Social Commentary

My internal reflections on reopening.

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My heart is quivering with anticipation as I approach my magical place. Will it be open?

The place I am referring to is Cedarmere, the country home of prominent 19th-century poet, newspaper editor, and civic leader William Cullen Bryant.  

droplets-of-water-on-blades-of-grass.jpgCedarmere is a 7-acre site in the Village of Roslyn Harbor. The property has a pond, house, mill, gardens, and a spectacular landscape designed by Bryant. Here, Bryant sought sanctuary from the congestion and chaos of the city, where he could rest, work on his poetry, and spend time surrounded by nature.

I am grateful to him as this has become my sacred place where I enjoy deeply connecting to myself. The beauty of nature has a profound effect upon me; it becomes the gateway from the outer world to the inner.

No big orange cones are blocking my way! Reentry is here. Maybe normalcy is returning. A few weeks ago, this site was blocked off, inaccessible.

The croaking of the bullfrogs welcomes me. I wonder if they are calling others or keeping them away. I have the same feelings with this reopening of society.  Part of me is wanting it, and part of me, is not so comfortable. 

I hear the birds calling me back to the moment as I smell the deliciousness of earth and drink in the view. The familiarity of the sounds, sights, and smells make me feel safe again, as if normalcy has returned.

This world is quite astonishing, when you step into this moment, out of the thoughts that chase you away. When you open your heart and your mind without a haze of your fears, amazement comes!

When I am most awake, most present in the moment, every sense of nature converges into a single energetic joy. It is as if there is a feeling passing between each living thing, a bond that is tangible and blended, a melody beyond the range of ears but available for the heart. 

As each blade of grass moves in the wind, a part of me does also. It is the togetherness of what appears to be separate; interconnectedness is the real nature of our universe.

I want to know more. I want to know more about me, I want to know more about you, I want to know more about life… 

I must reenter along with the rest of society! This will require some courage and vulnerability. In the living, I will learn. I will allow the unfolding without attachment to any outcome. 

And you?

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The Best Ways I’ve Found to Connect During Social Distancing

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Now more than ever, social connection is important. Research has shown that social connection improves one’s physical health as well as mental and emotional well-being.

As human beings, we need to love, be loved, and have a sense of belonging. And yet, a sense of connection, in contrast to what you may believe, is internal.

In this video, I share how to build your own internal sense of connection; I also share my own experiences with you.

You are wired to connect and have a community. Social connection is not an exchange of information, it is an exchange of presence, emotion and humanity. To connect: be authentic, and trust that even with your imperfections, your presence and connection is important and valuable. Be genuinely interested in others, because every person wants to feel cared about and connected to others.

How can you continue to connect at times of COVID-19:

Create connection by using technology: Zoom, FaceTime, Skype, Houseparty are some of the apps you can use. Explore them, it is fun adventure.

Create a call list: get into a regular schedule to checking in with people. Especially older relatives and neighbors they may not feel comfortable reaching out to you in needing assistance for grocery shopping, dog walking, cutting the lawn…. It would be nice to check how they are getting along.

Ask for help: if you or someone you know is struggling emotionally, keep in mind that online counseling or therapy, is a fast and effective way for them to get extra support. Some free counseling options are also available.

I am also available: contact me to find out more about help for yourself or for your organization.

social connection.pngHere are some free resources:

New York State COVID-19 Emotional Support Helpline
1-844-863-9314
8AM-10 PM, 7days a week

Text HOME to 741741
24/7
https://www.crisistextline.org/

The Disaster Distress Helpline 
1-800-985-5990
24/7

I’m feeling the connection

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I was reading about the sage in Mexico Valley, about how an entire field is actually a single plant and works together as a single plant. It appears that there are many bushes in the valley, yet hidden from the eye beneath the earth the roots are all connected. The experience of one part of this sage plant is shared to some degree by all the other parts of the plant.

Sage field
Sage field

The full sage plant has the power to change the acidity of the soil in a way that assures its survival, and in doing the sage provides us humans with some of the oxygen that we need for our survival.

I was struck by the fact that what I saw with my eyes at first glance missed an essential reality about the sage plant. When I grasped that, my mind quickly moved on to considering that all people on Earth are connected in a similar way. What we do in our lives has an effect and influence on others, even though we tend to believe that we are separate from one another with whatever we are experiencing.

At times I want to start worrying about everyday details of my life. Like all of us, there are plans to make, family to consider, and bills to pay. But then I remind myself that I am part of a bigger whole, the human community. My mind calms down when I remember that reality.

Just as the sage does, each of us has the power individually and collectively to change the world, and to find support in the world. Is there a need to choose worry and sadness? I don’t think so.

I feel both more empowered and more at peace when I see myself as part of the larger human community. I enjoy the reality that each of us is full of connection to and from others, although sometimes we need to choose which connections to emphasize in life so we receive enough support for our growth.

Let’s try thinking and acting with awareness of our connectedness. For me, such an awareness feels more fulfilled and less prone to anxiety than seeing myself as isolated, which is not even a reality.

What do you think?

My 35th Reunion: Time Passed, Time Present

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A few days ago, I attended in Turkey the two-day reunion of my middle school / high school class. It was an all-girls school when I attended. My classmates came for the reunion from Kuwait, France, Italy, Switzerland, Norway, and the United States, and of course from Turkey. Out of 105 graduates from my class of 35 years ago, 78 attended, a high rate; this was emblematic of how close we were as classmates.

35th Reunion of Tildet's Middle School / High SchoolThe organizers did an amazing job of providing a welcoming and engaging experience for all of us to get together, and one classmate offered her house on the beach for the second part of our reunion.

We were a special group, very close with each other during our seven years of school together, exceptional even among the other graduating class years. There was a lot of love among all of us during our time there as students, and the administration of the school was skilled and supportive in creating an atmosphere that brought out the best in each of us.

What struck me, and many that I spoke with, was the fact that the love we felt for each other 35 years ago, reappeared this past week as if no time had passed. I have not seen these classmates in 35 years, and have had almost no contact with them due to the distance and the demands of raising a family and running a business (at times, two businesses).

Yet, when we met, the unconditional welcoming I received from my classmates brought back to me a sense of connection that I had forgotten. When it comes to the most important things in our lives, it seems that time hardly exists. In fact, not being involved in each others’ daily lives contributed to a more pure appreciation of each other. We saw each others’ essential selves, which are precious.

Tildet and three school friends, speaking to classmatesPerhaps it is human nature that when something is painful, we heal and gradually (if all goes well) we let go of the painful memories. That is important, as we all seem to have aspects of our past that are better let go of. On the other hand, that which is positive, such as real love for others, can remain powerful throughout our lives, as I saw during this reunion. The thirty-five years that passed seemed not to exist during those two days. And the love we shared during those two days felt healing to me. Some part of myself responded to the wonderful surrounding — my classmates.

Whether in family, at work, in friendship, or even in small daily exchanges, if we can create and share love in our lives, we are building a feedback that will also support us, sometimes immediately, and sometimes years later. I was so appreciative of the organizers of this reunion, and so glad to reconnect with my classmates.

May we all find ways to build those kinds of relationships, because they help us as well as others, in our present and in our future. As human beings, we need loving connections in order to find meaning and purpose in life. And we can create those connections in many areas of daily life. That is an opportunity for which I am thankful.

Reflections on Paris, and what you can do now

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As you and I are deeply saddened by the attacks in Paris, I want to remind you of the actions we can take right now, to make a difference and stand by the people of Paris:

Yes, continue to send your heartfelt wishes, and focus on love.

A rose on the street

Ask yourself: who can you be today to connect to peace and love? How can you expand the power of love in your life?

Give an act of kindness to a stranger. Take a moment to make eye contact with someone giving you service. Choose compassion instead of judgment. Smile to brighten someone’s day. Soak up the love of someone who believes in you.

Then…

Be love. Have love. Do love. Love has the power to heal.

It starts with you and me. We all have the power to change the world: our state of mind, attitude, and actions are affecting humanity.

That is why I am so committed to the work that I do to bring transformation to the individual; the work we do together is not only about improving our individual lives. As you live your dreams and love your life and others, you will be emanating the energies that are needed to shift consciousness in society, for the better.

Join the growing community of heart-centered people by coming to a Growthshop to fortify your knowing.