03/30/14

Begin Again Wherever You Land

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Torrey Pines Nature Reserve and Beach are a haven and playground for me so when I see others enjoying the park and I’m asked to take a photo or people are taking photos of each other, and it feels right, I will ask, “Would you like a photo together? What brought you to Torrey Pines? Are you from the area or visiting?” I’ve met the most interesting people and had some of the most surprising and incredibly heart felt present moment exchanges and photo memories like this one on a recent Saturday:

What brought you to Torrey Pines? “We love it here. My girls are happy because their nanny and her friend are here visiting them from New York. My wife died of breast cancer a year ago. We brought her here to get treatment and my two daughters and I stayed to start a new life.”

That was not the story I expected to hear. It’s so easy to make assumptions and judgments. About people. About family dynamics. About everything. In the few minutes before I approached this man while watching the five of them play at the water’s edge, my mind whirred with what their family story might be, never anticipating his answer and immediately feeling a range of emotions from sadness to inspiration to gratitude as I listened to him talk.

I’ve thought many times about this connection since then – not only admiring his courage and devotion to his daughters, but also my own thoughts about family and starting over.

Lots to still consider but this I know: Family comes in all shapes and sizes and you can begin again wherever you land.

What do you believe about family and new beginnings?

Thanks for sharing!
09/11/13

9/11 Photo Memories 12 Years Later: Look for the Helpers

It’s a bright, clear afternoon outside my window as I write. No big terrifying surprise today like there was 12 years ago. But enough memories to keep me aware, grateful, and humble. I just viewed Time Magazine’s article “9/11: The Photographs That Moved Them the Most.”  The industry’s leading photo editors, photographers, authors, educators and bloggers were interviewed on which images from 9/11 moved them most and why. I wonder what your answer would be? Here’s mine:

As I was going through the photos and reading these people’s memories, every image was more emotional than the next. I remember feeling again what all of these photographers described – shock and horror at the incredible human loss and destruction, anger and sadness that there is so much misunderstanding and violence in the world, gratitude for all who ran in when everyone was running out, and…

I remember all the people whom I knew who were in the area at that time who were safe.

I remember the email I received from a colleague three days after 9/11 in honor of one who didn’t make it home.

I remember speaking in New York and visiting Ground Zero three weeks after 9/11. I remember the wet ash-filled streets and acrid smell still in the air, the tower’s steel beams that looked like overcooked spaghetti laying on the ground and the blocks and blocks of photos and mementos of missing family members pinned to security fences along the street.

And now, twelve years later, I also remember what keeps my heart open —  the simple words of Mr. Rogers to parents when they asked him what to tell their children: “Look for the helpers.”

I did. Here’s a photo I took. Helpers everywhere.

9/11 Ground Zero Three Weeks Later

9/11 Ground Zero Three Weeks Later

Thanks for sharing!
07/16/13

How to Reduce Stress and Feel Presence: Take a Nature Walk in Your Mind

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Since both of us are probably sitting somewhere — you reading, me writing — and you may not be able to get out for a Presence Walk until later, here are two simple things you can do right now to reduce your stress and feel more Presence in your Life:

1) Get a nature walk scheduled on your calendar this week. Anticipation of something you’re looking forward to increases joy and peace of mind and allows you to be more present to the moment. One of my favorite spots on the planet to feel Presence, joy and peace of mind is Torrey Pines Reserve, where I took this photo. Such a calming moment to appreciate the beauty of Life.

2) Do what I did just before I started writing. Look at your favorite nature photos on your computer or in a photo book or go to your own mental nature preserve in your mind, and while you’re looking, take ten long, slow deep breaths, put your hand to your heart and smile for 60 seconds, feeling the energy of Presence breathing you, giving you life. Relax into the spaciousness. (Feel free to download this photo and use it as your screensaver).

If you want to up the relaxation factor, add one of your favorite songs for three to four minutes with the nature photos full screen on your computer. One of my favorite stress relief songs/CDs is Deuter’s Sun Spirit. You can sample it on Amazon.

What’s your favorite place to walk in nature and what is one of your favorite stress relief songs? Please share in the comments below.

Thanks for sharing!