upside down

Dear Readers…

I feel sure that many of you are watching the news…and are keeping a safe distance from it. A steady diet of it is not what any of us need.

This is a time when our ability to observe the world, our communities, and how the results of past decisions are affecting our collective ability to respond.

In the US, as we looked forward to some of the promised financial relief, it is abundantly clear today that it hasn’t even come close to addressing the ongoing and growing needs. We continue to fail those who need this assistance the most, while the big and wealthy continue to benefit. Indeed the upside down nature of our society continues to be exposed.

I will not list all of the systems which have failed us all, world-wide for many, many years. Wherever you live in the world, you likely see it. If you haven’t seen it yet, I encourage you to, as objectively as possible, consider what is happening, even as reported numbers of cases and deaths increase.

There are the unseen, the uncounted, and unsupported which will likely not make it into these numbers. The marginalization of so many for so long is right in front of us. How did we arrive at this point in our history? I will leave the answers for you to discern from where you are geographically and from within yourselves.

What many of us know is that activism can only be useful if it is born from a place of love deep within. Until and unless we have embraced the wholeness of who we are at our very core, our actions may be imbued with anger…which will not be useful in the long term. What I see as I look around is a lot of love. People are reaching out and helping others with love in their hearts.

I also see a lot of anger. What we resist persists. What we look at (or embrace as our reality) disappears.

Have I mentioned that words have power? Social distancing is a term that has an energy of separation. Yet, many are finding ways to be in touch  – or connected – to loved one, friends and colleagues. Physical distancing is what we are really doing. Social distancing is NOT.  Do you see this as a war? When we are at war, the energy of resistance is what we create and perpetuate.

Scientists are working with all of this as they test, analyze and seek ways to help us move forward safely. Working with any situation is how we move through and beyond it.

See the upside down nature of our societies?

Take a moment, if you will, in your mind’s eye, envision the following:

A tightly packed container, filled with marbles of many colors and sizes, with a lid holding the marbles in place.

The container is clear so you believe that it is fully transparent and you can see completely through it.

You believe that you see all there is to see. You therefore believe what you see and you quickly move on to whatever else it is you have to do.

And then the lid comes off and the marbles spill out. They roll everywhere – for that is the nature of beautiful, colorful and small, round spheres.

You see the marbles rolling around everywhere and suddenly you begin to see the many different marbles from within the center of the container that were not visible to you when you looked quickly before and thought you saw every one of them.

Some of the marbles are clear. Some have a small bit of color and are otherwise clear. Some are solid colored – you cannot see through them. And you begin to realize…they are all different. Many were not seen until the container was open and turned upside down.

What can we possibly take from this?

Here are a few observations. I encourage you to consider your own individual observations.

  • None of us is the same. All of us have different stories, experiences and needs.
  • What we thought was true, was not true.
  • What we thought we saw was not what was really there.
  • When they all fall out, do we discard some and not others in order to try to fit them all back into the container?

How can we address what is now spilled before our eyes? How can we put it all back together? Maybe we don’t spend any of our precious creative energy trying to force everything back to where it was before.

Maybe we see this as the breakdown…for a breakthrough.

I am additionally reminded of the Japanese art of, Kintsugi. What is broken is repaired in ways that make what is broken even more beautiful.

That is the opportunity we have now…in our upside down world. We can see what we did not see – or chose not to see – before. We may not know exactly how or what we will create going forward. We do know that what we create will not resemble what we had before. Don’t we?

 

unmoored

“The true hypocrite is the one who ceases to perceive his deception, the one who lies with sincerity.”
Andre Gide

It may seem odd that I would begin a post with this quote. However, where we are, collectively in this part of our human experience has created an opportunity for us to examine those places within ourselves where we may have ceased to perceive our  deception of ourselves. If you believe “the outer reflects the inner” as I do, you may be able to readily see where this is visible outside of us…compelling us to examine our individual self-deceptions.

When we become unmoored, it can be very scary. No longer tethered to something stable, sound or secure, we may feel lost; without an over-structured schedule or life; perhaps even feeling that we lack a guide for what is next or how we will find our way forward. Many are also talking and writing about a new, as yet undefined, normal.

Before the “new normal” begins to unfold, we must each let go of what defined our collective past. What, you wonder, might some of those beliefs, thoughts, habits, and actions might be? We need look no further than the places – no, the people –  most affected by the virus and if still healthy, are feeling the rippling impacts the most.

Rather than developing a list of all of the affected groups, segments and the greed that seems to know no bounds, I will simply offer this.

Contemplating the upside down nature of our human collective as well as the blatant disregard for all beings in nature, including Mother Earth, is probably a good place to begin the development of the new normal. Each of us has something that we are currently contributing to the wholeness of our world right now. Perhaps our reflections will lead us to making different choices, or to expand what we are currently offering.

Anything IS possible. It is in our creative imaginations and dreams that possibilities will dawn and we will find our way forward – together.

For now, may we all find comfort in the unmoored time we are in. As challenging as it may be, it is only in this liminal space where we will realize the potential for many new possibilities as we work together to create new ways of being on our now healing Mother Earth.

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”
Andre Gide

 

This is a picture of a beautiful and very meaningful print that was given to me as a gift.

 

 

 

 

 

small things

On my desk sits a quote on a piece of pottery that is cradled on a small stand. Made by a local beloved potter, it is a special piece. I am a lover of quotes and when I saw this one years ago, it touched me then. I’m sure that many of you know it and are pretty familiar with it. Somehow, today it seemed to take on a very different meaning.

In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.

 – Mother Teresa

Many are finding this time to be especially challenging for all of the reasons that we are probably familiar with. Some are finding opportunities to accomplish projects and other tasks that had been on a very long list of to-dos. Still others are finding their way back into nature to see and observe the beautiful messages that Spring offers, if we watch and listen. Spring always reminds me of beginning again. And here we are.

We are awakening from Winter’s rest. Look around and you can see this is true of all of the beautiful plants, flowers, and trees are beginning to bloom. The birds are singing their beautiful songs.

We are awakening to so many new things in our world right now. Whether we are waking up to seeing our loved ones – near and far – in different ways than we have before, or mourning losses of loved ones, friends, jobs, familiar ways of life; nothing is the same as it was before. Grieving these losses is important. Our individual grieving process will take us as long as we need for it to take.

I’m reminded of a lovely poem by Rumi*.

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.

                             Don’t go back to sleep.

You must ask for what you really want.

                             Don’t go back to sleep.

People are going back and forth across the doorsill

                             where the two worlds touch.

The door is round and open.

                             Don’t go back to sleep.

Perhaps you are familiar with this poem as well. However, I offer it here for your thoughtful reflection. As we continue living in this liminal space, may we pause to reflect on what the message in this poem may be – to each of us individually.

May we also offer prayers of thanksgiving for the many people on the front lines of this pandemic – from the health care workers to all who work to support the supply chains, the firsts responders, the multitudes of volunteers who are helping others in all manner of situations.

Our gratitude can be their blessing.

We are awakening to the many aspects of our world including the multiple systems which haven’t supported all people for far too long. In our upside down world, may we also see what we need to see (rather than turning away); have the courage to throw away the old worn out thoughts, beliefs and choices which no longer serve; and open our hearts to the beauty of a brave new world, which we can all be a part of creating in our own loving way.

We can all do small things with great love.

May we remain awake…and not go back to sleep.

*From: “The Essential Rumi”, Translations by Coleman Barks (1995) New Expanded Edition

one more time…an opportunity to grieve

A good friend of mine said, “You are married to sorrow.” And I looked at him and said, “I am not married to sorrow. I just choose not to look away.”

And I think there is deep beauty in not averting our gaze.

No matter how hard it is, no matter how heartbreaking it can be. It is about presence. It is about bearing witness.

I used to think bearing witness was a passive act. I don’t believe that anymore. I think that when we are present, when we bear witness, when we do not divert our gaze, something is revealed—the very marrow of life. We change. A transformation occurs. Our consciousness shifts.

—Terry Tempest Williams

These extraordinary times are exposing many deeply held fears, while we are ALL grieving the loss of something(s). For far too long, we have looked away from what we feel when we have an experience that makes us uncomfortable. We have lived too fast, and counted on others to do what we might have done – for ourselves or others.

Grief is very much a part of what we are living in these days.

We are losing loved ones or friends.

We are losing a familiar way of life.

We are losing jobs, access to social experiences outside of our homes.

Maybe we are at home with children – of any age.

I could go on with an exhaustive list of what is lost, changing or already gone at this point. You know what you are losing or have lost.

Until and unless we slow down to see and feel our individual losses, we will not be present with the feelings that others in our space may have. We will not really listen with empathy. Whether you are sharing your living space with children or other adults, all are feeling something as we continue to collectively walk down very foggy and uncertain paths; and walking is what we are called to do now. Walk, not run.

I’ve been listening to Brene Brown’s new podcast, Unlocking Us. Today she interviewed David Kessler, and expert on grief and protege of the late Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. Among the many wonderful and comforting words in their discussion was this quote by David:

“The worst loss is always your loss.”

He offered this in the context of a discussion about comparing your loss to someone else’s loss. There is also deep wisdom in that statement that connects us to ourselves – one more time. If we do not acknowledge what we are losing – and go into the feelings of those losses, we will (1) not authentically be present for our loved ones as they navigate their feelings of loss; and (2) the essential energy for healing and being a part of creating the new future which is out of reach at this moment, will not be available to us.

I’ve written about grief here a few times. If you wish to dive in for more perspective on what you may be grieving – or if you’re not sure you’re grieving – feel free to search on “grief” in this site. I’ve written about grief frequently. It permeates our very existence and holds our greater opportunities for healing and seeing and feeling more clearly, the light within us  – our guide into a new future that we have an opportunity to create.

Finally, here is a link to an 8 minute video narrated by M. Scott Peck – whom some of you may know as the author of The Road Less Traveled. I used to share this video with the teams of executives that I worked with years ago, at the end of our multiple weeks of work together. My VHS copy was used so often and then in storage for three years. It didn’t survive. When I found it online, I was delighted. The Rabbi’s Gift, is a parable that I hope you will find useful.

I send my best wishes to all of you, dear readers. May you be well.

Namaste.

 

prayers and miracles

Dear Readers,

I send you blessings of love, peace, reconciliation, and wakefulness in these ongoing changing and unusual circumstances.

We are all finding different ways to live our waking hours – whether we are working from home or not, caring for children or not, on the front lines of this whole thing in some way or not. The spectrum of where any of us is and how we are being in our daily lives is vast and different.

Many of us seek comfort and refuge within, as we see and experience the heightened anxiety that a pandemic of this type and magnitude creates as we begin to question so much of what we have taken for granted for so long. I’ve been reading and listening to the words of many whose objective and universal perspectives on our human frailties, needs and circumstances offer much to contemplate and consider. I’ll provide a short list of what I have found at the end of this post.

For now, however, I wish to provide a link to a prayer and a perspective on a past song by Bill Withers offered by a fellow blogger in his most recent post, Bodhisattva Prayer for Humanity. You will find Ivon’s post to be thoughtful and comforting.

As we continue to hold hands from a distance and connect our hearts through our shared compassion, we also need to remember how important our individual quiet moments are. These are more important now than perhaps we have realized prior to this period of time.

Prayers – or quiet contemplation or meditation – or whatever resonates for you and connects you to something greater – God, Universe or whatever your name for that vast energy of unconditional love and support, are essential.

Miracles are around us – in our individual lives – every day. We are often too busy to notice them. Slowing down, helps us notice them.

We can still take walks, as we physically distance for the safety of all. Nature awaits our return to it…for peace, answers, prayers, and miracles.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love..

 – 1 Corinthians 13:13

Reading and listening ideas:

Charles Eisenstein (Author of “The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible”) podcasts – brief and powerful opportunities for reflection.

Eckhart Tolle

Francis Weller  Francis’s most recent newsletter was beautiful and inspiring – as his words are anytime. Although the newsletter isn’t posted on his website, feel free to sign up for them at his website, or use this: Contact and send me your email address. I will gladly forward it.

Sending blessing of love and peace to all of you.

Namaste

time

Stress is a perverted relationship with time.

– John O’Donohue

My dear readers, I feel we can all acknowledge that we are experiencing something we haven’t seen – and on the scale we are seeing it – in our lives.

I have revisited a conversation that Krista Tippet (of OnBeing.org) had with John O’Donohue. Perhaps you know of him, and if you do not, may this serve as an introduction to him and his amazing and beautiful perspective on life. This conversation was one of his last interviews before his death in 2008. For me, it makes his message and the words left in his legacy of writings a timeless gift…and is timely for us now.

All we have is time...and this conversation has so much to offer. It is 52 minutes in length, and I encourage you to set aside a little bit of your time to listen. If you can find a place where you will not be interrupted, and you can close your eyes as you listen, perhaps you will hear with more depth. If you prefer to read, there is a transcript available at this link. However, I hope you will listen. The conversation is rich and beautiful.

Wherever you are in the world, please take very good care of yourself. Remember that we are all in this together. WE, each individual comprising the whole of humanity, are the leaders of our lives. The choices we make in leading our lives at this time matter. Our choices have always mattered…and perhaps we have the opportunity to reflect at this moment in time, on the ways we have led our lives, as a step forward into a future borne of difference choices for leading our “one wild and precious life”.*

 

John O’Donohue — The Inner Landscape of Beauty

 

Namaste.

 

 

*With honor and gratitude to Mary Oliver for this oft used phrase…out of context. In its proper context, in her poem “The Summer Day” we can find so much beauty…to reflect upon as we view our outer world and consider our inner world (the realm of our very souls).

one step, then another

You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope.

 – Thomas Merton

There are so many things happening in our world today. I wonder if you are as curious as I about how it will unfold day after day. It is clear that many are coping in a variety of ways that are supportive of the human spirit, dignity and are grounded in love. The videos and stories that I come across that show people reaching out –  offering music, buying groceries, checking on others, etc. – provide a reminder of just how resilient and longingly supportive we can be.

It is in stark contrast to a story I read over the weekend about the apparent spike in gun sales. People are believing they must protect their families, apparently. And from what, I wonder? If fear or hunger showed up at your door, would you meet it with a gun? Fear meets fear, and rarely is there a good outcome to that meeting.

Being in community – if only virtually sometimes – keeps us from spending too much time inside the part of our brains that can spin up some pretty dreary thoughts and things which separate us from those whom we love, love us and may need our loving assistance.

When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.

 – Winnie The Pooh

I choose to believe in humanity. We are decent and truly wish to offer only our best to each other. It is the learned fear that often gets in our way; blocks our hearts and closes us off to those who can support us or to those who may need our support. It’s the small things that can make a big difference.

Allowing a senior at the grocery store with only a few items, compared to your larger order, to step in front of you in the checkout line, is a small thing that can make a big difference. Respectfully acknowledging others – even from a distance (“Good morning,” “Take care,” “May I get that item down from the shelf for you?”) can make a difference for anyone.

Offering our best in any moment…even a smile…can be a powerful gift of hope and light in an otherwise seemingly dark period. The people on the front lines – health care workers, grocery store staff, first responders – need our cooperation and appreciation. A simple “thank you” accompanied by a smile can go a long way to supporting them as they walk through long and tiring days.

I am reminded of one of the tenets of the twelve step programs, “One day at a time.” There are also five Reiki Principles or positive affirmations that are useful anytime, and perhaps especially in these time of great change and upset of our daily routines. They are:

Just for today I will live in an attitude of gratitude.

Just for today I will not worry.

Just for today I will not anger.

Just for today I shall do my work honestly.

Just for today I will show love and respect to all living beings.

Great guidance for everyday practice and living…and perhaps now we can begin a practice of affirming these while things are not the same, we are not moving at light speed through our days and continuing to distract ourselves from what is important.

Wherever you are, dear readers, know that I hold each of you in my heart. As I offer prayers of gratitude for the opportunities that this can offer, I offer gratitude for your safety, peace and reconciliation. May you find calm in nature, and peace in stillness. These will reconnect you to your deepest heart.

One step, then another step…

In the stillness of the quiet, if we listen, we can hear the whisper of the heart giving strength to weakness, courage to fear, hope to despair.

 – Howard Thurman

 

 

where to begin?

“The urgency for a radical change in consciousness seems to grow every day.”

 – Eckhart Tolle

The well worn and know by many adage, “we are living in extraordinary times” seems to have taken on additional meaning in the last few months. Many times, I have thought about writing here to offer something – anything. That is when I knew it was best to say nothing. As I continue to watch what is unfolding in the world, and in my own country, I have observed many situations, read about decisions (made or not), and listened to quite a few people as they have navigated the increasing uncertainties that continue to unfold before us.

It’s challenging for those who are accustomed to being on the move all of the time – in their activities, in their thoughts, in the commitments they make and so on – to feel the discomfort and perhaps all-out panic, as things we have come to rely upon as a normal part of our life here, are shutting down, delaying or taking some radical action to support social distancing, self-quarantine, or whatever is necessary for health and safety during this period.

My hope for us all is that we begin to see. What, you may ask, do we need to see? There is a lot to see. We can see nothing if we are reacting from our panic, fear, anger, frustration, etc. We are blocked by those emotions from seeing what is really there for us to see and remember…about who we really are, on this planet together.

Despair or Hope

There is much to see, much to remember and much to discern for and about ourselves as a member of the large mix of beings on the planet. There are many questions that we must ask ourselves, about our conscious and unconscious contributions to the current conditions we are facing, as a collective, today. There is no need to go more deeply into fear – to see all of this as some type of apocalyptic event; although that is a choice we can make.

Quite the opposite is what we have the opportunity to do at this moment. Some preliminary questions to ask ourselves may include what we are seeing and hearing with our eyes and ears as we watch or read the latest news, and hear from family members and friends. The next questions – the more challenging questions – are the questions about what we see and hear with the eyes and ears of our essential selves…our deepest heart.

Future Focus

I encourage all of you – wherever in the world you are, dear readers – to reflect on one simple aspect of where we are right now. We are all in this…this circumstance, this situation, this place in our evolutionary experience. We are all in it together. We may not know where or how every being on the planet is responding or reacting to what we are facing at this time. We are all connected. It is a fairly good bet that as interconnected as we have become – with travel, trade, the Internet, etc., we will continue to be affected, even if we do not contract the virus.

I bought a tree today. It was the same kind of tree that I’ve planted in the front of two homes that I lived in, in two different states. I lived in those homes, nineteen and eleven years respectively. This tree was a very slow-growing and delicately beautiful tree when it bloomed – in both places.

When I saw the one I chose to purchase this morning, I noted it’s small stature. It’s little buds visible, it will bloom in the weeks ahead…very slowly and delicately. Rather than placing it in the ground where I live, I have put it into a pot. It can live there for years, if necessary, and can go with me wherever I may find myself living. It will take many years of growing to get to the size of the others in my past. That, by itself, is a reminder that change and growth take time. As I transplanted the tree to a pot which will provide space for years of growth, I realized the symbolism of this tree and where we find ourselves today. We did not get here overnight, and we will not climb out of this overnight either.

As we begin the healing process, there is more for us to consider than the simple act of ensuring that resources are better aligned for any future similar outbreaks. We have an opportunity now, to wake up; to ask ourselves if the world we are living in today is the world we wish to continue to inhabit in exactly the same way we have for far too long.

I know what my answer is. I know that what must change will take much longer than the years I have left to live. However, I do know that I will offer all of the very best, most positive energy I have and can muster to be a part of the healing solutions, rather than perpetuating the fear and divisions which have contributed significantly to where we find ourselves today.

May we all consider what our conscious and unconscious contributions have been to our human family.  We are capable of far more than we may even believe we are. Step, by small step, we can make a difference – a new difference.

“You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.”
—Christopher Robin, friend of Winnie the Pooh

 

 

the water we swim in

Recently, I was talking with a very dear and trusted friend and fellow coach about the inherent challenge in learning to hold two seemingly opposite sets of feelings about the same thing, person, situation or experience. Her response immediately provided a broader context for my growing awareness. She said, “It’s the water we swim in, right?” We are not necessarily shown that the “both and” is an ok place to be with anything. In fact, we are taught that the “either or” is the way forward.

After a brief pause, I realized just how profound her response was. Here we are, in this crazy time in our human history, seeking to find a way forward that is peaceful, loving and mutually supportive of all…and holding opposite feelings or perspectives is generally not what we are taught to realize as normal. Somehow we learn that we have to choose one feeling or the other feeling…as if the two, on balance cannot truly co-exist. Perhaps this isn’t as true for you as it has been for me…for my whole life! And perhaps it is also true that our collective reluctance to hear or see those who are different or hold different beliefs than we do may be rooted in this “either or” culture we live in and unconsciously perpetuate.

Full disclosure…my sun sign is Libra and I have a Libra stellium (Sun, Jupiter and Mars) in the 12th house. Yep…a LOT of Libra!! So, my tendency to live the extremes is well entrenched. Throwing the “baby out with the bath water” isn’t an uncommon way to describe the ways I can be extreme in my behavior and choices. Learning to moderate this part of my being –  slowing down or completely standing down, when I feel that overwhelming need to move quickly in one direction – has been an interesting process over these years. Many believe that we Librans are balanced by nature. Nope! We are learning balance!

“What is behind your eyes holds more power than what is in front of them.”

– Gary Zukav

What I have found to be true with my habit of believing that I must choose one feeling or perspective over the other is that I begin to tell myself a story about my present situation or growing dilemma. It’s as if I force myself to choose one side of the apparent dilemma and create a story that is supposed to make the choice alright. Except it no longer works for me. I have begun to see and feel the discomfort and outright suffering that I have created for myself all of these years.

“Men are disturbed not by the things that happen, but by their opinion of the things that happen.”

– Epictetus

If none of this is making sense, here is an example.

About a year ago, I relocated back to a place I left in 2016. I left rather quickly after the sale of my home. I had always wished to return and it took more than two years and an evacuation for a hurricane to facilitate my return. I had a home built. It was ready in four months. When I moved in, there were multiple issues which were completely unexpected – one was potentially life threatening. I was so grateful to be back in Virginia and I did NOT like my new home. I tried. I really tried to fall in love with it. It wasn’t happening. For months, I attempted to convince myself that it was fine. After all I was back in the place I wished to live and I further told myself I just needed to get over it. That wasn’t happening either. Late in the afternoon one day last Fall, I admitted out loud – I heard myself say it – that I was so very happy to be back here and the house just wasn’t where I wished to live. In that moment, I realized how the creation of a story had trapped me –  in a place within – in which I was miserable. More importantly, I became aware of the reality of choosing one side or the other side of a dilemma (“either or” thinking), over the realization that both can be true and can co-exist (“both and” perspective). Since that moment, I’ve opened my heart and mind to the possibility of moving again as soon as the right place become available or apparent.

A weight was lifted in that moment, too. A weight that I had placed on myself (and was quite good at doing for many, many years) was no longer there…and I lifted it myself!

The water we swim in can be dark and murky or it can be clearer and easier to navigate. As I have said many times, perspective is everything.

“The moment you change your perception, is the moment you rewrite the chemistry of your body.”

– Dr. Bruce H. Lipton

courage and it’s companion – pain

Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

 – Socrates

I watched and listened to and Demi Lovato’s performance on the Grammy Awards the day following the performance. Listening to the lyrics, the simple music accompanying her voice, and feeling the depth of the emotions as she sang, transported me back to a time in my life when I felt the isolation, desperation, and separation that she so courageously expressed in her performance. Her very survival of an overdose and the subsequent bare honesty with which she expresses her feelings in that song, written prior to that event, are worth our compassion and reflection.

I was recently talking with someone about addiction. Although I believe, as Richard Rohr has asserted and discussed in a recent series in his Daily Meditations, all are addicted to something (habits of minds, ways of doing things, substances, a job, etc.*), the conversation was about nicotine. At one point in the conversation it was asserted by the person with whom I was speaking that I couldn’t possibly understand addiction and that reading a certain book might help me better understand it. As I continued to reflect on this conversation, I recalled Ms. Lovato’s poignant performance, and my experience that many people don’t understand depression, either.

It’s easy to look at someone like her and think that perhaps she “has it all” and wonder how could she possibly find herself in such a dark place. I’m quite certain there are many who knew me during the period in my life and might have had similar thoughts, had they known of my condition at the time. Even those closest to me didn’t understand. I was quite adept at being the person I thought I had to be to remain successful in performing my job responsibilities and parenting my children.

I write today to remind everyone that we have no idea what is going on in someone – anyone – else’s life. Even those we may live with or are closest to day-to-day may be struggling within themselves with thoughts, feelings and forces unknown to those of us who are “on the outside”.  Can’t we begin to extend that kind of awareness to everyone we see, pass on the street when we are walking, or observe doing something seemingly unconscious behind the wheel of a vehicle?  A practice of compassion and acceptance can go a very long way in our very divided world. In fact it can, quite literally, change it!

We tend to judge, often harshly, those who are different or behave in ways that we don’t understand or necessarily appreciate. And yet, if we were watching ourselves in those moments of judging others, I wonder how we might feel about the person we are watching.  I feel it is so very important to remember that we are all walking the same ground on this planet at this time.

The complexities of living in this world – different places and societies  – cannot be understated. Addiction and depression have their roots in our attempts to “fit in” to what we have been shown or taught is the “way to be” if we are to survive or get ahead. Living up to what becomes our individual expectations of ourselves can be, and often are, impossible. This, by itself, is a sad commentary on who we are collectively, isn’t it?

The courage to be the beautiful individual that each of us is, is something that some of us seem to have more of than others. And then again…do they really? Or are they trying to make it appear that they do…as I did and so many of us try to do. Often it takes a crisis for us to wake up to our true and authentic selves and begin living fully into who we are, without fear.

May we practice a deeper approach to offering kindness to every single person we encounter in our journey of each day. May we also remember that each of us has impact – with every word, and in our behavior – on the whole of our experience. Choose to be negative, judgmental – that is a contribution. Choose to be positive, kind – that is a contribution.

If you didn’t see Demi Lovato’s performance at the Grammy Awards Sunday evening or online since, see if you can sit quietly and listen deeply and then check in with yourself to see how you feel. You can also see the video embedded in a well written piece on the performance in an article published at The Atlantic.

Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.

 – Chief Seattle

*these represent my interpretations of what Fr. Rohr intimated in his series on addictions.