Today begins a very active and full, out of the gate, hosting period for me. There is two days hosting university leaders. There is five days hosting pastors. There is four days hosting a leadership training program. It’s a full time. I’m glad, with good people.

The image above is from one of my favorite received holiday cards this year (thank you Sarah). On the inside, the card says, “May it be simple. May it be fun. As the seasons go ’round.”

It seems appropriate to remind myself of such things going in to this full, out the gate start. Each of these groups will be quite circly. With faculty. With pastors. With younger corporate leaders. Because connection and presence are core ways of being.

I continue to learn that people appreciate the simple. People of all walks of life seek joy. And ease. And belonging. And contribution. And kindness. And consciousness. And flow.

Here’s to the joy that comes for any of us, and among us, in the gatherings that shape life in this and the next seasons.

This Present Moment

Last day of the year. It’s poignant. Though not. Just a day. Just a thing called a day. Unique in it’s present moment. Yet also with familiar shape and sound. Like a river. Consistent, yet never the same.

This present moment is one of the most compelling themes that engage me and pull me forward. It’s a readied and familiar container that holds life experience and journey for me. From the new that looks old, to the old that looks new. It offers a still point, this present moment, offering a way to encounter what is alive.

And, I suppose it true that I look through my life experience, and the life experience I hear with others, through lens of present moment. It feels like sunshine to me.

There’s Pema Chodron — “this very moment is the perfect teacher.” I’ve referenced her often, and in particular lately. I’ve learned — everything is available in the anything. If awakeness and awareness, kindness, consciousness and flow with life are the journeys of life, we need not look far for helpful and ripe starting points.

This present moment.

There’s the dancer and singer that I spoke with earlier in the week. I asked her, “What have your learned from your performing that teaches you about being with people?” Without skipping a beat, she responded, “Being in the present moment. If you are not with the people you are performing with, it’s flat.”

This present moment.

There’s the former deployed soldier that I spoke with recently. I asked about his gifts and strengths for the complex and dangerous context he was living. “It was utterly important to live in just this minute. Whether the minute was eating a Girl Scout Cookie, or firing his weapon.”

This present moment.

There’s my friends Toke and Monica writing their New Years wishes of the importance of still point together.

The world always moving
Humans in chaos dancing with Madame Corona
and all the rest
Quietly dreaming of
Life in harmony and health

Seeking a still point
Knowing it to be In our own hearts
is a gift we all share whether aware or not 

Who wants to know?
Who wants to grow
More peace 
More lives in beauty?

How may we grow kindness and gratitude for Life?
How may we grow peace  and wellbeing For All?

This present moment.

I would suggest, there is tremendous gift in any of us individually and collectively, finding ability to be in relationship with just this moment. We all have the worries. We all have the learning. We all have our fixations.

But for me, I know, that when I seem to find my way, or my discipline, or my practice, or my surrender, to this present moment, the world comes alive. I come alive in it. And paths seem to shine.

This present moment.

Like a day. This moment. Poignant in its own way. Just a moment. Just a thing called a moment. Unique. Yet also with familiar shape and sound. Like a river. Like a day. Consistent, yet never the same.

I wish each of you, each of us reading this, beauty and freedom and life and flow in finding our way to this moment of now, strung together in so many beads of longer arc.

With love, and appreciation.

Kindness Garden

I am grateful for friends, family, and colleagues that have dug deep in their learning paths. I’m grateful for encouragement from the same, to claim and dwell with simple clarity.

A few words below, that slipped away from me recently, but then grew again.

It might just be
that kindness to self 
is the first 
and most important commitment.

For that
generates a kindness epicenter
that has a way of animating
kindness with and among others.

It might also just be
that kindness to self
is all the planning needed.

For beyond that
abundant and fruitful gardens
seem to grow naturally.

The Grief of Fulfillment

This phrase, “the grief of fulfillment,” remains an intriguing and helpful phrase to me. For making sense of experience. For guiding others in their experience. I find that it shows me layers here and there, like layers of an onion that peel to reveal a center.

I first heard this phrase, “the grief of fulfillment,” through Christina Baldwin, a dear friend and one of the key guides in my life. It was a mid 2010s. It was at The Circle Way Practicum. She spoke it near the end of the 5-day gathering. She spoke it as an awareness for people to have as they left the pace and experience of retreated community. The short of it was that grief can come not just from loss, but from having experienced something we long for.

Yes, intriguing and helpful.

Let me shift to grief for a minute. I’ve learned that grief is related to sadness, but not quite the same thing. Grief is related to lament, but not quite the same thing. Grief can live in our bodies, as emotion, becoming stuck in the inner river that is our overall emotional river. The image that I see is that of river that bends around corners. Sometimes logs or fallen branches get stuck in some of the river bends. They add up. They can create blockage of overall flow in the river.

Grief is like this. It can block. It’s not wrong — let’s be clear. But like so many things, can inhibit a flow. And in the human body / experience, that can then compound to other blockages that include illness and a compromised emotional field.

So, grief requires movement. Not denying. Not fixing. I don’t really orient this way. Just movement. Grief requires a relationship. A claiming and witness. So as to gift some of its learning and teaching. For me, even awareness of this helps. And some physical exercise or a walk.

Back to the grief of fulfillment. I got another taste of this recently. Through something that feels very familiar, that finally yielded a bit more understanding. It was with family over Christmas. For me, this means being with my adult children and their partners. It means being with my 15 year-old. We played games. We ate food. We laughed. We watched a movie. We had gifts for one another. It was very fulfilling. I felt my family tank filled and felt tremendous joy in that.

That was last week, December 23rd – 27th. It was great, to slow the pace and meander together in family way.

However, come Monday, December 28th, it was back to work. I struggled to find energy for it. Yah, sure, it was Monday morning. But my work tends to be quite fulfilling itself. I had three calls, each of which were ample with inspiration and deeply felt human connection.

So, why the sluggish?

The grief of fulfillment. The transition from all of that good family time was a struggle for me. I’m not trying to play semantics here. Sure, the shift from meandering family to regular Monday is a loss. I think, however, there is more awareness in accepting the grief. Fulfillment is a kind of joy. There is a kind of grief when that joy is experienced. Odd, right? And from that, grief needs movement. Just like the logs in the river. Without shame. Without blame. Just awareness, dosed up with ample kindness to self and other.

I keep learning. That mid memory of the 2010s from Christina peeked its head up. For me with family. From the most tender place of loving my kids, of dwelling in slow time and belonging together. In all of that fulfillment, also resides a grief, an edge softened rather than further chiseled, an edge of fulfillment that points us humans to even more wholeness and awakeness.