AND Listen Carefully

January 25th, 2015

I recently met a number of fabulous women at an international conference held in Atlanta for women leaders of women’s colleges. What struck me was the genuine desire to connect and share, the interest in learning from each other, and the diversity of perspectives. Cultural differences lead to tremendous insights, if we are open to truly listen and hear not only the message, but also the context from which people speak.

I loved the lessons on reframing offered by a woman from Ireland, who stood out as the only non-American on a panel. And while the panel was diverse by age and race, it was the cultural component most fascinated me. The panel inspired reflections from a very accomplished leader from India about the issues faced by women in her country and what she has been doing to address them. The desire to support the panel’s information with yet more cultural insights and texture yielded increased richness to the discussion. Read the rest of this entry »

AND Look Up

January 18th, 2015

I was on my way to work last week. The air was clear and crisp. As I looked up, I stopped in my tracks. A beautiful pink and blue sky filled all the space above my head. A half-moon was beginning to fade, leaving a white silhouette against this gorgeous backdrop. AND I stopped to appreciate the beauty.

Against the outline of dark pines in the distance, this morning sky greeted me. In the moment of pausing to appreciate the spectacular colors filling the sky, I was filled with peace and gratitude. AND I was reminded, yet again, of the beauty in our world. All that was going on in the news would have never predicted such beauty. AND still, here it was. Read the rest of this entry »

AND Know What You Measure

January 11th, 2015

A frigid air mass covered a large portion of the northern and central states of the US last week. I looked out the window on a day where the weather reports indicated below zero temperatures without the wind chill effects and double digit below zero temperatures with the wind chill factor considered.

At low tide, a considerable swath of sand was covered with ice from where the surf had been when the tide was high. The steam came off the ocean and headed straight up to the clouds, another signal of frigid temperatures. And then I read the outdoor thermometer, placed directly in the path of the sun’s rays. It read 82 degrees! Read the rest of this entry »

AND Every Light Matters

January 4th, 2015

I was reading a book on Maya Angelou’s wisdom that I received as a gift. AND what struck me was the willingness of a gifted writer and teacher to accept her calling and stand in her light.

Each of us is invited, and called, to do the same. The circumstances and events in our lives need not be the fabric that defines our lives. Rather, they are more powerfully the context in which, by which, and through which we are invited to shine. They are the backdrop against which our light has the capacity to do its work in the world, if we choose to stand tall in who we are at the core. Read the rest of this entry »

AND Happy New Day

December 28th, 2014

We really are a fascinating species. Some people worry about aliens visiting our planet. I think if they came and watched us for any period, they would shake their heads and leave!

As we close out the year we call 2014 and ring in 2015, I find myself listening to many people who look forward to the rest they will allow themselves after the holidays. Holidays have become, for many, something to get through, a task list to be managed, something after which rest is possible. We miss the joy of the lights and laughter, special moments shared, and memories created.

We reflect on years as we end one and mark a date on the calendar to start anew. Expecting old patterns to somehow change, we start the exercise and weight loss programs, or other activities associated with health and sanity, only to abandon them as “more important things” distract us from keeping the focus on what we say is really important to us. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »