New Moon Versus Full Moon Rituals

A Full Moon arises tonight, and I feel it’s been beckoning me.  I began to go down the rabbit hole of researching Full Moon Rituals versus New Moon Rituals.  Here is what I learned.

New Moons are best for setting new goals for the next month.  Creating new goals are not only reserved for the new year.  We can do this every lunar cycle.  Explore what it is you want to transpire in the next 28 days.  What areas do you want to shift and how can you make that happen.  This is the time to vow to make changes in your life and commit to taking action.  New Moons are for manifestations.  

  • Take time to create an intention of how you want the next month to go
  • Visualize attaining these goals
  • Work on a vision board, crystal grid
  • Verbalize your goals aloud to a trusted friend for accountability

Full Moons are best for cleansing.  Let go of what no longer serves you.  But there are mystical healing properties of a full moon.  So one can additionally cleanse crystals, water, or oneself under a full moon.  We are to reflect on the goals we began two weeks ago during the New Moon phase, but we don’t take action now.  Energy is focused on taking care of one’s self.  Self-compassion and slowing down.  Clean out what is stale in one’s home and rest.  It’s a time for grounding ourselves.  Our emotions may be heightened during this time, therefore it’s best to not make any rash decisions.  Full Moons are for cleansing and compassion.

  • Clean out and declutter your space
  • Sage and clear your atmosphere of stuck energy
  • Cleanse yourself and crystals under a full moon
  • Slow it down with some yin yoga and hygge self care

Regardless if you believe in the moon phases or not, this makes sense.  Once a month focus on manifesting/directing where you want your life to go.  Another aspect of the month, chill out and take care of yourself.  I hope you take time to demonstrate some compassion for you on this lovely full moon evening. 

Living in a Small Tourist City

I’ve been living in Malaga for six weeks.  It’s the sixth largest city in Spain, but small in regards to the size of other worldly cities.  Malaga sits in the Costa del Sol, home to Pablo Picasso and Antonio Bandera.   Over time it also has become a port stop for cruise ships.  Several days a week, hundreds of tourists step off the boat, pop into the town to squeeze in the most they can out of their half a day on land. They will partake in walking tours, food tours, and bicycle tours.  Eat paella and drink sangria, as they relish in the Spanish atmosphere for the day. 

My dog Bella and I choose to take a walk daily on the same path along the Calle Nuevo.  A new street that parallels the port filled with cafes, tourists, street performers, and dog walkers. When you walk at the same time every day, you notice what time artists have their gig on a particular corner or when a local older man singing his heart out gets a haircut.  I see the same DHL man on his bicycle delivering orders throughout the city.  You notice the smallest of things.  

Prior to moving here, I had visited six times.  This is the first time I stayed more than several days, and it was interesting to see the fadeout of the holidays after 3 Kings day to early prep for carnivale.  Although it is over one month away, it seems Malaga always wants to be ready for the next reason to party.  And why not? The city seems to ooze with joy and wants the exclaim it to all the tourists who are here for a sneak peak.  

At the local market, I tend to go to the same grocer weekly.  I know most of the words for the vegetables and fruits, but I guess not for cucumber.  I tried to say it in English and French, and they played along.  But after the third time, they kindly corrected me with “peppino.”  I appreciated that, small lessons to be learned each day.   Peppinos always seem to run out of by the time I arrive. 

Malaga is filled with new people day after day, but now Bella and I are slowly becoming staples that fill the background.  I must be the crazy dog lady who goes to the beach, sits in the sun, and carries her 14 year old dog halfway home due to her tired stubborn legs.  And that is okay with me.  

There’s something comforting with smallish cities.  Other people travel here to escape their winter blues.  I take a daily walk to the beach and run into acquaintances on the street.  I asked a local how long does it take to become a malagueno, she said three years.  Let’s see if I make it to that status.   

Sunshine is Healing for All

Sunshine is my quest.-Winston Churchill

Currently I live in the Costa del Sol also known as the Coast of the Sun.  I have heard that in a nearby town Rincon de la Victoria, was named after Queen Victoria.  She who would come to the area for the healing vibes of the sun. Perhaps this is legend, but I wouldn’t put it past royalty to head to warmer climates as a way to improve their health.

My home in Malaga has minimal windows and therefore lacks natural lighting.  I think this is how many homes in the Andalucian area are.  Since it gets so warm during the summer months, homes are a place of cool refuge.  But to counter that, Bella (my dog) and I will go on extended walks in the morning and afternoon to breathe in the sun’s rays. 

It’s a January morning, colder than usual.  I walked my dog to an area where we can sit on the park benches and feel the sun on our faces.  We are not alone.  Although we all have our winter jackets on, many of us are simply letting the sun kiss our face.  I see parents with their children or grandparents with their grandchildren in strollers.  I notice a caregiver sitting with an elderly woman in a wheelchair, taking in the sun.  There are some homeless people, tourists, and us.  We all are inhaling in the nature that is being granted to us at this moment. 

It doesn’t take much to feel refreshed by nature.  We may not all live by a lush countryside, the beach, or a refreshing lake.  But we can have momentary interludes with the sun.  Today, as I sat on the park bench with all these people, I realized one thing.  We come from different backgrounds, ages, ethnicities, socioeconomic statuses, but were all seeking pleasure from the sun.  This is available to us all. 

Time is the Most Underrated Luxury

I met a new friend recently, who has travelled to 100 countries.  He works for half of the year, and the other half is spent travelling the world.  This setup of his has been going on for quite some time, and he’s quite proud of it.  As we talked of his lifestyle, he said something to me that stuck with me: “Time is the most underrated luxury.”  I couldn’t help but nod in agreement with this statement.

We are aware that time is something that we complain about in the Western world, that we never have enough of.  There’s not enough time to finish up our work load, chores, spend with friends, family, or self.  If you were totally in control of your time, how would you spend it?  Would try to get more sleep?  Travel the world? Be with your partner or loved ones?  What would you do with that gift of gold.  In comparison, he shared that in some third world countries he has visited, time is abundant.  Yet some of the people he has interacted with were wasteful of it.  They had such excess of it, they didn’t know what to do with it.  As he talked of his life, he discussed the importance of balance.  We want to be in control of our time and schedules, but not spend it foolishly, as one may do if they unexpectedly won the lottery. 

It’s an interesting concept to reflect on.  The past year I have left my traditional job, and own how I spend most of my days.  But even with this, I can’t help but wonder, where does time go? How am I spending my days?  I don’t feel time is wasted, but it is elusive.  It escapes me.  We want to be intentional with how we use it, but we don’t want to overplan every minute.  There must be space in our time for the spontaneous moments of life to arise.  As I look at this past year, the way I view time has changed.  In one year, I have fit in plentiful moments with friends, families, and strangers.  I didn’t really go to new places, but lived in new countries: France and Spain.  My holidays were spent visiting loved ones.  Collective moments were shared, new memories were made, and none of it was done in a wasteful manner.  I understand now why people take gap years or sabbaticals.  There’s a lifetime to be lived in the span of 365 days.  

How do you plan to spend your time in 2023?

“Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” – Marthe Troly-Curtin

Why Do I Do This Blog

Why I Do This Blog?

“Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.” – Princess Diana. 

            Why do I do this blog?  I am asked this question frequently, and it’s something I often wonder do I keep up after over a decade of committing to it.  I’ve given these positive quote cards (which may have led you to this blog) to baristas, celebrities, homeless people, airport security, store assistants, friends, ex romantic partners, family members, favorite authors, or more recently children who are enamored by my dog.  The business card which leads to the blog, generally has an inspirational quote on top of a beautiful backdrop and an image of my dogs.

            Initially I did this blog and quote cards as a way to offer a tangible form of gratitude to a passing stranger.  I copied the idea from author Cheryl Richardson, who said in a workshop that she leaves these positive quotes with her from one of her card decks she created as a form of positivity.  I liked the idea, and wanted to do a variation of it.  I wanted to make people smile too, because I knew that people tend to spread their negativity frequently, just as easily they could spread positivity.  I wanted to be part of that movement in some way.  

            What has happened to these cards over the years?  What has been the impact?  I do not know.  They may have been thrown away, re-gifted to a friend or stranger, or forgotten about and packed away in some shoebox forgotten about.  Once I had returned to a store in Arizona, and saw the staff member have placed the card under glass with other important pieces of memorabilia from fellow customers.  In London, I visited one psychic in an esoteric store a year later and he had the card I had given him placed on the wall.  After Puzo died, a friend took a selfie of him and the card to show me he still carries the sweet words and image in his wallet.  Most recently, after giving this to a store associate at a high end Parisian department store, she found me on Instagram and sent me the following sweet message offering her gratitude, here is a snippet:

“It gave me joy in my day and reminded me why I am doing this job: to meet nice people like you.”

Her finding me and taking the time out to say how this made her day, made my day.  To know such a small simple act of kindness can impact others means the world to me.  Often, we think our purpose in the world has to be something grand.  Our purpose must equate to making millions of dollars, attaining a high degree, being famous, and making a newsworthy mark in society.  But our purpose could be to simply bring smiles and joys to strangers.  We can brighten their day without much effort, and this impact will overflow in their interactions with others.  It doesn’t take much.  

So this new year, as we contemplate what goals we want to achieve, perhaps we can step back and simply smile at a stranger, open a door, leave a nice tip, or give someone an unexpected compliment.  It doesn’t take much, it only takes a smile.  

How Do You Measure A Year?

It’s the last day of 2022, and in reflecting on how this year went, I couldn’t help but think of the song from Rent, Seasons of Love:

525,600 minutes
525,000 moments so dear
525,600 minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?

In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife
In 525,600 minutes
How do you measure a year in the life?

How do you measure a year?  How do you sum it all up in one word or phrase?  What have your most joyful days consisted of or those that were filled with debilitating sorrow? What have been the adventures you have chosen to take?  How did you spend your days?  Who did you spend them with?  Were there romantic rendezvous followed by heartbreaks?   Was there boredom?  How do you cheer all of your accomplishments or grow from your failures?  What brought smiles, and what brought shame?  Who entered your world and who left it?  What are you vowing to do differently?  What is going to be on repeat?  

I have been reflecting on a variety of these questions today, but actually much of these past several months.  Moving home tends to do this.  One cannot help but reflect on what occurred during the time one resided in a place, and the change one longs for.  I have moved to my fourth country less than two weeks ago.   I officially left the cosmopolitan mega city of Paris France to the coastal vibrant town of Malaga Spain.  Although I am American, I have now lived overseas for 9 ½ years, via the route of the United Kingdom.  At the age of 43, officially midlife, I can’t help but wonder how do I want to spend the rest of my time on this earth? 

This has been a monumental year for me, in that it was different than so many of my other years.  In the past I vowed to make changes, but they never seemed to occur.  It was all talk, but in December 2021, I knew a shift was necessary.  One year ago, I left the traditional work force, and jumped into the world of the unknown in a foreign land which I didn’t understand the language.  I was appreciative I did this at the time, because I was able to spend endless days with my two elderly dogs.  This year, I lost Puzo, my fifteen year old English Bulldog.  This was one of the greatest losses I have experienced, for a being who I took care of for much of my adult life (late 20s to early 40s).  And since his loss, it’s trying to navigate the world without him and create a new life with my nearly 14 year old chug Bella, in yet another country.  The irony is the street I live in now is called Pozos Dulces.  Pozos seems similar to Puzo, and dulce means sweet.  Therefore, I like to think the street I live in now is called Sweet Puzos.  He is still with me.  Life goes on, and I have his blessing.    

I’ve travelled to America at least four times in 2022, to visit family, friends, speak at a large conference, and to sort my visa situation out.   In those moments, I was able to spend time with my brother as he healed from jaw surgery, watch my father got remarried, celebrate my grandmother’s surprise 80th birthday party, and was even able to visit a new city in my home country.  My brother, mother, and friend Isabella came to Paris on numerous occasions.  Isabella was my doggy au-pair during so many of my travels, which I am deeply grateful for.  My mother helped me move countries, which I couldn’t have done without her.  

But the year hasn’t gone as I expected.  I didn’t land that publishing deal I hoped for, or other dream job opportunities I applied to.  I did lead an ongoing creativity group in Paris and facilitated numerous sound healing sessions.  I was able to form new friendships in Paris.  I did a second portion of The Camino de Santiago.  There were other monumental moments I experienced, such as being on my favorite television show House Hunters International, speaking to a group of 600-800 female photographers live onstage, and recently publishing an article in The Washington Post.  How do you measure a year?  

There was more laughter than tears, more love than hate, more connection than isolation, more wonder than monotony.  I spent a lot of the year in confusion of where to go next and questioning what my identity was if not a psychologist.  I spent the year shedding guilt that I could be happy, even if I no longer was a productive member of society in a 9-5 job.  I am still learning this, and unlearning many things.  

Perhaps you have vowed to make shifts in your life during the pandemic, and my question is have you?  What do you want to change?  What is stopping you?  Or maybe you realize no change is necessary, you now know that being in your hometown surrounded by friends and family is the greatest blessing you could have ever wished for.  The pandemic may have taught you to appreciate all that you have.  How do you measure this year that has passed?  How do you want to measure the upcoming year? 

I will be facilitating an upcoming virtual sound healing event next week, where we may reflect on some of these questions.  Join me. Details below.  

Finding Community in a City

“Community is not an ideal; it is people. It is you and I. In community we are called to love people just as they are with their wounds and their gifts, not as we want them to be.”-JEAN VANIER

I’m living in the midst of a holiday season in a metropolitan area.  It’s a time when cities feel frenetic.  Locals are shopping for gifts for loved ones.  Tourists inhale the Christmas spirit each store window has to offer.  And often we may feel overwhelmed and exhausted.  Being an outsider who is residing in a foreign country, where I don’t speak the language, oftentimes I just observe. Paris seems in some ways like any other big city.  Many people live alone in their tiny apartments, and interact with their romantic partners or close friends for lunch or dinner.  It doesn’t seem as if people go outside their own little bubbles.  I’ve accepted this, as it what I am used to.  But last week I had two experiences which warmed my heart and reminded me a sense of community can exist anywhere. 

I was in my favorite gluten free boulangerie last week, which was crowded.  There was minimal seating available.  I asked a woman in a communal table if the space across from her was free.  She nodded.  I began to sip my coffee, and she tried to speak to me in French.  My French is horrible, so then she began speaking in Spanish.  This happens often.  I am mistaken for being some type of Latin.  I answered in Spanish that I was from the United States, and she transitioned to English.  Claudine was this woman’s  name.  She hailed from Morocco, but who has been living in France for years.  A mask covered her face, and a cane graced the table.  As we spoke, she noted how lovely the lattes were.  She stated she should know because she came to the Chambelland boulangerie daily.  Claudine began to tell me she lives in an apartment behind the boulangerie, and each day a staff member will help her walk the steps to her home.   I could have closed our interaction and typed on my computer, as I had planned.  But I welcomed in the moment with this stranger.  As our conversation continued, workers would stop and check in on her.  Claudine created community in this popular establishment, with her loyalty and regularity.  As she was about to be escorted by a worker, she asked me to visit her house.  I agreed.  All three of us walked to her apartment, and thirty minutes I was a guest in her home.   She offered me another coffee, as I continued to eat my pastry from the store.  As we bid farewell, she left an open invitation for me to return to her home. 

Later in the week, I went to a tiny Vietnamese restaurant where I had a similar experience.  My friend Isabella and I grabbed lunch, after a macaron making class at The Galleries Lafayette.  We sat at a table next to these two older women.  At first, they seemed shock that we would sit next to them.  The restaurant was tiny, and they appeared as if they didn’t want to be bothered.  There seemed to be an apparent free spot at a table next to a woman dining alone.  After time, their energy settled.  The older woman sitting next to me attempted to start a conversation with me.  Again it was in French, and again, I simply smiled and noted “Je parle un peu francais.”  I only speak a little French.  She offered to transition to English, and queried where we were from.  When we shared that we were from California, she noted that her grandson lived there and she visited once.  As she spoke about it, it appeared as if it was ages ago.  This woman than said she’s nearly 100 years old, and whispered to me her real age of 98.    We continued to politely chat, and they received their meals first.  Her and I ordered the same dish, a shrimp stir fry. 

At one point the woman got some of the stir friend noodles she was eating on her shirt.  I didn’t notice this, but the waitress did.  The waitress came over to her to wipe it off her shirt and then placed a napkin over her shirt like a bib.  The elder woman told her “Toi es gentille.”  You are kind.  At first, I thought this was strange.  I didn’t know how I would feel if a stranger did this to me, wiping me down, and doting on me.  But then the older woman stated she comes to this specific restaurant daily. “I live above here and I’m too old to cook,” was her response.  When I inquired her favorite dish, “all of them, I rotate,” was her response.  What I was witnessing in this moment was another act of kindness.  Two days after my interaction with Claudine, I observed this.  It was another older woman, who made this Vietnamese restaurant her third space.  Her home.  The staff member cared for her like a family member.  It was beautiful to witness this.  

These two single older women lived alone in Paris.  Their family members did not live in the city, but they created family.  They created community in third spaces.  The staff members at these food establishments went above and beyond their duties and job descriptions and offered support, care, and love to these women for small moments each day.  It was beautiful to observe these warm acts during these cold Parisian days.  And it wouldn’t have happened if I wasn’t present enough to chat with these women in my poor French and be willing to go with the flow and engage in conversations with strangers. 

Searching for the Good

I am someone who generally finds myself very optimistic.  For over ten years, I write my daily gratitude.  I hand out these kindness cards (which you may have received).  But I find out that if I am in a funk, I see the negative lining in every situation.  This is normal, we are human.  Life is full of blessings and tragedies.  It’s okay to feel down or to seek out the negative when you are on that pessimistic train.  But sometimes, it takes something for you to make a shift.   You need to step back and see how the world has your back.

This is the current state of my life.  I have been planning this next move in my life for the past several months.  It’s taken many detailed specific steps to get here, but for some reason my next phase of life is not turning out as I planned.  And as I met with friends and family throughout America these past several weeks, this is the story I shared with them.  The story has been what has been going wrong in my life. 

It’s as if your hopes and attachments are temporarily tied to one particular dream, and you have a narrow focus to only see that reality.  But if that reality doesn’t turn out as planned, then what?  I can tell you from experience.  If your goal and dream doesn’t come true, due to circumstances out of your control, you go through the stages of grief.  Yes that’s right, Elizabeth Kubler Ross named these stages of grief with the following emotions:  Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance.  And this is what I went through, perhaps you as well.  This may have been for a recent dream or an old one, that you had to let go of.  Grief is hard. I am not going to drag you throughout the entire journey (as this website is called it only takes a smile) but there is a shift that occurs when you get to the acceptance phase.  You begin to see how the universe is working for you.

Acceptance.  This is where I am at.  

Currently I am in New York City for the third time in almost six weeks.  I am lucky that a high school friend has offered me to stay in her flat, as she travels to Europe.  In exchange, I watch her cat.  I have never been much of a cat person, as I am allergic.  But something shifted in this trip.  In addition to being on a daily dose of Zyrtec, I began to see the kind and curious nature of cats, as I visited family and friends.  I saw them differently and they began to see me differently, and interacted with me in a whole new way.  It was comforting to cuddle with a cat at night, as I am away from my dog Bella and still grieving the loss of my bulldog Puzo.  As I cuddled with cats on this trip, my friend reminded me that cats are a symbolic of “rebirth and resurrection.”  

Recently, I met up with a friend and her friend at a NYC restaurant.  We ordered many things off the menu, cocktails, lattes, appetizers, many courses.  Because her friend’s husband is the head chef, the meal was comped.  All we needed to pay was the tip. Another blessing.  Yesterday, I began to realize on this trip, many people who I have spent time with have offered to pay for meals or drinks, because I am not currently employed.  They’ve offered me the fortune to stay at their homes, and I am so appreciative.  Regardless where I have lived, I have offered the same to others or to pay for meals or drinks.  In fact, while I was away from Paris, people have stayed in my home.  One particular friend is staying in my home the entire time to watch Bella.  Kindness is being paid back.

         Before I had the meal with my friends, I stopped by TKTS to buy last minute tickets to a Broadway show.  The associate said, “do you want orchestra seats center for $89?”  For a moment I thought, that may be too costly. Shouldn’t I buy the cheapest ones available?  But then I thought, why not treat myself for an additional $30.  He replied, “I will get the best tickets I can for you.”  I got the sixth row center for the show new musical 1776. When I looked online how much those tickets sold for, it was $255 each.  Thank you TKTS worker.

         Then yesterday morning, when I popped to Starbucks, I ordered a large coffee and used rewards for a free banana loaf bread.  The staff member got me a medium coffee, I was confused as I ordered a large. I didn’t complain, as I was going to simply take the medium coffee.  It was not a big deal.   But they said, you can keep this and I will get you the large.  Wow, thank you Starbucks worker.  I then noticed the pattern the past six weeks.  People have continued to be gracious and kind to me, and although I was appreciative of this, I didn’t live in a state of gratitude.  

         Last week, at an alternative healing conference, I had various interactions with healers and psychics.  So many people told me that the beauty in my life that was unfolding.  One intuitive woman began giving me an impromptu reading and offered to share with me the gifts that are occurring, and how my purpose may currently be redirected for a higher purpose. 

         There have been so many amazing words and kind gestures offered to me, but I was blind to them.  I was in my own embarrassment and sorrow for my future not going as planned, that I refused to see the kindness that was occurring in that moment.  I am thinking back to the day five weeks ago, when I received difficult news that things may not go my way for this next step in my life.  I was so tearful as I walked the streets of New York with my mother.  But strangers tried to comfort me in the city, whether they offered me a compliment on the dress I was wearing or make me smile by saying a joke as a driver walked by.  They attempted to make me smile and get me out of the moment of grief.  I couldn’t see that.  I saw only my own misery.  But now I do.

Even friends and family continuing to reach out to see how my status in on this new goal and collectively empathizing with my frustration, those small moments of thoughtfulness matter.  And I appreciate it.  I may not have showed it at the time, but I appreciate it now.  I think that this is something to keep in mind.  Yes, writing your daily gratitude is important, but we can habituate to it.  Just like any activity in life, it can lose it’s essence.  It’s important sometimes to step back slow down, and not just verbalize gratitude, but feel it in your body, sense it, recall it, look people in the eyes when you say thank you.  Reflect on it at a later point, and pass the positive energy on.  I actually have run out of my tangible gratitude cards on this trip, which rarely happens.  I usually have an abundance of them.  But so many people were kind, that I gave them all out.  And still there’s so much more I want to give back.  

So as I write this blog post, I want to offer this to you. Take a moment to see how things are going right in your life.  Notice the support others are offering to you.  This may be in the guise of animals, strangers, friends, family, or opportunities.    Allow yourself to grieve for the dream you may have to let go of right now.  But also realize the universe does have your back.  There may a greater dream the world has planned waiting for you, but you have to have your eyes open to see it. 

“Trust that your wounds are exactly as the Universe planned. They were divinely placed in your life in the perfect order so that you could show up for them with love and remember the light within.” ― Gabrielle Bernstein, The Universe Has Your Back: Transform Fear to Faith

From Stress To Happiness

“If you don’t trust life, the worst has already happened.”-Brother David, Benedictine Monk on Stress to Happiness Documentary

Yesterday I felt guided to watch a documentary on Netflix entitled Stress to Happiness.  The film pulled me in with the initial song by Paz that played in the background “I Am,” which is on my beloved Puzo’s favorite playlist.  It was filmed in Argentina and follows Alejandro, a 39 year old husband, father, and filmmaker who has had increasing amounts of stress. He is seeking mentorship and guidance from Tibetan Buddhist Matthieu Ricard, who has been named the happiest man on earth.  He earned this title after he was part of a 12 year neuroscientific study that looked on meditation and compassion.  

The one hour documentary was simple.  A brief description of the struggle Alejandro is facing, and his wife trying to support him on his journey of seeking a calmer state.  They host Matthieu Ricard as he travels their home country, and head to Patagonia and Mount Fitz Roy.  As they film and take Matthieu around, they pick his brain as to how to achieve this calmer state during these times.  

When they are in a small cabin by Mount Fitz Roy, they engage in a loving kindness meditation. Metta, or loving kindness meditations, encourage us to send loving thoughts to ourselves, loved ones, acquaintances, those we dislike, and the larger world.  What I found fascinating as Matthieu offered the meditation, the audience can meditate as well.  Background images of a fireplace is shown or a beautiful snow capped mountaintop. 

The film served as a beautiful reminder to focus on what matters in one’s life and to not get caught up on our attachments to things, situations, or people.  This is a prominent teaching in Buddhism, attachment is the root of all suffering.  There were numerous questions that Alejandro asked, and although not all were answered, what arose seemed to be the importance of reflecting on this.  

Why am I stressed? What is meditation and what is it for? How to get out of anxiety? How to get out of fear? What does neuroscience have to say about it? What is the purpose of life? How do we develop a life of purpose? How do we build trust? What is the best way to make use of our life? And what are the questions that really make sense to ask ourselves?

What seems most important is to sit with the following question, which poet Mary Oliver asks in her poem The Summer Day
 Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?


Kindness as Purpose

The past month I have been travelling in America, visiting family members and friends.  But also during the journey I explored New Orleans.  It was the first time me or my mother went to New Orleans, and we wanted to experience Halloween there together.  Viola!  We did. 

It’s definitely a city of contradictions, and I think I will need some time process the experience there.  The resilience, mixed with poverty, history, tragedy, joy, celebration, and traditions.  There’s a lot to unpack in this one city.

But one thing I found fascinating was the kindness I experienced there.  Regardless if the person we were interacting with was a taxi driver, store shop attendant, tour guide, waiter, or an African drum circle drummer- there was pure kindness.  Nobody asked you about your profession.  Some people opened up with ease and told their life stories.  After doing so, they encouraged us to experience the best their city had to offer.  I appreciated that.  I gave out many of these Puzo Bella kindness cards, perhaps you received one (if you are reading this).  I wanted to return any kind of warmth and gratitude back to them. 

  I couldn’t help but wonder, what if our perspective of purpose was all wrong.  What if our purpose here on Earth was to simply be kind to others?  This is all.   It impacts others’ lives, it’s positively contagious, and others’ lives are momentarily lifted.  Life doesn’t have to be so complicated with the questions of “what should I do with my life?” or “how can I leave my mark on the world?”  It could be as simple as how can I express kindness today?  Perhaps that is enough. 

I hope this moment of clarity stays with me in this next phase of life.  As I explore the next phase ahead of me and contemplate on what my purpose is and how it is directed, can I remind myself my purpose today can equate with kindness?  It could be words of encouragement to a friend or family member.  A smile to a stranger.  Or a momentary conversation with an acquaintance, where your entire presence is made available.  Kindness is priceless.  It can be enough.  

“Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.” —Mother Teresa.

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