Those women

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You know. Those women.

The ones in the salacious headlines. The ones we talk about. The ones we love to shame.

Prostitutes. Whores. Undesirables.

The ones who have gigantic, beautiful dreams for themselves and their children. The ones who went to college and chose to leave school to care for their sick family member. The ones who were abused as children yet their indefatigable fighting spirit shines.

The ones who take the fall for powerful men. The ones whom powerful men hide behind.

Those perfectly perfect women with all of their glorious imperfections?

Those women?

They’re our sisters.

photo credit: Amor via photopin (license)

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Chime, chime, Beep, beep

14775308183_9529acf60e_nMany stores have a chiming system. When a customer walks in and out of the store a chime, chimes. Homes with monitoring systems can be programmed with a beeping system. When a door to the home is opened or closed the beep, beeps.

The chimes and beeps are there to indicate comings and goings. To welcome, bid adieu and monitor.

Today I got to thinking about what it would be like to have a personal chiming system.

A system to welcome ourselves to our perfectly, perfect selves. Welcoming ourselves into our own big lives with grace, hugs and support like we do when friends and family stop by.

A system that properly bids adieu to projects and work our perfectly, perfect selves have completed. A real celebration of the accomplishment – for a job well done before hastily moving on to the next big thing.

A system that monitors our perfectly, perfect selves when we lose our way. A system that gently pulls us back to center when we become fearful of taking that next step or taking a risk.

Chime in and take the time to love, celebrate and encourage perfectly, perfect you.

 

photo credit: 2014-07-27 16.27.27 via photopin (license)

Do what?

8180180280_7dd4dee256Do what you love, love what you do.

Several weeks ago I had occasion to be in Philadelphia’s train station. It was rainy, dreary and cold – extra cold in the station as the heat had been turned off for the spring/summer season.

It seemed as if the cold in the station was making travelers’ and workers’ emotions extra frosty.

Surprisingly my own shivering daughter decided she wanted an actual Frosty.

We trudged across the station to get in-line. The crabby factor wasn’t any better on the other side of the station except for one effusive fast-food worker.

It was as if she was welcoming you to the most exquisite place on earth. She actually looked you in the eyes as she asked for your order. Her enthusiasm was contagious. Her passion and energy magically erasing the cold and dreary day.

As we thanked her for her kindness and her enthusiasm she said, “I love customer service. I love people. I love what I do.”

This incredible woman with a magnificent heart wasn’t a minimum wage, fast-food worker stuck behind a burger counter in a train station on a damp, dreary and cold day. She was doing what she loved. Providing extraordinary customer service from her very core.

Where she was and what the job was didn’t matter.

May you bring the love and passion at the core of your perfectly, perfect self into all of the new week’s doing.  In the doing there is the opportunity to make a difference in the world no matter the setting.

Do what you love, love what you do – with vigor.

 

photo credit: Brian Andreas via photopin (license)

Kinetic pow!

Bill Humphries kinetic art

Artist Bill Humphries – kinetic art

When family or friends are feeling down, angry or out of energy, I often inquire, “Do you need a kick-in-the-pants?”

Of course, the answer is always a definitive and resounding, “No!”

Simply by asking this age-old absurd question, energetic inertia and woe-is-me thought patterns seem to be interrupted.

Instead, the focus becomes “Whoa, I’d better get moving because she’s really going to give me a kick-in-the-pants.” A focus that can help reverse a downward spiral of negativity.

The point of the kick-in-the-pants is always to deliver confidence, support and love while providing a moment of respite from the overwhelming.

And that’s the kinetic, I-believe-in-you, pow kick we all need from family and friends every now and again.

 

Art: Kinetic art by artist Bruce Humphries  featured in the 2015 Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design pre-college summer brochure.

Assigned seat

FullSizeRender-61On this spring day with gray skies pummeling freezing rain, the allure of my warm cozy sweater and a freshly brewed pot of tea nearly outweighed attending the final performance of Milwaukee Ballet’s Giselle. However, my seat in the theatre, for one of my great loves – the ballet, was also warmly calling.

As I quickly made my way from the parking garage to the theatre, bundled in my puffer coat, I noticed a daughter helping her mobility challenged mother. With significant effort they were also making their way towards the venue.

Moments before the theatre went dark, the mother and daughter were seated in the row ahead. The mother, with the daughter guiding her every step, struggled mightily to get seated – a stunning investment of effort to enjoy an afternoon of ballet.

The dancing and the story telling were at once riveting, beautiful and morally powerful. Milwaukee Ballet’s Artistic Director, Michael Pink had transported the 1841 Giselle ballet setting to a 1941 Nazi-occupied Jewish ghetto setting.

While the citizens of these real life ghetto communities were doing their best to hang on, they honored the arts by composing and playing music despite their horrific conditions – an element Michael incorporates into his Giselle production.

Rather than the dancers pretending to be musicians, Michael ingeniously situates members of the orchestra dressed in costume moving betwixt and between the dancers – brilliant!

How much easier though, for the dancers, the musicians and the choreography, had the musicians remained in their assigned seats in the orchestra pit?

From the time we are young we are programmed to find our assigned seat, stay there and do as we are told.

Yet if we are bold and brave enough to move out of what is seemingly our assigned seat, what artistry, what music, what brilliance might we bring to the world?

What change might we create when we allow our perfectly, perfect selves to shine in ways that may currently be encumbered by the seats we believe we are assigned?

As the curtain opened on Giselle’s second act, I was again struck by this idea of moving out of one’s assigned seat. Only by stepping out of Giselle’s assigned role – haunting the lover who had betrayed her – were love, hope and forgiveness able to triumph.

As the curtain fell on a truly magnificent production and I glanced towards the mother and daughter in the row ahead of me, I was struck by the power of an assigned seat.

It’s essential to put effort, thought and passion into sitting in the assigned seat you choose. A seat that brings you immensely powerful joy, happiness, curiosity, inspiration and creativity. When you enthusiastically sit in the seat of your choosing, love, hope and forgiveness are always possible.

It is equally essential to bravely jump out of an assigned seat so that effort, thought and passion can be placed into the work and artistry that brings great things forward.

Things like love, hope and forgiveness.

My father told me that whatever happens, we must remain human, so that we do not die like cattle. And I think that the will to create was an expression of the will to live, and survive, as human beings. —Helga Weissova-Hoskova, Terezin Jewish ghetto survivor

 

 

 

 

Grab your umbrella – it’s raining

Rain is an interesting metaphor.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow used the metaphor to communicate the more challenging times presented during a life time in his poem entitled The Rainy Day: “…Into each life some rain must fall, Some days must be dark and dreary.”

Sales people use the metaphor to equate working diligently with highly effective sales.

Gene Kelly used the metaphor to dance, splash and sing about love and hope.

When the rain falls, as it inevitably will, recognize there are multitudes of ways for your perfectly, perfect self to process the metaphor. Sometimes that processing will require you to hunker down and wait out the storm or you may choose to splash through the puddles.

However you choose to process, my wish for you is to always shelter your big dream with an umbrella of love and hope.

Just one look

FullSizeRender-46Have you had the experience of walking onto a plane with open seating? With less than a one second look you are able to make very specific determinations regarding perfect strangers.

It’s as though by simply walking through the plane’s forward cabin door, some type of extraordinary divining super hero powers are bestowed.

You definitively know whether strangers are going to be good seat-mates or exceptionally bad ones.

You know if they are going to be a yacker, a crossing into your seat territory legs-wide-apart sprawler, a full-tilt recliner rendering your tray table useless, a let me show you all the pictures on my mobile device and go into excruciating detail traveler, or – a snorer.

I had that experience today of believing I actually possessed some type of divining super hero powers. I was heart broken and disgusted with myself by the time I selected my seat.

I had the opportunity to choose the seat next to a person with a disability. I chose another seat. I walked by.

My disgust for myself grew more intense as other passengers made the same choice I had – furtively looking and then walking by. Until finally, the last person on the plane took the only remaining seat next to the person I chose to look past.

As I watched this play out, I began to get a glimpse of the isolation that those with disabilities experience daily. Their invisibility, their exile by people like me who choose to not look, to not connect. Gary Hollander writes beautifully on this subject in his blog. It’s a subject I’ve discussed with Gary, making my choice today all the more unconscionable.

Today I played it safe. Today I passed judgment on another perfectly, perfect human being. Today I did not give the world all the love I have to give.

That, my friends, is what failing humankind looks like. It’s the look I wore today. A look that is not good, not acceptable and never in-season.

My wish for all of us, and today, especially for myself, is to look at the world with love and compassion. It is in these looks of love and compassion we become our best selves. Our best selves, requiring no super hero powers. Our best selves making the world view all the brighter.

My best self, your best self – that’s the look that’s always in season.

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