AND Recognize the Real Credentials

April 26th, 2015

While reading an article about a recently departed CEO, I was struck by the description of her credentials, which included how she looked in her brand name shoes and dress. Such a description got me thinking about how media coverage and choice of where to focus attention can impact our sense of what matters. Read the rest of this entry »

AND Magic Is Real

April 19th, 2015

Sweet Briar College, a small liberal arts women’s college in Virginia, announced that it is closing its doors at the end of this year. Alumnae and students describe the feeling they experienced when visiting or attending the school as magical.

In an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education recounting the painful process of reviewing the financial straits of the school, relative unpopularity of women’s colleges today, and socioeconomic makeup of entering classes that drove the Board to close the school at the end of this school year, the author wrote something to the effect that, after all, finances are real and magic is not. The statement stopped me in my tracks. Read the rest of this entry »

AND Nurture the Early Bloom

April 12th, 2015

Spring brings such promise of new growth. The early buds on the trees are a lighter green than the eventual deep green leaves. The first flowers pop up, show their colors, and fade away for the next spectacle of color and form to take center stage. AND the season of early blooms, following the harsh and barren winter, has the potential to awaken dormant gifts in each of us, as well.

As each of us welcomes every new day, we have the opportunity to awaken parts of ourselves that have lain dormant, as we have settled into old patterns of behavior and familiarity. What wants expression in this season of our lives? Is there a desire to play or escape the indoors to feel the warm sunshine? Is there a dream that we can realize, if we are willing to let go of familiarity and sweep away old ways and beliefs that no longer serve us? Is it time to clean away the old in our environments to make way for the fresh and new? Do we feel called to be creative in some way? Read the rest of this entry »

AND Live the Season

April 5th, 2015

It snowed again last week—twice! At the same time, the mourning doves wake me with their song and sit on the railings of the deck. As one season fights to hold on, or at least leave its mark, another sends markers of its impending arrival.

I love watching nature’s signals of what is arriving. We tend to think in terms of seasons that are somewhat static, forgetting the dynamism of the process. The same is true in our own lives.

We give meaning to beginnings and endings—births, birthdays, graduations, promotions, and the like and act as if much more than one day or one moment has passed since the last one. We tend to look at the aggregate, the big pattern, and miss the nuances of individual moments in our lives. Some people sleep through entire decades and seasons in their lives, wondering where they went. Read the rest of this entry »

AND Play

March 29th, 2015

I love when a theme emerges from seemingly disparate contexts. The theme that emerged this week is how important it is to choose to play. It is so amazing what can arise from that simple choice and how it can benefit all of us.

I have been watching some of the women’s NCAA basketball tournament games. The North vs. South Carolina game and any game played by the UCONN Huskies stand out for me. In the first, I watched two teams play with heart to the final seconds. Changing leads, going ahead by a few points, only to watch the opposing team make great shots and shift the lead, cheers, teammates jumping up from the bench to celebrate, and great creativity in passes and shots pointed out the level of play possible when the women played together with heart. Read the rest of this entry »

AND Look Inside For the Resources

March 22nd, 2015

Sometimes insights occur in a singular moment with a quiet whisper that awakens our attention. Other times, we wait so long as to be hit over the head. Any attempt to listen to the news today will be met with stories of violence against women and ethnic or religious minorities. Two particular versions of the stories caught my attention.

One concerns an interview with one of the students from the fraternity in PA that took nude photos of women without their consent or awareness and published them on line. The reason this particular interview stood out for me was that the young man, granted anonymity by the interviewer for the story, proclaimed that he didn’t know what the big deal was because this sort of thing has been going on for years.

Much as the behaviors of Donald Sterling were not new, behaviors that oppress and demean are not new. Women’s voices have long been silenced, as have minority voices, in virtually every powerful mainstream system—politics, governments, organized religions, workplaces—the list goes on. What is new is that there is a groundswell today so loud as to awaken our attention. That something has been going on for a long time does not excuse it. It does not justify it. And it does not forgive those who sit silently by and watch it. Read the rest of this entry »

AND Follow the Feeling

March 15th, 2015

I love the way we talk about spring fever. The term itself connotes some kind of disorder. Then again it may signal heat and passion, perhaps a more apt interpretation for a connection to beauty. Whatever we call it, the gift is to notice the impulse to play hooky from adult responsibilities—and follow it.

As I walked the beach, the wind howled. The sand looked like some kind of desert storm. And above it, still piled feet-high, sits the snow. One footbridge to the beach is still so covered in snow as to hide all the stairs. Another has people sinking to their knees in snow to make it to the beach. Yet, the snow prints of determined walkers mark what will emerge again in spring as access points to the sandy beach. Read the rest of this entry »

AND Stay Alert to Small Signs

March 8th, 2015

Amidst feet of snow much taller than I am, an early sign of changes to come presented itself. And even though it had snowed several hours earlier, the temperatures rose and the sun peeked through the clouds. The thaw was beginning, as snow began to puddle and roads melted to the pavement. And I like to think that spring is whispering its eventual arrival in colder climates, even as it does so more loudly in warmer ones.

This wonderful whisper got me thinking about whispers in our lives that we sometimes ignore until they become a kick in the seat of the pants or state of illness that finally gets our attention. Early changes usually, in my experience, whisper their arrival. They don’t yell. If we want to hear the whisper, we will need to be present, alert, and open. Read the rest of this entry »

AND Experience the Real Thing to Know

March 1st, 2015

Much of the US has been dealing with a barrage of snowstorms this month. Whatever your response to the weather, for me there is an element of beauty, or at least awe, involved. Even in the case of destructive forces, there is something awesome in their power and force.

Today I went for a brief walk. The snow looked so gorgeous from inside. Before I went for a walk, I shoveled the last remnants of snow on the stairs and chopped what ice was amenable to being chopped. Shoveling and chopping ice are deceptive activities, if you are dressed appropriately, because the temperature can feel warmer than it really is.

The cold hit my face and my eyes began to run (which is more than I can say for the pace I was keeping, as I walked). It was still beautiful. And though my initial thought was to give up on the walk and go back inside, I kept going for a brief walk. Read the rest of this entry »

AND Go Beyond to See Anew

February 22nd, 2015

I was listening to a talk by Jill Bolte Taylor, the Harvard brain scientist who suffered a stroke and wrote a book about her experience. She describes, with great excitement and enthusiasm, the experience of watching her brain, as it underwent a stroke. With the fascination of an explorer, she was caught up in what she was hearing and seeing, as the stroke was happening. And today she suggests that her training as a brain scientist probably did not advantage her over others who experience a stroke because she was so fascinated that it took a while for her to call for help.

One of the things that I found fascinating was the word choice she used to describe her experience. When the host of the show referred to her experience of watching herself have a stroke as “terrifying”, she quickly dismissed his description and replaced it with “remarkable.” Her level of insight and learning coupled with her sheer fascination with the whole experience fulfilled her dreams, as a scientist. And she readily admits that if she had the choice to have the stroke or not, knowing what she learned from it and despite eight years of recovery, she would choose to have had the stroke. Read the rest of this entry »