Being human means that you get to experience an enormous range of emotion. Some of these feel great, and because they are so pleasurable you want more of them: happiness, bliss, contentment. Some of these feel awful, and because they are so painful you want less of them: disappointment, rejection, betrayal.
It’s the clinging and aversion the ancients caution us against. The chasing pleasure and the running from pain that creates a cycle of exhausted dissatisfaction and can be so destructive. Our suffering is there. Continue reading “Welcome all emotions; please sign the Guest Book.”
Someone asked me what makes me happy. I wrote a partial list and realized it was not a list of what makes me happy. More accurately, it was a list moments or experiences that brought happiness out of me. As I wrote the list, I felt happy. Each item is an emotional tuning fork, a pure tone that clarifies for me, Yes, Happiness.
Happiness, like love, is part of our nature. At times we forget this. We think it’s something that comes from outside. We put conditions on it, I’ll be happy when. . . Continue reading “Emotional tuning forks.”
A year ago I had to renew my passport, so I went to the Walgreen’s near my office at lunch to get photos taken. I remember feeling exhausted, but also happy because I was excited for my upcoming trip. The photos came out and when I saw them, I didn’t recognize myself. I looked terrible. I looked beat down and tired. My face looked. . . saggy and dim. Was that really what I looked like? I felt my cheeks burn, and paid for my photos and left.*
Back at the office, way up on the 26th floor where we had amazing views of the bay, I went to the restroom and looked in the mirror. I really looked. I saw bloodshot eyes, from staring too long at a screen. I saw slumped shoulders. A down-turned mouth. I saw a spark in the eye, but it was dim. Like an overcast sky. I thought, This isn’t right. I tried to smile. It was grotesquely superficial and unconvincing. Continue reading “Be willing to see.”
I wanted to call this post “How to keep your inner chill when surrounded by crazy people,” but that felt too long and not quite the point I want to make.
I’m thinking about the Bar Exam. Also certain family gatherings. And occasional corporate town hall meetings. Any time I felt like I was surrounded by people who were kinda crazy, and I was concerned about getting sucked down into the crazy with them. Continue reading “Be a ninja.”
I have a friend from law school. She worked in Big Law, until the firm unexpectedly dissolved in that time when many traditional big firms unraveled. Then she worked for a small firm, commuting an hour each way and figuring out child care while her husband finished his graduate degree in another city.
She told me, “I’m living the dream, Kim. The only problem is: it’s the wrong dream!” The hours, the commute, the stress of work, the demands of being a parent and wife were wearing her down. “I worked so hard to get here, and for what? To never see my kid or husband? To spend hours working with mean people? It’s a joke.” Continue reading “It’s ok to update your dream.”
And what if living your life is like making a soup? And each experience, each burst of laughter or sudden broken heart is just another ingredient. A little spice, a dash of seasoning. You toss it all into the pot, stir it up.
Taste the soup. Continue reading “Taste the soup.”
Lawyers are on my mind and in my heart today. I was in law school when a light-bulb went off for me about praying. I went to a Jesuit university, though I’m not Catholic and wasn’t raised in church. Praying wasn’t part of my regular life. But working as an extern for a Federal District Court judge, I read a lot of motions. I often came upon this phrase: prayer for relief.
And I realized: Oh! To pray means to ask. Continue reading “Prayer for relief.”
On the inside you’re still that child. Under all the layers of life and work, of love and relationships, of broken hearts and blind ambition, you still hold the wonder and innocence that you were born with. When you feel relaxed and safe, when something delights you or captures your attention in a particular way, that child-self comes closer to the surface. It peeks out from behind your grown-up eyes. It shines. Continue reading “On the inside.”
Life is like a sacred stir-fry filled with experience and emotion. You reach in with your spoon, take a bite. Sometimes it’s everything you like (love, laughter, and chocolate!). Sometimes it’s everything you don’t (betrayal, disappointment, and eggplant). In one spoonful you might get both bitter and sweet.
You always go back for more. Continue reading “The sacred stir-fry.”
I’ve been spending time at the Botanical Garden. It is Spring and so things are blooming. Also, the Botanical Garden reminds me of someone I care about very much. Some years ago, before Parkinson’s, we spent an afternoon walking through the garden and he told me all about the plants.
There are some very fascinating plants there: the aptly-called monkey hand plant, all the feathery and colorful protea from South Africa, and the unusual grass tree from Australia. There is the century plant that blooms once every ten years, and then dies. Continue reading “There’s room for you here.”