The Magic Moment #tinyhearts

unnamed-11

February is a good month for so many reasons – Birthdays, Valentine’s Day (love and hearts), and Sharon Salzberg’s annual meditation challenge. I’ve meditated daily for the past two February’s, and the experience has been valuable. Despite the fact that over the year I turn into a sporadic meditator, certain concepts stick with me–one of them being ” the magic moment.”

Many people think that when you meditate, you clear your mind of all thoughts. But minds wander–that’s just what they do.  Rather than thinking that this is a sign of failure (“I’m horrible at meditation), Sharon describes it as a magic moment.

The moment that we realize our attention has wandered is the magic moment of the practice, because that’s the moment we have the chance to be really different. Instead of judging ourselves, and berating ourselves, and condemning ourselves, we can be gentle with ourselves.

—Sharon Salzberg

This magic moment message can be extended in so many ways.

  • The magic moment is when we go from driving ourselves too hard to letting ourselves rest.
  • The magic moment is when we move from trying to be perfect to being real.
  • The magic moment is when we move from isolation to realizing we’re all in this together.
  • The magic moment is when we stop fearing change and embrace uncertainty instead.
  • The magic moment is when we come home to ourselves.

Oh, and by the way, I’m meditating again this February. The old me would have said, “Why are you even doing this again. It hasn’t stuck before; what’s going to be different this year?” but the new me says, “Hmm, I wonder what will happen…New habits take time to develop and lots of tries…It’s great that I’m willing to begin again.”

I wish for you many magic moments in your life.

photo-63Sharon’s books on meditation are very practical, down-to-earth, and not attached to any particular religion. I just bought her newest book, Real Happiness at Work with a Barnes and Noble gift card I just got for my Birthday. (It’s actually in the business section; I had to ask because I couldn’t find it.) Her other recent book is Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation.

To see the first of the Tiny Heart series, click here.

I hope you’ll join me on Facebook. I like to hang out there.

Light #tinyhearts

unnamed-5

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us.

—Marianne Williamson

noname-7

People are like stained – glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.

—Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.

—Edith Wharton

To see the beginning of this series, read about Hearthstones.

21 Quotes about Acceptance #tinyhearts

 

unnamed-2  

             Acceptance is the only way out of hell.

– Marsha Linehan

***

Acceptance of what has happened is the first step to overcoming the consequences of any misfortune. – William James

***

Acceptance of one’s life has nothing to do with resignation; it does not mean running away from the struggle. On the contrary, it means accepting it as it comes, with all the handicaps of heredity, of suffering, of psychological complexes and injustices. – Paul Tournier

***

Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like. – Lao Tzu

***

My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations. – Michael J. Fox

***

For after all, the best thing one can do when it is raining is let it rain. – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

***

The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.  –Alan Watts

***

Of course there is not formula for success except, perhaps, an unconditional acceptance of life and what it brings. –Arthur Rubinstein

***

Acceptance looks like a passive state, but in reality it brings something entirely new into this world. That peace, a subtle energy vibration, is consciousness. –Eckhart Tolle

***

The acceptance of certain realities doesn’t preclude idealism. It can lead to certain breakthroughs. –Rem Koolhaas

***

Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery. ― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

***

When you’re different, sometimes you don’t see the millions of people who accept you for what you are. All you notice is the person who doesn’t.  ― Jodi Picoult, Change of Heart: A Novel

***

To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.  ― Thich Nhat Hanh

***

I accept chaos, I’m not sure whether it accepts me. ― Bob Dylan

***

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope. ― Martin Luther King Jr.

***

To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself. ― Thích Nhất Hạnh

***

Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them. ― Albert Einstein

***

You have to accept whatever comes, and the only important thing is that you meet it with the best you have to give. ― Eleanor Roosevelt

***

And I think that you do not understand that sometimes the only choice is between acceptance and madness.” ― Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Angel

***

The boundary to what we can accept is the boundary to our freedom. ― Tara Brach

***

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. ― Reinhold Niebuhr

If you haven’t already, I’d love it if you joined me on Facebook. Thanks!

To see the beginning of this series, read about Hearthstones.

 

 

Hearthstones

I love my little clay hearts that you see on this blog and sometimes on my Facebook page header. My sister-in-law gave them to me a long time ago; she is a School Sisters of Notre Dame nun and she got them while on a retreat. They come in a purple, velvet bag and are called Hearthstones.

unnamed-9

The heart-shaped clay tiles are called hearthstones because when the words heart and earth merge the word becomes hearth, a place to experience safety, warmth, intimacy, story telling, and healing. Hearthstones invite us to reconnect with what has heart and meaning in our lives and to rekindle spiritual values vital to sustaining life on planet earth.

They are described as tools of spiritual healing that invite personal, communal and planetary transformation by returning us to the center of wisdom and spiritual energy – the heart.

My sister-in-law selects one each day and carries it in her pocket and uses it during her devotional time. I’ve used mine in a lot of different ways, but my favorite thing to do has been to give them away to people. Since I can’t physically give them away to you, I decided I’d post a picture of a different heart each day in February. Some days I’ll include a quote or two or three…other days maybe a brief meditation of sorts. You are a very warm and supportive group. I so appreciate you, and hope to give a little something back in this way.
 
unnamed-10

Birthdays: A reminder of the awesomeness of being alive.

Tomorrow is my 52nd Birthday! I’m reposting what I wrote two years ago, because I still really like what I wrote :)

***

Dad and me in Norfolk, VA

Dad and me in Norfolk, VA

         There’s Something about a Baby

It was January 1, 1962, my mother’s due date.  Relatives had trekked from Tennessee and Alabama to Norfolk, Virginia to be with my parents for my birth. Most were going to stay for a short visit, but my grandmother was going to stay with my mom for several weeks to help out. Leave it to me to be an introvert before I was even born. No way was I going to make my entrance into the world with all those people around. Everyone eventually left. Luckily, my father who was in the Navy, didn’t have to go back to sea quite yet, and on February 1, I made my arrival.

I’ve never given much thought to birthdays before, but turning 50 has thrown me. One minute I feel like celebrating; the next minute I want to pretend it’s not happening and I think I’ll just stay 49, thank you very much.

I casually mentioned my upcoming 50th birthday in my previous post, and I received a thoughtful comment from a fellow blogger (thank you, Doug!). He wrote: “If you were given the opportunity to honor a dear dear friend of yours who was let’s say, turning 40 this year, what are some of the things you might do to honor them? Take your time with that question….and after you’ve given it some thought….I’d like you to apply the same amount of creative energy and passion for yourself…no self-effacing allowed….”

I have taken his words to heart. One thing I’ve done in the past for people is make them a scrapbook. For example, on my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary, I wrote to all of their friends (they have many!) and had them write a note and send a picture, which I compiled into a tribute album. Years ago I made myself a scrapbook that I call my “celebration album.” It has meaningful letters and cards that people have sent me over the years; quotes I like; and pictures of people I love. I haven’t kept it up-to-date, but it’s on my to-do list for the year. I took several hours today to look at it in depth, read each letter, and really let the words and images sink in.

On the subject of celebrating, here’s an excerpt from a letter from my uncle and Godfather, Sam Gerth (one who made the trek to Virginia 50 years ago), on the occasion of my confirmation:

Life is not all fun and games. There are many doubts and hurts and pitfalls. And the risks may seem frightening. But we never learn our limits of creative power unless we press on, for if we press on we know how to celebrate and what we are celebrating and why.

This afternoon, I tried to let myself celebrate me–not just what I’ve accomplished, but who I am as a person. I tried to not be self-effacing, as Doug noted that I tend to be. I read cards and letters from previous clients. One card had the inscription, “There are moments when one person make a special difference that no one else can make.” Although I’ve had extensive education and great training as a therapist, I think people not only liked me, but also made sometimes profound changes in their lives, because they rightly sensed I truly cared. I let myself feel deeply blessed to have had these experiences.

Tonight Greg and I went to my parents’ house and they told stories about me when I was a baby and we looked at old photo albums. You could see their faces light up as if it were just yesterday. They talked about what an exciting and special time it was. There’s something about a baby!

When I worked at a hospital, every time a baby was born, a lullaby would play over the loudspeaker. In my current office building, it’s pretty much a given that when someone is on maternity leave, the mom will bring in the baby at some point. Everyone runs out of their offices to see it, hold it, and hear the stories.

All of this pondering about birthdays and babies, led me right back to the topic of this blog: self-compassion.

What if we could nurture ourselves as we would a newborn baby? What might that feel like? What might that look like? How might our lives be different? What if we allowed ourselves to be excited about life, not just when it is new, but also when it is seasoned.

I remember when my own son was born–the powerful and intense feelings of love and attachment. Tonight, I looked at a photograph of myself looking into his eyes when he was only a few days old. I was so young, and so enthralled with the perfection of this little guy. Tonight, I saw that same look on my parents’ faces as they recalled my birth. There’s something about a baby!

Barbara Quick, an author and editor of my first book, once sent me one of her poems. I don’t remember in what context she sent it to me, but I loved this line and have it written in my celebration album, along with pictures of my son as a baby.

I never understood before how an infant is the natural symbol of redemption: everything sundered is made whole again, every mistake forgiven.

Once again, there’s something about a baby!

02-17-2008 09_28_47AM

Me with my baby…
22 years ago.

A Tidbit of Truth from Around Here Lately

I don’t buy that we should face our fears just for the heck of it. People are always posting quotes on Facebook about overcoming fear and how you should never let fear hold you back. Sometimes I get sick of those quotes (even though I have posted some of them myself).

What is true for me is that I will do things that scare me if it’s for a reason I believe in, or for someone I love. To paraphrase Victor Frankl:

Those who have a WHY can bear almost any HOW.

Yesterday I drove to St. Louis to be at an important doctor’s appointment with a loved one. I used to live and drive in St. Louis every day, but since we’ve lived in Jefferson City for 15+ years, I rarely drive more images-8than a five miles at a time and never in heavy traffic. Unfortunately, I’ve let myself develop quite the phobia of driving over bridges, getting sandwiched between big trucks, driving next to a median, passing other cars, etc. It wasn’t easy–there was snow earlier in the day and the schools had even been closed. The road conditions were okay, but what freaked me out was that the snow had blown on all the highway signs, and I was so worried I wouldn’t be able to find my exits. I was very tense, but I made it. It was worth the stress–not because of some abstract reason of facing my fear, but because I did something important for someone I love. And by the way, the doctor’s appointment went well.

Stories and Compassion

“Everything is held together with stories.

That is all that is holding us together,

stories and compassion.” 

― Barry Lopez

noname-29

I told you my stories, and you reached out with compassion. It helped. It continues to help. Thank you.

I have had a good few days, and I know it’s because of you. This is no small thing–being there for each other. Yet we underestimate its importance.

At first glance, there seems to be nothing new about valuing compassion. It’s an idea that has been around for thousands of years in both the religious and secular worlds. But perhaps it is the universality of compassion that has lulled us into underestimating its importance.

Compassion is a treasure hidden in plain sight,

which we often don’t notice. -Larry Dorsey, M.D.

A big trend in psychotherapy is  “evidenced based treatment protocols.” Even as a write that, it sounds so cold. Of course, there are techniques and methods that are effective for a wide variety of problems.

But research over a long period of time continues to find that the core ingredient of someone’s progress in therapy is the relationship between the therapist and the client. It’s what humanistic psychologist Carl Rogers called “unconditional positive regard.” Psychologist David Myers writes:

Unconditional positive regard is an attitude of grace,

an attitude that values us even knowing our failings.

noname-30Writing on a blog is not the same as psychotherapy, but similar healing happens. You tell your stories. You find others have similar stories. You learn you’re not alone. You are seen.

You find out people accept you even if

you’re a bit tattered around the edges.

Again, this is no small thing.

Again, thank you, friends.