Empathy

Telling a Damn Good Story without Words

I was playing a game with two toddlers and another adult. Everybody understood the rules: walk around until you’re instructed to sit down on your choice of colorful silk scarves spread out on the ground. And then we’ll take turns telling stories based on the color we’re each sitting on.

The younger of the two little girls doesn’t yet talk much in a traditional, technically accurate way, though she has specific sounds and understands any and everything. The other three of us have quite a lot to say,

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Saratoga WarHorse, Spacious Care for Veterans — Guest Post by Anne Campbell

There is one segment of our population which is not experiencing much spaciousness. It is veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder).

We sent this group off to war, they did their jobs and, as a result, many have been so traumatized by their experiences, they’ve come back home unable to cope with civilian life. Our government provides inadequate treatments that fail to help, rocketing a startling suicide rate.

The New York Times ran an article recently profiling one of these vets and his dysfunctional,

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Quinoa Falling in the Forest

If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a noise?

If I eat my lunch alone and no one else sees it, does it truly nourish me?

Aren’t those variations of the same question: “Must a human being be present for something to matter?” Or in the case of the second question: “Must a second human being be present for me to feel significant?”

Everybody is posting food photos… Instagram,

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Guest Post by Stacie Marinelli, Spacious Sharing During Cancer Treatment

SPACIOUS is about community and opening up our hearts, so when Cary spoke to me last year about guest blogs, what came to mind was the almost magical sharing that went on between people who surrounded me during the time I was in treatment for oral cancer in 2012 and 2013. With my family far from the DC area and living on my own, in large part I was making treatment decisions and going to radiation, surgeries, and other medical appointments by myself.

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Best of 2013

Reflecting on a year past is one of my favorite exercises. I spend much of New Year’s Day each year sitting by a fire, poring over the past year’s calendar day-by-day and perusing photos of the year. I try to marinate in gratitude for what has happened and for people I’ve encountered and from whom I’ve learned or benefitted. I map a point of basking in the possibility of what could be if I could learn from mistakes, amplify successes, partner with others,

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Why Are So Many People Pissed Off about Miss America?

An Indian-American woman was crowned Miss America this fall. And her coronation led to a firestorm of angry, cruel venting on social media, the perfect platform for cowardly people to spew venom anonymously without repercussion.

A few points:

  • America’s white majority is diminishing, and we’re richer for the diversity.
  • Fear of losing one’s (perceived) position often motivates hate speech. It seems like we’re all looking for someone whom we can consider inferior to ourselves or our people.

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(Not So) Happily Ever After

Artist Dina Goldstein did a series of photographs depicting what might have actually happened to each of the Disney princesses if “happily ever after” is only in the movies.

She says, “I began to imagine Disney’s perfect Princesses juxtaposed with real issues that were affecting women around me, such as illness, addiction and self-image issues.”

I love these — mostly because most of us compare our insides to everyone else’s outsides. We even look at Disney princesses (or princes) and compare ourselves,

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Touching Strangers

Most photographers capture life as it is, but Richard Renaldi shows us humanity as it could be.

Richard Renaldi is a photographer who puts together “total strangers who were meant to be together, if only for a moment.”

He poses them in pairs, groups or families with body language usually reserved for relationships of comfort and familiarity.

Of course it’s awkward at first for those who choose to participate, but many people react with surprise over how much comfort they feel by being connected with someone,

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Let’s Start Imperfectly or We’ll Never Start

Many of you will have seen an article on the front page of the print edition of the New York Times this morning. Here is the online version of the story by Lydia Polgreen, Trading Privilege for Privation, Family Hits a Nation’s Nerve.

It’s about a young white family’s choice to spend a month in a shack living in solidarity with black South Africans, next door to their own part-time housekeeper. This “experiment in radical empathy”

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Companionship as Soul Medicine

There’s a scene in the movie, Little Miss Sunshine (please go watch it!). The scene is widely considered to be funny. I watch it and weep; it’s the most poignant thing I’ve ever seen. A gawky girl, entirely out of place in the beauty pageant world, takes the stage in a talent competition to dance to Superfreak. The judges and stuffy audience are horrified by her unorthodox, slightly inappropriate gyrations. They boo her, and try to get her off stage.

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