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Posts Tagged ‘compassion’

Lately, I’ve been ruminating on aging.

Eight months ago, I turned 60 and I’m still letting it in. Suddenly, retirement isn’t a lifetime away. Suddenly, I’m watching myself physically age faster than I’ve noticed or even fathomed before. Suddenly, I’m aware of the potential of having just a few decades left rather than what seemed like an endless length of time.

I don’t feel old… yet time seems more precious than it ever had before. My oldest and dearest friend died in March, so tending to my relationships has taken on a new, laser-sharp focus.

I’m increasingly aware that something inside me is shifting towards what’s most important, such as how and with whom I want to spend my time, and what my priorities are for the next 10 years. My definition of and experience of beauty and wisdom are also taking on new meaning. And self-care takes up more time and and has grown in importance in my physical and emotional life.

These aren’t bad things. They’re new things. I recently read a quote from Parker Palmer, one of my favorite authors, where he said, “I want to collaborate with aging.”


One of the paradoxical aspects of my life is that I consider myself a small town, rural person and I live in a big city. I’m here because of a strong inner call that led me here, and I have many needs that are met by this decision. I love my life – and I miss nature – so one of the ways I make this big city life more enjoyable is by visiting our local nature center several times a week to commune with natural life of all kinds.

And, I have great news to report…


We live in an intensive time, don’t we? Many of us are confronted with loved ones whose perspective is remarkably different from our own – and both sides often feel quite desperate and overwhelmed.

So I’m thinking it’s time for me to come back to the basics, and maybe this is true for you too. I frequently come back to the basics when my relationships seem challenging or harder than I think they need to be. So, please join me in NVC Basic 101…


I love gardening… Do you?

My favorite part is in the spring when I get to pull out and clean up all of winter’s dead stalks and make way for the year’s new seedlings and young plants. And seeing the tiny heads of their new leaves poking through the once-frozen dirt – ahhhhh, there’s something so healing and nurturing about following this practice every spring.

My least favorite part is planning the garden, and as a result, I have relied on untrained instincts and luck, a plan which used to work pretty well until I moved to California. I was told anything could grow, but almost nothing I’ve planted has thrived. Hmmm.

Do you ever experience this in your life? A time when it seems that you’re bumbling along without much direction or clarity? Or when you seem to run into more roadblocks than open doors?


Ah, March…

When I lived in the mountains, March meant a slight lessening of the chill in the air. There was a lot of snow still, but it was wet and heavy and was often followed by a rain that would melt it quickly. And then, magically, I’d see a daffodil bloom poke its head out of the snow and feel gleeful. Spring is on the way! And it’s time to ready myself for it.

This morning I’m thinking about Marshall Rosenberg, the founder of Nonviolent Communication (NVC), and feeling deeply grateful for my own emotional thawing that happened as a result of my NVC work.

I came to NVC angry and heavy with pent-up and unexpressed emotions. I didn’t understand the impact of all I had been holding onto until one moment in a workshop when I received full-on, connecting empathy for the first time. My emotions burst open and I felt completely free in a way I had never before experienced: the kind of freedom that happens when we are seen and understood – and there’s an allowing for all emotion. 


What’s the weather like where you are? It is pouring full-on outside my window and has been for two days. I’m bundled up in a long-sleeve t-shirt covered by a heavy plaid flannel shirt, heavy pants, and big fluffy socks… and I’m shivering as I type this.

I love weather like this! It calls me to hunker down, stay close to home, snuggle more, and tend to my inner, emotional weather. Hmmm. Giving myself a chance to check in with myself, I remember that – besides loving the rain – my heart is heavy with sadness.


Several years ago, at a time when I was feeling especially judgmental of my parents and how they raised me and my siblings, I was driving down the road ruminating on their lack of generosity.

Have you had times like this? Times when you found yourself running the same stories through your head, and they all have the same ending: the ending that makes the other person — or yourself — stay in your bad graces?

So on this particular day, I was ruminating on my parents’ lack of generosity while driving down the road and heading to a cabin by the ocean, near where I was raised in Washington State (one of my favorite places in the world), when it occurred to me:


Halloween is right around the corner, so I’ve been thinking a lot about the masks: specifically, the masks we all wear to protect ourselves. I’ve been wondering… How far am I willing to go to release my resentments that mask my life experience and keep distance between myself and others? What does wearing this mask cost me? And what value does it hold for me?

This is coming up because my Chinese medicine doctor told me that the lower part of the belly — where I have a painful condition (shingles) — is known as the basin. “It’s where all the junk is collected and held,” he said.

Junk like old and unhealed resentments. Darn it. Darn it. Darn it.


Years ago, I read a story about Jiddu Krishnamurti, and this is how I remember it.

He was sitting on a hill overlooking a crowd of thousands of people, and someone asked him something like, “How do you stay so calm and happy all of the time?” Krishnamurti got very quiet and leaned forward, and then he laughed a big laugh. The crowd was silent waiting for his words of wisdom, and he said:

“I don’t mind what’s happening.” And then he laughed and laughed.

“I don’t mind what’s happening.” Deep breath.

I’ve been in bed with shingles for two and a half weeks. The pain has been stunning and humbling. I don’t recall ever being this debilitated.

“I don’t mind what’s happening.”

I’ve spent a lot of time in prayer these past few weeks, mostly reciting “I don’t mind what’s happening,” sometimes rocking from pain, and doing my very best to be open to what I was being asked to know. Many, many times I noticed that when I didn’t resist the pain, it became more bearable.

But even in the worst of it, I could honestly say that in this moment I don’t mind what’s happening. I don’t like it maybe, but I don’t have to resist it, argue with it, blame it or blame myself. Each time I could rest in acceptance, the pain and my inner state of being calmed.

I don’t mind what’s happening.

This is how I want to be in my relationships and with myself. I want to live in acceptance first, and work through our differences second. I want to soften my judgments and see the deeper meaning people are trying to express.

I want to leave room for healing: theirs and mine.

And so I invite you to join me in this practice of living in acceptance first.


For the past few months, I’ve been thinking about and supporting others in taking steps towards healing the seemingly uncomfortable divide between our families, communities, and countries. It can seem so hard to even open a conversation about our political differences, let alone locate common ground we can agree on.

I have people in my life I love dearly who appear to hold political views that differ radically from mine. We’ve chosen not to discuss politics. I think this is because of our desire to maintain our connection and respect for one another, based on mutual love and caring.