I Hide My Chocolate

Midlife observations

Sacred Privilege

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Sacred Duty

This is me. At around 7:45 on the morning of November 8th. Exhilarated! I was so thrilled to have voted for Hillary Clinton, the woman I was so sure was going to be President that I insisted on documenting the historic event with a photo. I am wearing my most patriotic Clinton-esque red pantsuit jacket.

Quaint, eh? About as quaint as the Clinton-Kaine pin my daughter gave me to commemorate the occasion. I carry it around as a talisman, but I worry that it’s just a kitschy souvenir.

My hand is on my heart – pledging allegiance – and showing off the ring I am wearing. My mother’s ring. She was with me that day.

It is from my mother that I got my political grounding.

My mother was a Democrat. On Election Day, she would take me with her into the voting booth and show me how it worked. I felt very grown up, very excited, and very proud. It was a sacred privilege, voting.

My mother was the first feminist I knew. She was a charter subscriber to Ms. Magazine. Literally. She got every issue of the magazine as long as it existed. It’s one of many many magazines that I grew up with in a household where words mattered. No wonder I made a career in magazines.

My mother believed that women were equal to men (actually, I think she believed that women were better than men) and that I could be anything. ANYTHING! She encouraged me to go to Bryn Mawr College so that I would be with other intelligent and serious women who wanted to make a difference. We women wanted to matter. I wanted to matter. To make a difference. To contribute something important to the world.

Sometimes I feel like Hillary must feel. Hard-working, over-prepared, focused on the details, only to be bested by some guy who shoots from the hip. Haven’t we women all been there? When will it stop?

This election was the first election my mother was not alive and did not vote. It seemed fitting that it was the first election in which my daughter could and did vote. Continuing the democratic lineage. Excited and proud.

It is a sacred privilege, voting. Have we forgotten how fortunate we are to live in a democracy? Did we take voting for granted? Our vote does matter, doesn’t it?

Doesn’t it?

The shock that such a selfish and cavalier man could beat such an experienced and intelligent woman has left me with no words.

In the five weeks since, I have reflected on how I want to handle this mind-boggling reality. I alternate between outrage, fear, disbelief, and attempts at patience and optimism. A Democrat, like my mom, I tend to be pragmatic and centrist, always a diplomat, never particularly active. Careful to try to understand both sides and all points of view. Too conflict avoidant to be provocative.

When I am optimistic, I wonder if the outcome of this election is just what we needed to shake us all up. To create a constructive political movement that will lead to positive change.

The week of the election, the Dalai Lama appeared in my dream. He counseled me to distinguish between being concerned and being caring. It’s all about caring, he told me.

Wise words, don’t you think? Being concerned is intellectual and kind of negative and judgmental. Being caring is active and personal and hands on. Caring is positive. I think of that every day. How can I be positive, constructive and caring in an impactful way? What kind of example do I want to set for my children? What political legacy will I leave them?

For now, I have decided to choose and focus on a few issues that are meaningful to me and that honor my mother and her political legacy to me.

  • Women’s Rights. Particularly reproductive freedom. I am Pro Choice.
  • Freedom of the Press. I never thought I would feel the need to fight for the First Amendment.
  • The Environment. After all, if we destroy our world, then it doesn’t really matter who is President, does it?

I don’t quite know all the ways I will act to support these issues. I am not used to feeling that it is imperative that I act. I do know that I will keep caring, peace, and kindness top of mind – like the Dalai Lama.

And, I will not take our democracy for granted. Believing in democracy is not quaint. Voting is a sacred privilege. It is our sacred duty to protect our democracy, our right to vote.

Sweet Potato and Lentil Stew with Chipotles

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A Vegan-Friendly Thanksgiving

My daughter is a committed vegan, unable to stomach eating animals and dismayed by the injurious practices towards animals of big agriculture. I am proud of her and support her, but must admit that I don’t need any more food rules in my life. So, while I don’t eat much meat, I am not rigid about it.

This was her first Thanksgiving out as a vegan. (I think she was a closet vegan last year.) I reflected on how to balance the food traditions and family favorites of the holiday, while honoring her food wishes and offering her some tasty options. Roasted green beans, beyond easy.  Stuffing made with vegetable broth, so tasty. Then what? We swapped the too-sweet marshmallow yams for Lentil and Sweet Potato Stew. I made it the day before – which was a good thing, because it gets better and better every day. We’ve been eating it for lunch every day since!

Sweet Potato and Lentil Stew with Chipotles

  • Olive Oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups green lentils
  • 2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 chipotles in adobo, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1-2 bay leaves

In a heavy soup pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil and sauté the onion until translucent. Add the garlic and carrots. Sauté until onions begin to turn toasty brown. Be patient, this can take 10-15 minutes – the browning adds flavor.

Add water, lentils, sweet potatoes, salt, cumin, chipotles, tomato paste, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil. Then, lower temperature and simmer for an hour. Or more. You really can’t overcook this dish – it just keeps getting thicker and stewier and more flavorful.

You can serve the same day, but it is better the next day and the next day and the next day.

Serves many vegans and omnivores. Probably about 8 servings. For the non-vegans, a dollop of plain greek yogurt on top is delicious, adding tang and creaminess.

 

and Equanimity toward the Wicked

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Humble Warrior

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 1.33

By cultivating an attitude of friendship toward those who are happy, compassion toward those in distress, joy toward those who are virtuous, and equanimity toward those who are not virtuous, lucidity arises in the mind.

Like most, I am beyond troubled by the aggressive and hostile extremes of this election season. I am repulsed by Donald Trump. I hate how he looks: a fat, self-satisfied, narcissistic bully. I despise what he stands for: closed-minded racism, misogyny, bigotry. I fear what could happen if he were to be elected: a pendulum swing to the right with a reversal of our rights.

I have struggled with the righteous posturing, the lack of listening, and a disturbing move away from rational centrist humane compassion, frankly, by all of us. When my feelings of anger and revulsion are active and intense, I wonder how to reconcile this with my yoga practice. Is it yogic to hate Donald Trump?

One of the yoga sutras, 1.33, suggests that we cultivate equanimity when faced with nonvirtuous people and their wickedness. This is difficult. How do we deal with bullies, rapists, dictators, killers, kidnappers, terrorists … with equanimity? Torture them, go to war with them, destroy them? Tempting isn’t it? I understand that point of view. Certainly, we must take a stand for what is right. We must. But there must be something other than violence and divisiveness…if our world is going to survive.

Saddled with this dilemma, what to do with my rage and anxiety while being true to my desire to be a compassionate and peaceful human being, I started wondering how yoga could impact Donald Trump. (I do believe people can change.)

What would I do if Donald Trump walked into my yoga class?

I would welcome him. After all, anyone who comes to a yoga class has some curiosity and interest in becoming healthy. Whole.

We would have a brief seated centering. I don’t think he can sit still for very long. I’d have him center his head (it’s always tilted uncomfortably to his right) and rest his hands on his thighs, in stillness. (Those hands always pointing so aggressively!) I’m not sure he can tolerate closing his eyes, but I’d have him gaze softly and pay attention to his breath. Smooth out his dramatic sniffing. Breathe in. Pause. Breathe out. Pause. I’d like to think the pauses would show him how to pause before he speaks.

After a brief warm-up, we’d move into vigorous (for him) sun salutations. I think he needs to be really worn out, wrung out, by a very physical yoga practice. I’d get him breathing and sweating, so much that he couldn’t think about anything else other than surviving another sun sal.

I’d suggest that he dedicate his practice to someone he loves. (Does he love anyone?) We’d pause in Warrior 1. And bow down to Humble Warrior. Peaceful Warrior. Devotional Warrior. Breathe in. Pause. Breathe out. Pause. Surely the combination of meditating on a loved one and bowing down to them would have an impact?

Next, a heart-opening sequence. Donald has an overactive third chakra (thus, his ridiculous overconfidence). He needs to develop his sense of compassion. Cobra, Sphinx, and Locust.

Then Headstand. Yes. He needs to spend some time upside down. Feeling the confusion of not knowing what’s really up and what’s really down. Seeing a different perspective. Getting connected with his crown chakra. A little spirituality Donald?

And Shoulder Stand. Placing the chin in Jalandhara Bandha, to work on balancing his throat chakra. Pause before you speak. Breathe in. Pause. Breathe out. Pause.

Savasana. I’m pretty sure he’d be exhausted by now and ready to collapse in a heap.

For the closing meditation, I’d encourage him to think of the person he loves and imagine the dissolving of barriers. Dissolve the barrier between the outer body and the inner body. Dissolve the barrier between the physical body and the soul. Dissolve the barrier between his soul and his loved one’s soul. Dissolve the barriers between all souls. There is no barrier, no separation.

Finally, OM. Filling the space with universal sound. Feeling the reverberation until it dissolves.

Imagine if Donald Trump did yoga.

Breathe in. Pause. Breathe out. Pause. We are all one.

OM. Shanti. Peace.

 

Image Credit:  Humble Warrior by Mike Villegas

The Mirror

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Homework

I am in the middle of a yoga training with Colleen Saidman Yee. She has designed thought-full and specific sequences of poses to enhance or mitigate significant emotions and life transitions. All with a goal of achieving peace and confidence in ourselves, in order to be able to say: I Am Enough.

Our assignment this week, among other things, was to look in the mirror, see ourselves, our souls, and say I Love You. When I looked in the mirror, I felt so silly. Who says that?

Why not? Why don’t we give ourselves permission to love ourselves?

It brings up a long buried memory. I am at the wedding of our neighbor. My first wedding. I am about 8, perhaps. I am wearing a fancy dress and my mother did my hair in her favorite way, pulled back into a top-knot. I feel excited and grown up. At the wedding we are chit-chatting with another neighbor who remarks how pretty I look. Feeling confident and pleased, I respond, “I know!” My parents are embarrassed and scold me. One should be modest and humble, not braggy and conceited. The neighbor smiles indulgently and defends me. But the damage is done. A lifelong struggle with how to be in this world begins. Pretty? Smart? Assertive? Confident? Bossy? Slutty? Ambitious? Bitchy? NICE?

It is more socially acceptable to commiserate: I am so busy. I am so tired. I have so many problems. Or to be self-deprecating: I’m too heavy. I’m too thin. I’m too old. I hate my hair. When was the last time someone asked you “How are you?” and you answered: “I am beautiful, healthy, and strong. I like my job. My kids amaze me. My husband loves me.” Well, dammit, that’s how I am. I’m tired of complaining.

Don’t get me wrong. I could complain! My beauty is one of a middle-aged woman now. My wrinkles, age-spots, thinning eyebrows, and jowls (wtf?) shock me. SHOCK! I am not passionate about my job, but it’s interesting. I wish I had more time for yoga, both practicing and teaching. I’ve been hurt. Badly. A lot. I worry about everything. But… I am who I am and I am enough.

What is beauty anyway? We women are encouraged to meet an impossible external standard. Tall, thin, fit, young. Those of us who come close work very hard to get closer to the standard and feel like failures when we don’t. Those of us who don’t come close work very hard to get closer to the standard and feel like failures when we don’t. Or, we give up. As we get older, perhaps we find more peace with who we are and how we look, but our fading looks are a bittersweet reminder of the fleeting impermanence of youth and of life.

We look in the mirror and see our soul shining through our eyes. The same soul from 50 years ago, from 40 years ago, from 30 years ago, from 20 years ago, from 10 years ago. Real beauty is self-acceptance. Self-confidence. Pride. No more wishing to be someone else. No more wishing to be richer, thinner, smarter, nicer, more successful, more popular, more badass, more happy. We are enough.

Besides, it’s not about me anymore. I want my daughter to be happy and to love herself and to know – really know – her value. If I can’t model that kind of love and confidence for me, what makes me think she can do it for her? If my love for myself is a bit tentative and embarrassed and filled with buts and what-if’s, my love for her is fierce.

Dear girl, you are enough.

The Pause

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Before What Is Next

Well. Here we are. Already. August. End of Summer. End of his childhood. The pause after the exhale before the inhale. Before September, the new school year. 12th grade. Before he begins whatever he will be beginning a year from now. Because we don’t know.

Our vacation this summer was a quiet week in Vermont, just the three of us. I missed my daughter, but it felt important to have this time with him. It was sweet to be away from our routine and entwined together, synchronizing our lives to be focused on each other, if only for the week. We listened to music together, impressed that he had such eclectic taste and appreciation for “our” music of the 1970’s. (Thank you, Guardians of the Galaxy.) We adventured together, zip lining down Mt Mansfield and rock climbing a wall. We walked in the woods, read by the pool, and found restaurants with wings for him, pasta for my husband, and vegetables for me. It was a delicious, restorative break, nothing fancy, and I am trying not to be too sad that it is over.

17 years. Over.

I stare at him. Often. He hates it. He thinks I am judging or noticing something he wished I wouldn’t notice. He is self-conscious. Embarrassed. My gaze is really more about wanting to connect. Wanting him to know, to really know deep down in his soul, that I love him and want him to be happy and to know that he is enough just as he is. I want him to know that I am sorry for all the times I do judge and nag and wish for something to be other than it is.

I spend a lot of time judging and nagging and wishing for something to be other than it is. Like the end of August. The end of summer, the end of vacation, the end of childhood. I don’t want it to be over! Hell, I’m just figuring out how to do it … and it’s over?

So. Instead of clinging and resisting, I am trying – trying! – to be patient with the pause. Open to possibility. Open to change. With not knowing what is next. With not rushing to the inhale, but fully and completely exhaling all the air out and pausing. Appreciating the breath. Appreciating the boy who is becoming a man. Gazing at his graceful shape, searching for eye contact with his soul that is embarrassed to be seen. Trying not to be frantic about the college application process. Trying not to grieve for the time that is gone. Trying not to regret all that I could have done differently. Trying not to regret that I’m not a different mother, but to accept that I am the mother I am. Just as he is enough, I am enough.

We are here. Abiding in the pause. Open to what is next. Because we don’t know. Now is enough. We are enough.

The Beautiful Subway Singer

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Finding Love Right Where We Are

Monday, instead of walking across town in my usual commuter bubble to catch my train home, I decided to take the subway. It was hazy, hot, and humid and the sky had turned ominously black while all our cellphones were sirening the alarm that a storm was near. I’ve been caught in that 5:30 pm summer downpour.  Not today.

I headed down the tunnel below ground and just missed a shuttle. In my bubble, I headed toward the next train. Everyone was standing, crowded in the entry way, even though there were plenty of seats in the middle. I made my way through the crowd to sit by myself in my bubble. When the train started moving, the beautiful woman next to me started singing. Well, at least I think she was beautiful because she gave off a beautiful vibe. Beautiful energy. I didn’t actually look at her. I didn’t actually make eye contact with her. After all, I was in my bubble in the city where I was taught not to make eye contact with strangers. Somehow connecting with others was threatening and could incite danger. This was understandable advice to the young single woman I was many many years ago, but it doesn’t really serve me that well any more. I am capable and savvy, unlikely to be accosted by strangers, and far more inclined now to make a warm connection with someone who could use a smile (and usually that someone is me).

I was startled out of my bubble. Listening. She started out tentatively, a little out of tune. It was a hard song, Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud. I certainly couldn’t sing it. I certainly wouldn’t have the nerve to burst into song in the subway. I don’t even sing at home if anyone else is around. I just listened. She gained confidence and strength. I suppose she does this all day long and this was just another iteration for her, but it was magical for me. It is such an intimate song. Her timing was impeccable, singing the climax “We found love right where we are,” just as we pulled into Grand Central. One of the more exuberant souls on the train exclaimed “Beautiful!” And it was. She was.

I went back today to the same shuttle train to see if she would be there again. Of course she was not there. That anonymous, ephemeral, magical moment could not be repeated. Imagine, finding love, all around, on the subway – in this stormy time.

Bunny and Doug

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Thank You for the Tomato

“Go ahead! You can eat it.”

I am in Bunny and Doug’s vegetable garden. I am 8 years old. Maybe 9. I don’t really remember.

Bunny and Doug lived behind us. But it was a world away. Not the reserved intellectual atmosphere of my household. Bunny was a beautician and ran a hair salon in her basement. Think Steel Magnolias meets Madge “You’re soaking in it!” My mother, who I do not recall ever getting her nails polished and who maybe got her hair trimmed every 3 months – too self-indulgent for a serious academic type – got her hair trimmed by Bunny on those rare occasions. It was fascinating to see my mom and the other ladies sitting under the helmet of the hair dryer. I got to help out, feeling important, sweeping up the hair. Bunny would always pay me a few dollars for the odd jobs for which she earnestly employed me.

One summer I had a “job.” Every other Friday afternoon, I would go over in the afternoon to clean Bunny’s house. I dusted. She showed me how to dust. I got to go in every room, including the bedrooms, which were already perfectly clean in their matchy matchy style of 1971 and completely different from the rooms in my house with mismatched modern pieces and real art on the walls. I would carefully spray the Lemon Pledge and polish the wood frames of the beds and wipe the silver frames of the family photos, the family Bunny adored but who was not near by. I couldn’t retain who was who, but I am pretty sure I was the surrogate granddaughter, an arrangement that worked for me, a quiet only child with no living grandmother.

After dusting, I would go visit Doug who would be in the back yard tending his pigeons. Yes, pigeons. He had a pigeon coop. This completely fascinated me, because really, who has a pigeon coop! Especially in the suburbs of 1971. He didn’t have a few birds. He had dozens. Maybe a hundred? I don’t really remember. It seemed like a lot. I suppose he must have built the coop himself in the back of the yard. It was messy. Lots of poop. Doug knew all the individual pigeons and introduced me to them. He would fly them. They would soar and swoop and dive and soar and swoop and disappear. And come back again. It was very exciting. Choreographed to the second. You could hear and feel the energy of the flock. The flock was one being as they flew home, finally separating, each settling into their individual cubby back in the coop.

Then it was dinnertime. They would let me stay for dinner and sometimes I even slept over, which made me feel very grown up. Bunny would watch all the silly game shows I loved but my parents deemed, well, silly. Out in the vegetable garden – which also fascinated me because really who has a vegetable garden in the 1971 suburbs, at least we certainly didn’t – Bunny would instruct me how to pick the corn and the beans and the tomatoes which we would eat for dinner. Bunny would cook (overcook) those beans until they melted. I never had beans like that at home. It was summer and it was hot. The tomatoes were about the size of tennis balls and red and the perfect texture. Not firm, not mushy. Not grotesquely oversized with unusual colors. Just a regular red tomato.

“Go ahead! You can eat it.” Bunny gave me, the obedient little girl, permission to eat. Biting into that warm, juicy, perfect tomato. My taste buds were amazed. Intensely tomato-y. It was the best tomato ever. I still try to replicate it with every tomato I now eat, and I eat a lot of tomatoes. But they never compare. Kind of like the first time I had pesto with the ultra sophisticated and hip friend of my mother’s as I was emerging into adulthood. Kind of like the orgasmic peach my husband and I shared at a farmstand in Southampton in 1993. It was our first summer together and we were in that cocoon of infatuation, blissfully in love. I don’t know why we didn’t each have our own peach. But that peach we shared was amazing and I have never had as good a one since. Maybe the happy and innocent conditions surrounding that tomato and that peach are what made them special, carving out this insurmountable taste memory. Maybe tomatoes and peaches really are worse, not better. That’s a whole other topic.

As I grew up, my visits to Bunny and Doug faded. I barely remember them. They moved, probably to be with their children and grandchildren. I suppose they are long gone. I suppose at the time I dutifully thanked them for their hospitality. But it would have been a young child’s token thank you. I never really hugged them, never really looked them in the eyes and told them how much I appreciated that they took me in and showed me a different world and did it with such good humor and generosity and kindness. I never told them that they were the grandparents I did not have.

Bunny and Doug, thank you for the tomato.

Praying for Peace, Again and Again and Again

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Om Shanti Shanti Shanti

We’ve been praying for peace for a long time. Since the beginning of time. Over and over again.

When I was a freshman in high school, I struggled with World Civ (and got my worst grade ever, thanks a lot Ms. B.). I just couldn’t wrap my head around the dates and the names and the significant facts. It was dry, boring, irrelevant, to me. I remember my mother exclaiming, “Really? But it’s so interesting! Just think of it. People like you and me living thousands of years ago. Isn’t that amazing?” Yep, mom, as usual, you were right. It just took me a while to get there. You were the age I am now when you said that. It IS amazing. Truly awesome. People like you and me. Living thousands of years ago. Praying for peace.

Elusive peace.

This weekend, I dragged myself to yoga. Exhausted. Sad. It’s the place where I feel peace. I had to go.  As we joined our energy, our breath, our sadness, our hope, our yoga teacher offered her tears and this prayer, from Vedic texts, ancient sacred texts, probably from 1,000 BC or older. I cried at our collective sadness and hope. We’ve been doing this a long time. Praying for peace. May it be.

 

May there be always joy and happiness for everyone.

May the earth be ruled by righteous rulers and in a right way.

May there be welfare for animals and the men and women of wisdom.

May the entire Universe be Love and Peace.

May the rains fall in proper times.

May the earth bear healthy grains.

May this land never know any agitation.

May the men and women of wisdom be always fearless, in their thoughts, in their words, in their actions.

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti

Peace Peace Peace

Image: Abstract Peace Sign 2 by David G. Paul

Burgers on the Grill

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No Animals Were Harmed!

My daughter has been home the last few weeks and family meals have been a dizzying array of choices, trying to please all eaters. She is eating a vegan diet – uncompromisingly unwilling to eat animals. Empathetic to all sentient beings, she can’t stand the thought of eating them. I sympathize. I dare you to look into a cow’s eyes and then eat beef. So, we’ve been experimenting with a variety of recipes. I tend to not like vegan recipes that try to imitate meat. Just admit you’re a vegetable and revel in it!

In honor of summer barbecues celebrating Independence Day, here is one of her tasty experiments.

Easy Vegan Burgers

  • Olive oil
  • ½ small onion, chopped fine
  • 1 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 Tablespoon cumin
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 14 oz can black beans, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 3-4 Tablespoons BBQ sauce

Heat olive oil and sauté the onion, 5-10 minutes until carmelized.

In a food processor, blend: walnuts, sautéed onion, chili powder and cumin.

In a large mixing bowl, mash the black beans, maintaining some texture. Add rice, walnut-onion mixture, bread crumbs, and BBQ sauce. Combine. Form into 8 patties.

Grill, bake, or sauté.

Serve on buns, with desired toppings or makes a delicious entrée salad.

Serves 8.

Recipe Inspiration: Grillable Veggie Burger from Minimalist Baker

What Can I Do?

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Ever-Widening Circles of Love

The news is bad. Frightening. Each new crisis pushes yesterday’s crisis below the surface. What about the girls kidnapped by Boko Haram 2 years ago? How are they doing? What about Ray Rice’s wife, Janay Palmer? I heard she was pregnant with their second  child due this Fall. I wonder how she is doing. Is she happy? Is she safe? I wonder.

After skimming (I seem no longer able to read, really read) the latest awful and bizarre highlights from the newspaper, I get hit with an onslaught of more of the same awful and bizarre highlights on my Facebook feed, peppered with articulate and impassioned rants from a variety of people I respect and read. I wonder how I can add value to the fast and furious conversation. It moves too quickly for me to react thought-fully. They are too smart. I am too sad and overwhelmed. I understand why the rants are interspersed with pet videos and yoga poses. Really, how much despair can a person take?

After Orlando. Feeling a mixture of anguish, outrage, and numbness. The most eloquent post popped up. Simple. Not long. “How do we end the hate?”

Well, that’s it, isn’t it? It’s not about terrorism, gun control, or cogent posts. It’s deeper than that. I shut off my phone and reflected. What can I do? Really. I am one person. Busy busy busy in my world. What can I do? Differently. I am not an activist. I am not particularly authoritative about lots of political facts and policy implications. I am quiet. Sensitive. A mother, a marketing executive, a yoga teacher. What can I do?

And then I remembered. My new year’s “resolution.” The one I forgot around January 25th. Greet each person with enthusiasm and joy. Curiosity. Love. That’s it. Simple, right? Look them in the eye, welcome them into my world and open my heart to them.

But it’s not simple. I forget. I get annoyed. I get anxious. I get overwhelmed. I snap. I send off a vibe of “I’m busy busy busy! Leave me alone!” Or worse, I get judgmental. I’m so judgmental. And competitive. You know. I’m more important than you. Or I’m better than you. Or I’m smarter than you. Or I’m more right than you. Ugh! It’s exhausting. And not true. So. Not. True. Being judgmental is a sign that you need to prop yourself up. I don’t need to do that any more. I am good enough.

So, like a meditation practice, when I notice that I’ve forgotten and gone off in some unintended direction, I bring myself back. Maybe gently. More likely with frustration. And greet each person with enthusiasm and joy. Curiosity. Love. Especially my family. They get the brunt of my bad behavior. And maybe, just maybe, if I act with more love and less hate, then maybe, just maybe, the people in my life will also act with more love and less hate. And maybe, just maybe, like water rippling into ever widening circles, there will be a little more love and a little less hate.

That is what I can do.

Image Credit: Lake Ripples by Rosemary Craig

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