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Posts Tagged ‘love’

A couple of weeks ago I was sitting in my living room when my entire building started to rock, my glass of water trembled, my heart raced, and my cat flew out of the room in fear. It was an earthquake. A week later, it happened again only this time everything rocked even more.

Earthquakes are one of the disadvantages of living in California; so far we have been very lucky that the magnitude has been low.

The thing that was most striking to me was that once the earthquakes were done, my cat bit me. An angry bite that didn’t hurt, but her ears were down and she looked mad. She looked mad but I knew she was acting out of fear so I picked her up, kissed her face, and snuggled with her until she calmed. I think it was nurturing to her and I know it was to me.

Have you ever been scared and responded with anger?


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:


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.


The other morning, I was walking in our local Nature Center and admiring a goose family that was made up of a Mom, Dad, and two goslings. They were floating down the river and I was standing on a bridge just over them. When the Dad saw me, he stretched his neck up and placed himself between his goslings and me. The Mom then took the lead, while he watched me. I really felt touched by how they both cared for their family and also sad that my presence invoked fear or stimulated a desire for protection.

Do you ever feel that way? Like you’re protecting yourself or your family or your stuff?


I confess I spent the first week after Donald Trump’s election as president of the United States in mourning, deep despair, and bewilderment. I felt as if someone I loved had punched me in the chest. Many people I love, in fact, voted for him. They too were feeling despair: despair that I didn’t vote for him, and confusion about why I felt so devastated.

During that first week, I led several meditations on peace in different national and international venues. I offered formal and informal empathy sessions to many people, and listened to many more: hundreds of stories about enormous pain from families, spouses, and loved ones who had suddenly found themselves deeply divided.

It was exhausting — until I said “STOP,” and allowed myself the space to receive empathy, to offer it to myself, and to grieve and grieve and grieve my own grief.

And then I got clear (really clear!) that I wanted to focus on healing the gap between those of us who didn’t vote for Donald Trump, and those who did – and all our life experiences that led us to this point.

Thich Nhat Hahn says, We need someone to be able to listen to us and to understand us.  Then, we will suffer less. But everyone is suffering, and no one wants to listen.”

I am listening.


Years ago, I was driving down the road listening to NPR (National Public Radio) and they were reporting about a pediatrician who had been molesting children for over 30 years; at that time, they estimated that hundreds of children had been affected.

My heart sank and I started to cry – deep mourning for the gravity of this. All the children whose lives had been affected, and everyone who came in contact with them throughout their lifetime. And, the pediatrician – everyone he came in contact with within his medical practice and beyond.

The more I thought about the growing number of people who would have been knowingly or unknowingly affected, my grief grew and grew – and overwhelm and hopelessness began to take over. How could this possibly be healed?

And, then I had a thought…


mary-mackenzie-150The other day, I was running late and I rushed across town to get to my personal trainer for one of my weekly workouts.  I got into the parking lot, burst into her workout space spewing apologies like a machine gun, and then realized that I’d forgotten my water bottle so I raced outside again, literally jogging across the parking lot, when suddenly I stopped cold.

Walking down the middle of the parking lot, as if they had taken a measuring stick to determine where the absolute middle was, walked a mama duck, trailed by 8 teenage-size ducklings, with papa duck taking the rear.  They walked straight towards me, and then when they were within a few feet from me, they turned right down a different part of the parking lot.  Each of them followed every move mama duck made.  Even their feet moved in unison – all twenty feet rising and falling in rhythm.


mary-mackenzie-150Everything someone does or says is an attempt to meet a need …. Really?

The other day, I was in a gathering and I ran into a woman two times.  What I mean is, I looked up and she was right there and we were standing so close that I was startled.  After an hour at this event, I was pulling out of my parking place.  I looked both ways and waited for a car to go by and then pulled out of my parking space and I nearly side-swiped the lady’s car.  The very same lady!

In each case, I apologized and blamed myself.  Then, on my way home, I started to blame her.  Do you ever find yourself ruminating on your judgments and trying to place blame?  Has this behavior ever relieved your anxiety or angst over the situation?  It hasn’t succeeded for me even once, yet I’ve tried it countless times throughout my life and one more time with this lady.

If it’s true that ‘everything someone does or says is an attempt to meet a need,’ what needs would judgment and blame serve?