friendship, life lessons, love, mindfulness, motivation

A Final Thought For 2012

From NPR’s ‘Writer’s Almanac’

New Year Resolve – by May Sarton

The time has come

To stop allowing the clutter

To clutter my mind

Like dirty snow,

Shove it off and find

Clear time, clear water.

 

Time for a change,

Let silence in like a cat

Who has sat at my door

Neither wild nor strange

Hoping for food from my store

And shivering on the mat.

 

Let silence in.

She will rarely speak or mew,

She will sleep on my bed

And all I have ever been

Either false or true

Will live again in my head.

 

For it is now or not

As old age silts the stream,

To shove away the clutter,

To untie every knot,

To take the time to dream,

To come back to still water.

There will be time enough to look forward;  there is no need to look back – we’re not heading in that direction.  For now, here’s to this moment when we can just enjoy the whisper of possibility without feeling obligated to act;  relax the ‘shoulds’, ‘musts’ and ‘have-tos’ for one day.  Accept these wishes for a year of joy and good health, laughter and music, prosperity in all ways and love as always…love.  Happy New Year everyone..

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anxiety, friendship, humor, inspiration, life lessons, love, mindfulness, music, work life

Winding Down The Road

As 2012 begins its inevitable walk to the ‘Exit’ sign, and 2013 lingers outside the Entrance waiting for the bouncers to accept its credentials and admit it into our crazy, rockin’ psyches, I’ve got to grab a moment of retrospection about the road the karma truck has traveled since I first turned the key in the ignition in early January of this passing year.

I had no map – as you now know, it would have proven useless anyway given my challenges with geography.  I was just going to drive with an eye to the sky and an ear to my heart.  Such spontaneous, free-formed initiatives were new to me.  You don’t work within the confines of a white-shoe, professional service firm and ad-lib your actions too much (though I certainly did my share – after all irreverence can be a good and freeing thing).  But again, I digress..

I agonized about hitting ‘publish’ for the first time, returning to my computer obsessively to see if anyone had stopped by.  I learned relatively quickly to leave the ‘stats alone, and to let go of any fantasies of becoming one of those bloggers that arrive at notoriety with equal parts serendipity and timing.  And as with most illusions that are suspended, reality became a far more incredible experience.

David Kanigan (davidkanigan.com)  who writes’Lead.Learn.Live’ (read it read it read it – you will look forward to his posts daily, and feel a bit bereft if for some reason he gives himself a break to take a vacation or something) was my first ‘follower’. Lori, a writer by profession with prodigious creativity and warmth (and a fabulous gift unto herself) posting at donnaanddiablo.wordpress.com, was my second follower.  Andy, my sister Deborah and friend Joanne followed thereafter.  And now a year later with over 600 followers and 31,000 views, I still have no clue where the karma truck is going.  What I do know is that it is traveling with an incredible entourage of people who openly share their thoughts, encourage me to keep the gas tank full and forgive me some of my lamer efforts (like yesterday’s post – a non-existent YouTube video – yes, I need more Apple therapy).

There is no question I would have continued writing, for there is someplace I’m heading with this, and I am hoping that one day you all will help me figure that out with your suggestions and ideas.  But for today, as I look back I can’t ask you for anything more.  I can only thank you for all that you’ve given me.  Friendships that have grown out of invisible threads that somehow connected us – we each picked up an end.  We have shared the stories of life – marriages beginning and ending, lives changing and morphing like shape shifters in a sci-fi novel, hearts exploding with pain and/or exuberance, illness and the new breath that arrives with the spring, questions with no answers and answers that are equivocal.  We have been silly and we have been considered.  These conversations have been some of the most fulfilling and instructive and delightful exchanges I have ever had.  You let me risk tipping a hand that I have held close for a very long time.  And you graced me with showing me yours.

I’m not sure what 2013 holds for the karma truck.  I do know that I am incredibly grateful for the friendships that I have come to cherish, the absolutely crazy-with-talent people who I follow, with perpetual open-mouthed awe and an ability to be as irritating as a relentlessly circling mosquito.  Thank you for your patience and encouragement.

I hope 2013 brings joy and good health, the courage to risk and the freedom to dream, long walks and endless possibilities.  I hope you feel lighter and less inclined to contort yourself into something you are not – for you have shown over and over again how amazing you are without such unnecessary effort.  I hope friendships deepen, love visits us all generously and often, and that we’re smart enough to relish its presence.  And I hope what we put out into this world meets the threshold of kindness and grace that allows for only goodness to be returned.  Here’s to next year.

(ps.  David – if this doesn’t work, don’t tell me..;-)

friendship, inspiration, life lessons, mindfulness

The Thing About Snow

I am not a snow bunny.  Never have been.  I don’t ski – the mere thought of choosing to go downhill on two highly polished slats of fiberglass prompts paroxysms of vertigo.  I had beautiful white ice skates when I was a kid – with blue and white pom-poms.  They far exceeded in loveliness the grace with which I used them.  I’m clumsy on dry pavement, so you can imagine my impromptu choreography when the weather is inclement.  I’m a walking slapstick skit.

But I love the first serious snow of the season.  I love how the snow forces commitment.  It commits itself to the ground with purpose, hugging the ground as if it will never let it go.  It demands that the world be quiet, muting everything but this delicious silence that you can’t help but notice.  It reduces the myriad of alternatives and choices that we make throughout the day.  Somehow the highest imperative becomes to snuggle in to the moment and let it have its way.  Snow gives you permission.  To remain mesmerized while looking out the window and forget about how much time has elapsed, to hide under the blanket with a good book, to drink hot chocolate (with three marshmallows).  Snow – silently, persistently commits you to a relationship with coziness, arguably a state that we don’t find enough excuses to enjoy.

The first snow.  It’s something I can commit to.

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discretion, friendship, inspiration, life lessons, love, mindfulness

Bounty

‘Make much of something small.

The pouring-out of tea,

a drying flower’s shadow on the wall

from last week’s bouquet.

A fact; it isn’t summer anymore.

Say that December sun

is pitiless, but crystalline

and strikes like a bell.

Say it plays colours like a glockenspiel.

It shows the dust as well,

the elemental sediment

your broom has missed,

and lights upon each grain of sugar spilled

upon the tablecloth, beside

pistachio shells, peel of a clementine.

Slippers and morning paper on the floor,

and wafts of heat from rumbling radiators,

can this be all?  No look – here comes the cat,

with one ear inside out.

Make much of something small.  — ‘Bounty’ by Robyn Sarah

I receive “The Writer’s Almanac” in my inbox each morning and today’s poem seemed so appropriate as so many enjoy the holidays of the season.  I wish you love and hope and laughter, really good hugs, friends and family to share in your delight (and the food – I heard a rumor that if you share it, the calories are also divided amongst all who partake).  I wish you time to marvel at the small moments that should never go unnoticed, for they hold truths far larger than we can imagine.  I hope you get some drool-y naps in there too, awakened by the sounds of quiet commiseration between loved ones.  And of course, I hope you receive all that you wish for, and wish for all that you have.

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anxiety, friendship, humor, inspiration, life lessons, mindfulness

Why Ask Why?

“Le coeur a ses raisons que la raison ne connait point.  French.  Pascal.  The heart has its reasons , whereof reason knows nothing.” — Madeline L’Engle

When my sons were little, ‘why’ was their favorite question.  You all know the exercise – the repeated inquiry that dissects a question into the most inane and discreet detail; the exchange that lasts longer than one’s patience and ultimately resolves itself once the child loses interest in the game.

But age hasn’t tempered this query for me.  I ask ‘why’ all the time – just not necessarily a loud (I say enough things a loud to perpetuate worry in those who hear me).  Why do I know there’s wind despite my inability to see it?  Why do I persist in my efforts to understand the puzzle of human behavior?  And, with all that persistence, why can’t I at least figure out my own?  Why do we establish expectations that are constructed as a house of cards?  The only difference is that I have now discovered the answer.

Because.

These aren’t the questions for which there are more concrete answers.  Reason doesn’t dictate the posing of such questions.  Facts don’t satisfactorily assuage either, for these are just the surface results of queries that are too complicated to form in any sensible way.

Why does the heart want what it wants?

Because.

Because within the human condition is faith.  Faith explains that which we believe to be true that we can’t see or explain.  But we know.  We know that there is such a thing as love whether or not our personal histories have experienced it, for our hearts ache for it sight unseen.  We know that there are miraculous moments in a day – from the subtle connections that make you feel like someone just read your mind to the complicated ties that allow friends to ‘just know’ when something is up.  The brilliance of a cardinal’s color on a leafless tree.  Why did that one star begin to twinkle more brightly just as I was thinking of someone who is no longer here?  Why?  Why does the sunrise evoke promise and the sunset occasionally resemble the saddest colors in the world?  Why was I lucky enough to learn that some of the most simple days are the happiest?  Why do some people snort when they giggle?  (Ok, I threw that one in there just to see if you were still with me).

Because.

And one of the nice things about being older is that you bring all the ages you have already been with you.  So you know that ‘because’ can suffice.  That there is a place for complex debate and study and philosophizing and a place for simple acceptance on faith.  So today I accept the awesomeness of being here without further scrutiny.  It just is.  And if you are wondering why that in and of itself is ok with me?  Because.  Have a great day all.

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friendship, inspiration, leadership, life lessons, mindfulness, motivation

I Loved The Shoes, But They Didn’t Fit

In my other life, I wore heels everyday.  Work days, weekends – it mattered little.  I also drove a Jeep Cherokee.  I loved feeling like I could see things that I would otherwise never notice.  I traveled tall.  My shoe collection was legendary and even Casual Fridays involved four-inch heels that I would walk in endlessly – back and forth, staircases, multiple floors, the streets of DC and every other city I needed to be in.  I was a physical example of over-compensation.

Never mind that my back would curse my name each morning when I got dressed.  “Ha” to those who wondered how my stride was even remotely normal and not some mincing step more analogous to those who have had their feet bound.  I rarely wear them any more, but believe me, when I do I’m painfully reminded that they don’t fit my life.  One of the step-sisters insisting that Cinderella’s glass slipper really did fit.

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And this is why I won’t be going back to the barn.  As much as I delighted in warming my face against a horse’s flank, found comfort and connection picking dirt out of their hooves, brushing their tails and singing to them.  No matter that I felt love for Elmo and developed a woman-to-woman understanding with Valentine.  And as much as I enjoyed chatting with my rider yesterday, a young woman with a smile that was bright enough to change the weather – the metaphorical shoes didn’t fit.

Honestly, it’s too fresh to recount.  Suffice it to say, I don’t take kindly to being yelled at, belittled or demeaned.  I don’t enjoy other people commenting about the unkind nature of any diatribe – especially when it’s directed at me, because I fall silent and don’t commiserate.  Let me stress – neither the rider nor the horse were in any jeopardy – this was just about me and the instructor.  As plebian as it sounds, I bore the brunt of her irritation and/or she just simply didn’t like me.

If I had a thicker skin, perhaps none of it would matter.  If I believed that personal attacks are a profoundly effective way to get someone’s compliance, I might have been fine.  Unfortunately, I’ve been there done that, and have a higher expectation of those in charge – regardless of the environment where they bear that mantle.  I’ve had my confidence rended and discarded, spent years trying to find those shreds and re-form them into something resembling me.  Perhaps that is why I counsel leaders with a conviction that is so fierce.  Anyway, let’s just say, the shoes didn’t fit.  And that reality hurts.

“If I turn my gaze away from you, dear Earth, please do not feel hurt.  I will come back and kiss you again.” — Rumi

None of this has deterred me from my wish to spend my days in a way that substantively helps others and nurtures my soul.  Hopefully the equine rescue farm will be better.  Some connections to Walter Reed may help me in my hopes to work with wounded warriors.  Perhaps I can also figure out what I should do with my blog, as this first year of posting  comes to an end.

But right now, I want to turn away from the day.  I need to do battle with the self-doubts that are speaking in full-voice about all that I am not.  It’s a short-lived pity party I promise – and I hope you don’t mind not being invited – I rarely serve anything, and the conversation is hardly lively.

And yet, before I left I made sure to kiss Elmo and Nyles and Val – give them carrots and whisper in their ears that which I wanted them to know.  That they were doing great things, with grace and patience and kindness.  And I was so happy that they had come into my life albeit for this short, but meaningful time.

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discretion, friendship, inspiration, life lessons, love, mindfulness

Where To Next?

“It is the peculiar nature of the world to go on spinning no matter what sort of heartbreak is happening” –Sue Monk Kidd

It is taking more effort than it should to get behind the wheel of the Karma Truck.  And yet I also know that there is nothing worse for any piece of machinery than to leave it idle for too long.  The same is true of the heart.  I haven’t been sleeping well, unable to release this sorrow of incalculable proportion.  I admire and envy those who are mobilizing in word and deed to address the gaping hole in the safety net for people with mental health concerns, others who have driven to Newtown with the intent to help however possible, the anonymous individuals who are doing something – anything – to remind us above all else of the power of shared humanity.

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The heart forgets little – and perhaps remembers too much.  Moments of grief are greeted by past moments of mourning.  These thoughts huddle together commiserating, taking up space and time.  Demanding their due, yet if unchecked, unbearably relentless and too oppressive to manage.  I need to take the keys back and get this motor started.

“If it is true your life flashes before you before you die, then it is also true that life rushes forth when you are ready to start being alive” — Amy Hemple

There are certainly times when we need to crawl inside ourselves and heal.  Moments when the most elemental activities seem Sisyphean.  And there are times when you have to purposefully pull yourself back into life.  I am blessed, I am grateful and I need to come home to that which I know and all that I don’t.  I still have tears to shed – I’m clearly not done.  The fog that has socked in this region for the last two days is beginning to lift; I saw a couple of stars through the clouds when I was out with the Sirs earlier today.  I said a little prayer and breathed deeply.  There is something to be said for remembering that there is grace in most things, if one is open to its presence.  Perhaps I’ll only make it around the block today, but I’ll surely drive towards the sun.

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friendship, humor

A Moment Of Inanity

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This is a quetzal

I think it’s quite special

With colors so spectacular

There is no apt vernacular

 

So would you ask a quetzal

“Polly, do you want a pretzel?”

Or would you offer this cool avian

Something healthy vegetarian?

 

In it’s native Guatemala

Perhaps you’d start to holler

“No food for you as you well know

If no shoes, no shirt,  no dinero”

 

At 3:15, one can’t expect a post far more germane

More witty, cogent, thoughtful not to mention more urbane

Perhaps it’s best I bid the quetzal ‘adios’ for now

And leave you with a sleepy smile, returning to my bough.

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This is but one of a gazillion reasons why David is such an inspiration. He find the perfect balm for today.

Live & Learn

Saturday mornings are normally reserved for work-out inspirations (for me). I’m finding it difficult to wind up this theme this morning and to shake “sad” so we are going to mix it up a bit. Here’s “Happy.” A three to four minute clip to take you away from dark to joy, dance, song, spirituality, humanity and LIFE.  “You never feel happy, until you try.”  Enjoy.

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anxiety, friendship, life lessons, love, mindfulness, parenting

When The Heart Just Hurts

“Life will break you.  Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning.  You have to love.  You have to feel.  It is the reason you are here on earth.  You are here to risk your heart.  You are here to be swallowed up.  And when it happens that you are broken or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit under an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps wasting their sweetness.  Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.”   — Louise Erdrich

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I  had different plans for this post – we attended my daughter-in-law’s graduation yesterday, the day before was a banner day at the barn.  I can’t get there right now.  My heart returns to the unfathomable shock of yesterday’s disaster in Newtown.  I can’t turn away for to do so would diminish the feeling of being inconsolable.  I pray that these families tasted abundant sweetness and that they are enveloped in love and support.  My tears drip on the keyboard – I can’t write about the loss of life itself…one can plan I suppose, though arguably it is better to hope.

anxiety, discretion, friendship, humor, inspiration, leadership, life lessons, love, management, mindfulness

Tell It To Me Straight

248331366923238052_jpHEv0sP_cEveryone I know insists that they want to hear the truth.  I’m not sure everyone I know is being completely honest about this.  In fact, I think that most people prefer to hear selective truths.  I’ll go so far as to suggest that we all filter certain realities just so we can wrap our heads around their implications.

– I believe that my bathroom scale is digitally confused and vindictive – swinging wildly between two weights – one I can live with, the other requiring that I eschew food for the next year.

– I believe we’re all a little neurotic.

– I believe that I’m really not getting shorter, rather the units of measurement have changed since I was a young girl and no one told me.

– I believe that the answers to global warming, cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and world peace are moment’s away from being discovered.  And by this I mean, short moments.

– I believe in miracles.  It all depends on your definition of ‘miracles’.

– I believe that continuing to nest even after your kids have grown, married and established homes of their own, is absolutely fine.

– I believe it’s still ok to keep a pair of sneakers in the garage even though I’ve been married for decades and adore my husband.

– And I absolutely believe it’s ok to cry at Hallmark commercials.

On a more serious note, my reality includes the belief  that every dog has its day – and I’m not talking about canines here.  Somewhere along the way, people who intentionally demean or devalue others will be subject to a painful lesson or two.  Whether they get anything out of it or not, is something else entirely.  Given that this reality developed early in my professional career (perhaps as a way of dealing with a perverted boss who routinely made sexual overtures, comments, etc),  I encourage leaders to read this as a cautionary reminder.  If you surround yourself with people who tell you only what you want to hear, and not what you should hear, and agree to follow directives that are questionable and potentially ill-conceived, you will become a person that even you would not want to follow.  If you can’t effectively develop your people, you’re not a leader.  And of course when the day comes when you realize that people are following you because they are paid a lot of money to do it, you will understand that core values have flown the coop, along with respect, loyalty and collaboration.  Yes, I’m still passionate about this.  I’ve been in too many conversations with too many people lately who are feeling the effects of uninspired  oversight.

I realize I just broke one of my unwritten rules – not to write about leadership or management anymore.  My apologies.  I guess I believe that reality can be adjusted every once in a while to accommodate that which is scratching at your heart.

And at the end of the day, I believe that there are very few pure truths – though admittedly there are some.  What I feel when enveloped in a hug, the way I can make Andy laugh until his stomach hurts, the way the ‘I love you’s’ from my kids can grab me by the throat.  The tender velvet of a horse’s nose, the reality that gravity and I are really no longer friends, the magnificence of a cardinal posing in a fir tree.

Regardless of what you choose to accept or deny, I do believe that ultimately life has a way of working itself out.  I may not be around to see it, I may not participate in the moment – but believe me – today I choose to accept the reality that everything is going to be just fine.

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