AND Nurture the Seeds of Community

March 18th, 2018

I grew up in a city of immigrants from several different countries. They lived together in little enclaves with churches at the center and community at the center of that. There were clear divides between the haves and have-nots, although sports and education in the local schools were the great integrators that erased barriers to entry. Most of the history I knew was less about material wealth and more about family, community, and shared identity.

St. Patrick’s Day was a big holiday in my city. Big politicians from the state level and national stage, especially the Kennedys, marched each year. My Dad marched with the city fire fighters in dress uniform, as did the local police, school bands and the like. We had special performers from other states and beautiful floats. AND the city came out in droves, setting up their chairs well in advance of the parade and often sitting in cold, sometimes snowy, weather to watch the parade. Read the rest of this entry »

AND Greet the New With Curiosity

March 11th, 2018

I was thinking about uncertainty. None of us knows what will happen in life because life just happens. Yet, we are taught from childhood to plan for every eventuality so we are ready for whatever happens.

That frame of mind creates an illusion that it is reasonable to expect that certain things will or will not happen. For some, it leads a value for control…another illusion. AND in the context of these illusions, we create expectations of others, learn roles and scripts that we play out over time, and lose the delight and curiosity of children who approach life with fresh eyes and openness to whatever happens. Read the rest of this entry »

AND Reach Out Your Way

March 4th, 2018

Social media today seems to have accelerated our addiction to comparing ourselves to others and their lives as a means of knowing if we are good enough, how we should portray ourselves, and how to feel about our lives. When we are unconsciously inclined to learn about who we are by comparing ourselves to others and to what we were told growing up, both in the family and at school, we often lose touch with our own lived experience to know what is true.

It is time to take any situation, relationship, conversation, and encounter we find ourselves in and, after having experienced it, pause. The pause is to remember that what we tell ourselves unconsciously and what others tell us about how to label or assign meaning to the experience is only one perspective. We would be better served to consider our labels and those of others, including any source of media, as one piece of data to consider in our decision. Read the rest of this entry »

AND Pay Attention to the Context

February 25th, 2018

I recently attended an international conference on the changing state of the world today and the potential leadership role of the United States in the future. Held in one location and simultaneously broadcast in three other locations, the conference offered speakers who presented different perspectives and offered different projections for tomorrow’s world order.

There were European and American presenters, academics, policy leaders, journalists, and former government officials. The audience in at least two locations was high school and college students, as well as the mostly over sixty crowd.

The format allowed for many questions, offering differing perspectives and giving insights into the different backgrounds and interests of those present. Wherever we sat or found ourselves between speakers and on breaks, the participants engaged in natural conversations emanating from the points covered by the speakers. Read the rest of this entry »

AND Check Current Conditions

February 18th, 2018

As I was ice skating on a local rink the other day, I realized how tentatively I began my skate. The ice was glassy in parts and marked up in others. AND although my skates are for long distance and designed to glide over the unevenness of lakes and rivers, I can still find ways to practice on smaller surfaces, if I pay attention to the conditions of the ice and people on the rink.

My awareness of being so tentative caused me to watch my choices with a beginner’s mind, as if I were skating for the first time. In a very real way, I was, because I had not skated on that particular rink on that day under those conditions before. Read the rest of this entry »

AND Choose Fertile Soil

February 11th, 2018

When I first joined the working world, I naively believed that if I discovered something that would make things better, leaders would want to hear my ideas. I understood nothing of the power dynamic at play in our society and so worked hard to get those ideas across.

A colleague noticed how much energy I was spending trying to get leaders to understand my point of view. She invited me to imagine that the team or individuals whose attention I was trying to get were seated on the other side of a one-way mirror that was soundproof. I then was invited to imagine that I was on the other side of that mirror waving my hands wildly and shouting…to no avail, as they could neither see nor hear me. My ideas were falling on deaf ears. Read the rest of this entry »

AND Think About How to Help Others Contribute

February 4th, 2018

I was talking with a man who works in pest control. He carries with him whatever his customers might need for him to service them well. Well spoken, he knows his field well and can educate anyone interested in what works for the environment, as well as people.

He taught me that he is essentially on call for some of his customers in the summer who carry epi-pens for their severe reactions to bug stings and bites. Telling me how he prioritizes calls, he revealed that he knows which customers have these extreme reactions and when he gets a call, he goes immediately to kill the pests, although he would rather have the opportunity to treat properties before the pests can arrive. Read the rest of this entry »

AND It Is What It Is

January 28th, 2018

He greets each day humming, as he rises the first time to take a blood pressure pill. After checking the temperature outside, he saunters back to his room, humming all the way, and settles in for another few hours of sleep.

A self-described happy camper, he greets whatever happens each day with an intention to celebrate all the goodness in life.  AND he lives by a simple mantra: it is what it is. This wise teacher lives simply. His priorities in life center on meals, conversations, and gatherings shared with family and friends. His social calendar is packed and yet he doesn’t rush any part of life. Read the rest of this entry »

AND Free Your Mind

January 21st, 2018

Sometimes I find that I am talking to myself long after decisions that make no sense to me have been made. The injustice that we create in our own heads, based on expectations we have about how life should unfold, which decisions should be made, and the like, can disconnect us from the joy that is waiting for us when we let go of the dialogue in our heads.

Sometimes letting go means writing a response to something, taking a stand, and then putting it behind us. Sometimes, it means facing our own egos and realizing that we are writing the stories that cast us as the heroes who know how life should happen, thereby feeding anxiety and frustration about decisions and circumstances we do not control. And sometimes it just means that we need to breathe and remember what kind of life we want to live and how we want to show up. Read the rest of this entry »

AND Feed Joy

January 14th, 2018

My wise father is fond of responding to whatever happens in life that he cannot change with the expression, it is what it is. Clearly able to discern the difference between what he can and cannot change in life, he has chosen to live from joy and focus on being grateful for whatever is going well.

David Steindl-Rast, the Benedictine monk famous for his writings and lectures on gratitude, reminds us all that we may not be grateful for everything that happens in life. AND, at the very same time, there is always something for which we can choose to be grateful in every moment. Read the rest of this entry »