• On Strength, Health, and Sanity

    The day after Paying Attention was published, I received a thoughtful email from a friend and faithful reader of my posts. She usually writes back to let me know what the post meant to her, ask me questions, and at times challenge me to go deeper. These email conversations have become our little ritual and I love it. After I posted Paying Attention, I sat with what I had written. I felt that the post was incomplete. There was more to be said about how each of us is handling the tremendous stress and pressure we’re experiencing. There’s nothing simple or straightforward about our current, collective experience. When I received my friend’s reply to the post, something she said gave me pause. I asked her permission to share one of her comments and decided to jump-start a conversation based on her experience. This is what she said … I have found lately that I have wanted to be less introspective. I think I am less willing to look inward now even though the time is…

  • Paying Attention

    Is there anyone among us who doesn’t know by now that we’re being shaken to our core by immense social and global changes? There’s the ever-evolving pandemic, the chaotic political landscape, and the recent, long-due protests that the NY Times is calling “the largest movement in the country’s history, according to interviews with scholars and crowd-counting experts.” Although we all inhabit this world at the same time, our individual experience of the crises are not of the same intensity. Yes, our lives have been disrupted and our rhythms and rituals upended. But then, there’s loss of life, livelihood, and security. There’s a thundering, universal demand for letting go. Letting go of old belief systems and destructive behaviors. Letting go of our attachment for things to go back to the way they’ve always been. Letting go of our need to be comfortable. Letting go of our tendency to turn a blind eye. Letting go of our illusions, among other things. The ground underneath our feet is shifting and emotions run high. Everything’s up in the air,…

  • Jack of All Trades

    Thirty plus years and what seems like a lifetime ago, someone made two statements that have stayed with me. You’re made of stuff that changes, she said and proceeded to tell me that I was a Jack of all trades and master of none. I remember my breath stopping as I took a pause, trying to figure out why the latter felt like an insult. Time passed and I came to understand and appreciate that, yes, indeed I am made of stuff that changes. Not that I can’t be stubborn or blind to my failings at times but I do try to stay open to possibilities. I am curious and willing to change. As for being a Jack of all trades, I have to confess that I felt the sting of this comment for many years. But why? Let’s see. I have always contended with a heightened sense of perfectionism. At times it worked for me, most of the times it worked for everybody else, and often it left me in conflict. I can blame…

  • What’s in a Day

    A couple of days ago I was listening to Tara Brach as an intro to my morning meditation. In her talk, she referred to RAIN: Cultivating Mindfulness in Difficult Times; a four-step process we can use when we find ourselves in the grip of difficult emotions. When we can’t see the forest for the trees, RAIN can help us cut through the stress and confusion by: Recognizing what is happening. Allowing what is to be. Investigating our experience, gently without judgment. Nurturing what needs to be nurtured, with kindness. As I listened to Tara Brach walking me through the four steps, I found myself at a place of honest recognition and raw vulnerability. I was able to sit with whatever was triggering me and allow it to exist without trying to change the narrative and distract myself. It was a rewarding experience. You can play with RAIN anytime and anywhere. Right now, as you’re sitting, just close your eyes, take a couple of deep breaths, and scan your body. What comes up for you? Is…

  • On Self-Compassion

    I woke up Monday morning (last Monday that is) feeling energized and ready to go. I had plans for the week ahead. In addition to the usual tasks, I was going to write, reach out to some friends and family members, and begin setting the foundation for new projects. My intentions were good and I had the energy and inspiration to match them. It didn’t exactly go as planned. It’s now a week later. As I sit down to write this, I look back and wonder where the days went. My mood began to deteriorate from the get go. It was a rainy and cold week. Neal and the girls were frustrated. They’re all working remotely but last week the Gods of internet decided to play games. As soon as I’d sit down trying to focus, somebody would burst in, frustrated, asking me to do something about this forsaken internet. We kept getting in each other’s way. I found myself getting more and more distracted. Inspiration, energy, and creativity went out the window. Eventually, I…

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