Archive for the ‘The Way of Compassion’ Category

Photo by Massay

Even in the struggle, you are loved.

You are being loved not in spite of the hardship, but through it.

The thing you see as wrenching, intolerable, life’s attack on you,

is an expression of love.


There is the part of us that fears and protects and defends and expects,

and has a story of the way it’s supposed to turn out.

That part clenches in fear, feels abandoned and cursed.


There is another part, resting at the floor of the well within, that understands:

this is how I am being graced, called, refined, by fire.

The secret is, it’s all love.

It’s all doorways to truth.

It’s all opportunity to merge with what is.

Most of us don’t step through the doorframe.

We stay on the known side.

We fight the door, we fight the frame, we scream and hang on.

On the other side, you are one with the earth, like the mountain.

You hum with life, like the moss.

On the other side, you are more beautiful:

wholeness in your bones, wisdom in your gaze,

the sage-self and the surrendered heart alive.


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You’ve got a heart. You know that part. But what is the container like that holds your heart?

When you heart speaks, how do you listen? How do you speak back to it?

When your heart moves, what kind of landscape have you created for it to move in?

We can’t always control what happens to our hearts in this life, but we do have full power over how we hold our own hearts, how we relate to them.

If we don’t treat our own hearts gently, with love, what kind of contentment can we ever feel? How can the world ever be a safe place–if our own bodies aren’t even a safe place for our hearts to be?

More on this, on the outer heart, in my post over at Regina Perata’s blog, Restoring Power. While you are there, read a little of Regina too. Her insights suprised and moved me.

If you hold your heart with love and care and lightness and space today, what’s different?


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Hi there,

I’m so happy to welcome new visitors and readers who read yesterday’s guest post at Kind Over Matter.

I love the spirit, community, and vision of Kind Over Matter. I love the idea that through the work I do I just might be able to support creative young women (which much of the Kind Over Matter community is) to create more beauty in the world and experience the inexplicable happiness that comes from creating.

For my friends that have been her for a while, please visit my post over there. I hope you’ll reframe your thinking from growth to blossoming. More about that at the post. But think about, really, what would happen if you put less focus on “growth” and more on “blossoming”?

Tomorrow I’m getting on a plane to NYC to be with friends. Yes, I did just get home from Hawaii and Boulder on Friday. This weekend I took walks and caught up on Oprah and saw the beloved people in my life and learned that if you get Lacinto Kale you can eat it raw as salad greens. It’s quite tasty with olive oil, salt and pepper, and if you have the time and energy, with diced shallots and ricotta salata too.

By all of that I mean to say, travelling is lovely but if we design our lives with a sense of possibility, with a leaning toward who we really are, I think can be that an average day at home can be better, sweeter, more nourishing than a getaway in an exotic land.



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Over a year ago, I wrote a post called Loving Reality. That was in the days of 38 or so mighty readers. This morning I was reminded of this piece because it was republished in Soulful Living. I remembered how much I love this piece, and how important I think this idea is. So I’m sharing it with all of you again here.

Ideas show up when I’m writing and often they are as new to me as they are to you when you read them. This piece was that way for me. It provoked my thinking. It introduced the new idea of Loving Reality into my life.

It speaks to where I am right now. I wrote last week about how I’m more and more leaning into the present. I’m actually savoring quiet. I’m choosing to meditate, because I am actually enjoying it. Whoa. I’m taking time to enjoy things, to be in the moment without any ambition or urgency about getting to the next task.

Just like the weatherman will sometimes say, “we haven’t had a storm like this in 15 years” I’m reporting, “I haven’t had a calm like this in 15 years.” Truly.

Calm is only possible when we make peace with reality. And if we can love it, trust it – find a way in the midst of pain and tragedy and oil spills — if we can, paradoxically, love reality– then life opens up its secrets to us. We open ourselves to receive its everflowing gifts.

Loving Reality

In our culture, when we talk about love, we typically talk about loving another person: I love Sonia. I love my grandfather. I love Louie.

What do we mean by that?

When we love others, we treat them with compassion, kindness, and patience.

We perceive their gifts and beauties and power. We champion and affirm what is best in them.

We support and nurture and care for them.

We forgive them, and we do so regularly.

We give up the false idea that there is wrong with the people in our lives, and liberate them to be exactly as they are.

When we love ourselves, we do the same.

We treat ourselves with compassion, kindness, and patience.

We perceive the gifts and beauties and power in ourselves.

We support and nurture and care for ourselves.

We forgive ourselves, and we do so regularly.

We give up the false idea that there is something wrong with the truth of ourselves, and we liberate ourselves to be exactly as we are.

Less frequently in our culture, we speak of loving a particular thing, activity, or creative expression in the world.

When we speak of that, we usually mean that we deeply enjoy it, we draw great pleasure from it.

As a result, we want to experience it, to be near it.

We perceive its gifts, beauties, and power.

We have a mysterious and inexplicable special connection to that thing.

Let’s take everything we know about what it means to love a person, an activity, thing in the world, and ask ourselves, what would it mean then, to love reality itself? To love the way things are, they way they happen, the way they will happen?

To love reality itself. That would mean….

Treating reality with compassion, kindness and patience.

Perceiving the gifts, beauties and powers of reality and championing and affirming them.

Somehow supporting, nuturing and caring for reality.

Forgiving reality and forgiving it regularly.

Giving up the false idea that there is something wrong with reality, and liberating it to be exactly as it is.

Deeply enjoying reality, and as a result, wanting to experience reality, to be near it.

Possessing a mysterious and inexplicable special connection to reality itself.

For this lifetime, reality is our home. You can experience your home as a small tent on a violent battlefield, or you can experience your home as a soft sun-streamed ocean full of myriad delights. You can experience your home as rocky and dangerous shore where at every moment sharp cliffs, strong waves, or hungry predators threaten your life. You can experience your home as a playground, created for your delight. You can experience your home as a warm embrace, knowing that you are carried by the universe as you were carried by a loved on in the first few days of life.

Most of us live our lives trying to shield ourselves from the dangerous parts of reality, working to game the system, control the outcomes. We have all kinds of expectations about how reality should be. We believe that we have to struggle to get what we want and fight to prevent what we hope to avoid. We live in a rather adversarial, fearful relationship to reality. You could say that underneath it all, the real sources of stress in our lives are our underlying beliefs about reality itself.

What if we lived in a entirely different kind of relationship to reality? A relationship without that sense of needing to control, without fear? What if were able, somehow, to lean into reality, to trust it fully? What about taking a stance of curiosity to reality- an interest in following it, studying it, to see how it unfolds? What about loving reality?

An essential part of living a juicier, more fulfilling lives in relating to reality in this more open, pliant, trusting way, because reality is our guide on the journey. If we are open and willing, reality will provide the perfect curriculum for us to grow, and create a life of greater joy. It will supply all the sustenance and aid needed to get us through each step on the journey.

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True surrender is easily misunderstood as passivity, as doing nothing. It’s actually a change in stance, a change in state of being.

It’s a softening, a coming home to. It’s what we receive when we’ve made peace with life, and become its partner, arm in arm.

Before surrender, we act alone. We act because life is an emergency, out of control, vulnerable, worrisome, fear-inducing. We act to fix or control in response to that.

After surrender, we know we are held in a wise and loving embrace. We feel softness, not striving, in our relationship with life.

Bad things still happen. People and relationships deteriorate. Tragedies occur.

We feel the pain in it’s fullness, but we see all the beauty. We see the gifts. We don’t clench our fists against any of it.

From there, when we’re no longer yelling at life telling it how it should be,

when we’re no longer rebelling against what is, when we’re no longer fighting reality



we can take meaningful action. We can find our true role.

We wake up to what it’s all about, what all the circumstances are for: to reveal love, to call us into love, to stretch us to find love in new ways. We begin to see what the real story in our lives, and it’s all about this.

We begin to see how life is releasing exquisite gems to us in every moment, like water dripping from the tap.

Let all the circumstances, all your mental stories about them, all the plans of how it should be or should have been, let it all burn up

until what’s at the center of your life is love given, connection realized.

until your chest throbs daily with tenderness for the faces that grace your life

and the blue out the window is so stunning it brings tears to your eyes.

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Hi folks,

A couple weeks ago I had an icky, embarrassing experience.

I decided to mine it for all the wisdom and interesting writing it could be worth.

And that’s what I’ve done.

It turned out to reveal all kinds of gems.

I hope you’ll come read it – it’s a guest post over at the Journal of Cultural Conversation. I share about the experience, about shame, and about how we can each stop feeling ashamed and shaming others. (And yes, you enlightened, yoga-doing, sensitive people, I promise you there are ways you are subtly shaming others, despite your intentions. We all are.)

While you are there, take a look around. This blog is one of my favorite discoveries of late. Very cool, eclectic mix of topics and great writing, woven together by brilliant mastermind Laura Cococcia.

I’d love to hear what this article sparks for you – please share in the comments! If you enjoyed it, share on twitter or facebook….or wherever you like to share things.

Sending lots of love to you all,


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In case you’ve forgotten, I just wanted to remind you of something important. I needed to be reminded about it, and I have a feeling you do too.

A few weeks ago I was having coffee with a friend. I hadn’t seen her in months, but she’d been receiving my email newsletter so she had some sense of what I’d been up to (really this is not a shameless plug, just part of the story, but it would be odd to not link to it, right?).

When we sat down, lattes in hand, she told me how impressed she was that I had jumped into this career change to coaching and writing so boldly and smoothly. She said she admired the huge confidence I had that it would all work out, my trust of my own voice. She could never do something like this so fearlessly, she said.

Um, excuse me, what?

What planet did the subway drop me off on?

It is true I had not set up a webcam to show the world the times I banged my head against the wall, fell onto the couch in a whining heap, and retreated into watching TV so crass I shall not name the show. It was also true that in my newsletter, I reported my successes more than my failures. The thing goes to hundreds of people and it doesn’t seem the place for me to share a story about who ignored my calls that week.

But still, I don’t think I’m to blame for her little misunderstanding. Our weird habit of projecting perfection on to others is the culprit here.

This habit is pervasive. So far, I’ve been blessed that the people who show up in my coaching practice are fabulous, creative, smart, women. Also, a few fabulous, smart, creative men. Fantastic.

Most of these special individuals long to do something significant, creative and meaningful with their lives, and coaching helps them get there.

Here’s the funny part. Somewhere along the way in the process, usually around session four, every client thinks they need to have a heart to heart with me, in which they let me down gently about just how crazy and screwed up they are.

This is very sweet, and very funny. The crazy, screwed-up-ness they think they are candidly revealing to me is nothing more than the kind of crazy I’ve learned that we all have. It includes

  • unrelenting, irrational insecurities and fears
  • the need to learn the same lesson ten or one hundred times before we actually get it
  • the incredible ability to obscure from ourselves what we really think and want
  • and more, generally, the talent to delude ourselves in all kinds of ways.

I’m always happy when clients decide to bring up the heart to heart chat with me, because I can dispel them of the delusion of their special defectiveness. But it also makes me really sad that most of us carry around the feeling that we are uniquely crazy or especially screwed up or not-as-good-as-so-and-so

I fell victim to this habit earlier this week. I love Janice’s blog, Sharing the Journey. Janice is a fabulous writer, and she writes about personal growth and poetry at her blog. She’s developed an amazing community of loyal readers at her site. From where I sit, her blog might as well be mid-town Manhattan, it is so crowded with comments and fans.

I was shocked to read this week, in a typically gorgeous and articulate post from Janice, about her ups and downs with blogging, her disappointments about her own subscriber count at various points along the way.

“Janice?” I thought. The Janice in my head didn’t have these struggles. As I read along, I began to see all of the people in my new field that I had put on a pedestal. There were dozens of writers I assumed had effortlessly, smoothly, build a wide and active readership. Probably that’s not exactly how it happened.

So I reminding myself and reminding you too: Nobody is gliding through life with ease. Some of us have areas or times of gliding, but if we are alive and awake to life, we have areas of struggle too. We all have blind spots, areas of life where we really miss the mark. We all have work to do. We all have fears and insecurities and inner voices that are well, pretty crazy.

So, an interesting thought experiment. See if you can sit in perspective that you are equally crazy and equally brilliant to those you admire. You don’t have any injuries or flaws worse than theirs.You don’t have to believe this perspective, but for now, just try it on. Try it on for a day or two and see what happens. If that’s true, how does the world look different?

As I write this, I can start to feel a little fear fluttering around my chest – because something in me knows that if that is true, it’s time to just be me, do my thing, and see what happens next.

That’s it. And Happy Passover.



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