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Hands…

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I have always been fascinated by and in awe of hands.  

They can hurt or heal, create or destroy- they are capable of so many things.  I have long collected photos of hands, and I will often find myself looking at people’s hands when in meetings or standing in line at the grocery store.  There are so many stories in people’s hands… I am especially intrigued by the less than “perfect” hands.  The ones with little scars that tell a story, the ones with a little dirt underneath the fingernails letting me know they aren’t afraid of a little hard work, the ones that have wrinkles that make me wonder what they created in their lifetime. 

“I’m looking at my hand right now as we talk. It’s got a lot of wrinkles ‘cause I’m 81 years old. But it’s linked to hands like this back through the ages. This hand was shaped by when it was a fin in the mother seas, where life was born. This hand is directly linked to hands that learned to reach and grasp and climb and push up on dry land and weave reeds into baskets. It has a fantastic history. Every particle and every atom in this hand goes back to the first — what Thomas Berry calls ‘the primal flaring forth,’ the beginning of space-time. We’re part of that story.”

 

Joanna Macy

 

Having created a lot lately with my hands, first crocheting scarves and other presents for Christmas and now getting back to beading I am reminded how satisfying it is.  To have a skill- as a result of a story… I remember learning from my grandmother and great aunt how to crochet, sitting for hours in the basement chaining away the length of the basement several times over.  

“To have the skill of knitting, to have the skill of crocheting, of felting, makes it possible for us not only to make something but it makes us skilled in general. The use of the hands is vital for the human being, for having flexibility, dexterity. In a way the entire human being is in the in the hands. Our destiny is written in the hand. And what do we do in our modern world with our hands? You know we move the mouse, we drive and so on. We feel plastic most of the time. The hands are relegated to very little that’s actually bringing dexterity to our times. So we have come ever more estranged from nature and from also what other human beings are doing. The whole social element comes into play as well because if I make something then I think ‘Hmmm, how was that yarn made?’

Renate Hiller

 

 

There is a pride that is created from holding something in your hands that you have created.  But recently I have even been feeling that same sense of pride and excitement from watching others create.  I have been enjoying immensely a series called Craft In America.  (You can watch the videos here.)  It is beyond beautiful and feeds my soul on so many levels.  And this little video came to my attention yesterday where they interview Renate Hiller- A World Through The Hands.  

It seems that I have been reminded at every turn of the value, the gift of creating, of craft, of story, of sharing our own gifts. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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If you haven’t ever done it before head over to see the pure awesomeoness that is Danielle LaPorte, brilliant and straight to your heart her words simply shimmer.  And her latest post did what it always does and hit me straight in my heart.

We need to know about your joy. (And other conversations of fulfillment.)

We need you to tell us your good news. Tell us how deeply in love you are. Tell us how your life is rocking. How free you are these days. Tell us how wonderful your family is. How many opportunities are coming your way. How great it feels to make your work in the world. How lazy, luxurious, or revitalizing your holiday was. Tell us how fulfilled you feel in your job. How sexy you felt on the dance floor, on your bike, in the interview. Tell us how well you’re being loved. How delicious your dinner was. How healthy and sturdy you are these days. Go ahead, tell us how lucky you are.Do you feel so utterly blessed at times that it blows your mind? Ya? Tell us about it. Please.

Even if you have to stretch to find the one golden thing in your existence right now, accentuate that. And give it to us.

We need you to light up our realities. Don’t shrink from sharing the story of your good fortune. Give us examples of well-loved living. Give us evidence of the rewards of courage, that it pays to hold out, or to go wild, or to burn prayer candles.

Declare your fulfillment without restraint.

Create conversations of fulfillment so we can step away from the shadows of media madness and habitual, repressive, dampening complaining of the day.

Forget about arrogance and your britches. Never mind potentially envious reactions — envy can be a positive agitator. Yes, be gentle in the face of another’s lack, but still, let them know that certain happiness is possible — you’re living proof.

Tell us what’s good in your life so that we can believe in it for ourselves, so that we can reach out and join in.

Speak of your joy. Whatever it is. Often. twit bird We need to know about your joy. (And other conversations of fulfillment.)

Wise words from Danielle LaPorte
I have been thinking a lot about this concept lately.
I have friends struggling with some big things, medical issues, relationships shifting, cracking, adjusting to big changes in so many ways… and when you are in the midst of those deep shifts it can sometimes be daunting to see other people’s highlight reels… but there is another side to that.
When I see someone deeply reveling in their joy, when I see them fulfilled by their perfectly imperfect life it reminds me to do the same.  When I see someone celebrating the gifts they have in their life I receive it as a personal invitation to celebrate my own gifts that are waiting to be noticed, to be discovered, to be opened, to be shared.
It is good to be reminded that there is always another story to be told, one of abundance, of joy, of gifts… even in the midst of the darkest nights there is light to be found, peace to be shared, joy to be experienced…
So dear ones… tell me of the beauty you see before you right now, in this very moment.

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Clearing…

 

It has been awhile since I found myself here.  In front of this glowing screen, contemplating what I want to share.  There have been many times that I have wanted to share, snippets of life, but as I found this poem today I realized that in many ways I was creating a clearing.  

A space for me to mull over some shifts and changes, to soak in summer, to take long naps, to watch the light play in the leaves, to feel the sun warm my skin, to sweat and find the Warrior within, to remember my love of the written word, to seek and soak in joy, to make space both within and without.  

 

 

     May you make space for a clearing in your life.

     May you remember what nourishes you and seek it out.

     May you play, laugh and delight in your life just as it is in this moment. 

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Clearing

 

by Martha Postlewaite

Do not try to save
the whole world
or do anything grandiose.
Instead, create
a clearing
in the dense forest
of your life
and wait there
patiently,
until the song
that is your life
falls into your own cupped hands
and you recognize and greet it.
Only then will you know
how to give yourself
to this world
so worthy of rescue.

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Travel Light

If you only read one thing about the Boston Marathon let it be this:

If you are losing faith in human nature today, watch what happens in the aftermath of an attack on the Boston Marathon. The flood of donations crashed the Red Cross’s Web site. The organization tweeted that its blood supplies are already full. People are lining up outside of Tufts Medical Center to try and help. Runners are already vowing to be at marathons in the coming weeks and months. This won’t be the last time the squeakers run Boston. This won’t be the last time we gather at the finish line to marvel how much more we can take than anyone ever thought possible.

And watch this…

Although it seems unrelated I trust that you will understand how I see this as integral to ending violence…

if we were able to see the beauty in ourselves and each other we would never be able to do anything but love one another…

I sent this video to a group of my friends whose hearts I know will be bruised by all of the grief and the loss that happened yesterday at the Boston Marathon… a group who will seek to choose love over anger and fear.  And it is in these moments that I call out to each of them, to remind myself that I am not alone in braving the world with an open and vulnerable heart, that I am not the only one that believes that kindness and compassion are the only way to peace.

I hope that they are able to  see the beauty of themselves and others.   It takes a tremendous amount of courage and to go against the grain, against all of those who will rail with anger, gnash their teeth and present violence as a justified response to violence.

I choose to fight violence with beauty.

So yesterday and last night I purposefully sought out beauty, to share things that restored my faith in humanity, that remind me that I am surrounded by so many loving, kind, generous, beautiful, caring, committed people.

And I wanted them to know…

And dear reader, this is for you as well…

And when I think of you…

Beauty is one of the first things that comes to mind…

Beauty that shines through each of you, radiant kindness and amazing grace.

So thank you for your beauty, for your kindness and your grace.
Continue to shine like the stars in the midst of the dark night…

The world needs your light.

Two Ways

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I gathered with women and men this morning from across the state of Minnesota to talk about moving a statewide plan to end violence forward.  Why this is necessary, why now… and one only needs turn on the news this afternoon to be reminded why.  In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon Bombs yet again we are forced to choose our response as a nation, as a community, as individuals. 

So again, I make my choice. 

To radiate love. 

To stand in the midst of pain and darkness and declare my trust that love will overcome.  To comfort those who grieve, to hold the light for those who feel lost in this darkness.  

Perhaps this overcoming will not be in the timeline that I choose… I am willing to surrender my idea of a timeline, my attempt at gaining control over something so much bigger than myself.  I acknowledge that fear and anger are so corrosive… and yet… time and time again I have seen love shift hearts, I have seen how true welcome create community, I have borne witness to pain transforming into forgiveness, into healing, into love.  

I believe that the antidote to violence is community, caring for each other and setting compassion as our default emotion rather than fear and anger. 

I believe the antidote is connection- not distance.  

I believe the answer involves more vulnerability- not arming ourselves literally or figuratively. 

The most brave people I have known have slayed their own dragons, have stood strong through storms of doubt, and have continued to seek love even when it was difficult. 

To choose love when fear is the easy option, to keep your heart open when the easy choice would be to shut your heart down, to continue to risk even though there are no guarantees.  That is true bravery. 

 

 

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Bates

The other day I ran into a friend who had said he was thinking of me the other day because someone had asked a question and he knew I would love it.  As I have written about before I am a bit obsessed with questions.  I think they are pretty fantastic and often open up new ways of being, thinking and seeing.

Instead of “How are you?” his friend has started to ask “Who are you becoming?”

 

It was so exciting to me on two levels, one is because he knew that I would like it, and it feels good to be known, to be thought of, to be seen.  And isn’t that what friendship is?  To take note of something that another would like, to share bits and pieces of life and to say in ways big and small… You Matter To Me.

And two because it is simply a fantastic question.  One that opens up so many possibilities for conversation and for truly engaging more deeply in one another’s lives.

 

 

And I thought about the deepening of friendships, of getting to know people on a new levels and how that happens.  As I look at many of my relationships and how they have deepened over time and I look at ways that they have gotten stuck, ways that they have gone sideways, forwards and backwards I am reminded that friendships are living breathing things that need to be tended with love and attention.  Sometimes we need to see people in new ways, to be reminded of who they are becoming, and sometimes we need to remind ourselves of who we would like to become.

For today… give yourself permission, space and time to grow into who you are becoming.

 

 

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Some days…

Blessed

Today here in the US we celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  And although many use it as a National Day of Service, with so much of my life being the director of a Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Advocacy Center is about service I generally use this day to be more reflective and to fill myself to be able to continue to be of service.

By this point I am usually drained from the extroversion of the past few months… between the Holiday gatherings, the weekend of service being an advisor with 1,600 of my favorite young people at the YMCA Minnesota Youth In Government and all of the rest of life that continues to roll on I usually need a day or two of hunkering down and finding some restoration for my soul.  It was negative 12 most of today, and with windchill (which those of you who don’t live in MN it essentially means what it really feels like) it was negative 35.  Crazy cold is an understatement.  Today my restoration was found in some poetry and time enjoying the warmth of the fire and the counting of the many blessings that have been unfolding in my life over the past year.

I want to share with you some words from one of my favorite poets and I hope that they bring your soul the peace that they did mine:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My wish for you…

That you create some time to allow your blessings to find you, that you feel the warmth of a fire, that you “become inclined to watch the way of rain”, that you allow yourself to be deeply nourished.

P.S.  If you like the Blessed sign that I have, you can get your very own from my friend Amy at Little Fish Designs.  Some great items on there!  Be sure to check out all of her fantastic wares. 

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Given today I thought these sentiments were worth revisiting…

Erica Staab

It has been a little bit since my words have found their way to this page, and so much has happened in that time.

I spent the better half of last week with my Grandfather who was in the hospital and although it was bittersweet to see him there there were also so many gifts that I came away with from his time there:

It is always a scary thing to see someone you love in the hospital.  And as I was driving up to visit him I was rehearsing the speech I would give to the nurses about how important grandpa is to all of us and how special he is… but as soon as I got there I realized there was no need because they were already aware of just how special he was, and they were so incredibly kind and provided the best care they could.  I…

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Compassion…

Compassion changes everything.  Compassion heals.  Compassion mends the broken and restores what has been lost.  Compassion draws together those who have been estranged or never even dreamed they were connected.  Compassion pulls us out of ourselves and into the heart of another, placing us on holy ground where we instinctively take off our shoes and walk in reverence.  Compassion springs out of vulnerability and triumphs in unity.

Judy Cannato~ Field of Compassion

 

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90 Seconds…

Fall Beauty

 In the book “My Stroke of Insight”, brain scientist Jill Bolte Taylor explains that the natural life span of an emotion—the average time it takes for it to move through the nervous system and body—is only a minute and a half, a mere 90 seconds. After that, we need thoughts to keep the emotion rolling. So, if we wonder why we lock into painful emotional states like anxiety, depression or rage, we need look no further than our own endless stream of inner dialogue. Modern neuroscience has discovered a fundamental truth: neurons that fire together, wire together. When we rehearse a looping set of thoughts and emotions, we create deeply grooved patterns of emotional reactivity. This means that the more you think and rethink about certain experiences, the stronger the memory and the more easily activated the related feelings become.

Researcher Benjamin Libet discovered that the part of the brain responsible for movement activates a quarter-second before we become aware of our intention to move. There is then another quarter-second before the movement begins…By catching our thoughts in the magic quarter-second, we’re able to act from a wiser place, interrupting the circling of compulsive thinking that fuels anxiety and other painful emotions.

Tara Brach- Why We Lock Into Painful Emotional States 

90 seconds.

A small amount of time that can create a large amount of difference. Too often we think that what we are feeling in the moment will last forever, and often that idea causes more pain than anything else. It is incredibly freeing to think about having that moment, that opportunity to shift things.

What could you do with your magic quarter-second?

 

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