Posts Categorized: Radical Kindness

Dipping Deeply Into the New Year

It’s pretty darned hard to miss the flashing ads and headlines that remind me, and all of us, that this is the time for resolve, discipline, will power. My own natural desire to get more in touch with my healthy body through diet and exercise at this time of year always finds plenty of support from the culture around me. I don’t mind riding that wave. But anybody at my gym will tell you that the new spurt of activity lasts about six weeks.

What makes it stick is when I dip deeply to discover what’s been in the way of change. I’ve discovered for myself that any resolutions for the new year just don’t take unless I spend some time thinking about where I’ve been, getting my bearings for what’s ahead.

Because the unquestioned past seems to have a way of becoming in the future.

Putting Yourself on Your List

In this chilly and bustling time, where do you freeze yourself out of your own heart? Maybe you check the holiday list and check it twice, without even noticing that your name never happens to appear. Your Inner Santa doesn’t see you, even if you’ve been nice rather than naughty. And so you leap through the holidays and to the end of the year without ever bringing yourself along.

Despite the exhilaration of the season, there’s often something inside that just longs to be heard, to be seen. It can be naughty by overeating or overdrinking to get your attention. Or it can have a meltdown or get sick. Then maybe you’ll stop and appreciate it. Instead, it usually waits quietly to get noticed.

Building a Kinder World

There’s a line in the recent Sherlock Holmes movie that grabbed my attention.

“Give me some evidence, Holmes. With a little mud I can build bricks and from there I can build a case.”

I’m struck by how often we use the evidence we have to wall us into a world view that isn’t kind to us or the people around us. Someone cuts us off in traffic and we take it personally. Our kids are acting out. Proof we’re a bad parent. And so it can go, if we believe our case that we’re failing or not measuring up, somehow.

What I’ve been discovering as I work with my own mind and assist others in inquiry is that there’s another choice.

Baja: A Whale’s Eye View

I just arrived home from a pilgrimage to the birthing lagoon of the gray whale in Baja. I had heard rumors about mother whales there who introduce their calves to humans, much as we take our offspring to meet other species. This image had lived in my imagination for several years, increasing its ranking in my bucket list. But my watery imaginings didn’t begin to match the experience of being in their presence—the power of a whale’s eye view.

“Exploding Head” Remedy

Last week I co-hosted a cross cultural dialogue with Balinese visiting San Francisco. The focus was on Tri Hita Karuna, the ancient principle of balancing relationships with community, spirit, and nature. When I asked a beautiful Balinese singer to share. she said,

“All this talking and talking makes our heads explode.”

Then she led a long, lovely chant. A sense of connection with each other, with the world, with spirit, saturated the room. We were singing our world back in balance.

Help Me to Believe the Truth about Myself, No Matter How Beautiful It Is

This is the prayer we used to close my woman’s circle for the past 11 years. I had learned from the Sufis, but it was written by Marina Widerhehr. Last week was the group’s last circle. We shared “popcorn shapshots,” images of the precious and not-so-precious moments that have united us: the weddings, funerals, illnesses. The laughter and tears.

Since then I’ve noticed my own popcorn images: photos of me in the full bloom of my twenties and thirties. In the radiance of my forties and fifties. I noticed that only when I look at the snapshots from this distance am I able to see the beauty that I was. When I was younger my mind was way to full of the mosquito beliefs brought to me by my inner spin doctor. You’re too fat. Your eyes are too close together. Teeth too big. In a nutshell, There’s something wrong with me.

Reflections after a Dead Puppy Christmas

Every year at this time I ask myself the question. “Now where was I?” It’s as if I left “my life” for somebody else’s. Which just might be true, at one level. Always the holidays are full to overflowing with the unexpected. This year my daughter brought home puppies from a rescue mission that had gone awry and we set up an emergency vet clinic here, where we nursed and held half-pound infants, trying desperately to save them from the ravages of Parvo. Only one of 15 made it, and it was happily delivered on Christmas eve. In the middle of all this sadness, carols, games with friends, and the Beatles on Wii were islands of laughter.

Which brings up the big savior: dark humor. I’ve lived long enough to keep in mind the story in family history WHILE going through the tough stuff. This will be the Christmas of the Dead Puppies, and we will laugh. Soon.

“The Sun in Drag” on a Rainy Day

As the rains set in here those of us who live in the Willamette valley know that we’re in for a long haul of (mostly) soggy weather. Unless I forget what I love about it, I begin to fight with this reality. For some time I’ve kept a list to remind me of the subtle beauties of the coming season. A partial list: subtle mists on the hills, rhythms on my roof, quiet time to dream, cozy evenings tucked in warm flannel.

When I forget these “favorite things,” there’s always poetry. One of my favorites for the season is from Hafiz, a 14th Century Persian poet. He reminds me of the source of sun, lest I forget. We’re all just the sun in drag.