Tag Archives: Interplay

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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The Transforming Power of Gratitude!

IMG_2424On February 6th, I had the privilege of leading an InterPlay workshop as part of the Midwest Women Spirit 2016 conference held in Chicago, IL. Since I wanted to make sure that I was onboard with the general theme of the conference, I arrived early enough to hear the keynote presentation given by Kate Braestrup. Kate is a UU Minister, a New York Times best-selling author and a Chaplain with the State of Maine Warden Service where she provides ministry to law enforcement officers and those they serve. Prior to becoming a UU minister Kate was married to a police officer who was killed in an on-duty accident leaving her with four children between the ages of 3 and 9 to raise on her own. Before his death her husband had been wrestling with a call to enter the ministry and their long conversations had evidently ignited a spark within her, because sometime after his death she entered seminary and was eventually ordained.

Since the theme of the conference was “Recognizing Our Calling” Kate had many powerful insights to share, from her own experiences and those of her children as they grew and matured. But the thing in her presentation that stood out the most for me was her challenge to us -especially those of us who feel some call to bring more peace, justice, hope, love, compassion and healing to the world- not to fall into the trap of despair and hopelessness regarding any of the many major problems we face. She shared some specific examples of the ways we as human beings have come together to avert almost certain disasters in the past, and her absolute confidence that we could do so again.

Then in the Q & A that followed her talk someone asked her about the environmental challenges we are currently facing and how she could have hope in the face of these. I don’t remember most of what she said in answer to that question, but I do remember the story she shared. To the best of my recollection it went something like this:

When I see a picture in the newspaper or magazine or watch a TV image of a disaster of some sort, in the midst of all the pain, suffering and devastation, I look for the helpers, those people who are there to offer comfort, medical assistance, food, shelter and the like. Helpers are always there! Sometimes I am one of those helpers and sometimes I just need the assurance that a helper will always come.

For some reason this image replayed itself again and again and eventually had me thinking about gratitude which led me to a book titled, Attitudes of Gratitudethat’s been on my shelf for many years.  As I thumbed through the pages of the book, I discovered  again many powerful testimonies from the author about the power of gratitude to transform us body, heart, mind and spirit.

One of the quotes the author shared from Susan Jeffers (“When we focus on abundance, our life feels abundant; when we focus on what we lack our life feels lacking. It’s truly a matter of what we focus on, ) seemed to link back to the story of the helpers in the midst of the disasters, so, I decided to focus my two online Dancing Our Prayers classes for the week on gratitude.

As we moved into each class I invited participants to focus on gratitude and then holding a tiny spark of gratitude in their hands to dance with it and allow it to grow and expand and carry them wherever it would. Each participant in both of the classes noticed the deep sense of joy, peace, ease and grace that seemed to take them over. It was like mixing a basic solution with an acidic one, gratitude neutralized the stress and tension many of them had been experiencing prior to the class.

I too felt this transformation.  I had awakened at 3am Monday morning to get ready to drive to the airport to fly back to Boston, so I would be there in time to teach the online class that night, only to discover that my flight had been canceled!  Now I really wanted to get back to Boston and I needed to be in a place with good internet in order to teach, so I let this stress me out. I was, therefore not even remotely close to being  in a place of calm, peace or gratitude when the class began. But little by little as I danced with the feeling of gratitude that at least I hadn’t been stuck at the airport or on a plane, gratitude began to work its magic. By the middle of the class I felt a deep sense of peace and joy. But that’s not the amazing part of the story!

The next morning I made it to the airport without incident and my plane took off pretty much on schedule. Once in the air, I did my usual bit of playing some games on my iPad and then reading one of my Kindle books. But then about an hour into the flight my eyes were tired (I had after all gotten up at 3am for the second morning in a row!) so I put on some meditative music and closed my eyes and just began breathing gratitude. With each breath my gratitude seemed to grow. With each breath my feelings of peace and joy deepened. With each breath my heart and mind seemed to expand. Then completely out of the blue came the absolute knowing that I needed to open a new document and begin working on the design for a new online class focusing on the wisdom contained in the book Move to Greatness: The Four Energies of a Whole and Balanced LeaderFor the next 30 minutes the ideas came in a steady stream. (This seemed especially astonishing since creating this design had been on my “to do list” for more than a few months.)

Since that day, I have been taking between 5-10 minutes some time each day to breath gratitude, to dance gratitude, to sing gratitude. Sometimes I think of specific things for which I am grateful, but sometimes I just dip into the well of feelings and pull up gratitude. Sometimes it happens quickly, sometimes its a bit slower. But in every case the transformation that gratitude brings is northing short of a miracle!

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