Holding the Space for Connection Through the Hard Conversations, Part II

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Today I watched this video of Trump supporters at his rallies.  Their words, actions, and expressions represent the basest human emotions.  I posted the video to my Facebook page, commenting:

(Donald Trump incites rage and hate) in his followers. He stokes the worst in people. He provokes the emotional states that preclude rational thought and reasonable behavior–he is the king of emotional hijacking. Nobody ever makes a good decision while emotionally hijacked; that is when relationships and connection are destroyed, often violently and permanently.

And here’s another irony:  We non-supporters are similarly hijacked by his belligerence.  He and his supporters incite us to rail against them all, collectively and wholly as individuals, as racists, bigots, idiots, haters, etc.  Name-calling is the easiest and most convenient way to separate ourselves from what we disdain, what we fear, and what’s too uncomfortable to tolerate.  But how does this help anything?

On my last blog post I wrote:

I intend to avoid:

-Speaking and writing in sweeping generalizations

-Following snap judgments about groups, or individuals based on their group membership

-Labeling and shaming people or groups as ‘racist,’ ’ignorant,’ ‘stupid,’ ‘lazy,’ etc.

Today I wrote about Trump’s supporters:

I’m trying not to label and pigeon-hole these people, trying not to judge them and discard them, just by what I see here.  That only advances the exact mentality I seek to reverse: more separation, more hatred, more “you are less than me, you don’t matter.”

I guess I have to keep reminding myself.

I can hardly imagine what it would be like to sit down, one-on-one, with someone who sincerely supports a Donald Trump presidency, and have a conversation about it.  But I can easily imagine talking to a Trump supporter about the trials and joys of parenting, the breakneck evolution of technology, and a mutual love of Marvel movies.  Who knows, maybe I already do.

I think most of my friends know my political persuasion.  Most of them also share it.  But probably more than I realize don’t share it, and we avoid talking about it.  Why?  Because it’s uncomfortable.  We don’t trust ourselves to avoid the emotional hijacking.  We’re afraid we’ll say something we’ll regret and damage the relationship.  Or (and), we see the only objective of such conversations as trying to change the other person’s mind, or having our mind changed, which feels at the same time futile and scary.  So our avoidance of the hard, uncomfortable conversations is an attempt to maintain connection (with ourselves as well as one another).  We intrinsically understand that our relationships are important.  So we limit our conversations to topics on which we agree.

At this time in our human evolution, however, we are called to do more.  It’s too easy to live in the echo chambers of like-minded friends and media sites.  It’s too easy to filter our perceptions through repetition and reinforcement, to think that our point of view is the only one, or worse, the only right one.  It’s too easy to label others as wholly racist, sexist, bigoted, idiotic, communist, misogynist, mindless, right-wing, extremist, or evil, based on impulsive interactions in comment sections on a blog or Facebook post.  It is simply too easy to fall victim to premature judgment and conviction based on skewed and incomplete evidence.  We are called to so much more.  We are called to the hard conversations, the interactions that require effort and persistence.  Why?  Because the rewards of this work are understanding, compassion, empathy, connection, and love.

My friend wrote to me, “We have to do this work for your beautiful children.”  Yes, my dear friend, for all of our beautiful, innocent children.  Let us model for them what it means to Hold the Space for Connection, even, and especially, when it’s hard.  This is the work we are called to do.

Holding the Space for Connection Through the Hard Conversations, Part I

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Hello again, friends!  I hope this post finds you happy, peaceful, and connected to the most important people in your life.  Looking back on the 26 days since my last post, I can honestly say that the last is always true, but not necessarily the first two.  Often these weeks, I feel challenged, tested, vexed, and conflicted.

Last weekend I had two prolonged and agonal Facebook conversations with one friend.  Tears were shed, consciousness distracted, identity challenged.  Suffice it to say, my friend persisted in his noble effort to help me look deeper into myself.  He helped (goaded?) me out of my comfort zone, challenging me to really empathize with the suffering of others, specifically of blacks in America—to put myself in their shoes, something I may have never truly done before, or a least don’t do often enough, I’m humbled to say.

I have always thought of myself as an empathetic person.  I can almost always relate to my friends’ and patients’ stories of loss, struggle, and suffering.  I can imagine, one-on-one, how I would feel in their shoes.  But I have also been careful not to say things like “I know how you feel.”  Long ago I learned that those words overstep the boundaries of truly shared experience, and I came to view them as presumptuous and negative.  As a result, I’m quick to acknowledge that though I can usually imagine, I cannot truly know the unique suffering of another.  My dear friend helped me realize last weekend that in my effort to respect and defer to other people’s suffering—again, specifically black people—I inadvertently separate myself from it, and from them.  And that, ironically, undermines the very connection I try so hard to cultivate every day.  I talk and write all the time about our ‘shared humanity.’  But it was not until the hard conversations last weekend that I realized—or was reminded, I’m not quite sure,  maybe I knew before?—what that phrase truly means.  Because of him I’m now far less likely to see current events as happening to Muslims, Blacks, or Asians, but rather as happening to fellow humans.  I have always understood this intellectually, but now I feel it, emotionally, viscerally.  And maybe that is where true understanding originates.  I am so grateful for this insight.

My last post was about listening…  Rereading it and looking back now, I see that in my Facebook conversations last weekend, I sought initially to be heard more than to hear.  And that’s okay.  Sometimes we need to stand up for ourselves and in our own truth, at the same time that we Hold Space for others.  Fortunately, both my friend and I stuck with the hard conversations, striving to be heard, eventually also listening (reading), and in the end we both felt understood and accepted.  It was painful and frustrating, and totally worth the investment.  Our newly deepened relationship will synergize our respective efforts to make the world better—we have pushed each other higher, we are stronger, because we are connected.

* * * * *

Playing My Part

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Hello again, friends! Feels good to be back…  3 weeks since my last post of the Blogging A to Z Challenge, holy cow!  At the end I thought, ‘Hey, I can do this!  One post a week, no sweat!’  …And then crickets…  How Fascinating!

Though I have not posted in three weeks, I have written like mad, mostly journaling. Today I suddenly realized how much I have missed corresponding with my friends on paper.  How long it’s been since I wrote by hand to someone other than myself!  As I sat this afternoon and wrote, on stationery, with colored gel pens and stickers, to some of my best friends, a tremendous sense of connection and gratitude filled me.  Much of this post was born of those spontaneous letters to my fellow conscious, cosmic journeyers.

Given the awesome support network with which I am blessed, I feel an impulse to do something more with my writing—to amplify and project all this love and connection back out onto the world for some positive purpose.  But how can my words possibly make a difference?

The A to Z Challenge showed me that I have the capacity to write often and much—and to produce better-than-crap results! It also taught me that I can take more risks with my writing, in both format and content.  Now I want to take my writing a little more seriously, lend more credence to my own abilities.  In the framework of Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle, I know my Why: to cultivate positive and constructive relationships in every realm of life.  This blog is another What to my Why.  But since the Challenge ended, I struggle with the How.

I think night and day about so many things:

  • My own individual relationships—spousal, parental, sibling, other familial; colleague, patient, student, friend, stranger.
  • Relationships I observe between others, and their impact on those of us around them.
  • Healthcare and medicine in general, and specifically at my own institution—miracles, bureaucracies, opportunities and pitfalls.
  • Leadership and organizational culture—examples of effective and ineffective models, and what makes them so.
  • Social justice and discourse—with an urge for movement toward acceptance, inclusion, mutual understanding, and cooperation.
  • Education, parenting and role modeling—integrity, walking my talk, inside and out.
  • Physician self-care and care of one another—individual and system issues, and their interface.

What am I called to affect? I live a conscious life in all these realms, or at least I try.  I have opinions and positions on various issues, some which I hold with deep conviction.  And I struggle with whether and how to express them—for what purpose?

Finally, I have an idea. Though I have opinions and positions that I hold strongly, I plan NOT to use this blog to promote those views.  There are plenty of people doing that already, a multitude of voices trying to win one another over, or, more precisely, trying to drive one another into silence with ever louder, brasher, and more vociferous language.  My voice can be one of moderation—of collaboration, connection—maybe a bridge for a few who seek one…  Or maybe just one stilt among many others, helping to hold up one such bridge.  I will strive not to criticize or proselytize, not to berate, blame, shame, incite, or inflame; and also not to concede or abstain.  I can, at the same time, hold my positions with conviction and passion, and also listen for the convictions and passions of others.  I can practice curiosity and openness.  I can question, explore, Hold the Space, and stand strong and tall, without feeling threatened.  I seek others who strive to do the same.

Voices of moderation are muted these days. The great orchestra of discourse has lost balance and harmony.  The most strident strings, horns, and drums play for their own promotion, rather than as a contribution to a symphonic collective.  The resulting dissonance makes us want to cover our ears and run away.  In order for a symphony to engage and inspire, each player must not only know her own part and play it well, but also listen carefully for other players and their movement.  Maybe we can all do this a little better: maintain our own distinct voices, while integrating with those around us.  The best orchestra functions as one entity, breathing and moving in a quintessentially integrated fashion.

My instrument is language. The past seven weeks have shown me my part in the online verbal orchestra.  This blog is where I will practice, record, and offer my contribution, not to overpower any others’ words, but to meet, align, and resonate.  The harmony of consonant contrast plays on, somewhere.  Maybe I can help find and amplify it, so more of us may enjoy the music of life among one another.

#AtoZChallenge: LOVE

Teeheehee, a Little Late…

One year ago yesterday I launched this blog, Happy Blogoversary to me! 😀

It started as a platform to explore ways to reconnect patients and physicians in the increasingly divisive healthcare system.  And while that idea still stands central to the theme of the blog, I soon realized a much larger and more important principle:  The best practices apply across all relationships, not just doctor-patient relations.  The more I write, read, and explore, the bolder I have grown in my writing.

The very best outcome (so far) of starting this blog has been the LOVE I have received from others around it.  From the beginning, fellow bloggers have engaged, welcomed, encouraged, challenged, and nurtured me.  My friends and family have also held me up—following me via email, commenting on Facebook and the blog itself.  A vast community of support has stood up around me as I took this risk to share my mind publicly.  If they looked down on blogging, they kept it to themselves and encouraged me anyway.  If they thought I wouldn’t stick with it, I imagine they secretly wished me persistence, and then grace if I failed.  Because of all of these people, I have confidence to continue striving to bring forth the best in me, to share with everybody, in the hopes of creating something meaningful.

What if everybody had this chance?  What if every time someone wanted to do something bold and new, we met them with this much LOVE, cheer, praise, and affirmation?  Doing so does not mean blindly endorsing frivolous endeavors and wasted energy.  We can always offer LOVE along with tactful words of truth and pragmatism.  Even when, or especially when, projects fail terrifically, everybody can learn and grow.  LOVE from others at the outset makes us more resilient to failure.  LOVE from others at the moment of failure, as opposed to ridicule, shame, and sarcasm, makes us humble, grateful, and more brave, as opposed to defensive, angry, and humiliated.

Adequate words do not exist to express my deepest and most sincere gratitude to all who have LOVED me throughout my life, including those who have LOVED me through my blogging adventure so far.  May I pay it forward, and find ways to LOVE others whenever I have the chance.  If I can do that, then I will truly contribute to making the world a better place.

 

 

 

#AtoZChallenge: Humbling and Honoring

Though I was born in the United States, I grew up very Chinese.  Honor and respect for elders was one of the highest values in my family, as it is in the culture at large.  It would never occur to me to be on a first name basis with anyone in my parents’ or grandparents’ generation; they were all uncles, aunts, and surrogate grandparents.  Teachers, as well, always had a title.  In the presence of these zhang bei (senior generation), I would sit or stand up straight, pay attention, and never interrupt.  So it feels Humbling to find myself friends—equals!?—with so many of my elders—

Joe, my 7th grade math teacher,

Dawn, my 7th grade English teacher,

Kathy, Joe’s wife and the music director for the 8th grade play,

Barbara, my 9th grade geometry teacher and freshman volleyball coach,

Lisa and Jerry, my varsity volleyball coach and her husband, one of the football coaches,

Mary and Dan, my confirmation sponsors in college, pastoral associate and pediatrician, respectively, and

Keith, my clinic preceptor intern year.

I always wondered, what did they see in me, so young, naïve, and ignorant, that would make them want to know me as a friend?  Then about ten years ago I found myself befriending students and other ‘young people.’  I gradually realized the rewards of the exchange—new perspective, fresh ideas—connection across generations, cultures, experiences.  I felt a sense of mutual admiration and understanding, despite the age gap—an appreciation that bridged the separateness.

Somehow this reminds me of a morning I spent volunteering in a free clinic a few years ago.  As per usual, patients filled the waiting room and clinic workflow bore no resemblance to anything efficient or modern.  But the atmosphere pulsed with purpose and kindness.  First and second year medical students helped run this clinic, relishing the chance to hone their history taking and physical exam skills.  They saw the patients first, synthesized all relevant data, and presented a summary to one of a few attending physicians staffing the clinic that day.  After some discussion on pathophysiology and care plan, the attending led the team of students back to the exam room to finish the encounter.  If you have ever been a patient at a teaching hospital, it’s much like that, only much slower and often with profound technical barriers and almost no support.

That morning I walked in with my team to greet an elderly Pakistani man for follow up of his blood pressure and diabetes.  I knew he had been waiting a long time.  It was almost noon and he had not eaten all day, in preparation for fasting labs he knew he needed to have drawn.  Upon greeting him, I automatically apologized for the wait, put my hands together, and bowed slightly, while I thanked him for his patience.  I felt bad about the whole situation, and I wanted his pardon.  His face lit up and he immediately turned to the students and said something like, “See?  That is how you treat an old man!”  He was not angry or crotchety in any way.  He seemed honestly and happily surprised to be treated with Honor and respect—as if he suddenly felt seen and appreciated for who he was—a member of an older, wiser generation than all of us.

In Pakistan this gentleman had been a middle- to upper-class professional.  Here in the US his resources were drastically curtailed, such that he had no health insurance and depended on the free clinic to get treatment for his conditions.  I wonder if he was used to feeling like just another immigrant patient in a busy, understaffed clinic where there were few occasions for others to ask about and listen to his story.  Since I was a periodic volunteer, I had that chance.  I get to choose when I am willing to donate my time and energy to the free clinic—everything I do there is on my own terms.  The patients there have no such choices.  If they want care, they have to show up—early—on the day the clinic is open, regardless of what else is going on in their lives.  There are no appointments, and almost no continuity with providers.  It’s a completely different world from where I make my living, on the Gold Coast of Chicago.

I am Humbled by the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life.  Students arrive at medical school from diverse backgrounds.  Patients may hail from all corners of the world, many having come through experiences I can scarcely imagine.  It is my Honor to care for all of them, and I wish to maintain this perspective of respectful service.  I have those who support, teach, and guide me in life—older and younger.  So it is my privilege to give back—to offer my own knowledge, expertise, and maybe sometimes wisdom—and help make a positive difference in people’s lives.  I can’t remember exactly, but I think I said something to this effect to the medical students that day.

Physicians have power by default and design in the medical setting.  We can wield that power with more grace and efficacy when we remember Humility, and Honor our patients as whole, rather than broken or defective.  Be they students, friends, political opponents (yeah, stuck that in there), teachers, or patients, there is always something to learn from someone else’s perspective.  Cultivating the Humble and Honoring perspective, when I can muster it, makes all of my relationships infinitely richer.

#AtoZChallenge: The Grace of Great Grooves

The original title of this post was “Groove More, Gripe Less.”  I’m reminded of my daughter telling me, “Mama, I like how your mood gets better when you listen to music.” [I mentioned this in a previous post.]  I remember her words often, because she uttered them with such innocence, but they ring unequivocally true.  Music can complement, elevate, validate, amplify, evoke, or pacify my feelings; sometimes it does all of these things at once.

It started with Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Conway Twitty, and Olivia Newton-John.  Their songs may have been the first I heard of English—my parents left Taiwan and landed in Mississippi in 1971.   Come to think of it, country music lyrics are much easier to understand than other genres of songs in English…  Anyway, from there my tastes migrated to include Sonny& Cher, John Denver, Michael Jackson, Def Leppard, Yanni, Sting, George Winston, Brad Paisley, Dixie Chicks, Barenaked Ladies, and now Bruno Mars and Rachel Platten.

We humans are so fortunate to have evolved the great frontal lobe, where reason and intellect reside.  But even better, this protuberance behind the forehead retains intricate connections to the more primal, hindbrain parts, where emotion and memory live.  So through music and art, we can integrate our experiences in as many unique ways as there are individuals.  Thankfully also, music conveys the universal experiences that comprise our shared humanity.  Music can move us at depths we normally take for granted, or don’t even know exist.  There are happy songs, sad songs, angry songs, romantic songs, irreverent songs, and holy songs.  There is space in the human journey for all of them and more.

I have anticipated this post all week, because I wanted to include a selection of my favorite pieces.  I looked forward to sifting through them, knowing they would bring back sacred memories.  Scrolling through Facebook during my A to Z writing breaks, I came across a post by friend and writer Wendy Toliver.  She had what I interpret as a divine music moment and, luckily for us, she shared it:

“…Today, I am grateful for music. It touches our former selves as well as our current selves, and it helps us remember what is truly important, so that our futures can be all they should be. I am so grateful for the musicians who so eloquently weave notes and words together, who pluck our heartstrings, and make us want to better ourselves. I am so honored to have musicians in my family and friends so close they might as well be family. Thank you. I thank God for you.”  How cosmic, that we both felt the keenness of music in coincidence.  That’s the magic of it, after all.

 

Feeling all this Glory of Music, I decided writing about Griping would just be a downer.  So let us get busy building our lyrical libraries—the bigger, broader, and more genres the better!  I present the list below in no particular order.  I thought of categorizing them—songs to move your body, songs to cook to, songs to write with—but I bet they speak to you very differently from how they speak to me, so I invite you to hear them in your own context.  And please share your own favorites, too—what music moves you?

 

Get Your Groove On!

 

Days Like This, Van Morrison

Stand By You, Rachel Platten

Beer For My Horses, Toby Keith and Willie Nelson

Mom and the Radio, Bill Harley

Because We Can, Bon  Jovi

The Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto, Gang Chen and Zhanhao He

Footloose, Kenny Loggins

Goodbye Montana, George Winston

New World Symphony, Antonin Dvorak

I Can See Clearly Now, Johnny Nash

Runaway Baby, Bruno Mars

Who I Was Born To Be, Susan Boyle

Ode To Joy, Ludwid von Beethoeven

Rocky Mountain High, John Denver

Roar, Katy Perry

Ticks, Brad Paisley

No Place Like You, Maddie & Tae

Hallelujah Chorus, George Frideric Handel

Ming Tien Hue Gen Hao (Tomorrow will be even better)—The Chinese version of Band Aid and USA for Africa… and what the heck, let’s include those original recordings:

Do They Know It’s Christmas

We Are The World

 

PS I have shared the best recordings I could find of the songs—they’re all on YouTube.  Please excuse any link glitches!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Setting Intentions For 2016

Happy New Year, Friends! Was 2015 not a wild ride?  However you experienced it, we can safely call the past year eventful, if nothing else.  The violence and the tenderness, the destruction and the connections—how can we hold it all at once?  I used to think myself an optimist, but now I often wonder if the world will actually end in my lifetime—whether we humans will obliterate one another in a rapid succession of escalating violence, or somehow see the light and work harder toward mutual understanding.  Nature will go on, though, with or without us.  I’m still an optimist, then—for the Earth, not necessarily for people…

This year I realized my body’s inevitable march toward menopause, a stark and sudden awareness. It came to me sometime in the spring, and I felt a keen jolt of motivation to prepare.   After 13 years of practice, I recognize two characteristics of women who suffer the least through this dramatic hormonal transition.

First, they accept it. They have made peace with this phase of life, letting go their reproductive years and embracing their elder position in our human tribal order.  They see menopause as a rite of experience and advancement, rather than a loss.  They move with confidence through this segment of life, and make the best of whatever happens.

Second, these women almost always have well-established habits of good health long before their hormone levels start dropping. Nutrition and physical activity come to mind first, but the practice of  ‘being at peace’ must also be included among the ‘habits.’  They have, whether innate or learned, effective mechanisms for overcoming adversity and maintaining balance—physical, mental, emotional, and relational—they are resilient.  I aspire to be like them.

So, until such time as humanity actually annihilates itself, I pledge to persist on the journey toward my best self. The more I read and share with contemplative friends, teachers, students, patients and others, the more I see how we make our lives out of small, daily choices.  As such, I propose below my intentions for the coming year.  I will fail, over and again, I know.  But as Ben Zander would say, these are not expectations to live up to.  They are possibilities to live into.

 

Choose to Train

I started working with Melissa, my trainer, in January of 2014. It was slow going that first year, with only a vague goal of exercising for its own sake, because I knew I ‘should.’  Now, my pursuit of fitness has much more meaning.  I have a finite amount of time to get in the best possible shape before ‘The Change.’  It’s an exhilarating challenge now.  How fit could this body get?  Every week since July, except for one, I have managed to exercise at least three times.  I set this goal on January 1, 2014, and it’s only since my Menopause Epiphany that I have truly owned it.  I think of myself as an athlete again, training for the ultimate marathon of living well in old age, by getting off my butt and moving, each and every day.

 

Choose to Fuel

*sigh*

I need to manage better what I put in my mouth. Eating is one of the hardest things for me to control.  I know exactly how much my patients struggle to include more vegetables, avoid sugar and starches, and eat less overall, because I fight the same battle every day.  After my daughter was born, at age 35, I successfully lost 25 pounds in nine months by simply cutting my portions in half, getting down to my wedding weight.  I had neither the time nor the interest to exercise, nor the energy to police my food choices.  Though I have kept the weight off for the most part, 7 years later I find myself wondering if I’m pre-diabetic.  I see every day how insidiously a persons’ glucose metabolism changes, and it’s ever clearer to me that ‘trying to eat healthy’ is not enough.  I need to set goals for eating, just like for exercise.  Is it food, or is it junk?  If it’s junk, is it at least junk that I really, really enjoy?  Will it be worth the cost to my body after eating it?  Does it align with my highest goals for health and a sustainable ecosystem?  Will it help me age well?  A body in training needs appropriate fuel.  The training piece feels established by now.  In 2016 I will strive to discern and allocate my energy resources better.

 

Choose Curiosity

It always amazes me, and scares me a little, how easily I slip into assumptions and negative storytelling about the people around me. I play old scripts in my head about other people’s intentions, based on my own fears and insecurities.  These thought patterns reinforce themselves over time, creating perceptive realities that are hard to distinguish from objective truths.  This phenomenon is well-described in psychology research, and contributes to misunderstanding at least, disconnection and isolation at worst.  My heroes Rosamund Stone Zander, Brené Brown, and Elizabeth Gilbert, all propose curiosity as the core antidote to assumptions, judgment, and alienation.  First, I can get curious about my emotions, whenever I feel triggered or agitated. What am I feeling? Where did it come from?  Then I can ask myself, “What story am I telling about this person, and what assumptions do I make about their thinking or perspective?”  If I can get this far, I’m already doing pretty well, and on a good day, I can take the next step, asking, “What other story can I tell, one that could cause me to suffer less?”  Last, I can always engage the other person from a place of vulnerability.  I can ask questions, confess my inner stories, and clarify what’s happening between us.  I’ve been practicing this for the past year, too, and it is hard.  But I’m getting better at it, and the results are well worth the effort.  Mutual understanding and deeper connections are only the beginning.  Curiosity may well be the best approach to world peace.

 

Choose My Family, My Tribe

We are each born into a family, for better or worse. And throughout a lifetime, we can also choose our connections, both inside and outside of our genetics.  I wrote recently about my friend Yakini.  My son had been to her daycare for months, and morning drop-offs were happy and smooth.  Then we went on vacation for a week, and when we came back, he was suddenly distraught every time I left him.  Immediately, Yakini knew what to do.  “We need to come to your home for a meal,” she said, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.  “He needs to know that we are part of your family, that we will take care of him the same as you,” she continued.  Of course, it was a no-brainer.  We had to validate the sacred contract, as she called it.  Her whole family came over with their guitar.  We ate, we sang, we bonded.  After that the boy was happier than ever to see them every morning.  We had officially claimed Yakini’s family as our own.

My family of origin has its complexities. Culture, generation, and sibling rivalry have all contributed to my repeating scripts and stories.  I have learned with age that these patterns can and do change, and it serves all of us to hold space for the evolution.  I can practice curiosity, allow myself to be vulnerable, and choose deeper connections to the people I might otherwise take for granted or let drift away.  My siblings and I have also chosen our spouses.  We need also, then, to acknowledge each of their families of origin, their patterns, scripts, and stories.  I feel very lucky that my husband and my brothers-in-law all seem to accept our family’s quirks and dysfunctions—I can certainly learn from their example.

Lastly, in 2016, I intend to continue nurturing my ties to my tribe. These are the other family members I have chosen over the years, my friends.  They come from all stages and places of my life, and all offer unique perspective.  They accept my imbalances and love me anyway, and always challenge me to live in my integrity.  They hold me up on my quest for self-actualization.  They invite me to do the same for them, and together I honestly believe we make the world better.

2015 comes to a jumbled end for me, full of intensity, volume, texture, and possibility. I’m grateful for this blogging platform to explore and share ideas.  Thank you for reading to the end of this, I think my longest post yet.  I look forward to more growth and exploration in the coming year.  Nothing matters more than our relationships, first with ourselves and then with one another.  Let us cultivate connections that promote peace, love, and harmony, this year and beyond.