Even though much of my work is literally TOO BIG FOR WORDS, occasionally I am inspired to write, and this is the place for that. Feel free to join in the conversation. Thanks for reading.
Have you ever been told “You care too much!” or “Don’t wear your heart on your sleeve!” or “You’re too emotional!”? From an early age, I was warned that my overly emotive self would be a hindrance to the practice of law. Not having a smile on your face at the dinner table could result in being sent to bed with no dinner. For much of my life, I pursued the world of the mind, studying hard, thinking a lot but rarely feeling the depth of any emotion. My superpower—caring deeply—was sent into hibernation. When she occasionally awoke, she roared fiercely. My kids even asked me once if I could not love them so much!
One night in law school, while interning with a lawyer who litigated “bad baby” cases, I found myself worrying about the baby, the mother, the doctor. Thinking that my “caring too much” would interfere with my success as a lawyer, I quickly changed course—to a less heartfelt, more transactional practice. Without my heart in the game, however, it was a job not a calling and I soon lost interest. Years later, becoming a mother opened up a whole new world of undeniable emotions and still does even now as I send them off into the world.
These days, I frequently meet activists who share stories of being told to “dial it down” by (male) lawmakers and corporate leaders. And yet these times evoke huge emotions. I sit in Circle with women overwhelmed by our world in crisis, many of us just beginning to feel and give voice to emotions not easily held and often banished in childhood: hate, anger, outrage. I listen with compassion as my purpose guiding client unpacks trauma from her youth, learning how to feel what she was told so long ago not to. Ours is a crisis of care. If there is a silver lining to the chaos of the trauma we are living through, it is witnessing people act on what they care deeply for, people expressing their care in the streets, on signs, in donations and contributions of all kinds. The power of our CARING is what we need most.
A few Sundays ago, I was visiting my parents in Cincinnati. As we walked up the steps for Palm Sunday mass, Kim approached us with a warm smiling welcome and a copy of Streetvibes. “My poem is on page 13!” she shared excitedly. I opened to that page and invited her to read us her poem aloud. Here it is:
No One Asked
No one asked
How are you today?
No one asked
Because no one cared
Maybe because everyone is too busy
Someone went home today
Feeling sad and empty
No one asked
No one cared
Sometimes no one should have to ask
When was the last time you asked someone
could you help them?
It’s so sad when no one cares enough to ask!
Kim Green, Streetvibes Distributor & Contributing Writer, Cincinnati Ohio
What followed was a caring conversation between two strangers, interrupted by frequent hugs. We shared out hearts on our sleeves. I shared with Kim the synchronicity of what I had just written about the power of CARE that morning in my journal (you just read it). We agreed on the need for more CARE and expressed it to each other in that moment. She invited me to their brand new spoken word night at the library and to be a contributing writer.
We have been socially conditioned to think, but not to feel. Taught that our emotions are dangerous, we have overly developed our minds and forgotten the capacity of our hearts, where we hold compassion, fierce love, deep sadness, humor and gratitude. I have a strong sense that our capacity to CARE is precisely what we need more of now. When I look out into the world and see people making a difference, they are clearly driven by what they care most strongly about. I notice when I have the most energy and focus, it is doing work I care deeply about.
Who or what do you care for deeply? How would I be able to tell? Let’s be the beloved community who discovers together what we care about and risks expressing that care, wearing it openly and visibly on the sleeves with which we embrace each other. I think it all begins by asking each other how we are feeling and taking the time to listen to their answer.
“Simple conversations that originate deep in our caring give birth to powerful actions that change lives and restore hope in the future. There is no power equal to a community discovering what it cares about. When we are brave enough to risk a conversation, we have the change to rediscover what it means to be human. In conversation, we practice good human behaviors, We think, we laugh, we cry, we tell stories of our day. We become visible to one another. We gain insights and new understandings. And as we stay in conversation, we may discover that we want to be activists in our world. We get interested in what we can do to change things. Conversation wakes us up! Conversation helps us reclaim those very human capacities and experiences. Meaningful conversations can change the world! ”
— Margaret Wheatley in Turning to One Another
Although most of the work I am privileged to do in the world is literally TOO BIG FOR WORDS, occasionally I am inspired to put some words to my experience, and this is the landing place. Chime in on the conversation. Your voice is needed.