that when the children are younger, the parents would help monitor the final decision. what a transformational moment it could be, however, when the declaration is made that the money goes to whomever the child chooses, without the adult having the final word. what an expression of trust...


There is such a program currently in place. Many companies have a policy in place that will match all or part of any employee's charitable contributions. It is currently less than previous years but still very much alive. Unfortunately it often stops with a statement in policy manuals. The idea of giving being joint is a good one. Companies rarely give away dollars that do not create profits. They do, however, respond to opinions backed by actions of large groups of its employees.
Paul | 07.29.04 - 6:00 pm | #


It's wonderful to see these days, how more and more companies realize this - that they have lots to give.

The best example I know is Patagonia and 1% for the planet. From their website:
Since 1985, Patagonia has pledged 1% of sales to the preservation and restoration of the natural environment. We've awarded over 18 million dollars... 1% for the Planet® is an alliance of businesses that understand the necessity of protecting the natural environment.

The really cool thing is that Patagonia employees decide who the money goes to.

More info at http://www.patagonia.com/enviro/one_percent.shtml
Alexander Kjerulf | Homepage | 07.30.04 - 4:30 am | #


hi paul,

"Unfortunately it often stops with a statement in policy manuals. "

is there anything else, besides making giving a joint venture, that could be done differently so that it wouldn't stop at the policy manual?

your words speak perfectly towards open space. it's a great way to get employees together to share their opinions and take steps towards actions.

and alexander, thanks for the info about Patagonia. it IS wonderful to see realizations that one (company/individual) has lots to give!
ashley | Email | Homepage | 08.03.04 - 1:43 am | #

posted by ashley


heart-to-heart contact

from an email from chris weaver: some lovely words, interesting to consider a sentence at a time, that made me think of living in-love.
When I meet new people, in my mind there is no barrier, no curtain. As human beings you are my brothers and sisters; there is no difference in substance. I can talk with you as I would to old friends. With this feeling we can communicate without any difficulty and can make heart-to-heart contact. Based on such genuine human relations-real feeling for each other, understanding each other-we can develop mutual trust and respect. From that, we can share other people's suffering and build harmony in human society.

The Dalai Lama

posted by ashley



below is a cut-and-paste of shawn foote  and david bond's  words from a discussion at integral naked  on the topic of worrying:
Why do we worry? It's like many things...it's because we don't trust!

... we are choosing to deny or shun our true selves.
what parts of yourself are you choosing to shun or deny in favor of worrying?

posted by ashley



Imagine if everyone was engaged in a way that honoured the gifts they have to offer.
chris'  statement leaves me wondering... what do you consider to be a gift? i often find myself in situations in which people believe that their genuine pain and suffering, confusion and misunderstanding are burdens upon others and are far removed from having giving qualities. and yet so often, it is in these moments of being completely raw and vulnerable that some of the most genuine gifts are given, that true teaching occurs. (i put the word genuine in green just to separate open honest sharing from thought-less, habitual complaining.)

leela  talks about the power of being 

validated and encouraged to take the space to just be.... getting used to freedom is an interesting process. Trusting that its not only ok to be who you are, but being loved for just that person it something most people never experience.
and then jeff  ponders the challenges of just being in a public forum,

when i'm wrestling deeply with shadows and karma sometimes, i feel either unable (too immersed), unwilling (simply private), or hesitant (skittish) to blog on these things.
phil has said that blogging is

Just a gradually evolving relationship.
connecting*the*dots, i'm left thinking that giving the gift of openness, honesty, authenticity, genuinity, humility, and vulnerability (just being) while also accepting and loving others just as they are is a treasure beyond measurement. blogs are one of many ways of reaching out to one another and expressing/sharing our inner worlds, thus creating a stronger, more vibrant inner net...even if and especially when it means sharing some of the not-so-sunny sides. my deep gratitude  for all of these perspectives.


Ashley, once again your words (and the way you put together your thoughts) is just beautiful. I'm so glad to have met you in Chicago.
Ted Ernst | Email | Homepage | 07.26.04 - 2:22 am | #


I feel like jeff alot, feeling skidish to share. But I have found that even though I feel overly exposed at times, I am also really seen more often than not. And I am amazed that the people that see me love and/or appreciate me. This helps me know that the changes that I feel I have made from the deepest parts of myself are really manifesting in my actions. It feeds my hope that we are all growing ever closer to the heart.

I am humming that old Rush tune as I wrap this up, damn those guys had a vision, didn't they?


posted by ashley


the inner net

a visit to akma's random thoughts inspired me to flip to a journal entry (some random words) regarding the internet...

-- hanging out in the net of our inner worlds --
come slide through us.
~ s l u r p ~
the inner net
so, perhaps blogging is tuning into the frequency of the inner world of one another. earlier i spoke about the living in truth network. i still love the dreams i have about the power of this net...
living in truth, living in love... connected to our individual and collective power... connected to one another. and remember, the key is starting small, one step at a time, and inviting in support from those around you.

...dreaming about and envisioning the grid of connection, potential and possibility that evolves within a community of people living in truth and love.

...when all of these people living in truth are linked up it becomes a grid of shining lights, an electric net through which healing energy gathers and dances, a field generated by living in-love in which potential and possibilities turn into action and reality. one of the keys to generating this net is having each individual living in truth, living in love, tuned to one another, and tuned to the total field. it is also imperative that the individuals and the group remain available. there is an open invitation that others who are following their truth and passion can join in the giving, dreaming, and creating. the space remains open.
any thoughts on tuning our inner worlds to one another?



I don't tell you enough how beautiful and inspiring you are.

As true as I know all your words are, and as many years as I have been living in the Truth my heart still feels this sense of heaviness combined with excitement when I read what you write. I get so lost in this "me" some times that I forget the interconnectedness that is happening all over the universe right now. I come up for air from digging in the dirt and see how blue the sky is and how blessed I am. How you are out there in the "inner net" and you are right here in the inner with me. Thank you for reminding me. We are waking up right here right now, being open and honest, awkward and fragile. I love having you as part of the tapestry of my life.

leela | Email | 07.24.04 - 7:11 pm | #


dear leela, this is so lovely, thank you for sharing...

waking up, right here right now...
chris weaver | Email | 07.25.04 - 1:37 am | #


hi leela,

your words slip in through my eyes and burrow warmly around my heart... embracing my soul. all that i could ever ask to do is to remind and experience the inter-connectedness of our innerselves... knowing that we're each right here in the inner with one another, landing peacefully in the inner with ourselves. you are so welcome, leela, and thank you for being open and receptive.

your words made me think of my motto (adapted from gestalt therapy):

right here, right now,
you and me,
let's get whole.

with love,
ashley | Email | Homepage | 07.25.04 - 9:47 am | #


this morning i'm yes so appreciating this format for sharing inner worlds, and yet

when i'm wrestling deeply with shadows and karma sometimes, i feel either unable (too immersed), unwilling (simply private), or hesitant (skittish) to blog on these things.

so i wonder if others' blogs are rather sunny in this way as well?

jeff aitken | Email | Homepage | 07.25.04 - 2:22 pm | #

posted by ashley


Book Review

chris is reviewing the book, The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property by lewis hyde, over at parking lot. here's a taste from the book itself:

The gift moves towards the empty place. As it turns in its circle, it turns towards him who has been empty handed the longest and if someone appears whose need is greater it leaves its old channel and moves towards him. Our generosity may leave us empty, but our emptiness then pulls gently at the whole until the thing in motion returns to replenish us. Societal nature abhors a vacuum. Counsels Meister Eckhart the mystic: "Let us borrow empty vessels." The gift finds that man attractive who stands with an empty bowl he does not own.


cool, i have to jump over to parking lot next. way back in 1985 i had the chance to attend the sitka summer writer's symposium. the faculty that june included robert hass, margaret atwood, barry lopez. it was margaret atwood who held up a copy of The Gift, which had just come out, and said, read this book, people. i did, & loved it, all those years ago...

my brother just sent me a copy of derrick jensen's book Walking on Water: Reading, Wriring, and Revolution. this morning i flipped it open and read a chapter called Love. how amazing, when people have the gift of returning us, of reminding us of the path to circle back to our full selves.
chris weaver | Email | 07.21.04 - 5:09 am | #


that book sounds delicious also, chris:

"This is Jensen's great gift as a teacher and writer, to bring us fully alive at the same moment he is making us confront our losses and count our defeats. ...a lesson on how to connect to the core of our creative selves, to the miracle of waking up and arriving breathless (but with dry feet) on the far shore." www.derrickjensen.org

and andy goldsworthy on the cover... a man after my own heart!
ashley | Email | Homepage | 07.21.04 - 5:50 pm | #


Ah yes Chris...I have the Sitka Reader "From the Island's Edge" in my hands at the moment. it contains one of my favourite essays ever, by Barry Lopez called Landscape and Narrative.

Lucky you to have been there.
Chris Corrigan | Email | Homepage | 07.23.04 - 7:20 pm | #


hey chris!

it was marvelous. each year when i receive the brochure for the next symposium in the mail i drool, but i've never made it back. carolyn servid, who i think is still organizing the symposium each june, has done an amazing job including indigenous writers on the faculty. at the '85 event i was 21 and to save money i slept in my tent in the rainy forest near sheldon jackson college, where the event is held. barry lopez was still in the middle of writing arctic dreams, and he spent a lot of time telling stories about listening to inuit elders talk about animals...polar bears who walk upside down on the underside of sea ice...& polar bears who, when hunting, will sprint toward a seal on the ice, dive into a slide, and, knowing that its nose is the only point of black in the whole snowy world, will cover its nose with its paw to ensure that the seal doesn't see anything until the moment of impact. imagine that.
chris weaver | Email | 07.25.04 - 1:31 am | #

posted by ashley

the law of two feet

my mom asked me the other day about "that space thing that i'm involved in." she was referring to open space technology, but i kind of like calling it that space thing! often i trip over my words when i describe open space to others, "technology" kind of tumbles out of my mouth after the fresh release of "open space"! many people use this process as a means for facilitating groups, and many of those same people live their lives in open space. when chris weaver first turned me on to open space, i felt an immediate resonance with it and a congruence with the way that i was aiming to live my life.
recently Zelle Nelson posted a great account of the law of two feet, one of my favorite tools used in open space. the law of two feet states that if at any moment you find yourself in a situation where you are not learning from nor contributing to, it is your responsibility to use your two feet to go somewhere where you can be more productive. Harrison owen says,
All too often we sit politely, getting angrier and angrier, while our time is being wasted. The lost time will not be redeemed, and the anger pollutes the environment with negative energy.
but not always do we use our power to move as a means to escape from anger. the main reason that we are moving is because we've become interested in something else, our attention has shifted into a new direction. it is our responsibility as living beings to be aware of our attention and, depending on how we choose to live our lives, to allow our attention to responsibly follow our passions. so, here's what zelle nelson posted to the oslist:
we choose our responsibility as it matches our passions in each moment, rather than sticking to a responsibility choice made 10 minutes ago or 10 years ago.
Some examples...I've experienced it in Open Space so many times...You go to the Marketplace, it's session 1, you choose to attend topic Q that looks compelling which will be held in session 3, you tell your friends you'll definitely be at topic Q, session 3 rolls around and topic Q that was a passion 3 hours ago is now not as compelling, or something else has become more compelling, you don't go to topic Q. In Open Space you've just used your two feet and you feel good about yourself, where you're going, what you're doing. No one questions your integrity - they praise you for it.
That same situation outside of OST...It's 10am, you plan to go to a cafe to meet some friends at 1pm, you tell others that you're so excited about meeting your friends at the cafe at 1pm and tell them to join you, 1 pm rolls around and you've used your two feet and are in the park reading a great book, you don't go to the cafe. You're not in "formal" Open Space and your friends wonder where you are, they question your ability to be responsible, to keep your word, you've failed to do what you said you were going to do, you might feel guilty.
Thankfully many of my friends do not question where I was, or why I didn't let them know I wasn't coming after I said I was. They don't question my integrity. Still, some of them, sometimes, do.
I usually don't question my identity or my ability to be responsible when I choose a different passion at a moment when I said I was going to be somewhere else. But sometimes I do. Sometimes I feel guilty for following my two feet when I'm not in the bounded realm of OST. Sometimes I question my identity when I'm not somewhere I planned to be, even if I never told anyone but myself that I would be somewhere or do something at a certain time. And that's just in a space of 3 or 4 hours. And in my experience, I'm not the norm in our society.
What about the person who's done the same thing, held the same kind of responsibility, for years. Do they have the space to question what passions they will follow now that they've discovered something new? Will they stop doing something that has been seen as valuable by themselves, or their peers, or their organization without the space to even decide to choose where their passion and responsibility lie?
I believe we have a roll as facilitators to hold that space where people can answer the questions: "what is our shared vision? what do we need to stop doing to make space for what we want to start doing? how do we honor what we will stop doing? and, how do we walk forward and create our future together?


i have similar feelings about the technology appendage... having learned open space before the word technology was added to it (and actually that was done originally in jest) i've never gotten used to it.

i know that people also feel a certain weightiness in the full three words. ok, i can live with OST among friends...
jeff aitken | Email | Homepage | 07.22.04 - 2:34 am | #


So THAT'S what it's all about!

I've been ondering myself these long years!
Chris Corrigan | Email | Homepage | 07.23.04 - 7:21 pm | #


...only one perspective!
ashley | Email | Homepage | 07.23.04 - 8:59 pm | #

posted by ashley


new bloggers

new friends in the neighborhood... a warm welcome to ted ernst at humanize the earth and susan kerr at creativity and connection.

in a personal email to susan i said: i can't wait to hang out with you in words. that's what blogging is to me... hanging out with friends in the shape of words!

you all really are cute in your word-form!!
posted by ashley


michael j. has posted the photos that charles maclean took at the giving conference, have a look.
also i am working on putting together a website that will be a resource for connecting youth programs around the world. if you're interested in seeing what i've got in mind and would like to add your own comments, PLEASE do so. click on the connecting youth programs link. read through what's written there and then at the bottom of the page you will see Edit text of this page. click that link and add your comments to the bottom. i'd love input from you.

posted by ashley

Just BE a lot, but do very little. And in a funny way the less you do, the better it is for everybody. 

Have fun!

Harrison Owen 
posted by ashley


noticing trends

look out

life at easily amazed has definitely just taken on a new shift.
  C O L O R  ... WOW!
and new spacing choices.
what a surprise to come here and find color. (thanks blogger.) i just feel like rambling on about my excitement!
i think that i'll pause for a moment.
i'll use this opportunity to take a deep breath. i'm going to imagine a place in my life that needs more color, a little brightening up... and i'm going to breathe, dream, some light into that drabby room. i'm freshening it up! mmmmm... that's nice... feel free to try it!
now, back to blogging business! i am sure that your life is exceptionally full of all kinds of "things" these days (with the new colors and all!)... i'm really curious about any trends that you notice... in your life, families, communities, nations, animals, forests, whatever! care to share a couple of words about what you're noticing?
one thing i'm noticing is a lot of intense change happening...


here's a great one from Therese Fitzpatrick.

"I believe humanity is undergoing a big shift in consciousness and more and more people are aware of the shift. . . we hear it creaking and cracking like the ice breaking up in anticipation of spring. I hear it often in open space.
ashley | Email | Homepage | 07.21.04 - 1:55 am | #


Ashley is a blessing...

I too am eaily amazed! Ashley, your inspiration has encouraged so many to be easily amazed as well!

Thanks for being who you are!


Shawn (3foote)

posted by ashley



a new fun and playful link. check out boyz-in-da-pond, click on a frog and hear the talent they have to share! you can also click on "the 'real' thing" and hear the true sounds of these frogs. i must admit, however, that i am still partial to the horses a cappella. you really must play with them if you haven't already.
posted by ashley


asking questions

my personal practice of living in truth includes plenty of dialogue with myself. i like to check in and see what's happening on the inside. i love to explore my inner terrain, discovering and connecting with my inner world...forming an intimate bond with my own truth. i believe that the relationship i have with myself enables me to engage more fully with the rest of the world. with greater ease, i am able to live from a place of authenticity and genuineness, maintaining presence. except, of course, for the times when i slip out of 'it', i'm still learning! asking questions is a great way of tuning in. here are a few questions i've gathered from some friends.

thomas shared these:
  • how do we find that balance between extending into the world and drawing into our sense of self?

  • what are the priorities and missions that focus our intent and inspire our action?

  • what are the places that snag our flow and distract us from our deepest purpose?

  • how do we say no to something of intrinsic worth if it's not aligned with our deepest flow?
and christy passed on a this one:
  • how do we create an outburst of alive, radiant people throughout the world?
"opening into the beauty of our truths is an ocean of light in the depths of my soul." ~thomas arthur
posted by ashley


who are we?

a constant joke at the giving conference was amazement at the fact that people actually showed up, from locations far and near. the joke revolved around the "why". popular opinion seemed to find the invitation fairly vague. what made people come? and who were the people that were moved to be there?

from my perspective, two prominent pieces were the main attractors of this conference. the theme, opening space for giving to flourish, attracted a group of people whose visions included the gifts they personally had to offer and extended beyond themselves to giving for the greater good. the sessions generated were quite impressive, here's a few of them:
the other attracting component that i noticed was that everyone who showed up had deep respect and admiration for the person(s) that they knew who had extended to them the invitation. the power of networks and personal connections was very evident as this eclectic group mixed with one another, sharing wisdom, resources, connections, and much more. i continue to be moved by the possibilities and the increased efficiency of action that is made possible when the right people are connected with one another.

during one circle, a participant asked, "who are we?" if you're curious about the priests, educators, facilitators, writers, techies, philanthropists, inventors, entrepreneurs, activists, financial advisors or other types that showed up, peruse the list of participants.

as i settle back into being home, it is this question that continues to echo inside my head: "WHO ARE WE?" i think about all of the people that i am connected to. i think about all of you who have mentioned the kavanah post, who are we that choose to be intentional, aware of our actions, directing our hearts to Spirit, living in truth, sharing our gifts and passions with ourselves, our neighbors, our communities? a shining network of truth livers. WHO ARE WE? and how do we continue to connect and unite with one another so that the ripples of our actions spread wider and deeper into the hearts of beings all across this planet?


love my southern blood. i can't help but read "a shining network of truth livers" and think about a shining network of chicken livers!! feels like more of a comment statement, than words for the actual post!!
ashley | Email | Homepage | 07.14.04 - 8:27 am | #


Chicken livers!! or, Truth and Onions...

The echo inside your head resonates with a couple of phrases rattling about in mine: one is from the Pragati Foundation's Radiant Networking conference being spun out by Anne Stadler and Arun Wakhlu and their other Spirited Work colleagues, where they ask "how do we create an outburst of alive, radiant people throughout the world?" ("outburst"!)

and the other phrase fragment is "connective tissue". One meaning is: skin and bone, tendons and ligaments, that which keeps our structure intact and flexible, & the "ground substance" matrix that is the medium via which cells talk to each other and are nourished. Another meaning is, all the many ways in which people connect to one another (in which life connects to itself).
Christy Lee-Engel | Email | Homepage | 07.14.04 - 8:39 pm | #



I'm just beginning to do some work with my herbalist-wizard friend Rowan, who has developed an amazing botanical topical cream (http://www.rowanbotanicals.com) and whose company motto is "doing business with friends" --so he is addressing both meanings at one go. It has been breathtaking to watch how the connections between friends and kindred have led to unexpected, and immediate, opportunities and treasures.

So: Who Are We? My astrologer friend Eric Francis asks, "For whom does We mean *all of us here*? All of us who drink water? All of us who breathe air?"

love, Christy
Christy Lee-Engel | Email | Homepage | 07.14.04 - 10:36 pm | #

posted by ashley


the living in truth network!

this morning i feasted on the wisdom and direction that chris (from the north) corrigan shares about Living in truth, emergence and giving. of course, i can't resist some cut and paste...
I want to pick up on this idea that living in truth is about looking around you and doing what needs to be done.

My friend Harrison Owen, the man who created OST says that the essence of empowerment is figuring out what you want to do and then going and taking care of it. Focusing on this takes us out of the traps we create for ourselves when we say "someone should do something." Complaining is perhaps the most powerful way to disembark oneself because it puts you in a position of arguing with reality. Anytime we use the word "should" we are saying that reality is wrong.

For individuals, arguing with reality also creates a state where everything lives in the external world. We look outside of ourselves for both the source of problems and the solutions ("somebody should do something"). We abandon our own resources and skills and desires and give away our power to change anything. The antidote to this is hurricanes moment of introspection. Simply stop and say:

*What do I really care about?

*What can I do to take care of it?

Kurt Hahn, the man that founded Outward Bound says:
There are three ways of trying to win the young. There is persuasion. There is compulsion and there is attraction. You can preach at them; that is a hook without a worm. You can say "you must volunteer." That is the devil. And you can tell them, "you are needed" that hardly ever fails.
This is not to say that it is always easy. It is rather to acknowledge that living in truth need not be daunting. You don't need to have the big picture in your head. In fact doing so will probably lay you out in a catatonic state, unable to contribute anything. Small actions influence neighbor's who provide feedback that can keep these activities going.

This finally points to one other characteristic of living in truth that I feel is important. To make an impact in human society, whether it is overthrowing a dictatorship or simply launching an initiative to improve things, the answers to hurricanes two questions must be true both for the individual and the larger society. Citizen engagement, democratic empowering and living in truth works if you subscribe to the worldview that the self and the community are connected and that what is good for one is good for the other. In other words, you undertake personal responsibility for change because you know that it improves life for others as well.
don't you think it's time to stop giving away our power? take a moment to look inside and feel all of that power radiating from within. imagine the possibilities and potential of intimately bonding with that power and sharing it with the rest of the world. this, to me, is part of living in truth, living in love... connected to our individual and collective power... connected to one another. and remember, the key is starting small, one step at a time, and inviting in support from those around you.

chris (from the south) weaver and i have been dreaming about and envisioning the grid of connection, potential and possibility that evolves within a community of people living in truth and love. the local context that we speak of is a therapeutic camp setting, the global context is... the connections between you and me and and and and ....

lets say that each individual living in truth is like a crystal, radiant in our unfathomable power of simply honoring WHAT IS and accepting ourselves and others AS IS. we are proud of and own our talents, gifts, resources, skills, and desires... along with our weaknesses, longings, fears, and promising areas of growth.

when all of these people living in truth are linked up it becomes a grid of shining lights, an electric net through which healing energy gathers and dances, a field generated by living in-love in which potential and possibilities turn into action and reality. one of the keys to generating this net is having each individual living in truth, living in love, tuned to one another, and tuned to the total field. it is also imperative that the individuals and the group remain available. there is an open invitation that others who are following their truth and passion can join in the giving, dreaming, and creating. the space remains open.

some questions:
how do we clean off our dirty crystals buried in the ground?
how do we link up with other radiating people living in truth?
how do we tune in with one another and maintain that frequency?
how do tune the field so that it is fully available for others to join and add to?
how do we work with & invite healing energy into this field?
how do we encourage dreaming... and believing in our dreams?

and in pondering these questions, i'm left with an ear to ear grin as i notice that there's no end to any of this...

these are some questions on my mind as i get ready to head out to chicago (again) for the giving conference that begins friday morning. i'd imagine that you can follow what is happening there through the wiki... or stay tuned to this easily amazed network of folks!!

if you have comments, thoughts to share that you would like to travel with me to the conference, do so today because i leave tomorrow!

posted by ashley


gratitude for parents

here's a cut-and-paste from an inspirational post to the oslist by Agneta Setterwall from Uppsala, Sweden.
I am in the beginning of an interrail, backpackertrip with my 13yearold youngest daughter. We are jumping blind into Europe, going south tonight. We know that we will be in London next week. We know that we will cross Calais-Dover. We know that we can travel in all Europe (we already have the interrailtickets). We know that we donґt have much money. I know that I want to learn this young person things about how to travel and how to become streetsmart enough so that I(!) can be calm (calmer) in the years to come...
i am so moved my her inclination to teach her daughter how to travel and be street smart by sharing such a meaningful adventure together. i am also moved by her effort to calm her own worries in years to come.

it makes me think about my own father and camping. as a child we went on many camping trips. in my highschool years my dad suggested that my friends and i start going camping together. if we all enjoyed hanging out so much and being together, why not take it to the woods (another thing we all enjoyed). years later he shared that that was also a way of helping him know that we were safe. he figured the amount of harm we could actually do to ourselves in the woods was much less than if we were wandering the streets of downtown atlanta.

so today feels like a good day to celebrate gratitude for the parents in our lives who nurture us, stretch us, open us to new vistas, remind us of our value and worth, connect us to the Beyond, the One. They are as intrinsic to our lives as every cell and membrane and belief we are.

They are ocean to our river and river to our ocean. Thank you.


Last night I finally signed on to the OST list. Rommel gave me an invite for Gmail, and it has made a world of difference in my ability to handle the various email lists I was already on, let alone adding OST to the list.


The email from Agneta was the first email I received from the list, and I found her desire to head out on the railways with her daughter inspiring. It's a shame they only seem to have two weeks.

I've had a similar idea of traveling Europe with Brandon when he gets a little older. It would be truly wonderful to not only encourage Brandon to expand his horizons, but to be present to witness it.

And though I hadn't thought of it that way previously, there's a lot to be said to being there the first time out, so I can feel more comfortable down the road when he heads out places without me.

Hmm.... Plotting and planning...

Dave | 07.03.04 - 2:22 pm | #


(oh, good on you, Dave for joining the OSList!)

When Robert & I got married 20 years ago, we made plans to take all our wedding gifts and put them towards traveling. Both our sets of parents encouraged us, suggesting to their friends that we wouldn't really need household gifts but would really appreciate money towards our trip; they didn't express any nervousness or disapproval about our plans...we traveled all around east Asia for a year, plus another half a year in Israel and Europe. Now, being a parent, I am so amazed at their fortitude and ability to refrain from expressing their natural worries about our doing something so different from anything they'd done themselves. Such good models for me!
Christy Lee-Engel | Homepage | 07.03.04 - 5:56 pm | #


oh dave, it's great to know that you are now among the participants of the oslist!

inspirational parents... i can never get enough of you all!

thanks christy for igniting all sorts of fabulous dreams regarding wedding presents towards traveling, a year and a half traveling with your new life-partner, and the potential of creating new trends in family relations. inspiration of the greatest sort!!

Gmail... is that the google function for email? i just heard about that for the first time this weekend... i must learn more.

ashley | Email | Homepage | 07.04.04 - 1:28 pm | #


Yep. Gmail is Google's answer to Hotmail and Yahoo mail. It's VERY well done. Right now they're still testing it, and it's by invite only. They dole out invites to existing users to pass along to others. When they give me an invite, I'll pass it along to you.
Dave | 07.04.04 - 4:45 pm | #


You obviously have a great father who is warmed by your thirst for independence and comfort.
henrietta | 07.07.04 - 12:28 pm | #


you're must be right, henri! i'm so very gratefull.

with love,
ashley | Email | Homepage | 07.07.04 - 12:34 pm | #


happy to find this place!
we are now in London, in the house of Annette Zera, who I met through a Birgitt W.training some years ago.
Yes, two weeks is not much, but I have two children (older) at home, and Blenda wants to get back before her birthday.
Four years ago I did the same with her older sister, Amanda, then 13. We just had 10 days on the road (or rail), and that was goodenough to give us the time- and roomspace we needed to let a quality grove, a kind of new beeing-together, a fellowship. I certainly got calmer, and Amanda have after that travelled on her own and have not got lost.
Now, out on the streets of London...
Agneta Setterwall | Email | 07.08.04 - 6:43 am | #


hi agneta!

i know so many of us were delighted with your post to the oslist about your journey, so it is fun to have a report from the trail!

best wishes from the north carolina mountains,
chris weaver | Email | 07.10.04 - 9:41 am | #


We have now been in London four days, and had plans to go to Berlin where we were invited to stay in the Pannwitz' home. Yesterday when I tried to book the tickets from London to Berlin, using
our Interrailcards, I met difficulties. "England" seams not so
interested in making it easy to leave, at least not for slow
budgettravellers. The difficulties however gave us space to think, feel
and talk. While my feelings mostly consisted of irritation, thoughts
about young and arrogant railwaypersons and so on, Blenda unfolded a
complex inner of mixed emotions and conflicting thoughts, transforming
and changing through a long conversation, gently supported by our
(it is not possible to write more then 1000 signs, so I will continue in next message...)
Agneta Setterwall | Email | 07.12.04 - 4:47 am | #


The result of a lot of genuine contact, tears and hesitation is that we
are not going to Berlin NOW. Blenda have had enough of sitting on
trains, and have learned that "seeing as much as possible" can result
in seeing nothing. She now wants to go home, and continue our vacation
together there in the sense that I will have as much time for her as I
have had on this trip. In our normal life I am not seldom a very busy
mother, with 15 arms. (running my own bussiness, single mother of three, house and garden, not much money...)
So this is what I have learned: Blenda wants most of all that I really spend time with her. I know that I am lucky that she wants me to, and I know the time is NOW, not later.

Tomorrow we will leave London, going back to Sweden the slow oldfashioned way. It will take ur more then 12 hours. Then we will continue our "travel" at home.
Agneta Setterwall | Email | 07.12.04 - 4:47 am | #


my family too has chosen to travel at home before, & it can be a beautiful journey.

we have also discovered how a retreat apart can sometimes be a way of being together in a deeper way.

living connected & restoring connection is a subtle & rigorous art...

chris weaver | Email | 07.13.04 - 6:54 am | #


hi agneta,

feel free to keep sharing about your vacation (and life!) with us... you continue to be an inspiration as you are so open to learning with and from your daughter.

the reminder that i also hear in your words is for parents to take as many opportunities as possible to just BE with thier children... no responsibilities, activities, expectations attached. simply sharing NOW with one another.

in the parenting groups that i facilitate parents have 30 minute play sessions once a week that are completely dedicated to the child having 100% of their parent's attention and being in control. your story reminds me of how important this is, regardless of the child's age.

with love,
ashley | Email | Homepage | 07.13.04 - 11:33 pm | #

posted by ashley


Gratitude for friends

more touching words from jack ricciuto at gassho
Gratitude for friends

Today is a good day to celebrate gratitude for the friends in our lives who nurture us, stretch us, open us to new vistas, remind us of our value and worth, connect us to the Beyond, the One. They are as intrinsic to our lives as every cell and membrane and belief we are.

They are ocean to our river and river to our ocean. Thank you.


yeah. friends:
like a gold coin spinning
catching the sun on both sides

one side how sweet it is to be loved
(in ani difranco's words)
as is
to wear my mistakes like bad hair
to get dressed in the morning
forgetting my socks
forgetting to shave
walking out to meet you friends
a bleeding heart on both sleeves

& the other side how sweet it is to live
openeyed to you, friends,
where nothing you do or say
could ever temper the current
of love that flows,
this shining being,
this cresting wave,
all this, all this.

Deena Metzger:
There is time only to work slowly.
There is no time not to love.
chris weaver | Email | 07.02.04 - 11:17 pm | #


thank you, chris, for this touching expression. i can so clearly see both sides of the coin shining, shimmering, and reflecting the light of acceptance and unconditional love that radiates in true friendships.

feeling grateful,
ashley | Email | Homepage | 07.03.04 - 11:36 am | #

posted by ashley


being and doing, kavanah and mitsvah

i turned to jeff aitken the other day in search of some guidance in prayers for beginning and ending the waking parts of my days. in his helpful response he introduced me to the hebrew word/practice, kavannah. his description of this practice moved me to learn more and i turned to abraham joshua heschel's book, god in search of man: a philosophy of judaism.

what i found deeply moves me, relates to the post on attention, and highlights for me a distinction between being and doing.
What is meant by the term kavanah? In its verbal form the original meaning seems to be: to straighten, to place in a straight line, to direct. From this it came to mean to direct the mind, to pay attention, to do a thing with an intention. The noun, kavanah, denotes meaning, purpose, motive and intention.

Kavanah, then, includes first of all, what is commonly called intention, namely the direction of the mind towards the accomplisment of a particular act, the state of being aware of what we are doing, of the task we are engaged in. In this sense, kavanah is the same as attentiveness....

To have kavahah means, according to a classical formulation, "to direct the heart to the Father in heaven." The phrasing does not say direct the heart to the "text" or to the "content of the prayer."...Kavanah is attentiveness to God. Its purpose is to direct the heart rather than the tongue or the arms. It is not an act of the mind that serves to guide the external action, but one that has meaning in itself.
i understand this to say that being, in a fully present sense, is synonymous with directing the heart to god/spirit/oneness. and with such direction, such a straight, direct line of connection, meaning, purpose, motive and intention become clear along with a profound state of being aware of what we are doing and what we are engaged in. heschel goes on to discuss appreciation, mitsvah, and what i see as the more doing component.
mitsvah means commandment. In doing a mitsvah our primary awarenss is the thought of carrying out that which He commanded us to do, and it is such awareness which places our action in the direction of the divine. Kavanah in this sense is not the awarenss of being commanded but the awareness of Him who commands;...the awarenss of God rather than the awareness of duty. Such awareness is more than an attitude of the mind; it is an act of valuation or appreciation of being commanded, of living in a covenant, of an opportunity to act in agreement with God.
i take a mitsvah to be an action guided by god. to me, this statement illucidates the primary aim of acting upon our passions, the wishes and desires of our true selves. our true selves are always pointing in the direction of the divine. heschel continues,
It is in such appreciation that we realize that to perform is to lend form to a divine theme; that our task is to set forth the divine in acts, to express the spirit in tangible forms. For a mitsvah is like a musical score, and its perfomance is not a mechanical accomplishment but an artistic act...it is not enough to play the notes; one must be what he plays. it is not enough to do the mitsvah; one must live what he does...the holiness in the mitsvah is only open to him who knows how to discover the holiness in his own soul.
let's join together in our task to set forth the divine in acts, to express the spirit in tangible forms, to bring light to humanity.


thanks for this ashley - i love the idea of beginning and ending the day with 'being'!
penny | Email | 07.01.04 - 10:30 pm | #


sure thing, penny. and how about the aspiration of the whole day in 'being'!

with love, of course,
ashley | Email | Homepage | 07.02.04 - 2:41 am | #


oh my, yes! i'm practicing! but i have been more aware lately that all there is is current reality...and so being present in each moment, i find that when a decision needs to be made, i know instinctively how to make it. little kids are really good at this - lots to teach. which reminds me of something i just read that buckminster fuller said: 'children are our elders in universal time... because they've come into a more evolved world as more evolved beings.' lots of love to you too! p
penny | Email | 07.03.04 - 2:26 pm | #

posted by ashley

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