One of my most important insights of 2015, was that I am a sensitive person. I’ve got lots of strategies, both functional and less adaptive, to protect myself from all the things that a sensitive person may feel. All the good work I’ve done and the wonderful teachings that I’ve been blessed to receive have helped me to live more of life with an open heart. I’m convinced that one of the most compelling needs in our world is for each of us to live up to our capacity for compassion. Dalai Lama explained how to turn our compassionate energy outward in A Force for Good. You can join in an act of compassion and share your story here.

Yet, being vulnerable does seem to bring greater pain when witnessing inhumanity. It has been a difficult year in that regard. I’m committed to stay above the fear mongering. It’s essential to see that perpetrators are also victims. Meeting violence with anger fuels a destructive spiral. As I posted recently, “When entertainment turns to ignorance and hatred, it’s time for an alternative. My suggestion is whenever you see someone like America’s favorite xenophobic candidate shouting his lunacy and telling you whatever is on his mind is HUGE, remind yourself that we are all connected. As many great spirits, such as Martin Luther King, have told us, only love conquers fear. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” As tempting as it is to get irate and yell, “you’re fired,” try a deep breath and the idea that we are part of a whole, a union, a yuj. Your love is greater. We can use it now.

I’m inspired by acts of kindness and the many individuals and organizations who are taking compassionate action. One recent story I read involved the “ongoing practice of fearless, creative, compassion. Rooted in the principles of service to others, and relentless optimism in the face of adversity, Serve 2 Unite today engages young people of all backgrounds to value humanity and the aspiration of living a genuine, honest life as a peacemaker.

As I have the good fortune of an extended holiday starting soon, I’m reflecting on my declaration of 2015 as the “year of mindfulness.” Some key ideas ranged from Jim Carey’s commencement address (“Choose love and don’t ever let fear turn you against your playful heart.”) to Kahlil Gibran (“It is my fervent hope that my whole life on this earth will ever be tears and laughter.”) I participated in two meditation retreats; took a course on mindfulness and social emotional learning and another on meditation; completed a project on mindfulness for student wellness; and I’m part of a research team that has received funding to begin a project on mindfulness in schools. Mindfulness fosters silence and as Larry Dossey wrote, “Silence means that a place has been created where a higher form of knowing can enter.” There is a lot to be said for declaring an intention. What’s yours for 2016?

Continuing on the same theme, my focus for the new year is on how transforming yourself and being fully alive prepares you to serve and contribute to others. One way I’m seeking to walk my talk is by taking two yoga teacher trainings. Deepening my own embodiment and being more awake to living from ethical principles will support my compassionate action. What landed for me this past week, while attending Somatic Educational Leadership, was that I am best suited and situated to make a difference with teachers (coaches, speakers, parents) to help them in this regard. So 2016 for me is the year of Exhilarated Teaching/Exhilarated Learning. Stay tuned.

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