Present Tense

On Forgiving….

Here’s the thing about forgiveness and compassion.

The more I read about the kid who murdered 17 people in Florida last week, the more it breaks my heart.

The whole situation is so incredibly devastating, but to read about a kid…yes a kid…a human…not a ‘monster’ or a ‘madman’, but a kid who had obviously had a difficult life and long standing mental/anger/anti-social problems doesn’t make me angry.

It makes me sad. For him, for his family; obviously for his victims and the entire community who will never fully recover.

He was not getting the help that he needed, his mother died and left him and his younger brother with no guidance, no place to go.

He was broken.

Now, here is the hard part: Forgiveness and compassion.

Remember when Dylan Roof, murdered all of those people in the church in South Carolina? And several of the family members told him, within days of this horrible crime, that they forgave him; some even offered love, based on their religious beliefs.

I was amazed by that reaction. Amazed. Heartened. Inspired.

BUT, just because we forgive or have compassion or love for someone who has done something HORRIBLE, does NOT mean that they avoid the consequences.

My husband and I have this conversation a lot; the whole concept of compassion and grace, usually when I’m complaining about something horrible that a politician did:). He will say “But, we have to forgive their bad behavior because we’re all flawed”. Forgive, but hold accountable.

I actually found myself having to ‘walk the walk’ almost two years ago when a FedEx driver hit and killed my dog Ember in our driveway. He was driving too fast, he knew our dogs and we were devastated.

I looked him in the eye a week later and told him that I forgave him and was sorry for the pain that he was in. I know that both of our hearts were broken. It doesn’t go away, but it lifted just a tiny bit of the burden we were both struggling with.

Just because we feel badly or our heart is broken over the challenges or illness that drove this kid in Florida to murder 17 people, does NOT mean that we as a society, don’t require consequences for his actions.

We can do both. It’s sort of along the lines of ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’, which I’ve always thought was such a stupid premise. But, I’m starting to get it; that concept is sinking in.

So, here is the bottom line concept: We CAN judge and we can forgive. Those two things are not mutually exclusive.

And in fact, in order for us to function, we need to tie those two together.

This is basically what all religions and spiritual ideals teach us. Love our neighbors/our fellow humans/; even those who are flawed and broken. BUT, do not let them off the hook for their actions.

This is hard….living and practicing grace is probably one of the most difficult things we will ever do….

February 26, 2018 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Walkin’ the walk

ember faceIt’s been a while since I’ve felt like writing.  In my last post, I said goodbye to my dog, Ember.  Her death was traumatic for our family and for the young man who hit and killed her.

One of the things that I preach to others is that we need to practice compassion, kindness, forgiveness, and empathy toward others, even those we don’t like or agree with.  It’s easy to tell others that they must do this in order to heal themselves and begin to heal the world. It was time for me to let the rubber meet the road and practice what is so easy to say, but not so easy to do.  A ‘healer, heal thyself’ moment I suppose.

In case you didn’t see the last post, Ember was killed in our driveway when a Fedex driver didn’t see her as she and our other dog ran toward his van.  The driver had no idea he had hit her.  He said that he saw the other dog and was looking for Ember, but it was too late.   My husband was livid.  He still is.  But, that’s his journey.

Fedex told us we could file a ‘claim’ with them.  I felt as if that was only more painful and would force us to relive the trauma.  I also knew that it was an accident.  There was no malice and although my husband claims he was going ‘too fast’, I can’t even confirm that.  I just don’t know.

I wanted to forgive and move on.  I knew that young man was suffering greatly over this.  He had always loved to see our crazy dogs greet him at the back door when he delivered packages.  He had dogs of his own.

I told my husband that he could file the claim or do whatever he felt was necessary, but I didn’t want to talk about it, or be involved.  I knew what I wanted to do; I wanted to give this young man a hug and tell him it’s okay.

You see, in the past, I would have gone over every scenario that I thought may have prevented this.  I would have beat myself up for ordering a package that had to be delivered on that day at that moment.  I knew from the tracking info that he was probably delivering something that day, so  I should have had them inside, I should have been more attentive, I should have trained her better, blah, blah, blah.

This time, my path and my practice kicked in.  First of all, the minute I heard that truck enter our long driveway, I knew what was coming.  I knew in my gut, that he was going to hit her.  I can’t explain it, I just knew.

I felt grief and shock and pain and devastation, but I didn’t feel anger.  I didn’t try to cast blame on anyone, including myself.

Shit happens. I used to hate seeing that on bumper stickers and t shirts.  It seemed so harsh and profane.  But, now I get it;  it is harsh and profane because life can be that way.  This time, despite losing something so precious to me, I understood it.  Shit just happened and I now I have to walk the walk that I talked.

I knew that I would see that driver again.  I wanted to see him again and I knew that he would dread the day that he had to make his way slowly up our driveway, knowing the pain that his action had caused.  To us and to him.

He showed up about a week later with a package for me from a friend in Denver.  I walked out onto the driveway and gave him a hug.  I asked his name and told him that it was okay.  That it wasn’t his fault and that I loved her and will miss her fiercely, but I wanted him to know that I forgave him.

He was very emotional and explained again that he just didn’t see her and that it had been a horrible week for him. He felt guilt and remorse and had gone over it a 1000 times in his mind.

And I said, “Hey. Shit happens in life.  It’s all in how we react to it and deal with it.  I forgive you and I want you to forgive yourself”.  I gave him another hug and told him to take care.

In that package was a big, beautiful, sacred crystal that is now buried in the center of my medicine wheel garden, directly over Ember.  They both face west toward Ember’s native Colorado and my sacred spaces out west.

Practice empathy. Forgiveness. Grace.  They will lift our burdens and those of others.  It’s hard when you’re hurting, but it will ease our pain.

June 26, 2016 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Wherever you go, there you are…

good evilThe old sports cliché is “it’s a game of inches”. If you think about it, that applies to pretty much everything, doesn’t it? Our lives are a game of inches, or seconds. We never know when we’ll be in the wrong place at the wrong time or more happily, the right place at the right time.

My husband is currently obsessed with the randomness of life. Apparently all of the yammering and musing that I’ve done on this very subject has sunk into his skull. He had an irritating example of this last week, when a guy ran into him head-on as he was out running errands. Nobody was hurt and it was the other guy’s fault (THANK YOU!).

We both bitched about the bad luck and the annoyance of having to file a claim, get an estimate, blah, blah, blah. But, the interesting discussion happened when my husband realized that had he just slightly altered his journey, this would never have happened. If he’d asked one more question at the mower repair place; or one less question. If he’d taken another route home that he had considered.

On the other hand, I pointed out that had he done any of those things, he may have been in a worse accident. We just never know. Who’s to say what’s good or bad/right or wrong?  Life is random and all of the planning in the world cannot foresee what’s just around the corner.

And then yesterday, we were coming home from the store. Before I turned down our long driveway, I stopped to check our mailbox by the road. As I walked back to the car, an older man was driving out of the cemetery in front of our 10 acre farm. He stopped and asked me if we lived behind it, as his dog had just run off while they were visiting his parents’ graves. I told him to follow me back to our place and we’d look around.

We pulled up toward the garage and didn’t see a stray dog and as I was getting his phone number, I glanced out toward our orchard and there she was, galloping through the trees. A loud whistle and Lucky was back in her owner’s truck. Kismet. Random. Right place, right time. We were that old gentleman’s angels.  Had I not stopped to check the mail, our paths would not have crossed.

These are the things we must notice; random moments of tragedy and grace that are delivered to us every single day. I’m honestly thrilled that these lessons appeared in quick succession this week, as I’ve been trying to articulate to my husband that we have to be less cautious and more open to events, both good and bad.

We are both planners, but he plans for the worst, where I often visualize the results that I would like to occur, although I do get caught up in fear-based visions. I am not sure if my visualizations are optimism or intuition, but things usually go my way. I’m starting to think that it’s often my gut showing me a path forward, but that’s another post.

Grasping the concept that we sort of have to just hang on for the ride can be terrifying and/or freeing and empowering, but that is up to us. Life is so random and I know that every one of you is struggling with that right now, whether you’re grieving a terrible loss or struggling with “what if” or just wishing you knew what will happen in the next 5 years or 5 minutes, for that matter.

You can’t. None of us can. But that doesn’t mean we stop being responsible or laying groundwork for paying for your kid’s education or saving for retirement or losing the weight and taking care of your health.

We do have to throw up our hands to fate, but we don’t have to give up. There is a difference. Flexibility is key and we need to be grateful for the opportunities we’re given to be in the right place at the right time. Start paying attention to these little events. Thoughts are things.

Last night after dinner, my husband looked at me and said, “I’m really glad that we helped that man find his dog”. “Me, too”, I replied.


May 24, 2015 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

You have changed me…

cropSince announcing my retirement from The Dom and Jane Show earlier this week, my inbox has been full of well-wishes and very kind notes. I sort of feel as if I’m being allowed to attend my own funeral.

I’ve had a job in the public eye for over 30 years, which is the majority of my adult life. I do not consider myself famous by any stretch, but on any given day, several hundred thousand people tune into our show. Some love it, some hate it and anyone who is in the public eye, soon learns that the ones who are angry, disappointed or flat-out pissed, are usually the ones who are motivated to reach out.

For many years, those kinds of letters, emails, phone calls and now Facebook messages, penetrated pretty deeply for me. In my job as a radio host, I’ve been judged and critiqued by listeners, co-workers, consultants, clients, friends, family and occasionally, people who’ve never even heard my shows (“Ugh, I can’t stand anything on the radio that isn’t NPR”).

So, even though I’ve been successful and the Dom and Jane Show exceeded my wildest professional expectations, many of us who work in the media can be a little shell-shocked because we mostly hear from people who don’t like us. That’s why the past week has been so incredible.

The amount of love and appreciation that’s been sent my way has filled my spirit with a great deal of gratitude. I love that our show and my participation has had such a positive effect on people. I’ve heard from so many who listened for years with their kids on the way to school, from people who got a few laughs that eased whatever sorrow or pain they were dealing with and from so many who said they were sad that I was leaving, then told me to go forth and enjoy the rest of my life.

I’ve been so touched by the personal stories of how our show was a part of so many lives and it added a dimension to many of you, that I really didn’t quite understand over the years. We sit in a studio and talk to a void and there are times, I’m embarrassed to admit, that we forget that you’re out there. We can tend to get a little full of our selves.

You told me that you think of our little radio show as ‘family’ and that really touched me, since I know you all have real families and how much they mean to you, so to be included is a gift and one that I may not have treasured as I should have. You all have dreams and hurts and problems and crises and joy and tragedy and triumph and there may have been times when I didn’t celebrate or mourn those with you, even though you celebrated and empathized with me as I struggled with these same universal human issues.

So, thank you. Thank you for the lovely notes, for the funny and sometimes, sad memories, for reaching out to lift me up during kind of an emotional and precarious time as I stand on the edge of a huge life change. Anything that The Dom and Jane Show may have given you, you have repaid me a thousand times over.

As I head into my last 5 shows, I will do so with a full heart, knowing that I made an impact on you and more importantly, you made an impact on me.

November 15, 2014 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , | 37 Comments

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