Monthly Archives: January 2013

Rightly wrong

mistake

I like to be right. I’ll admit it: Not being wrong feels amazing. But being right is not important.

In truth, it’s acting rightly that matters, choosing to be “in accordance with what is just, good, or proper.” It’s actions that make a difference. And sometimes I act wrong.

Just now, for example, I should have said “wrongly”–that’s the correct way to use an adverb. But I didn’t care, because I liked the sound of the sentence better when I wrote it my way.

“My way” and “wrong” have a knack for finding each other.

Most recently my selfish will–which I’m still striving to let go of–tricked me into making a mighty mistake, one that has caused a lot of pain. Fortunately, pain is not pointless. Unfortunately, knowing this does not make it less painful.

What helps with the pain is compassion. Because there is a right way to be wrong–a loving way to accept mistakes. Feeling sad sucks, but this too shall pass. As long as I don’t harbor self-hate.

Self-hate wants me to suffer. It believes in punishment, in penance, in perpetuating pain.

Self-hate needs healing too, I know. I won’t banish it from my  “Guest House”–but I don’t have to offer it a cozy chair in which to curl up. I can give compassion the seat of honor.

I made a mistake, it’s true. I acted wrongly. And compassion says, okay.

Compassion says, be kind. It says, you tried. You did your best to be just, to be good, to be proper. And you failed. It’s all right. You are still worthy. You are still loved. Always, anyway, no matter what.

What a relief, amen.

Better together

Together

It’s important for me to feel okay alone, to trust that I am always loved and cared for, whether or not I’m connecting with another person at any given moment.

But oh, man, it is nice to have company.

Life is so much less lonely when I make the effort to build relationships. Reaching out is not always easy, but it is always worth trying. We all need to feel supported and affirmed, and it feels delightful to actively cultivate connection. For example(s):

At a holiday party last month I hit it off with a coworker of the host, and we decided we were friends. A week ago we had coffee and encouraged each other.

Then last Friday a Facebook update prompted me to message a college pal I haven’t seen in years, and consequently we met over the weekend for brunch and inspiration.

In both cases, instant rapport allowed for easy and open comfort, and I left feeling understood and uplifted.

Sharing time with others who are similarly invested in self-care, living well, and honoring creativity feels invigorating, and it is refreshing to trade stories and ideas with honesty, respect, and humor. Fulfilling relationships are tremendously important!

And if these sound like simple observations…they are.

What seems to be harder is choosing to make space for quality connecting. I frequently find myself at odds with a busy schedule or an I’m-on-my-own attitude, so it takes awareness and action to avoid isolation.

Thankfully, awareness and action are impressively effective, and because of them, I’m getting a lot of what I ask for these days–pleasant company, fresh perspectives, provocative conversations. Connection and support. Understanding and affirmation. And gobs and gobs of gratitude.

Brighter than my blues

Kelley and Matt, doing what they do–singing “a song that’s true.”

I am so grateful for good music, for true sounds from the soul and the chance acts of fortune that lead me to them.

I don’t remember how I found out about Noisetrade, nor do I know why I listened to Kelley McRae‘s album two years ago on a January day. Maybe because it had “Brooklyn” in the title and I live in New York, or maybe I just had the curiosity to click and listen. Noisetrade sends me lots of emails, plenty of new sounds to consider, but rarely does an artist hook me like she did.

I was hurting that winter, and I found solace in her singing. I didn’t have a ton of downtime for reflection since I was working full time and also training to become a yoga instructor–basically a second full-time job–but whenever I showered I’d listen to Kelley’s music, and whenever I heard “Sparrow,” I felt heard.

That would have been enough, connecting to a random recording that helped me heal, but my relationship to Kelley’s music grew stronger when I ventured to see her play that March on the Lower East Side. She and her husband/bandmate, Matt, announced that they had just traded in their Brooklyn home and belongings for a VW camper van and were preparing to tour America in order to share the art they had to offer. I was inspired.

I introduced myself afterwards, and in my journal the next day I described Kelley as “a lovely personality and performer” and noted that “it was a pleasure to see the show.” Plus, “she played ‘Sparrow,’ which basically made my night.”

From then on, whenever I got an email announcing an NYC performance, I did my best to show up for it. We struck up an email correspondence because Kelley was looking for venues for house shows on the road and I have friends in other states. After seeing her play again in May, I gushed: “I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to hear a singer/writer who has chops, soul, AND spirit.”

Chops, soul, and spirit–that pretty much sums up Kelley McRae. When it comes to life and love, it’s clear to me that this girl GETS it. And I am grateful. This past spring and summer she recorded an album funded entirely by supporters, and it overflows with love and energy (just like her!).

After we chatted at the release party for Brighter than the Blues in September, I had to let her know: “I feel so lucky to have discovered an artist who not only creates music I genuinely connect to, but who is personable and communicative to boot!”

And I do feel lucky, to know her and her music, to support someone with the courage to be authentic and follow her heart, who lives a human life with good intention. It’s true that we ain’t got much time, and it’s important how we spend it. I’m happy I get to use some of mine listening to talented truth, told with an open heart.

More love, less fear

love greater than fear

It’s the first day of 2013, and I have had an extraordinarily fulfilling twenty-four hours. I can without hesitation say this is the best January 1 I’ve ever personally experienced.

The reason? Love.

I don’t mean love in the romantic sense–I didn’t kiss anyone at midnight and that was fine by me. I mean love in the universal energetic sense: Every action I have taken since the clock struck twelve has been motivated by caring and consideration, and the people I’ve shared time with have offered warmth and authenticity. The combination has created a deeply satisfying state of connectedness and well-being.

After a morning of self-care and cooking (hope you all ate your black-eyed peas!), I spent the afternoon at a birthday party that ended with a group meditation and gratitude circle. I appreciated the willingness of guests to go along with such a suggestion, and it was interesting to observe the contrast between the lively chatter that had dominated the day and the quiet of sitting with our breaths that followed.

And when the ringtone gong signaled the end of our silence, each guest had the opportunity to voice intentions for the year ahead. One by one, when the moment felt right, we told the group what we were grateful for, what we wanted to hold on to, and what we wanted to let go.

I said I was grateful for community, and that I wanted to let go of my willfulness–my desire to control situations and anticipate outcomes. I said I wanted to hold on to my boldness and to have the courage to share my true self with the world.

I like what I said, and I certainly meant it, but someone else’s words are sticking with me most: One of my friends simply stated that he wanted to let go of fear and to bring in more love.

More love, less fear. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.

In the “Religious Views” section of my Facebook profile, I assert “Love > Fear.” I’ve found it to be a succinct and reliable spiritual philosophy, and it was inspiring to hear that truth stated as intention today.

Fear is never going to make me feel better, while love always will. That’s one of many reasons I choose love as often as possible. I’m grateful to say I successfully did so today, and I’m glad I’ll get the chance to try again tomorrow.