Stillness

Baltimore Ireland Boats at Sunset

Stillness
It calls me:
BE STILL.
Slow down.
Tune in.
Turn off.
Wake up.
BE.
Effortless.
Heartful.
Open.

This poem is not in either of my books. However, since finding it scribbled in my 2015 journal, it has been speaking to me. This time of year invites moments of stillness. Moments to connect with myself, moments to connect with others , moments to connect with life as it unfolds. As we open the year that will be 2018, I invite a year of mindful moments of stillness that empower us.

” And now let us welcome the new year, full of things that have never been.”

– Rainer Maria Rilke

* I took this photo in Baltimore, Ireland – the sun setting after cloudy day and soaking rains…magical!

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Invited

1852Invited

He listens.
Understands.
Opens his heart
so you have some place
soft to stand.
He wraps himself gently around you
holding all the pieces of you
together.
He asks, what if:
You quit fighting?
You loosen your grip?
You open your palms wide?
You invite the noise and chaos in?
You simply let go?
You allow your heart to speak?
You trust the wisdom of your inner voice?
You own your truth with confidence?
He invites you:
Be who you are
Right where you are.

I wrote this poem about my brother, Mike. We live halfway across the country from each other and don’t get to be together very often. On one particular visit, I was at a very challenging point in my job.

I remember going for a walk with him and how he listened as I described my struggle. I  felt held as he listened intently to my words and understood my feelings. I remember the power of his questions and how they guided me back to myself – and therein found my way out of the spiral.

No coincidence we were walking through a canyon with his Australian blue dog, Blaze,  herding us. Sometimes you need to go deep into the land with someone or something to shepherd you along.

I hope you have someone that honors and holds you, someone who cares deeply for you, celebrates your light, and supports you through challenges.

 

* I took this photo on Inis Oirr, one of the Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland.

Dancing

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Dancing

Here we dance.
Our very own dance.

We are small.
We are big.

We are vulnerable.
We are strong.

We are nothing.
We are everything.

We are empty.
We are full.

We are broken.
We are whole.

We are grace.

This poem is about a short but big, bold word: AND.

It’s about how we can hold opposites simultaneously.

It seems so right that I can be both big and small, strong and vulnerable, everything and nothing, full and empty, whole and broken. And, that you, too, can be all of these things. Looking out into the world, it seems together we are all of these things, too. There is a beauty and tenderness in allowing all of this.

I am grateful to my friend, Maureen Monte, for her thoughts about this poem during her review of an early draft of my book.  Her feedback invited me to shift from ‘I’ to ‘we’. (You can read the initial version here: Dancing Like the Tide.) While the poem was initially created about awareness of the my own emotional and physical complexity, now there’s something special for me in tuning in to our collective richness.

 

* I took this photo in Galway, Ireland. The flowers were dancing in the rain just minutes before.

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.

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Unfolding

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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

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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

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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.