the power of the spoken word

“Spoken words have power beyond measure.”

 – Debasish Mridha

I have written here, in the past, about the power of words. What returns me to this truth today is the theme which continues to dominate the collective psyche related to the words used by those who hold extremely visible positions of responsibility.

“All I need is a sheet of paper and something to write with, and then I can turn the world upside down.”

-Friedrich Nietzsche

I believe that Niestzsche (1844-1900) was definitely on to something when these words were spoken or written by him many years ago. The process of writing is necessarily slow, provided it is literally pen or pencil to paper. However, today we have all manner of media and methods to express our latest joys or our latest frustrations; and these are the least of what generally occurs on the various platforms referred to as social media, oxymoronic as the term for that phenomenon is. Being engaged in that arena keeps many people off balance, constantly triggered and more often reacting – either outwardly or inwardly stuffing responses lest they get drawn into the fray. In either case, it is simply not healthy. The impact of these feelings, reactions and responses on our physical bodies is not positive and cannot be minimized.

Nietstzsche’s “paper and something to write with” of yesterday is the social media phenomenon of today. The fingers race across the keyboards of smartphones, notebooks, and computers without passing through any other part of our being.  Our hearts are completely left out of this fast-paced, reactive process when words have been published which diminish or otherwise denigrate another individual or group.

To be completely forthcoming, I offer this. I lived in the district of the representative currently targeted by the President of the US. I spent a lot of time in the City of Baltimore, which I came to love and appreciate for its diversity, culture and location. To see the negative words, which have been spewed numbers of times and directed primarily to minorities, continue unabated, is deeply sad and disturbing. I now live in a city where those divisions spilled into the streets two years ago and were deemed by this President to have “…had some very fine people on both sides.”

I am not going to use this space as a place to jump into the war of words currently ongoing in our national political discourse.

I AM encouraging us all to become mindful of what we say, to whom we say it and how we offer our perspectives or beliefs. We are human. We have feelings. Some of us feel more anger than love. We get to feel our feelings. It is how we express those feelings – especially the painful, angry, fearful ones – that can make a difference in the quality of our lives and most certainly in the lives of those who may be the recipients of our projections. Whether we project our anger (fear) onto those closest to us or to many who are nameless and faceless to us, we are having an impact that will be lasting. Is this how we wish to be remembered – individually or collectively?  Or do we wish to be remembered for loving; offering healing, and supporting those who are most in need?

Although my children are grown and have families of their own, I am mindful of the eyes and hearts of the children watching all of the behavior of the adults who are behaving as they do. Our anger teaches them how to be and what is acceptable behavior. Our loving approach to extremely difficult events and experiences also teaches them what is acceptable…and what feels better.

I am reminded of a post that I read recently that amplifies the point: Sacred Flower . What if we all regarded our relationships this way?

Today, tomorrow and into the week, we will have opportunities to speak. Whether we speak kindly or we choose to use harsh words, we will feel the effects. If not right away, we will feel them.

Pause before you speak. If what is arising within is anger, pause to ask what is hurting within before you hurl those angry words. As we learn to slow down and listen, and to write with pen or pencil rather than surfing the wave of keys with our fingers, we allow ourselves the necessary time to pause and reflect, and most importantly to discern whether speaking is necessary and if so, how might we speak with less vitriol. Remember, what we do to others (that includes angry words) we also do to ourselves.

I leave you with this quote from Henri Nouwen, as a gentle reminder to carry with you as you begin this new week.

Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone’s face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and the life to come.

Love and peace to you all.

listening

“To listen is to lean in, softly, with a willingness to be changed by what we hear.”

-Mark Nepo

Listening, deeply, is a lost art, it seems. As I have often said to many, we have two ears and one mouth…for a reason. We need only look at all that is happening in our world, our country, our communities. Everyone is talking and no one seems to be listening. So, what happens when those talking believe they are not being heard? They get louder. Louder comes in many forms. Organized protests, louder voices by individual or groups, repetitive speaking and not even attempting to allow the other to speak or answer a question, are a few of the ways “louder” is expressed.

What I feel goes hand in hand with listening, is observation. Slowing down to listen, deeply, allows us to hear, deeply, what another may be attempting to say. Not everyone speaks clearly or eloquently when they are excited, stressed or are hurting. When they are trying to be heard by someone whose not slowing down to “…lean in, softly…”, any number of outcomes is possible and none are good. Sadly, many do not even listen to their own intuition. How can they possibly deeply listen to another.

“The soul speaks its truth only under quiet, inviting, and trustworthy conditions.”
Parker J. Palmer

I have launched a new page on this site, Compassionate Listening. I am not necessarily a fan of the moniker, “coach” for what I practice. Compassionate listening is what I really do. Within the quiet space of presence with another,  I hear the entreaties of the heart. Listening slowly, I hear deeply, what is within the story being shared. From this place of deep listening,  I offer observations and questions to facilitate self-discovery or self-generation in another. If you are interested or feel that having an objective and compassionate listener may be helpful for you, please consider visiting my page and reaching out via the link on that page.

May we all endeavor to slow down, listen and open to the possibility that something we hear may cause us to see something in ourselves which is awaiting our discovery.

Sunset photo taken with my iPhone on the southern NC Coast, 2013.

elevating the conversation

I’ve been listening to a few podcasts this week. I’ve enjoyed listening again to Eckhart Tolle and Oprah discussing Tolle’s book, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose. These podcasts are taken from their 2008 series of webinars in which they discussed each of the ten chapters in the book. The podcasts have served as a powerful review of this profound, timeless material.

I also listened to a podcast conversation between Oprah and Charles Eisenstein which I believe was originally recorded in late 2016 from a Super Soul Sunday show. Eisenstein is the author of several books, including The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible. As I returned to his website after not having perused it in a while, I came across a stunning video, A New Story of the People. I encourage you to consider taking seven minutes of your day to view it.

Finally, I saw that Marianne Williamson declared her candidacy for President earlier this week. She is a non-traditional candidate…and we’ve been there before, yes? By all that I have observed thus far, particularly the comments on some websites which are quite nasty, I am reminded that we are not yet at the tipping point in our awakening as a nation or as citizens of this planet. Many agree that we are nearly at a point of “breaking open”. We are not there yet, apparently.

I am not advocating for or supporting a party or a candidate. I AM calling us to consider elevating the conversation about our collective human condition at the causal level. We have many symptoms. We are not having a broader discussion of the causes. To solve the many symptoms which have the capacity to undo democracies, or destroy life altogether, we need to step back and become observers rather than “reactors”. Becoming more objective will allow us to enter into service to the whole from a very different place. More conscious, we can take small steps toward healing and righting our collective ship of dreams of “the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.”

May we seek to listen to each other without judgment so that we thoughtfully engage from our hearts.

 

reflections on love

“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”

 – Maya Angelou

A few weeks ago, I was looking for quotes, poems, or verses to read at my son’s wedding, when I found the above quote by the late Maya Angelou. What a lovely quote and how timeless! As we observe our world, it is easy to see how money and power seem to be in the driver’s seat. And love? Where is love? Relegated to the back seat or the trunk? We need only look into our hearts to know where it may be in our lives. We say we love…some people, some things, some places. Do we honestly look at others with the eyes of our hearts?

At a time in our history, when there is so much before us that doesn’t feel or look like love, I found these words a refreshing reminder of what is possible…when we open our hearts while laying down our biases.

I have enjoyed riding the “high” that has been the effect of the beautiful gathering of family and friends, from far and near – despite losses, heartaches and other challenges – to celebrate the wedding of my son and my daughter-in-law. The love in the space was palpable. Yes, I know you can say or think, “Of course she felt that way. It is her son, after all.” You would be correct and it was the energy in the space, the looks on the faces, the smiles and embraces of people across multiple generations, past family difficulties, and many, many miles.

Although I did not read the above quote or the poem which follows at the wedding*, I appreciate today the way these words have so beautifully and eloquently captured the moments of that magical weekend.

~ * ~ * ~

Touched by An Angel

by Maya Angelou

We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
lived coiled in shells of loneliness
until loves leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us in into life.
Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet, if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.
We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love’s light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.
 ~ * ~ * ~

 

Love may be something we think we do. In fact it is who we are…and we often forget when we get angry or judge another harshly. In those dark, fear-based moments, we have forgotten. Perhaps we find ourselves too busy to love. “Oh, when I finish this project, I’ll spend more time with my family,” is just one of any number of reasons why we may keep ourselves from our very essence and the beautiful exchange that occurs when we are present to anyone.

I am reminded of one final quote, which I hold dear and read often – to remind me what I am here to be.

Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.

 – Rumi

May we slow down to reflect on our barriers to love; that our hearts may open just a little more to acceptance of ourselves, those whom we regard as different and those closest to us who most cherish our presence.

Namaste

*The bride and groom chose an excerpt from a wedding ceremony I shared with them, from the book, Illuminata: A Return to Prayer, by Marianne Williamson.

 

our truth

“Satisfying untruth is more pleasing to us than unsatisfying truth, and Big Truth is invariably unsatisfying—at least to the small self.”

 – Fr Richard Rohr

 

I could spend time writing about the ongoing discourse in the country I live in regarding a number of topics. However, I choose to skip the mundane in favor of the higher.

I leave the meaning of the above quote to your discernment.

We are living in extraordinary times, as a friend of mine has said for some time. Our truth is ours. How we feel, speak or act upon it matters.

 

 

 

 

on being…ourselves

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.

 – Friedrich Nietzsche

 

Who are we?

Who are you?

What do you believe?

How do you live (or act on) your beliefs?

Are you living your beliefs or someone else’s?

 

Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.

– Brene Brown

 

It seems that nearly every day, we are provided even more opportunities to meet ourselves, to better know ourselves and to make choices that either support our growth while facilitating our evolution (and that of the planet) or we look away, afraid. We fear that allowing ourselves to feel what we feel, or to see through the eyes of our hearts what we are seeing unfold before us, that somehow we are weak or are not living up to what others expect of us.

Whose life are you living anyway?

 

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.

 – Steve Jobs

 

I honor the courage of the many who have spoken up about their abuse – men and women – and in so doing have paved the way forward for others to find within themselves the courage to step up, to speak up. These are the leaders of their lives who, by their actions, advocate for those who have not yet found their own voice.

 

say it now

You’ve got to love social media (I do not).  The oxymoronic nature of the term, “social media” gives us a hint about how we arrived at the moment in time when distinguishing the truth from the not-so-truth is quite challenging.

But I digress…

Like many of you, perhaps, I have enjoyed Aretha Franklin’s music, her commitment to civil rights and her community over the years. As I was doing some light reading of various news outlets – and I do meant “light” reading, I came across a story about her that included the Twitter posts of many celebrities. Some of them were longtime friends and colleagues and others were, well, I’m not sure they knew her other than her name and some of her famous songs. As I continued to read through them, I started to wonder how many of them had shared their feelings, thoughts and beliefs about her accomplishments with her, when she was alive and well and could appreciate them; and why they felt so compelled to speak about her now. Hmmm…who is served by those “tweets”??

All of this reminded me of a few things:

  • Tomorrow is not promised;
  • We don’t always share our feelings with those we love or appreciate;
  • We are often afraid to speak our loving truth to someone who has made a difference in our lives;
  • The megaphone of “social” media seems an inappropriate place to “scream” our love and appreciation to or about anyone.

Our love, appreciation, compassion are best given directly to the recipient while they are here…now…to receive it. The circle of love is completed in the sharing of our feelings with another.

If a loved, appreciated or revered one has passed, we can offer our love, appreciation and gratitude via a silent prayer or loving thought, soul to soul.

Megaphones are not necessarily.

If you love someone, tell them now.

If you appreciate someone for what they have done – and especially if they are not aware of it – offer that appreciation, now.

If you are grateful for anything that you have, have learned or seen which resulted in opening your heart to another deep truth within you, and you can attribute it to another living, breathing human, tell them, now. If social media is all you have to offer that gratitude, try offering the loving energy of the prayer or silent thought. They will feel that blessing, too.

Say it, offer it, now.

 

 

love, unity, collaboration…and competition

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

This is one of those quotes that so deeply resonates, reading it always makes me pause to have another look at where we are collectively, as seen through my eyes, perspectives and beliefs. We all do it. In fact, we probably need to pause and reflect more often.

Today, this quote reminded me of my experiences of a recent Saturday.

While enjoying my early morning cup of coffee, I remembered the Royal Wedding was being televised here, and early! While watching the ceremony and all that unfolded after the ceremony with the carriage ride, three words seemed to float in and out of my head (and my heart)…Love, Unity, Collaboration. If you saw it for yourself, rather than reading all of the commentary in the days following the event, you saw it through your own eyes, perspectives and beliefs.

Later that evening, I happened upon the Preakness. Watching bits and pieces of it, and reflecting upon races of the past, I started to see something that I hadn’t seen the same way before. Competition. Looking at all of those beautiful animals, no longer running free and trained to run hard and fast, I couldn’t help but look at it all from the widest view possible. Many people are or become wealthy in the horse racing industry. What happens to the horses? At what cost….being first, richer or above it all?

The bookends of that day captivated me.

For your thoughtful consideration, I offer the following.

 

From Dictionary.com:

competition

[kom-pi-tishuh n]

noun

1. the act of competing; rivalry for supremacy, a prize, etc.:
2. a contest for some prize, honor, or advantage:
3. the rivalry offered by a competitor:

 

There are many aspects of our lives on this planet which are replete with competition – in one form or another. Some of it is easy to see. Some of it is not so visible…and yet, it underpins so much of our day-to-day experience. It’s not for me to identify all of the ways we as humans are competitive or to offer my observations about any of it. I’ve brought this here your consideration, reflection and comment, dear readers. We each see the world, our experiences in it and what we observe of others, through our eyes (sometimes our ears), perspectives and beliefs.

So…what do you think?

About Love, Unity and Collaboration?

About Competition?

How do YOU see these?

 

 

anger, rage and healing

I really believe that all of us have a lot of darkness in our souls. Anger, rage, fear, sadness. I don’t think that’s only reserved for people who have horrible upbringings. I think it really exists and is part of the human condition. I think in the course of your life you figure out ways to deal with that.

 – Kevin Bacon

In the course of our lives, we hope that we figure out ways to deal with the “anger, rage, fear, sadness” that we all feel.

I have written previously about grief. In some ways, I feel as if some of our fear, anger, and rage is rooted in the sadness of the unfelt, inexperienced grief. It is also worth mentioning here, that anger and rage also have connections to, if not deeper roots, in fear.

Many of us were taught to be “good”; to behave, to not say a “cross word” or to “keep our thoughts to ourselves.” When we are not in nurturing environments, where we are invited to talk about our feelings – whatever they may be – we generally put them away. We essentially bury them. We sure don’t believe rage is good….or that we are capable of feeling anything as intense and ugly in its display as that. Right?

Did you know that these buried feelings leak out? Did you know they find their way to the surface of our experiences – to the light of day, through the words we speak, the sharp judgment of others or the actions we take? Oh, how we wish they would remain buried…deeply buried in the dark recesses of the past. No one wants to dredge up all that stuff, right?

 

It would be impossible to estimate how much time and energy we invest in trying to fix, change and deny our emotions – especially the ones that shake us at our very core, like hurt, jealousy, loneliness, shame, rage and grief.

 – Debbie Ford

There are many ways in which the unexpressed, the unfelt or unspoken feelings manifest within. Depression. Chronic headaches. Hives or other breakouts. Stomach ulcers. Excessive weight gain.

How do we unleash this dark monster that lies so deep within us? How do we acknowledge all of these feelings, express all of this anger and process all of our grief?

There are so many ways to do the extremely important work of healing ourselves. And for each individual, what will ultimately facilitate the effective and successful reclaiming of oneself, is different. It’s also important to remember that it is a process, and not a one time fix.

Meditating, guided meditations, extensive journaling, screaming into pillows, beating our fists into pillows, talk therapy, crying all of those tears which have been held back for so very long, and the list goes on. There are many ways to embark upon this path. Taking responsibility for our healing is one of the greatest gifts we give ourselves…and others. When the breakthrough begins, we may notice that we have found more energy. We may find a part of ourselves that we didn’t even know we were missing. We find that compassion toward and acceptance of others where THEY are is so much easier.

How does one know if she has forgiven? You tend to feel sorrow over the circumstance instead of rage, you tend to feel sorry for the person rather than angry with him. You tend to have nothing left to say about it all.

 – Clarissa Pinkola Estes

This is the work of our lives. May you be blessed as you take those first sacred steps into the beauty that the darkness will unveil.

Love is always a heartbeat away…literally.

Breathe.

standing

A sign caught my eye this morning. I saw these words, “standing against…” and I do not recall what followed. I was so surprised to see “standing against” that the rest of it got by me. I started to reflect on what “standing for” or “standing against” might really mean to so many people, especially at this time in our collective history.

Somewhere in my past, I recall someone saying, “if you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything.” Hmmm. I thought at the time. It made perfect sense to me, as I was pretty sure what I stood for. I felt I knew what was right and what was wrong, at the time.

Back to the subject at hand, here. Standing for something seems to feel more empowering. It’s as if we are summoned by love to stand for someone, some thing, some belief, some feeling. Standing against something might also feel empowering. It’s as if it is summoned from a place of fear and anger; as if to say, “I’m not going to take it anymore!”

I am reminded of the word resistance as I continue to ponder these in the context of what is happening in our world. In many places, resistance seems to be on the minds of many and is acted upon related to specific subject matter or topic. In fact, resistance has been used as a rallying cry by many to engage, incite or otherwise encourage others to rise up “against” something.

Perhaps the words of Thomas Jefferson serve as a call to embolden many and explain the rise of resistance:

When injustice becomes law, resistance become duty.

 – Thomas Jefferson

There are many who feel that they are standing UP when they stand against and resist what they perceive is being foisted upon them.

 

And then, these words call to a different way of being regarding resistance, force and fear.

. . . gentleness is stronger than severity, water is stronger than rock, love is stronger than force.

 – Hermann Hesse

There are many who feel that standing for something is standing UP, as well.

 

 

Is it best to stand for or stand against?

I leave that to you to decide for yourself.

Can we change a negative (resist) narrative to a positive (peace) one, perhaps by simply looking at an issue from a different angle?

“It is not for me to judge another man’s life. I must judge, I must choose, I must spurn, purely for myself. For myself, alone.”
– Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

 

With gratitude to Loco’s Photos for consent to use these beautiful photographs.