Tag Archives: Compassion

How a Shooting Star Named Baby Sophia Bathed Us in Her Kindness

Recommended Reading Soundtrack:  Stand By Me by Otis Redding on Album Pain in my Heart 

Feeling grumpy, crotchety, stubborn or a bit sequestered today? Get ready, because that is about to change, I promise! In pondering the significance of kindness in my life, as blogger Erica has challenged our community this week, I am finding myself deeply grateful for this opportunity to talk about the beauty of the human spirit. It is a place in our hearts that always draws us together, even when we think those words are cliché or just a bunch of hooey!

babysophia

My mind stores up moments of kindness like a big jar of peanut M&Ms that teachers tempt kids with through a guessing game of how many are harbored within that glass. They are colorful, sweet and have the added bonus of not rotting our teeth. And I digress. Then I came across an awesome story on the Washington Post by Sarah Larimer and Casey Capachi titled “Today in uplifting internet news: Redditors help father who lost his infant daughter.” The story was like an envelope being opened on stage for Best Motion Picture at the Oscars and given the chance, I couldn’t help myself but open it. I didn’t even question opening it, as of course I have limited views on news stories here, seriously!

The story- a 26 year old father who recently lost his newborn named, Sophia. One of the few pictures he had of her with open eyes and alertness in tow was also full of her evident struggle to survive- hospital equipment. As the tears started pouring, my eyes and breath strained to read more of the story about a shooting star that flew across our sky for only a brief moment. He submitted this one picture to Reddit and asked if anyone could Photoshop out the tubes to create a memory that would survive for him and the mother.

“Since she was in the hospital her whole life we never were able to get a photo without all her tubes. Can someone remove the tubes from this photo?” Wrote the 26 year old father named Nathen Steffel

The father didn’t only receive a beautiful, single edited photo, he received thousands of messages and also some mailed presents containing drawings, even an embroidered blanket. This story is a beautiful representation of our capacity to love and how one request can be an opportunity for thousands of people to respond in kindness and appreciation for the preciousness of life and how it affects us.

kindness_changeworld

The people that responded saw these parents’ pain in their own experiences. They saw themselves and wanted to give comfort and love. Beautiful compassion for the human experience that we all endure every day of both living and passing away. And I leave this blog post with one thing- thank you, Sophia, for gracing our world with this beautiful opportunity to remember how fleeting and luminous our lives are. Your kindness will help me remember to not lose sight of what is important in this world, how we choose to live our lives and “pay it forward.”

At the end of one of my favorite films, Scrooged, Bill Murray’s character gave a speech that no matter what, always made me crave more. I would sit up at night, even in the summer, and replay this one scene just to see the son of his assistant who had stopped talking since witnessing his father’s death, to say one thing, “And God Bless Us Everyone.” If you have time today, check out this article and re-watch the scene in Scrooged (Click Here!). Remember, “If you give, then it can happen, then the miracle can happen to you.”

Let’s Rock Big Love!

In Hope Let Freedom Be in All of This

Recommended Listening Soundtrack: All of This by The Naked and Famous

As I walked out the door to the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison. Nelson Mandela

Julian Assange. Chelsea Manning. Edward Snowden. Palestinians. Israelis. You. Me. Everyone. What do we all have in common? This question vexes me, and is one I have been unable to ignore since a run-in with one of my favorite songs, an interview on Democracy Now and the US’s most recent national holiday on the 4th of July.

When the song by The Soup Dragons titled I’m Free came out, me and 2 of my best friends with a new license to drive would whirl around town blaring that song over and over again (when I say over and over again, I really mean OVER AND OVER again). It was perfect teen Saturday night fodder that fed our perception of delusional freedom- or was it delusional? We bonded through that song, and I still love to pretend in my own delusional reality that this white girl can hang during the Reggae outburst toward the song’s end.

Waynes-WorldBest singing in car scene ever, courtesy of Wayne’s World!

As I was singing along to it again recently, it coincidentally fell upon my ears following the US’s national 4th of July holiday. A holiday that is supposed to be about celebrating “freedom.” And, as I later was listening to an interview with WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange the same day, I found myself confused at a clogged up intersection of questions and fate in my heart regarding this mythological word we use quite frequently, freedom. Personal freedom. Freedom of choice. Freedom of speech. Freedom of press. Freedom of expression. Our freedom. Their freedom. It all started a big racket in my head, with ideas and images honking at other ideas and images to just get out of the way!

photo from NPR story July 2nd 2013, Louise Gubb/CorbisNelson Mandela imprisoned, photo from NPR story July 2nd 2013, Louise Gubb/Corbis

After being imprisoned for 27 years, Nelson Mandela was quoted as saying, “As I walked out the door to the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”  This statement is so profound, as it points out that imprisonment is beyond our physical world, it starts in our mind, and ripples outward like a broken dam. Yet as I write this, I can hear in the back of my head a distinct argumentative voice blabbering on, “Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah. We’ve all heard that before.” All of us are engaged in the same challenge of deciphering between the imprisonment of the mind’s demons, our past and what it means to not be a slave to our thoughts.

What a challenge. To coexist in a world of hatred and a need for love and human contact.   My younger self asks questions that really can’t be answered like, “Why does everything have to become so complicated?” As a teen, I was given the simple luxury of being able to drive around with my friends when I was in high school and sing along to a song like “I’m Free” by a group that actually, really called itself The Soup Dragons. And that memory will always make me laugh, and feel sad at the same time.

I had the option to question freedom and not worry that something could happen to me for speaking my mind or that someone would be listening to my telephone conversation and peg me as a troublemaker just because I questioned my government. But so many others don’t have the freedom to live in the naivety of the “teenage dream.” Many children and adults are still faced with painful challenges like, will their house still be standing by the end of the day or will they be kidnapped and even killed today because of a thousand year old belief system?

smileConclusion?  Our commonality outweighs the perception of “different.”  Toward the end of the Amy Goodman interview she asked Julian Assange, whose been living a life of his own imprisonment in the London Ecuadorian embassy, “What gives you hope?” He answered, “Well, hopefully the greatest legacy is still to come.” No matter what we believe, we can all choose to meet in that place of hope and be a part of that legacy. It’s making that choice instead of empowering the ego driven “need to be right” that holds the key to finding that freedom together.

But for now, I’ll just rock away to the Soup Dragons and envision what it will feel like when we can collectively cross our self-imprisonment border of bitterness and hatred, see ourselves in one another, and smile without hesitation that anything is possible.  “All of This” does not have to tear us apart.

 

It’s Hip to Be A Square

“School should be a place for children to learn and grow, not where they end up bullied for simply being themselves.” Susan Rowher, Guest Blogger, LA Times

Listening Soundtrack: Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World, Israel ‘IZ’ Kamakawiwo’ole

Do you remember when Sesame Street took the cheesy pop song by Huey Lewis in the News (I know I am putting myself at risk by denoting this song as “cheesy,” please- have mercy on me!) “It’s Hip to be Square” and magically turned it into “It’s Hip to be A Square”? Love it! And so it goes- this is the perfect song to relate to this blog post regarding all the awesome “squares” in the world. This one goes out to you!

Last week I was driving to work in the early morning, crossing a beautifully tree lined river where tiny green leaves were slowly making their way to the new day sunlight, when I heard a discussion on the radio about a boy being bullied in school for his choice of a My Little Pony backpack (old news to some- but I can’t get it out of my head!). If you have heard this story- I’ll be brief! The school decided that the way to allay the bullying was to have the young boy not bring his choice of backpack to school any longer. Keep in mind that the boy was already being bullied prior to the backpack incident. The mother in her efforts to seek help went to the media with the story.

selfacceptanceWe Are The Champions, My Friends

How many of us have been just like this young boy in life, modifying the truth of who we are just to appease the grumpalumps that don’t agree with what we chose to wear or the music we enjoy as a way to avoid disapproval? The answer? Everyone. Let’s think…”Revenge of the Nerds” anyone? I mean, who didn’t feel exhilarated and teary eyed at the end of the film when Queen’s “We Are The Champions” was played as Anthony Edwards and all his nerd friends stood up for themselves? Go Booger!

The LA Times published an opinion piece recently about not only this incident, but a girl in Virginia who also was recently told by a school that she didn’t dress feminine enough and if she didn’t change her choice of clothing their school was not the right place for them.   Really?! I was a tomboy when I was younger, I had a mullet, buck teeth and played with GI Joes. I’m pretty girlie as an adult. In the end, is deliberately making someone feel like an outcast really accomplishing anything?

In the opinion piece, guest blogger Susan Rowher stated in the opening (and fantastic) quote, “School should be a place for children to learn and grow, not where they end up bullied for simply being themselves.” To elaborate on this point, I feel like life should also be that way, no matter how old you are or where you are working, living.

What We Think We Know

In a way it is almost surreal that human beings would attach so much meaning to a backpack’s theme that they would actually harass them, even physically hurt them. Why do clothes, physical objects, carry so much meaning for us as a society that people actually feel threatened by them? When will a backpack just be a backpack? When will a word that is directed at us just be a word, rather than an internal jail sentence for life? Why do people feel so threatened by something that is different from what they think they know?

It’s Our Choice

The mind is a magician in a pretty big and diverse world. It likes to play games so we continue to engage in its game. It is programmed to perpetuate a belief that we are not connected to one another. And it in turn has the potential within all of us to create suffering. The suffering is not only for others, we experience it as well. The diamond in the ruff of this life is that we actually have a choice about what thoughts we are going to align ourselves with, and we can think about which ones will continue to just make us and others feel badly.

WorldPeaceThroughInnerPeace

“Don’t should on yourself.”

When I look back at my life, there are times where I have regretted hurting others, and also feel regret for doing something that caused another to want to hurt me. But regret will get us nowhere and as my coaching teacher Debbie Ford used to say, “Don’t should on yourself.” Our life is a treasure to behold, as well as everyone else’s life. If we can just remember this even with a part of our day we can begin to bring change into this world and help people feel better.

In life we will encounter a lot of tough decisions on the way, especially if we have kids and they are hurting inside. Today, I was getting caught up on one of my favorite shows, Parenthood. In the show Max, who is a teen with Asperger’s, is coping with someone peeing in his canteen on a school trip. At the end, his parents finally surrendered to Max’s desire to not go back to that school anymore where the administrators felt they couldn’t do anything to appease the bullying and live life on his terms rather than be harassed for being different. I wish we could all just give one another a hug and go surfing with great music playing in the background like they did in the show right now, but I know that is not really going to happen. So, in my imagination I am doing just that and hoping that we all can forgive one another and remember that same internal spark of light that exists within every one of us no matter our different circumstances.

If it has to start somewhere, let it start with us. It is hip to be A square!

 

Through the Foggy Looking Glass

Recommended listening soundtrack:  “Fidelity” by Regina Spektor  on Begin to Hope

Upon awakening the other morning, I looked underneath the blinds framing my bedroom window and found myself face to face with a thick fog obscuring my view.

Or so I thought.

As I started to walk away, all these fear based thoughts started going through my head.  How will I get to work in fog as thick as “pea soup”- or “peanut butter” as Yukon Cornelius argued in the ever so famous claymation Rudolph Christmas special with our favorite misfit elf, Hermey.

“You eat what you like, and I’ll eat what I like.”

I then proceeded to walk through my living room only to find the mountain view as clear as I had ever seen it with an added spark from the morning sunlight.  All I could ask myself in my own sleepy fog was, “how on earth could there be peanut butter thick fog (I prefer Yukon’s choice) on one side of my home and no fog on the other?”

Chaco_Canyon_Pueblo_Bonito_doorways_NPSOh, wait!  I realized then that the humidifier in my bedroom fogged up my window glass on the inside, and the foggy world I thought existed on the other side of the glass, only existed from my side.  In that moment, all I could do was laugh at how much my foggy window was emulating my life.  All you have to do is mix in your experiences and how they have molded an inner landscape unlike no other, and you find yourself observing through your own foggy glass.  I create my own obscurations and sometimes I just cannot see clearly through them.

Filtered or Unfiltered?

There are certain foods that are processed and you can enjoy them either filtered, or unfiltered.  Wine is one of them!  Whether filtered or unfiltered, each has a different taste and/or a different appearance.  In the same light, our experiences can act like those particles in unfiltered wine that can make or break our relationships with others.  I ask myself, can I trust what I am perceiving and hearing from another person?  Or do I need to take the time to reflect regularly on where inside myself I am creating a perception of the person in front of me?  Is it a filtered or unfiltered perspective?

This week has been overwhelming with some tough decisions and experiences that forced me to look within myself deeply about human accountability and how our choices can really mold the life we experience.  I have found myself agonizing over the fate of another, and releasing that agony in a newly discovered, greater wisdom within my heart.  If I could take anything from my foggy experience, it is that each of us is gifted with a journey in life that is tailor made to our purpose, and what we want to learn on a deeper level.  The only thing I can do is trust that their view through the looking glass, this human experience, will continue to be clarified in their connection to others.

red-heart-tree“But the eyes are blind.  One must look with the heart.” ANTOINE DE SAINT-EXUPERY

For myself, I hope that the fog I create in this life becomes thinner and thinner as I continue to strive to remain  more filtered in perceptions.  If I can continuously see others and their experiences as something I can explore and gain a deeper understanding of their reality, I can in essence live a more helpful, peaceful life.

The other morning the fog initially seemed so powerful, but with one change in direction I realized it was not even real!  Little did I know when I was a young child that the words of a cartoon gold prospector in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer would come back to remind me that it is true- we all see the world in our own way but it is how we meet in the middle that will help us solve our dilemmas and remain dear, dear friends.

A World of Objectification? Maybe.

“In the New Media culture, anything good you do is tossed in a pit, and you are measured by who you are on your worst day.  What’s the Boy Scout code? Trustworthy. Loyal. Helpful. Friendly. Courteous. Kind. Obedient. Cheerful. Thrifty. Brave. Clean. Reverent. I might be all of those things, at certain moments. But people suspect that whatever good you do, you are faking. You’re that guy.”  Alec Baldwin

You have to love it when someone has just had enough, and instead of sitting on the sidelines, they helplessly try to make their peace with their antagonist.  Especially when it surfaces as a public rant.  The rebellious part of me roots them on, but there is the other part of me that feels sad they were brought to the point of insane expressionism.  One minute you can be feeling light and airy like a painting by Monet, the next minute you feel like you’re being devoured by Saturn in one of Goya’s “Black Paintings.”

We’ve all been there- especially at the end of a relationship that has gone totally downhill.  After long periods of distress with anyone, you reach your breaking point.  It is how you handle those breaking points that can create a defining moment in your life.  You might find yourself hurling a spoon of mashed potatoes at your brother’s face like Kevin in the Wonder Years during a family dinner (insert laughter here!).  Or you might be like Alec Baldwin earlier this week, writing an angry manifesto to the world of media saying “goodbye to the public life”.

Projecting Our Positives and Negatives

human_shadowYes, guilty as charged- I read it.  And, I have to admit, I feel compassion for him.  People who live in the public eye, whether they are “celebrities” or “politicians”, have drawn a tough lot in many ways.  Everything they say or do is scrutinized, judged.  The person that once existed in that shell of a body eventually becomes objectified by a media that has become a constant feeding source for the ego.  They aren’t human beings anymore to the public that reads these stories or checks out their picture in People magazine.  They become a story, an image to laugh at, an image to aspire to- but the human being, the world unto itself, slowly disappears in the words that try to paint a picture about them.  The rabble will project their light and darkness on them and make them become what they want in that moment.  It’s like an energy vampire feeding time.

Remembering Compassion, Remembering We Are Not Objects

compassion-sunday-begins-with-youIn conjunction with this, I recently saw the film about one of our world’s most objectified women- Diana with Naomi Watts, directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel.  I knew nothing about this film, and saw it on Amazon one night, wondering what the heck it was and its take on her life.  To say the least, it was very well done.  The film showed how difficult the life of Princess Diana became towards the end due to the media, eventually leading to her tragic death.  She developed all of these strategies to get to places without the media’s knowledge, just to do something that we would see as mundane.  Getting a hamburger for her was like obtaining a visa to visit Azerbaijan.

Towards the end of the film, before her fatal car crash, she attempted to eat a meal at her hotel’s restaurant, when a camera flashes from another diner.  She had absolutely no privacy and you could see in Naomi Watts’ performance a shell of a person that had lost the love of her life because she couldn’t avoid the media’s attention.

Alec Baldwin stated in his letter that, “In the New Media culture, anything good you do is tossed in a pit, and you are measured by who you are on your worst day.”  I find this statement fascinating, because it is true that we appear to another as they choose to perceive us.  Yes, we all have “bad” days.  And, yes- we all have “good” days.  That’s because we are all of it- both good and bad.  We never know what a person is going through, how their world may be falling apart or coming together.  Knowing this, it may help us to be more compassionate beings and remember when you do see someone falling apart- that could be me.

Owning Your Uncool

The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what we share with someone else when we’re uncool. Lester Bangs, Almost Famous

There is a great scene in the film “The Holiday” when Kate Winslet’s character, Iris, is so distraught over hearing the news of her ex’s engagement that she starts breathing in gas from her stove as she is getting ready to light the flame for a cup of tea.  She then realizes what she is doing and scrambles to open the window, finishing the moment with a mumble to herself, “Low point!”

I love this scene because it reminds me of our humanity and the vulnerability we carry in our hearts that result in situations in our lives that really are “UNCOOL.”  It makes me laugh every time.  The scene has become an unfailing reflection of my own relationship foibles.  As I have opened this article with a quote that I also love, from another film (yes, I am a cinematic nut job), I can’t help but refer to it over and over again in my own life.  A lot of getting over our self- judgments that usually result in some misguided perception about who we are, is about owning those moments in our lives where we really do hit those “low points” and seriously act “uncool.”  Iris’s goofy attempt at poisoning herself with gas from her stove qualifies as one of these moments for me.

There has been a lot of talk over the past week about Miley Cyrus’s performance at the MTV VMA awards, and it has been funny to see many people’s reactions here on WordPress with the weekly writing challenge incorporating it as a guideline.  Most people don’t want to give any energy to the topic and the hype of this pop performance dilemma.  I totally understand it, as a person myself who has always rejected in some way through my own musical snobbery such mainstream musical gunk- which is why I have always related to the main characters in Almost Famous.

But I can’t help but notice that even those that don’t want to give any energy to the event still do by feeling the need to make their statement.  When I finally had a second to actually watch the video, I found myself laughing out loud- really.  Why?  Because here was a person engaged in one of those “low points,” one of those “uncool” moments where her immaturity outweighed whatever it was she was trying to do on that stage.  To me her performance was no different than a bunch of 13 year old awkward boys or girls having a sleep over acting outlandish about sex, a topic they don’t know anything about but want to be “cool.”

In my heart, I can’t help but be grateful that I now have enough wisdom to honor Cyrus’s process of growing up amidst all the labeling on this planet and the continuous blubbering over one concern to another regarding pop artists and what they are teaching our kids or what they say about our society as a whole.  In the end, we have to all own our “uncool” moments for what they are and love ourselves because there is nothing else left that is real but that love.  One day, I’m sure Ms. Cyrus will own her “uncool” also and be a person she herself can fully love rather than seek the hype surrounding celebrity marketing and drama.