Wednesday, November 27, 2013

It Is Enough

He who knows enough is enough will always have enough. ~Tao Te Ching

Greetings, my friends. In the United States, it is the day before Thanksgiving, a holiday celebrating our blessings. (Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every day was a day of thanksgiving? It can be!)

For me, it is a time not only to reflect on my blessings and enjoy the company of family and friends, but it is also a time to reflect on the year to this point and consider how I want to spend the remainder of it.

A story keeps circling in my mind, one you might already be familiar with, one I’ve passed along several times before.

A university professor went to visit a famous Zen master. While the master quietly served tea, the professor talked about Zen, holding himself forth as an expert on the topic. The master poured the visitor's cup to the brim, and then kept pouring. The professor watched the overflowing cup until he could no longer restrain himself. "It's overfull! No more will go in!" the professor blurted. "You are like this cup," the master replied. "How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?"

So it is with me. My cup is overflowing with thoughts, plans, activities, ideas, and, sometimes most of all, words. Strange to say that. I love words. I built a career on words, and always felt so lucky to get paid for having so much fun. No one is more surprised than I have been this year to find myself pulling back from what has for so many decades fed my spirit. And yet....

My one month break from blogging in June stretched to two and then three months. I came back in September, but since I’ve been back, I can sense a change. I have enjoyed reconnecting, but my attention seems elsewhere.

Where? Not in a place, perhaps, but in a process. A process of emptying, releasing. Michelangelo said that when he was sculpting David, he chipped away everything that wasn’t David. I have no claim to a masterpiece, but I do have a sense of allowing everything to fall away that isn’t ... hmm, words fail me. I guess that’s the point.

I have loved writing this blog for over three years. I treasure most of all the connections I have made with so many wonderful people whose paths I would not have otherwise crossed. I have appreciated more than I can say (again words fail me!) the friendship and encouragement I have received from the generous spirits that populate my blog world. And of course the fun! This has indeed been a happy place for me. A very happy place.

I have run out of words, at least for now. Thanksgiving seems like a perfect time to say thank you, and to let this blog take a rest. I would like to spend the rest of this year visiting your blogs to say a personal thank you. I will be by to see you soon.

I’m not closing the site, so if there is something here you would like to revisit, the door is always open and you are always welcome. My book will continue to be for sale, and the proceeds will continue to be donated to Edwards Center. And if you would like to reach me, please don’t hesitate to do so by email or Facebook.

May you all find your happy place, and live there always.

It is enough.

Monday, November 18, 2013

You're Invited!

God doesn’t call me to judge you. God calls me to love you. ~Joel Osteen

I’ve been thinking about labels and reactions to labels. We sometimes reject the whole concept of labels, because they are often used to limit, or to divide “us” from “them.” We use them to dismiss, to separate, to stereotype, to discriminate, to judge. In the United States, we are all too painfully aware of the damaging and tragic use of labels based on race, gender, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, and physical or mental disability.

So is the answer to throw out all the labels? Maybe. On the other hand, maybe the problem isn’t with the label itself but with how we use it.

For example, my son James is autistic. When he was a boy, he was mainstreamed in a regular classroom. His behavior seemed odd to other children. The children who tried to talk to him or include him in play were confused by behavior they didn’t understand. They were sometimes even afraid of him. They stayed away from him.

I made a decision to give them information, to use a label and explain it. Every year, near the beginning of the year, the teacher and I would arrange for someone to come in and talk to the kids about autism. James was not present for these discussions so that the kids could freely ask questions.

Without exception, once the kids had some knowledge, they showed tremendous acceptance and compassion. They went out of their way to include James.

Towards the end of his last year at that school, the PE department put on a presentation, showcasing the skills that the kids had learned. It was all very impressive, and the parents’ applause was constant. Then it was James’s turn. He started across the stage but then hesitated. Everyone got just quiet enough for me to hear one of the kids near him encourage him. “You can do it, James.” James tucked his head and did a crooked somersault. He stood up beaming. The whole gym erupted in applause. Tears were streaming down my face.

Labels don’t have to divide us. They can invite us in. Knowing that someone is from a different country, or practices a different religion, or is of a different ethnicity can be an invitation to get to know that person. We can be curious instead of judgmental. We can be welcoming instead of fearful. We can celebrate our differences, and in doing so, we can move past all labels and find our common ground.

Enjoy this short video of a dog who sees past labels.

related posts: The Water Is for Everyone; There Is No Them

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Embracing Transformation

What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly. ~Richard Bach

Years ago, I was a mess. Chronic fretting and stress were affecting my health. My determination to control my world was wearing me out, and of course it was a complete failure. I yelled at the kids...a lot. I didn’t sleep well. Relaxing and having fun were out of the question.

After ending up in the emergency room twice with excruciating pain that had no medically detectable origin, I knew that this was my wake up call from life. As Step One of the Twelve Steps says, my life had become unmanageable, and I had to change or die. So I set about to transform my life.

Please read the rest of this post at Always Well Within ....

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Surprise Blessing

A few minutes ago, my phone rang. The caller asked for someone who lived in my house many years ago. I happened to have that person’s current number. After reassuring myself that the caller was someone that my former housemate would want to hear from, I shared the current number.

The caller repeated the number back to me, and then said, “Thank you. You are a wonderful human being.”

I laughed in surprised delight. I felt an energy, generous and loving, wash over me. “Thank you,” I replied. “You are a wonderful human being, too.”

I didn’t know this person, but I’m sure that what I said to him was true. He could have just said thank you, but he offered me a gift of blessing, a blessing to a stranger.

Wouldn’t it be great if we took simple encounters with people and turned them into blessings?! I’m going to try it.

I’ll start with you. Thank you for being here. You are a wonderful human being.

related post: Make Someone's Day