#271 Rejoice! Rejoice!

3 days a week I work at a computer and wait on customers — it’s my volunteer job at the State Park where I live in the winter. I love it. But the configuration of chair, computer, and counter is awkward, and my body suffers. So I have a new regimen. I set the timer on my phone for 15 minutes, and when it chimes I stand up, lift my heart skyward and ground my feet earthward. I take a deep breath or two, and then I get back to work.

I’ve noticed something — I smile when my timer chimes! One reason I smile is that I get a kick out of being a bit eccentric, a little bit quirky. But mainly I smile because it pleases me to be doing something good for myself. I’m proud of myself, and I’m grateful to myself. My timer chimes, and I am glad.

So I thought, why not be glad about other things I do for myself? Why not be proud and grateful when I take my herbal supplements? Why not be glad when I brush my teeth? Washing my hair, doing my laundry, drinking a glass of water — there are many good things that I do for myself that are merely automatic. They could all be cause for rejoicing. So now I rejoice. Clip my toenails? Rejoice! Use lip balm? Rejoice! Take a walk? Rejoice!

And the more I rejoice, the more I want to rejoice! I find myself looking around for something good I can do for myself — drink another glass of water! — so that I can rejoice some more.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Rejoice!

#270 Getting It Together

Sometimes I feel that I’m right on the verge of “getting my shit together.” I can just about touch some kind of shift to a different level of perception, some kind of expansion — but I can’t quite see what it is.

Then a friend dies, and my knee is stiff and cranky, and my eyes are gritty from allergies, and I’m back in the every day world of “what’s it all about?” So I take a breath and look around, and I remember something about gratitude, and about generosity, and love. And I begin again to live my life grounded in those qualities. And that’s me getting my shit together.


Here are some random quotes from Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D, author of Women Who Run With the Wolves, among other books.


“If you have never been called a defiant, incorrigible, impossible woman… have faith… there is yet time…”

“Some people mistake being loving for being a sap. Quite the contrary, the most loving people are often the most fierce.”

“When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for.”

#268 Generous Replies

This post is a bit long, but I think you’ll agree it’s well worth reading. (More replies will follow on another day.)

This first reply from a reader is a beautiful example of what I mean by living life wide open, and being available. But, and to me this makes it even more beautiful, it’s a poignant story of someone recognizing that she had been stingy.

“I was waiting for a bus on a rainy evening, to meet friends downtown.

At the corner, sitting in the shelter was a very drunk Native American man. I said hello, he said hello. He asked me if I could call his son, then his daughter, then his friend for him. No one was answering.

He kept asking me where he was, I kept replying.

I asked him where he wanted to go. He was heading towards Saint Paul. He kept on getting up trying to check out the schedule. He was staggering fiercely.

I helped him read it.

He said he had just gotten out of the hospital, detox I imagine.

There was a pill bottle next to him. He left it on the bench. I asked him if it were his, he said yeah, but it was weed. And he opened it to show me. Did I want to smoke with him? No, I answered.

He dropped it, and I reached down to get it for him.

He asked me why I was being so nice to him, and I told him it was good to help people.

He told me he wanted to kiss me, so I said, okay—but just on the cheek, which he did ever so lightly.

We are joined by another person(white male).

Paul (Native dude) says, “I got to pee” and goes to the corner of the shelter at does his business. I discreetly turn my back.

The bus finally comes, I help him in, we sit next to one another on the bus. I ask the driver for the bus to Saint Paul and where to get off. That done, I take my seat next to him. He wants another kiss, and I offer my cheek.

But this is the thing that made me ponder. He wanted to hold hands, and I “allowed” him to put his hand over mine, but I was very aware about how I was not returning his touch. And did nothing about it.

As he got up to get to the other bus, he asked me for a couple bucks. I gave it to him, no more, cause I was afraid he would buy even more booze.

I wish I would have squeezed his hand.”

Opportunities for generosity abound! Take your generosity to the next level!

Here’s another reader who is aware of ways that she is stingy, and is learning to be less so:

“I regularly attend a Buddhist based mindfulness meditation group. The first lesson the Buddha taught is that of dana or generosity.  

I continue to learn to give freely monetarily.  

By far the most difficult lesson is that of learning to give in the other ways you mention, especially generosity or openness of attitude toward others, letting go of judgment.  It’s an inheritance that my parents gave me, and I continue to work on letting go of it.  

It isn’t useful and most certainly isn’t kind to myself or others.”

Let’s all try this for awhile — never pass up an opportunity to be generous.

#267 Practice Generosity

It’s funny about generosity.

I almost always get replies to Tenacity Notes. Not always many, but at least a couple. However, I don’t get replies when I mention generosity. I understand that generosity can be an edgy topic for many.

Given that we live within a mass culture focused on taking and having, the impulse to close down, to defend, to hold onto is a strong one, and it can feel normal or natural. But it isn’t.

Maybe this is a good time to think about generosity. Maybe this is a good time to risk the freedom that being generous brings — freedom from being tight and fearful and defended; freedom to be vulnerable and wide open and glad.

One easy way to think about generosity is to note all the ways there are of being stingy.

Of course, the first thing that comes to mind when we think about stinginess is money. But there are many ways of being stingy besides money.

We can be stingy with our time, with our love, even with our curiosity.

We can be stingy with our acceptance of others — stingy with our willingness to be available in the moment, any moment.

We can be stingy with our expectations —“ this is how I expect something to be, and I will not be satisfied with any other possibility.”

We can be stingy towards ourselves — stingy with the permission we give ourselves to be vulnerable, to be joyful, to be the person we suspect we’re capable of being.

This might be a good time to think about generosity; a good time to identify the ways that you are tight, closed down, or unwilling — the ways you are stingy.

This might be a good time to be curious about all the ways you say “no,” and then practice saying yes; to notice when you are critical or judgmental, and then practice acceptance and approval; to notice when you are impatient, and then practice being available; to notice when you hold your purse strings tight, and then ask yourself if your tight grip is truly necessary or is it just your automatic way of being in the world, your attempt to feel safe in the unpredictability that is life. Then let go your grip.

Practice generosity diligently for a time — an afternoon, a day, a week, a month. Yes, it can be edgy. It can feel scary to be wide open when you’re accustomed being closed, to be loose when you’re accustomed to being tight, to say yes when you’re used to no. But practice generosity long enough, and I’m sure you’ll come to love it. To be truly generous is to know freedom, and joy, and wonder, and a glorious sense of possibility. I guess that’s because generosity is a form of love.

Let me know how it goes!

#266 Girl Scouts and Jesus

It’s interesting to me how many people tell me that I’m a Buddhist. I have never studied Buddhism. I am not at all inclined towards religion. Any religion. I would never call myself a theist. But hearing so often that I’m a Buddhist has gotten me to wondering where my values and my world view came from.

Two institutions influenced me in my youth. Girl Scouts and Jesus.

Although I am not religious, and did not grow up in a religious family, I did attend 12 years of Catholic school. Unlike some Christian sects, Catholics, it seems to me, concerned themselves more with the New Testament than with the Old Testament. So over the years of my education, I developed an idea of Jesus — he was the son of god and he was also a man. He was an itinerant teacher; he befriended and hung out with the poor, the sick, and the outcasts. This last included women. He was kind. He was generous. He was not enamored of the wealthy.

Girl Scouts showed me how to follow Jesus’s example. We learned to help other people at all times. We learned to be useful; to leave a place better than we found it; to be a friend to animals; to be courteous and cheerful. We visited the sick and we fed the hungry. We learned to be trustworthy. To be generous. To be kind. We matured into humility. We learned all this by doing. In addition, we learned to paddle a canoe, to build a campfire and cook on it, to pitch a tent, to use a compass and a map.

That’s it — Girl Scouts and Jesus, the guides of my youth. Both of them taught me about love in action; love in the every day real world.

I had many teachers after that, but the trajectory of my life never changed much from the path that the Girl Scouts and Jesus set me on.