October 5, 2015

I'll Meet You There

From the poet Rumi:
"Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I'll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn't make any sense."

When I eulogized my mom, I began with those words. She loved me unconditionally, without boundaries. She met me "beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing." Mom met me--in whatever state I arrived--with love and understanding.

Now I re-enter life with raw emotions, my tender spots revealed. And I wonder: Who else is grieving, hurting, or rejoicing? Do the strangers I pass feel lonely or anxious? What lies beneath the armor we so habitually wear? I think we're connected, deeply, as humans who navigate this difficult and wondrous world.

In times of sorrow, we have permission to drop the armor; to love and be loved; to grieve and feel. Then the raw-ness subsides and we return to daily life. Our armor rebuilds. Yet this armor moves us further from Rumi's field--further from acceptance and compassion.

As best I can, I hope to stay unarmored. My intention: keep this heart open to everything life offers; keep this heart open to everybody (including myself). There is a field and it's filled with love, beauty, and awareness. 

I'll meet you there.


September 28, 2015

The Raw Places

My mom died at 2am Saturday. I took this photograph five hours later. It reminds me of the vigil we kept for mom. On the hospice floor, we held a 12-hour vigil. The last few hours, we literally encircled her with love--me lying in bed with mom, hand on her heart; my sister sitting by mom's side, stroking her forehead; dad, bowed forward, holding mom's feet; my other sister soothing dad's hands and my feet. It was a circle of love and awareness. She resisted for hours, but then died with some ease. It was difficult, but deeply important and valuable. I have no regrets. 

My heart is filled with both love and sorrow. These are the raw places of which we don't often speak. I'm vulnerable. My heart is cracked open--to the grief and to the beauty. This life is so very precious.


September 17, 2015

Start Where You Are

Some days I begin with a strong intention, but quickly lose myself in thoughts, externals, or busyness. Life feels chaotic and I feel unsettled. Yet mindfulness has taught me this: remember to remember. Wherever I am--whatever my mind state and actions--I can begin again, right now. If I pause and breathe; if I take an honest yet gentle look inward, I can move forward with intention.  

We often sabotage ourselves by thinking change must be grand. Our inner-critics claim: It's not worth doing if you can't do it full steam and exactly right; or it's not worth doing if you don't have a large chunk of time. Yet lasting change occurs in small, consistent ways. The only requirement is to begin--to start exactly where you are. Meet yourself with kindness and integrity; forgive yourself when you falter; and be brave enough to start again.


September 9, 2015


Life is uncertain. We might prefer it otherwise, but change happens, often. Maya Angelou wrote: "I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights." She was a wise woman. I'll add a fourth thing: change. I learn a lot about myself in the way I handle change. I see where I flow and where I resist. I see where I want something different or don't want what I get. And I feel how the fight exhausts me. I want to be at peace, not war, with my life. At peace and fully present. So I breathe into the change--breathe and be. I try to find ease--the littlest bit of ease--even in uncertainty.


August 30, 2015

We All Struggle

We all struggle. We all experience pain, embarrassment, and loss. But fear isolates us. It whispers in our ear: this is a problem with only you. At times, I want to shout from the rooftops: "I feel sadness, fear, and doubt. I'm not always happy. If anyone out there feels this way too, you're not alone--you're never alone."

We all hide pieces of ourselves, but I want to make space for these in conversation--ample space. Embracing difficulty and darkness requires less energy than pretending it's not there. Shadows enhance the light. They show us truth, compassion, and gratitude. They make us whole.

Yes, we all struggle. In this way, we're deeply connected. As you read this, you're not alone--not alone in your joy, anxiety, grief, or contentment. We're in this complicated, beautiful world together. Our lives are intertwined. When you need it, please take my hand. 


August 26, 2015

What Gets Lost

A few months ago I taught mindfulness at a local business. On that morning, I did final preparations for class, allowing little wiggle room in my schedule. I left with just enough time to arrive 15 minutes early. I got in the van (we're a one-car family) and noticed the gas tank was empty--completely empty. My first thoughts: "Argh! What was Mark thinking? He knew I had an important meeting. I rarely use the car and this is what happens. Now I'll be late." 

Poof--mindfulness gone. Right away I went to blaming and judging. In my rush, kindness was lost. And this was eye-opening. At that particular moment, I regained my composure, forgave Mark, forgave myself, and moved forward. Yet I saw how easy it was to make a different choice: to stay angry or deny responsibility. Either of these would lead to more suffering--for me and everyone around me.

In a strange way, our culture values busyness. We pack our schedules, allowing little free time for life to happen--for empty gas tanks, long lines, sick days, unexpected repairs, or genuine emergencies. When life feels urgent, important things get lost. We lose kindness, creativity, and compassion. We lose the ability to listen deeply or see anew. We lose faith in ourselves and connection with others. We might do more, but we experience less.

A meditation teacher once asked me two questions: What is most important and what is enough? Thoughtful answers to these questions guide my daily choices. Even small simplification lets my life flow more freely. When I understand what's most important, I invite presence and connection. When I know what's enough, I make room for forgiveness. And when I'm mindful, I stay open to possibility. Even as busyness swirls around us, we can make different choices. We can practice peace and spread kindness. We can be the change we want to see.


August 21, 2015


When I rush through my day, I feel anxious but I also feel disconnected. It's helpful to pause and look inward. It's equally helpful to pause and look outward--when I really see the faces of others, compassion comes naturally.

Here's a beautiful exercise: look through a crowd, take in people's faces, and say inwardly, "Just like me, that person wants to be happy; just like me, that person wants to be free of suffering." We all want to be happy. And we're all interconnected. In airports, traffic, grocery-store lines, and work meetings, look around; notice people's faces. Just like me, that person wants to be happy. When I realize this, my heart softens and the world widens.