Category Archives: Human Nature

Lean into Vulnerability. Or: Go Full-On Kintsugi

“i can tell where your scarz are just by the way you smile….”

This powerful first line in my favorite poem by Taalam Acey flashed across my awareness today. I remember seeing Taalam perform “Scarz” in Anchorage, on a cold and Alaskan-amber evening in the Wilda Marston theater.

I remember how I felt that day much more clearly than I remember the day itself.

I remember feeling very white and not acceptable, yet I stayed after the the show and bought a CD. I remember feeling very exposed, very seen, like his words pulled the veil off my smile and took away my choice of what I controlled to be seen, and what remained hidden. So much for the serenity prayer – these words busted my shield and exposed me, but it was okay. In a shikata ga nai* kind of way.  His voice meant safety.

I remember feeling inspired to use words in a way that would hit like Taalam’s words hit me, because they went so deep, and were so clearly expressing what I felt I wanted, what I needed, and what you are seeking too: to. be. seen.

“I can tell where your scars are just by the way you walk…”

I had to use the restroom during the break but almost didn’t go, because what if he, or someone else with these clairvoyant powers was watching me? What if they could read my brokenness just by the way I set one foot in front of the other? The dissolution of my marriage was five months from being complete. Relief and fear of what life will be like, single again, took turns inside me.  My son had left the nest to live on his own while attending college in Anchorage, and I had yet to fully re-define myself. I wasn’t aware of my husbands betrayal yet, but deeply confused about the crimes I committed in my heart to free myself from the bonds of this toxic relationship.

But this is my process, and I don’t want it to be known just yet, not until I am sure I come out on top. I don’t dare show the fear, so I hide it behind a double dose of relief. If he can tell my scarz by my walk, I’m not gonna get up because I don’t want him or anyone to know. Hold your pee, Ki.

It’s the contradiction of needs: as much as I want to be seen in all authenticity, I want to be ready, control the moment, almost like making sure I can check my emotional make-up, and baggage at the door. I was not ready to be vulnerable just yet. That’s when I noticed the wetness around my throat, and cheeks. I wasn’t ready (think Kevin Hart) but ready had me in its clutches and ripped my soul open so the tears could run me a bath of soul searching and self soothing comfort.

I could not disconnect the words from the voice, the message from its author. I felt safe, yet exposed, and I wasn’t ready to be. Here all of a sudden was this man who is sensitive enough to see past and through my armor. Here is a man who knows pain and allows me to be me,  and all the others in the audience to be them, scars and all. Here is a person who cares enough to take a look at that which is unpleasant, that which others don’t want to see.

The air in Wilda Marston felt fresh, electrified, energy palpable.

Our deep need for authenticity is the first thing we hide when we make new connections.

Our deep need to be vulnerable is the thing we deny first, and for the longest time, when we make an appearance, introduce ourselves to new people, make new friends, reacquaint with old ones.

Why do we do this? What are we fearing most?

Loss of respect? Loss of confidence? Loss of clout? And even if… then what?

What if the loss is perceived, but not real? What if we don’t ruin our reputation but instead gain a more accurate one, show up more authentically?

Do we need permission to be vulnerable? By whom, other than ourselves?

Mostly by our own ego?

What if we allowed the thought that the people who matter in our lives will see us as we are, regardless how hard we try to hide our scars?

What if taking a chance and showing our scars instead of working so hard to cover them up will actually liberate us to go full-on kintsugi**?

I noticed something else.

As much as I would love to have more people around me who are aware and care about my scars, I want to be that person who sees.

So I learned to listen.

This is why I coach.

Taalam’s full poem as read by him:

“I can tell where your scarz are just by the way you walk.

And every assault that you have endured

has ensured your every step.

And you are blessed

regardless of the animals that have attacked you.

And you are pure

no matter who has abused you.

I know an angel when I see one.

And when our kingdom come,

it will be you, I and the sun.

And we will be one.

We will create children and our children will create us.

Then every night by the light of the moon

I will kiss away your scarz to Abbey Lincoln tunes

and I will drink perfume

that tastes like you

out of a vessel with a waist like you.

Then I will draw our bath water warm

so we can soak till our souls are reborn.

And you will be safe and secure in my arms

and it will always be this way.”

Taalam Acey

  • Japanese concept, transl. “it can’t be helped”. Anywhere between fatalistic acceptance on something that makes no sense but is an installation by some authority, and letting go of the need to control something we are not meant to control.
  • *Japanese tradition of gilding repaired broken porcelain where the cracks are. from Wikipedia: Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum, a method similar to the maki-e technique. As a philosophy, it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise.

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Upgrade to Simple

Slow-Motion Sunset

Sunset at Evangola Beach, NY

What if you could slow down time for whenever you need to pause?

How different is it to watch the sunset on the beach in slow-motion?

In less than 2 minutes of slo-mo video, how much calmer, how much more mindful do you become as you observe?

How much does the slow-down invite reflection?

Upgrade vs. Improvement

It took me about that time to realize that we are bombarded with not just updates, but even more so with upgrades. These come as solid promises of improvement. Upgrading is a thing. Whether it’s cars, phones, laptops or insurance plans, upgrading usually costs you a bit more money for a promise of increased speed, comfort, class, functionality.  Sometimes, these upgrades are practical. They change how we do business. They accelerate how we communicate with others, produce results, or get information.  Upgrades seem to make the use of computers, phones, or memberships, and our perception of how safe or comfortable we are, better in general.

But upgrades are not always improvements, or necessary. You are upgrading your phones, computers, memberships for which purpose exactly? Get more done? Have more free time so you can do what you really want to do? Or is the ultimate goal to be an early adopter of always the newest thing, because it’s the sexy thing to do?

If upgrading makes you sleep better, smile more, and be kind and generous, go ahead. But if you feel pressured and don’t quite see how all this upgrading makes any more sense than making up your face to look like a fishing lure, slow down.

Free Will is a Beautiful Thing

You have permission to be in defiance of the upgrade craze. You are allowed to choose what upgrade means to you.You have the right to decide that simplifying life, using and re-purposing things, concepts, ideas, processes, is the only upgrade worth your while. For now. You have the right to explore, test-drive, and discard if this belief doesn’t work for you. But I do encourage you to try it. Try upgrading to a simpler life.

Do you really need all this stuff? Or do you need more space?

Do you really need to do all this? Or do you need more time?

What do you really need? And what do you really, really want?

When you decide to upgrade to simple, you embrace the beauty of what is already there. Your consumer footprint is light and small. There is some wisdom in the old adage If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

You leave no trace, except that smile on your face.

 

 

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When the Mind is too full to be mindful

mindfulness

{3 minute read}

Today is going to be a day of mindfulness. I confirmed that intention after waking up.

I wanted eggs for breakfast. I’m usually not ready to eat until about 2 hours after getting up, and at least 30 minutes after I’ve had coffee. It was 9:30 on a sunny Buffalo morning when I decided breakfast is eggs.

Bought fresh eggs last night. Found eggs with sell-by date 12/02/16 in fridge. Good ones. Organic, level 4, pasture raised healthy eggs. How long do they keep? It took me three attempts to call the farm. I distracted myself with coffee, Instagram, Facebook, and running to the bathroom. Farm says they can’t answer the question, referred me to the USDA. I look up their webpage as I am holding to speak to a person, but it takes so long to load so I check my phone and get distracted by all the email notifications. One from a coaching colleague who sent an adorable family picture. I have to write to her and thank her, before I forget. In the meantime, I am boiling 4 of the old eggs to see what they smell like. Oh, I forgot to call the USDA. Shoot, wasn’t I on hold just a minute ago? Call dropped. Their website says 3-5 weeks after the sell by date, the eggs should be used. Ugh. Wait. My coaching buddy responded right away. Happy me! The eggs smell notsogood. I toss them and apologize to the universe and all the hungry people in my neighborhood. I boil fresh water.

I decide to get a grip on this frazzledness and set the timer for 5 minutes after I lower the fresh eggs into the boiling water. I will give myself 5 minutes to respond to my friend’s note.

I find myself getting up for no reason, headed towards the stove. I set a timer, so damn Ki, stay put until it rings. I write to my friend, and get up again. I notice that I got up for no reason … 3 times.

The timer finally rings.  I pour out the hot water and scare the eggs with cold water. Makes it easier to peel them later.

I had to write this down.

Today, and this week, maybe longer, is a day, a week of focus. That was my intention when I went to bed last night, and when I got up. I wanted to spend my time mindfully. Aware of what I am doing. Observant, not judging. I noticed that with so many incentives, inspiring thoughts and impulses, my mind is full. Being mindful, I noticed my mind is too full to focus. What helped was structure, and the boundary set by time. Having the limited amount of time for a task, or an activity segment, helped tremendously. I noticed how long those five boiling minutes were. I noticed how much I was able to get done in that time by simply sitting back down after getting up for no reason, and focusing on replying to my friend. I wouldn’t lose time, because I had set the timer.

It’s 12:30 now. Lunchtime. I will be eating my breakfast. I am hungry now.

Mindfulness will have me set the timer again.

It helps keep things in perspective.

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Some Days

Balance

Some days, balance eludes us.

Some days, our hearts and souls are so heavy, that it takes something extraordinary to give us peace. Sometimes, our hearts and souls are so ecstatic, that it takes something extraordinary to calm them.

The aurora does this for me.

Dance

Looking up in the darkest night, I see this ever so faint, diffuse glow. Initially, it might be impossible to discern whether it is a thin veil of clouds, or the beginning of the electrons’ dance. If the glow moves in waves, comes and goes, I usually stay looking up, regardless how tired my neck gets, because it is just too magical to look away.

As my eyes follow the light, curtains may form, or arcs, as if an invisible horse in the sky swishes its tail to swat away stars – are they poking its butt? I de-light in the celestial show, and my thoughts turn humorous, and creative. The crisp air that comes with auroral nights in boreal forests clears my mind and nourishes my lungs. Taking in night air energizes me, and I dare not move my gaze in the arctic stillness.

This intent focus always brings about a grounding, a genuine balancing of the heart. For a moment, whatever was too much, too heavy, too happy, too painful, too light is forgotten. In its place is nothing but awe and wonder, and with each curtain waving across the firmament my neurotransmitters jump with joy and connect happy neurons.

Peace

Of course I know very little about the brain and how all this powerful chemistry works, but I tell you what: watching polar lights brush paint across the arctic night sky is a sight to see, and it will have you oo-ing and ah-ing and getting all excited and sparkly like your mom’s christmas tree. No matter how tired I am when I catch my first glimpse, I usually am wide awake by the time I set up the camera and grab my down coat and sorrels, and when I have enough pictures and go back inside, I feel relaxed and peaceful, and sleep comes easy.

So yes.

Some days, our hearts and souls are so heavy, that it takes something extraordinary to give us peace. Sometimes, our hearts and souls are so ecstatic, that it takes something extraordinary to calm them.

Maybe it is a sunset, or a sunrise, that can do it for you. A thunderstorm with a vibrant rainbow. The first snow, or autumn rain. Nature provides so much for our spirit and soul.

The aurora does it for me.  And while it neither takes away the sadness nor the ecstasy, it levels both to a bearable, healthier degree.
I know that you, too, will find your aurora. Maybe you are going through some heart-heavy times right now. I wish that you find your Northern Lights. That you sleep with more hope, knowing that the day will return when you, too, believe again that the Universe has your back.

If you could use someone who will listen without judgment, maybe to share some tools that will help you move forward, use the contact form or email me at ki@thekiline.com to schedule a free call to assess what you need and what I can provide.

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have a love affair with something every day.

love life on buffalo beaches

{3 minute read}

i try to fall in love with something every day.

for me, this summer, it has been western new york.
buffalo turned buffalove.
niagara falls, new york.
old world. new england. how dare they.
this world is new, falls, rising.

it is not the beef on weck, or sponge candy. i can easily live without both, but i love that these two things are so unique to here, to this place, where old and broken doesn’t mean discarded.

no.

old and broken is just waiting for the right moment. we will be rescued, is what these buildings say, we will be found, and our treasure will be seen.

and that is something my heart in-joy-s.

i am falling in love with something buffalove and niagara usa
every day.

lovely lake erie beaches. bennett. woodlawn. gallagher. evangola.

silos. once wrapped in blue green purple light, with paper windmills projected on their western end, they are bearers of hope, of vision, of a colorful future where everything is possible.

water, especially as it falls.
glen park in williamsville. the eternal flame near orchard park.
and of course, our falls. those powerful, majestic niagara falls.
american, bridal veil, horseshoe.
there is a time and place for modesty.
this here is not it.
i caution you, reveler, reader, worshipper. respect the water, respect gravity.

these falls, like nature, always, are unforgiving. that is their power, that is their beauty.

last week, i fell in love with stories of haunts. i used to discard them, but today, i relish their layers, and the dreams they hide.

on sunday, i madly loved the heat. it was easy – i was working, and had aircondition. and it reminded me of all my alaskan summers that barely made it above 62 degrees fahrenheit. so i fiercely loved me that sticky humid heat in elmwood village.

and almost every other day, i swear, i fall in love with a gesture, a smile, a voice, a character, an idiosyncrasy of niagara, of elmwood or buffalo or hydro-electric science or crazy cool art such as elevated beadwork.

i can fall in love with the way the sun hits the blinds and paints my room golden. the way the clouds obscure the sun at 8:22pm and paint the sky orange. the way the light hits the mist on luna island and conjures up fat vibrant rainbows, thick enough to sit on and let your legs dangle off.

the way the people around me are brave. like super brave. rappelling off the seneca casino brave. rolling down the falls in a barrel brave. balancing on a tightrope across the falls brave. starting fresh after losing everything brave. forgiving even the biggest jerk type of brave. putting dreams on hold so that babies have happy childhoods type of brave. loving after a broken heart kind of brave.

western new york is full of people like that. my family is full of people like that. my soul family: you are all people like that.

so no wonder i fall in love every day.

i challenge you, and i invite you, just for one week:

fall in love with something every day

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A Heart Full of Joy Has No Room for Fear

Fishing with bear in Alaska
Fisherwoman’s Paradise

I had caught a nice trout and was wading amidst an army of pink salmon, when first a blond, then a cinnamon brown bear appeared to get lunch. They fished about 500 yards upriver from where I stood, grounded and glowing with excitement, assessing the situation and realizing I was neither mobile nor fast enough to run if the bear decided I was the better fish to catch.  I remember assessing the situation;  this was too precious a moment to worry, so what the heck, enjoy and trust that intuition will signal what moves will be best, and the universe will take care of the rest.

The bear pounced a bit here and there seeking the fattest Humpy, until it finally stared directly at me, and as I slowly lowered my gaze, I knew it was time to move. It allowed me to retreat slowly, continued to fish, but did not seem impressed with what the creek, a small jewel for trout and salmon along the Parks highway in South Central Alaska, had to offer.

A Waste of Heart Space

I pulled myself out of the stream, took my trout and two humpies, and a camera full of blurry, rainy shots of my “cinnamon girl”. Time to dance back through the alders to the spot where I had to ford through the creek once more, before I reverse-rappeled myself up the muddy slope to my car.
There is truly no need for fear. It is a waste of heart space.

Life happens, and it doesn’t care how we feel about it. We choose whether we are fearful, or joyful and excited during any of our life’s moments. It doesn’t change what is happening, but it does change how whatever happens will impact us.

We can choose. Fear, or less fear. The fuller we are with joy and excitement, the less room we have for fear and worry.

I love to choose joy.

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paris, france. beirut, lebanon. friday, november 13th, 2015

We talk about paris, but 50 dead in beirut as well, and more in gaza, but that, by now, is expected. it has gone on so long, with international approval or blind eyes, that we shrug our shoulders and look the other way, at staged, unreal realities surrounding masquerades and platitudes, tv wannabe families and other blow-up dolls.

What compels someone to take another’s life?

What fuels their anger? their sense of entitlement?

The only answer i see is fear. a fear so deadly they can only meet it with death.

They don’t overcome it.

They don’t win anything.

It is not faith that propels them to kill, because faith is a grounded way of being, resting safely in knowing; faith has no questions.

Belief is different. belief can be am amazing force, but in paris and beirut today we see the power of belief in action. sadly, in destructive action.
belief needs constant approval, proof, nurturing.

Belief can fluctuate like blood sugar, and spike into madness but also into magnificence.

We talk about innocent lives, but aren’t they all? who are we to judge the innocence of the lives taken and of those who took them?

Those who die while taking lives chose to believe that their gruesome deed will gain rewards, something precious and desirable.

Now the life takers and the lives taken are lying side by side, equally dead.

The waves of sadness, anger, and disbelief, numbness, paralysis, horror, fury, hatred, and more fear are washing over everyone who feels affected and connected to these events.

Those who indoctrinate are as responsible as those who chose to absorb and live the dogma, and destroy.

We are angry. we are sad. devastated, but also… now… afraid.

A thousand “what ifs” paralyze us – what if it happens again? what if it is closer to us next time? what if it had been us this time?
this is where we have to take action.

The beautiful thing about us humans is: we can!

We can turn this around. it is by our beliefs and our actions that we can turn this around.

If they can use their beliefs to destroy and instill fear, we can use our beliefs to rebuild, fortify, and instill confidence and trust.

We Can Instill Confidence and Trust.
We Can Choose Faith.
Let us Breathe. Let us Pray.
We Control our Breathing.
We Control our Thoughts and Beliefs.
We Can Act.
We Can Educate and Be Kind.
We Can Speak Up and still Be Kind.
We Can express our emotions and still Be Kind.
We Can scream our frustration and fear, and still remember Kindness.
We have to choose Faith if we want to overcome this.
we also have to choose discipline – responding to war with war is only fueling the fire of destruction.

Responding to war by assembling a flock of people who choose random and purposeful acts of kindness will empower us.

There are more of us who spread kindness. we are the bigger force.

I believe in you, the one who reads this, that you are with me on wanting to heal the world, not rip open its scars. let’s talk. share, discuss, not argue. we can agree that we both are neither right nor wrong, but that we have different experiences that shape us, yet one or more of our values are shared, and let’ focus on that and how we can make this stronger.

We’ve got work to do, thoughts to change, and kindness to spread.

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