The Realm of the Broken-Open Heart

Image from I Dare You video by The Girl Effect


Becoming conscious of.

Turning to look within.

Opening the Heart.

The heart breaking open.



Same, Same.

This post is part of the Girl Effect Blogging Campaign, started by Tara Sophia Mohr last year.

During that first campaign, I wrote Girls Are Not Little Women and Same, Same.

In Same, Same, I entered into the very real awareness that I, in some way, am complicit with the injustices of the world, even if it is simply because of my privilege and silence. This video caused my heart to break…open.

Each face looks at me directly, while the words ask me to look, really look with eyes and a heart that want to see, not eyes and a mind that think they already know.

It’s as if the narrator really knows how unconscious human beings can be, how easy it is for our minds to scan images and take stock of them in a split second, coming away with quick assumptions that satisfy us so we can move on.

Can I really watch these images, with an open heart that is willing to feel whatever arises as these eyes stare back, not asking for pity, but asking instead to truly be seen as an intelligent being with capabilities not recognized, with the desire to be a part of the answer rather than simply an object, a commodity or a problem to be solved?

Can I ask myself, “How do I contribute to the current situation?” and can I sit with myself and be with the truth of the answer?

Today, almost one year later, I wonder how I can go through all these months and not consider what is happening in these girls’ lives. Where does my mind go instead? Yes, I am busy with life. And, how easy it is to become complacent and turn away.


In this privileged life, it is so easy to not have to concern myself with those with less privilege.

I wrote a series of posts in the early part of this year on Privilege, Silence and Oppression. It was a difficult series to write, as you can probably guess by the title.

One thing that has stayed with me since I wrote the series is a comment that came from a friend and colleague. This friend is hearing impaired and is very conscious of how privilege causes us to not have to be aware of others’ situations.

From my perspective, privilege is the freedom from having to think about your impact on another. Before I lost my hearing, I never really considered how important acoustic accessibility is to those who are hard of hearing. I didn’t have to think about it because it didn’t affect me. Now, however, it’s in the forefront of my consciousness all of the time. When I can extend my empathy and compassion to others who experience the world differently than I do, when I imagine how it might be for them and take action to rectify the inequity that I am causing people, the world will start to look a lot different to me and to those people known and unknown to me with whom I’m in constant relationship. ~ Judith Cohen

To me, Judith’s words are brilliant. They cause me to pause, to put my attention on others that normally I don’t have to consider or think about. And, they take me back to my own words from last year:

Can I ask myself, “How do I contribute to the current situation?” and can I sit with myself and be with the truth of the answer?

I’ve wondered about the seeming incongruousness of our world that is easy for a human mind to justify, but so hard for the heart to hold.

The incongruousness of a world we’ve created where some have so much more than they could ever, ever need, and others are dying from lack of clean water, food, or love.

Yes, this is the world we humans have created, the world based on our ideas of how things should be.

I feel girls are a part of the solution. And, we are all, women, boys and men, part of the solution.

When we put our attention on the problem, if we are willing to see our complicity and our very generous ability to be creative and resourceful, we have what we need to change things.

At the heart of the matter is the heart.

My heart. Your heart. And, compassion. For ourselves, for others, for the human predicament.

Being human is a very vulnerable proposition.

We can’t, and don’t, always do it right. We are human. And, this humanness is really at the heart of the matter. We can turn out attention to places that feel to hard to look, and when we do, perhaps we become beautiful people…

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
– Elizabeth Kubler Ross

Privilege also causes suffering. It hurts the heart to turn away from others, to not have to consider others.

It also hurts the heart to turn away from our sisters and brothers who are not, in one way or another, free to be fully expressed souls, free to live a life that is a reflection of the sacredness of the soul.

There is a very real benefit to all of us, and to all of life, for each of us to enter the realm of the broken-open heart.

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The Sweet Spots of Life


Last Saturday night, my dear friend Megan hosted her second annual Fig Gig. In Megan’s backyard is the most beautiful, gnarly, fecund fig tree. The figs are a deep purple color, and when you pick them right off the tree, biting into one is like biting into the most divine jam. They are visually glorious, all fleshy, soft, moist and red inside.

Megan also hired a Kora player; the Kora is an instrument from Africa with 12 strings. The woman who played was incredibly gifted and vibrantly funny. Her voice was beautiful and lyrical, and the sound of her music created the most luscious background to the evening.

At one point, Megan greeted her guests and invited us to take a moment to celebrate and give thanks to the Mother, the Earth and all that she provides for us. We celebrated the Fig tree as a symbol of this abundance and nourishment…and as a symbol of the feminine.

As we sat in this moment, my heart became so full. This moment was one of those sweet spots in life, a moment where my attention was given to the beauty available in every moment. In fact, it became so full, I felt as if my heart couldn’t hold any more – that it would burst if I allowed in one more drop of beauty.

This life is beautiful. In the moments, like the Fig Gig, when we are enjoying the party, life feels good. But, I have come to see that we can fully appreciate these moments when we also see the beauty in the not-so-great moments of turmoil, pain and grief. Opening my heart deeply to the painful moments of my life, and the painful times we are in, has also allowed me to feel the beauty more deeply of all the moments of life.

I have come to know that in these painful moments, and in the happy moments as well, that the heart can hold much more than our minds believe it can. When it feels like the heart is breaking, it’s not the heart breaking, but rather the chains that bind it…those places where we have closed ourselves off to feeling, for fear we won’t be able to handle it.

We are in interesting times. I realize now, even more clearly, that to taste the sweetness of life, we must open ourselves to the beauty that is available here, right now. We can no longer afford to close our eyes to the places that feel hard or painful, fearing them. There is beauty in them as well, for when we make ourselves available to the full range of feeling, we become vividly alive within our own hearts. We can feel deeply, the full range of emotions, and that in itself is beautiful. When we open to the dark places as well, we are available to respond to those dark places, both out there, and within ourselves.

When I worked with women who had lost their spouses and lovers in 9/11, in our dating/relationship class, we worked to open the heart, to allow the range of feelings in that one feels in deep grief. In allowing the bindings to loosen, so that grief can do it’s work, one can begin to taste again the fullness of life.

As I enjoyed the fullness of beauty of this very special evening, I realized my heart was so full, because I have allowed in the deeply painful moments in my life. In opening my heart to the places that scare me, the chains that bind it are breaking down. And in this fullness, I can begin to feel the fullness of my humanity and taste the sweetness of an open heart.

I’m curious about you. Do you allow the sweet moments of life in? Do you fully receive the bounty that life offers? Do you shy away from those painful emotions? How might your sweet spots of life taste?

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