Beautiful and Fun Things

There are a lot of beautiful wonderful things in the world……stories of doing good, people making music, photographer capturing a once in a life time happening, ideas on ways to grow and evolve. Here’s a few of them. Enjoy.

If you didn’t have a chance to read my Thanksgiving post, here it is: The Open Heart of Gratitude

Capturing smiles! What happens when you tell people they are beautiful?  Smile!

Inspiring! Nat. Geo photos

Auroras

Earth. From space  It never gets old.

The Toy Smuggler

Mindfulness Empowering Ourselves

How Kindness Spreads Kindness

Where does compassion come from? Compassion

Mail Man Collects Stones Look what you could do with stones!

What is empathy? Empathy

Harvest festival from around the world Nine harvest festivals from around the world

 

 

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The Open Heart of Gratitude

“To love in the face of fear is bold.
To love in the face of hatred is courageous.
To make the choice to love even more deeply
and widely in the face of moments of anguish
is a heroism of the heart that may be our only hope to heal this world.”
Kristi Nelson

So much going on in the world. So much pain and violence, Hatred and fear. I am struggling with a deep sense of sadness. I am reaching and stretching towards what I know is bold and powerful: love.

Ultimately I know deep in my soul that I will always make the choice to be vulnerable, broken and heart broken, lost, afraid, humbled by the profound power of love rather than allowing myself to be closed off to love…I will not shut it out and allow hate and fear to take over.

I am one. It may not sound like much in a world of billions. Still, I will always stand up to fear and hate. I will always speak out in love, with compassion and always search inwardly for empathy towards others. I am one. But I am ONE MORE.

“Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world at once,
but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach.

~ Clarrisa Pinkola Estes

I do not live in bubble or vacuum. There are many things I can do that will have a positive impact on the part of the world within my reach. And I believe, further. Many of them require me to look honestly at myself and to re-educate myself to correct the inaccuracies I was taught. I challenge the thoughts and beliefs I was exposed to. It is okay to have to re-visit, re-think, process and revise.

“What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts,
adding, adding to, adding more, continuing.
We know that it does not take everyone on Earth to bring justice and peace,
but only a small, determined group
who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.
~Clarrisa Pinkola Estes

Accumulation of acts by a determined group. People who will not give up.

“One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do
to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul.
Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit
and willing to show it.”
~Clarrisa Pinkola Estes

I feel humbled by my list of things in my life to be grateful for. Mostly the same list I take for granted.  Not intentionally, but out of privilege. Yes, there it is. Privilege.

It doesn’t feel good. Yet, I am so grateful for this feeling. It is bringing me to an open door where I can turn around and see things from the perspective of others. Through the door I can begin the re-education of my heart. I can walk towards the opportunity to gain understanding. An opportunity to grow,  to evolve. I will accept the challenge to open my eyes.

I say this with full humility. I say this with determination. I am humbled and sometimes deflated by the struggles in the world. By the pain inflicted on one person by another. By the realization that there is a cloak of invisibility we throw over those we do not understand, are afraid of, don’t care about, who are different from us. Over people we judge.

This is the season of Thanksgiving. A holiday that needs to shed the untruths of the glamoured up version of history. All you have to do is look at what is happening at Standing Rock to understand what was set into motion in 1621.

How about in honor of being able to feel gratitude for things in our life we work for change, for understanding, for tolerance, for love. How about we learn something new? About abortion, or poverty, or racism (internalized, interpersonal,institutional and structural), or implicit bias, or conformation bias, or Islam, or food stamps, or why consent matters, or about sexuality and what it really means, the facts about incarceration and how it affects the poorest and most vulnerable. How about we learn the truth of the effort to dehumanize Native Americans from the first Thanksgiving. How about we learn about Others?

You know, I can’t live up to these goals all the time. I get lost in my own ego and personal struggles. I get mad, feel anger, get hurt. Underneath all that I know there are so many millions of people who suffer so deeply from so many different things….and that puts so much into perspective.

cbe-hiSo this Thanksgiving season I will gratefully spend time with my husband and children, eat a nice meal we all work on together. And for things I particularly feel grateful for I will commit to learning about how I can help others have those same things. And I will learn why I have to help them…what is standing in their way to healthy food, a job, health care, a home, protected rights, education, a safe neighborhood,………..it’s a long list.

This Thanksgiving I am grateful that I have made a decision to care. To open my eyes. To open my heart. To become educated. To understand I have a personal responsibility to bring a little bit of good into the parts of the world that are within my reach.

in-this-house

Check out this week’s readings: This Week

The Heat of Compassion

“Man becomes great exactly in the degree in which he works for the welfare of his fellow-men.” ~Gandhi

There is a heavy, heavy weight bearing down on me. I know I am not alone. Many are speaking out, taking action. Some of you are feeling paralyzed and lost.

Choices, relationships, thoughts and the words we use have great power. When we come up against one of these and experience uncertainty, fear, hesitation, we have to pause and take a moment. We have responsibilities. We are the protectors of each other and of the world…of Earth.

“The deeper our faith, the more doubt we must endure; the deeper our hope, the more prone we are to despair; the deeper our love, the more pain its loss will bring: these are a few of the paradoxes we must hold as human beings. If we refuse to hold them in the hopes of living without doubt, despair, and pain, we also find ourselves living without faith, hope, and love.” ~Parker J. Palmer

For many of us these last two weeks have been difficult to understand. It looks and feels so much like hate and ignorance “won”. Many of us are experiencing doubt on many levels. Despair fills us. And many of us feel a deep pain for so many in our communities and around the world who are under various threats. Threats many of us will never feel or know.

We must learn to hold our doubt, despair, and pain—until we can reclaim our belief, our hope, our love.” ~Parker Palmer

We have to choose to hold on to each other with more hope, more faith and more love. We cannot let hate and fear take root any deeper than it has already. As the Southern Poverty Law Center says in it’s Ten Steps to Fighting Hate, “It is time to move from prayer to action.” And millions of people are doing this.

A new kind of warrior is being born. Compassion and insight their only weapons. The concept of the Shambala Warrior teaches us that compassion “provides the fuel, it moves us to act on the behalf of other beings.” We need insight “into the dependent co-arising of all things.” It is about what is in our hearts. We are interconnected. All life is a web.

“But insight alone can seem too cool to keep us going. So we need as well the heat of compassion, our openness to the world’s pain.

The Bhagavad Gita (5th-2nd century BCE) is the story of Arjuna facing this exact situation. Counseled by Krishna, Arjuna comes to face his “warrior” duties to protect and uphold “cosmic law.” He struggles with his own fears and doubts, but in the end finds the courage and strength to embark on selfless action for the welfare of others.

This was the guiding principle Gandhi followed.

Insight is growing. A fire has been set. The heat of compassion is alight.

We see it everywhere. Take action. Speak up.

**Check out this week’s reading: This week

Sanctioned Into Being

There is a brokenness
out of which comes the unbroken,
a shatteredness
out of which blooms the unshatterable.

There is a sorrow
beyond all grief which leads to joy
and a fragility
out of whose depths emerges strength.

There is a hollow space
too vast for words
through which we pass with each loss,
out of whose darkness
we are sanctioned into being.

There is a cry deeper than all sound
whose serrated edges cut the heart
as we break open to the place inside
which is unbreakable and whole,
while learning to sing.

Rashani Réa.

I may have broken open to the place inside which is unbreakable….while learning to sing.

The song I am learning to sing is a song of promises. Of strength and courage. Of hope.

There is a poem circulating written by Caitlin Rosberg that has become the song I am singing.

If you wear a hijab, I’ll sit with you on the train.
If you’re trans, I’ll go to the bathroom with you.
If you’re a person of color, I’ll stand with you if the cops stop you.
If you’re a person with disabilities, I’ll hand you my megaphone.
If you’re an immigrant, I’ll help find you resources.
If you’re a survivor, I’ll believe you.
If you’re a refugee, I’ll make sure you’re welcome.
If you’re a veteran, I’ll take up your fight.
If you’re LGBTQ, I won’t let anyone tell you you’re broken.
If you’re a woman, I’ll make sure you get home okay.
If you’re tired, me too.
If you need a hug I’ve got an infinite supply.
If you need me, I’ll be with you. All I ask is that you be with me too.

I would add, if you are a child, I will protect you.

Safety Pin Piercing Paper

I live in a liberal small city that is home to a university and a college. There are a lot of “educated” people around here. Lots of ideas and thoughts of all kinds. It is a bubble. We have our share of people struggling and in pain. And we do not always do right by them in terms of seeing them let alone helping them.

I teach preschool. It is a Montessori school and I incorporate and teach a “Peace Curriculum”. Yes, these are young children, still working through discovering social skills, emotions and people. I have small goals. In terms of expressing themselves I guide them to use a full sentence. Instead of yelling “STOP”, I ask them to use their strong voice in a sentence, “STOP taking my things/hitting me.” Really, the other child may not have any idea why their friend is yelling “stop”. By hearing a sentence they have a better chance at understanding. The other big part is if they see someone crying, sad, hurt, sitting alone, they are go to them and “check in”. Certainly if they are the reason someone is crying, stop and check in. It’s difficult. It requires a great deal of awareness and sensitivity to others that takes a long time to develop. But they are learning. And what they are learning is to be observant of others and to care. To offer kindness and compassion. Two little friends fell on top of each other a few days ago. One jumped up, “Are you okay?” “Yes, I am okay! Are you okay?” came the response. “Yes! We are both okay!” they cheered, jumping up and down. And that is part of what I struggle with in the adult world right now. Who are the people that we do not care about enough to ask if they are “Okay”? Who are the people we make invisible and/or turn and walk away from? Who are the people we care so little or nothing about that we will allow them to be oppressed, persecuted, attacked, beaten, threatened and hated? Who are the people whose lives and families we are willing to destroy? I am not naive. I know there are “bad” people out there. I am talking about clumping groups of people together and deeming them “bad”. I am talking about wrapping them in hate.

In my town, I doubt the statement of wearing a safety pin will ever be called to into service. I wear it to make a global statement. I am a safe person. I am not filled with hate or fear.

I am trying so hard to understand what has happened in this country. It is not about politics. It is about privilege and hate, power and intimidation, fear and selfishness. I don’t know how to turn things around right now, but I am not going to be quiet or still.

I am going to live by Caitlin Rosberg’s words. And I am going to sing and call forth what is unbreakable and whole as in Rashani Réa’s poem.

And while I am singing I am going to volunteer for and contribute financially to groups and organizations who hold all people in compassion and respect and work to uplift and protect people who are marginalized, oppressed, threatened, disenfranchised, forgotten and unseen. I will march and protest because our country was born from protest and it is an honored and valuable privilege we have in this country. If you are a woman, your right to vote came from protest. Most of us benefit from changes brought from protest. From the shatteredness I will forge the unshatterable. Strength will emerge. Permission has been granted and I have been sanctioned into being.

Check out what I’ve been reading this week, there’s quite a bit: This Week

“the untrimmable light of the world”

Mindful
by Mary Oliver

Every day
I see or hear
something
that more or less
kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle
in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for –
to look, to listen,
to lose myself
inside this soft world –
to instruct myself
over and over
in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,
the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant –
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,
the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help
but grow wise
with such teachings
as these –
the untrimmable light
of the world,
the ocean’s shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?
I don’t know about you, but everyday I have to work at remembering to look and listen for the things
“that more or less kills me with delight”.
There is so much that distracts me or draws my attention away from being able to see the
” ordinary,
the common, the very drab,
the daily presentations.”
So much that is beautiful, wonderful, miraculous is in front of us every day.
If only we would look and listen. We would see and hear.
Gratefully I work with young children who challenge me every single day to look differently, in order to see differently, in order to think differently, in order to understand differently. And in doing so, I am able to witness the common magic of each day.
“It was what I was born for –
to look, to listen,
to lose myself
inside this soft world –
to instruct myself
over and over
in joy,
and acclamation.”
oregon-sunriseIf we could only remember…this is what we were born for……
What is good, beautiful and true demands we keep our hearts open, our eyes alert, our minds uncluttered. In doing so it becomes possible to turn away and refuse what is wrong and instead work for what is right. To embrace the potential and possibility of goodness, kindness, helpfulness, understanding, compassion….
Instructing ourselves in “joy and acclamation” for all that is part of the untrimmable light of the world.
Do not drown in fear, despair, hate or worry. Look up and around. Most certainly there is darkness and death and violence, war and intolerance. But there too is light, life, love, understanding and acceptance. Rise up allow yourself to grow wise with the delight of the world so that joy and love will win over all else and spread across our world. So that we will learn how to adapt to a world of peace, of having enough for all, kindness, hope, respect….and we will learn how to rise together and always welcome and honor one another.
A four-year old stood in the middle of our circle at group time and announced, unsolicited, that it was time to make a “declaration”. I asked what she meant and she said “We have to pray for peace. We have to hold hands and say ‘I declare peace.’ “
So  we did.
And then we declared kindness.
Then love.
Please vote.
This week’s reading:  This Week