A Lesson after 9/11: Compassion

11 09 2011

At the software company I worked for, we watched in horror after the first tower was struck. With my co-workers, we watched as a plane drove into the second tower. We were in shock as was the entire nation. We were glued to the television…waiting for information. We saw people jump from the towers to their deaths and knew that many more had died as the towers crumbled to the ground. We saw the look of sheer terror on the faces of those present and running from the towers. It was an apocalyptic event being broadcast live as we watched.

To make it even more surreal, my manager at the time kept crossing through the lobby and glaring at me as if to say “Why are you wasting your time watching television?” My peers were all there watching. Something monumental was happening. We needed time to witness and attempt to cope with what we were seeing. Feeling the pressure from this demanding boss, I was one of the first to pull away and go back to my desk and it was incredibly difficult to focus and do technical marketing work. It was corporate America saying “You’re not human. Don’t feel. Just do your work…no matter what else is going on.” It was the birthday of one of my co-workers, but definitely not a day to celebrate.

Credit: TellingNicholas.com

Today, 10 years later, I am still disturbed by that glare. It’s one of the reasons I choose to work for myself. Yes, there are business demands and the software business is incredibly demanding. But people are not robots. Bad things happen and we have feelings. We need time and space to witness, to grieve, and to recover.

I just watched another one of HBO’s incredible documentaries. This one is called “Telling Nicholas” and first aired on May 19, 2002. Created by director/producer/writer James Ronald Whitney, it also won an Emmy.

It tells the story of how the mother of 7-year-old Nicholas died in the World Trade Centers on 9/11 and how the family struggled to accept that she is not coming back and is indeed dead. They also struggled with how to tell Nicholas. It his heart wrenching and I cried throughout most of the movie. The family is very sensitive to and protective of this little boy’s feelings.

I’m not a 7-year-old boy and I didn’t lose my mommy or anyone on 9/11. Still, we all grieve that day and the loss of innocence, security, and safety we had up until then. We grieve the loss of so many people who were doing nothing but living their lives and working and being mommies and daddies and brothers and sisters and children.

If 9/11 has had any positive impact, hopefully it has taught us to appreciate the freedom we have, to value life, to be grateful for the love of others, and to never take even one day of our lives for granted. And to stop the glares. We all need time to process when things happen…even if we’re at work…and we all need to practice and feel compassion.





100,000!!!

24 03 2010

My blog surpassed 100,000 hits today. It’s a big number. What other things are 100,000?

  • Wikipedia says 100,000“…is the current world record for the number of digits of pi memorized by a human being.”
  • On 11/4/09, Apple announced that there were over 100,000 applications available on the App Store.
  • In July 2005, there were 241 American cities with populations over 100,000 per infoplease.com. 62 of those are in California.
  • The 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics was stocked with 100,000 condoms…an average of 14 condoms for each of the 7,000 athletes.
  • The 100,000th 2010 Chevrolet Camaro…an inferno orange SS according to Autoblog.com…rolled off the assembly line the first week in March, 2010.
  • In August 2008, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope completed its 100,000th orbit during its 18th year of being in service.
  • The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) has an initiative called The 100,000 Lives Campaign “…to significantly reduce morbidity and mortality in American health care” and to save 100,000 lives.
  • According to wordstadiums.com, there are 45 stadiums throughout the world that seat 100,000 or more people. 17 of those are in the U.S. Of those 17, speed racing makes up 11, one is used for horse racing (Churchill Downs), and the others are college football stadiums (Texas, Michigan, Penn State, Ohio State, and Tennessee).
  • Scientific American reported in December 2009 that humans have been eating grains for at least 100,000 years.
  • The weekend before the historic 3/21/10 House vote (and passage) of the healthcare bill, calls to House representatives were close to 100,000 per hour.
  • On 3/4/10, the Red Cross provided its 100,000th vaccination in Haiti to prevent disease following the 7.0 earthquake on January 12, 2010.

I’ve put a lot of time, energy, and care into writing this blog. Thanks to all my loyal readers and those who just stumbled on the page because they were searching for something they care about. I hope you’ll come back…and maybe even subscribe to my blog (see the flashing box at the top right of this page).

Here’s to 100,000 more reads and to all you good people who are reading! Keep the comments coming…I love the dialogue!





Let It Go!

9 08 2009

Full MontyA couple of years ago I played the zany piano player (that’s me in the ridiculous blond wig) in the music theater production of The Full Monty. The plot…similar to that in the movie…is that a bunch of laid off, ragamuffin steel workers stage a production where they sing, dance, and strip to make money. They build confidence and decide to just go for it…to do the full monty. In the last number, they sing “Let it go, let it go, loosen up, yeah, let it go. Let it go, let it go, it’s all right.”

Tuesday, 7/21 was a pivotal day for me…I knew it was time to LET IT GO and change how I responded to an ongoing, difficult situation. I called Gerry…a very spiritual person who makes a living guiding people…and asked if I could see him that day. For 1.5 hours I told him my story…the one I’ve told so many times…the one that is WHO I AM. You know…we all have it…THAT story that we think defines us.

And yet it DOESN’T. Define us. UNLESS. WE. LET. IT. I’m just tired of letting it. I am tired of dragging around that story. It makes me feel low-energy, powerless, and helpless.

I decided that day to get rid of all the stuff I have been moving from place to place for years that tells the tale of that story. I looked up the definition on dictionary.com of what I wanted to do:

Purge: to rid of whatever is impure or undesirable; cleanse; purify

StuffSo for 2.5 weeks, all I did (well, almost anyway) was go through old stuff. I made a huge pile (the picture doesn’t do it justice) on a round stone table in my living room. The stuff consisted of journal pages of pain that I ripped out one by one (that felt good!), caretaker notes, work notes, cards (the ones I didn’t want to keep), many many notes about what I want to be when I grow up…wouldn’t that be NOW???…that were made during countless self-help seminars and readings of self-help books, image pages, and more.

In the process of going through years of papers, I also went through closets and drawers and took a backseat full of stuff to Goodwill.

I not only made this huge pile of papers to destroy, I also put the saved mementos in folders chronologically, going all the way back to when I was born. Now…if I get really ambitious…I can make scrapbooks!

It was hard to let go of all that stuff. I kept thinking “What if I want to refer back to this? What if I want to reread what I was thinking and what was happening on such and such day? What if I ever want to show a family member what I was going through to validate my reality?” But you know what? I decided I didn’t want to do any of that. Nada.

Thursday night I stayed up (with a lot of energy) until 5 a.m. in the morning destroying that mound of old papers, old pain, and old stories. That pile… an ever growing visualization of all the crap I’ve literally and figuratively been holding on to for years…is now gone. GONE. W-O-W.

So now that it’s all gone, I have space…space for new stories, new journal writings, new…well I don’t know what! But I do know that by being willing to let go of all that has burdened me for so long, I can…

Allow: to permit something to happen or exist

Who knows what new stories I will create, but I promise I’ll never let the pile…and the attachment to old stories that it represents…get that big again. From here on out, in each moment, I’ll remember the freedom those Full Monty guys felt and just  LET IT GO.





Stand By Me

30 04 2009

Who do you stand by? Today. Right now. A child? Spouse or significant other? Best friend?  Maybe yourself? Is that about it? Hmmm. Too busy, too frazzled, or just don’t give a damn to stand by anyone else? Do you even think about others outside your primary relationships? Of course you do…right?

You are like a cell in the total of the human(ity) body. For this every-human-on-the-planet body to be healthy and functioning, each cell needs to be healthy. Think those women being children and women being raped in the Democratic Republic of the Congo don’t affect your life? You have a deadly cancer…good luck. Think Chinese women being forced to abort 9-month-old fetuses to comply with the one-child law doesn’t affect you? You lost your sight…how does that feel?

globe-in-hands-smallerEspecially in the U.S. we have had this notion that we are independent and not connected to the rest of the world…that global body. Look what happened with the economic crisis here…it brought down economies around the world. Our greed, self-centeredness, and narcissim infected others and caused the global body harm.

Now look at the power of what one person can do. President Obama has such a positive, calm, comforting, reassuring, thoughtful, and attentive demeanor and he is lifting us all up. Our global cells are starting to hum and vibrate with hope again.

We are all interconnected. It starts with one person…and then another…and then another…and then another… Who do you stand by? Who do you stand with? Who do you connect with? The answer to that last question? EVERYONE.

 We all need each other. Stand by me. I stand by you.

 From the award-winning documentary “Playing for Change: Peace Through Music”…enjoy!





Passing it Forward with Thanks

7 04 2009

An attitude of gratitude is so important. Especially when there’s such a feeling of lack in the world right now. And I am really grateful for my readers. I started this blog in September 2008 as a political blog.

Since then I changed the focus of my blog to be (usually) on human rights. I’ve connected with some amazing people with similar points of view and some with a different take on things…I love them all. Many of my readers are bloggers themselves and their words enrich my life.

kreative_blogger_awardI’ve recently been chosen by two of my blogger friends to receive the Kreativ Blogger award. Thanks so much to these two bloggers for the award. Check them out…their blogs are must reads.

In accepting this award, I’m asked to list seven things I love and pass the award forward to seven blogs I love. Here goes. 

Seven things I love:

  1. My two beautiful adult daughters Julie and Valerie (I know…that’s really two)
  2. My adorable Shih Tzu dog and companion Tashi
  3. Barack Obama being our president and Michelle being our first lady
  4. The beautiful view from every room of my townhouse
  5. Dancing in NIA class
  6. Reading a good book (preferably non-fiction)
  7. Having a stimulating, intellectual conversation

And I pass on this award to seven blogs I love (in addition to Skyewriter’s and Sidhe’s):

  1. A Time for Change (thoughtful and caring commentary)
  2. The Mudflats (the best scoop on Alaskan politics from an Alaskan)
  3. True Blue Texan (straight talk from a blue Texan)
  4. Margaret and Helen (two best friends of 60 years with a great sense of humor and a lot of wisdom)
  5. Maryanncp’s Weblog (a heart of gold and working to make a difference in people’s lives…especially women)
  6. Best of the Blogs (several featured progressive blogs)
  7. The FreeGirl Foundation (empowering women and raising awareness about gender violence)

After seven months of writing, my little blog is starting to take wings and I thank you, dear readers, for that. Thank you also to all the bloggers who share their knowledge, opinions, passion, and hearts. You’re the best!





Full of Live and Living Life Fully at 77

2 04 2009

Often seniors suffer a loss of support, safety, choice, income, dignity, physical health, mental health, and value in society and their lives contract as they experience more depression, more health issues, and more invisibility. My mother doesn’t fit that mold at all; she is an example of someone who lives life fully and today I honor her as she celebrates her 77th birthday on Sunday.

It’s always challenging to think of what to get someone who has one or more of everything they could possibly want and can get it if they don’t have it. Just how many crystal vases, knick knacks, bottles of body lotion, framed photos, nightgowns, or magazine subscriptions does one person need? How often do we sit down and write a tribute to that person who has everything? Okay…so here goes, Mom.

mom-in-front-of-piano-april-2008-smaller1My Mom is like a playful teenager when she gets together with her friends at the retirement center for lunch. They giggle, tell stories on each other, and you’d swear you were back in junior high or high school. It’s just adorable and fun.

My Mom has such an active life it makes my head swim when I get her emails about all her activities. She may be playing the piano for four events over the next week and has to learn a whole new program of music to play by Tuesday. Her men’s chorus may be singing at a luncheon on Friday and have another engagement next Wednesday. They rehearse at her place every week. They have been featured in the local newspaper, include a movie star’s father, and are in constant demand for performances. And let’s not forget the church activities, going to the symphony, community activities (she was President of the community board for two years), four children, grandchildren…and much more.

My Mom had been widowed for seven years, remarried last fall, and is now back to traveling and planning a cruise. It gives me hope!

My Mom fell and broke her hip last June and despite her immediate declarations that she’d never make it out of the nursing home alive, she recovered fully and is as active as ever. You just can’t keep a live wire like her down! She was one determined and persistent patient in physical therapy and amazed them all.

My Mom always has time to talk no matter what she might be in the middle of doing (if she’s home). And just like when I was a teenager and would start a multi-hour conversation at 11 p.m. about something that was troubling me, she still takes the time to listen and be empathetic and caring. There are four of us children who have certainly lived interesting lives…the woman is a saint for listening.

My Mom has lived a lifetime of stepping outside her comfort zone to do things that required a lot of courage and chutzpah. She’s been the organist for  commencements for a large university. She’s served on boards, written newsletters, and served in other capacities for technical and scientific organizations even though she had no formal training in those areas. She once was a band director and even taught high school game night drills to the marching band. She’s taken extensive trips all over the world and even spent a month in China when it was not a tourist location. And let’s not forget that she had four children by the time she was 25 years old and the considerable patience it took to raise us included enduring listening to us all playing the piano, a stringed instrument, a band instrument, and singing in choirs. It was one noisy house! She just joined in the fun.

My Mom is compassionate to others even in the face of her own loss. She lost her father to a heart attack when she was 26 and her mother a year later to a stroke. At age 27 and with children ages 6, 4, 3, and 2, she faced the challenges of motherhood and the loss of her own parents to guide her. She spent over two years by the side of her ailing second husband who died shortly after 9/11. She spent several weeks helping my cousin who was hospitalized in another state with cancer and made my cousin feel loved and helped her recover. She was there when I had both of my children and has stood by each one of her four children as we suffered losses and cheered us as we achieved successes.

My Mom is well liked in her senior community as evidenced by the exclamatory comments I hear when I visit her. They see her as the special person she is.

So Mom, on your 77th birthday, I couldn’t think of a thing to give you because you seem to have it all. The one thing I can give you is a big THANKS for being you and for all the love you’ve shown me and others through the years. Happy birthday, Mom. I love you.





Opportunity in the Economic Crisis

11 03 2009
Credit: Circles of Blessing by Ishara de Garis

Credit: Ishara de Garis

If you’re like me, this economic crisis is playing havoc with your confidence and has you wondering if you are on the right path in life. The good news? We have the opportunity in every moment to rebirth ourselves…to start anew and become new. I’m awake late on my birthday (the 10th) and reflecting. What do I need to give birth to?

I feel I have been carrying for a very long time a new life that is ready to push through into existence and yet it hesitates, stays put, and grows ever larger within me in the form of discontent, frustration, a gnawing, and at times a sense of futility.

I’m reminded of the quote from Marianne Williamson:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.

Indeed. The world needs all of our talents, our love, our kindness, our peacefulness, our being positive, our giving, and our caring toward others. We are in crisis all over the world and if you think about it, it is wonderful.

Wonderful? Yes. We are being called to stop being greedy, to be humble, to be grateful for what we have, to let go of the fear that is gripping the financial markets and employers, to care for our fellow man, and to realize that everything we do has a ripple effect all over the world…we are all interconnected.

 So here we are in this wonderful chaos…the Chinese symbol for chaos means danger and opportunity. Do we as a country and we as individuals sit frozen in fear of pending danger and gloom or do we seize this incredible moment as opportunity? How do we let go of the fear? How do we move into opportunity?

We do it by refusing to accept that things are “bad” and hopeless. All of the negative talking heads such as Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter want our country to fail and they spew vitriol and hatred. We cannot afford to listen to these people. They are poisoning our airwaves and the very air we breathe. We must rise up and give birth to a new vision for ourselves, our country, and our world. Even if things look hopeless, we must see with fresh eyes.

Really wake up. Look at the beauty around you. Look into the eyes of your child and see the wonder there. Consider all the people throughout the world…including the ever increasing numbers in the U.S. who are refugees, homeless, have nothing, and live in constant danger and fear. These are our brothers and sisters and they need us to be “…powerful beyond measure.” See what is, but see it through the eyes of a beautiful being that is being rebirthed and awakened to a new way of living and being in the world.

Will you join me in releasing all that is holding ourselves back and in embracing and welcoming into the world our rebirthed selves and nation?

Happy birthday to me. Happy birthday to you. May we remember that every moment is an opportunity to celebrate our birth anew.





Alone…with 6.7 Billion Other People

2 12 2008

Alone, but feeling my 6.7 billion brothers and sisters. Colored Christmas tree lights in a dark room. Listening to my breathing and patter on the laptop keys. Warm. Safe. Fed. Thinking about refugees and those fleeing or in constant danger in the Congo, Darfur, and so many other places. Thinking about all those who are tortured all over the world and how my country’s leaders have authorized so much torture. Thinking about the failing economy and how it personally affects me and millions of people all over the world. Thinking about all the women and children who are abused and violated and live in fear.

Alone. Thinking about the millions of other people sitting in their homes alone. Knowing that none of us are really alone. That instead of a-lone, we are really al(l)-one: all one. Each of us is important on this planet at this time. Each of us has a place. We are all connected to each other.

I’m feeling the pain of my brothers and sisters…in Mumbai and in the Congo of the late 19th and early 20th century where railroads were built and rubber was harvested through the slave labor, torture, and murder of native Africans. I am stunned at the inhumanity, the greed, and the self-aggrandizement of people like Leopold II of Belgium who did those unspeakable things in the Congo to build an empire… and Idi Amin, human traffickers, child molesters, and many others. So many innocent people have paid a price for their egomaniacal self-centeredness.

Wondering what my place is in the world is. I, with the sensitive nature who feels the pain of individuals and groups in this world. I, who is reading and learning the history and presence of so much violence and degradation in this world. I, who cares deeply for others and their plight. I, who feels a divine connection. I, who is…

Alone in the dark with the Christmas tree lights. Reflecting. Wondering. Aware. Open. All one with so many others.





Take a Moment

25 11 2008

sunsetIn the midst of the economic meltdown, fear, and uncertainty, take a time out. Breathe deeply. Realize that you have this moment, no matter what else happens and you can handle and be present in this moment.

Think of something you have to be grateful for – a hot cup of coffee, a job, a beautiful view from your patio, a loving partner, children who are doing well, your health. Focus on what you have to be grateful for and remember that what you focus on expands. All that chaos that swirls around you is just stuff.

You do not have to contribute to the chaos and fear. Breathe. Focus on what you want in your life. Smile. Relax. It’s all good.