AND Gratefully Acknowledge the Gift

November 23rd, 2014

With Thanksgiving soon approaching, we are reminded to pause the daily pace of our lives to celebrate many gifts. By focusing on the gifts in our lives and thankfulness for them, we are reminded that gratitude is a daily practice.

Only when we consciously choose to appreciate all that is good in our lives do we restore a healthy perspective or more complete picture of what is true. In the same way that the sun is always present, even if hidden from our view, there are gifts present in any circumstances. And we will only give ourselves the gift of gratitude when we create space to find and celebrate those gifts, in whatever forms they present themselves. Read the rest of this entry »

AND Listen From the Heart

November 16th, 2014

In recent workshops, we were practicing mindfulness meditation. By pausing to listen to every sound, such as noisy trucks or loud heating and air conditioning systems, we shifted our focus from being distracted by background noises to integrating those noises in a way that allowed greater focus on the conversation in the room. What happened might help us in other parts of our lives.

By not resisting the noises in the background, we avoided frustration or anger with the apparent intrusion. By focusing on integrating them into our listening and thereby accepting them as part of what was happening in the moment, we discovered that they dissipated. In other words, they became white noise in the background. Read the rest of this entry »

AND Forth

November 9th, 2014

As I was walking in the damp aftermath of a Nor’easter, I noticed the changing shrubs. Most of the trees have shed their leaves and the shrubs are either vibrantly welcoming the cooler temperatures or browning, as they go dormant for the winter. What struck me, in particular, was the awareness of how gradually the seasons shift from one to another.

As summer ebbs, there are gradually more cooler nights, then cooler days, and after that, only the occasional warmer temperatures, reminding us what we leave behind and what we can now welcome. AND as the cooler nights gradually give way to cold nights and then cold days, autumn will fade away and winter arrive. Unlike the rapid change produced by fire, the change of seasons follows a gradual oscillation, more akin to the ebb and flow of the ocean, back to the outgoing season and forth to the upcoming season. Read the rest of this entry »

AND Stop to Check

November 2nd, 2014

As I was getting ready to write this week’s entry, I noticed that this entry marks five years of weekly entries. AND I stopped to ask myself whether it makes sense to continue. Maybe I could just go back to the beginning and let the entries recycle for the next five years? Would anyone notice? Would anyone remember? Is anyone, besides Jean, who loyally reads every week, still out there?

AND I realized how important it is to stop periodically to ask whether something is still worth the energy. Does it still fulfill an intended purpose? Conscious intent to continue anything that has become a habit or obligation is worthy of challenge to determine whether it serves to bring us joy, a sense of contribution/meaning, or some other benefit. Read the rest of this entry »

AND Laugh at Scary Things

October 26th, 2014

In this week of Halloween masks, goblins and ghosts, perhaps we could look at the delight children, and many adults, find in scary things. We visit haunted houses, watch scary movies, and go on amusement rides to experience the thrill of being scared and overcoming that fear, laughing about it as the victor. Halloween has become a time of dressing up and having fun while soliciting and eating an inordinate amount of sugar…nothing really scary about it.

In a world where we create crises and make data points into huge stories to scare ourselves into action, perhaps Halloween week is a good time to remember that we need to remember what is real and what is concocted. We can be rather dramatic, some even taking pride in labeling themselves “drama queens.” We may find ourselves taking one part of our lives or one world event and making it into something that it is not, scaring ourselves and other people along the way. Read the rest of this entry »

AND Separate Can From Will

October 19th, 2014

I have talked with several clients this week, all of whom are extremely capable, all of whom wake up at night questioning their decisions. Could they have done better? Could they have responded differently? And the list goes on.

A fascinating (to me) linguistic source of eroded self esteem is the unconscious use of can in reasoning that can lead to unconscious decisions. What I mean is that, as children we learned to do things we may not have wanted to do. We responded out of obligation to do as others, whom we wanted to please, expected. We developed an unconscious response system, particularly the women among us, to respond to others’ requests in terms of whether we are able to meet their needs or demands. AND just because we grew up doesn’t mean that the unconscious response system went away.

As a result, if we believe we can do something another has asked of us, we usually tell ourselves that we must do so because we have no good reason not to do as requested. What we fail to do is check with our hearts to ask ourselves whether we want to do what is asked, whether it is to attend an event or do a favor. Read the rest of this entry »

AND What Else Is True

October 12th, 2014

In moments where things seem dark or discouraging, one of my favorite questions for shifting perspective is, AND what else is true?

The news is full of stories of Ebola, war, death, and local calamities. AND what else is true? Just this week a seventeen year old who has defied terrorist threats to stand for the education of all children, especially young girls in countries which would deny them access, shared the Nobel Peace Prize for her stance and voice on behalf of those who cannot speak.

Amidst less than enlightened corporate behaviors that belittle and squeeze the life out of people who want their work to mean something, otherwise responsible and capable workers are working ridiculous hours under mental and emotional stress to do the impossible at what has become an unsustainable pace. The cost in terms of stress-related illnesses and self-esteem has yet to be fully understood or figured into the equation of corporate profits. Read the rest of this entry »

AND Stay the Course of Greatness

October 5th, 2014

Last month, friends, colleagues, family, and many prominent leaders gathered for the inauguration of a brilliant leader to a position of prominence. A woman of great intellect, emotional intelligence, spiritual clarity, and most of all, heart has been selected to lead a medical school dedicated to and known for national leadership in creating health equity.

While each of us has a unique purpose and the calling to lead from our highest selves in doing whatever our work in this world calls us to do, there are a few among us in whose presence we experience true greatness. The leader inaugurated President and Dean of Morehouse School of Medicine is one such leader and the recognition of such greatness was palpable during the investiture ceremony. Read the rest of this entry »

AND Watch for the Shadow

September 28th, 2014

It was raining when I started to walk the beach. A few steps in, I found a beautiful shell. It was a simple and common variety, small and perfect. What struck me was the pattern of alternating rings of pure white and grey, light and shadow.

A bit later into my walk, the sun began to filter through the clouds, never fully appearing, yet clearly present. How did I know? Because, as I returned home, my shadow preceded me in the sand. AND I was struck again by the theme of light and shadow.

I like to believe that we all have a perfectly beautiful essence, a core of pure light. Like the sun, which is always in the sky, sometimes our light is covered by clouds that either filter or block our light. Read the rest of this entry »

AND Behold

September 21st, 2014

I am fascinated by how technology, used unconsciously, changes our lives in ways we often don’t recognize until it is too late. In particular, I have been watching people taking selfies, as they document where they are or what they are doing. AND I wonder sometimes if we actually behold the beauty of the moment, rather than trying to capture and document it, if we might actually live more from our hearts, and therefore, live more fully and in touch with what is real.

I went to an art show yesterday to see a particular collection. While it was wonderful, I came across another exhibit that really captured my attention. An artist named Amy Stacey Curtis has done a series of small pencil drawings of simple objects…scissors, a single staple, a staple remover, a safety pin, tweezers, and the like. The care with which she studied the objects was evident in the precision and lighting of her drawings. I felt as if I could feel her beholding the objects. Read the rest of this entry »