Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Feast on Your Life: A Moment to Give Thanks

Thanksgiving is a time of open heartedness, a day when we come to the communal table with generous hearts and share in the bounty of life. 

As we reflect on our life with gratitude, we should be mindful to begin with the gift of our own life, a gift that allows us to be a blessing unto others. 

Life is a feast of splendid opportunities to give thanks, not for what we have but for who we are. The Buddhist teaching on the perfection of giving begins with the practice of self-compassion.

The notion of compassion and generosity beginning with yourself is an invitation the poet Derek Walcott extends in his poem: Love After Love. He reminds us to "greet yourself in your own mirror and give back your heart to yourself."

Too often in life, we are so busy doing, attending to the needs of our children, our partner, responding to demands of work, forgetting our own needs. Taking a moment for ourselves seems selfish on a day perceived for giving to others. 

On a day most women spend whipping up a storm for others, it seems fitting to offer this reminder to be grateful for our own lives, to awaken the awareness that as vessels of the Divine, we have the sacred obligation to replenish the spring from which we draw our daily strength, bringing a sense of wholeness to all aspects of our lives.

Tibetan Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron, teaches that "every moment is an opportunity for awakening." To be fully present in your own life is a conscious exercise of connecting to the "stranger who was yourself." 

May today awaken you to the possibilities of the feast that is your life so you can bring that abundance of grace into the lives of others.

Love After Love by Derek Walcott 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Gilda Radner: Delicious Ambiguity

For generations of Saturday Night Live fans, Gilda Radner was an icon. She inspired Steve Martin, Lily Tomlin, Rosie O'Donnell, Tina Fey and many other stars. Her elastic face and vulnerability were endearing qualities that were unforgettable as she battled ovarian cancer in her fiercely funny way. 

Bringing her memory to life for 1200 people in New Jersey, Alan Zweibel, who helped create some of her most memorable Saturday Night Live characters,  recounted a story of her final appearance on the Gary Shandling Show. After an absence of almost seven years from television, her host opened with a question on her absence from the entertainment world, and she responds, "I had cancer, what's your excuse?" bringing the audience in the studio to cheer her through their tears. Alan recalls how footage of that segment still shows a wobbly movement as the camera comes in for her close-up. It was caused by the cameraman's unsteady hands as he struggled to contain his tears. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Time for Giving: 40 Years to Make a Difference

"If you had the resources to accomplish something great in the world, what would you do?" the legendary sage of Omaha, Warren Buffett, posed this challenge to his children when he announced he was leaving the bulk of his fortune to philanthropy. 

At the Wealth & Giving Forum, his grandson, Howard Warren Buffett, related how his father's passion for farming and sustainable agriculture shaped the family's philanthropic response.

As a farmer with a deep understanding of what it takes to grow food in difficult conditions, Howard G. Buffett approached the issue of food security through a farmer's lens. All farmers can expect to have about forty growing seasons, giving them just forty chances to improve on every harvest to produce the best crop possible.