Luv Letters and Stuff

This morning I got an email from my sister and it said:


I was passing by a table at the mall yesterday and I saw this and thought of you and smiled. 

Knowing that we don’t need any more useless junk, I opted to leave it there but took a pic of it to share with you.   



Her email made my day. 

I feel buried under “The Stuff”. 

Our home used to be an example of consumerism gone out of control where each happy meal (yes we used to eat at McDonalds) came with a non-edible plastic toy stamped Made in China.  But it didn’t stop there, years of Christmases and ‘retail therapy’ and The Stuff just piled up.  We have for the past 3 years worked hard at clearing the clutter.  Slowly! 

Not long ago, my daughter had enough.  She literally carried everything she did not love out of her room and put it in the garage where now we all have to step over it to get to the utility sink next to the washer and dryer.  The day she did that, I admired her, and wished that I could do what she so easily did.  But, over time, I have come to hate how in one morning she transferred the responsibility of her Stuff to me. 

If you looked around our home, you may (or may not) be overwhelmed by the piles of stuff, but sometimes I am.  The garage would certainly make you stop and wonder if hoarders lived here… the house is much better.  My problem is that I associate a value to things.  And, I’m not talking just money.  I see in the pile, a picture frame gifted to her by a relative or close friend, a stuffed animal that marked a special occasion or even a book that we cherished as a child and I find myself unable to just put them in the giveaway pile. They represent memories of time gone by. So they remain in my path, creating clutter and collecting dust.

In order to help myself with this problem, I have asked people not to gift me with “stuff”.   I have made a pact not to buy any clothing unless I can take something out of the closet to make room.  I have only replaced things for the kitchen and resisted the latest gadgets just because I’m committed not to drown in Stuff.

My sister’s email today gave me hope.  It showed me that someone understands me.  Had she bought me the sequined Y, I would not be able to throw it away.  We live at opposite ends of North America and I find that despite our sibling rivalry growing up, we are now best friends and wish we were neighbors.  So any gift from her would be cherished by me.  Call me sentimental.  And as much as she wanted to show me that she was thinking of me, she put my needs first and that made me feel that she “sees” me and that she knows that the gifts I most cherish are not made of Stuff.

What do you do 24/7?

My friend posted on facebook a link to a YouTube video of the primetime series “What Would You Do?”.  When you see something that you think is wrong do you step in or do you step away? … I encourage you to watch this as it is in my opinion a way to reflect in the mirror and to observe this fabulous experiment on human behavior.

Here is the link:

I love facebook! That’s no secret.  I mostly love the friends and friends of friends that I’ve connected with.  Here are some of their comments, mostly quoting others.

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing ~ Edmund Burke”.  This quote will make sense if you watch the video in its entirety.

 “Judgments prevent us from seeing the good that lies beyond appearances ~ Wayne W. Dyer”

But by far my favorite comment is this one:

“wow! it reminded me of a quote a friend just posted..’Don’t tell me what you believe. Show me what you DO 24 hours a day and I’ll tell you what you believe’ ~ Jerry Rubin”.

The prominent facebook feeds in the last few days have all touched on the topic of Cordoba House, the proposed Islamic Community Center which has caused so much controversy because of its proximity to Ground Zero.

Today, a Huffington Post article by Priscilla Warner entitled Is Fear Contagious echoed some of the thoughts and feelings I’ve had.  Priscilla Warner co-authored The Faith Club…

My sentiment is this: I am contagious… and so I am responsible to BE that which I want to spread around… I am inspired.

And that is why I have decided to blog about this right now.  Maybe this Cordoba House is a representation of the pink elephant in the room. So let’s keep talking about it.

I have an opinion about the Cordoba House.  I will not take the middle ground like some people on this.  I think Americans should demand nothing less than equality for all people.  I think in America we should all encourage the building of community centers regardless of faith.  We as humans are starved for connection and we need to build our neighborhoods in such a way as to encourage discussion where we all can “disagree without being disagreeable”.  I think maybe Obama said that but I don’t know who he was quoting.

Why not make America that field that Rumi talks about? This was my original impetus for starting this website.

This website is inspired by a quote … Out beyond the place of right-doing and wrong-doing, there is a field.  I’ll meet you there. The mystical poet Rumi (1207-73) 

In fact, why can’t the world be that field?

If you’re thinking “she’s an idealist… ” or worse… It’s OK.  “Your opinion of me is none of my business ~ Wayne Dyer”.  I’ve been called many names before.

If you care about or love anything (your children, this planet… whatever is important to you in your heart) then I will say this to you: Please don’t label me because I have an opinion.  Please talk with me and get to know me and gaze into what is alive in me and in the process, allow me to see what is alive in you.

I exist to hold that field in my heart and practice 24/7 to make it so.  I say practice because I’m not there.  But when I find myself in a place of judgment, I smile, and I forgive myself and learn and evolve.  But I get more determined to practice.

So, what would you do?  What do you do 24/7?  I really want to know.

Note: If anyone (friends or friends of friends) recognizes something they said and wants to be identified here as the person who said it (other than those who I’ve already credited), let me know and I will be happy to give you credit but for now, time is precious and I didn’t want to ask permission and so I’ve made the quotes anonymous.

To find out more about the concept “What is alive in me?” check out the Center for Non-Violent Communication (NVC) website or do a Google search.

Parenting in a broader sense

Parenting is a word that we understand to mean that we are dealing with offspring…but I invite you to broaden the definition of ‘parenting’ a bit and think of parenting as a quality of relationship such as nurturing. Nurturing can be done to plants

in a garden, to a sick animal, and of course to our own children. So then with the broader sense, the word ‘parenting’ can be applied to anyone you have a relationship with where you are in a position of ‘parent’, ‘mentor’, ‘boss’, ‘teacher’, ‘vendor’, ‘caretaker’… It deals with the relationship… Especially if growth is something to be a byproduct of the interaction.

I think the lesson that Dr. Wayne Dyer offers from the Tao is timely… And, when you are done reading, I invite you to have a conversation here, or email me privately if you know me. I would love to hear what your soul says to you (if anything) while reading the his blog entry:


Stoicism and the Poem IF by Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936), in a photogravure from 1926 from

The following YouTube of an animation of Rudyard Kipling reading his poem IF spoke to me this morning. I wanted to share it here because I learned something. English not being my first language I still find me learning many things and I find that the discovery of a new word is as magical today as it was when I was a child.

The caption for the poem on YouTube reads:

poetryanimations — December 08, 2008 — Heres a virtual movie of the great Rudyard Kipling (1865 – 1936) reading his wonderful wise much loved ode to stoicism the poem “If”.

What caught my attention was the word ‘stoicism’. Up until now, I had associated ‘stoicism’ or being ‘stoic’ with something that was not positive – somehow the words stoic and apathetic were mixed up in my mind (English not being my first language, I am not surprised. I make many such mistakes). But I loved the poem so much and I would never have labeled it ‘stoic’ and definitely not ‘apathetic’ and so I did some research and found the following Wikipedia definition of Stoicism.

I had no idea that (and I’m quoting from Wikipedia) “Stoics were concerned with the active relationship between cosmic determinism and human freedom, and the belief that it is virtuous to maintain a will (called prohairesis) that is in accord with nature. Because of this, the Stoics presented their philosophy as a way of life…” I just thought ‘stoic’ people were people who didn’t care.

I loved the poem in the video so much that I searched and found the words so I could print them out and read them myself. You can find them here.

Stoicim reminds me of the phrase from the Tao Te Ching that says ‘when nothing is done, nothing is left undone’. Or in this translation of chapter 3 – No action “If no action is taken
Harmony remains.”

I feel free of my judgment about the label ‘stoic’. I love learning.

I look forward to reading your comments and maybe we can have a Deep Conversation.

‘Special Needs’

Yesterday, in the spirit of passing the word about Special Education Week, I posted the following on facebook:  “People need to understand that children with ‘special needs’ don’t have an illness, so there is no cure and it’s not contagious. They only want what we all want, to be accepted. It’s special education week.”  I did it after reading the post on my friend Christa’s status and took her challenge.  Her post added that “93% OF YOU PROBABLY WON’T COPY AND PASTE THIS. WILL YOU BE IN THE 7 % THAT WILL?”

A friend of Christa’s posted a comment saying: ” This is very true I work in special education, specifically with those children who fall within the Autism Spectrum Disorder (mild to severe). It’s an ongoing learning process for all; from those with PHD’s to the general public….”

Adam – Fox Searchlight

A few days ago, while watching a movie my daughter and me checked-out from the public library, I saw a preview for a movie entitled “Adam“.  I loved the preview.  I really want to get it and watch it but have not done so yet.  The movie claims to be “the story of two strangers. One a little stranger than the other…”  A Sundance 2009 Winner of the Alfred P. Sloane award.  I will let you watch the trailer and let the trailer speak for itself.

I personally don’t like labels of any kind but sometimes, in order to communicate, we use them for convenience and so it is with the spirit of communication that we may discuss.  So let’s start the conversation.  Thank Rachel for encouraging this post.  What would you like to say?

Being The Change You Seek

YoMama and I had an interesting conversation over lunch yesterday. Topics ranged from the impact of texting on the social skills of today’s youth to Cave Creek zoning codes. The subject that stuck in my mind is this idea of being the change you seek.

I grew up and went to college in California towns that had a strong sense of community. As a child in Merced I remember neighbors gathering on their porches each evening. The parents would socialize and drink wine while the kids played in the street. As I student in Chico I recall how dedicated the community was to gathering in the town square every weekend (if not more often). The gatherings ranged from farmers’ markets to pet parades to poetry readings and concerts.

Ten years ago I moved to the Phoenix area. I immediately noticed an absence of this sense of community. Families didn’t socialize in their neighborhood after dinner. Kids weren’t playing in the street. There was no town square bustling with activity.

I attribute this absence to a variety of factors. Many Phoenicians are transplants. Entire subdivisions of these transplants have sprung up so quickly they’ve yet to form their own communities. Parents are working longer hours either by necessity or to pay for all the things used to fill some hole in their lives. Perhaps the hole is the lack of community. TV and video games have replaced the desire or necessity for kids to go outside to explore and imagine.

I’ve always lamented this lack of community here in our part of the Valley and assumed I would eventually move back to CA or someplace else that fit my ideals. Then I met my wife Debra. She is a grounded and practical person. She also happens to be one of the few AZ natives I’ve met (third generation). So she has a unique perspective on live in AZ. She remembers a time here when her sense of community mirrored my own. It did exist her once. She reminds me often that we should embody the community we desire. “Be the change you seek” she says. Maybe it’s time to go knocking on a few neighbors’ doors.

Feeling Connected

Some of my favorite emails are one or two lines long. Here’s one that a friend of mine sent me recently to get the conversation going.

The subject line just said: “Hey” and the body of the email had the following <a href=”” target=”_blank”>Stanley Kunitz quote:

“The Universe is a continuous web. Touch it at any point and the whole web quivers.”

I saved the email.

The imagery that this brings up for me underscores our connectedness and the fragility and sensitivity of our connections.

Recently, during a women’s circle, I had a chance to visit with my friend.

She shared with us that since coming upon this quote, she is more cognizant of how connected we are and how one word uttered here may impact someone who is miles away – in her case, her son. And, she said that realizing how her words can impact her son has helped her be impeccable with her speech when dealing with difficult situations that arise.

Who do you care enough about impacting that you would be willing to choose kindness (and maybe silence) over being right?

Gregg Braden – The Science of Miracles – 7 Youtube videos

My hope is to share these Gregg Braden Youtube videos in one place and hopefully enable a conversation.  I would love to hear your impressions, opinions or anything you would like to add to the conversation.

I welcome the conversation.

Connecting somewhere beyond right and wrong