On Kindness

Kindness is a currency that does not run out. Spend it generously, and it will return generously to you.

Kindness is a language that transcends words. A kind act done with a smile, silent as it may be, softens the giver, receiver, and all who witness it.

Kindness multiplies. Kindness shown by one spreads like a single drop of dye in water, coloring it all.

Kindness relieves. A single kind deed calms and soothes any wound, even if the pain is great.

Kindness catalyzes. Like match to kindling, it sparks forgiveness, hope, possibility, and creation. 

Kindness begets kindness. It is not a zero sum game. Giving it away doesn't mean you have less, and nothing goes missing when a measure of kindness is shared.

Kindness returns in many forms. An iced coffee bought for a stranger on a hot day may return as your cab fare paid when the credit card reader is down and you haven't the cash to pay. Silently helping a fellow passenger on a plane struggling to load her bags in the overhead bin may return as a free drink from the flight attendant who watched from a few rows away. Supporting and encouraging colleagues at work without a selfish agenda may return as greater influence or trust. When you spend the currency of kindness, it may come back to you in surprising ways.

Kindness may cost nothing at all, or everything all at once. It may look like a handwritten note or the sacrifice of the stranger who lay down their life saving a child who ran into traffic. It may be small or it may overwhelm with its bigness. Either way, it matters greatly.

Kindness matters most of all. When we come to the end of our lives, we will not wish we had been busier or wealthier and we will likely not give thanks for all the likes our social media accounts received... we will be known for our kindness, for what it created in us and around us, for the many ways in which we shared it, and the many people to whom we gave it away. 

How will you spend your kindness this day? 

The Year of PLAY

My New Years practice is to choose a word for the year, and let it guide me. I’ve done this for a few years, and this always gives me intention and direction, even if only for a few months. It’s always fun and it’s always helpful.

This year, New Years passed me by without much of the usual intention setting and fanfare. I was busy. I was working. I was distracted.

This month, my word for 2018 found me. It sneaked up on me with a damn water gun, tapped me on the shoulder, and gave me a good soaking. Friends, my word for 2018 is...

Play!

This year, I make PLAY a priority. I know there is work to be done. I know there are bills to pay and marches to attend and movements to continue and necessary change for which to fight. I know this and I value it and I will be there, too.

But that's not all I'm going to do with my life this year. If 2016 was a year of worrying what would come and 2017 was a year of shock and trauma and activism, this year I choose JOY. If I'm going to be any good for anyone in the world, most of all myself and the people I love, I am choosing to set my eyes toward play and joy-making for the sheer fun of it. I will play without feeling like it’s selfish, I’ll play when I feel anxious, I’ll play when I’ve worked hard and it’s time to walk away, I’ll make play time as important as paying bills.

This tree is in the middle of the Masai Mara in Kenya. Our safari driver stopped here so we could have a picnic. Zebras. Everywhere. Wildebeest, too. Rhinos in the distance. Hippos bathing nearby. All my insides said, "YOU MUST CLIMB THAT TREE." Before I could come up with a bunch of reasons not to, I climbed the damn tree. It was awesome.

This tree is in the middle of the Masai Mara in Kenya. Our safari driver stopped here so we could have a picnic. Zebras. Everywhere. Wildebeest, too. Rhinos in the distance. Hippos bathing nearby. All my insides said, "YOU MUST CLIMB THAT TREE." Before I could come up with a bunch of reasons not to, I climbed the damn tree. It was awesome.

I will not become too busy to play. For the sake of my brain, my heart, my soul, my relationships, my work, my way of being in the world, may 2018 be the year of eyes and arms wide open, head thrown back in laughter, sense- indulging PLAY!

The next chapter of Begin Again will come out of this word. I can't wait to bring you workshops, events and GETAWAYS (OMG LET'S GO ON A TRIP TOGETHER) designed to give you permission to play your dear, sweet heart out. In all the coming together we're doing to create and be strong and put out good work in the world, I am so excited to dedicate time and energy this year to creating spaces for us to PLAY. 

Stay tuned, family! 

Grace and Peace!

Why now?

All around us is bad news. It’s the easiest thing in the world to go online and find chaos after tragedy after seemingly endless disaster. I can hardly open the News app on my phone anymore without slamming the phone down in a rage. It’s tiresome, this constant worry over the state of things. I’ve spoken with more people this year who have developed anxiety since the last election cycle than who haven’t.

Here’s the deal about bad news, though: It’s not the only news. Is it what we hear the most often? Sure. Is it what advertisers want us to focus on? Absolutely. How else would they convince us we need the hundreds of products and services they’ve designed? If the world is more safe than not, and if people are already of great intrinsic worth and inherent dignity exactly as we are and nothing can take that away, what reason do you and I have to buy that extra life insurance policy or the home alarm system that can also order cloth diapers and play Bruno Mars? As long as media conglomerates and politicians and advertising companies control the narrative, we can be scared into just about anything. As long as we’re scared of the world around us, we can be manipulated into doing and believing just about anything. As long as we’re divided into our camps of “Us” and “Them”, as convinced of our own righteousness as we are of their blatant stupidity, we’re very easy to control. Those who control the narrative control everything.

Friends, it’s time for us to write a new story. It’s time for us to take back the narrative.

Here’s what I love about us. We drive me absolutely bananas, don’t get me wrong. We hurt each other every day and we say awful things on the internet but, somehow, in the midst of all the war and poverty and racial injustice and mass shootings and authoritarianism and rape and moral bankruptcy, we still manage to live.

We still make music in living rooms.

We still watch little ones jump in rain puddles.

We still plant flowers in gardens.

We curl up by fires with books.

We chase fireflies in the summer.

We build new tables out of old wood.

We put on plays and musicals that make absolutely no money but bring great joy.

We make soup for sick friends.

We jump out of airplanes.

We hop in the car and drive through the countryside on a Saturday just to see the leaves change from green to blazing red.

We help our kids with their algebra homework.

We weep to bury our loved ones and laugh over memories of them.

We have hard conversations with people we don’t understand because we love them.

We apologize.

We forgive.

We put quarters in gumball machines because it reminds us of being young.

We surf.

We skateboard.

We take naps on sofas.

We adopt pets from shelters.

We walk through the woods because they’re there.

We pick up trash from the sidewalk because it’s the right thing to do.

We eat stinky cheese and drink sparking wine.

We call our mothers.

We try to remember to write ‘Thank You’ notes, and we always feel better when we do.

We give gifts on birthdays, and on holidays, and, sometimes, just because we want to.

We buy tiny gourds and arrange them on tables for no other reason than they look nice there.

We turn wool into sweaters and blankets and itty bitty socks for newborn babies.  We play instruments and turn notes into songs.

We tell our stories.

We live.

It takes so little light fill a dark room. People, even when we’re really enthusiastically screwing things up, are capable of generating such bright light.

We are born resilient.

Hate is learned. Fear of the people around us is learned.

I believe we can unlearn those things. I believe the most radical thing we can do is introduce ourselves to one another. I believe the way we make the world a place of light again is not by constantly complaining about the darkness, but by realizing we have had access to the light all along.

Thanksgiving, 2017. Releasing light, gratitude, and dreams.

Thanksgiving, 2017. Releasing light, gratitude, and dreams.

It’s us. It's ours to share. The light is not lessened when we share it, but like a match to a candle the light multiplies and spreads. 

Thank you for all the ways you are light in the world. Keep opening yourself up. Keep living. You can't possibly know when your light will ignite someone else's. There are so many of us, friends. Keep shining.

The Beginning

In a way, this project is a beginning. But in lots of other ways, it's simply the next right thing in a story full of stops and starts. I've never been a person for whom normal was going to work out. My "career path" is more of a meandering mountain cilmb, sometimes trailing along little sparkling streams with baby deer and butterflies, but more often switching back and forth and up and down and around until my hamstrings cramp and my boob sweat and armpit sweat become one inner tube of stank wrapped around my middle. I almost never know what's coming next. I have spent the past decade or so following my gut to the next right thing, seeing what patterns emerge in my life, identifying what makes me feel alive, and trying my damnedest to turn those next steps into some sort of a living. 

This project is the birth of what's been growing in me ever since approximately November 9, 2016. I'm tired of not knowing what to do to make the world a little less insane. I know exactly what to do. I am nervous and a little afraid, but I know exactly what I'm going to do. I am going to meet you, sweet strangers of the world. I am going to meet you and listen to your stories of resilience and share them with whoever will hear us, because I think the collective truth of our lived experiences is what will save us from a world of misrepresentation and alternative facts. There is a truth with more depth and breadth and life than the facts- even the right ones- and I'm going to seek out that truth and share it. It's in our stories. It's in our moments of empowerment and courage and sacrifice and forgiveness and mercy and love, and it exists inside us and in between us- always. 

This project is about meeting strangers and introducing you to some of the amazing people in my life, and sharing all of our stories of resilience in one place. This project is about making the world better. It's about good news. It's about telling the truth. There are people facing their pain and their fear and anxiety about the world, and living luminous and bold lives of creation right where they are. I'm going to find them and introduce them to you. My hope is that their stories will remind you of your own bright and bold life, and point you back to your own resilience.

Here's what it will look like: There will be a podcast where I'll sit down with some incredibly normal and totally resilient humans and we'll talk about hard, beautiful things. There will be an instagram where I'll post pictures of people from all over the world with little glimpses of their stories of resilience. There will be a blog where I'll tell the truth as best I know it. There will be you and me and all of us sharing our best, hardest, most beautiful, awful, life giving and empowering stories about how and who we are in the world. We will tell the truth. We will make the world a little less insane. We will BE the good news we've been waiting to hear. And when we fall and fail and lose our way, we will begin again. Together. Always.