The only thing to do.

There is so much hurt in the world and also so much goodness and love.

I think the only thing to do is live with open hearts and feel it all.

gerbera daisies

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Deep Grace or What I Know Today

What I know is that in a moment of sadness today when I asked for genuine words of love and assurance, they were given without hesitation, and my heart filled.

What I know is that when I was surrounded by Blues, two acts of spontaneous love and generosity and “uplift” from the outside pierced the Blues and said, “Excuse me, but we’re going to take her back with us now,” and helped me to a lighter place.

What I know is that my son is a very big part of the reason I am here on this planet.

What I know is that all love eventually becomes help (Paul Tillich via Elizabeth Gilbert):

Love = Grace = Help.

What I know is that we are part of a bigger something. Connected. Grace-filled. And to quote the extraordinary playwright and human being Lauren Gunderson:

“You may not know how you might matter to people right now, and you cannot know how you will matter in the future. But you are already connected – and you already matter.” (Margaret from Silent Sky)

Thank you for being, for loving, for helping. We are all in this together. It all matters.

Jumbled Heart

Sometimes my heart is a jumble of all sorts of feelings, and I just don’t know why they’re all there. I know they are part of me. I know they may have something to say that I need to hear. But the jumbled sensation is not always a lot of fun.

Tonight I find myself jumbled inside, lots of love and gratitude floating around mixed with some melancholy* and questions. Tonight I am reminded of all the pieces of myself living in this jumbled heart of mine. I’m reminded of the story and journey of the open-hearted-marvel Elizabeth Gilbert as she sat in her deepest, darkest time, sat with herself, and invited all the parts of herself into her heart, blessing them, loving them, assuring them they could rest there in her heart and be at peace. (from Eat, Pray, Love)

So while I am deeply grateful that I am not in a place of great distress but rather just in the midst of a jumbled heart, tonight I try to bless the melancholy and the questions. “It’s okay. I love you. You can rest here. We’ll get through this together,” a variation on EG’s offering to herself.

I also want to recognize the love and gratitude of my jumbled heart, so tonight I am grateful for loved ones who wrap their arms around me with their words and love, grateful for connections with new friends who say “welcome,” grateful for dear friends who share that I am with them in their hearts even when I can’t be in person, grateful for my precious son, his open heart, and his indomitable spirit.

I know the jumble is part of Life. It’s part of having an open heart. I’m glad for that. I just want to become more connected to the peace and the blessings of all parts of the jumble as the confusion swirls around.

Peace

I think this is what my friend Brandon meant when he wished for all “a courageous sense of abiding peace.”

May we find peace in the jumble. May we find peace with the jumble.

* https://dearworldhereismyheart.wordpress.com/2015/07/25/melancholy-and-the-open-heart/

Maria

This morning I was in the grocery store before I headed to work and was staring somewhat absently at the dried fruit section. An older but very lively woman came up next to me and said, “It’s hard to decide isn’t it?” What happened next was one of the most other-worldly, powerful experiences I’ve ever had.

This sprightly, fiery, feisty, vivacious, loving, gentle (yes, at the same time as being fiery and feisty), Grace-filled Open Heart of a human being engaged me in a moment in time unlike any I have ever been part of. I came to learn that her name was Maria, that she was in her mid-70’s, that she didn’t marry (“by choice!” she insisted, repeating it several times) until she was 42, that she had married a man in his 70’s, that he knew how responsible and independent she was, that she had worked 3 jobs at the same time and was working them when she met him, that he had told her she would never have to work again if she didn’t want to, that he lived into his 90’s (and she clearly loved and cherished her time with him), that she had re-married, that her second wedding ring (which she showed me) had 5 diamonds in it because her mother had been born on the 5th, that she didn’t care what she looked like (she was nicely but humbly dressed), that she really loved her watch on which you could see the inner workings of the gears from both the front and the back (it was a simple fashion watch, clearly not high value, but made her so happy), that she believed in God, that she didn’t need a bodyguard (anyone to take care of her): she had herself, and she had God.

But that’s not really what she was there to share with me.

She was there to share with me that everything I need I have within me.

As she told me her story, she talked of how she had always stood on her own, how she believed that everything she needed she had within her – and so did I – and to trust myself and that I am so young and have so much time. Her Grace and sweetness and strength were palpable. While I had a few cynical questions float through my mind about whether or not she might be crazy, I realized it didn’t matter. Because even if she was, she was giving of herself to me, she was reaching out, connecting with me so genuinely, from such an incredible place of wanting to help and be kind and share of herself and be strong for me – and I didn’t even know that I needed someone to be strong for me and reassure me, but she literally just appeared, and before I knew it I was in tears, and she hugged me, and blessed me and told me she loved me (and not at all in a creepy way). She talked about how we are so busy we don’t find time for kindness. She talked about how we need to find time for it and stop and just make it happen – like I realized she was doing for me, with me, right there next to the dried fruit.

And she kept telling me her story and assuring me that I could do anything I wanted. I couldn’t even find words. The tears just came, and she kept hugging me and reassuring me of these things I didn’t even know I needed to hear. And I briefly had a moment of worrying that I needed to get to work, and I quickly banished that thought as I knew I was supposed to be right there, right then. With Maria. It was Quick Wonder for sure, as I was very aware that this was a moment of extraordinary wonder that was living and breathing through me and with me.

I have tears again as I write this, as I remember this Open Heart personified. Maria then showed me her cart and the great vegetable deals she’d found and took me to the bag of tomatoes on sale, and I put some in my cart, too. Then we hugged again and she blessed me again, and we finished our shopping separately.

We met up again after we each checked out, and we walked out together and hugged again, and I just kept thanking her. And we decided that if it was meant to be we would meet again sometime.

I just stood there, next to the dried fruit, listening, feeling, weeping, grateful, in awe, moved beyond measure by this open-hearted woman who believed we shouldn’t carry hate around, we should say what’s on our hearts and minds and move on, that the world is big enough for everybody. I just stood there letting her bless me with her love and strength, not having anything to give her except my presence and gratitude and honesty as I didn’t try to hide my tears. I just stood there as she truly did bless me and heal me in some way and gave me new life. And when she told me she loved me, I told her I loved her, too. This was not a time for holding back. This was a time to show up and be open to whatever was happening.

Maria is her name. Maria changed me. Maria showed me what genuine compassion and connection are, what a truly open heart is, what it is to experience Quick Wonder – and what it is to be Quick Wonder. Maria is Quick Wonder. She is a loving whirlwind of Quick Wonder.

And she let me whirl with her for a few minutes right there in the grocery store, next to the dried fruit.

Joy Begets Joy.

Yesterday I felt like the world was bathed in joy. There were so many moments that made my heart overflow — and they were all moments of human connection, with loved ones, with family, with friends, and they all arose out of us being truly present in the moment. I’m still smiling as they stay in my heart and as I strive to hold them there, not let them replaced by anything lesser. I know the day will eventually fade. But maybe I find ways to hold onto some of the moments or at least that “bathed in joy” feeling. I’m so grateful.

Today I was watching this video that’s gone viral:

Now, I know sometimes these things are staged, and often I am too gullible. But even if this was staged, it has brought so much joy as it’s made it’s way around the world. And if it’s real, well, then, it’s got to be one of the most wonderful examples of joy begetting joy I’ve ever seen.

Those people shared in a moment in time. And they didn’t let their inhibitions get the best of them. In fact, they couldn’t help but be moved by the laughter into laughter, by the joy into joy of their own.

Today when I picked my son up from camp, he was so happy. He kept telling me how “awesome” his day was. He was so happy that I couldn’t help but be happy. Granted, he’s my son, but he was just so genuinely ebullient that I’m pretty sure he would have brought me a smile even if he weren’t my wee one.

When my son was tiny and his joy was clearly bringing me joy. Happy sigh.

When my son was tiny and his joy was clearly bringing me joy. Happy sigh.

I love how joy can sneak up on us and open our hearts without us even trying. Joy is alive, it is immediate, it is present, it is RIGHT NOW, it is Quick Wonder.*

To feel joy necessitates an open heart. An open heart naturally fosters connection. Genuine joy can’t be stopped, won’t be held back. We crave that joy, that connection, I believe.

I wish you joy, and I know your joy will beget more for the world.

https://dearworldhereismyheart.wordpress.com/2015/07/31/quick-wonder/

P.S. My son and he exclaimed, “You cannot contain the joy! We must release it into the wild!”  Amen. 🙂

Stillness Reflection

It is quiet now, and there is a palpable stillness that fills my heart with peace.

I am reminded of a time, a moment  of stillness I will never forget and will keep close in my heart all my life. Years ago, my very dear friend asked if I would be present (along with her husband at the time) for the birth of their second child. I was deeply honored and readily said yes. One night it was time, and off we went to the birthing center in the hospital while their much-loved 2 year old stayed home with grandmother. My friend astonished me with her grace and strength in bringing that sweet tiny somebody into the world: my friend always astonishes me with her grace and strength, and this was a new level I hadn’t been able to imagine (my son was still many years away from being born). After her delivery of this amazing little girl, my friend drifted into a greatly earned sleep. Father asked if I would mind staying a bit longer, staying with my friend and their newborn long enough for him to run home and check on their other daughter and the grandmother. Of course I was overjoyed to stay.

So I found myself there in the middle of the night, for it was about midnight, sitting in a rocking chair, high up in a tall hospital building in the midst of crazy, wonderful Manhattan, holding this tiny marvel, this precious child, this gift to the Universe. And everything was so, so still. My friend was gently sleeping right there in the room with us. All was perfectly quiet. And this sweet tiny someone and I shared this moment in time that I will never, ever forget. I try to recall this memory with some regularity so that I never let it go. So that she stays right there in my heart, and so that that moment of utter Grace, of what, after yesterday’s exploration, I now believe was Quick Wonder,* never leaves me. So that I can honor that moment in time, that beloved baby (who is now an extraordinary young woman), and her mother who is one of those friends whom I will love to the end and beyond.

As I write this, I am having what my son and I call “happy tears. ” There is something about stillness. It can be so scary sometimes. It can feel impossible to bear. It can be maddening or give way to melancholy. But  it can also be genuinely awesome. It can open our hearts in a way we’ve never experienced. When we can be still, we can be present to Quick Wonder: we can be fully connected to the wonder of living, of being, of sharing in a moment in time.

I am so grateful for you, sweet tiny somebody. I’m so, so very glad you came into this world.

* https://dearworldhereismyheart.wordpress.com/2015/07/31/quick-wonder/

 

Gratitude is an action word.

I was introduced to the notion of Kairos time by Glennon Doyle Melton aka Momastery:

http://momastery.com/blog/2012/01/04/2011-lesson-2-dont-carpe-diem/

I love her humor and humility as she shares this notion with us, but I so deeply respect her ability to intentionally be present with and for her Kairos moments in day, even if there’s just a tiny one that only lasts 2 seconds. The way she describes it, it seems those moments are the “what matter” moments, the “why we are here” moments. Those moments in which something usually manages to open our hearts, to connect us with each other or the Universe or God – connect us to something outside ourselves that gives us a deep, happy sigh when we can step outside ourselves and think and feel “I’m so glad I was here to be part of this moment.” Here as in here-on-earth here.

I also love what good old Wikipedia says about Kairos. As opposed to Chronos, chronological time, Kairos is “a moment of indeterminate time in which everything happens.”* A moment in which everything happens. How marvelous is that. I can’t even quite wrap my head around that idea, but my heart seems to understand it.

I was thinking back over my day, and I realize there were many Grace-filled, Love-filled moments in which “everything happened.”

Early in the day I came across a friend’s post on Facebook which simply read, “Love is a verb.” Boom, I felt my heart open.

This afternoon my son had to face an emotionally challenging situation, and the person assigned to help us was so kind and human that when we left, my son said to me, “That was actually fun.” Deep breath. Heart open. Seriously grateful.

Later in the day I took my son to a playdate. Very shortly after I dropped him off, his friend’s mother (whom I feel lucky to call my friend, too) texted me, “I love your son so much. He is delightful.” Heart now floating on a cloud of gratitude.

Tonight, a friend I’ve never met went above and beyond to send me a message and share something with me he thought might speak to me. Grace and Kairos from afar.

And in the wake of some really tough moments yesterday, and in being able to explore Shame vs. Brutal Truth** with a loved one and here with you in the ether, there is a new peace in my heart. Deep breath of Kairos in. Deep breath of Kairos out.

Gratitude

When my friend posted “Love is a verb,” I immediate also thought of “Gratitude is an action word.” So for these Kairos moments, for the connections I have been part of today, I am deeply grateful.

One last thought/feeling. Reading this was a Kairos moment, too. And while we may not need to figure it all out, I am very thankful to get to keep exploring life, to love life, and to be loved back.

SweatpantsAndCoffee.com

SweatpantsAndCoffee.com

*https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kairos

**https://dearworldhereismyheart.wordpress.com/2015/07/27/brutal-truth/

Brutal Truth

Brutal Truth. That moment when Life holds a mirror up to your face and forces you to take a gritty, raw look at what you see before you. And Brutal Truth cannot be avoided or dismissed. Brutal Truth stays until you look, until you see. To me, Brutal Truth’s other name is Tough Love.

When Brutal Truth appears, I often find Shame shows up, too. The difference between these two, is, however, extreme. Shame is there to try to make us feel like we should slink away into the shadows and never show our faces again. As Brene Brown puts it, in her achingly beautiful and human way:

“Shame is that warm feeling that washes over us, making us feel small, flawed, and never good enough….Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.” (The Gifts of Imperfection)

Brutal Truth is very different, though it often doesn’t feel any different from Shame. Sometimes I cannot tell them apart until I really sit with myself and realize Shame is giving me the excuse to hide. And then I see that Brutal Truth comes in peace and more importantly, comes in love. Do you know J. Ruth Gendler’s The Book of Qualities? Her personification of these pieces of ourselves astonishes me in her accuracy and humanity. Of Truth she writes:

“Truth has been employed as a thief stealing illusions….When Truth’s fingers touch my shoulder, I hear bone touching bone….He lingers in the long pauses between the questions and the answers…Truth is willing to wait for a long time with little attention or visible encouragement. Truth is not willing to live without Love.

And when I can come to that and realize that Brutal Truth is actually genuine love, then I can start working to send Shame on its way. So I find myself back again at this core reality that if we can open our hearts, painful as it will be, we will find truth, honesty, and compassion. In this case, Brutal Truth comes only because of the need to share compassion, care, and concern. But mercy, such truths can hurt like hell and rock your world.

How does Brutal Truth bring genuine Love? As I was reading more just now, I found this. Gendler writes, “Trust is the daughter of Truth….she is the mother of Love.” Yes, there must be Trust for Brutal Truth to bring Love. Otherwise, when there is no trust and no love, THEN there is Shame. So if we can truly trust the one handing us the Brutal Truth, we will know it is offered from a place of Love.

It’s a lot. And it’s more than a lot in the moment when the truth hits. But maybe if we can open our hearts more, we can trust more, we can love more, and we can face those Brutal Truths without letting Shame in.

I’m going to try.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Melancholy and the Open Heart

When the melancholy comes, it creeps in, slowly, quietly, walking with silent footsteps on the forest floor of my heart. I have learned to spot it in my peripheral vision before it is too close, so now I know it’s coming. But I haven’t learned to detect it before it begins its quiet walk, and I haven’t figured out how to stop it.

I’m not sure I’m meant to stop it. It’s part of me. It doesn’t live with me always but rather comes to visit from time to time. It’s not malicious, but it can be scary.

I know with time it will move along, and I will be ok and feel lighter again. But it’s not like a riot in my soul* that leaves me in a new, life-filed place once the dust settles. It’s curious because unlike the soul riots which are much more violent and can shake me up inside, melancholy just comes and sits quietly next to me on the sofa. Or follows me to work. Or stands with me in line at the Post Office. And I start to feel very, very sad and unsure of just about everything. I don’t feel grounded, and I don’t know when it will pass.

I am grateful that when melancholy comes, it doesn’t completely overtake me. In fact, most people would never know what I’m feeling. But I feel it and have to work my way through it until it passes.

About a year and a half ago, I came across 2 passages that I marked with the words “when in trouble,” and more often than not, if it gets to that point with the melancholy, I remember to pull Melody Beattie’s “Journey to the Heart” off my shelf and turn to the marked pages. Tonight I was deeply impacted by a part of the first marked passage – but by some lines I had not underlined, and I could not help but smile. “Living with an open heart means we stay present for ourselves and feel as much as we can, as much as we need to.” As I type this to share here, it hits me even more: melancholy is part of it, part of this Life with an Open Heart adventure. Maybe that’s totally obvious, but it’s never been clear in quite this way to me before.

As I flip again to the second passage to see if I want to write about it here, I re-read, “Go out, and embrace your connection.” Yes. That is why I am here. Compassion, connection, an open heart, and the courage and strength to stay on the journey.

So I am extra grateful for connection and open-heartedness tonight. That’s you. And the Universe. And God. And my friend I reached out to earlier to say my heart was hurting. And the loved one I reached out to earlier to say this is where I am right now. Thank you for being here with me in this moment in time.

I’m feeling myself smile more as I write this. I think I might even share something that I love and that I feel describes me in some ways, but I don’t want it to sound arrogant, and I’m not really cool enough to share it, but I love it. I love it because everything I feel I tend to feel really deeply. And mostly that’s good, but sometimes, boy, I could stand to feel just a little less. But I wouldn’t change it about myself. I choose to believe I inherited it from my dear grandmother, this deep-feeling-heart-laid-bare-heart-on-sleeve-ness. My cousin has it, too. And my sweet son. So here it is, at the risk of sounding silly – but maybe silly is good, especially if it helps lead the way out of melancholy’s forest. Here’s to open hearts, sensitivity, deep feeling, and even dear melancholy.

from SweatpantsAndCoffee.com

from SweatpantsAndCoffee.com*

*https://dearworldhereismyheart.wordpress.com/2015/07/22/a-riot-in-my-soul/