Kindness Breeds Kindness

Something President Obama said in a speech last week has me thinking. He said: “Kindness breeds kindness”. He said it in regard to the current climate of the presidential campaign.  Simple, yet powerful.

Aloha Flying Big Red

His remarks sparked thought about spirituality.  Recently, some some self proclaimed ‘spiritually awakened’ individuals have been, as my Grandmother would say, out of line. Sharp tongues, twisted snipes and cuts, judgement, some gossip and just plain one-upmanship threw me for a loop.

I did some writing, looked to see how I might have contributed to the tango. I’ve come to the conclusion that sometimes  my practice is just staying centered and sending love, even in the face of, well, nastiness.

Obama’s remarks struck a chord. I know he was talking about the election, but it’s more. I wonder if we haven’t gotten lost in the how and forgotten the simple what–that Kindness Breeds Kindness.  Whether your spiritual process is to light candles and chant, burn incense and smudge, consult crystals and spirit guides, shouldn’t matter. For my husband sailing is a spiritual experience, or a great scuba dive. For some it’s a hike. For me it’s a walk along the ocean, meditating, or journaling. Sometimes I light a candle and prey. I do different things at different times.

What matters is intention.

Are you coming from loving kindness? Or are you trying to prove something? Be better than the person next to you? More spiritual. More powerful. More more more, fill in the blank. Spirituality shouldn’t be egocentric, it should be heart centered.

I once wrote an article about how women judge women for my blog on the Huffington Post. I have been judged for lots of things in my life: my body, how I conduct business and my spirituality. I’ve been told I’m a ‘spiritual anti-christ’ (what does that even mean?), that I’m not in touch with my inner goddess and I’ve even been accused of not liking mermaids–(Who doesn’t like mermaids?) (And how does that relate to spirituality? I don’t know, but that was the context of the jab.) I have judged too. I am not perfect. I have a LEO-ego I have to keep in check for sure!

How a person expresses their spirituality is personal. It shouldn’t be a competition. And, if you’re starting with loving kindness, who cares how or what or when you ‘practice’.

Kindness Breeds Kindness.

Being spiritual is being kind, spreading kindness, coming from a place of love.

Fear Vs. Love.

If I’m not in love, but in fear, I will lash out, judge. That’s human nature. Because when we are afraid we are out of love (Yes Marianne Williamson) and it’s hard to not judge, not to compare, not to go to good vs. bad, right vs. wrong. If I’m afraid, I defend, compare, compete. I am in my ego, not my heart. Stepping into love, just that, is a spiritual act. Making that choice. Taking that breath and centering.  We move from the oneness, disconnectedness, the aloneness of ego and fear into the vastness of being connected to whatever it is that you believe in and LOVE.

Spirituality doesn’t have to be complicated. And it sure as shit shouldn’t be competitive.

If you know me, you’ve heard me joke about how my business is my spiritual practice. And it is. It has taught me to be patient, to be kind, to trust, to have faith, to slow down, to walk away, to breathe in love and to be in service. Practice kindness, in an email, a phone call, a conversation.

redondo spoiriIn the end, whatever I’m doing to be ‘spiritual’, whatever you’re doing to be spiritual, shouldn’t it be rooted in love and kindness?

Kindness breeds kindness.
It is a beautiful practice.
Kindness breeds kindness.

With love and light
Practice well
and
Write on

carolyn first only sig

Breach

whale breach

One of the reasons whales burst out of the water, reach back, twist and splash back through the blue stained glass surface is to knock off dead barnacles from their skin. Cold water barnacles attach themselves to the whales in the waters of Alaska and die when the whales move through warmer seas.

 

I rise
like this whale.
I break through
twist, turn, flip,
towards sky.
I splash down
all white foam
and spray.
The ghosts
that have attached
themselves
to my back
like barnacles,
parasites that feed
on my soul,
finally
they fall
back into the sea.

My Red Bench

This morning I brought my coffee and my journal to the porch and sat on my bench. I love my bench. Not long after we moved in to our house I saw that the neighbors two doors down from us had a bench and I wanted one too. Their bench was honeydew green and had two white canvas accent pillows. It sat on the front porch under, what I assume to be, their kitchen window.

My Red Bench

My Red Bench

I wouldn’t call our neighborhood modern. In fact, except for the trees and a few over-the-top remodels, if you were to drive down our street, you might think it was 1956.  Most of the homes on our block have grass and maybe a brick pathway that leads from the curb or the driveway to the front steps.

The house with the honeydew green bench had curb appeal. One of the two women that lived there was rumored to be a landscape architect. She designed her front yard in sections with rock borders and exotic plants and a winding slate path that led you to the front of the house. When Bill and I first moved in, we’d walk over and take pictures of their plants so we could buy them and plant them in front of our house.

“I want a bench,” I said to Bill. We were standing in front of their house. I snapped a picture of their bench.

“I don’t know why they have that bench.”  Bill said. “I’ve never even seen them sit on it.”

“You don’t know.” I said and turned to Bill. “They might sit on it when we’re not looking.”

“We don’t need a bench.” Bill said. He was standing with his arms crossed staring at the house.

“It’s curb appeal.” I said. “I want a bench.”

Bill turned toward me. “You probably won’t ever sit on it.” He said.

“I’m buying a bench.” I said. Bill rolled his eyes. He turned and headed back to our house. I followed.

He stopped at the foot of our driveway and crossed his arms. I caught up and we stood there for a few moments looking at our home.

“I’ll go on line to that garden store, Smith & Hawken.” I said. “I bet that’s where they got their bench.”

“Don’t.” He said. “I’ll build you a bench.” I reached up on my tiptoes, kissed his cheek, and walked up the driveway to the house.

Bill built me a sturdy pine bench. I helped him paint it. We chose candy apple red. She sits at the end of our porch under the kitchen window. I bought two black pillows with white piping and lean into them as I write and sip coffee in the mornings. In the summer, our neighbors Susie and Jerry join us for cocktails or beers. Bill and Jerry stand in the driveway and talk about boy things like boats and the weather and motorcycles while Susie and I sit and page through the latest Crate & Barrel or Pottery Barn catalogue. Bill and I sit on our bench and watch the rain. On warm nights, sit and we’ll look at the stars and talk. I love my red bench.

The two women have since moved and a couple bought the house. He’s tall and she has platinum blonde hair. I rarely see them. The lawn is dying and the plants look tired and thirsty.  The porch is empty.

The View From My Bench

The View From My Bench

We’ve gone drought resistant. Our gardener planted lots of colorful dwarf trees and shrubs like Dwarf Day Lillies, California Redbuds, Dusty Millers, Evergreen Current and Fairy Lilacs.  What once was our lawn is now river of grey sand and rock with blue grass accents that runs through pea gravel the color of the beach on a rainy day. When Bill gets home from work, we’ll sit on our red bench and watch the bees, butterflies and hummingbirds drift from flower to flower.

This morning I brought my coffee, my journal and one of my black pillows with white piping outside. I sat on my red bench. The air was thick. The clouds hung low and heavy in the pink and blue sky. A woman walked by with her dog and waved. I waved back.  A man jogged pass on the other side of the street. A white Toyota slowed down in front of our house and stopped. I noticed the driver lean toward the passenger side window and aim her phone at our front yard. I think she was taking a picture.

A View From My Bench

The View From My Bench

Moving With No Movement At All

 

I haven’t been writing lately.

I’ve wanted to write.

I’ve wanted to write because that’s what I’m supposed to do. Write. I’m a writer. I should be writing. I want to write. I miss writing. I miss feeling words flow through me on a walk or during yoga. I miss rushing to get to my journal to write them down. I want to mush words together between my fingers, to mold them and shape and form them into a pose and put it in the kiln to finish.

I’ve wanted to write but since the picture I haven’t. I mean a journal entry here or there, but that’s the extent of my pen.

I’ve thought about writing. I’ve thought a lot about how I’m not writing. I’ve thought a lot about the light bulbs that puffy cloud through my mind but don’t seem to make their way through my fingers onto the ring.

I’ve been reading more than writing. Good thing writers read. Phew! I’ve been reading articles and books, poetry and blogs. I’ve been reading the news. I even read the back of my husband’s Morning O’s cereal box. (A quick read indeed).

The other day I read Cindy Yantis’ Thought Changer blog. She wrote about winding roads and beating your own drum.  

Let me paraphrase. I do that. I paraphrase. I’ll take someone else’s light bulb and ingest it, process it and make it my own. It’s not plagiarism, I promise. I give credit where credit is due. It’s more like digestion. Then I can share the light bulb and spread the love. Isn’t this what we writer’s want? To make a difference in the world with our words and let our light bulbs enlighten.

Cindy described that feeling of moving through molasses, that idea of things not happening fast enough. I know this place, I know this judgement of speed and how things should look. I know this gavel well.labryinth

My path has brought me here–to this forest. I’m not producing right now. It’s not my time. It’s my time to clock. Instead of writing, I’ll sneak off to a dark cool theatre and watch someone else’s creativity unfurl. Instead of writing, I’ll explore my own popcorn. I’ll listen to it hum and vibrate. I’ll feel it and feed it a bit of patience and respect and ocean air. It has been quite a practice, putting  my judgment aside and letting my popcorn dolphin on it’s own.

When I sit back and breathe I feel my gratitude. I’m grateful for the picture–that huge bump in my own coiling trail. I am grateful for the wrench that jammed up my labyrinth and the skillful hands of builder who yanked it out. All that digging and stirring about, although quite tunneling, turned out to be a blessing. I am different. I am more grounded. I am even somehow more whole.

It’s a funny thought. To find myself here, in a place of acceptance after that picture and the tunnel and my inability to grasp at my light bulbs and put them to pen. After all that, I’m okay.

Still, in this place of moving within no movement at all.

 

LOVE


love rock pink

I’ve been swimming in love’s Caribbean blue. Diving down to explore. I’ve found a huge living breathing love reef. I explore the complexity, what clings to my coral, grows on it, decorates it, burrows into it. Yes, that’s me teeming with love fauna. Every piece of my soft underbelly that might break off with time skitters and pulses with love, with life.

The deeper I dive into my truth, my love and my self, the easier it is to swim.  I don’t need to come up for air as much. I frolic. I’m like the Whales that have been playing and eating in the ocean off of Redondo.

I dove a little deeper on Friday.

I dove and drove way out of my comfort zone to UCLA. (Have you been down Wilshire Blvd. in Westwood lately? Yikes!) I took a deep breath and swam through the sculpture garden and came up for air in Public Policy.

I was invited to guest lecture. I spoke to 70 + students who majored in Business or Econ.

The class was engaged and asked a lot of questions.

The professor invited me back.

Someone from the humanities department took me to lunch.

She asked if I’d come speak to Humanities, English; if I’d participate in a panel.

YES

YES

YES

Ahhhhhhhh

As I left North Campus, making that familiar right turn onto Hilgard, I felt a wave of emotion move through me.

I had stepped into a greater appreciation for myself. I realize that for fear of bragging, I’ve diminished some of my accomplishments. I didn’t want to sound like so many people I meet. “And then I did this and then I did that and me me me me me!”

I know that harsh tinny blinding glare–the sharp, pointed light of someone trying to prove something. I read it in newsletters every day. They’re trying to sell me something. They’re me-ing me.

I used to have this friend. She would analyze me. She’d come to my house, step into my office wearing a tool belt complete with hammer, nails, a yellow highlighter and a Freudian textbook. She was ready to analyze, diagnose and repair. Once she told me that I was holding onto extra weight because I was insecure, that I was afraid of intimacy. She was incorrect. I was holding onto extra weight because I had just had a miscarriage.

Here’s the irony, that’s her issue, not mine. Projection.

Interesting. I see her posts on Facebook. We are still “friends” there. I’ve read some of her newsletters. I watch as she bobs on the  surface of herself.

My wish for her would be to dive deep. I know that diving deep isn’t all colorful fish and blue waters. Sometimes it’s dark and scary. I’ve gone down and I’ve wondered if there was any life force down there at all. Our strange creatures, anglerfish, and giant squid live deep, their tentacles reaching. Evolution has shaded their eyes

Dive down, come back, open your eyes, see and feel.

I own it. My mistakes. My faults. My history. I take responsibility. If you’ve read my poetry, you know some of it ain’t so pretty.

I think if that old friend were to analyze me today, I’d have a different response. Or I might not respond at all, because sometimes people can’t listen to what might be true. It’s too hard and so they reflect and deflect and project. It doesn’t matter what she’d say or do now or then, that’s the beauty.

All that matters is love. Love of self so you can Love others.

Ego=fear

Light=Shine=LOVE.

Valentine’s Day Wish

May you turn on your light,

May you dive into your glow

May you shine

May you shine

Baby SHINE!

From the inside out…

From you heart, not from your head.

 

Love yourself

Love love love

Wrap your arms around yourself and LOVE!

Wishing you a LOVEly Valentine’s Day,

Happy LOVE LOVE LOVE!

 

Write on,

 

carolyn first only sig

Happy Holidays

happy new year 1It’s a crazy wonderful whirlwind a winter wonderland of love glitter and sugar, bubble highs, family gatherings around the sound of the Grinch Julie Andrews Ebenezer Jimmy Stewart Charlie Brown – it’s a Christmas Story in front of fires in living rooms across the country while friends clink-a-tink glasses and over look there red velvet bows with whiskers on kittens and bells that jingle and candles lit with magic as we go dashing through the snow rain and sleet and store after store planning parties, writing lists and checking them off twice or even thrice, chocolate trees, silver bells, big gold balls, blue satin sashes, green, silver, red bows and tinsel and lights that flash on and off and on and off and twinkle candy cane’s, popcorn strung trees, reindeer and the modes Christmas penguin, caroling elves, snowflakes and rain drops and I forgot my umbrella, secret Santa’s ring-a-ding-dong on every corner, miracles burn bright for eight crazy nights   as we wrap and tie and decorate and figure and choose which little black dress, red sequin gown, three piece tux black tie affair to attend. You better watch out, you better not blink or that guy will cut you off in traffic and you’ll miss the light and the sale and someone will buy Oprah’s favorite things right out from under you.

 
It’s crazy
It’s wonderful
It’s the season

we circle around and around and around and our feet just might not even touch the ground.
 
It’s okay. It’s all good.

If I get harried and nutscelebration crop
I drop into my body
I take a moment
take a breath
take another
I want to stay whole during these holy days
stay centered
stay with myself
because
It is a magical time
lights twinkle on dark nights
we see friends and family we haven’t seen for a while
we celebrate love and family and life and miracles 

I dive into my journal

It’s not the only way to get centered, but it sure does work for me. I like to spin.
I like to take a walk at the beach.
I like to visit my yoga mat, a little downward facing dog and cat-cow, peaceful warrior one, two and three.
I’ll turn on a carol in the car and I’ll sing-sing-a-ling.
I like to unwind with Bill, cook a meal, sit down and eat it with cloth napkins and conversation. (And then there’s always a bit of bubbly, a little love’n and chocolate! )

 
It’s the time to dive into it all–the hustle and flow and the magic and miracles and all the wishes and desires.

Just as long as I don’t forget to dive into myself!
 
I’m taking this moment to make a wish.
Here’s to a wonderful and wild and colorful and bright bushy-tailed winter wonderland
here’s to magic and miracles
to peace on Earth
to true good will toward human kind.

Here’s to loving kindness
Here’s to loving each other
Here’s to love

Here’s to giving presents
and staying present as we give!

Here’s to you!

Cheers!
 
Write on,
Happy Holidays.

Write on,

carolyn first only sig

 

 

Unedited Sunday Morning Musings

 

today

when i was walking

sand slipping between my toes

heels sinking

and lifting

legs moving me forward

people lined up in pews

eyes closed

hands clasped

throats thick with hymn

and they prayed

 

while they sat

surfers AND dolphins

sunday morning redondo beach

in the white and blue

steepled building

down the street from my house

i watched

neoprene clad surfers

wait on waves

i watched

dolphins flip

through the gleam

of sun

a flicker-dance

on the water

i watched pelicans

and gulls dive

for their breakfast

 

i know it might be corny

to make such a simple

comparison

my church

to theirs

 

sometimes truth

is just that simple

 

Journal Entry: August 31, 2014

Journal Entry:  August 31, 2014

 

I had a good childhood.

me and dad Maui, maybe 79 or 80

Me and Dad Maui Circa 79 or 80

I grew up on movie sets. My Dad was a Production Manager back when you broke down a script using colored cardboard strips. Wemoved from New York to Beverly Hills. “Stepford Wives” was in the can but I still got to brush Katherine Ross’ strawberry blonde hair and help her bake cookies in her Malibu kitchen. I loved how her bathing suit bottoms never matched her tops.  When my Dad was working on “Murder by Death” he arranged for me to meet Angie Dickenson and Earl Holliman. “Police Woman” was my favorite show and it was a way bigger deal than meeting David Niven, Truman Capote or Maggie Smith. Although it was pretty neat to watch Colombo rehearse the same line over and over and over again.

It wasn’t just me. My Dad brought lots of people up in the movie business. He got them jobs, got them training, got them in the union.

Then the script took a dark turn. An unexpected diagnosis. A first surgical procedure doesn’t go as planned. Lake Arrowhead-chemo-recovery-weekends and my Dad’s healthy vital glow mask the executioner. A Second surgery and still Cancer drills deep and takes root.

All scenes led to that final diagnosis.
Seven days left to say goodbye.

“Did you get the shot?” He asked. From his bedside at Cedars, I could see the Hollywood sign, white against the Indian summer hillside.  I held his hand. It felt heavy.

“We did.” I replied.

Cut. Print. That’s a wrap.

That was 1988.

Man of Destiny

Roger M. Rothstein

It took a bit of time, but now I can feel into the gift that is my father. Not just my gift–I still get emails, letters and Facebook posts: I miss him every day; I found a picture of him; There was no one quite like Roger.

I can look in the mirror and see him in the round of my face, the beauty mark on my cheek and my dark hair and eyes. His energy courses through my veins as I negotiate with a tough client.

If my father weren’t where he is, somewhere out there, I wouldn’t be where I am now.  Who knows, maybe he is here, hovering over my right shoulder as I type.

This is my life.

Happy Birthday Dad.

Hello Moon**

Journal Entry:  August 11, 2014

 

full moon morning

Full Moon Morning

I stepped out onto the back porch this morning and looked up to see the moon, still full, setting in the sky. I don’t recall a full moon ever on an August 11th, but that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t ever happened.

Today is my birthday.

“What a nice surprise.” I tell the moon.

“Sure thing!” He says.  “Happy Birthday!”

“Thank you.” I say

That moon-man smiling down on me, greeting me on my special day, makes me think about how long I have been here. I couldn’t count the number of times I’ve looked up and smiled at him in my five decades and one year.

I had my coffee, my vanilla protein shake with an organic peach and I wrote in my journal.  I left the house happy.  I drove through emptier-than-normal-for-a-Monday streets and parked in the almost vacant lot by my spinning studio.  I was greeted upstairs with smiles and birthday wishes.

During class, our instructor Mandy said, “Grab your water and grab your breath.” I don’t know if she meant to say grab, but that’s what I heard.

I looked over the parking lot, to the palm trees and couldn’t help but think about the word.  Grab.

What have I grabbed for in my life? What else will I reach for and grab? I grab a ripe Meyer lemon from our tree in the back yard — twist and pull.  I pluck opportunities as they ripen on their vines. What will I reach for next?

At 51, I am still like a child that picks and chooses what to discover and explore next.  Although, I haven’t had to grab for that much; the important, life-changing things come to me.

I get clear.
I ask.
I let go.
I receive.

It seems easy and in a way it is, but there is the work of getting clear and letting go, sometimes it can be a challenge. Although, at this place it isn’t as much work as it was when I was in another place.

That’s what happened with Bill.  It’s not that we didn’t reach for each other.  We did.  It’s how we came to be within each other’s reach, in that particular instant, that I find interesting.

I’ve written about it many times, it was as simple as that.

Why does the moon smile down on me?
Why did Bill and I get swaddled together in that moment?
Why am I blessed with this life?

I don’t know that I have answers for these questions.  I may never.  I’m good with that.  I’ll unwrap full moon birthday wishes, and magic instead of answers.

Happy Birthday to Me!

 

** Excerpt from the book that I am currently writing.

 

 

I’m Keeping on Keeping on…

I’ve been feeling a bit stuck lately, in my writing, in my work, in general—stuck.  I hold my breath and hold myself back. There is something I’m not seeing, something I’m missing, some door that isn’t opening.  On the outside, I appear cool and confident and on the inside I’m a bundle of nerves.

It’s funny, people will tell me I’m courageous and that I’m a risk taker and I’ll be quaking in my boots or wondering if I’m making the ‘right’ life choices.

When I was waiting tables at Old Venice in Manhattan Beach back in the 90’s a gal that I knew from high school came in and I had to wait on her.  I wasn’t exactly embarrassed, even though it was Halloween weekend and I was in cat makeup. I was more uncomfortable, worried about what she would think.

After I brought them their drinks, while taking their order, we caught up a bit.  She went to college, law school and got married. “What about you?” She asked.

My cat ears were twitching. I’d rather chase a rat than tell the story of my life up to that point to someone that together.

“After UCLA I worked on some features, then, after my Dad died, I worked for Camden Artists, then Triad.” I said.  She was leaning toward me, looking up; she seemed interested in what I had to say. “Then I went to Europe for 6 months and I found a job at a patisserie…” I said.

It went on from there.  How could I tell her every detail? I didn’t. I didn’t tell her about my move back home, the garage sale where I sold all just about all my stuff—including that fabulous orange flowered print skirt and matching shoes and ribbed mid-drift pullover I bought in some crazy expensive store in Santa Monica.

I didn’t tell her the details of how I found my first apartment and my first job and all the other jobs when I moved to Santa Barbara where I worked as a waitress – at The Jolly Tiger coffee shop, at the San Yisidro Ranch, at a bowling alley, at Pascual’s Mexican restaurant, then there was the Turkish company, Telanav, they were doing something shady and they wouldn’t let us leave for lunch, then there was Market Place Media—that’s where I learned how to use PageMaker.

I didn’t tell her that after Santa Barbara there was Venice and Value Health Sciences, Inc.(VHS) and that the reason I left Venice and moved to Redondo Beach was because my roommate was a psychopath who delivered a bag of garbage to my office with a note that said: ATTN: CAROLYN, because he was mad I was moving.

I didn’t tell her that only way for me to get promoted at VHS was to leave and move to Phoenix.  I didn’t tell her that I worked in the marketing department at  Eye Care Plan of America—they turned the storage closet into my office—ahhhh my first office.

I told her that I hated Phoenix because I tell everyone that mentions Phoenix that I hate Phoenix—when you’re wearing jeans and cowboy boots on a 90-degree day, side-stepping cockroaches the size of my dying Mustang convertible,  it’s time to head back to the beach.

“So, I moved back to Redondo Beach and I also work at Gold’s Gym in Redondo.” I said, summarizing best I could. “I want to be a personal trainer.”

“Wow.” Her smile seemed to go from ear to ear.  Her husband was smiling too.  “I envy you.” She said.

“Why?” I asked. She was the grown-up here.  She had a career, she had a husband, she had a house.  She was a real person.

“You’re so courageous,” She said. “You didn’t just do what you were supposed to do like I did.”

There have been quite a few more lefts and rights and even some U-turns since that conversation 20 years ago.

curvy path

twist and turns ahead

I am still zigzagging along on my path.

It seems these days that I’m not the only one, there are others. The world has changed and the straight and narrow isn’t as straight and narrow as it used to be–we are explorers all of us.

Still, at times, I find myself gasping for air.

I sometimes have to remind myself to breathe.  I have to remind myself that I have courage, that I am brave, that I am in the right place at the right time, and that if history does indeed repeat itself, well, I’ll be just fine…actually, I’ll be much better than fine.