Category Archives: Growth

Be True, Be Kind, Pay Attention!

This week I was reading the text of a Commencement Address by Carrie Newcomer titled “Be True, Be Kind, Pay Attention,” which she shared in her book The Beautiful Not Yet: Poems, Essays and Lyrics, (published in 2016 by Available Light Publishing and available at www.carienewcommer.com).Her address touched me deeply and connected with wisdom I have received through the wonderful practice of Interplay (www.interplay.org) developed by Cynthia Winton-Henry and Phil Porter. Her words resonated with several of what Interplay calls Body Wisdom Tools. They especially connected with my understanding of the tool named affirmation, that invites us “to look for the good in any situation”; and the tool called body data, body knowledge and body wisdom, that calls us to “notice, notice, notice what is happening in us body, mind, heart and spirit in any given moment”; and the tool of internal authority, which invites us to “trust what we are noticing”. Her words also resonated with an insight from my Appreciative Inquiry teacher Rev. Dr. Rob Voyle who teaches that when we pay attention to what we deeply love to do, it is a key to discovering our own life’s purpose. The more I ponded Carrie’s words and the wisdom from these other sources,  the more I wanted to share my reflections on them.

I think now more than ever we need to be true, be kind and pay attention! And so it is that the following poem emerged.(those lines that are noted in quotations are direct quotes either from Carrie’s speech or from one of her songs) After you read it let me know what it sparks in you.

Be true

Be true to your heart

Be true to your deepest knowing

Be true to what you love to do

Be true to what brings joy and gratitude and hope

Be true to what makes you shine

Be true to what makes you smile

from the very depth of your soul

Be true to what makes your heart sing

Be true to the gift of who you are

Be true to the gift of all that love is bringing to life in you

Be true to your dreams, even if they change shape

a time or two along the way.

Be true and let beauty lead you home

Be true and trust your heart

Be true and trust your own deep wisdom

Be true and trust your soul to be your guide

Be true and listen for the whispers of grace

and the brush of angels wings

Be true to your heart and discover

ALL that you are born to be and do

Be True!

Be Kind

For kindness is love in action

Be kind to yourself “as kind as you would be to a close friend”

Be kind to your family

Be kind to your co-workers

Be kind to the clerk in the store

-even if he isn’t efficient,

-even if she isn’t friendly

-even the ones who are not kind to you!

Send kind thoughts to the driver who cuts you off in traffic

Send kind thoughts the person who annoys you

-because he always has to have center stage

-because she never pays attention

-because he is always putting someone down

-because she won’t listen to your point of view

-because he values things you don’t understand

-because she sees the world through different eyes

Be kind in your thoughts

Be kind in your words

Be kind in your actions

Be kind even as you are standing up for what you believe

Be kind because kindness matters

And “When forgiveness is hard to find,

help me at least to be kind!”

Be Kind!

Pay attention

Notice what brings ease and joy and grace to you

Notice what evokes a deep smile from a stranger or a friend

Notice and trust what you notice

See the resilience of the human spirit

Recognize the breath of Life and Love

-in the wind

-in the sun

-in the rain

-in the flowers

-in the touch of a lover

-in the laughter of a child

-in the comfort of a friend

-in the kindness of a stranger

Pay attention to what quickens your pulse

Pay attention to what triggers your fear

Pay attention to what takes your breath away

and fills your heart with joy

Pay attention to what seems like a mistake

and ask what lesson it can bring

Pay attention to the questions that rise from your soul

Pay attention to your life,

so you can live it

Pay attention to your life,

so you can be the best version of who you are

Pay attention to what you love and do it

Pay attention to your heart so it can guide you

Stop

Look

Listen

See

Hear

Be

Pay attention!

Be true, Be Kind, Pay attention

And live, truly live!

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Only Then…

Since the InterPlay Leaders Gathering and the powerful Color Wisdom shared by our Leaders of Color and others who are working to dismantle racisim, I have found myself, thinking a lot about what I am called to do! I have also been trying to be alert for moments of clarity. On August 20th, I had one at the grocery store which prompted the following poem, which I shared on Facebook. I have been humbled and overwhelmed by the responses I have received and by the number of people who have encouraged me to “publish it and share it more widely.” So here is the poem. Please take a moment to read it and ponder its meaning for your life. Thank you.

Only Then!
written by Nancy Zoelzer Pfaltzgraf
08-20-2016

Today as I was leaving the grocery store
I saw two young boys
about the size and age of my oldest grandson
they were laughing
just like he does
they were playing
just like he does
they were with their Dad
who reminded me of my son
tall, caring, making his way through the store
trying to manage the list
and the boys
perhaps on an errand
perhaps to shop for the week.
just like my son and grandson sometimes do;
except…..
except…..
except…..
their skin was of a darker hue,
their hair was tightly curled….
and as I watched them for the briefest of moments
my heart was seized
tears filled my eyes
an ache clutched my soul!
Because, just because of the color of their skin
and the weave of their hair
they will not know
the privileges my grandson knows!
Their road will be harder!
Their climb will be steeper!
Their way will be filled with challenges and dangers
my grandson will not face….
Unless…. unless…. unless…
I do what I can do to help others see…
Unless…. unless…. unless…
I do what can do to help others understand…
Unless…. unless…. unless…
I do what I can do to change the way it is
to the way it can be,
should be,
must be….
A world where every mother’s child
every father’s son
every grandmother’s delight
every grandfather’s dream
has the same opportunities,
the same privileges
the same chances
for a life richly lived
for talents extravagantly expressed
for dreams abundantly realized
for love graciously empowered
no matter what the hue of their skin
the slant of their eyes
the heritage of their ancestors
the language of their birth
the faith they proclaim
the way they name the One who is the
Source, Creator, Lover, Dreamer, Light, Love
IN US ALL!

Only then will my grandson and all the grandsons and granddaughters of this world
be truly free
to laugh and play
to dance and dream
to work and grow
to live and love!
Only then!

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Finding Grace!

sunset

While I have a friend named Grace, I haven’t lost her, so she is not who I am trying to find! (Although seeing her right now would be a Grace moment in more ways than one!) What I am talking about is something I learned from my practice of InterPlay®; finding, discovering, experiencing, waking up to grace in the here and now…one moment at a time!

For most of my life “grace” was something you said before you ate, a somewhat vague theological term or something I sang about in songs such as Amazing Grace! I never thought of grace as something I experienced in my body; something as close to me as the air I breathe or the blood coursing through my veins. But in fact grace can be or in fact is as close as that. And it is not something we have to work for or earn. It is the birthright of every person; maybe even the birthright of the whole of creation!

So where do we find grace?

How do we find grace?

I began to awaken to this new way of understanding grace when Phil Porter -one of the co-founders of the system of practice known as InterPlay® was leading a retreat called The Secrets of InterPlay, and he asked us how we experienced stress in our bodies. The group was quick to name a whole plethora of things like -tight chest, shallow breathing, clamped jaws, abdominal discomfort, headaches and the like. Then Phil said, “OK, now shake that out and think of the opposite of stress…. what does that feel like in your body?” Although it took a little longer, the list was eventually just as plentiful -softness in the face, openness in the chest, deep breathing, relaxed shoulders, ease throughout the body, a smile on your face and the like. “This,” Phil went on to say, “is what in InterPlay we call the Physicality of Grace.”

So the “Grace Key” (a name coined by InterPlay co-founder Cynthia Winton-Henry) that which allows us to find Grace, is to notice what elicits these “opposite of stress” sensations. Another way of saying that is to ask: “who or what are our grace-makers?” Then, when we have identified our grace-makers, we can choose to do more of those things. or have more of those experiences. Each of us has our own rich tapestry of grace-makers. Here are some of mine:

  • dancing -almost any kind, but especially the improvisational just letting my body move to a piece of music kind of dancing
  • sitting by a body of moving water
  • watching a sunset
  • playing with my grandson
  • being with my husband
  • smelling a rose
  • walking through a flower garden
  • a heart to heart talk with a friend
  • connecting with others in movement, song and story-telling (InterPlay®)
  • breathing slowly and deeply and then silently naming the blessings in my life
  • touching the deep wisdom of my own true nature
  • hearing a song that touches my heart
  • walking a Labyrinth
  • laughing at something truly funny

What are some of your grace-makers?

One of the things I deeply appreciate about a regular practice of InterPlay is that I am reminded of my grace-makers and have the opportunity to reconnect with the grace that permeates all of life and dwells in the core of my own being. And the more I find grace in the simple ordinary bits of my life the more I am able to lead joyfully and live playfully whether it is leading a group or my own life. If you have experienced InterPlay, you know what I mean. If you have not, I would encourage you to contact me or check out the InterPlay website to find out about upcoming events  or if there are regular InterPlay classes near you.

Our bodies were created for grace, in grace, with grace and we all need to find grace in the ebb and flow of our day to day lives!

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