Soft

tired blooms

Soft

you can peak
into her heart.
you might even see
the light
like a halo
emanating around her.
there’s kindness
in her actions
and hope
in her words.
her softness
is the heart
of all good things.

When I dare to go to that soft place of my heart, I find conviction and courage. From this tender place inside of me, clarity, confidence, and strength burst forth. At work I’ve been leading from this place, and I credit my softness for the best of my professional accomplishments. It’s also the place from which I always choose to take the stage that I might truly speak to and give of myself to others.

I had the opportunity last week to present at The Conference Board’s Mindfulness Seminar on Insights for Developing and Implementing a Successful Corporate Mindfulness Program. I was there to tell the story of Mindfulness@IBM and the grassroots nature of our movement. (We now have an online community of practice with over 4,300 members and 53 groups practicing together in 24 countries! All possible through the energy of volunteers – truly by IBMers for IBMers.) As the initial catalyst for our movement, I’ve been intentional about inviting a variety of mindfulness approaches and a divergence of practices, as well as curiosity and experimentation – in the spirit of our company’s deep commitment to diversity and inclusion. (That said, my sense is we are on the cusp of some great convergence and global enterprise strategic alignment.)

The seminar was such a great opportunity to share and learn. It was special to be part of a meeting that was run in a mindful way, with practices interwoven through the program to support and deepen our discovery and learning. Even more special was the sense that we were co-creating, that our beliefs and actions can create a more human workplace.

My session was on the morning of the 2nd day. I chose to read a poem as a mindfulness practice opener. Definitely something a soft person would do, right? 🙂  I chose to read Creating Our World, which felt so fitting. Words, and how they are used and combined, have a special energy. They can be powerful and profound, especially when intentionally selected. The poem certainly grounded me, and I think set the stage for a fully engaging session.

 

* I took this photo of tired blooms of a clemetis plant in my backyard. For contrast, here is the same plant in full bloom.

Backyard Purple.JPG

Advertisements

Unfolding

NYC Flower 2.JPG

Unfolding
The flowerbud
unfolds
a slow
gracefulness
joyfully
reaching
and believing

I’ve noticed this sense of opening when practicing mindfulness or yoga…when reading something that touches my heart or inspires me…when I’m among friends who dare to be real and vulnerable…when I’m with my husband Jim exploring possible vacations. I feel alive, at peace, and a sense of joy.

Do you ever feel a kind of unfolding? When does it most often happened? How does it feel to you?

 

* I took this photo one morning on a New York City street lined with flower shops.

A Prayer for You

lake koronis pelican

A Prayer for You

I whisper into the wind
that blows gently off the sea.
I speak of peace
into the frosty white haze.
My prayer released for you
into the blue-gray sky.
My hopes carried by the waves
as they roll back from the shore.

May you find strength like rocks
that anchor along the beach.
May you feel grace like the birds
who float through the sky.
May you find treasure in today
like colorful shells gathered from the sand.

 

I wrote this poem for a friend with terminal cancer. It arose out of a connection I felt with her while on my holiday beach vacation.

“It is in the speaking of one’s heart that makes a human being human. For even if no one hears us, it is the act of speaking that frees us by letting the spirit swim and fly through the world.” – Mark Nepo

 

* I took this photo at sunrise on Lake Koronis, Minnesota from my friend’s dock.

This Precious Moment

Guzelcamli Turkey.JPG

This Precious Moment

I look into your eyes;
a deep well invites me in.

I listen to your words;
their syllables envelop me.

I touch your presence;
a palpable energy showers me in light.

Illuminated, you leave me curious.

What awakens your spirit?
What makes your heart sing?
What do you love more than anything?

Here. Now. Together.
We live in this breathing, precious moment.

One of the gifts of my job is that I meet amazing people. Truly amazing people.

One of them is Katiuscia Barretta. We met through the Mindfulness@IBM community that I started in 2015. She was instrumental in growing our community and creating awareness of the value of mindfulness in the workplace. She wrote a series of blogs about the neuroscience of mindfulness and made connections with the qualities of working in agile ways and applying design thinking. We led four different 6-8 week mindfulness series during 2015 and 2016, and we are at it again right now.

Part of Kat’s approach is to close each week’s session with a short inspirational reading, usually a poem. She introduced me to some wonderful poetry (such as There’s a Hole in my Sidewalk). And, she invited me to share my own poetry. One week we came up short and I was inspired to write something.

This poem was inspired by practicing mindfulness with Kat and my colleagues at work.

 

* I took this photo from Dilek National Park in Guzelcamli, Turkey (which has a view toward Samos, Greece).

Into the Light

San Agustinillo Sunrise4

Into the light

When a diagnosis spins our world out of control,
You are the balance that steadies us from the fall.

When we wait impatiently for answers to questions we don’t want to ask,
Your soothing voice calms and reassures us.

When decisions swirl around us as if we are drowning,
You are the air at the surface that helps us breathe.

When we are afraid and uncertain about what’s next,
You are the fortress protecting us from the storms ahead.

When the noise in our heads murmurs incessantly,
You are the quiet sanctuary where we find peace.

When we feel ourselves melting away,
You are the earth angels with outstretched arms holding us.

When the pain in our weary, tired bodies seems never ending,
You are the medicine that soothes our aches.

When we don’t have the strength to take another step,
You are the wind at our backs guiding us gently forward.

When the emotional wreckage is more than we can sift through,
You are the helping hand sweeping away our grief.

When life feels like a scorching desert wasteland,
You are the oasis filling our souls with nourishing waters.

You are the light, like a million stars in the sky,
guiding us as we walk through the darkest hours of night.

You are the blanket that wraps us when we awaken from the dream,
warming us to the possibility of the sun rising and golden light.

This poem is not in my book. However, I’m inspired to share it. I revisited it last week as I was thinking about two dear friends, one preparing for surgery to remove a large tumor and the other preparing to care for her. A variation of this poem was my first ‘on-demand’ poem – that is, the first time someone asked me to write a poem for a particular purpose (read more). Most of the time my poetry just flows from my heart and the feelings I experience. I’m learning that if I imagine myself as fully as I possibly can as the person or people I’m writing about, I can awaken similar feelings to those that naturally rise in myself.

I dedicate this post to all those who care deeply for others.

* I took the photo at San Agustinillo, Oaxaca, Mexico at sunrise.

Speaking to My Heart

jun2014vac 1532

Speaking to My Heart

The circle
with its open center
and soft edges
speaks to my heart
in whispers
of completeness.

Sometimes a vision, maybe a memory, invites me to let go of everything. That’s how this poem emerged. I saw a circle in my minds’ eye and noticed how I felt. Soothed.

There is something comforting to me about a circle – no hard edges, the boundary holding something precious inside, filled with possibility.

The sun and moon do this for me. How do you feel when you look at the sun or a full moon? Do you think there is something magical about them? I do. I’m drawn to them both. Maybe it’s their shape, or maybe it’s their constant-ness. The moon invites me to be in the present moment, and the sun fuels positive energy inside of me.

 

I took this photo from our balcony at Hotel Levant near Pelekas on Corfu, Greece.

Creating the World

690Creating the World

Our meeting creates light,
nourishing our souls.
Reaching deep into our roots,
we find our personal truths.

Our conversations flow like water,
sharing the essence of who we are.
Encouraging each other in our growth,
we sustain each other.

Our curiosity anchors us.
Trusting the direction of our hearts,
exploring infinite possibilities,
we relish in the mystery.

Our energy is power.
Bringing our brilliance to life,
shaping our ideas,
we celebrate our discoveries

Kindred spirits on a journey,
we share a belief
that we can create the world
as we want it to be.

I wrote this poem about Blair and me. We’re neighbors and have been friends for somewhere on the other side of 10 years. We connected back then, just after I’d gone through Radical Leadership, and she’d completed training in law of attraction. There was something that pulled us together, and it was powerful. Still is.

During our decade of friendship, almost every month we’ve made time to share lunch together, usually at a little Thai restaurant in Iowa City. We’ve created amazing possibility at one of the little brown tables, always decorated with a single flower poised in a little vase, usually the table tucked in the corner. Our lunch dates are like a sanctuary to me. I feel safe to open to my fears. I feel held and supported. I feel opened and alive. I open to dreaming and creating my life as I want it to be. What a gift.

* I took this photo at Playa Fuentes along the northern coast of Cantabria, Spain.

Someone to Catch Me

italyfinland15 898

Someone to Catch Me

Someone to catch me.
A friend to keep me
from falling.
Offering his hand
that we might take this journey
strong and protected
side by side.

I wrote this poem about my husband, Jim. I can’t count the number of times he’s been there to catch me when I’ve felt like I was falling. There is nothing like having his hand in mine, and our looking out into the world together.

* I took this photo from Mount Solaro, which soars 589 meters above sea level and is the highest and most panoramic point on the Italian island of Capri.)

Less real to me

rozafa castle view

Fear

You speak to me with your tantalizing words.
You tell me I couldn’t have it all.
You shout at me, vibrating through me:
Who I am is not good enough.
What I want doesn’t matter.
You lay yourself in front of me.
You block entry to my soul.
You cover the essence of me in noise.

I miss opportunities when you showed up.
You neutralize my relationships.
You suck the reward from my work.

I lose so much because of you.
You steal my sense of wonder.
You squelch my curiosity.
You dismiss my dreams.

May I find the strength
to push you out of my life,
your false sense of importance
and the expectations you create
less real to me.

I wrote this poem in 2005 or 2006 sometime after I attended Radical Leadership retreats (read more about my RL experience). It seemed like the first time that I really acknowledged fear in my life. It was empowering – not only to see it alive and breathing in my life but also to realize that when it shows up, I have the power to let it carry me away or sit with it or to shift it away, even if only a little.

I chose to share this poem today because recently I’ve felt a great sense of pressure, and I’ve noticed fear creeping into my days, like an insidious little gnat that just won’t leave me alone. While I notice it and brush it away, it lingers in the distance momentarily, and then returns. While most of the time I recognize that I am at choice for how I respond, sometimes I react, the fear having pushed its way into the depths of my being. I’m getting better at treating myself with kindness and self-compassion each time that happens, although I find it challenging to accept myself when I’m anything other than my ideal self.

When I’m aware that I’ve been triggered by something that makes me afraid, I’m trying to remind myself of the essence of fear: False Expectations Appearing Real, and asking myself some questions about what I’m thinking in my head that is causing the fear, like “Is that true?”. What do you do with fear?

A related blog I wrote with Patrick Kozakiewicz: 4 Tips to Overcome Fear and Get Into Action

* I took this photo at Rozafa Castle, Skodra, Albania. (Rozafa castle is a castle near the city of Shkodër, in northwestern Albania that rises imposingly on a rocky hill, 130 metres above sea level, surrounded by the Bojana and Drin rivers. )

Into the Deep

San Agustinillo MX4

Into the Deep

What if
you respond
to the call of the sea
beckoning you
from the safety of the shore
where sand and water meet?

What if
you jump
into the surf
pushing you away
from the familiar solid feel
of your feet firmly fixed
on the earth below you?

What if
you dive
into the heart of the wave
pulsing toward you
shattering you
like a million shells
into grains of sand?

What if
you dare
to move into the endless blue deepness
luring you
into the exhilaration
of the unknown?

Into the Deep is the title poem to the second chapter in my book. The section is a collection of 8 poems about that touch on darkness, fear and the heaviness of they bring. It’s focuses attention on what I once called the ‘bad’ stuff.

What I’ve discovered by venturing into the deep is that those ‘negative’ emotions carry so much possibility for understanding myself deeply.

I wrote this poem from the sands of Playa Rinconcito in San Agustinillo, Mexico where my husband Jim and I have been closing the year for the past 10+ years. The beach there reflects the complexity of being human – sometimes calm and clear, others dark and brooding. The photo, which I took one morning at sunrise, captures the beauty that can be found even when clouds hover overhead like darkness.

* I took this photo at sunrise on Playa Rinconcito, San Agustinillo, Oaxaca, Mexico.