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Posts Tagged ‘Open’

Conversation with a Seven Year Old

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

I love speaking with my nephew as he can always make me smile – even without realizing it. He is just so open, real, and pure and he reminds me I can still be like a seven year old in the world. About two weeks ago we spoke on the phone and the conversation went something like this:



Me: Hi George.
George: Hi Aunt Mary Anne (said with glee).
Me: What are you doing?
George: Playing my Nintendo DS.
Me: Which game?
George: Mario Brothers.
Me: How was school today?
George: Great!
Me: What was the best part of your day?
George: Well…I think it was when I was in the lunch room and saw Mrs. Henderson (the lunchroom lady).
Me: Why was that the best part of your day?
George: Well, I like Mrs. Henderson because she is nice.
Me: That’s great George. Have you ever told her that you think she is nice?
George: No, but I do give her a hug.
Me: I am sure she likes that.
George: Yea.
Me: George?
George: What?
Me: Are you distracted?
George: Yes, I am distracted.
Me: What’s distracting you?
George: Well, I am talking to you.
Me: Thanks for that. I love you.
George: I love you too, lots and lots.

Note to self: play more, thank people more, remember the best part of my day, give more hugs, and focus on love.

Thanks George.
Mary Anne

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Experiencing Glee

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

My life is filled with so much joy. I have a job that I love, a business that is expanding, amazing friendships and global connections that keep me inspired. I even joked last week that I feel like a bottle of Holy Water because I am so blessed. This past weekend I experienced another feeling – glee.

I had the opportunity to watch my seven-year-old nephew at his Irish Step Dancing Show. He stood on stage in a black shirt and pants with a black and gold cummerbund. With a big grin on his face, he held hands with six other girls dancing on stage. Each child had a chance to dance a solo Irish Step and as it came closer to his turn, my nephew started shaking and smiling. He even looked out to see if he could find the table of his family and waved. He went last and when he finished dancing, he took a bow. His face lit up and all I could see and feel was glee.

Glee is about opening yourself up to joy. Seeing a seven year old filled with glee only reminded me of how all of us have the chance to open ourselves up to joy. Share your joy.

When do you experience glee?

Mary Anne

Congratulations to my nephew, George, on his amazing dancing.

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What Question Shifts Your Thinking?

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

I woke up one morning this week to the sound of pouring rain. It’s the kind of rain that makes you think it might come right through the roof. My first thoughts were of my commute and ‘worrying’ that the trains would be delayed. Trudging through many puddles, I made my way into my office. I unfolded my umbrella and realized that my pants were soaking wet from my knees down. I made a hot cup of tea to warm up as I listened to the cold rain drops hitting my office window.

Later in day, I felt like I wanted to stay cocooned in my office. I looked outside and all I saw was a dark, dreary sky and heavy rain, still pouring down. I wondered what I could do to shift my thinking about the rain. I decided I would ask myself what I loved about rainy days and make a list. I posed a question on Facebook: “What do you love about rainy days?” Within minutes a number of responses came in. People shared they loved spending rainy days “sleeping, reading, napping, going to the movies, smelling the air, noticing how the gray wet brings out bright colors elsewhere, having the opportunity to curl up with a good book or meditating to sounds.”

There it was – all I needed to know about the best part of rainy days. I asked a question that would shift my thinking and with that the whole day changed. I was no longer dreading my commute home. Now, all I could think about was a cup of chocolate mint tea, a good book, and a quiet night.

What questions do you ask to shift your thinking?

To celebrating rainy days,
Mary Anne

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What Is Blossoming in Your Life?

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

“And the day came when the risk to remain in a tight bud was more painful than the risk that it took to blossom.”
~Anais Nin

As we celebrate the month of May, let us open ourselves up to all that is blossoming around us and inside us. Is it time for you to open the bud inside and allow yourself to shine?

There are times when hiding our gifts is more painful than sharing them with others. What will it take for you to open up and risk sharing the blossom of you?

 

Let’s celebrate “blossoming” in the month of May!

“Blossoms are scattered by the wind and the wind cares nothing, but the blossoms of the heart no wind can touch.”  Yoshida Kenko


Happy Blossoming ~ Mary Anne

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Overwhelmed by Love

Friday, April 9th, 2010

Sometimes I hit the “enter” button on the keyboard and wonder how people will respond to one of my writings I post publicly on my blog. I was so excited to write a blog about “coming out” and how we all get a chance to do that every day when we live life as who we are openly and authentically. I spent years being ashamed of who I was, which brought me so much unhappiness. It has taken me some time, but now all parts of my life are integrated – loving relationships, friendships, hobbies, spirituality, work, and dreams.

Many people were moved by my “coming out” blog and have written some amazing responses. I am sharing some of the responses because they were full of so much wisdom. I have been overwhelmed by the love and acceptance that has flowed my way. May each day give us a chance to embrace who we are and allow our full light to shine.

“Here’s to being able to truly be authentic, to openly say ‘this is an important part of who I am’, without shame or fear. I look forward to embracing & welcoming others doing the same, whatever hidden part of themselves that may be.”

“I too blew off the (High School) reunion thinking no one would remember me or care if I was there, and it saddens me to think you felt alone during any part of your life.”

“I am happy to have found all the PC (High School) people here, as well. So many people (girls and guys) that I wish I had gotten to know then…because I’m coming to learn that we can each offer support and friendship to others.”

“In many ways, the most significant ‘coming outs’ for me have been politically and spiritually and those self-realizations might not have happened if it wasn’t for my needing to deal with my sexual orientation. As you said, I needed to live authentically before my light could shine, both in personal relationships and professionally.”

“But then I thought, what would I have done if you shared this with me? Would I have had the maturity and grace and compassion to accept you, to help you? Probably not, back then. It’s a cruel trick of nature that we start to realize who we are, just when our peers are least likely to accept us! But if there is one thing I’ve learned, and something I hope (God I hope) I can impart to my daughters, it’s this: EVERYONE feels alone and different and depressed and disconnected in high school, at some point. Nobody ever feels they are good enough. We need to live a lot of years before we realize, hey, we’re ok after all.”

With gratitude,
Mary Anne

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What Informs You?

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Have we all lost our minds? It’s the only explanation I have for the savage way some people have responded to the new Health Care Reform that was just passed (i.e. throwing bricks into people’s windows, making threats to families of Democratic members of Congress). Obviously, many people have strong opinions about Health Care – as they should, it’s our health we are talking about. But my question is, whose opinion do we have? Is it our own educated opinion or is it the opinion of talking heads on the television or radio?

How do you become informed? Who do you listen to? When you are listening, are you even aware of how your body is reacting? What informs you? If the health care conversation is causing great stress and struggle, anger and resentment, what could you do to become calm and centered in whatever actions you may want to take?

I have been curious to hear all sides. I want to know what people like about the Health Care Reform and what they don’t and why—not just generic comments, but specific ideas. It’s about being curious, being educated, being open, being willing to listen, and most of all, being civil.

Who you are will inform how you will respond. How do you want to BE?

Here is to civility prevailing over violence.
Mary Anne

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What Are You Doing?

Monday, March 15th, 2010

Twenty years ago I traveled to the Bahamas to volunteer for two weeks to help rebuild a library and assist with various clean-up projects.  I joked with friends that if God asks me to do service work in the Bahamas, who am I to deny the call? I traveled with two college staff and seven other students. We were asked to bring extra canned goods with us as we were going to work in a “poor” section of the Bahamas. I filled one duffel bag with peanut butter and jars of grape jelly. When I arrived at the volunteer center, I unpacked my turquoise duffel bag and found that a large glass jar of grape jelly had broken and my clothes were covered in broken glass and jelly. I started to clean the sticky bag and then I just lost it – I started crying. My bag was a mess and I thought the jelly would never come out so I threw the whole bag in the garbage – clothes and all. My friends told me they would help clean it out, but I told them to forget it and just tossed the duffel bag in the garbage. The next morning I woke up early to find my bag by my bed, all clean and saw that my t-shirts and socks had been rinsed out and were drying on a line outside. No one said anything about the jelly jar meltdown and we spent the next two weeks painting, cleaning, and playing with children.

I was reminded of this story last week after making dinner for myself (which is very rare). I began making food and then half of my dinner spilled on the floor. I exhaled exasperated and started to throw the rest of my dinner in the garbage. I stopped and asked myself, “What are you doing?” I slowly cleaned up the spilled food, fixed my plate, and sat quietly eating my dinner.

There are so many moments that I am unconscious of how I am reacting or responding. I realize when I am exhausted and have little reserve that I just give up. There have been hundreds of times throughout the last twenty years when I have had the “broken jelly jar moment” and wonder what other ways I have responded. Am I willing to allow difficult moments to occur and not let them overtake me? Can I pay more attention to what I am doing and how I am being?

What is your broken jelly jar story and how do you respond? I am grateful I spilled my dinner last week and that the MTA had signal problems because it allowed me to dig deeper into my internal resources and ask myself, “What are you doing?”

Mary Anne

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TED Talk ~ Enjoy the Gift of Storytelling

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Chimamanda Adichie: The danger of a single story

I am a storyteller. Here is to sharing more stories! Mary Anne


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Effortless Zen Practices

Monday, March 8th, 2010

In the sutra it says, “There are no eyes, no ears, no nose, no tongue, no body or mind…” This is Zen Mind, which includes everything.

It is not necessary to make an effort to think in a particular way. Your thinking should not be one-sided. We just think with our whole mind, and see things as they are without any effort. Just to see, and to be ready to see things with our whole mind, is zazen practice. If we are prepared for thinking, there is no need to make an effort to think. This is called mindfulness. Mindfulness is, at the same time, wisdom. By wisdom we do not mean some particular faculty or philosophy. It is the readiness of the mind that is wisdom. So wisdom could be various philosophies and teachings, and various kinds of research and studies. But we should not become attached to some particular wisdom, such as that which was taught by Buddha. Wisdom is not something to learn. Wisdom is something which will come out of your mindfulness. So the point is to be ready for observing things, and to be ready for thinking. This is called emptiness of your mind.

Excerpt from Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki

How do you become an observer of your thoughts? What practices allow you to see things as they are? As we open up to our whole self, mindfulness follows, and we can experience effortless Zen practices.

To the Zen of you,
Mary Anne

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From Grief to Grace

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

Two years ago I wrote an article about grief that was published on-line. I was feeling the emotions of grief that revisited my heart. I wrote that when grief inhabits my heart it hits like the wave at the ocean. For a long-time I had an annual grief “visit” and the whole world would become silent and motionless.

I wrote in the article, “For some time, I push away the grief like a fly in my ear. But the grief begins to fill my entire body, each cell becoming morphed with endless emptiness. I search my mind for a cause.  I look for the basic needs of the season; I need more sun! There is more than sunshine needed to replenish the parts of me lost and forgotten. I dig deeper and find that I have become disconnected to the necessary life cycles. I am distracted by what’s around me and not connected with who is around me. When there is deep grief, I believe there is often great loneliness. I am a sojourner on the grief path.

It’s the annual visit by grief that consumes my heart and opens the void. I know allowing grief to come and go freely, without judging or blaming, is the key. For me, grief reminds me of how many things I no longer remember and how I long to connect with loved ones that have crossed. I long to pick up the phone and tell my mom about my day, my new project, or a class I am teaching. But my mom passed away, and all I have is the belief that she will hear my voice when I tell her out loud.

There is a crossover between beginnings and endings. I am overwhelmed by the notions of life and death. I wonder if the word “breath” is really just a combination of birth and death.”

It’s been almost ten years since my mom’s passing and I am reminded again of grief as I watch a loved one learn about the return of malignant tumors.  I am reminded of how precious each moment of life is. The gift of grief is that you are completely present to it.

Whether we know how much time we have with a loved one or not, it’s the lesson of “showing up”, even when it’s not easy. We show up with love and that is all grief needs to flow into grace. We show up with love because in the end that’s all we really need.

Mary Anne

This is dedicated to Lorene and her mom.

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