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Inspired: Falling in love with knowledge

From Pinterest

From Pinterest

Smithsonian Magazine is one of my favorite publications. Every page is filled with some new and exciting piece of research. I read it cover to cover every month and feel better for having done so. It transports me to far-off lands and lets me dive deep into areas I’ve never heard of. It gets my curiosity motor running and reminds me just how much there is to learn in the world. And that gives me hope.

Inspired: This is how I hope life unfolds

20140601-021351-8031050.jpgI hope when my time here is up that I’ve lived a life in which I laughed too loud, loved too much, and felt more than my fair share of every emotion, the good and the bad. I hope it’s been filled with confusion that turned into wonder. I hope I’ve been truly wowed by the great depth of the human spirit. I hope I leave with far more questions than answers. I hope I leave confident that I could live 1000 more lifetimes and never learn all that I want to learn. I hope I am just as curious about life as I am now even when I’m at the very end of mine. I hope I give everything away in time to see all the joy in the faces of those who receive whatever gifts I have to offer. It all goes by so fast. I hope I never forget that because I want to make sure each day bursts with realized possibility. I hope I look back on that long and winding road and say, “What an incredible ride! How lucky I was to have it and to know all of the gorgeous minds, spirits, and faces who made it possible.”

Inspired: Don’t Just Remember the Boston Marathon. Honor Boston and Its Residents.

Boston Marathon starting line

In exactly two months the media will turn its attention to Boston to commemorate the one year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing. My friend, Mary, a runner and proud Bostonian, is in the midst of some incredible work that I want to share with you.

Many of the Boston Marathon bombing survivors were treated at Spaulding Rehab Hospital. Mary ran the 2009 Boston Marathon for Spaulding Rehab as a mobility impaired runner and this year was at the Mandarin preparing to celebrate the Race for Rehab Team’s triumphant crossing of the finish line when the bombs went off.

As Boston and the world count down the days until the start of the 2014 Boston Marathon, Mary is honored and proud to co-host two phenomenal fun(d)raising events to benefit Karis Antokal and Greg Gordon who are running with Spaulding Rehab’s Race for Rehab Team in Boston 2014:

Karis’ Karaoke for a Kause happening on 2/20/14 from 8:00-10:00 pm at the Limelight Stage and Studios at 204 Tremont Street Boston. Suggested minimum donation is $20 and you receive a Take a Chance ticket to be entered to win an autographed Tom Brady Jersey. And don’t worry if you’re too shy to step up to the mic. They’ll have plenty of people singing strong. Cash bar and appetizers will be available. Read Karis’ story on her fundraising page. Silent auction items include autographed books by Bob and Lee Woodruff, a Cape Getaway Weekend, Celtics and Red Sox tickets, and gift certificates to Stapleton Floral Design and Marathon Sports.

An Evening of A Cappella to Benefit Spaulding Rehab will take place on April 4th at Boston University. Terpsichore, Boston University’s all-female a cappella group, will be your host from 7:00pm – 9:00 pm at Sleeper Auditorium located at 871 Commonwealth Avenue. The evening features performances by Terpsichore, the BU Dear Abbeys, BU’s In Achord and Bostonality, a post-collegiate a cappella group. Minimum suggested donation is $10. Make your donation to Greg Gordon’s fundraising page and in the comments section note that it is for the benefit concert.

No matter where we call home, let’s show Boston and the city’s residents the love they need to heal and get through this difficult milestone.

Beautiful: Choose Hope

From Pinterest

From Pinterest

“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” ~ Nelson Mandela.

When faced with a decision, we need to follow the path paved with what we love. It’s the other choice, the “sensible” one, that’s really dangerous because it leads us away from who we really are and what we really care about. The sensible choice doesn’t take advantage of our talents and passions. It traps us by constructing limitations on our capabilities.

So break through and break out of that construction designed by fear. Focus your attention and energy on the possibility, and not on the contingency plans. You’re brave, smart, and resourceful. If things fall apart, you’ll find a way to adjust and adapt. You’ll have the strength to cross that bridge if and when you need to. If you take a chance on a dream, the dream will take a chance on you. And that’s where the magic happens – when we finally stop worrying about invented fears and take action on the opportunities right in front of us.

There is hope for the human mind. Our smartphones prove it.

From Pinterest

Whenever I tell people I teach meditation they say to me, “I wish I could meditate. I just can’t get my mind to calm down. It’s always going a million miles an hour.” And then I see them totally absorbed by the shiny screens of their smartphones and I see the potential they can’t see. They can focus; they can get their minds to calm down. Attention is a matter of intention.

My yoga teacher Douglass Stewart explained to us this week in class that the old yogis and rishis of the mountains many centuries ago used their bodies as instruments for attaining attention and focus. Now we use smartphones in the same way that they used their bodies. The same could be said for being absorbed in a book or a painting or a movie. I often see people doing crossword puzzles or playing games on the subway and they are focused like laser beams. It’s quite something to see the exterior effect of a highly attuned and quiet mind. Serene, calm, alive.

We feel pulled in many different directions. We might feel scattered, stretched too thin, even frazzled. Some people think our potential, as individuals and as a society, is going to hell in hand basket because of our toxic dependence on mobile devices. I see something different.

I see that we are abundantly capable of focus and awareness, that we can still be consumed through connection of some kind. Our version of focus certainly looks different than the focus of the rishis, but the mental and physical result is the same. An absorbed mind creates a relaxed body. A relaxed body is able to move through the world with agility and facility in a way that helps us achieve our potential for a full and well-lived life. The path may be different. The tools may be different. The goal is the same.

Beautiful: A Prayer and Promise for Boston

Dear Boston,
My heart broke for you yesterday. Your marathon runners trained for months to complete an act that is largely governed by sheer will and determination. Running the Chicago Marathon in 2001, shortly after September 11th, was one of the proudest and happiest days of my life. It was an affirmation of life, a clear communication to the world that we will not shrink away from adversity because of fear. I am sick that your runners have been robbed of this same feeling. The whole of this country is with you now to make this same affirmation. You are alone in your grief and sorrow. We stand with you, shoulder to shoulder.

I understand that these types of behaviors can’t be rationalized, but here’s something that can be: when people seek to harm the innocent, to take a stand for their “principles” by inflicting pain upon others, you better believe that the goodness that lies within the rest of us will rise up strong, fearless, and unrelenting. We will be damned if we will ever take this kind of horrendous behavior lying down. We will not be intimidated and we will not accept this kind of tragedy as par for the course in our ever-more complex and complicated world.

Justice will be served. In the end, it always is. Karma is a perfect accounting system and it always keeps its promises. Here’s our promise to you: we will not rest until we bind up these wounds in the hearts, minds, and bodies of your people. We will see you through this.

Love,
Everyone

Beautiful: There is Power in Hoping for and Expecting the Best Outcome

Are you waiting for the other shoe to drop? Does the dream of your life seem within reach and yet you are certain something will swoop in and snatch it from you? I was like that, too. And then my friend, Bobby, helped me see that I was selling myself short.

I was recounting my philosophy that I always hope for the best and expect the worst. For 36 years, this worked responsibly well. Or at least it kept me alive. Bobby responded, “Christy (he is the only one who calls me that), how about you hope for and expect the best? If it doesn’t go that way, then you just trust that you’re smart enough and strong enough to figure out what to do next.”

In that moment I was certain that Bobby was channeling the greater Universe and delivering the wisest life philosophy I’d ever heard. And with that, I packed up that nagging voice of self-doubt in the back of my mind and sent it to the far reaches of the Earth, never to be heard from again. Life is sweeter without it.

Beautiful: Sing After Storms

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From Pinterest

“Birds sing after a storm; why shouldn’t people feel as free to delight in whatever remains to them.” ~ Rose Kennedy, American philanthropist

2012 was difficult, particularly the latter half. Our country seemed to be in an odd state of discomfort. Even Christmas, usually such a bright and blissful time of year, was shrouded in something less than joy. Hurricane Sandy, Newtown, the fiscal cliff. Our country took a beating, and still got up to find a new day, albeit one that is beyond-difficult for many.

Then we turned the page into 2013 and we wondered what this year would hold for us. After shredding our disappointments in the Times Square confetti machine and resolving that 2013 will be better than the year we just finished, all we seemed to have left was hope. Hope for more happiness, more beauty, more peace. Somewhere in there, a tiny bit of guilt nags at us. Do we have the right to ask for more joy in the wake of so much hardship?

Hell yes. Joy is always our right, even in the darkest and saddest of times. Especially in those times. Once the clouds clear, and they always do, you go ahead and sing as loudly and clearly as possible. As our voices rise, our hearts follow.

Leap: The Tricky Truth About Using Our Time Efficiently

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I am by nature an efficiency hound. I hate wasting time, I love to be productive, and I feel an outsized sense of pride as I check off items on my to-do list. Yoga and meditation have taught me a subtle truth about efficiency that I didn’t know for a long time: sometimes what looks inefficient in the short-term is the most efficient thing to do in the name of long-term productivity.

At the suggestion of Anne Lamott, one of my favorite writers, I started reading God’s Hotel: A Doctor, A Hospital, and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of Medicine. The book chronicles the 20+ year career of Dr. Victoria Sweet at Laguna Honda Hospital in San Francisco, the last almshouse in the country. Low-tech and human-paced the work of Laguna Honda is a far cry from any hospital I’ve ever been to or read about. Early on in the book, Dr. Sweet gives samples of surface inefficiencies that proved to be tremendously helpful when viewed with the gift of time.

There was a nurse who dedicated a good chunk of her work time to hand-knitting blankets for each patient. Efficiency consultants were aghast and put a stop to it. However, those blankets were tangible symbols of how personally vested the entire staff at the hospital was to all patients. It let the patients, many of whom were so ill that no other hospital would admit them, and their family members know how much care and attention was being paid to their health.

Another example of inefficiency was the process of giving Christmas gifts. Collected and wrapped every year, the nursing staff would dole out the gifts randomly and then a day of festive trading between the patients would ensue. It made for a lively atmosphere with plenty of interaction throughout the entire hospital community. Again, the efficiency consultants saw all of this festivity as a terrible waste.

Rather than collect random gifts and wrap them up without any indication of what was inside, the nurses were instructed to ask each patient what they wanted, including size and color, and then that is exactly the gift they would receive. Though the gifts were still lovely, the loss of the trading process deflated the celebration. Christmas at Laguna Honda lost its sparkle when it lost the activity of swapping. And with the loss of celebration, they lost some of the spirit of deep, true healing.

These examples made me think about the efficiency of my own life – my to-do list, the structure of my days, and my constant pursuit of more productivity in less time. These things have their purpose and they’ve served me well but perhaps there’s a bit more wiggle room than I typically allow.

Maybe it’s okay to spend part of my afternoon at a museum today rather than spending that time on business development. Going to the museum probably won’t yield a client contract, but what it may give me in terms of inspiration may be just what the doctor would order and exactly what I need to be at my best tomorrow.

Leap: The blessing of the recession

“Lasting change happens when people see for themselves that a different way of life is more fulfilling than their present one.” ~ Eknath Easwaran

I’ve been thinking a lot about lasting change. We’re much more often faced with changes that happen in fits and spurts, drop by drop. On occasion we get a chance to experience rapid, dramatic change. It throws us for a loop, confounds and confuses us, until we again find our way back to shore footing. But that rediscovered shore footing is often on different ground.

It’s often said that it takes 30 days of consistent, consecutive effort to create a new habit or break an old one. We’ve been in this tough economy, with its sometimes crushing and sometimes liberating lessons, for over 4 years. Our way of thinking about our future has been radically transformed. It’s taught me that an income earned from one source is the definition of instability. It’s taught me that bringing new people into our lives, having new experiences, and consistently pushing ourselves to learn something new are the surest ways of staying relevant in changing times. It’s taught me that my future is safest in my own two capable hands.

I think about my life pre-December 2007 and my life now. I’m shocked by the difference in me and in the world. And though these intervening years have been challenging on so many levels, I’d go back and live them all over again, exactly the same way, because I’m more in love with life now than I have ever been before. Life’s tough, but we’re tougher, and better off for having learned the hard lessons of this time. We’ve learned to value the now, in every moment.

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