100/100 Days of I Believe

I believe in wonder. I believe in greeting the world with curiosity - and a generous amount of it - for the human condition, for the planet, for the universe. For the things we can't see or understand.

I believe in being curious about the person next to me on the airplane and about the mysteries of the universe. About those pink flowers that open from little beads in the most intricate pattern, and about the inner life of dreams. about the way my son sees it, the way his sister sees it, the way the stranger sees it, no matter what it is - I want to ask a million questions and try to understand, to make it make sense or appreciate the way that it doesn't. I want to touch it all, every bit of of this big beautiful wonder-full world in all of its whole and broken glory, with all of its mysteries and realms.

Wonder is the way forward, it is my path and my lens. Wonder informs the way I want to move through the world and it defines the person I want to be. Wonder is curiosity and delight, it's kindness and compassion, respect and hope and possibility all rolled into one.

Suddenly it feels as though everything I've said these 100 days has led to this - the bits about leftovers and milkshakes, about love and ways of seeing, about humanity and creativity and worry and car trips and school supplies - if I could say only this and nothing else, it's suddenly clear: choose wonder, choose love.

 

99/100 Days of I Believe

I believe in spreading joy and gladness freely and often.

Try it, won't you?

Make eye contact with the person you pass on the street. Look up from your phone, take delight in the sunlight on the rooftop and then point it out to someone standing next to you wherever you are.

Learn somebody's name. Ask the electrician about his family. Buy lunch for the person behind you in line. Smile more. Smile at someone else. Smile at everyone else.

I believe that when you greet people in the grocery store or next to you at the movies, or in your living room for that matter, with joy and gladness, they will give it right back to you - they might even pass it on - and when they don't, it's probably when they need it the most, so do it anyway, and then do it again.

I believe that the more joy I can muster, the more joy I can share, and I believe that the more joy we share, the better off we all will be.

Spread joy and gladness freely and often, won't you please? It's good for you, it's good for all of us. It's good for the world.

 

98/100 Days of I Believe

I believe that family is what grounds us in our stories in the same way the first layer of color on the paper or the canvas grounds a painting.

I hadn't given much thought to why it's called a "ground," that under layer of color or colors buried beneath a painting, but tonight I think it's because it's what connects the painting to the surface it's painted on, literally and metaphorically, the way our families connect us to what what came before.

If I am drawing the lines of my own life, applying color and texture to compose my story (forgive me for mixing my metaphors), then family is what gives my story context. It's the hint of color that shows through the spaces where there is no paint. It is what gives the colors their tint, the way that red on top of blue has a purple cast while red on top of yellow is closer to orange.

Good, bad, complicated (aren't they all complicated), family is what informs our lives the way the underpainting informs a painting. There is no nothing that came before, no plain white canvas, no blank page.

If we are all made up of our stories then no matter how you write it or paint it or draw it or slice it or understand it, family is what was there before the story began, it's the ground, the context, the gravity that holds us to ourselves.

 

96/100 Days of I Believe

I believe it depends how you look at it, part 2.

I'm always telling my kids that the salt shaker (the imaginary one that I reference, not infrequently, when I tell them this for the umpteenth time) has no singular reality of its own. The salt shaker is not tall or short, narrow or wide, silver or grey, full or empty. It is not definitively any of those things, though might be any of of them. And it's probably all of them.

The imaginary salt shaker can be tall next to the sugar dish, or short next to the wine glass. It can be full in comparison to the pepper shaker, or empty next to the sugar. And so on, you get the point.

What the salt shaker is depends entirely on what's around it, and who's looking, and what is my perspective when I look. And what kind of table in what kind of room on what kind of day or night is it anyway? It depends how you look at it.

The same is true of the banana, which is over ripe or under ripe or just right depending how you like your bananas. and of the movie, the book, the scene that unfolded in the lunchroom, the water in the pool.

Not one of those things is all one thing - my cold is Dave's hot, every time. And my spicy is his mild. One of us is not right and the other wrong.

The temperature of the air and the heat of the salsa, the banana, the disagreement between friends, the description of the salt shaker, it depends how you look at it.

It would do us all good to remember this (and I'm talking to myself here) as we walk through the world seeing things as clearly as we do with such certainty about whatever it is that we see. it depends how you look at it.

 

95/100 Days of I Believe

I believe you get back what you give out, that things are meant to be used and enjoyed and when we hold onto things for one-day-just-in-case they tend to go stale, and us around them.

I believe that hoarding your sticker collection or the scotch tape, books, handbags, your French fries or the last of the strawberries makes for less in our lives, not more. that holding on tight takes energy, while sharing makes life sweeter, and makes space for more.

The sticker collection is an example near and dear to my heart, because to this day I have a hard time using up those stickers that come on perforated sheets from a roll at the old fashioned pharmacy next to the bank. they're so pretty and pleasing and I want to save them for just the right time except what is the right time, exactly, for which to save them? If I were to keep the stickers, piled in a box on my desk (as I have been known to do) saving them for some imaginary right time, they would be taking up space in my life, gathering dust, bringing me no joy - in fact, bringing me the opposite of joy as I hold on tight and wonder, is this the right time? - and bringing no joy or use to anyone anywhere. Whereas, if I stick those stickers to a letter I send to my child at summer camp or to my niece, or on the envelope when I pay the electric bill, for heaven’s sake - I get the pleasure of using this tiny treasure, someone else gets the pleasure of receiving it, and I have made space for more treats, treasures, joy to come into my life.

Somehow, holding on to the stickers (thank you for bearing with me as I wring every last drop out of this metaphor) it is as though I am anticipating that there won't ever be more stickers or better sticker or enough stickers - or tote bags or strawberries or old sweatshirts or socks or whatever it is - that this is as good as it gets and I'd better hold on for dear life for fear of losing it all. In truth, every bit of it is temporary, and we ought to enjoy it while we can.

So stick those stickers on the envelope - on any envelope, or on all of them - offer a neighbor the last of the strawberries, give the old handbag to a friend. Let the things do their job of being useful, take pleasure in what is available in this moment, and trust in the universe that you get back what you give out. I believe it.

 

94/100 Days of I Believe

I believe it depends how you look at it.

The day that seems, on the surface, to be the very worst day can be full of blessings and the one that looks the best can hinge on a single disappointment.

Abundance can look like ashes and ashes like abundance, depending on one's perspective. And I believe we get to choose.

Please know that I am not disqualifying circumstance here, instead I am suggesting that we get to choose how we respond to circumstance. I believe that joy is a choice, also gratitude, bounty, blessing, and possibility. and if you don't see it, turn things over and over again, tilt it this way and that, go upside down if you have to. it all depends how you look at it.

Days are hard, I know. Heck, years are hard and whole lives are hard but this is it, people. This is life, in all of its glory and all of its hard and I choose to search - far, wide, deep, upside down, wherever I have to search, and some days I have to search hard - to see abundance, to find gratitude, to look upon the goodness and the light, to go to bed at night thinking my cup overflows. and if you look at it that way, it does.

 

93/100 Days of I Believe

I believe that the news is toxic. That’s kind of a bold statement to make, and i’m feeling the urge to dial it back a little by saying “for the most part,” or “that’s kind of a bold statement to make,” but the truth is that i believe it.

Are we, by our very nature as human beings, so drawn to the scary, gory, tragic, and chaotic that we want to watch/listen to/read it in an endless loop? I can’t help wondering. And are we actually interested by nature, or are we socialized to crave the scary, gory, tragic, and chaotic by the stories we’ve seen/watched/read in the news all our lives? Either way, why don’t we push back against it?

Who needs to hear tales of devastation and destruction on a loop for hours or days on end? How does that help us to understand? To grow as a society? Or to change? And where are the stories about hope and possibility? Why are the heroes relegated to “human interest” instead of the front page?

I once heard a rabbi give a talk in which he mentioned that during the Jewish holiday of Purim, when we read the Book of Esther, we drown out the name of the villain in the story - we literally drown out his identity by shaking noisemakers whenever his name is read, adults and children alike. We refrain from giving him the honor of mention. And yet, in this country we recite the names of perpetrators of horrific acts over and over again, we research and retell the events of their lives as though they are the most interesting or important characters in the story. Have we lost sight of what is interesting and important?

Of course we need to be informed, and I believe that there is a way to inform, to share the news, without holding up the horrors of the world as though they are worthy of honor. I’d like to see us know what’s happening and then turn our attention to making change, to transformation and growth and hope and possibility and light and goodness because i believe these things exist in the world in equal parts - at least - with the darkness, and I’d like to see our energy and attention focused there. Wouldn’t you?

 

92/100 Days of I Believe

I believe that a fried egg is the perfect answer for any meal. on toast, over spinach, with a salad, as part of a sandwich or on a burger - breakfast, lunch, or dinner, I say.

You might imagine that I have my thoughts for these last few days of the #100daysofibelieve all planned out with meaningful things to say and deep thoughts to share in the home stretch, or maybe you haven't imagined anything about it at all, but I've taken every day so far as its come, all 92 days, and I plan to finish out the last eight the same way. the thing is that I have been particularly exhausted these last few days and finding the energy for words - or dinner - in the low light of evening is a stretch.

Which is exactly why a fried egg and some diced sweet potato sautéed in coconut oil was the perfect simple supper, and why it deserves mention.

Sometimes the simplest things are the most nourishing, the most pleasing, the perfect answer.

 

91/100 Days of I Believe

I believe that there’s no place like home.

I’ll tell you anytime in detail, whether you ask me or not, about how much i love to travel - about how i love to see other parts of the country and the world, to experience new places and people and things, how i appreciate being in a different culture surrounded by a different language or way of speaking or looking at the world, how i enjoy discovering the ways that we are all similar and the ways that we’re different. How i love the beach and the woods and the mountains and big cities and little cities and driving through vast expanses of rolling hills and flat prairies and flying over the middle of the country where i can see the patchwork of farmland down below. How i like to check out the grocery store wherever i go. How I don’t mind living out of a suitcase because i like having just the essentials with me, without any of the noise.

And yet. There is nothing nothing nothing like coming home. Nothing like cooking eggs in my own pan with my own spatula and eating them out of my own bowl. Smelling the smells that i didn’t even realize were there, but they are and once i smell them i remember.

Just as much as i love to explore, i love to return to this soft landing place where the cushions and the quilts and the forks and spoons fit in my hand like a glove, where the mail is addressed to me, even the bills, where that dress that wasn’t essential is hanging in my closet and i think i’ll take it with me next time i go.

There’s no place like home.

 

90/100 Days of I Believe

I believe in love and light. I've said it before and I'll say it again and again and again: I believe that love breeds love and light begets light.

And I believe that we can use as much of both as we can muster right now, when it seems that darkness is seeping in through the cracks and under doorways and it feels reflexive to be angry and to hate the hate, which only mean we have to love harder and deeper and more. we have to be the goodness and embody the light - in the words we speak, in the choices we make, in the way we look at the stranger we pass on the street.

There's more, I'm sure - lobbying, teaching our children, teaching others, feeding the hungry and clothing the naked, something else too, something that we haven't imagined yet but when we do it will touch the whole world.

In the meantime, be the light and be the love. If every single one of us does that, it makes a difference.

 

89/100 Days of I Believe

I believe that 89 things is a lot of things to believe. Some days I wonder if I'm running out of things to say in the home stretch, but I believe that I've got eleven more stashed away somewhere in the corners of my mind.

Let's hope.

 

87/100 Days of I Believe

I believe in putting peanut butter on fudgesicles, especially when it's 102 degrees outside. It's a trick I learned as a child at summer camp, and if you've never tried it, you really should.

 

86/100 Days of I Believe

I believe that suitcases don't belong on beds. Also shoes, and street clothes.

It's a lesson learned from my grandmother, who also taught that plates go on top of placemats, condiments should be decanted into dishes with spoons before going on the table, and the hotel room should never be near the elevator or the ice machine.

Life's lessons.

I realize these little quirks might make me fussy in someone else's eyes, and if you put me under oath I'd have to confess that my grandmother was a touch fussy.  But she was also grand.

At her funeral I spoke about my grandmother's influence on my life and I said that she "taught me that I should ask for what I want. and she taught me what I should want."

Please, don't put your lipstick on at the table.

 

85/100 Days of I Believe

I believe in the power of meditation. It doesn't come easily to me - not sitting still, not clearing my mind, not the part about making space and time and a place in which to do it. And yet.

I once heard a yoga teacher say that the poses we resist are the ones we need the most. So it is for me with meditation. And there's a reason it's called a practice.

When I make the space to sit myself on my meditation cushion (does it have to be on my cushion? what if I am not at home? can't I sit anywhere? is there something special about the cushion? a little taste of the conversations in my head) for two minutes or five or eleven, or when I'm in a groove sixteen, and I aspire to twenty - when I sit for ten minutes everyday or nearly everyday or some days or even one day, I am healed. From the silence, from the space, from the breath. It is like I imagine a dousing with holy water might be for a believer except that the water is air and the flow is in and out of my lungs instead of over my head. But that does not diminish the holiness or the cleansing or the healing, and maybe it enhances all three because they were within me all along.

I have not been practicing these last few months. I let myself get caught up in the whirlwind of my days and my mind and I have been avoiding the cushion and the stillness. This message is for me, a reminder to myself - sit, you will be glad you did.

 

84/100 Days of I Believe

I believe in listening to the quiet voice inside that tells me left, or right, yes or no, this or that.

I have to be very patient and still in order to hear the voice, and it's taken me a long time, years, a lot of years, to tune into the frequency where this voice can be distinguished among the noise and all of the other voices in and out of my head. Maybe some people tune into this frequency earlier in life - I hope they do, for their sakes, because it's much easier to walk through the world when you can hear yourself from the inside whispering stop, or go.

 

83/100 Days of I Believe

I believe in sleep, and plenty of it. my kids have always gone to bed earlier than their friends, though now my 16 year old is up until all hours.

Lately, I haven’t been sleeping as well as I usually do. It might be the fact that I haven’t slept in my own bed in weeks, and that’s always some sort of disorienting. Or it might be that there’s been so much going on in my own little slice of the universe, and in the whole wide world – it’s hard to find true rest in the midst.

Today, I listened to Ariana Huffington on the Happier podcast (podcasts are something else I believe in) talking about sleep. Arianna talked about the transformative powers of sleep, and I was reminded that sleep habits, like eating and exercise habits, need tending. She said that, for her, the first indication that she is not getting enough sleep is when she notices herself finding less joy in life. that resonated so deeply with me.

And so I’m turning off my device and heading to bed. Tomorrow is Monday, and it needs me to bring all I’ve got.

81/100 Days of I Believe

I believe that together we can repair the world.

I don't know how just yet but I have to believe it, so in the meantime I'm spreading as much light and love as I possibly can all around me.

In fact, I just want to grab the people I pass on the street - every person - and wrap them up in a great big hug and say "I love you fellow human being. I love you and our shared humanity. let's see each other and know each other and love each other, and let's let that light the way."