Friday, August 27, 2010

small acts of kindness


"Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.
Be the living expression of God's kindness:
kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile."
Mother Teresa

The phone rang the other night:

Caller: “Good evening. This is [name] and I’m calling on behalf of the American Cancer Society. How are you this evening?”
Me: “I’m fine, [name], thank you. But this is the third call I’ve received from the American Cancer Society this week.”
Caller: “Oh …”

And in that “Oh …” I suddenly felt my ego-self drop away and my higher consciousness showed me a woman … a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend … working a job … putting in an honest day’s work, earning a paycheck to pay the bills. In that “Oh …”, I could feel her tense up, ready to be yelled at, hung up on or berated for bothering a person for the third time in a week.

Me: “It’s OK. I told the previous caller that I would help, so we’re all set. But thanks for calling!”
Caller (with obvious relief in her voice): “Oh, great! Thank you soooooo much. Have a great evening!”

I hung up with a smile on my face. I’d had a choice: I could be annoyed and blustery at being (insignificantly) inconvenienced and make this kind woman cower in her shoes … or I could simply and briefly explain the situation in a way that honored BOTH of us. The entire conversation took less than a minute. I wasn’t inconvenienced; the caller had done nothing wrong. I imagine the call list she was given hadn’t been de-duped and so my name appeared on multiple lists. Not her fault; a simple error. Things happen.

Some people brag about how they handle telemarketers, how they blow a whistle really loudly into the phone or curse at them and hang up, how they really “show them” for daring to call (i.e., do their job) in the first place. Why do that? What higher purpose does that serve? How does that make any of us better? How does that bring about heaven on earth?

It’s actually pretty rare that I get a telemarketer call. I’m on the National Do Not Call Registry ( so the only calls I get are from organizations that I’ve provided information to, such as charities. But when I do get a call and I’m not interested, all it takes is a gentle “Thank you for calling, but I’m not interested at this time. Have a good evening.” Simple, kind, effective.

Every day, we have a myriad of opportunities to be kind to others, to smile, to wait our turn, to open a door, to give up a seat, to wave at a neighbor. These are opportunities to connect with our higher consciousness, to remember that we are all connected through our Divine nature, that we are One.

May you give and receive kindness. Namaste

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

No waiting

yoga seated positionI had a yoga teacher, Peter, who often shared beautiful wisdom with us that spoke truly to my heart. I was grateful for the many things I learned from him during the short time that I was his student.

One of the lessons that has had a strong influence in my approach to things was about waiting. Waiting is an activity, an active stance, a verb; to actively expect something to happen. It’s looking ahead to some future event, to anticipate the next thing. Sometimes we worry while waiting, sometimes waiting takes too long. Waiting isn’t the same as being fully in the present.

There are times when we need to wait. But instead of looking ahead and missing the present moment, we can choose to be fully present to right now and instead of waiting, we can just sit and Be. As Peter put it:

Be … and the next thing will happen.

Whether we anticipate and wait, or sit and Be, either way, the next thing will happen.

In yoga class, there’s a general pattern that’s followed and it’s easy to anticipate the next thing. A Warrior II is often followed by an extended side angle stretch, for example, or a floor asana on the back might be followed by a spinal twist.

In Peter’s class, initially, I would be working a pose and anticipating the next pose he would call out. I’d be thinking “OK, we’ll be moving to [pose x] next …” instead of fully experiencing the current pose that I was working. Peter wouldn’t shift into the next pose, though, we’d hold and hold and hold the pose, my legs and arms quivering, Peter encouraging us to experience all that was present to us right now in THIS pose: turn out the thigh, tighten the underarm muscles, lengthen the spine… all the myriad tiny little adjustments that can be made to perfect a pose. I soon forgot about the next pose and let myself melt into the work of the present moment.

This teaching has totally shifted my inner peace when I’m waiting now. By learning to be fully in the present moment, I can experience it more completely--the sights, sounds, sensations. I don’t look ahead of where I am right now and anticipate the next thing. I enjoy where I am in the present moment.

I can simply Be … and the next thing will happen.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

No fear

love is patient rock

“If I’m filled with only one thing at a time, and that thing is loving-kindness,
then there is no room for resistance or anger or
the rest of those snotty-nosed kid emotions we all thrive on.”
~ Geri Larkin, Tap Dancing in Zen

I guess we all get them, the chain emails that are filled with anger, CAPITAL letters, multiple exclamation marks from people or groups that are absolutely fed up and mad as heck and want the rest of us to be, too. Many of these are aimed at specific people or groups of people, the OTHER, those not like us; or they’re targeted toward certain political figures or corporations. There are conspiracies afoot, many of them assert. We have to act NOW. The tone is alarmist, sensationalist, frightening; the scaremongers proclaim that the sky will fall—doom will prevail—if we don’t do something.

I delete them. I just don’t want that kind of vitriol and hate within my consciousness. There is so much Fear in them, fear that They are out to get us, that They are doing bad things. I don’t want my life ruled by fear.

I want my life, my thoughts, my emotions, my actions—my entire being—ruled from a center of Love. I want my Divine consciousness to guide my life. I want to be at peace, to be gentle with my love for all of God’s creation. I want to live with tolerance and understanding, with the inclusiveness that Divine Love counsels me to do.

Love is dominant in my life. Love is in every breath I take, each inhale and each exhale. Love is in my smile toward others I meet: young, old, clean, unwashed, tough or timid. I can’t—I won’t—live a fear-based life.

Love doesn’t incite others to fear; Love embraces, includes, tolerates, understands, forgives.

When Love fills every fiber of my being, there is no room for fear or anger, intolerance or hate. I choose Love.


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Dinner on a roll

080710 dinner on a roll2I stayed with my brother and sister-in-law from last Sunday night until Wednesday night. Those three days really helped me on the road to healing, as I didn't have to do everything myself those first few days. My SIL made sure I had ice for the swelling, they gave me meals, I had my own suite with bathroom, a big comfortable bed - so grateful.  The pain is tons less than it was initially, the swelling is going down and I'm sure that with all the prayers and good wishes from friends and family the healing is going well.

They went with me to the ortho on Monday. Instead of a cast, he allowed me to stay with the boot and crutches as long as I promised not to put any weight on the left leg for 3.5 weeks. After that, I can walk with a walking boot while it completes healing. Not bad, huh?

I returned home Wednesday night and my brother set up wireless in my home and I set up my personal and work laptops on the dining table. Each morning, before I come downstairs, I gather everything I need for the day (cell phone, paperwork, etc.) and put it in a plastic bag and then I booty-bump it downstairs, dragging the plastic bag behind me. I stay downstairs all day, then go back upstairs at bedtime with my plastic bag of anything that needs to go back upstairs. Pretty hilarious if you could see it in person, but heck, it works!

I find myself filled with gratitude daily for so many things! My little stand-up shower allows me to hang on to the walls with no danger of falling; my kitchen is small enough that it’s just two steps to the fridge or the stove or the sink. Small is good! I’m finding all kinds of ways to manage on my own and it’s working out just fine. AND I’m asking for help when I need it. My neighbor just put my trash cans out for pick-up and gave my front plants a good watering for me. I believe most people want to be helpful; we simply have to put away our egos and let them do so.

I even found a way to get my dinner from the kitchen to the living room. (Bad, I know. I eat in front of the TV.) My brother brought my stool downstairs for me on Monday so I could prop my leg up. I found that it also makes a very handy transport device! I put my meal (salad and tuna last night) on the stool and then push it ahead of me with my crutches – ta-da! (See the crutch in the pic below?) My buddy Chris cracked up when I told him. I think it’s pretty clever. Necessity is the mother of invention – lol! 080710 dinner on a roll So, that’s the latest. I’m looking forward to walking in just a couple more weeks. Every time I use the crutches I think to myself "You grew it, you lift it." LOL!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Ego and a broken ankle

073110 ankle boot1

Attractive, isn’t it? Thursday at work I slipped on a paper that had dropped on the ground, my right leg sliding forward while my left leg and ankle twisted up behind me. (Thankful that I’m flexible and can do splits.) Yowza! It hurt something fierce so I just sat there on the ground for a few moments, making jokes with co-workers who had gathered, putting my arms up in the air with a brave “Ta-da!”

I thought it was just twisted and some ice and elevation would help. By the end of the day, it was still hurting pretty badly. Several co-workers offered to help me, but I kept saying “Thanks so much, it’ll be OK.” When I tried to walk, though, I realized I might need a little help. One friend helped me to the elevator so I wouldn’t have to take the stairs and another drove me to my car. “Are you sure you can drive?” “Oh, yeah, I’ll be OK.” “Call me if you feel you need to pull over and I’ll get you.” “Thanks! I’ll be OK.”

I have a manual transmission, a stick shift, a clutch. It was NOT OK. Every time I had to depress the clutch was like sending electric shocks of pain shooting through my ankle and leg. It actually felt crunchy. Stop-and-go traffic on the freeway didn’t help. “Turn green … turn green … turn green …” I said at every light after I got off the freeway.

I drove to the after-hours clinic, hobbling up to the door. “I’m sorry, the doctor just left. There’s another clinic across the street.” I hobbled back to the car and drove to the other clinic. “Do you need a wheelchair?” My first inclination was to say No, I’ll be OK, but the wheelchair sounded pretty good by then, so I accepted.

X-rays showed that I’d fractured the bone about two inches above the ankle, an unusual break according to the doctor and x-ray tech. When they found that I’d driven myself almost 20 miles on a broken ankle, they looked at me like I was a crazy person. “How are you getting home?” “I’ll drive myself.” Again, the crazy looks. “Do you have anyone at home to help you?” “No, but I’ll be OK.” Again, with the looks and comments like “You’re very strong.”

Thankfully, my daughter called me when I was preparing to drive home and said she and her hubs were in the area (they live 50 miles away) and would drive me home. I accepted. Being strong at this point wouldn’t be too smart. I had to accept help.

This is a good lesson for me. Like the other strong women I know, I am stubbornly independent. Being a single parent taught me to stand on my own two feet and get 'er done without asking others for help. I could always figure it out and take care of things. So it's very difficult for me to accept any help from others. I never want to impose on others or have them go out of their way on my account.

One of the things I’ve been working on is releasing the ego and I see this as part of the lesson. It’s ego that makes me rush to help others, but not accept help when I need it. It’s humbling to accept help from others; even more humbling to ask for help. But I have to. Humility is a good lesson to learn. I have to put aside ego, do what I can reasonably do and allow others to help me with the rest.

My daughter and her family brought me dinner on Friday night and stayed to visit. My precious friend Vicki is lending me her car (automatic) while she’s in Scotland. Her daughter/my goddaughter Taylor took my laundry upstairs for me when they brought the car over. My brother has offered to let me stay at his place where I can use their downstairs suite. The bedrooms are upstairs in my home and navigating the stairs is challenging; I’ve learned to go down on my butt. So I’m going to go and stay with him and his wife for a few days. My neighbor just called and left a message offering to help, too.

I’m being humbled but I’m learning. And I’m grateful this is temporary.