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Posts from the ‘Empathy’ Category

To or For Us?

“We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” – E. M. Forster

Often we assume that things are happening to us rather than for us. Immediately going to “worst-case” scenario thinking, we shut the door on exploration, insight and expansion. Abundance to scarcity in a split second. Assumptions, judgments and the past serve as the lens for the present and a map for the future. How many times have we been “saved” from something in hindsight that at the time felt like we were being “screwed over?”

A woman last week was standing in the middle of the road when Abby, Sasha and I were on the way to the dog park. Her back turned toward me, she was waving her arms to stop a truck. At first, I was irritated that she was in my way, so I turned into the parking lot to go another direction. As I looked closer, she was in the middle of the road because a live wire was down and she was stopping traffic from driving over it. In that moment, I realized how quickly we jump to the wrong conclusions and race to judgment. I was grateful that she just didn’t drive away when she saw it but stood there preventing others from driving over it. Generosity, kindness and empathy in a simple act.

In our need to understand and control, we put everything and everyone in a box that serves our narrow narrative, our biases that experiences often reinforce if they go unchecked. How many awesome people have you never really met because you labeled them before getting to know them?

Amidst the pandemic, civil unrest is surging and anger rising. Rooted in bias, hatred, social inequities, conspiracy theories on all sides, arrogant institutions and political parties that never have learned the necessity to work together to create policies and frameworks for the whole rather than advancing their power and position.

In the days ahead, take a breath, go within and check your own assumptions and biases. Contribute to peace and understanding through reflection, thoughtful discourse and empathy. We always have been and always will be in this together. How we choose to shape the future depends on our individual response and contribution to understanding, peace and solving problems together.

So much is happening “for” us rather than “to” us. See today with fresh, unassuming eyes and make something positive, meaningful and lasting of your time on earth. Be remembered for light, not darkness.

“Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.” – Mother Teresa

 

New Year, New Trails

“Not all those who wander are lost.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

“The truth is that, given enough time, life bestows its gifts, a drop at a time, if we find the courage to stay open to the mysterious flow that is larger than any one event.” – Mark Nepo, Finding Inner Courage

It’s but one day, but this year, there’s a heavy sigh of relief with the calendar turning to 2021. This new year is an invitation to release the weight of 2020, while holding tight to the plentiful lessons. 2020 has been a master class in empathy, hope, resilience, priorities, generosity, kindness, authenticity, and the power of the human spirit to persevere and overcome.

While “pandemic class” is still in session, the distribution of vaccines offers hope of better days coming soon. And we don’t have to wait for better days when we become prisoners of hope and chasers of joy.

Beyond circumstances or events, even a pandemic, we have a blank page each day to write our own story, to find joy in moments, to break trail, exploring the unknown with optimism, gratitude and wonder.

What story will you write this year? The pen is and always has been in your hands. Pursue, hope and create your own path. Happy New Year!

“Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.” – Jennifer Lee

Joy Vaccine

“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.” – Denis Waitley

“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.” – Aristotle

As COVID cases spike, the holidays will not be the same as we lock down to try to stop the spread and buy time for two vaccines to be distributed. Some days, this year feels like it’s been five years. There’s a weariness that will linger for months more. The only real thing that we have control over is our response. This has always been true and even more important as we move through a worldwide pandemic.

Each of us has the choice on how we move through it. We can struggle or embrace. Complain or create. Dance or be disappointed. Laugh or cry. We have justification for a wide range of emotions right now. Some days are good and some days are not-so-good. Never forget the strength and resolve of the human spirit. Be generous and find gratitude in simple daily gifts that remain.

Choose light, color and delight to lighten the load for yourself and give permission to others to do the same if they choose. When others are struggling, listen with empathy and offer encouragement. And when you’re struggling, accept grace and light.

Joy is a powerful vaccine that’s available to all right now. Daily doses required.

The Other Side of the White Out

“When you quiet your mind, you can enter a world of clarity, peace and understanding.” – Alice Coltrane

“Faith is not simply a patience that passively suffers until the storm is past. Rather, it is a spirit that bears things – with resignations, yes, but above all, with blazing, serene hope.” – Corazon Aquino

The past nine months has felt like a nonstop white out in winter. Limited visibility, slow going, uncertain of what’s ahead, fish tailing on the ice, with a few spin outs into the ditch. And like winter, this is a season, a long one albeit.

We have the capacity to experience both sorrow and joy at the same time. It’s not one or the other, it’s both. Keep moving until the snow clears and the horizon shows itself.

We are deeper, wider and stronger than we realize. Never, never, never give up. Accept the rollercoaster of emotions and go through them to the other side.

God gives us grace to embrace what is and asks us to pass grace on so it multiplies. Accept and give grace, allow imperfection and invite delight into each day.

Joy, hope, resilience, gratitude and faith move us through the white outs, without fail. The other side is just ahead, keep moving, smiling, crying, mourning and celebrating! Create clear skies and sunshine within and patience, perspective and peace will follow.

Opposite, Dichotomy, Pattern and Connection

“Life is a great tapestry. The individual is only an insignificant thread in an immense and miraculous pattern.” – Albert Einstein

“I believe we create our own lives. And we create it by our thinking, feeling patterns in our belief system. I think we’re all born with this huge canvas in front of us and the paintbrushes and the paint, and we choose what to put on this canvas.” – Louise L. Hay

In our effort to prove our rightness and others’ wrongness, we diminish the complexity and depth of the world and our place in it. While it may provide temporary comfort, we miss the rich essence of living fully by both observing and participating, listening before speaking, conversation rather than pontification.

Life is filled with dichotomy and opposite as well as pattern and connection. When we put down our ego, listen and open our eyes, we find that we share the road on this journey, with no one right about everything. In the blending, depth and connection, there are patterns, insights and answers that have been present waiting to be discovered through thoughtful, quiet inquiry.

A meaningful and content life emerges when we ask, “what am I to learn?” and “how can I give rather than take?”

While I may not agree with others, I can still maintain my principles and beliefs without diminishing them in the process. I can even go so far as being kind and generous, especially to those I don’t agree with.

We need to both insulate the noise that distracts us and absorb the rhythms to create music. When we are too close, we need to pull back. When we are too far, we need to move in. From simple to complex and back to simple again. Going deep, then rising to the surface.

Be open to seeing patterns and connections amidst the dichotomy and opposites. There is far more beauty than we account for as we count the wrong things. Be willing to learn and as a result, grow and change.

We’re Still Here

“All of us need to begin to think in terms of our own inner strengths, our resilience and resourcefulness, our capacity to adapt and to rely upon ourselves and our families.” – Steven Pressfield

“I think we build resilience to prepare for whatever adversity we’ll face. And we all face some adversity – we’re all living some form of Option B.” – Sheryl Sandberg

This week, Jeanne gave me a ceramic pumpkin filled with fresh tomatoes from her garden. The tomatoes alone would be awesome enough, but the pumpkin had very special meaning. Years ago, the pumpkin was filled with fresh beautiful flowers. They were sent to our office in St. Paul addressed to Jessica Gill. Jeanne got them and called Jessica immediately to let her know that she received flowers.

Jessica was a fellow coworker/friend who worked for us remotely in Montana. She was the original remote worker before COVID-remote work became “cool.” It was from a client thanking her for her outstanding work – no surprise. Our office should have been filled with flowers, gifts and chocolates for her commitment, creativity and leadership through the years for both our clients and staff.

So the pumpkin filled with tomatoes this week went deeper. It was a sweet reminder of Jessica who worked for me for years. We talked every day. She was one of the most brilliant, kind and generous young woman/person that I’ve worked with over a 30+ year career. She succumbed to a second ass-kicking from cancer on January 6, 2019, in her 30s with two young boys and a husband who adored her, like the rest of us.

Not one single day goes by that I don’t want to pick up the phone to talk, strategize and solve complex problems with a laugh weaved in the conversation. She understood me and the depth of the tech work that we worked on together for the years.

So as I finished this week, with my pumpkin displayed in my living room, one thought kept rising in my heart – “we’re still here.” That’s really the gist of it, especially now. We are still here in this “unprecedented time” and are called to keep living, contributing, caring and being generous with ourselves and others. We are still here to honor those who have gone before us, rising to all occasions with resilience, hope, joy, enthusiasm and victory. Until we cross over, we are still here to fight the good fight, so let’s do this!

When you start feeling sorry for yourself – and I do myself regularly – remember, we are still here and here for a purpose. Be present, be hopeful, be joyful and serve the world until you are no longer a part of it. Carry on with hope, spunk and fight. Cast light – we all are in desperate need of it right now!

“In order to succeed, people need a sense of self-efficacy, to struggle together with resilience to meet the inevitable obstacles and inequities of life.” – Albert Bandura

10

“To practice five things under all circumstances constitutes perfect virtue; these five are gravity, generosity of soul, sincerity, earnestness, and kindness.” – Confucius

“You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

News Flash – the entire world is in the midst of a pandemic right now, civil unrest and an election filled joy and delight. Uncertainty continues. Work from home. School from home. Fear. Anxiety. Unknown.

I can hear the tone and angst in emails, in conversations, on zoom calls. I’ve done my share of contributing in a similar fashion at times. I try to stop myself in my tracks to not become what I attest. In the past three days, I’ve gotten sharp angry emails, assuming the worst intentions rather than simple human error.

So here’s your Mr. Rogers lesson for adults since many are acting like children who have skipped lunch and can’t play with your toys. Count to 10 before you send an email or assume you’re the only person going through a difficult time right now. Mr. Rogers would also advise children to look for the helpers. Why not try to be a helper?

Be kind. Be patient. Empathy works, try it. Learn to breath, assume the best and count to 10. Reflect and think before you speak or send an email.

Tip of the week: Download the Insight Timer meditation app. I’ve been listening in the morning and evening the past two weeks and am finding a deep peace with a few hiccups during 10 hours of daily work filled with delightful emails. Meditate in the morning and evening to reflect on you, not others. We all, all of us, can do and act better.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. Breathe.

Cast some light. Please. Let’s help each other carry the load and find joy right now when we need it the most.

“The best portion of a good man’s life is his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love.” – William Wordsworth

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