Category Archives: Body, Feelings, Mind

Running Against All Odds

According to the Olympic record this year, Marcell Jacobs (26) is the fastest man on earth. He ran the 100m race in 9.8 seconds. (Usain Bolt from Jamaica has the all-time record at 9.58 seconds). Jacobs’ win brought joy to many Italians, especially since this is the first medal for Italy in the 100m race. The odds were 30:1 against him.

As a child, Jacobs always dreamt of winning an Olympic gold medal. He started out as a long-jumper, but after an injury three years ago, switched to running. While training in Rome, he built a team around him that included a chiropractor, nutritionist, and mental coach.

Jacobs is Italian, but he is also African-American. Born in El Paso, Texas, he immigrated to Italy when he was six months old with his Italian mother. At the time, his father, who was in the US Army, was transferred to South Korea, and so ended the marriage. Jacobs said he lost contact with this father after that. “I never saw my dad from that time on,” he told the press.

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Leave Her at the River

Monk riverHow often have you been awake at night processing what happened to you the day before? Perhaps you were reworking a conversation with a family member or colleague. Or maybe you were wondering how to pay that bill that just arrived in the mail. Or perhaps you are a teacher and were busy (re)giving your lecture again, only in a “better way.”

But at 2:00 in the morning, none of these mental exercises are serving you. You really need to sleep – not figure out how you might have more clearly explained yourself to your boss/students/son or daughter. You are losing energy trying to work out how to pay a bill that’s not due for weeks. But still … you can’t seem to stop. These thoughts are swirling around in your mind, keeping you busy and awake. Continue reading

An Imagined Apology

Apology - Street ArtNot long ago, I reflected on the process of forgiveness and how much time it can take. Recently, I heard a fascinating interview of the playwright and author Eve Ensler about her new book The Apology. Throughout her childhood, Ensler had been physically and sexually abused by her father. Decades after his death, she decided to write an apology for him – the apology that she had yearned to hear all her life. The book is written entirely from his perspective. In its “Introduction”, she talks about using her imagination to create the words she needed to hear her father say:

“My father is long dead. He will never say the words to me. He will not make the apology. So it must be imagined. For it is in our imagination that we can dream across boundaries, deepen the narrative, and design alternative outcomes.”

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Birthing Forgiveness

forgivenessForgiveness is a transpersonal quality whose essential role is often overlooked in the story of Good Friday. Today Christians mark the death of Jesus, who before dying, forgave his executioners as well as the thief crucified by his side. Born out of a paradoxical mixture of human suffering, responsibility and love, the essential power of forgiveness is that is contains rather than proliferates violence. Today seems like a good time to explore where forgiveness comes from and the power it holds. How does it happen? And what are the steps that we, in our personal lives, can take towards it?

Forgiveness is a creative process. You decide how much, when, where, how, and under what conditions to forgive. As Jungian psychologist Clarissa Pinkola Estés writes, “The important part of forgiveness is to begin and to continue” (author’s italics). It does not happen overnight, it does not have to happen fully. But one thing is certain, it cannot happen from your head. We cannot reason our way around, into, or towards forgiveness. Forgiveness comes from the heart, and it requires a great love, a Love beyond ourselves. Continue reading

Birthing Mercy

forgivenessForgiveness is a transpersonal quality  whose essential role is often overlooked in the story of Good Friday. Christians and non-Christians alike might reflect on Jesus’ act of forgiveness for the soldiers who nailed him to the cross and the thief who hung crucified at his side.

After the recent carnage in Brussels, most of our world leaders are calling for heightened surveillance and security, tighter borders, illegal torture of prisoners, patrols of Muslim neighborhoods, stricter control over the flow of refugees from the Middle East, and the ultimate destruction of Isis.

Perhaps it’s too early to start talking about forgiveness, but one faint whisper of mercy would not do us any harm. Our own responsibility in co-creating the world we all live in also needs to be acknowledged and spoken.

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Celebrating and Redeeming Flesh

baby with muscles

I am writing on a warm morning in early autumn. The oak branches are full and alive, corn fields lean with their ripeness, and rabbits graze in the filtered light. As the days grow shorter, I am trying to embrace autumn (and then the long winter) that will soon descend on Northern Europe. To do this, I have been collecting the yellow birch leaves that strew my path, acorns fallen from the night winds, and chestnuts that are still encased in their prickly green shells.

To fully participate in the beauty we find in nature, perhaps we need to start with appreciating our own living nature, beginning with our bodies. Autumn is autumn with all the decline and loss it might evoke, and all its shimmering colors, low filtered sunlight, and the fervent calling of wild geese overhead. This is true of who we are as well. We are who we are … wondrous and onerous, fragile and strong, light and dark.

This time of year also seems to be mirroring my own aging process. Lately, I have experienced a number of what I call OPTs (Old Person Things). I leave the kitchen, walk down the steps into the cellar, and stand bemused as I try to remember what I came down for. I take my wallet out of my purse and put it back without removing the bills that I need. I search for glasses, shoes, jackets and even credit cards that are sitting right in front of me. I watch (horrified at times) as my cognitive skills slow to a near standstill, yet at the same time I can feel myself grow more open, grounded, and at peace.

Take a moment now to wonder about your own body — to find your body wonderful! Your body contains a hundred times more cells than there are stars in the galaxy. Everyday, your heart, on average, does the daily work of lifting 1000 kilos from the ground up to the top of a five-story building. We have 656 muscles throughout the body. Our senses of sight, hearing, smell, touch, breathing, thinking, and speech bring us powerful revelations and gifts.

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New (In)Sights

Looking Beyond the Mirror Image

Looking Beyond the Mirror Image


During the last month I have had cataract surgery on both eyes. Nearsighted since I was 9-years-old, receiving clear vision after wearing glasses for 50 years is nothing short of a miracle. Surveying my garden after the operation, the blues of the cornflowers and borage blossoms seemed to jump out at me. Since then many natural images that would once have escaped me are appearing. A delicate winged dragonfly fluttering on top of the lavender. The rhythmic dance of the poppy petals in a soft morning breeze. Sad eyes on the face of the full moon.


However, my bathroom mirror is much more difficult to look at now! How eluded I have been! Suddenly I see wrinkles around my mouth, blotches on my cheeks, all the gray hair on my head, cellulite everywhere but… can it be…on my calves?! The list goes on! How did this happen overnight?

Acceptance seems key here. Of old age. Like 60 which is coming up fast for me. Three years ago I jokingly complained that in all the photos taken of me, an old lady seemed to be there, following me about like a faithful dog. (That old lady, of course, was me!) But I also realize that there are at least two advantages to getting older.

  1. I can now tell beautiful men that they are gorgeous without worrying about the consequences. That was not the case when I was younger.
  2. I now seem to be able to touch people more freely. I can lightly brush their cheek, pat their shoulder, even take their hand or hug them. I am more free to physically express my affection, heartache, and compassion. As a young woman, such physicality was impossible as it could easily be misunderstood as erotic, provocative, or unseemly. Now it’s just viewed as an affectionate gesture from a nice old lady.

So, take heart. There are advantages to growing old that you may not have seen yet. I recently edited a marketing piece about branding that included an example from a producer of beauty products. About 10 years ago, the CEO and his staff decided that their strategy would be to convince American women that they were ugly and growing old. That was the intended goal of the multimillion dollar company. To make you feel old and ugly. And they have had lots of money and expertise to achieve this end. Don’t let them win.

Facial CreamBeauty, as they say, is only skin deep. I have tried to look away from the bathroom mirror into one that might reflect my soul. This view can also be bit disconcerting, but I do see some progress and success. I am happier. I am quieter. I am hugging more people. I am more myself.

The recently deceased Lauren Bacall is quoted as saying, “I think your whole life shows in your face and you should be proud of that.” I always like to say, “I once was young and beautiful. Now I’m just……beautiful!”  In psychosynthesis terms, I am trying to dis-identify from my body, knowing that it is temporal and constantly changing. I am so much more than just my body. I am pure consciousness and will. And that is something that doesn’t come in a jar of face cream. Consciousness and will is the human expression of God to which we all are born.