Letting joy in

I was on a walk on a very gray day in the middle of what had felt like a long very gray winter.  Tired of feeling grumpy, I put on my coat and took myself out on a late afternoon walk to enjoy some daylight while it lasted.

I followed a familiar street where it gets a bit quieter and filled with inviting trees.  As I walked, I began noticing little things that made me smile like tiny spring bulbs sending up bright green shoots and a neighbor wearing an excellent pair of colorful pants.

Photo by  Antonio Ron  on  Unsplash

Photo by Antonio Ron on Unsplash

I began to feel a little lighter and noticed a bounce in my step.  As I continued walking, I stopped in front of a huge tree in glorious bloom with tiny pink blossoms.

At that moment, I noticed a hummingbird buzz by and stop to drink in the flowers.  I noticed a warmth spreading through my heart and felt incredibly lucky to see a hummingbird on what seemed like such a dreary gray day.

Then I noticed myself think, “This is beautiful, but it won’t last, hummingbirds move so quickly.”  And although it just seemed like a fact, I noticed a sinking feeling in my chest and thought “this won’t last, maybe I should go home.”

Then something unexpected happened. As I stayed and watched, the hummingbird didn't just disappear like I thought it would.


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I let my heart to soak in the the sight of this tiny buzzing hummingbird as it diligently explored the blooms on the tree and hovered from bloom to bloom, taking its sweet time and drinking all the nectar it had to offer.

If it could talk, I might imagine the hummingbird would say something like, “What if you just let yourself feel this and delight in the beauty of this moment, fully?  What if you let yourself be excited and joyful without needing to do anything to earn it or make it stay?”

And as I remember that moment of full blown joy, I also want to give that part of me who was afraid that it wouldn't last a big hug.  I'm proud of her for not just turning around and going straight home.

My wish for her is to open her heart to both the good times and the not so good times, knowing that she gets to feel whatever she is feeling fully--whether it's good, bad, or something in between.

I’m so glad I paused that day and really allowed myself to feel that simple moment of joy.  

And I wish that the next time you find unexpected beauty or good news or your encounter your own persistent hummingbird drinking nectar, you get to let the joy in fully.

Be kind to yourself. You're worth it.

I made a mistake this afternoon and ended up inadvertently causing frustration and inconvenience for someone I care about.  As we had lunch together, she mentioned her frustration and the inconvenience I had caused her and I felt my stomach twist into knots.  As she left, and I sat there alone at our table, I began to berate myself and felt a wave of shame as my inner critic started her tirade "I can't believe you always do this!  Why can't you just get it together for once" and so on. 

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As I sat there, my first reaction was to head straight home and think about what I'd done as atonement for causing my friend so much discomfort and harm.  As I took a breath and sat with all the feelings and ick, I decided to do something a little different.  I forgave myself for making a mistake and causing my friend harm.  I felt a feeling of warmth and spaciousness across my chest.


And then I thought instead of punishing myself for making a mistake, what if I chose to be kind?


What if I did something soothing and comforting and acknowledged my pain in this moment? I took another breath and walked outside into the sunshine and decided to take a walk through the farmer's market and to talk to vendors--something that always lifts my spirits.

Although taking care of myself and practicing kindness, didn't erase my mistake, I felt more relaxed and noticed a softness in my heart and a greater sense of compassion for me and my friend.  I could see my actions and how I had effected him without beating myself up or feeling tied up into knots.

This is what self-kindness in action looks like.  By treating myself with tenderness and care, I could show up more fully with an open loving heart for myself and others.  I think this is what we all (especially big-hearted folks) strive for, but it's hard to do when you're beating yourself up or treating yourself more harshly than those you care about.


You deserve kindness and it begins with how you treat you. 


Is your body a trusted guide or an inconvenience?

Is your body a trusted guide or an inconvenience? Is your body your best friend, an ally, or an obstacle that just gets in the way every time you want to move forward in your life?  

Do you treasure your body?  Do you worship your body from soles of your feet and the edges of your toes to the curves of your knees to the width of your chest and up to the top of your precious head?

Do you trust your body? Do you listen when it whispers, or screams, or shouts with excitement?

Do you sit on the porch drinking sweet tea with your body under the warmth of the afternoon sun, sharing stories and silence?

How do you speak to your body? What is the tone you use to address it? And how often, dear one, do you truly stop and listen to what it has to say?

Do you greet your body in the morning?  Have you ever given it a high-five or a hug or let it linger in the sunlight in the perfect spot until it purred with delight?  

You are the precious caretaker of this perfect and flawed and miraculous body.  You have the opportunity to choose how you relate to your body in every moment.  You can choose to speak to and listen to your body with curiosity, care, and trust.  Or to treat it with suspicion, or contempt, or ignore it completely.  And it's okay and probably pretty normal if that is what your relationship with your body is like.  Many people (myself included) have learned to regard their bodies with something less than trust and acknowledgment and it can be a struggle choosing a different relationship.

Even if your relationship with your body is complicated, murky, or downright dysfunctional, you have an opportunity to choose to treat your body with respect, kindness, and warmth.  Or at least to offer your body a tall glass of water or a shoulder rub (go ahead and try it now while you're reading).  

It might be helpful for you to invite a guide that you trust to help clear the air and help you treat your own body with curiosity and care.  If this is something you want, there are many paths, but I'd be honored to help you connect through coaching.

Who would you be if you trusted your body?  If you began to revere your uniquely human form?  What would shift for you if you let your body guide you and leaned in to listen to its secrets and longings?

Who would you be if you cared for your body as you would care for a precious child or your own best friend?


An invitation for you and your precious body:


The next time you get dressed, let your body take the lead.  You may want to take take a little extra time after a shower or bath and let your body tell you what it wants.  

Savor the touch and the desires of your body and pay attention as you towel off, moisturize, and get ready for the day (or evening).  What fabric does your body crave against your skin? How does it want to be touched when you towel off? Does it crave simplicity, or adventure, or ease?


Ask your body.  Experiment.  Pay attention to what you observe. 

What happens when you adorn your precious body and listen to its longings?

On unexpected kindness, and a cup of coffee that changed my day

I want to tell you about how a moment of unexpected kindness surprised me in the best possible way.  


I was feeling anxious and distracted trying to find the new dance studio where I had just signed up to take a class.  Coupled with a morning that involved waking up at 3am and being unable to fall back asleep, I was less than pumped, despite the fact that an 8am class sounded like a great idea when I signed up for it the previous night.

I found a parking space easily (score!) and decided to grab a cup of coffee across the street since I was early.  I stumbled into the shop in a sleepy daze and was greeted by the biggest megawatt smile and a warm "how are you?"

I was so surprised, I stumbled a bit before returning a hello and asking for a cup of coffee.  I asked him about his day and he said it was off to a good start since his coffee was already kicking in and I smiled.

As he handed me a small cup, I felt a warm glow and felt like someone had turned a lightbulb in my heart.  I stopped worrying about the dance class my lack of sleep, and felt warm, grateful, and well, happy.

I realize it might sound terribly ordinary, but that encounter with the cashier transformed my morning.  I can still feel a warm glow thinking about his kindness and the warmth I felt at really being seen and welcomed by another human being.

It made me wonder about the opportunity that each one of us has to change a person's day.

Kindness is always available to you.  No matter where you are, who you are with, or what you might be feeling, you have the power to improve another person's life, simply by connecting with genuine warmth and care.

May I never forget the value of kindness (even before I have my first cup of coffee) ;)


Finding the Courage to Show Up Imperfectly

I was selling jam at the farmers market on Saturday shift, when Jeff, my neighbor, told me we’d be getting some live music.  I nodded,  went back to obsessively rearranging jars of jam, and quickly forgot our conversation until I heard a verse or two of Green Day.  I remember thinking “not the best singer” and immersed myself back into a happy stream of market goers (and rearranging jars for the 15th time).


About an hour later, I looked back and saw that the musician was actually a kid who seemed about 10 years old. He wasn’t the best singer I’ve heard, although he was getting into his groove at that point.  He didn’t even get an applause or have an audience, although I started clapping and cheering him on after I noticed him.  Still, he made a lasting impression on me.

That 10 year old inspired me to ACT.  To start. To stop waiting for perfection or until I (think I) know what I’m doing as a blogger or a coach to start writing and showing up for myself and what I want to cultivate.

I’m curious if there’s a place in your life where you secretly wish you could show up for yourself.  To play the music you so desperately want to put out in the world.

Who would you be if you showed up for yourself imperfectly? If you went out there with your guitar (or your paintbrush, or your laptop, or your voice) and played your heart out? You might just inspire someone like that 10-year-old at the market. You might even amaze yourself.

Let me know if there’s something you would like to show up for in the comments.  I would be delighted to cheer you on!


Courage, Fear, and a Lion named Hubert

I’m inspired to tell you a story about a day a few months ago, when I learned about Courage and met Hubert.

I was having a bad day, one of those days that involves neck pain and a dozen worries before breakfast.  I had just been reading Tara Brach’s Radical Acceptance and learning about how to meet my fears head on.   And I practiced that sitting with my feelings in bed, and whispering "this too," for good measure.

My body still felt stiff and achy, so I decided to go for a walk through my neighborhood.  I went to my favorite park and stomped on some leaves and took a moment to listen to the birds perched on the branches of a very tall tree.  When I got to the base of the park, I saw a very tan man in athletic clothes listening to his walkman and stretching.  I was a little annoyed to see him interrupting in my favorite place of my favorite park, but I shrugged and decided to continue exploring.  



I started looking around and my eyes rested on a stone lion statue with a wide open mouth.  It reminded me of a friend who loves lions, so I took a picture and got a little bit closer.  And even though it was a statue, I felt a little intimidated by it, so I didn’t get too close.

I tiptoed away from the lion and asked the very tan man about what he was listening to on his headphones.  He mentioned following to the coverage of the Golden State Warriors parade in Oakland.  I wondered why he wasn’t there celebrating and he mentioned the crowds and that there were already ½ a million people there lining up.  I asked him about basketball, it turns out he played as a kid, and learned he grew up in the town next door to mine and that our high schools played each other in different years.  And he asked about the apricots on my favorite sweatshirt and I told him about selling jam at farmer’s markets and why I decided not to work in Epidemiology.

Eventually, he asked me if i had met Hubert, the lion statue, and I said yes.  And he told me how Hubert had been there for ages and used to be a fountain.  And that he served as a clue for geocachers and that if I looked real close, I could see the chip.  

I stepped a little closer to Hubert and his wide gaping mouth, and stepped in to take a look. “He’s friendly, don’t worry,” offered my new friend, “and he really likes it if you scratch his nose.”  


And somehow, Hubert, the intimidating stone statue, became Hubert, my new (inanimate) friend.  I said goodbye to the kind neighbor and gave Hubert a parting scratch on the nose and went on my way to find some tea and a snack.

Meeting these new friends made me think a little bit where I avoid where I avoid the things that intimidate me or seem unfamiliar.  I thought about how easy it is to go about my day stuck in my thoughts and distance myself from neighbors or former fountains in the shape of a lion.  

And I felt grateful for the tiny moment of courage that inspired me to strike up a conversation and stick my head inside a friendly beast.