Articles tagged with: compassion

I Heart Words

wholehearted sunflowerI’ve always enjoyed words. I can remember learning the words ‘spontaneous’ and ‘perpetual’ in the 3rd grade and thinking an entirely new world had opened up to me. I was mesmerized with the sound and feel of words, and energized by the beauty of expression. I was that kid in school who loved vocabulary assignments! More words? YES!

I was also the kid that spent her summer in the public library reading every biography I could get my hands on. I read about presidents and inventors and scientists. I felt at home with those folks – as if I had known them all along.

Undoubtedly my love affair with words was kindled by my Dad’s preaching and writing. As I have written in earlier posts, he is a wordsmith. Some of my favorite memories as a kid – and many of my most poignant moments throughout life feature the soundtrack of Daddy’s words.

So it should come as no surprise that I continue to be drawn to certain words and phrases and concepts. I enjoy quotes. I like art that incorporates meaningful words and phrases. And I enjoy sharing those ideas with others.

Currently one of my favorite words is ‘wholehearted.’ In describing what it means to live a wholehearted life, Brené Brown writes, “Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.”

I want that! I want to be brave and wholehearted! I visited my own therapist last week for the first time in a long while. As we talked, I laughed and said to her, “The more I like myself, the more I seem to like everyone else around me.” I fought it long and hard, but I’ve come to discover if I want to enjoy the gift of life, I must begin with enjoying the gift of who I am. I have to love me with my whole heart before I can truly love others deeply – and before I can allow myself to be loved.

Unfortunately if we’re not paying close attention, life gets in the way. There are messages virtually everywhere that want us to believe we are not good enough. It doesn’t take long at all for those messages to soak in and become the messages we tell ourselves.

Fortunately we are at choice! We absolutely choose our beliefs. We choose our actions. We choose our behaviors. We choose our moods. Our thoughts. Our outcomes. We choose what we watch and read and listen to. We choose our perspective. We don’t always get to choose our circumstances. Life definitely happens. What we do with what happens to us – who we choose to be as life happens – and the words we choose to describe those happenings – make all the difference in the world.

Choose wisely. Choose wholeheartedly. Choose.

With my whole heart,





Spit Happens


One of the more glamorous aspects of my current position as a school counselor is being a member of a team of individuals trained to handle crisis situations involving students who have lost control of their behavior. During one such event last week I was the recipient of a well-timed and expertly aimed shower of spittle. In my face.

In the moment all I could do was take care of the job I was there to do; and then a bit later I was able to wipe my face clean and continue. (My cohorts also needed clean-up after the event ended. I had not being singled out for special treatment.)

As you might imagine, that was a memorable event – one that has been the topic of a few conversations and ponderings the last few days. Our Crisis Prevention and Intervention training teaches us to stay rationally detached from any outpouring of colorful comments (and/or precipitation) that might come our way while dealing with an AOP – Acting Out Person. This particular kiddo is one I have grown quite fond of in a short period of time. He’s only seven yet he has experienced more challenges in that time than most of us will ever even imagine. It was not difficult to stay detached in this situation. It was not about me.

Having said that, if the same situation had happened earlier in my career the outcome may not have been as positive. When I first began teaching I had no idea I would encounter students in such dire straits. I was as naive and sheltered as they come! Given the same scenario I would have at best cried through the whole thing, and it’s quite possible I would have voiced my disapproval at the behavior and demanded retribution. I could have lost my composure  and focus during the episode and become more of a hindrance than a help.

This incident is a nice metaphor for the idea of shame-resilience – a term coined and defined by Brené Brown, researcher and author from The University of Houston.  Brené Brown defines shame as that intensely painful feeling that we are somehow flawed and unworthy of love and belonging. Shame fuels those gremlins inside our head that say “You’re not good enough, smart enough, skinny enough, rich enough…” and “Who do you think you are?” Her research shows 1) We all have it; 2) We don’t want to talk about it; and 3) The less we talk about it the more power it has over us. When our shame is triggered (perhaps by being spat upon or having our boss insult our character or having our perfectionism illusion discovered or our parenting style questioned…) our rational thinking can become short circuited by the “fight or flight” mechanism. Because we’re not thinking clearly and are flooded by adrenaline and cortisol, we can find ourselves doing or saying things that we would not do or say otherwise. Unfortunately, these irrational outbursts can lead to more shame and exacerbate the situation. Not fun.

The good news is that we can become resilient to these shame storms. Just as my experience, training and team trust-building led to my being able to participate in the Spit Happens scenario without feeling attacked, resilience allows us to identify what’s really happening, move more quickly through a storm, reach out for help, take steps to lessen our reaction time and intensity, and come out on the other side feeling more courageous, compassionate and connected to those we love.

I am passionate about helping others become more resilient. Not just for the sake of resilience, but for the amazing payoffs of courage, compassion and connection that come when we begin to live from a place of worthiness instead of fear. This work saves marriages.  Supports parents. Creates leaders. Encourages kiddos and teens. It leads to news ways of thinking and acting and most importantly – being. It creates the perfect environment for Wholehearted Living.

Who couldn’t use a little more courage, compassion and connection? If you’re ready to get your brave on, contact me! I would love to connect with you and hold up a lamp to light your way.

With my Whole Heart,