This morning I attended a moving Unitarian Earth Day service. I was reminded that we belong to the Earth—not the other way around, to be mindful of where my food comes from, and to look up when I’m walking. One of my favorite personal memories also came rushing back: hugging a Sequoia tree in California’s Sequoia National Park a few years ago. Before that day, I had never seen or touched trees like the Sequoias. They were absolutely enormous, with a vivid, striking, reddish color. Their 2,000+-year-old powers instantly put every concern of my life into perspective.
But I digress. At the service this morning, a musician named Pat Killian performed a song he wrote called “Given.” Now…I’ve always cried easily (a colleague once affectionately referred to me as the “office crier”)…but I’m seven months pregnant, so the poignant lyrics melted me into a puddle. Read more…
I am deeply touched and inspired by this video of 108-year-old Holocaust survivor Alice Herz Sommer (being interviewed by Tony Robbins). Her beautiful smile and message of thankfulness blow me away.
I still haven't figured out how to upload videos to my blog, but you can Click Here for the link!
Aaahh, transition. My husband and I have moved from China to New York. I’ve bounced around a great deal over the past decade, but this time an extra adjustment is in the mix. Upon returning to the U.S., I had hernia surgery. A minor event, in the grand scheme…but the ordeal was taxing, and it taught me a few things. Read below for lessons from my hernia!
Lesson 1: If something is amiss, investigate. For an entire year, I noticed a bulge developing in the lower right side of my abdomen. And I ignored it. My excuse was this: Given our international flux, going to the doctor just seemed like too much work. Finally, in Beijing, I decided to get it checked out. There was a brief scare in which the doctor surmised something more serious than a hernia was growing. Thankfully that turned out not to be the case, and the path to surgery was clear. Read more…
Beijing’s leading English bookstore, The Bookworm, is in the midst of its spring literary festival. Author events are among my biggest pleasures in life. I bought a bunch of tickets and am learning a ton.
Today I saw former Wall Street Journal correspondent, Leslie T. Chang, speak about her book Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China. Named one of the New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2008, Factory Girls documents the true stories of young women who leave home to work in China’s factories.
Leslie’s goal was not only to expose the injustices facing factory workers, but to paint an emotional, human portrait of how they adapt to their starkly new realities. I was deeply impressed by her intelligence, compassion, and grounded demeanor. She spoke of migration as a combination of terror and liberation, loneliness and adventure. She also touched on the workers’ underlying search for meaning—something we all share.
Full disclosure: I haven’t read the book, but plan to after seeing Leslie speak. If you’re interested in China’s trajectory, you might enjoy checking it out as well.
I love this passage by David Ault. When I read his words, they put my life into perspective. They help me take a step back from my personal struggles, and see the gifts that are bombarding me from every angle. Today I wanted to share with you:
In Someone Else’s Eyes
In someone else’s belief, you are rich and free.
In someone else’s eyes you are smart, capable and daring.
In someone else’s world of existence you have it all.
In someone else’s level of experience you have already reached their understanding of nirvana.
Whatever your story is, you are as blessed as you are willing to recognize you are.
In an earlier blog I reflected on how to uncover your shadow. The shadow is where your blind spots reside—those parts of yourself of which you are largely unaware, but that influence you from behind the curtain. Today I'll build on the previous theme and explore how to integrate the shadow into awareness. I've found that certain attitudes support the unfolding of this powerful inner work. Three that are especially helpful are compassion, curiosity, and courage.
Compassion: A great deal of power lives in the shadow. So try not to label your shadow as a "bad" thing. It's simply those parts of yourself that you don't yet see clearly. This can encompass everything from your buried talents and dreams to your addictions or personality reactions. Read more…
I greatly enjoy the ancient Chinese book of wisdom, Tao Te Ching. Today I was flipping through Stephen Mitchell’s translated version and landed on Chapter 8. This passage really speaks to me:
The supreme good is like water,
which nourishes all things without trying to.
It is content with the low places that people disdain.
Thus it is like the Tao.
In dwelling, live close to the ground.
In thinking, keep to the simple.
In conflict, be fair and generous.
In governing, don’t try to control.
In work, do what you enjoy.
In family life, be completely present.
When you are content to be simply yourself
and don’t compare or compete,
everybody will respect you.
Exploring the human psyche is one of my greatest passions. In particular, delving into the shadow has long been a key interest. Over the years, I’ve studied many teachings about the shadow and have come to recognize the enormous benefits of bringing it to light. Today I’ll share some reflections on how to see it in yourself.
What is the shadow? In simplest terms, it is the disowned parts of ourselves. These are the parts we repress, deny, and defend against; and so they remain largely unconscious. Becoming aware of the shadow can be painful, at least initially. Along with our hidden gifts, we may also encounter things we aren’t proud of. In preparing to meet our shadow, we must be willing to feel shame as well as a great deal of self-compassion. So how do you uncover your shadow? Below are several ideas to contemplate. As you sit with them, try to be kind with yourself no matter what you find. Read more…
Regular exercise has long been part of my life. For years, though, there was one thing I deliberately avoided: running. A laundry list of reasons justified this decision: fragile ankles, irritable Achilles tendons, scar tissue complications after foot surgery, and the biggie—flat feet. The risk of injury was just too high.
But inner conflict persisted. I love to run. Really, really love to run, with a passion that supersedes any other form of exercise. Denying myself this source of joy was becoming even more painful than the occasional injury. Read more…
I’m fascinated by the ways in which people unintentionally create their own suffering. Often our stress comes not from what is happening in our lives, but from the way we interpret what is happening. More specifically, from identifying with our thoughts to the degree that we believe they are the truth—then justifying, defending, and acting on them. Endless dramas arise from this simple phenomenon, from wars on an international scale to small resentments that chip away at relationships between individuals.
Naturally, I am my own best guinea pig when it comes to understanding self-induced suffering. A couple of days ago, while standing on a crowded train, I caught a belief that has been impeding my happiness for quite a while. This private struggle had become old and stale, and I realized that the belief was no longer serving a positive purpose. Silently I asked the question, “How can I drop this belief?” Read more…