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How to live joyfully and compassionately at the same time.

Updated: May 3, 2021

Do you find yourself starting this year full of health, vitality and purpose? Fantastic! Are you celebrating and shouting it from the rooftops or quietly feeling good so as not to make anyone else feel bad?

Christie Hardwick - Contributor

Christie is an ordained Religious Science Minister, a leadership development expert and master facilitator. She spent 30 years in High Tech ending as an executive and has had her own executive coaching practice as a focus ministry for over 15 years. She received her masters in Human Resources and Organization Development from University of San Francisco and was a member of the executive committee of the Women’s Leadership Board for the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. Founder of Inspiration Gatherings, Christie creates music and spoken word events to invite us to walk our path with a more open heart. She lives between St. Petersburg, Florida and Umbertide, Italy. She and her wife Jane have four children and five grandchildren between them. They travel extensively and love their life of adventure.

My wife Jane and I meeting and appreciating a “Freedom Rider” from the bus boycotts of the 60’s in Alabama.

If we follow the news and the prognosis for our world there doesn’t seem to be much about which to be joyful. Climate disruption, earthquakes, fires, pestilence, disease, civil unrest, war and a great divide in our fledgling experiment in Democracy. I live in the United States of America. I still enjoy a tremendous amount of freedom. I don’t fear for my safety every day, I don’t fear for a loss of rights every day. I do feel like a frog in slowly boiling water. Increasingly my water and food sources are contaminated, I am exposed to electromagnetic radiation in unhealthy doses. I am more likely to experience racially motivated violence or interference exercising my right to vote or gaining access to health care. I live in a place where human trafficking abounds all around me and what on the surface looked like a nice urban, diverse community, turns out to be traditionally segregated.

Is there a way to be aware of all of this and still revel in a beautiful life? I have often been troubled by being happy when there was so much unhappiness. For much of my life, worry about one or more of my children would keep my joy at bay. I would enjoy events, moments, and even days and yet I would go to sleep or wake up scanning my world for worry.

My niece in her wisdom as a young mom once said to me: “Stop apologizing for your amazing life, you can’t do anything for those of us who are cash poor by being one of us. Keep your prosperity and let me have something to look forward to and to aspire toward or at least appreciate!” I’m thinking the same can be said for not doing any good for those who are sad or angry by being sad or angry with them, or by imprisoning myself in solidarity to those incarcerated.

It is a tricky line to walk but I believe it’s where a juicy life is lived. It’s the magnificence of the word AND. I love you AND I am keeping my distance from your toxicity. I am sorry for your circumstances AND I appreciate my own. I can give you some help AND keep what I need for myself. As I try to make the power of AND my world, thoughts creep in about giving, giving all. The parable of the rich man never making it to heaven, the widow giving her last mite. But I am neither that rich man nor that widow. I am a unique expression of Life and I am full of love and light. I am neither good OR bad, perfect OR imperfect, giving OR selfish, prosperous OR limited. I am a spiritual being in a body having a rich, complex experience that includes all of life’s conditions.

How much is the tyranny of OR running your life? I can be responsible, or I can relax. I can take care of myself or take care of others. I can agree to disagree or agree. I can do something to solve one thing or solve another. And yet for example, isn’t it possible to be responsible and relax? What if being a healthy, peaceful person who enjoys relaxation is being responsible? What if taking care of yourself, truly is part of caring for others with your more vibrant presence? What if you can neither agree or disagree but be curious and fascinated? What if you don’t solve anything but you love better?

My gift to life includes how I respond to that which I see or experience, including everyone I encounter. I am here on purpose to learn, grow and most of all enjoy the breath of life I’ve been given.

My intention is to live and walk as Love in action. If I treat this life like the game “Whack a Mole” I will never experience the peace of moving forward acting as love. Love as me doesn’t try to fix each thing I see pop up. Love as me looks for solutions that will stop the Moles popping up and works on the mechanisms. And sometimes I have to watch without doing, I have to be a witness and fill my heart with love praying that it can reach where it needs to go to change something. Because while I alone can’t fix everything -I alone can chose to respond in a loving way, to see what is possible, to see what can be made good, to see an opening of light in a dark situation. I can look for the way through. I can be compassionate and still feel the joy of life. I can witness suffering, pain and sorrow and still resonate with the beating of my heart and the music that arises in it. This is the conundrum of being human.

So how can I respond to the world's conditions? When I hear about climate disruption, I can remember those working on urban farms, solutions to climate plastic, healthy food revolutions and conscious eating. Faced with our racist behaviors, I see the love between my wife and I, the work of Bryan Stephenson in Alabama, the apology for its history that the city of Charleston made to African American people. Noticing poverty and a lack of health care I see the movement toward natural solutions and advocacy for our own health, I see education in communities to help parents help their families. I see neighbor helping neighbor. We keep saying that we need systemic change, but the system is US.

We are creating our experience of this world by how we respond to it. If we look for the light in every situation, look for the love, look for the kindness and goodness that is inevitably there, we can survive and thrive in this world that feels like chaos. How I respond to what I see is my contribution to life. Today, my response is to look for and be a light, a way shower. A way shower for others to do the same. I have compassion and I am joyful.

For all of you out in the arena rescuing, teaching, giving, healing, comforting, loving and being your magnificent self. I am grateful and I see you.

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