AND Gifts Come in Many Forms

December 21st, 2014

The hustle and bustle of the season is in full swing. In northern climates, snow graces the mountains, hills, and lawns with a peaceful blanket white. People are rushing around trying to get meals planned, supplies gathered, and homes decorated. Workers are busily trying to clean off desks in order to get away for a few days or weeks. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Kwanza, Hanukkah, or any other holiday, this is the time to share with others the beauty and message of the season.

And in the midst of this flurry of activity, a story on the news grabbed my attention last week. A child in Utah, named Addie, may not see another Christmas after this one. She is six years old and her weight has dwindled to 23 pounds. She remains undiagnosed. Her family has requested that people send Addie enough cards this year to fill a lifetime of Christmases. And other children and adults are responding with cards and pictures. Read the rest of this entry »

AND Recognize the Gift

December 14th, 2014

In several conversations this week, I was struck by the uniqueness of each story. We never really know what is going on in people’s lives until we pause to ask or allow ourselves to be open to hear and share. AND in this season of giving, we have the opportunity to recognize that what people seek may not match what we have to give, or vice versa.

Some people offer merriment, quick laughter, and spirited play as a way of sharing the holiday spirit. Others prefer to share a quiet moment, unmarred by what is experienced as noise. Some are dealing with loss and pain and have no more to give, while others want only to help spread good cheer and merriment.

It might be helpful for each of us to step back and appreciate the intention, even if we might not truly appreciate the gesture. When we want quiet, and someone brings exuberance, we could respond by trying to squelch or subdue the merriment, or step back to appreciate the desire and ability of some to celebrate with abandon. Read the rest of this entry »

AND Kindness Is a Gift

December 7th, 2014

As we enter the holiday season and start rushing around to buy gifts and send cards, I want to pause to reflect on gift giving. What strikes me these days is how list-driven and over-scheduled we have become as a society. Heaven forbid that we pause to collect thoughts and change our plans to accommodate what is happening in any given moment that is not on our list. We rush past people and don’t even see them.

As I was standing outside in the cold last night, wandering around the property as the electrician tried (unsuccessfully) to get the security lights to pick up my movement so he could set them, a neighbor walked up the beach to say hello. I had only met her once before, as she doesn’t live in the nearby house and only returns occasionally in the summer to visit. She stopped to talk, thinking we were hanging Christmas lights. Read the rest of this entry »

AND Consider the Impact

November 30th, 2014

I am fascinated by the decisions we make in our lives. Knowing that, as Buddhism teaches, suffering is the price we pay for our attachments, I find myself watching attachments that cause me to respond to situations with frustration. Attachments usually become clear whenever we hold expectations about things will happen or should happen.

One area where I am learning about personal expectations and attachments is in the area of personal property. I am under (the apparently mistaken) impression that when we pay for something, it becomes our personal property. And when it is personal, as opposed to shared, property, no one else is entitled to use it without permission. This is clearly an attachment that can cause great frustration if you live near the water. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »