What’s Your “Soul Flare?”

Guest post by student from School of International Training (SIT) Bolivia program

Sitting across from Fabrizio, a member of an urban experimental community in La Paz, Bolivia—Casa de los Ningunos—I ask him what he thinks the future of the “Great Turning”, or what Joanna Macy describes as the paradigm shift needed to transform the current reality of violence and oppression, environmental destruction and human rights violations, greed and speed, and hyper-consumerism to a more peaceful, socially just, and environmentally sustainable one. A reality of imagination; of creativity; of joyfulness; of well-being; of resilience; of bliss. He pauses for a moment and takes a slow sip of dark coffee, allowing the steam from his cup to spiral around his face. I follow his gaze out of the window of the second story kitchen, across the bustling metropolis of La Paz, over the red foothills of the Cordillera Real, to the peak of the glistening, snow capped 21,121 foot Illamani. He exhales, steam rushing across the wooden table. Suddenly, he looks back at me and states, “Hay tres cosas. Hay que creer. Hay que crear. Y hay que criar o cultivar.” (“There are three things. One has to believe. One has to create. And one has to nurture, or cultivate.”)

Red Strings

I first moved to New Mexico after I graduated from college, in 1993. Unbeknownst to me, at that same time, my wife-to-be, Melissa, was living not far away, in Santa Fe. Later, in 2001, I arrived for the first time in Bolivia, a country I made home for some nine of the subsequent fourteen years. Just three months after I arrived in Bolivia in 2001, Melissa arrived to Cochabamba, where she lived for two years before returning to graduate school. We didn’t meet in New Mexico, nor did we meet in Bolivia. However, our “invisible red strings” had begun to intertwine.


Early Saturday evening, while sitting at the outdoor balcony of La Chakana café, a younger looking, Scandinavian man walked in. He ordered an iced tea, brewed locally at an organic farm run by a Dutch couple in this small Bolivian town, and sat down at the table next to mine. He was reading a Swedish novel, and seemingly jotting down notes in his travel journal. He caught me gazing past his shoulder, off into the vast Amboro Fern Forest, and said while breaking my stare, “Pretty beautiful, isn’t it?” I nodded and stuck out my hand, “Yes, it is. I’m Bill.” His eyes were a clear, bright crystal blue, earnest and caring, framed by a few wrinkles; his skin incredibly pale; his hair, short and very blonde.

Minimalist Hacks from Joshua Becker

Joshua Becker, minimalist living guru, lives in Peoria, Arizona with his wife and two young children. In 2008, he and his family took a radical step to simplify their lives by downsizing their home, minimizing their material possessions, and maximizing their family’s joy and happiness through living with less. Joshua’s story has been featured on CBS Evening News, NPR, the Boston Globe, and the Wall Street Journal. In a recent article, Joshua discusses the ten most important things to simplify in one’s life to begin living a more balanced, joyful lifestyle. The list includes the obvious material possessions and debt, but also includes some less-thought-of minimalist hacks, such as words, time commitments, negative thoughts, and goals. Read the full article to begin your own joyfully abundant, minimalist lifestyle today!

“Can you get indigestion from taking people into your heart?”

The whole of my life
is summed up in these three phrases:
I used to be raw
Then I was cooked
I am on fire.

– Rumi


In a recent blog post, Don’t Leave Me Raw, Omid Safi discusses the “wisdom of chickpeas” through an ancient tale by Rumi, a thirteenth century Persian poet, jurist, Islamic scholar, theologian, and Sufi mystic. Safi opens his blog article with a rather entertaining question: “Can you get indigestion from taking people into your heart?”

The Midwest Book Review on “New Slow City”

Thanks to the Midwest Book Review for these words on New Slow City:

“An extraordinary story deftly told from first page to last, ‘New Slow City: Living Simply in the World’s Fastest City’ is an inherently fascinating and informative read. Exceptionally well written and presented, ‘New Slow City’ is especially recommended to the attention of anyone who has ever felt the urge to simplify their life by engaging in a ‘less is more’ personal style. Certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library collections.”

Michael J. Carson

To See and Be Seen

Guest post by student from School of International Training (SIT) Bolivia program

How hard is it to be truly, vulnerably seen? What courage does it take to let someone see your strengths and weaknesses, despairs and joys, pain and wellbeing? What compassion does it take to look someone in the eye and say, “It’s okay. I see your pain. I feel your pain, but let’s not move to hide it, to fade it, or to fix it. Let’s just stand here and be”?

Buzz, buzz, buzz

A Glimpse of Chakana in Parque Pipiripi

Guest post by student from School of International Training (SIT) Bolivia program

Last month at the Parque Urbano (Urban Park) in La Paz, the second largest metropolis of Bolivia, the first ever Cumbre Internacional de la Espiritualidad de los Pueblos Indígenas del Continente Abya Yala (International Summit of Spirituality of Indigenous Peoples from the American Continents) took place. The two-day event (May 2-3, 2015), hosted hundreds of spiritual leaders, indigenous rights activists, politicians, and policy makers from across the Americas. The purpose? To consolidate indigenous spiritual practices and to exchange ideas on public policies for the Plurinational State of Bolivia (among other countries in Abya Yala), to vivir bien, or live well, during the time of the Pachakuti, the indigenous-campesinoorginario concept of a cosmic revolution—also known as the “Great Turning,” or the Sustainability Revolution of the 21st century.

The Durham Buzz and the “New Slow”

The New Slow City  Book Tour has gotten off to a great start – first in the Twin Cities and now back in North Carolina, home of the 12 x 12 off-the-grid home I wrote about in my last book. Asheville and Chapel Hill have welcomed me warmly for talks at their fantastic independent bookstores – Malaprops and Flyleaf, respectively.

Durham has done a stupendous job – they will be welcoming me for an event tomorrow, Monday at Regulator Bookshop at 7pm. Durham’s Clarion Content also featured me in one of their articles about bringing the message of a balanced joy-to-stuff ratio to Durham. How to bring the lessons I learned in New York City to the busy life in Durham? See more and read the article here.