Roots Redefined

Roots are important to self-definition. I’ve learned to redefine what roots mean in my life, and it has been a hard, and sometimes painful, lesson.  Roots are not grounded in a place. Roots are not grounded in a family or in a single tradition. Roots are grounded in spirit, and spirit travels. You can bring your roots with you wherever you go.

This is not to say that who you live with and where you live don’t help shape you. Oh, they do. But these kinds of legacies can cause growth and harm. I’ve experienced both in spades. Family can scar you in a way that no else can. Community can betray you in a way that no one else can. The irony is that the exact opposite is also true. They can encourage you in a way that no one else can. The trick is to learn to see and acknowledge the whole picture, and then to recognize that you are an outgrowth of that picture but not a definition of it.

I have lived feeling rootless, and that doesn’t work either. It’s a lonely feeling, even if you are not alone. I had to examine my roots of origin, and what they mean for me. I had to recognize that my community really isn’t mine. I had to grapple with the feeling that I wasn’t grounded, and I had to seek ways to get grounded – because groundless people have no boundaries and get taken advantage of innumerous ways.

Wise people showed up in my life at pivotal points, and I took the leap of faith again and again. Books showed up when I needed them, and I was able to drink in their wisdom. I learned to trust and respect my heart. I learned to see the world differently and to read the messages of spirit that I am so generously given. I learned to pray honestly. I learned breathing and exercises to ground and strengthen my spirit. I learned that I am not alone, and I learned to deepen my compassion for others.

I am not an old woman. I still have a long way to go on this journey. Knowing that my roots are mobile and will be with me wherever I am gives me both solace and strength. I can picture my roots and I can feel them. Of course I can – because I am a visual thinker, and I am an empath. Namaste.

Never Give Up….Never Give In….

Never give in. A less used phrase than never give up. But equal in gravity and encouragement.

After expressing that I felt like I was pushing against the river, a dear friend wrote to me and told me to “Never give up…never give in.” She told me about her mother. Her mother had been both a teacher and the parent of a deaf child. My friend told me that her mother loved her job and loved being a parent. Her mother firmly believed that “one size does not fit all” in education and that each child is unique and learns at his or her own pace and style. These words were exactly what I needed to hear at this moment.

Each child and each adult is unique and grows at his or her own pace and style. Some people are accepting of this. And some are not. Not giving in tells us no matter. Accept yourself as a unique individual and grow and learn at your own pace. This will sometimes look like fitting in with everyone in the room, and sometimes it will not. Be yourself any way. It may be hard at times, but you will always feel better when you are genuine.

I was at a meeting at work with about two hundred people. I did not like the direction that the meeting was going, but I stayed in my seat in the auditorium. At one point, we were told that we would be watching a video simulation with graphic violence. We were told we could leave the room if we wanted to. Without hesitation, I got up and walked out of the auditorium, the only one to do so. I know that because I am empathic, I do not watch simulated graphic violence because it is too painful for me. Was I better or worse than the others for leaving? No. I was just being true to my own nature.

When we are advocating for ourselves, for our children, or for others, we need to remember not only to not give up, but to not give in. Not giving up means to keep on going, and there are many oft used phrases and quotes that go with not giving up that we all could recite.  But not giving in is an equally important concept as not giving up, even though it is used less often. Not giving in means not giving in to pressure. Not giving up and not giving in is to stay the course no matter the odds or the chatter around you.




I was thinking about the strength needed for tenderness, how people express tenderness in daily life, and how the concept of tenderness is often incorrectly perceived in the world.

Tenderness is one of humanity’s greatest strengths. Do not underestimate it. Tenderness as gesture and action can help heal a soul or sew up a wound. It can connect one person with another at great times of sorrow or turbulence as well as in more ordinary moments. Who doesn’t forget the moments in one’s life that someone, out of tenderness, reached out a hand of kindness at a desperate or frightening moment? And that kindness, that compassion, that tenderness, made that moment bearable, and gave one the strength to live on, to move forward.

Tenderness is expressed every day by people. We can see it around us. Tenderness may be extended in times of crisis or in ordinary times. It can come from a stranger or from someone you know well. When my son was hospitalized and I was scared out of my mind, a large male nurse with long dreadlocks embraced me in a bear hug, and I cried. Tenderness. When I lost my keys in the snow at the end of a long work day and went in the rest room to vent alone, a coworker came in, put a hand on my shoulder, asked what happened, and helped me retrace my steps to find my car keys. Tenderness. What they said, in a desperate and in an ordinary moment, mattered, and it changed how I felt and how I proceeded.

We are living in a time that often defines strength as forceful aggressiveness toward others. I disagree. It takes more strength for a parent to stay up all night nursing a sick child and go to work the next day than it takes for someone to tweet inflammatory statements on impulse. Caring and tenderness take much more energy and much more strength.

Here is the Google definition of tenderness: (Note: this is the first listing and the non-medical definition.)

gentleness and kindness.
“he picked her up in his arms with great tenderness”
synonyms: kindness, kindliness, kindheartedness, tenderheartedness, compassion, care, concern, sympathy, humanity, warmth, fatherliness, motherliness, gentleness, benevolence, generosity
“with unexpected tenderness, he told her what had happened”

Applaud anyone who shows these traits. Who wouldn’t want to self-define this way?

You Don’t Want to Be a Used up Sponge

If you don’t take time to yourself – alone and in a separate space from anyone else – you may feel like a used up sponge at the end of the day. This is where an ounce of emotional prevention is worth a pound of exhaustion. Make time for yourself to be by yourself.

As an empath by nature, you at least sense, and often absorb, the energies of others around you. It may feel like their energy and needs override yours. You may forget that you even have any of your own. It’s the way we walk through the world. It is so normal to us to empathize and feel what others are feeling that we sometimes forget to take a break from it.

I am your reminder today. Take a break! Physically separate yourself to restore yourself. I know, you may say, “I can’t….I don’t have time…. I have kids to take care of…. I have a demanding job…. It’s not realistic.” I know. I’m telling you to do it anyway.

I’ve learned some ways over the years to make small restorative moments of alone time happen. Here are some suggestions that can take as little as 5 minutes.  At home, you can go into the bathroom. It’s the most alone place in the house. I have a little step stool in there that I sit on for few minutes when I need a break. You can go to an empty bedroom or any room in your home that spans your height. It’s okay to close the door. Lie down on the floor on your back. Put one hand on your heart and one hand on your pelvic belly. Breathe from your belly. This will help balance YOUR energy. At work, can you go to your car for a few minutes at lunch? Close your eyes, listen to the quiet, and breathe. During the day, can you take a short walk outside, or can you sit on the front porch by yourself? Think about it. What else do you do or can you do in small amounts of time to restore yourself and reclaim your own energy throughout the day?

Likely, no one is going to give you the gift of alone time….unless you ask for it. Ask. You are worth it. No one wants to personify the used up sponge at day’s end.