I'm trying real hard today and the second truth of Buddhism is feeling particularly true..."the root of all suffering is desire"...
To negate all those reasons we come up with for self-loathing, here are some reasons to love yourself.
For those who feel like they can never stop pushing, a reminder that you already have the knowledge to take you where you need to go. Give yourself space to listen.
Future-thinking today. Every now and again I like to let my imagination and optimism, some would say naivete, go wild.
A nod to Brene Brown for the title to my poem. I think her interpretation of the term "wholehearted" is exactly how I felt when reflecting for today's poem. I have found that when I am living authentically, when I am saying yes only to those things that ring true for who I am and want to be, then I have a life of joy and ease.
One of my favorite mantras in yoga is Lokah Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu which means "may all beings everywhere be happy and free." My yoga instructor actually said this mantra in tonight's class - after I had written my poem - and it echoes my day's theme. I wish joy and ease for all beings everywhere and so, I'd like to share my poem, my "recipe," for wholehearted living.
We've had a glorious snowfall come through here in Minnesota. I really love winter, snow especially, so I'm happy to see the drifts piling high. I worked from home and didn't get many steps being camped at my desk all day and was ready to get moving after work. For our evening exercise, my husband and I decided to get outside with our shovel and help neighbors who'd gotten stuck in our un-plowed roads. We had plenty to do!
Drivers were getting stuck everywhere and we weren't the only people with the same idea. There were several neighbors with shovels and we gathered up and put our force to one vehicle at a time to clear the roads for the plows to come. It was FUN! I am not certain if other communities do the same thing when they face adverse conditions but I was proud that I belong somewhere that we work together to help each other. I do know folks in my state are typically called "Minnesota Nice", and well, I'm pretty sure that's what I was seeing today and I loved it.
I don't often get political on my blog and I think it's passed time I do. It's important to speak up when things are wrong because, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, "in the end we will remember, not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." Black lives matter and right now, the institutions of our country, the status quo, does not reflect that fact. We can all do better at seeing and peacefully protesting the institutionalized racism that pervades our daily living.
To my understanding, the BLM movement is not pushing for specific legislation to change, rather, their aims are for people in power to acknowledge the injustices that continue to persist, despite the laws set in place during the Civil Rights Movement, and work to eliminate the micro-aggressions and macro-aggressions hurting and killing black men and women today. At the very least, I feel my words might do something to contribute to that aim. I think there are peaceful, impactful ways that an everyday person can be a catalyst for equality. Writing our legislators, running for office, or simply voting, are all actions to take to spread the movement. MLK said "let conscience be your guide" and "love must be our regulating ideal." I hope you see both statements reflected in my poem.
Climate change is a buzzword in current topics and has been for a while and I guess I'm ready to say my piece. I firmly believe that individual households, especially in the U.S., can have a dramatic impact on whether we avert crisis. I'm the person at work who will turn off the sink you left running behind you when you walked over to the other cupboard to get a glass. I will shut the fridge door on you if you walked away to deal with your food "real quick" before putting the container back. I wonder about people who continue to buy bottled water after so many science-backed resources have campaigned to get the word out that plastic bottled water has so many ills. Have they just missed all the announcements somehow? Or are they willfully destroying the future of their children, nephews, or nieces? I know I can do my part better too, which is why today's poem is a reminder that what we do now, the imprint we make in this minute, is crafting the tomorrow of the little ones we love.
For Earth -
I got a little nostalgic for today's poem and took myself waaaaay back to summers on the farm, baling hay with my family. For those of you who have had the luck to bale hay, I hope this poem evokes some of the same joys that I found when digging up this memory.
Nine days into my year of writing a poem daily and I'm sensing a pattern about my writing. I pen my poems an awful lot like Randy Newton crafts his songs. There is a hilarious Family Guy skit about Randy Newton "singing about what he sees," that I only know because my husband has pointed quoted it to me numerous times. And yes, I do seem to write most often about things in front of my eyes. In the future, I will try to make sure I'm cognizant of this tendency and seek to expand my topics, but really, we live in such a magical world and people are so amazing, inspiring, and sometimes bewildering, that I can't help but want to capture that awesome in my writing. Or, I guess I could help it and I don't really want to stop.
I'm sure it comes without surprise that today's poem is about a person I saw on the bus ride home. This person was happily engrossed in a often-teased form of entertainment and not giving one fig about it. It really brought to mind one of my favorite phrases to use lately, "you do you." Be loud and proud for what you like even if it's not popular*. And now, I'll share my poem, about something I see because you be you and I gotta be me (whew, this poetry thing doesn't turn off).
*Note: statement does not apply to intolerance, hatred, or discrimination.
I love volunteering. I'm passionate about volunteering. You can tell from the photo above that I'm really, really happy when I volunteer. I think volunteering in our communities is one of the best things we can do for ourselves and for others.
I don't want to get all sanctimonious because why I volunteer is definitely not all altruism. First of all, I'm far, far on the extroverted spectrum, secondly, I truly believe in the ripple effect of helping within your community, and third, there is so much fun to be had when you are performing a meaningful task.
So really, my public service announcement is "volunteer to help others in your community and get payback in the form of endorphins, a stronger community, and satisfaction from a job well done." Also, here's my poem.
I was inspired to write today's poem by a topsy turvy Friday. Typically, my Fridays are a heady combination of fun and productivity. I love wearing jeans and comfortable-yet-professional tops to work on my "day-before-Saturday" and am, in general, in a good mood. Today's Friday, however, really tried to get me and I'm happy to report, I persevered!
Soup in the lap, bloody nose in public, and a bona fide work kerfuffle had me fretting. So, I did my usual mode of processing and talked it out. I got some wonderful support and sympathy which called to mind wise words my father says when little things cause frustration. Wise words that encourage perspective on how really good I have it and the realization that all it takes to overcome is some elbow grease.
I titled it "Infrequent Friday" because it's rare to have a Friday that challenges me and that's part of the perspective too. I really do live a charmed life.
A few weeks ago I had an unsettling incident which was the theme for my poem today. As I was waiting for my bus one day before the holiday, I was punched in the head by a stranger who was obviously suffering from mental health issues. It was definitely a shock. At first I agonized over what it was about me that attracted his violence. I kept going back to that thought, until I realized that this wasn't about me and that I can't change how I go about in the world because of it, other than to raise my awareness. Coincidentally, the book I'm currently reading is the incredible disaster analysis book, Unthinkable by Amanda Ripley, which helped me frame the assault by stranger in a different light. She talks about people experiencing disassociation or freezing when they should be taking action as a natural response to fear, and that's what I felt I did. Froze.
She also talks about what can be done to overcome that paralysis and how to prepare for next time. Which is exactly what I'm doing, gleaning all the lessons from my experience and other great resources so that in the next situation I'm ready and aware.
Without further ado:
Let me begin by saying this list is not all-inclusive. I'm awed by the diversity of human ingenuity and how we can spend our days, and what I'm sharing here is a list of people in career fields who help the world go round. I know I've left many incredible jobs off my list so please, leave a comment on any I missed.
1. Airplane pilots
Oooo the rush! I love the rumble of the engines as we taxi to the runway, the subtle bouncing and jostling in our seats as our tires leave the tarmac and the surge of power and speed as the massive testament to modern engineering takes flight. I have huge respect and admiration for the folks who fundamentally allow our economies to be global by piloting jets around the world.
Earlier this year I had quite a few work flights back to back and felt awash with gratitude at the smooth take offs, the calm assurance as the plane and our stomachs lifted during turbulence, and the bevy of knowledge I can imagine it takes to operate a JUMBO. Furthermore, I love travel and would have much more limited options if it weren't for these brave and competent folks.
2. IT support/help-desk
Oh, the agony of the blue-screen-of-death. Nothing is worse than a bustling work day being brought to a halt by a technological issue. I see desktop support technicians as the glue keeping it all together. I also feel they are some of the most under-rated individuals and departments in most companies. Oh, you needed your sound and visual equipment to function flawlessly during that presentation to 300 employees and your IT folks set it up with nary a beep and fixed any bumps in less than thirty seconds with a nod and a shrug? Yes, I'm sure they did - because IT people are awesome and we should thank them and give their departments enough funding to keep the infrastructure running smoothly. No dollar would be wasted on better tech. Huge thank you to any help-desk support technician who has had to crawl underneath a desk to plug in your user's computer to "fix" it.
3. Application Programmers
Some of my most favorite people I've never met are application developers, seriously. I've gotten so much time back from people who saw a problem and decided to write some code to fix it. Case in point, Onenote. It's magical. I can have a brilliant idea and want to come back to it later, so what do I do? I just grab my phone or laptop, open the app, jot it in - and voila - it's saved for another day.
Need to buy a birthday gift? BAM! - amazon app. Need to check your calendar on the go? BAM! - calendar app. It definitely seems more exciting with the "BAM!"s but you get my point. Thank you app programmers.
I love baristas because a barista worth their salt can turn a bad day into a good one, make a good day great, and, for just the little while you hover at their counter - make it seem like you are a special person in this big, big world. My local barista, Natalie, is a wonder. Her welcoming smile is like a beacon to each bedraggled morning supplicant. On harried work days when an afternoon stimulant is required she is there to bolster with a knowing grin and affable small talk. To all the "Natalie"s out there - thank you.
5. Local Government
City councils, county government, emergency response folks, librarians - the individuals who hold these roles impact how we live every single day. I live in a city with incredible public servants. They embody equality, promote inclusive community, and make efforts to give a voice to every citizen. My local museums are awesome because of them. The county bike trails are amazing. The city's economy is thriving and our town feels safe.To all those who serve local government, thank you!
The corporate world is not all ergonomic chair reclining, patting backs, and smiling brightly as solutions miraculous develop on our desktops. We've all had days when that straw sifted lazily down the breeze onto the camels back -when our eyes wanted to roll so far back into our heads we'd need an OR team to go find them -when one more request to re-send one more email chain we KNOW the requesting person was on has us gulping deep breaths and counting to ten. I recently had one of those days shoulder to shoulder with another member of my team and her response to the pressure left me contemplating my own reactions and thinking of how I can emulate her more.
I consider myself very solutions oriented. I don't consider excuses a valuable use of time and instead try to gear my discussions and meetings towards action items that solve whatever problem we've stumbled upon. After spending the day with my calm and pleasant coworker, I noticed my reaction to hearing excuses or complaints was increasingly to shut down the conversation abruptly, typically with a frustrated tone whereas she continuously focused on closing down the negativity in a positive way - not an easy thing to do. She did this in a really simple way, by being kind.
In my previous roles where I was front-facing with clients, I was in a daily practice of listening patiently and responding with a positive regardless of the situation. If a client called and needed access to a resource, I would let them know I heard their frustration and was there to help. Somewhere in my transition to internal service, I had forgotten the value of a friendly word and positive redirection. After spending the day with observing the patience and courtesy from my days of yore, I had an interaction with a different co-worker where miscommunication caused some friction. It was understandable that both of us would feel out of the loop and somewhat frustrated. I immediately noted her tone was irritated and resolved to not let any of my frustration color the tone in my voice. In that moment I remembered my co-workers kindness and dusted off my customer service skills to turn the conversation positive and end our interaction on a happy note.
I took away a few lessons in this reflection.
1. Kindness is customer service and everyone deserves it -both co-workers and clients.
2. If you can hear frustration in their tone, they can hear the tone you give back.
3. Patience and courtesy must be practiced daily.
If you've had a similar experience or anything to add - feel free to comment!
Creative enthusiast, gregarious naturalist, opinionated humanist, MBA, RYT 200. Amy Kay Czechowicz completed a poetry challenge for 2018 and 2020 by posting an original poem daily to this blog. She's did the first half of the year on Patreon and is finishing the year with her poems here!