Archive for heart

Make a Difference Day!

Hey! I’m posting this on October 24th, in the hope that you’ll read this post by October 25th, just in time to catch the wave of…

Make a Difference Day!

I know that a lot of these “special” days are often just for fun, but this one’s for real.  Surprisingly, Make a Difference Day has been around for over 20 years. It was started by USA Weekend along with Points of Light. It’s the nation’s largest day of service, and it always falls on the fourth Saturday of the October.

I wonder if that has something to do with the weather. But I digress!

It’s kind of sad that we need a day named Make a Difference Day to get us out there helping each other en masse. But what’s even sadder is that most of us, myself included until very recently, don’t even know about it!

So that’s my mission with this blog post. No philosophizing, no life story, no spiritual concept to ponder, although I could certainly do any of those here. Nope! Just a public service announcement about this truly special day, an opportunity to do something that improves the life of a neighbor – a neighbor you know or one you just haven’t met yet.

Not sure what to do?

Just go to the Make a Difference Day website, and you can find something fun and close to home. No matter where you live, I feel pretty sure that there’s some project you can join in on. Just go to USA Weekend’s website, or the Points of Light website and do a quick search.

Been wanting to get a project started? Gather some people in your community, and get it going!

I’ll be spending most of my day driving to and then performing a wedding, so I won’t be able to do one of the official Make a Difference Day projects here in the Atlanta area. But I’m making a commitment to you right here and now, that I’ll do my darnedest to make a difference everywhere I go. For one, I certainly hope I make a difference for the couple I’m marrying, but I’m getting paid for that, so I can’t count it as a volunteer project. But, I could pay for the coffee of the person behind me in line. I could offer my neighbor who doesn’t drive a lift to the grocery store and back. And/or I could simply give a smile to all those whose paths I cross.

So, regardless of your plans for Saturday, October 25th, I hope you’ll join in. If you have children and you live in the Atlanta area, there’s a group just for you. It’s called Pebble Tossers (I love that name), and you can check it out here. If you’re sans kids, just check out main website. And I think I read that they even have a Facebook page!

Who knows?

Maybe doing these things, big or small, will feel so good to us, we’ll start making a difference for our neighbors (two-legged and four-legged) on other days, too. 🙂

And please, do share this post widely so we can also spread the word! My Sun Deck Kwan Yin would greatly appreciate your pitching in. Thank you from both of us.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

 

Throw Forward Thursday

It’s Throw Back Thursday on Facebook.  I feel sure you’ve enjoyed, as have I, seeing the pictures of your friends as adorable newborns, as toddlers trying to walk, teenagers striving to find themselves, couples getting married, and more.

Today, however, I want to offer you something different: Throw Forward Thursday.

You see, I’ve just watched an incredible video, one that I hope you’ll stop right now and watch along with me, as I watch again and again. It’s aimed at women, but I do believe the brave men who watch it will be just as inspired by it as I’ve been.

Please – whoever you are, no matter your gender, your age, or any other circumstance or situation you find yourself in –  please, give yourself the gift of the 4 minutes and 15 seconds it takes to watch this short, powerful film.

I wholeheartedly invite you do so, and then comment with your feedback. I’d love to hear how it affected you – what you thought, what you felt, what you are re-inspired to do, or what you are now inspired to do and/or be for the very first time. In other words, as a result of watching this motivating movie, how will you now Be You Out Loud as never before?

Here’s the video: Your Calling?

PS A favor: If you are willing, I ask you to please share this – specifically the post, and in general, my website and blog, too. You may not get a prize, but you will get my deep appreciation.

PPS Some shameless self-promotion: If you know others who could benefit from a conversation with me, about their callings or  anything else on their minds and hearts, please ask them to email me for an appointment.them to me. It would be my pleasure to offer this to them, as my gift. Why? Because it would mean I’d get t0 be myself out loud, while helping them get clear on how to do that for themselves! And if this person is you, and you’re not a current client, you’re just as welcome to contact me for a chat! Come on in, the water’s fine!

The YES of Snow!

By guest blogger, Betsey Brogan

Living in the South, we rarely get snow, let alone 5 inches. I grew up in Illinois, then lived for years in Colorado. I have had my share of snow and all that comes with it: cold, treacherous roads, loss of electricity, work missed, travel plans interrupted, and layer upon layer of cold weather garb. I have suffered my fair share of being stranded, being stuck, having my car lose control on the ice, frostbite and other not fun events.

I got so cold one time while skiing that I became disoriented and tried to resume skiing going UP hill! My car spun out of control driving to a ski lodge and performed three 360s, while I sang a loud rendition of “The Hills Are Alive” because I was so afraid! Once on a 10 mile cross country ski trip I laid down because I was so tired and told the rest of the group to go on without me and come back later to find my remains. (I did make it back, but only because my friend sang every song he knew to keep my mind off of how cold and exhausted I was.)

Tell me why then, when the snow began to come down steadily here in Atlanta, Georgia, all I could do was look out the window and say “Yes!!!”? My heart took flight and I squealed out in joy like a 9 year old girl. Snowday, snowday, Snowday!! I haven’t been in school for years, and for me a snow day means a loss in income, so why was I so darn excited?!? Why did seeing that snow come barreling down and accumulating on my car make me happy?! Why was I thrilled?

The snow coming down when you are snug in your home is beautiful. As it blankets my surroundings, it becomes a winter wonderland. There is such a newness to it and especially here in the South, a novelty. There is a quiet that comes with the snow that is comforting. The air is crisp.

During this snowday, I have often thought of folks not as fortunate as myself for whom this weather really is a hardship. The shelters are packed these cold and snowy days. Some people are without power. Some folks are hungry and cold. I say a little prayer for those in need.

I can’t help but feel a little wistful as I remember those nights as a child when I went to bed thinking tomorrow will be a snowday and I won’t have school. This is nature’s way of giving a kid a day off from school. How cool is that?

I don’t see any harm in enjoying a snowday. I have tried today to work at the desk, being productive. It ain’t gonna happen. My heart is still flipping from the joy I felt last night when the first flakes came down and I knew that thetoday would be a snowday. YES!

So here is the RiskADay challenge as it relates to a snowday. The next time nature comes along and gives you reason to delight in its beauty, say: Wow! The next time you are given the unexpected opportunity to take a day off work, say OKAY. The next time mother nature comes to your window and creates a beautiful landscape using her skills and your front yard say: THANK YOU. The next time you you are gifted with a snowday: say YES!

Betsey Brogan is on her way to creating World Peace – one massage at a time. On-site Chair Massage and In-Home table massage. Bringing Stress Relief to You.

This post originally appeared on RiskADay.com

Three, Three, Three Cs in One Post!

For the last several days, I’ve been at the farm – walking, writing, dreaming, and planning. A large part of my work here has been creating content in preparation for delivering discussions, workshops, and retreats on the ground-breaking work of Dr. Brené Brown. As you probably know, I’ve been studying with her and her team since September of 2011. I’m currently authorized to offer her work, and soon, I’ll be Certified!

You may know of Dr. Brown from her best-selling books, I Thought It Was Just Me, The Gifts of Imperfection, and Daring Greatly, or from seeing her TED talks from 2010 and 2012. Or maybe you’ve come to know her more recently, perhaps from seeing her two appearances on SuperSoulSunday with Oprah Winfrey.

What does all of this have to do with the AB…Zs of Self-Care series? Well, because of this immersion into her work, I’ve decided that in this blog post, I’ll have not one word inspired by the letter C, but three! And these three are… Courage, Compassion, and Connection.

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that these words were already of huge importance to me, even before I started working with Brené.  That’s one reason I’m so excited about delivering offerings based on her research for a long time to come.

Today, I’m  excited about simply sharing with you one of the many powerful tidbits from Brené; one that includes the three Cs. I think it’s probably meaty enough for us to ponder a good while. Brené says,

“Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.”

Is it Winter in Your Heart?

Regardless of what or how we celebrate this time of year, there is an unspoken expectation to be joyful, grateful, giving, and loving.  And for some of us this is simply not how we feel, not what we are experiencing.  Whether it’s due to the loss of a loved one, or the loss of a connection to the spark within us, the holiday cheer can be a painful reminder, if not downright heartbreaking.

To put it more beautifully, I’d like to share with you a poem, written by my dear friend, Janie Cook, on her blog, Living with the Loss of a Child.

 

in the shadow of blinking Christmas lights

of holiday parties and celebrations

surrounded by gift shoppers

and promises of peace, hope and joy

it is winter in my heart

i am the cold, cloudy days

the damp leafless trees

the stark stillness of the night sky

filled with longing

so . . . Holy One who knows the seasons of our hearts

be the sunrise that warms

be the breeze that freshens

be the light that illuminates

and help me give birth to The Love that is ever deeper and more sustaining

(To read Janie’s post in its entirety, click here.

Regardless of what it is you are feeling during this holiday season, please consider this note a kind of permission slip to feel whatever that is – whether it’s joy, sadness, grief, gratitude, indifference, anger, etc.  You may even want to share with someone close what is true for you so that you don’t feel so alone in your seemingly unique situation.

Remember, we can’t put our feelings on a timer, and only feel them when they are welcome.  We must welcome them when they are present so that they don’t overtake and cripple us for even longer a time…

May you find some peace with your feelings this holiday season, and know that I’ll be joining you in doing my best to honor my feelings.  May we all find peace, all over the whole wide world.  Amen.

Love,
Laura

PS  This post is directly lifted from my December, 2012 newsletter, True Voices Express.  To make sure you don’t miss another offering like this, please go to the the top right of this page, and sign up to receive future issues.  I’d love to be in contact with you more often – but not too often, I promise.  Thanks!

 

Poetry and the Oympics: Celebration

Due to attending a funeral out of town, I’ve spent the last few days away from home, my computer, and a television.  Hence, I’ve missed the last few days of the Olympics and posting here on this blog.

I am aware, however, that tonight is the closing ceremony, and I hope to make it home in time to see it.  To close this series, and in honor of the Olympic athletes, their victories and their disappointments, their dedication and their willingness, I am posting a poem I wrote last year.  It was in honor of the women in the first graduating class of my year-long Be You Out Loud program.

I hope you enjoy it.

Celebration
 For my BYOL 0610 “Lovelies”

It’s the end of a time here;
It’s the beginning of another.
The overlap of now and

Next is ephemeral and
Palpable. How can that be? Our minds say.
We just do. Our souls answer. It just is.

We celebrate that which brought us here,
That which we thought we knew but
Which reveals more to us as we open to see the more of it.

We celebrate that which we’ve experienced here
That which we expected and didn’t, that which we wanted and didn’t
Get, that which revealed us to us as we opened to us.

We called upon the centers of ourselves
To birth more of what came to be born.
We wonder what will come

Now at this closing,
Now that we are open
Both dying and being born in this moment.

We celebrate the multitude of births of essence
That deaths of form allow. We birth the new, the ancient
The us we are and will be.

Because we opened to worlds within and outside,
We opened our eyes our minds and our hearts,
To every single thing possible …

We go forth into the dark
Of going forth into the light
We are going, we are growing

We are grateful
We are courageous
Above all

We celebrate.
Above all, we celebrate
That we are willing.

Laura Overstreet Biering, copyright, May, 2011

Poetry and the Olympics: Remembering Papa

I missed writing yesterday – it just slipped my mind – does that ever happen to you?

So today, there’ll be two posts!  The first of which is in memory of my father.  Papa was never an athlete.  He was, nevertheless, a big fan.  And he loved the Olympics.  He was especially proud of the athletes from Auburn University where he taught, and most especially proud of those who had been his students, including Rowdy Gaines.  So naturally, I am remembering Papa, his last months, in particular…

I Remain

Six years since we heard the word,
Over five since you’ve been gone.
It took you fast,
It took you slow-
Ly. There was no pain
And then only
Pain.
I remain
Thankful

For the unpronouncably-named medications,
The couch in your bedroom
On three legs and a brick,
The place I supposedly slept,
And from which I listened to each gurgling breath,
Wondering, worrying, hoping, feeling
Guilty as hell.
I remain
Thankful

That there were cousins,
Some of them not-even-really
Cousins, bringing bread pudding,
Sharing in your care,
Nursing you in ways I could not, would not.
Thankful that you’d splurged
On the electronically-bending bed,
Purchased for pleasure, not knowing at the time
The need around the bend.
I remain
Not thankful

At all
For hospice
Not helpful
At all
In the end.

Damn them.

 

Laura Overstreet Biering, Copyright March, 2011

 

Poetry and the Olympics: Are You Among the Best in the World?

Maybe we can’t all be Olympic athletes or geniuses or stars, but I know one thing at which we can all be hailed as the very best.  Being ourselves!

Today’s poem is by a friend of mine, Ken Carlson. It grabbed me from the very first line, and I am delighted to share it with you.  It’s entitled “The Best You.” Enjoy.

The Best You

I know you are tired
I know you are ready to quit
Do your best

I’m not asking you to win
I’m asking you to try
Do your best

This is how you learn
This is how you grow
Do your best

I respect you
Especially when you try
Things you don’t know
And you…
Do your best

Imagine if today
Every day
You just did it
Your best

Imagine how many failures
Imagine how many successes
You would experience

You would be the best
The best you
That you could be

Poetry and the Olympics: Thank Goodness for Title IX

Yes, there was poetry at the Olympics in the olden days.  But no, not until 1900 were there any women!  This was because Pierre de Coubertin thought it would be “impractical, uninteresting, unaesthetic, and incorrect,” according to an article at TopEndSports.com.  Harumph!

Thankfully, however, due to Title IX and some very brave pioneers from all over the world, the tide has turned.  According to the LA Times, this year’s Games had already made history before the opening ceremony.  For the first time ever, all of the participating countries have sent female athletes to compete. And the good ole’ USA even has more women than men (8), also for the first time. We’ve come a long way, baby!

And now, for today’s poem:  It’s “A Song in the Front Yard,” from A Street in Bronzeville, Harper, 1945, by Gwendolyn Brooks, an amazing woman I had the honor of meeting when I was a child. Please go here for the poem itself.

Poetry and the Olympics: Day Two and Already Upsets

Yep, there have already been upsets.  I feel sorry for those who were favored to win and didn’t, but elated for those who weren’t favored and did.

Here’s the next installment in the series of poems in honor of the Olympics.  This one is a perspective-shifter, for sure…

“A Brief for the Defense” by Jack Gilbert (from Refusing Heaven; Knopf, 2005).  Please go here to experience this powerful poem.