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Archive for December, 2009

Lessons Learned in 2009

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

lessons learned in 2009I spent this week rereading all the blogs I posted this year. Each one felt like a personal recipe for living, learning, & loving. Each blog held a nugget of hope, a spark of light, & moments of absolute love. I have put together some of the best quotes from my blogs of 2009. May they give you the hope, light, & love that is already awakening in every way.

“Starting over means we can release the past without judgment and move forward without baggage.”

“Forgiveness is not an act; it’s a process. In order to forgive, there must be a journey of going to the place of healing. It’s coming to a place and resting – just resting.”

“The question then becomes, are we willing to practice and share peace with one another? It starts with each person being peace. We can then see peace in each other. Each of us can be the peace story.”

“Do it afraid. Whatever the ‘it’ is, do it, live it, breathe it…Do it anyway. Do it despite yourself.”

“The phrase “Truth Be Told, I Choose You” represented the grandest invitation to life. This is the experience of totality – the gift of fully inviting another person on your life’s journey.”

“When I am open, the world is open, when I am grateful, the world is grateful.”

“I am the one I have been waiting for. The teacher I have been waiting for is me.”

“How are we prisoners to our own minds and project it out to the world? Freedom starts with each one of us. Step forward for yourself and for another.”

“Here was an opportunity to live in harmony with the way things were. Now was my chance to ask myself how I am unconscious in the world.”

“How much is mind chatter costing you? Stillness is free.”

“Imagine taking a planned break to clear yourself of all distractions. Perhaps we are not ready or able to take a year off, but what if we could actually plan in our calendar a sabbatical to generate new ideas, listen to our inner creative voice, and appreciate our work as a calling.”

“As we prepare for a season of “Peace on Earth”, may each exchange this season be one of love and presence. It’s the economy of the heart that I am looking to build this coming year. It’s increasing our capacity to love that I am hoping to stimulate.”

Happy New Year! Here’s to learning more lessons ~ Mary Anne

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Presence as Presents

Monday, December 21st, 2009

IMG_0221As the holiday season is now in full gear, I am aware of the frenetic energy, the sense of consumerism, the crowds, and the commercials trying to convince me of everything I “must have.” There is also the barrage of ads telling me I will save so much money with 50 – 90% off items and who would want to pass up the last of the “One Day Sales?” The greatest gifts I want to give and receive are not from stores – they are gifts of the heart. There are so many creative gift ideas that are about presence rather than presents.  There is the gift of conversation, like the one I had with a Facebook friend in Arizona who I spoke with for the first time last week. For two hours we spoke about our lives, our loves, and our dreams. We laughed as we realized that we had done social work, youth work, elder work, life coaching, and healing work. It was the type of conversation that gets replayed because it was so meaningful and an unexpected gift.

This led me to think about sharing “presence” this season. My friend Louis and his family will be celebrating the holidays with “make it or bake it gifts.” My friends Didi and Ellenrita will be serving over 500 meals on Christmas Day to those in need in the Highbridge neighborhood of the South Bronx. I will be sharing the gifts of time and conversation over the holidays with my friend Paulette. And most importantly, I will share the gift of love with Lorene & my family.

The greatest gifts don’t come with a price tag – they come with love. To this day, my favorite Christmas gift is the ornament my mom bought in a rehab center back in 1992. She couldn’t go to a store or mall, but she wanted to have a gift for her daughters and went into the gift shop in the center and bought something small to give each one of us for Christmas. It is by far my most treasured ornament and I hang it every year, with or without a tree.

As we prepare for a season of “Peace on Earth”, may each exchange this season be one of love and presence. It’s the economy of the heart that I am looking to build this coming year. It’s increasing our capacity to love that I am hoping to stimulate. I am asking Santa for the gifts of presence, connection, and conversation. I give everyone this holiday season the gift of love!

Peace on Earth ~ Mary Anne

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My Favorite Books in 2009

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009


As an avid reader, I search out books that will broaden my thinking, open my heart, teach new ideas, and provide inspiration. I have put together my list of the best books I have read in 2009 (many of which were not published in 2009). Rather than give a synopsis of each book, I am including the book title, author, and a quote that moved me or inspired me. Hope you enjoy. Please feel free to recommend books you think I ought to add to my 2010 list.

(PS I will be sharing some of my best inspired lessons, insights, & meditations of 2009 in an upcoming blog~ stay tuned!)

My Favorite Books of 2009:

My Stoke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor
“By paying attention to the choices my automatic circuitry is making, I own my power and make more choices consciously. In the long run, I take responsibility for what I attract in my life.”

A Whole New Mind by Daniel H. Pink
“Design. Story. Symphony. Empathy. Play. Meaning. These six senses increasingly will guide our lives and shape our world.”

The Soul of Money by Lynn Twist
“Reciprocity allows us to acknowledge each other in appreciation of our unique gifts. Reciprocity is like the breath we breathe in – no more than we need.”

Radical Forgiveness by Colin C. Tipping
“We recognize that Divine Love operates in every situation and that each person receives exactly what they want.”

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strought (this is the only fiction book on the list)
“Don’t be scared of your hunger. If you’re scared of your hunger, you’ll be one more ninny like everyone else.”

I Need Your Love – Is That True? by Byron Katie
“Your most intimate relationship is the one you have with your thoughts.”

Who Would You Be Without Your Story? by Byron Katie (Yes, she is that good!)
“I have come to see that this mind is seeking a place to rest. It’s seeking peace.”

A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson
“Love in your mind produces love in your life.”

Who’s Got Your Back by Keith Ferrazzi
“Each of us is responsible for creating the safe place. It is a conscious choice that we make to create the environment that invites others in.”

The Horse Boy by Rupert Isaacson
“To “cure” him, in terms of trying to tear the autism out, now seems to me completely wrong. Why can’t he exist between the worlds, with a foot in both, as many neurotypical people do?”

Happy reading! Mary Anne

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1,000+ Reasons for Marriage Equality

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

“What are we really protecting? We have a wedding channel. We are giving away husbands on a game show.” – Senator Savino

1000 reasons for marriage equalityThere is a list of more than 1,049 benefits and protections available to heterosexual married couples. These range from federal benefits, such as survivor benefits through Social Security, sick leave to care for an ailing partner, and tax breaks. They also include things like family discounts, obtaining family insurance through your employer, visiting your spouse in the hospital and making medical decisions if your partner is unable to. Civil Unions protect some of these rights, but not all of them.  If you receive a marriage license, it is recognized in any state. If you want to have a Civil Union, then it will only be honored in the state that provided it and does not hold the same protections.

The United States Constitution guarantees equality for all. Marriage and civil unions are not the same. Creating equal access to marriage is the only fair way to ensure equality for gay and straight couples alike.

According to Lambda Legal Defense, more than 1,400 legal rights are conferred upon heterosexual married couples in the United States. On the website, http://lesbianlife.about.com/od/wedding/f/MarriageBenefit.htm, they list twenty-five:

1.   Joint parental rights of children
2.   Joint adoption
3.   Status as “next-of-kin” for hospital visits and medical decisions
4.   Right to make a decision about the disposal of loved ones remains
5.   Immigration and residency for partners from other countries
6.   Crime victims recovery benefits
7.   Domestic violence protection orders
8.   Judicial protections and immunity
9.   Automatic inheritance in the absence of a will
10. Public safety officers death benefits
11. Spousal veterans benefits
12. Social Security
13. Medicare
14. Joint filing of tax returns
15. Wrongful death benefits for surviving partner and children
16. Bereavement or sick leave to care for partner or children
17. Child support
18. Joint Insurance Plans
19. Tax credits including: Child tax credit, Hope & lifetime learning credits
20. Deferred Compensation for pension and IRAs
21. Estate and gift tax benefits
22. Welfare and public assistance
23. Joint housing for elderly
24. Credit protection
25. Medical care for survivors and dependents of certain veterans

Just last week, my home state of New York, denied Marriage Equality by a vote of 38-24. It seems strange that after 15 years of being in a loving relationship with my partner, I am denied the rights of someone who could apply for a marriage license without hesitation as long as they are heterosexual. Senator Savino said it best in her testimony, We have nothing to fear from love and commitment.”  

Many of us have been made to feel less than at one point in our life because of the color of our skin, because we are women, because of our age. We all have a voice. Now is the time to speak up for Marriage Equality. I am committed to my life partner through sickness and health, for richer and poorer, until death do us part. How committed are you to equality?

If you were denied your right to collect your spouse’s social security benefits, would you sit and do nothing? If you had to pay taxes on your spouse’s health insurance benefits, would you sit and do nothing? If your spouse lay gravely ill in the hospital and the hospital denied you rights to make medical decisions, would you sit and do nothing? If you and your spouse adopted a child, but you were denied joint adoption rights, would you sit and do nothing?

Would you say it was just not the right time for these basic rights to be given to you? Tell me what date, day, and time will be the right time and I will be there. In the meantime, now is my time.

Mary Anne

For a clear picture of Marriage Equality, please listen to New York State Senator Savino testimony.

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Words That Jazz You! Unearth – Radical – Koan

Friday, December 4th, 2009

Scrabble[1]For as long as I can remember, I have loved writing. When I was in grammar school I had a habit of skipping words in my sentences which made teachers have to guess what I was thinking. They would fill in the blank and while it didn’t give me an A grade, it did provide much amusement to my teachers (which I found out much later). This love of writing includes a fascination with words, their origins, and their numerous meanings.

My fascination with words was sparked earlier this year when I wrote a post on Facebook that talked about giving a course on Radical Forgiveness. A friend commented on my status with information on the origin of the word radical. He told me it comes from the Latin word radic-, radix, which means root. It reminded me of the origin of other words I have learned over the years. For example, the words “perfection” and “perfect” come from Latin expression perficio, which means to finish or bring to an end.

When I come across a word I resonate with, the word repeatedly appears. One of my favorite words is “unearthing” and I have now come across that word many times. In his book, Catfish and Mandala, Andrew X. Pham wrote, “Where is this place I am seeking? There is only ash. Secretly, I am thankful no one is witnessing this unearthing of my roots.” Now, the words radical and unearthing appear in books I read, conversations I have, and even in the news.

There are also times I have used an uncommon word and suddenly it shows up in my life. While on vacation this past Fall, I used the word “koan” in a game of Scrabble. A koan is described as an unanswerable question or statement not comprehensible by rationale understanding. It’s not a word one would use in everyday conversation unless one uses this as part of their meditation practice. When I returned from vacation, I received Byron Katie’s newsletter and the header was “Katie’s Koans.”  Two weeks later while in a bookstore, I saw a book titled, Bring Me The Rhinoceros and Other Zen Koans. I picked it up and started reading it when suddenly the man standing next to me said, “That’s my book. Would you like me to sign it for you?” Words not only appear, but so do the authors!

And just last week, while shopping at the Union Square Crafts Fair in NYC, I visited the Nicola and the Newfounderlander booth. They put together magnets and pins of words that have disappeared from usage, such as, macarism, – “to find joy in another’s happiness”; eustress, – “something that makes you both a little crazy and a little happy, but a little more happy than crazy”; and my favorite is maieutic, which means, “to give birth to ideas.”

I wonder what new words will now be more present in my life. May you unearth a radical koan that will maieutic to more in your life! What’s your favorite word? Is there a word that keeps showing up in your life? Let’s have some radical play!

Have fun! Mary Anne

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