Do You Believe In Magic?

We are like someone in a very dark night over whom lightning flashes again and again.” – Maimonides

I just finished watching the first three seasons of Arrested Development. The impending change where the show would no longer be available on Netflix finally got me to watch this hilarious and highly -recommended (well, the first three seasons were touted as worth watching) show.

In the show, the eldest brother, Gob, is a magician. A ham-handed, totally inept so his tricks never work, kind of magician. But somehow his character in this show works with all the other characters to make magic of the worth-watching variety.

Do you believe in magic? I mean really believe in magic so that when it comes to getting your deepest desires, something will step in and help along the way?

I don’t. I believe in a lot of things that create magic – being present, finding joy, and counting my blessings to name a few habits that keep me more or less delighted with my life.

And I believe in listening to my inner voice – my God voice or intuition, and then following it. I believe in a Higher Power that I am so grateful to for that inner voice that points me in ways that are bigger and better than I could imagine on my own.

But I think all the work to make life happen is up to me. I don’t think magic will save me, or give me huge leaps to skip over all the steps.

However, I have the feeling that I’m wrong. I have the feeling that magic is happening all around but just on a different pace so that it seems undetectable. Before you think I’ve gone over the bend from watching too many Disney movies (which might also be true), just bear with me.

The other day I was frustrated with a friend – I’d reach a limit of too many bids for connection that had gone unanswered. I’d been totally fine with that for a while because my friend has a lot going on right now but it had reached a tipping point where my heart was starting to feel sore. I was just thinking that I needed to quietly close this door between us when my friend, completely unbidden by me or aware of what I was thinking, sent me a gift.

On Monday, I was working alone at home on a day with no meetings when I suddenly felt disconnected from life around me. I walked to the grocery store, Pictures of You from the Cure was playing on the overhead speakers. As I was dancing down the aisles connecting to memories of my college days, I ran into an old friend.

Or this morning my skin was feeling itchy like it couldn’t stand one more day of winter clothes, and I opened the window to see the blossoms on the tree out front had shown up like magic overnight. (see featured photo)

And my final example is right in this moment when I realized this post, that I thought was completely unconnected to my Wise & Shine post this morning Fear and Courage, is actually completely related in the way that when we acknowledge we are scared, lonely, or fed up, help arrives.

If our lives were a tv show like Arrested Development, the magic would probably be easy to see. But since life doesn’t work that way, it’s up to us to see the magic.

The Feeding and Nurturing of Life

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.” – Dalai Lama

On Wednesday morning this week, I was driving the kids to school on the circuit around the lake and I felt softer and more patient. I appreciated the routine and the little people in my life more. I realized that it was because I’d just finished reading “Grow Damn It: The Feeding and Nurturing of Life” by author and blogger Cheryl Oreglia.

I clipped 23 quotes from my first reading of this book. And that was while trying to be mindful not to clip everything. Then I had the privilege of doing a Sharing the Heart of the Matter podcast with Cheryl to talk her journey and this book: Episode 7: Grow Damn It!

One of the stories Cheryl told me on the podcast was the one where she wrote a blog post and Krista Tippett of the On Being project (first aired on public radio, now as a podcast) tweeted about it. Cheryl laughingly said she assumed the technology was broken when she saw her stats after that.

In this great conversation, we got to talk about how the little stories make up the big picture, her journey to create this beautiful book, and asking people all the important questions before they go. I felt softened by reading the book and then I felt enriched after this beautiful conversation with Cheryl.

Cheryl said to me something like, “I know this book is not for everyone.” I agree – it’s only for people who want to feed and nurture their life – and laugh while doing it.

So if you do want to feed and nurture your life, please visit Cheryl’s blog, Living in the Gap, read the book, and listen to this podcast Episode 7: Grow Damn It (link opens the podcast to listen on Anchor). You can also find the podcast on Apple, Amazon, Spotify and Pocket Casts by searching for Sharing the Heart of the Matter.  Please subscribe!

Here’s link to the show notes on the HoTM site: Episode 7: Grow Damn It! show notes

The Next Chapter: Car Talk

Does anyone remember the car cake when our car turned 100,000 miles and we made a cake for it?

After we blew out the candles, Miss O turned to me and asked, “Are you going to be alive when this happens to me?”

Oh boy. I thought I better not go with the reply that she better get a used car with a lot of miles already on it. So after thinking about it for a few weeks, I’ve written my answer on Wise & Shine: The Next 100,000 Miles

The Vibe of the Group

If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.” – Booker T. Washington

In my job as an IT consultant, I get to be the fly on the wall of other people’s businesses and watch how organizations work (or not work together). In the twenty-five years I’ve done this, it’s become a game to figure out the personality of the leader based on the vibe of the group. Or vice versa, if I meet the leader first, and then I try to guess the vibe of the group.

In a large organization like Microsoft, I might work with a group that is harsh and quick to blame and when I meet the manager, it’s no surprise that he’s a complete jerk – and willing to wear that persona on the outside.

I’ve seen it in so many ways: if the group is loud and comical, the manager is likely the life of the party character; if the group vibe is nerdy and quiet, then the manager is often brilliant and introverted.

So I was fascinated recently to work with a small company of independent, self-starters who felt to me as if they were disconnected and uninterested. They were all doing really great work but when the language switched to what the company was doing, it felt flat.

And then I met the leader — someone who was saying all the right things about being a great group of people but frequently only used “I” language. As in, “what I’m looking to accomplish, this is what I’m good at, and here’s what I need.”

Over a few months, I’ve watched how that is reflected in meetings and their work. If the leader is doing something, he wants to know how he did and will share his metrics. But if anyone else presents or finishes a project, he rarely comments or even seems to notice.

Brené Brown defines a leader as “anyone who holds him or herself accountable for finding potential in people or processes.”  I come back to that definition again and again because I’ve seen many styles of leadership – and tried it myself. Groups seem to be more successful, no matter what the persona, as long as the leader is interested in something bigger than themselves.

As Booker T. Washington says in the quote for this post, if we lift up others, it will lift us up as well. In many ways that is self-serving – but the paradox lies in the fact that if people are truly self-serving, they can’t do it authentically.

My little game keeps me entertained and less nervous when I’m meeting a group of new people. But it has also taught me, again and again, that who we are influences the people around us in ways that we might not even know. And if who we are is someone who lifts others up, it’s rippling out in a vibe to everyone around.

(featured photo from Pexels)

Leaps of Possibility

I am convinced all of humanity is born with more gifts than we know. Most are born geniuses and just get de-geniused rapidly.” – R. Buckminster Fuller

There’s a line from the Cars movies, “He saw things in you that you couldn’t see in yourself.” Because my kids like Disney movies in general and that series of movies in particular, I’ve heard the line a lot. Every time it touches me with that tingle of significance.

Especially in this last month since Vicki and I started, with a group of great writers and thinkers, the shared blog The Heart of the Matter and podcast Sharing the Heart of the Matter. This endeavor has been filled with intense learning for me. First with very specific skills like figuring out how to put together sound files for the podcast. But also in a greater sense of encouraging and being encouraged by others.

It’s reminded me that self-awareness doesn’t just mean knowing our limits – but that sometimes others can see things in us that we can’t see in ourself. When we trust the other people around you, it feels like it speeds up the growth because they help us take leaps of possibility.

Self-awareness is the topic of my post for The Heart of the Matter today, Here’s Looking At You, Kid And while you are there, check out the rest of the site and subscribe – if just for the sense of possibility!

(featured photo from Pexels)


A lifetime is so precious, and so brief, and can be used so beautifully.” – Pema Chodron

I was standing around the elementary school yard the other day watching parents and children at pick-up time. There was the mom standing with her 1st grader, listening to her and occasionally smoothing back the child’s hair behind her ear. There was a dad standing behind his 3rd grader with his hand proudly on his son’s shoulders. And off to my right was the mom embracing her 4th grade son in a big and long hug.

I’ve been thinking about the scene and how we reconnect with our loved ones because yesterday I had to be sedated for a colonoscopy. Even though I had no particular reason to be concerned, I feel a little nervous anytime I or my loved ones have to go under. I remember feeling this acutely anytime I had to take my now departed dog, Biscuit, in for a procedure, especially when he got older. Something scares me about the way you are there one moment, then they turn up the mixture and you’re out.

I’d worked out the details for my procedure yesterday so that my kids had their normal school day routines. But the anxiety amped up the good-bye sweetness, making me remember that I’d once read that good-bye derived from God Be With You. As Miss O jumped out of the car to run for the gate at school, I said, “Good-bye, my miracle girl!

And she turned, smiled and replied, “Good-bye, my miracle mom.

I felt that all the way through. It is a miracle that I’m a mom. That modern medicine enabled me through IVF to have babies at age 46 and 50 is astounding. Once I felt that, it was a short walk to feeling how this all is a miracle – to be a human on this earth at this moment with all you other delightful humans, understanding we have the capacity to appreciate this in a way that we might not if we were ants or alligators.

The trip to pick my kids up again at the end of the day, my loop around the little neighborhood lake that I’ve driven countless times, was all that much sweeter. To reconnect, scoop them up in my arms, look at them proudly, tuck their hair behind their ears, and celebrate a little more consciously how lovely it is to be here was pure joy. I wouldn’t go as far as to say I was glad to have a colonoscopy… but hey, anything that reminds me to hug my loved ones a little bit tighter can’t be all bad.

Going With the Flow

If you correct your mind, the rest of your life will fall into place.” – Lao Tzu

I’ve noticed something interesting with Mr. D. If presented with a household choice like what to watch for our tv show time before bed, he will insist in a vociferous way that might be spectacularly specific to being 3 ½-year-old and all the certainty that goes with it, that it needs to be the option HE wants. But if the tv is already on and tuned to something that is appealing to the younger set, he will more often than not, just meld into watching it.

As I witness this, I recognize this same trait in myself. When I’m presented with a choice, I find it necessary to make it MY choice and am involved with it in a very discerning and egoic way that is likely to result in anger or disappointment if I don’t get it the way I want. But if something just happens, I can adapt to whatever it is without my thought or much bother.

Case in point – I was going out to dinner this past weekend with a group of people I’d rounded up after I remembered that it’s okay for me to sometimes get a babysitter and have grown-up time. When it came to picking the restaurant, one of my friends suggested one and I looked at the menu and thought, “Oh, this doesn’t sound like what I want to eat for MY night out.” I suggested something else that was nearby and that was fine with everyone.

But had I gone to a friends’ house and they served me the food that was on the menu I objected to, I likely would have eaten it, or not, without much thought. I would have been grateful for the warmth, company, and work that they put into it.

Which makes me wonder how I can cultivate that flexibility so I’m more in the flow of life. Because when it comes down to it, I do better when I admit that steering the big picture of life is beyond my pay grade. Then I can save my energy for just “being” with life and not trying to bend it to my will. Sometimes what is served up by the Universe is the usual banality and routine. But sometimes I’m surprised by joy and delight in things like the other day when in the middle of a busy day, I answered the phone, and it was a friend who I hadn’t spoken to in five or six years just calling to say “hi.”

And that’s what I try to do for Mr. D as well. Sometimes he has the unfortunate experience of having to go along with the boring chores of family life. But when he’s flexible and going with the flow, I try to surprise him now and again with an activity like a bouncy house that is beyond what he would have thought to have ask for – just to plant the seed that when we let go of control, sometimes the result is being open to what is beyond our limited expectations.

I’m not sure if the reminder is for my son or myself, but hopefully it works for both.

(featured photo from Pexels)

Back In The Game

The difference between winning and losing is most often not quitting.” – Walt Disney

My 83-year-old mom has returned to playing ping pong after her infamous ping pong dive where she admitted her competitive nature got the best of her common sense. When my family came over for dinner the other night, my brother asked if she was making any concessions in her game to be safer. She nodded yes and said she’s trying to keep a hand on the table while she plays for stability.

Apparently the physical therapist who’s been working with her on a sciatic issue asked the same thing. Not really convinced by her reply, he asked, “Have you ever considered just saying, ‘Good shot?’”

We all got a good laugh out of that one. It reminded me that I’ve read and seen a lot of great advice about staying in the game, whatever our game may be, lately.

From An Audience of One, the wisdom that we need to choose the path we are going to travel and stick with it. Not that other forks won’t arise in the future but that nothing good comes from wavering at the decision point too long or mourning the path not chosen.

And from WritingfromtheheartwithBrian a pep talk straight out of the Buffalo Bills locker room to be fully present. Brian rousingly writes an hearty exploration of the Bills saying, “Where else would you rather be, than right here, right now?” that reminded me to love the life I have and the path I’m on.

Finally I watched Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade again recently. In it, Indiana Jones is reading the clues from his father’s grail diary to pass the final challenge to find the grail and save his father’s life. He has to believe as he steps forward into the chasm that a path across the void will unfold. He checks his options one last time, confirms he’s in the right location, and then as he leaps, the path appears.

Decide on the path, commit to being present for it and then have faith to take the leap – it’s about as good as it gets for finding our way through this life.

I’m glad my mom has a strategy to keep safe by keeping a hand on the ping pong table. But equally as relieved she’s still in the game. It just wouldn’t be her if she just watched shots go by!

(featured photo from Pexels)

In Awe

Our life experiences will have resonances within our innermost being, so that we will feel the rapture of being alive.” – Joseph Campbell

I frequently divert and delay my family’s morning routine to take a look at the sunrise. This time of year, while it is often grey, there are also so many sunrises that we can witness together since the sun and my kids are getting up at about the same time, even if it means we are going to have to rush a bit to get to school. If you follow me on Instagram, you probably are tired of my sunrise pictures.

But I still persist because I’m not tired of sunrises and my kids are still willing to humor me. A book that just came out on January 3rd of this year is helping me to understand why it matters to me to witness this every day. Awe: The new Science of Everyday Wonder and How It Can Transform Your Life by UC Berkley psychology professor Dacher Keltner talks about the effect of awe in our lives:

“How does awe transform us? By quieting the nagging, self-critical, overbearing, status-conscious voice of our self, or ego, and empowering us to collaborate, to open our minds to wonders, and to see the deep patterns in life.”

Dacher Keltner, Awe: The New Science of Everyday Wonder and How It Can Transform Your Life

Whoa – I want more of that. In fact, if I had to give a reason why I meditate, write, and now podcast – I’d be hard pressed to describe it more perfectly than the quote above.

(I did just throw podcast in to the list above – because I’m launching the Sharing The Heart of the Matter podcast with Vicki Atkinson today. It’s a podcast where we want to focus on people sharing their heart stories – please listen and also if you have one to tell, let me know so we can record it.)

The definition of awe that Dacher Keltner gives is:

“Awe is the feeling of being in the presence of something vast that transcends your current understanding of the world.”

Dacher Keltner, Awe: The New Science of Everyday Wonder and How It Can Transform Your Life

When he collected personal narratives from people in twenty-six different countries in the world, he and his team distilled down “eight wonders of life, which include the strength, courage, and kindness of others; collective movement in actions like dance and sports; nature; music; art and visual design; mystical encounters; encountering life and death; and big ideas or epiphanies.

I think of the awe I felt when I was pregnant with Miss O and was writing my book about my dad. He’d died suddenly in a bike accident just the day after I’d finalized my IVF plan to get pregnant. As I took the recordings that I’d made with him, and wrote the book about him that I told him I wanted to write (but thought it would be with him in attendance), I felt the swirl of birth and death every day. I danced in the love of my dad and the life that was within me for all of those nine months.

Then on the night after I finished every last line edit, I went into labor and gave birth to my daughter. In many ways, I gave birth to two things – the book Finding My Father’s Faith and the beautiful Miss O. All of this happened in a way that was far bigger than me. There is much that I can’t name or understand about that experience except to say that I wasn’t alone as I wrote. There were definitely three of us there – me, my dad, and my baby. I was in awe for sure. It’s a beautiful feeling – just like witnessing the sunrise every morning.

(featured photo is mine – the moon and the mountain)

The Practice of Kindness

As rain falls equally on the just and the unjust, do not burden your heart with judgment but rain your kindness equally on all.” – Buddha

For Christmas, Miss O bought Mr. D a Buzz Lightyear spaceship. It was a big deal for her – she picked it out and paid for it all by herself. Then she hid it away in a spot in the laundry room she thought was safe and guarded his access to that room for three or four weeks. I cut the wrapping paper for her but she wrapped the present herself and placed it in the perfect spot under the tree.

Then on Christmas morning when he opened the present, she was right next to him. She helped him opened the box and then started assembling the few pieces that needed to be attached. She was being really helpful and had so many reasons to be proud but there was a point where the gift really became more important to Miss O than Mr. D.

Watching this all, I thought of all the times that I’ve tried to control how my kindness lands or had that done to me. It perfectly illustrated for me how letting go of control is so essential so I wrote it about this topic for my Heart of the Matter post today: When Kindness Falls Like Rain.

(featured photo from Pexels)