Monday, February 22, 2016

"It is meet and right so to do."

I am only one.
Still I am one.
I cannot do everything.
Still I can do something.
Because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something I can do.
         Edward Everett Hale (a Unitarian minister)

Mindfulness came up again in a weekly phone conversation with my long-standing, long-distance BBF. She thought it a brilliant idea to focus on a word and live out that word in every aspect of one’s life. For me, it is encapsulated in a poem I have tried to live my life by since I found it in high school. It appears at the beginning of this post.

That led me to the quote as the title of this post. As a former Anglican church member, I am using the title quote in a way not intended in The Book of Common Prayer. I do so because I believe that one should live out one’s beliefs and not just parrot memorized sayings. Thus the conscription of the quote.
Our conversation led to the Pope asking others to be more merciful and compassionate. One element of mercy is not to turn away from others in need. Uncomfortable as it might be, we must look for and at the needs that surround us. Recognizing them as human beings who are struggling, who need our love and support, is an important step leading to action.

That discussion led to numerous related strands such as the Pope’s recent comment on what the faithful ought to give up for Lent. He directed them to give up indifference.

Think about that! It would change the world if each of us gave up indifference.

We immediately went to applications of giving up indifference. She expressed concern about the homeless at freeway exits who ask for food. She wants to give them money; her husband fears it wouldn’t go for food.

I told her my husband and I saw a woman give bottled water to someone, and so we were inspired to carry bags in the car with an energy bar and a water bottle to hand out. It is something we can do. And it is meet and right so to do.

And so it is with our legislators. With Justice Scalia’s death this past weekend, I felt moved to write to them as part of that commitment made earlier to be more mindful. I am in a very conservative state, with mostly conservative legislators, all of who want to delay a vote. It is easy to say that I can make no difference.

But that is giving in to indifference.

So I tweeted and e-mailed my federal legislators asking them to do the right thing, to vote on a new justice for the Supreme Court and not delay action for political reasons.

Vote yay or nay, but vote! The Senate is constitutionally required to select a new justice. Never have we had a delay of 11 months. That is unjustifiable on any grounds. The SCOTUS has work before it and the other justices deserve the respect of giving them a full court to do that work.

Why can’t we remove the partisanship and cooperate on doing the work of the people, all the people, not just those who voted for them? And I mean that for all flavors on the political spectrum.

A tsunami grows by gathering individual drops of water. The combined drops have enormous force and power. Be a drop of water. Call to other drops of water. Join together for change and to fight indifference.

It is meet and right so to do.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Never Make or Break a New Year's Resolution Again

I have absented myself from a good bit of social media engagement for many months. Personal and professional reasons caused me to limit interactions. But I'm back, with what I hope will be interesting and sometimes provocative posts about interactions among family, friends, and strangers. Titled "Romance Righter", these blog posts are about all kinds of love, including loving yourself, not just the romantic kind. So read on!

A dear friend and my bestest, long-standing crit partner and I were talking about making New Year’s Resolutions. I listed mine last year in a blog post. Sad to say, a huge number were (like most of Americans’ resolutions) broken. Some even shattered. Sigh. Same ole, same ole, right? Good intentions and the road to hell got more pavement laid down.

Sandy said she doesn’t “do” resolutions; she hasn’t done so for years. She was reacting to the negativity of the concept. Her point was that to make a resolution is to say “I must have stuff wrong with me if I have to identify ways to fix me. Ways, by the way, that I will likely violate and never resolve so what’s the point?”

Umm. She had a point.

Instead, Sandy chooses a word to live by for the year. A word that she reaches through meditation. A word that she can apply to the multiplicity of elements that make her, her.

In 2015, her word of the year was “Wisdom.”

In 2016, she chose “Harmony.” She will strive for harmony in the cells of her body, the balance of personal and professional activities, and in making choices that affect all areas of her life. She posts her word for the year beside the door leading to her garage so she sees it each time she leaves her home.

Is that brilliant or what?

Never one to be left behind when great ideas float into my path, I jumped on that right away. But picking a word of this import is not so easy. I latched onto a number of words, most of which were my former resolutions boiled down to one word. “Judgementaless” (huh?). “Write”. “Reduce”.

That kind of thing, and it just wasn’t working. I was stuck in the “broken me” paradigm. I wasn’t really getting the intent of Sandy’s progressive perspective. And then it came to me.

My 2016 word, posted in bold and large print next to my workspace, is “Mindfulness”.

The word reminds me (ha! See?) to thoughtfully consider my decisions and to be present in the moment instead of regretting the past or living in the future.

And you know that serendipity thing? The synchronicity thing? Once you latch onto a word, it's everywhere. It's amazing to me how many times I have encountered the term since January.

When I am mindful, I make eating decisions with awareness. When I am mindful, I make exercise decisions deliberately. When I am mindful, I choose to hold onto grudges or let them go. As a mindful person, I make choices about the balance between my professional-writing time and personal-connections time. It plays out in every aspect of my life so far.

And so far it is working better than my resolutions ever have. I chose to write about this, half way through February, because by this time most of us will have broken one or many more resolutions.

But with mindfulness staring back at me the whole time I am at my desk, I am more likely to take that break every hour so I don’t risk heart disease. With mindfulness in my sight, I am more likely to write when I am at my desk than get caught up in the social media blender. Mindfulness challenges me to consider implications of personal interactions and conversations. And even unspoken thoughts. I am more mindful of making judgments about people’s actions and motivations.

Am I perfect? Am I always mindful? Pshaw! You know that isn’t so, but each time I note mindfulnesses presence, I am reminded of what I promised myself 2016 can be. And I am more mindful than I have ever been. That’s good news for 2016.

What word would help you to move through this year more successfully?