Showing Up for Yourself.

One of my favorite yoga teachers once asked us, at the beginning of the practice, “How will you show up for yourself today?”

I think that’s a really important question we often forget to ask ourselves. We get so caught up in the whirlwind of the “shoulds” and the “must do’s” that we forget to to show up for ourselves, be present to ourselves, to support ourselves in the midst of the whirlwind.

Today my body said “STOP,” and I listened. I’m under the weather, sinus infection, nothing serious, but my body is really weary, and I can tell that is making my heart and soul extra weary. The way I needed to show up for myself today was to STOP and just be.

I love this in terms of a way of phrasing what it is to be open-hearted, but I think it can put unnecessary, unfair pressure on us if we read it as “everything is ok” or “find joy in every moment.”

Sometimes showing up in the moment is showing up for ourselves like we were meant to be there. It’s ok to show up for ourselves like that’s the thing that needs to happen right now.  Because sometimes it is the thing that needs to happen right now.

Please take care of yourself. You are a gift to this world. We need you here.

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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/

 

Quick Wonder

Last night I was reminded/re-introduced to some of Herman Melville’s gorgeous, passionate language from Moby Dick.* Among the words that landed on my heart were these: “It was a sight full of quick wonder and awe!” How marvelous is that. “Quick wonder and awe.”

It comes at a time in the story when Ahab and his men are in the thick of the pursuit of the great whale. It’s a mad rush of action and fury and fear and – well, quick wonder and awe. But while things are wild and terrifying, I love that Ishmael is still present to the wonder and extraordinary nature of this moment in time.

And what if quick wonder is not just that crazy mad rush of wonder as their world is literally whirling, but what if it’s “quick” in the sense of being alive. An active wonder, a wonder that is not observed from afar but rather a wonder being lived right now. This is happening, right now, and I am part of it, and this is opening my heart, and I am really here, feeling this, living this, part of this, this quick wonder.

And might it be possible to be so very present to a moment that we ourselves become quick wonder? My life, my quickness, my being is part of a greater phenomenon.

Quick wonder.

I wonder.

Could we start a movement to be Quick Wonder? Present and open to the marvels of this Life?

I wonder.

* http://www.getswallowed.com/

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/

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/

The Open Heart Connection

I find myself, through these writings and with you, exploring what it is to have an open heart, to live with a heart open to the world, open to possibility, open to hurt, open to feeling all manner of things, open to connecting with another person, with a moment in time, with ourselves. And then today I came across this from the marvelous Terri St. Cloud who is Bone Sigh Arts:

My word. I saw that, read that, felt that, and my heart did a little happy dance of gratitude. No, more like a deep bow of gratitude to the Universe and to God. “Strength lies in the opening of the heart…” (Terri St. Cloud)

This resonates so deeply with me, not only because of this journey I’m on but also because it makes so clear that having an open heart isn’t all sunshine and roses and ease and smiles. It can be, of course. The opening of the heart hopefully often will lead to great joy and genuine compassion and connection. But it may be really, really hard before it gets to that point. It takes great strength to open your heart and go to those places. It takes courage. It might mean riots in your soul.

I’ve never been good at confrontation. I don’t like it. I’d gladly go around the block to avoid confrontation. But I am learning that part of having an open heart means staying right there in the Thick of It, whatever It is in that moment, and showing up to my life and to the connection even if the connection is really hard.

I’m not saying that I believe we always have to go into the fray to have an open heart. Indeed, sometimes the path to opening your heart is to step back and let be. Sometimes the path is to just be present for someone else or for yourself, listening to what they need from you, not necessarily what you might want to give. The opening of the heart can take on so many forms, and I find that wonderful. An open heart is an invitation to see where life may lead us.

So. Here we are in this together, and I am so grateful. “Strength lies in the opening of the heart…” Amen, and yes.

 

 

A riot in my soul.

Sometimes I am presented with a situation, something happens to me or even just around me or near me that stirs up such intense feelings that it’s like the wind has been knocked out of me. I’m not just talking about anger. I’m talking about a moment when your world is so rocked that the very core of your being trembles inside.

It can be very unnerving and usually doesn’t feel-good-to-feel. I feel my whole countenance change on the outside and my heart turn upside down on the inside. I feel unsure and unsteady. I start to question everything.

It feels like there’s a riot in my soul.

As hard as it is to sit with, to live through, I know there’s probably a reason it’s happening, and when the earthquake quiets, and I survey the rubble, I’m often surprised to feel that what surrounds me is something quite gentle yet powerful. It feels like I can breathe again, not merely picking up where I left off before the riot, but like I can breathe in more deeply than I could before the quake.

One time years ago in the midst of a particularly difficult time in my life, I remember feeling like after the riot there were just pieces of myself scattered all around, and I did not know how to put them back. Actually, I think I must have still been in the midst of that great riot. It was very scary, and I was deeply sad. I was in midst of grief and despair.

And then one day I realized I only needed to put back the pieces of myself that I wanted to. This riot had, after much core devastation, provided me the chance to create anew the person I wanted to be. And this was marvelous and wonderful to me – and such a relief. There were pieces of the rubble of myself that I could leave behind, and there were pieces of myself I could pick up lovingly and restore to their resting place in my heart. And then there was room for some new pieces I might yet encounter along the way.

I still experience riots. As hard as they are in the moment, I have come to know they are a really good thing, especially if I can find the courage to stay in the fray and be connected to the trembling core. When I come through it and the dust is settling, I breathe again. I breathe a new peace and a new strength. I try to hold onto it as I pick up a new piece of myself from the rubble and put it gently in my heart.