There Are Some Days

chickens, backyard chickensThere are some days when I don’t feel very compassionate. Or centered. Or forgiving. Or tolerant.

Today was one of those days. It started out as any other day. I started out loving, compassionate, tolerant. The sun shone brightly despite the cold temperatures of the autumn air. I was happy to go to work. To see the folks I enjoy spending my work days with. To hear how their weekend went. To share my weekend experiences with them. To simply go through life. I worked hard. I saved lives. No one hated me. No one spoke mean to me. In fact, I heard many “thank you’s” today. It was a good day.

Until I came home. Funny how something as silly as a chicken can twist your world up on end.

You see, I have had these two flighty, totally anti-social hens living in a chicken tractor in my urban backyard for the past summer. I’ve written about them before. In spite of our past love-hate relationship, these darned clucks had grown on me. They were finally settling down and becoming friendly. Finally becoming pets and a joy to have around.

chickenToday I came home to find only one hen alone in the coop, freaking out. The other was gone without a trace. No possible escape. No possible predator. No feathers. No blood. The coop door was closed as usual. I searched the yard. I searched the neighbor’s yards. I asked neighbors if they heard or saw anything. Nothing. I came back to the coop. There was only one explanation. The only way she could have left was through the door. And there is only one thing that could have opened and closed that door – a human.

I was blinded by anger. A litany of questions flooded my consciousness. Why? What for? What gave them the right? Who the hell did they think they were? Why were their needs or wants more important than mine? Why did they view what was mine as theirs? The peacefulness of compassion and joy that usually fills my presence was long gone. I wanted blood, a thief’s blood. I wanted to spill someone’s blood. An eye for an eye. Tooth for a tooth. I wanted that person to hurt like I was hurting now. The hurt of loss. The hurt of feeling violated. Of feeling exposed. Anger.

So I yelled. I swore. I raged at the world. I cried. I tried to reason the unreasonable act of another. But it’s just impossible. I wanted to hate, but I just can’t. Not really. It takes too much energy. And I just don’t have the inclination to mistrust every being out there, questioning whether or not they are the one who stole her from me. I’m sure there could also be a number of gallant reasons why one would steal a chicken, but I’m too exhausted to even consider them now. Too worn out from anger.

I know I’m supposed to be compassionate. Centered. Forgiving. Tolerant. I’ve worked hard to be there. But at this time, I just can’t. I don’t want to. I’d rather wallow in this cesspool of hurt. Anger. Malevolence. Intolerance. Give me this bit of time. I’m only human. And tomorrow is a new day.

Generosity

Generosity  – n. liberality in spirit or act; liberality in giving; a generous act; abundance.

How many of you remember the movie “Pay It Forward“? It was a movie about a kid who taught his world the meaning of helping or doing something nice for someone without the expectation of anything in return. That a single motion by one individual would turn into a huge movement, touching the lives of those you don’t even know. It was another name and another take on the teachings we received as kids – be kind to others, turn the other cheek, and love thy neighbor. How we all dream of, and strive toward, that perfect world. The world where generosity flows freely and without expectation.

I am touched by generosity every day in my life. I bet you are too if you looked for it. Even now with all the economic strife, personal and national struggles, something as simple as an act of generosity can suddenly strike out of the blue and smack you in the face. Like jumping up, waving it’s hands in front of your eyes and saying:

“Hello, are you out there?”

“I’m still here. Can you see me?”

“Did you see what just happened here?”

“Wow! Wasn’t that something?”

When you recognize these acts as generosity, you will find it is everywhere. It comes from everything and everyone. From a kind word from a friend to a smile from a complete stranger. From someone allowing you in line in front of them to a friend sharing their sack lunch with you. From a colleague taking a stand for you in an unpopular debate to the people you just met and worked with buying you drinks after work. I could go on and on, but the heart of the matter is that expressing generosity makes one feel good, makes the receiver feel good, and just makes the whole world feel good. And the world is in desperate need of more of it.

natureAnother lesson I have come to appreciate is in the last part of the definition above. Abundance. Generosity equals abundance. There are many books and seminars geared towards making or drawing abundance to you. Many people mistake this to mean money or riches, and the pitchmen will let you believe that. They want to sell you the secret. But what abundance truly is is the fulfillment of all our needs. We believe we need money to fulfill those needs. But what if many of our needs are filled in part by the generosity of others? I’m not talking about the “need” of a new widescreen 3D TV, but the more basic needs we are born with – love, food, shelter.

If your neighbor shares their tomato and zucchini crops with you, are you not abundant? You may not like tomatoes, but you can make a pasta dish instead and avoid going hungry. If your home is flooded and a friend offers for you to stay with them, are you not abundant? Yes, it’s inconvenient and you’ve temporarily lost your home, but you are not having to live on the street or out of your car. And if you are having a rough day and a co-worker gives you a hug, are you not abundant? I guess it depends on the co-worker, but I would argue that everyone needs a hug now and then. It’s all in how you look at it.

So recognizing each generosity creates abundance in our lives and this attracts more generosity, more abundance. Because we appreciate it. We welcome it no matter how large or small that generosity is. We tell the universe we want more and we get it. And in order to create more generosity in this perfect world, we must be generous ourselves. Generous with our time, our love, and our spirit. We must give in order to get.

These are the lessons generosity has taught me. I hope I am remembered for being as generous as others have been with me. I hope to always “pay it forward.” And whenever I feel in need of a little generosity, I turn to my pup Luke. He is always generous with his wet kisses and cold nose!

Living Your Truth

I’ve written about honesty before. But there is something to be said about being honest with yourself. We all walk through life with a vision of who we are. We hold that vision in our head and it provides a sense of comfort, a place to stand, especially when our world gets rocked a bit. But sometimes that vision of self is no where close to who we truly are or how we appear as to others. Often that misconception of our true self can be limiting and confining. It’s times like this when a bit of self honesty can be very freeing.

I’ve long admired those persons who stood up for what they believed in, no matter what the cost. It can be something as small as saying “no” when they meant no, to the ultimate sacrifice of one’s life for their cause. My heroes range from Eleanor Roosevelt to Amelia Earhart to Crazy Horse to George Mallory. I’ve always aspired to be as great as these famous people, maybe not on the world stage, but at least in my own world. I’ve always lived from my heart, but unfortunately looking back I see where I walked the safe, comfortable road in that life. Choosing to bite my tongue and keep quiet instead of expressing myself freely. Deferring the conversation to others and their opinions and views and keeping mine to myself. All in an effort to keep the peace. In order to “fit in” or go with the flow of the group.

It finally hit me that I do have something to say. Something I am meant to say. That to withhold expressing my truth is to withhold my energy or any contribution I have to give to the greater good. It’s to deny who I am. That I do have a purpose in living, in being present in this place, this time, this life. That my life does indeed have meaning. To be silent is to not live my truth. And to not stand up for my truth is to not stand up for myself. This sudden realization changed something deep within me. It has also changed the course of my life and the energy within it.

Funny how when you make a conscious effort to live life from your truth or from your very core of being, your whole world changes. Your relationships change. New relationships with healthy people deepen and flourish as your ones with unhealthy people fade away. New opportunities and adventures present themselves as new hobbies, new interests, and new travels. Your world is brighter, lighter, and more colorful. Financial abundance flows into your life without effort. You suddenly experience good luck around each corner and good will from complete strangers. It’s like the universe is showering you with everything that is good and joyful. You are in the flow. Everyone is your friend and you are the rock star.

But there does comes a price, if you consider it as such, with living your truth. There will be some people out there who don’t want to hear it. There will be others who will hate you because it is different from their truth. There will be others who will be jealous and will hate you for living your truth because they themselves can’t. Some of them will even want to get even with you for it. This will hurt when it comes from someone you care about. It will also hurt when it comes from a group of people you were once a part of. It may affect you in the short term, and it may knock the wind out of your sails for a bit. But trust me, in the long term you will be the one better off. The universe rewards the honest and true. In ways you cannot even imagine. And who knows, maybe the example of your life will inspire others to live their own truths!

Why not give it a try?

Honesty

forest“Why not?”

One thing about kids. They keep one honest. I challenge anyone who thinks they have their life all laid out, all figured out, to have to answer to a kid. Because they ain’t afraid to ask the tough questions. Or stand up for themselves.

“Why did you do that?”

“Why did you do it that way?”

“Am I expected to do the same? What if I don’t want to?”

Dang. I thought I had it all figured out. But their questions sometimes catch me off guard. Is it wrong of me to admit at times I don’t know how to answer them? That some things in my life I am not quite proud of? That now I am more mature, I wouldn’t make the same choices? But I did the best I could at the time. That a part of me still feels shame over past choices? A part of me that is still vulnerable and raw. I don’t care how well you have processed the traumas of the past, it’s still hard to share them. Especially with a kid you are looking to protect. But what to do when they ask?

I guess a part of me had hoped that once I left the past behind, that there is where it would stay. Umm, no such luck. I also thought at my age, I would have life all figured out. That I would be magically be as mature and wise as the elders whom I admired when I was young. But I’m not and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that this disappoints me. But listening to the youngsters, I questioned if we ever truly have it all figured all out. Or if it is all an illusion. Maybe all those elders I admired didn’t have life figured out either.

So, no. I don’t have all the answers. And that’s OK. That’s honesty.

A Sense of Home

farm, winterI used to believe that home was the place where you grew up as a child. That sacred abode, surrounded in all it’s memories and sparkling brilliance. It is the place where you have your start. Beautiful memories. The place of beginning. The place where your life path begins. All of us hold it sacred. And memory tells us that no matter how rough life gets, we can always return home. That it is there, as you left it, waiting for you to come back and touch it in all it’s magic again.

But what if that home is gone?

It happens all the time. People move. Ownership changes. Houses and buildings grow old, are neglected, then tore down. Just like people sometimes. Sometimes succumbing to natural disasters. Sometimes it’s just the march of time. Does one lose their sense of grounding? Their sense of home then?

No. Because home is not some place or building or some point in time. Home is within us. We carry it with us. The memories are as fresh as if they happened yesterday. The places we loved. The people we loved. Anything that held any meaning for us. It is all held within our very being the moment we step away from that physical “home.” Such memories are not a country or a state away. They are right here, right now, easily within reach. Home is not a place or a building, although we believe it so. Like what happens when you do go visit your childhood home or old school. They seem smaller. Colder. Void of color. Not imbibed with life as we remember them. That’s because we have taken our life force from that place and carried it forward with us. We lock the energy, the specialness, of that place for us into the memories within ourselves. And when everything tells us to look outside of ourselves for all the answers, the very things we seek have been within us all along. Within reach.

Life continues on and our perception of home changes. As we bond and form families, we establish new homes and embellish them with remnants and memories of our past. We pass our memories on to a younger generation. But our one true home remains within, out of reach of foreclosure, disaster, divorce, and tragedy. It remains in the place that cannot be touched. That cannot be taken away from us. Home is who we are.