Being kind is such an important practice to me. I have experienced so many random acts of kindness in my life and am mindful of how it made me feel. I am also mindful of how I feel when I am able to perform acts of kindness with others. So many people in my life have inspired me with their ability to be kind. It is not that I was jealous of their ability to practice kindness. Rather, they inspired me to possess and develop those same qualities within myself. One of the things I have learned to do is write about those people who intrigue me. As Tristine Rainer suggests, in The New Diary, in doing so I begin to internalize and possess those very qualities.
There have been so many amazingly kind people in my life. The one who taught me the most about kindness is the one who opened her heart and soul to me, my mother. Read More
The universe has a sense of humor. I had been thinking about kindness and praying for inspiration about what to write about. I am pretty good at practicing kindness and look for opportunities each day to be kind to others. I so often have focused on how I feel when I am doing something for others. I had not taken time to think about how I feel when someone does something kind for me. Yesterday, however, a friend of mine surprised me with an act of kindness that touched my heart.
It was one of those totally unexpected kind of things. My friend Venetia Carey is a Pink Zebra consultant. We met last December at a vending event we did together. Read More
Over the last week, I have been listening to what others say as a way of avoiding responsibility for the injustice and inhumanity in the world. One thing I have heard people do is to call it something else. Rather than name the injustice behind what is happening in a situation, people will search for alternate explanations as to why a situation exists. I have heard people argue it is actually better this way or that the oppressed group actually prefers it this way. I have heard people mask their inhumanity behind humor or claims of innocence, saying I didn’t mean it. There is this belief that by saying that, that it wipes away the injustice and inhumanity of what is said or done. I have heard other say that the reason bad things happen to people is that they are just bad people. Whether intentional or not, each of these patterns and ways of thinking contributes to the inhumanity and injustice in the world. Read More
Since I started this personal reflection justice, why we engage and why we don’t, I have come to realize there are no easy answers. One of the things I have come to realize is that in some respects we do not even realize that we are being inhumane. Several years ago, I was at a meeting and overheard two philosophers talking about slavery. One philosopher said that the perfect form of slavery was when one enjoyed being a slave. The other philosopher disagreed and said that the perfect form of slavery was when you no longer realized that you were even enslaved. The ironic part is that when we think of the word slavery we do not think of ourselves, but in some respect, each of us is enslaved in a system that trains us to be inhumane, conditions us throughout our lives to contribute to the inhumanity of others. Whether one is part of a dominant or subordinate group in our culture, the enslavement exists and often times we are not even aware of our role in the system or of the system itself. Read More
When I was in seminary, I took a course on advocacy and organizing. One of the questions we were asked to think about was what we felt was the most pressing social issue in contemporary society. Then and now, it is hard for me to pick just one, as there are so many issues that seem important for different reasons. I could talk about the global exploitation of people in developing countries or the trafficking of women as sexual slaves and prostitutes or violence against women or poverty or hate crimes or systemic injustice. My list of issues has grown over the last over the last 10 years. Trying to pick one over the other makes me feel as if I am saying one issue is more pressing than the other, as if I am trying to prioritize them. This is hard for me to do because I think they are all important for different reasons and to different groups of people. At the root of all these issues is a common thread which contributed to their existence. Ultimately, I have come to realize that the most pressing social issue in contemporary society is our inhumanity for and towards each other. Read More
It has been a challenging few weeks and I know there is more to come. The awesome thing for me is that I know that even when it may feel like you are not there for me, you really are. Over the course of my journey with you, I have learned a few key lessons for which I am truly grateful. Maybe the first is about where I put my focus. It is easy when I am going through to focus on what is going wrong and what you are not doing for me.
The reality is that even when I am going through, you are doing things for me. Read More
I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you for giving me so many things in my life that give me joy. Sometimes I do not realize how joy filled my life is until I talk with someone who has forgotten how to have joy in their lives. Life for me is not about just enduring, but about enjoying. Maybe it is because I have come close to dying a few times in my life, that I am able to find joy in just about everything, even going to the bathroom. Having experienced what it is like to not be able to perform a function we take for granted, I find joy in being able to do so multiple times a day. Whoo hoo! Read More
So here is the thing I have been thinking about so much lately, the relationship between joy and jealousy. It seems that when I am feeling jealous of someone, it is because I have lost the joy and the ability to celebrate my own life for what it is. I become jealous because I am comparing myself to them and not being happy that we are not both exactly what we are supposed to be at this point in our journeys. I have been talking a lot about this with my friend Eileen and how there is this fine line between joy and jealousy.
When I feel jealousy it is because I am not practicing joy for myself and others. Read More
This past month I have done so much thinking about imagination. I thought I had reflected on it from so many perspectives, but this week I have come to realize that I had yet to imagine the amazing people who would come into my life and touch me in ways that I could not even imagine.
So often, we hear about all the hate, violence and fear in this world. We hear about people who do things to others that cause our hearts to be heavy. It is so easy to allow the news to help us envision a world that is negative, hate filled, and beyond repair. This week, however, has served as a living testimony of the world I think you imagined when you first created us. I have experienced unconditional love and support from people I know as well as people I have never met or barely know. Read More
I want to thank you for the gift of imagination. It comes in handy when I face a situation that is not working or not working as well as I would like it to. It is at those moments that I remember my former supervisor telling me “if you come to me with a problem, then also come to me with a solution.” Identifying the problem did not call on me to have an imagination, but coming up with a solution often times did. It meant I thought through all the logical responses and solutions to the problem and then it meant that I thought outside the box and came up with innovative ways to make something work.
My friend Eileen tells me this is one of my gifts, the ability to think outside the box. I am not sure I even realize when I am doing this, the ideas just flow out. Read More
So I woke up this morning hearing The Temptations singing Just my Imagination, at least the chorus in my head. I can’t remember the rest of the song, just the chorus. Oh how my imagination has always run away with me. Since I was a little girl I have had an imagination. Maybe that is why I like Anabelle, a 4 year old I met at a vending event I met a week or so ago. Her father kept telling me she had an overactive imagination and that it got her into trouble.
My imagination did as well. I remember the first time I got into trouble for my imagination. I was 6 and I remember feeling like what I had to bring to show and tell was nothing compared to what other people were bringing to show and tell. Then one day something awesome happened. Read More
So all this month I have been reflecting on hospitality, reading about it, writing, about it, starting conversations about it, and practicing it to the best of my ability. Others have told me I am very hospitable and that they feel the welcome and the love the minute they walk in our door. I am so grateful they feel that way. Zoe and I are so intentional about trying to create that space. We both know what it is like to not feel welcomed, to not be wanted, to be excluded, and to be told there is no room at the inn. As a result, we have been intentional about doing all we can to create an environment of love and welcoming.
Yet for whatever reason when I have sat down to journal about hospitality as it applies to my own life, what I remembered were those moments when people did something to make me feel welcomed and those times when I was not. Read More
So I have had to laugh at this whole notion of hospitality. I have been intentional about creating a space here at Inspiritual and in our home where all feel welcome. We have done this in part because we have all know what it felt like when we were not enough of something or too much of something to feel welcome and accepted by a movement, community, or other group. Years ago, I wrote a poem called I am enough where I spoke out about all the areas of my life I had allowed myself to feel marginalized and excluded by others words and behaviors.
I knew I was never excluded by the one who created me and has loved me my entire existence, however, there have been times when other humans have reminded me that I am on earth and not in heaven. Sometimes the rejection, the inhospitality has come in the most unexpected of places. Read More
Today I want to give thanks for the box from my brother and his wife. I have been sitting there staring at this box for about a week now, wanting to open it, but really just wanting to sit and be with my feelings about receiving this box. See the reality is that I really do not care what is in the box; it is just that I have the box. It is that he stopped and sent me a gift. It is that he took the time to think about me and let me know I was in his thoughts. I honestly could not care about what is inside the box, I am just enjoying sitting here looking at the box.
Here I am 59 years old and my brother is 57 ½ and he and I are exchanging gifts for the first time ever. I don’t ever remember getting a gift from him as a child and I know I never got one as an adult Read More
Thank you for the gift of memory. I remember years ago reading something in Sarah Ban Breathnach’s book Simple Abundance about how one should write down five things one is grateful for before going to bed each night. She talked about how as time passes and we fill our journal with blessings, we will experience an inner shift in our reality. I am generally so tired when I go to bed that I do not do this, but it is the first thing that I do in the morning and it is an awesome way for me to begin my morning. There is nothing like starting off the morning by thanking you for all you do for me and have done in my life. It just starts my morning off with the right mindset for the rest of the day.
The funny thing is that I have been writing in my gratitude journal for so long now that I could not remember how long it has been. So this morning I checked and found out I started on December 31, 2012. So it has almost been three years. I have kept them on and off before, but this time I have managed to keep it going for three years now. I have to agree with Sarah doing so has contributed to an inner shift in my reality. Not only do I begin my day by giving thanks, but I end my day by telling my wife at least one thing she did that day which made me feel loved or for which I am grateful. Read More
It is funny how grace seems to pop into our conversations with people this month even when I am not expecting it to. So many of my conversations with people this month have been about our own experiences of grace and the ways it has happened to us. However, the other night at our Living the Five Agreements group, we began to talk about how we need to be a grace in other people’s lives as well. There is a line from the play The Man of La Mancha, where Don Quizote says "I just wanted to add a measure of grace to the world."
As I have thought about this line I was reminded of a song I once heard at a Mormon church, it was all about the call to add a measure of grace to the world. Read More
This has been one of those weeks where I have had to practice grace on myself as I took time to keep myself from getting sick and cutting a cold off before it had time to develop. I gave myself permission to take time away from work to spend time with friends and do something fun with Zoe on her day off, now that she actually has them. I forgave myself for not getting my blogs written on grace and practiced grace as I could with my students and others in my life.
My friend DeeDee talks about how so often people will say “You didn’t have to do that” when you do something for them. Then she or her friend would say “But aren’t you glad that I did.” Read More
I wanted to take a minute to thank you for helping me learn to accept the help of others. I have always been good at giving, but not so great at receiving. I think part of that came from me not feeling worthy. I doubted why anyone would want to give to me or to share with me when they could share with someone of greater value. I even had problems accepting a compliment. I struggled to believe that anybody could think there was anything nice to say about me.
Then I hit bottom. I lost the feeling in my right leg and the ability to drive. Then I lost my paratransit services. With each loss, I had to open myself up to asking for help. I had to ask friends for rides to work, to the grocery store, to the doctor’s office. It was so humbling, and still is, when others so willingly give so that my needs might be met. Read More
I am not even sure what to say today. Other than please forgive me. I am just going to start with that. I have been intentional about my thoughts, words, and deeds on so many levels. However, today was one of those moments when I was intentional about what came out of my mouth, but not what went into my mouth or through my head. So please forgive me for not really thinking about why I was craving something fatty. Forgive me for not turning my back on the custard when I realized it was not the frozen yogurt, I had originally thought it was. Forgive me for not being intentional enough about my feelings, thoughts and actions.
Some days I am so much better at being intentional then others. So rather than beat myself up for what I did today Read More
I want to thank you for the reminder of the transformative power of love. I was so moved by this video and the story of those who radiated love out to those whose actions and beliefs had led to such a devastating effect on their lives and families. As I watched it, I was reminded of how my Bubby had taught me to pray for those who hurt me. That lesson first started when I was 13, at least that is when I first remember it. It was when I was gang raped by people I went to school with and had to sit in the same room as so I could finish my education. She had told me that I needed to pray for my own healing, but that I also needed to pray for forgiveness and healing for all those who had violated me.
She would always tell me that holding on to hate for them would only make me sick, angry, and bitter and that was not who you had created me to be. So she taught me to pray for them and for me until there was only love in my heart and I had forgiven them for what they had done. Maybe that is why I was at such piece decades later when one of them came to pay his condolences when I was home preparing for my father’s funeral. It was odd that he needed to come by after all those years to seek forgiveness. He somehow thought that he needed me to forgive him; the sad thing was that I had done that decades ago. Read More