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Healing heart

Healing heart

On this the eve of a new moon and solstice and on this Juneteenth day as I post this, I bring you an image.  I painted it last week as I allowed what it was that needed to emerge.

 

I dedicate this edition of Soul Notes to all who have suffered injustice and as a sacred holding place for the possibility of:

What unites us

may

truly

unite us

 

~lori a. noonan

June 19, 2020*

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*One hundred and fifty-five years past June 19, 1865.  It would be months later on December 6, 1865 that the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution, in an effort to abolish slavery, would be ratified and it became law.

 

© 2020 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.

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Messages from above

Messages from above

When birds circle

tightly in the sky

and lower

than usual

 

They are providing a message

to all who will notice

Wisdom

from above

 

Their circling is nature’s way

of bringing news

of a change

a mighty change

in weather

 

In physical terms, it’s their inner ear sensing

a change in barometric pressure

 

They don’t “see” the change

They sense it

They feel it

 

Their ease of flight

depends on it

They are uniquely sensitive

to anticipating the storms

and adjusting midflight

 

Whether or not

we pay attention

is up to each of us

 

Nature gives us signals

every day

 

Does it take a once-in-a-century

pandemic

to get us to pay attention

to the signals

that a mighty change

is on its way?

 

Will we adjust midflight

and circle up together

or fly in separate directions

missing the flow

missing the ease

the grace

the beauty

the natural

ability

to listen

from within?

 

Okay, your turn:

What does easing into a major change mean for you?  When have you benefited from paying attention to the signals and adjusting midflight? Where have you suffered from making no adjustments along the way, and instead struggled forcefully against the wind?

 

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences by leaving a Reply in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2020 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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The new normal and the value of patience

The new normal and the value of patience

 

The new normal

The old normal

What is normal, anyway?

 

Different styles

A unifying approach

To the pandemic guideline

To wear a face covering

When out in public

For essential life preserving tasks

Such as grocery shopping

 

On the sidewalk

Along the length of the parking lot

We stand dutifully

Six feet apart from one another

Prompted by orange plastic traffic cones

Marking our spots

As the sparsely populated parking lot

Is unusually quiet

And shopping carts are handed off from one person to another without

Touching each other

The shopping cart exchange looks like

A passing of a baton in a 400 relay race that we

Won’t be seeing in the 2020 Olympics

Until 2021

 

I watch this going on

As I step forward when prompted by the attentive

And helpful grocery store clerk who keeps order

Along the line of shoppers

Waiting their turn

 

Oddly scenes juxtapose for me

As they appear in my awareness

 

For example, as I step together, pause

Step together, pause

I remember the times entering a church

In a wedding procession

Or the times I waited my turn

In a congregant line to receive communion

 

I feel a deep sense of poignancy

And notice an even deeper sense

Of patience

Which is not normally a strongsuit

 

Normally…

Huh

 

What is normal

What is new about this new normal

I have time to consider this

As I stand in line

For my turn

To enter the grocery store

 

Mask on face

Heart on sleeve

 

Quiet

Reverent

 

In no rush

to enter

the store

 

And yet

happy

to

receive.

Okay, your turn:

What does the new normal mean to you?   What are you noticing?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences by leaving a Reply in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2020 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

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Forced oneness

Forced Oneness

COVID-19 doesn’t care where you’re from

It doesn’t check for your passport

Or your citizenship

Or your next of kin

 

It doesn’t ask whether you have the new state-issued “Real ID”

With the special star symbol on it

 

COVID-19 doesn’t care how great you were

Or claim to be

Or whether you will be great again

 

From everything we know so far

It doesn’t attack plants

Or rocks

Or dogs

Or cats

 

It doesn’t go after

The winged ones

Or the finned ones

Or the creepy crawlers

 

COVID-19 attacks us as a species

It seeps into us as a human

It takes over our respiration

(Maybe it’s time for a re-SPIR-ration).

 

It forces each of us to come to terms with the fact

that

we are truly all in this one together.

 

So, to whom do you turn as your trusted news source?

Yourself

Your mind

Your discernment

Your wise judgment

Your body

Your heart

Your spirit

Your inner knowing

 

If it sounds like a duck

Walks like a duck

It is well, you know,

A duck

 

And so it is.

We’re all in this together.

Don’t lose heart

Or common sense

Which seemingly is not so common

Right now

After all

 

For your consideration:

Despite the challenges, and even because of them, this pandemic provides an opportunity for each of us to take a humility break.  Let us be sensitive to what unites us rather than divides us. It’s what first responders do. Take heed. Let’s all be first responders. As humans. Let’s reSPIRate.

During this time of the stay-at-home directive in California, I’ve found myself giving the flowers and plants in my garden a little extra attention and tender loving care. And, the rainbow this morning appearing as a semicircle of rays of light above the roofline during the early mist reminds me that not all things beyond our control are unwelcomed.  Even in the most trying of situations, there can be much beauty to behold.

Okay, your turn:

What does the phrase “forced oneness” mean to you? Is it an opportunity, or a curse?  Or, is it something else altogether?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences by leaving a Reply in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2020 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.

 

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Diving into the uncertainty

Diving into the uncertainty

Diving into the uncertainty

certainly is

uncertain.

 

Would we really desire

for it to be any other way,

really?

 

How boring

if everything

we set out to achieve

or receive

Came to us

with 100 percent

Certainty

and in the exact timing

we think we wish for it

to materialize.

 

It’s the human condition.

Whatever that is

exactly.

It’s also the human ill condition

to expect it to be otherwise.

 

Why are we

so at odds

with

what is?

 

I know I’m not the first one

I know I’ll not be the last

to make this observation

about the human condition

and how ill it is

and how ill we can be

made

by willing it

to be otherwise.

 

Otherwise, we wouldn’t

be

human

Would

we?

For your consideration:

Perhaps each of us gets in our own way, sitting and waiting for something to change by our sheer will. It’s not as simple as merely changing our thoughts, as so many may suggest. That’s a mind trick in the worst way. It’s more a matter of shifting our entire body and mind and energy systems and devoting them to changing course.  Even, though, of course, there are no 100 percent guarantees. Many things can and still do happen along the way.

To use traversing by sea in a sailboat as a metaphor:  You can’t simply “will” the boat to move in a certain direction. You can’t change your thoughts from “let’s go over here, instead of over there” and expect the boat to change directions solely based on your thoughts. You need to make the necessary adjustments to move the boat in the intended direction, taking into account all the elements including wind, water currents, and the seaworthiness of the craft. So, too, with your own vessel, in your own life.

Even then, there’s always uncertainty.  That’s the thrill of the ride.

Okay, your turn:

Where and when have you spent undue amounts of focus and energy “willing” something into being?  Would you say that it helped?  If so, in what way?  If not, what was it that kept you from letting it go and redirecting your life force in a way that was a more fully embodied commitment and ultimate shift?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences by leaving a Reply in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2020 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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Inner, outer, and back again

Inner, outer, and back again

In this new moon’s edition of Soul Notes, as we approach the thinning of the veils and autumn turns more and more toward winter, it’s a good time to go into our inner world, reflect upon the year so far, and survey what is ready to bring in from our fields, both physically and spiritually.

An ongoing cycle

Taking care of the insides tends to take care of the outsides. Conversely, of course, neglecting the insides can mean adversely affecting what materializes on the outside.

It’s an ongoing cycle of bringing in, nourishing, replenishing, renewing, and out and back again.

This is true in nature and even with person-made machines like bicycles, automobiles, and lawnmowers, for example. The list could go on; you get the picture.

It’s about taking care, having an awareness, and taking stock so to speak, so as to ensure everything is running smoothly. I was thinking about this when I took my car in for an oil change. The mechanic and I discussed synthetic oils, nonsynthetic oils, and synthetic blends. We discussed the longevity of the vehicle (mine is 24 years young, and still going!), and what we put in it helps the engine run at peak performance and what’s best for the short term versus the longterm.

I like to take care of things. I like things to last. In case you’re wondering, I know, too, when it’s time to let go. This is true of people, and animals, too. I don’t keep things just to keep them, and prolong the suffering, so to speak, just so I can live with it a little longer.

That is, as long as I remember to pay attention.  And, I do. Mostly (smile). Meditation helps. It’s in those quiet moments that I hear what I need to hear. It’s in those quiet moments that I hear what my chatterbox mind has been drowning out. Sometimes it’s what my inner knowing is intending to tell me. Sometimes I hear what the ancestors, and loved ones who have passed on from this lifetime, have to say.

The end of October into early November is an ideal time to access that clear channel with those who have passed onto the other side. It’s a great time of year to watch (or for me, re-watch as I’ve seen it several times), the movie City of Angels. For you film purists out there, yes, it’s a Hollywood stylized and more mainstream remake of the 1980s black and white film Wings of Desire. I like both versions of the movie, and Wings of Desire is a hauntingly beautiful film. The Meg Ryan/Nicolas Cage version is more relatable to me personally because it takes place in California and the Meg Ryan over-achiever character is relatable to me as well. I hope you enjoy either version of the film you decide to watch, and be on the look-out for the spiritual themes.

For your consideration:

The next few days, like nature, go inward. Take careful stock of what you’re “putting into” things you care about: like your relationships, your body, your creativity, your work, your schedule. What you put in the inside makes a difference on the outside.

Okay, your turn:

Where in your life have you been taking care of what you’ve been putting into it? Where could you make improvements? What are you committed to doing differently, and why?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences by leaving a Reply in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2019 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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The loftiness of law and public discourse

In this new moon’s edition of Soul Notes, we take a look at public discourse and what it means to be a good citizen.

Why so lofty?

With our President scoffing at current climate crises, and declining to attend a climate discussion meeting at this year’s recent G7 summit (this within two years of having pulled the United States from the multilateral Paris Climate Accord) – and, in lieu of holding frequent press conferences, resorting instead to a constant flow of shall we say disrespectfully taunting tweets online (lessons in how not to play well with others), and with the overall rise in documented hate speech and hate crimes in our society, I ponder this:

Have we reached a low point in our collective public discourse? And where do we as citizens – and the legal system and the government as well – play a role in elevating the discussion?

Shall we be aiming higher? Not unlike having a set of golf clubs, we have at our disposal a range of “lofts” to choose from. By that I mean, depending on the degree of upward spiral we select, we aim by design to reach an intended end state. A golfer may select a high loft club (such as a sand wedge) to pop up the ball from the sand trap and onto the green, gently landing and running a short distance without the ball making a bee line well beyond the hole and off the green altogether and maybe even into a water hazard.

Sometimes we speak of “lofty ideals” and “lofty goals” as if they are far-off, unreachable, untenable, and unattainable. I’d say that when they are grounded in tolerance and compassion, they stand a good chance of longterm success, not only for us as individuals but as a collective. (For more on this, see the previous edition of Soul Notes, From Idealist to Lost in the Practice of Law, here.)

In Ancient Greece, the “agora” (translated as market square or gathering place), as captured by Christopher Phillips in his book entitled, Six Questions of Socrates:

“Those who converged centuries ago in this center of commercial and civic life didn’t just come to barter and sell a wide range of merchandise, but also to exchange and examine ideas and ideals.” (p.10).

In Ancient Athens, considered the center of polis (think politics) and the birthplace of democracy, towns people would come together to create coalitions and build upon a shared sense of morals and high conduct. There was an emphasis placed on being a good citizen. Public discourse was encouraged and carried the day. History tells us that Ancient Athens eventually unraveled due to increasing corruption and resulting cynicism. So, what can we learn from Athens’ later societal crumbling and decline?

Recently, I attended a town hall hosted by a Southern California member of Congress. The Congressional representative spoke for about twenty minutes from the stage and then opened up the forum for an hour of questions from the audience. I was struck by the thoughtfulness of the questions and the candor and specificity of the responses. There was an exchange of ideas and while passionate at times, all the while respectful in tone and temperament. I felt the genuine need for citizens to be heard was being honored. I felt the appreciation from the audience that they had an opportunity to share their admiration, ideas, as well as their pleas for improvements in Congress and what we can expect from our representatives on the national stage. There was a discussion of enacted and pending legislation. The rule of law and how we are governed was a running thread.

For your consideration:

In our own lives — in how we communicate in person and online — we have an opportunity to elevate rather than debase one another and the sharing of ideas.  It makes for a more tolerant and dare I say more learned society. And with that comes greater understanding and an increased ability to sustain our planet and each other.  Let’s commit to being good citizens, good friends, and good stewards.

Okay, your turn:

Where have you witnessed a rise in the sharing of ideals, wisdom, and collective calls to action that are a way of building up rather than tearing down?  Have you taken part in a public forum, such as a town hall?  If so, what did you notice?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences by leaving a Reply in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2019 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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Protection from untoward forces affords access to the deeper wisdom: aad guray nameh

The power of sound and word

Mantra is a form of sound current meditation, and as such serves to clear the mind, and balance the brain hemispheres.  For millennia, yogis have chanted mantras for a variety of purposes.  All of them provide an effective way of controlling and directing the mind’s thoughts and a beneficial set of focus points.

One of the most powerful mantras in kundalini yoga (and one that is often chanted right after an initial tuning in with a chanting of ong namo), is the aad guray nameh mantra.

The mantra of protection

Aad guray nameh (I bow to the primal wisdom) is known as the “mantra of protection.”

By chanting this mantra, you bring about a field of white light of protection surrounding you. It also stimulates your mind and sharpens your alertness to avoid crashes, collisions, and other physical mishaps.  It has been said that by chanting this mantra three times before embarking on a mode of transportation, it brings nine seconds of time, and nine feet of protection around you and your vehicle.

Gurmukhi:

Aad Guray Nameh
Jugaad Guray Nameh
Sat Guray Nameh
Siri Gurdayvay Nameh

Translation:

I bow to the primal wisdom

I bow to the wisdom that has existed throughout the ages.
I bow to the true wisdom.
I bow to the great, divine wisdom

What do we mean by protection?  It’s energetic in nature, and can have direct positive effects in the material world.  Some think of a protective field as a “shield.”  I like to think of it more as a screen rather than a shield.  While a full-on shield tends to be hard and impenetrable, a screen has permeability.  By design, a screen lets in some things, while keeping out other things.  Envision a screen on a door or a window, or a screened-in porch. These house screens allow in light, while at the same time keep the bugs out. They are a filter.

By design, we too, have the ability to invoke a screen that protects us from what may harm us, while allowing in what helps us.  We may exercise our right to choose at any time.  We may open the door, or close the door, as well as put up or remove a screen, at any time.  Mantra simply helps us get centered and into a place of focus and access to our deeper wisdom and to a place of precise decision-making.

Affords access to the deeper wisdom

In the specific case of aad guray nameh, we are ensuring the screen of white light is in place. Once protected, we are able to feel into and hear the deeper messages we are meant to hear.

May we each draw from the divine wisdom held deeply within each of us, so that we may bring our best selves and our greatest gifts out into the world, from a place of higher consciousness and with humility and grace.  And, may it be in service to our planet and to all of humanity.  The times such as these require it.  The time is now.

For your consideration:

Before engaging in any meditation (and again, mantra itself is a form of meditation) – decide for yourself:  what type of ‘screen’ am I invoking and putting on the door to my heart, mind and soul?  Is it one of protection?  If so, then honor and appreciate that, and act upon it accordingly. It’s a matter of intention, and awareness.

And, as we turn the corner and head toward the September equinox in the next two weeks, it’s an ideal time to “check your screens.”  Just as you would with home maintenance and repairs – take a look at your energetic screens and see which if any need adjusting.  Equinox is the time, twice each year, when the hours of light and dark are nearly equal, and it’s a time of balance.

As you take a look at your life and your current state of affairs, ask yourself:  What’s in balance?  What’s out of balance?  Are your protective screens strong and steadfast?  Or, are they flimsy and weak, tattered, or threadbare?  What’s getting into your energetic field that you’d rather keep out?  Conversely, what’s currently missing from your energetic field that you’d consciously like to invite in?

For me, I’m inviting in more love and support, while screening out distractions and feelings of heaviness and doubt.

Okay, your turn

What in your life right now is calling for your attention and intention?  What is it that would most benefit from a white light of protection?

I invite you to SHARE your thoughts, feelings, and experiences by leaving a Reply in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2018 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

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The power of remaining calm

Calm among the chaos

As details continue to surface surrounding the rescue of the 12 young soccer players and their coach from miles deep within a set of interlocking waterways flowing between the jagged rocks of sea caves, we are learning that among other amazing aspects of this story, meditation likely played a key role in their more-than-a-fortnight’s survival under what were extremely perilous and life-threatening conditions.

This group having found themselves trapped miles away from their original entrance into the caves, it would be more than a week before anyone would locate them and provide food.  And it would be another several days before the first of three sets of rescues could be made, eventually bringing all the boys and their coach to safety — out from the deep darkness and into the light above.

The cave divers and the meditating monk

The flood waters and threat of the impending monsoon season had kept them held captive as a group, huddled atop a small ledge above the water line, with little air and little food or other basic life-sustaining necessities.  What they did have, was their Buddhist monk-trained coach who, it has been reported, led them through an ongoing practice of meditation. Meditation helped to calm their nervous systems and likely served to focus them on the possibilities of sustaining life rather than on the dread of extreme suffering or even possible death.  It allowed them to reserve and extend their precious, seemingly limited resources.

They had each other.  They had meditation.  And they had an unending access to a depth of another kind – that of spiritual sustenance.

None of this is to say, of course, that without the unparalleled coordination and carefully orchestrated efforts of the expert cave divers and other rescue volunteers and medical personnel, this group would have made it out safely.  All the individuals involved with their rescue (including one former Thai navy Seal who lost his life) are due a profound debt of gratitude, respect, and honor.  It’s beautiful to see all this humanity working together.  It is also, however, to acknowledge that more than physics, technology, and biology were at work here.  As the monk’s training and meditation exemplify, it was heart, mind and soul over matter. And it all mattered.

Hearing their story reminded me of the quotation from Viktor Frankl in his book Man’s Search for Meaning. In describing the importance of maintaining a strong inner strength while being held captive in the concentration camps during World War II, he said that in spite of the severe, primitive conditions, those who survived the best were the ones who “were able to retreat from their terrible surroundings to a life of inner riches and spiritual freedom.” (Page 36, emphasis added).

Thankful for inner calm

One time while swimming in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Southern California as a teenager, I found myself facing a near-death experience.  Thankfully, the experience was quick and I emerged without any dire consequences. But, after swimming out in the ocean away from the beach, I was suddenly wrapped up in a set of cross-currents, and was being pummeled around under water pretty forcefully.  I recall thinking that eventually I was going to run out of air, and saying to myself:  “If it’s my time to die, this may be it.”

I thank in part my ability to remain calm and clear-headed.  Instinctively, I (or my body, rather?) knew to preserve my breath and my strength while submerged in open water. I was fairly confident in that moment, that I could probably make it back to shore, if I could only determine which way was “up.” I released any resistance to the oncoming series of waves, and surrendered as eventually a big curling wave scooped me up and carried me up to the surface. If I had allowed myself to panic, at best I risked flailing around wasting precious breath; and at worst, I risked swimming in the completely wrong direction, going deeper and away from the surface rather than popping back up to the top and catching a fresh breath of air.

My experience, although potentially dangerous, was nonetheless brief. The extended period of time that the young soccer players and their coach faced deep within that set of sea caves, however, and their ability to remain that calm for that long, is nothing less than awe inspiring.  It will be so illuminating to learn more about them as they fully recover in the days and weeks to come.

For your consideration:

If and when our conditions are suddenly such that we are stripped down to the barest of elements and a matter of basic survival, priorities become abundantly apparent.  Choices to be made are brought into sharp focus.  In those moments, it helps, I would say, to have a deeply contemplative practice already in place.

Okay, your turn:

When have you found yourself in a turbulent situation, and one where maintaining a sense of calm ended up serving you well?  Has there been any other time you didn’t remain calm and wish that you had?

I invite you to SHARE your thoughts, feelings, and experiences by leaving a Reply in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2018 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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The honoring of union and unity: Are you in?

Oneness

Union and unity

or, at least the potential of it

exists

within ourselves

and with and among each other

and with the Divine.

We are more alike than we are different.

We are all made of the same ‘stuff,’ the same stuff as the stuff of the earth and the stars.

 

As we hear spoken at Mass on Ash Wednesday, from the Old Testament:

From dust we came and to dust we shall return.  (Genesis 3:19)

And, as set forth in the New Testament, we are reminded that:

A house divided against itself cannot stand. (Mark 3:25)

 

Also, as Americans we’ve often heard repeated this pre-revolutionary war era rallying cry:

United we stand; divided we fall. (“The Liberty Song,” by John Dickinson (1768))

 

Each of us has this one life to live – staying true to ourselves and our convictions, and with our own sense of right and wrong – while also living as members of our increasingly globalized society.

So, why do we so often seem to be hell-bent on finding ways to emphasize our differences in such a way that, rather than uplifting each other, threatens to cut each other down, and keep us separated?  Why must we do so in ways that are disrespectful and even dare I say dehumanizing?

To do so, is to forget an important spiritual principle, as so eloquently set forth in Yogi Bhajan’s First Sutra of the Aquarian Age:

Recognize that the other person is you.

I have this sutra, included in the list of all five sutras, posted on a wall right next to my bathroom mirror.  It reminds me of the mirror, if you will, that each of us is of each other and for each other.  (For more on this First Sutra, go here.)

How We Express Ourselves To One Another

On social media, I find it challenging.  I may not always, and may not ever, truly get it ‘right.’  I do approach it with the intention, however, of striking some sort of proportionate distribution among: raising awareness and shining a light on issues that matter to me in this world, and doing so without inflicting harm, shame or blame on another – especially on anyone in the private sphere.  Elected and appointed officials, in my opinion, are subject to a bit more scrutiny, although there too I do my best to raise awareness, clarify facts, and share my point of view in a way that’s not focused on shaming the person on a purely personal level.

For the most part, I look for examples of what I’d like to “see more of” in the world.  By contrast, I suppose that in so doing, I’m also pointing out what I’d like to see “less of” in the world – and yet, why give extra mileage to those things, is my thinking?  Haven’t those negative things already gained more than enough traction?

Sometimes, by design, I take a moment to reflect, and refrain from posting anything at all. It’s not that I don’t care.  Sometimes, I feel maybe I care too much?  Is there such a thing as caring too much?  I don’t know, really.  I do know that often there is much more to be learned from listening than from telling, and certainly more to be gained by showing compassion rather than by “making a point” in a way that’s browbeating and berating to another.

As I write this, I’m reminded of the proverb: There but for the grace of God, go I.

We never fully know what another person’s experience or conditions may be.  We can only hope to heed even but the briefest moments and garner but the slightest glimpses of understanding.  What would we do if we were in their particular situation or living within their particular circumstances?  What if the roles were reversed?  I am not suggesting that I have it all figured out.  I do know, though, that at least I’m trying to be conscientious and expressing myself with a certain level of decency while also maintaining my sense of advocacy on behalf of those values and ideals I hold most dearly. It’s an ongoing, day-by-day, invocation.

For your consideration:

With friends, colleagues, and even strangers, can we aim to be more compassionate, and less quick to dehumanize?  Have social media “won” the game — in terms of reducing us to online bullies and to showing up as web-based wielding knife-throwers? Can we change the rules of the game?  I say we can.

Are we up for raising the level of discourse? I’m game! Are you in?

Okay, your turn:

Where do you feel we’ve gone astray with regard to how we treat one another, and why? How can we improve our discourse? From a loving place, and not from a place of vindictiveness, harshness, or shame or blame, are there any examples you’d like to share?

I invite you to SHARE your thoughts, feelings, and experiences by leaving a Reply in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2018 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.