Rejoice

January 3, 2022

A wonderful friend and a terrific colleague, Giselle Martin-Kniep, passed away last month. I was unaware that she had been ill. News of her passing gutted me. Giselle was generous, classy, curious, and brilliant. I loved to stay with her when I was in New York, learn about what was new in her work and see theater together. Giselle ran her amazing consultancy, Learner-Centered Initiatives, travelled widely, and contributed to the field of education in so many ways. Giselle was an intellectual; passionate, interested in life, and she had a joie de vivre that inspired. I will miss her.

Around the time of Giselle’s death, I read a posting of Mario of Andrade’s “The Valuable Time of Maturity” in which these lines hit me hard. “I want to live next to human, very humane people, who know how to laugh at their mistakes and who are not inflated by their triumphs and who take on their own responsibilities‚ĶI want to surround myself with people who know how to touch hearts, people who have been taught to grow up with gentle touches of their soul. Yes, I’m in a hurry, I’m rushing to live with the intensity that only maturity can give.”

I am always in a hurry. I have been known to run around corners in my apartment and bruise myself. “Slow down, you move too fast” was a song lyric written for me. My brain works too quickly at times. I finish people’s sentences, which becomes annoying to many. I have always been known as intense, and now that I am soon turning 55, I feel even more in a hurry. Living big feels like an urgent need.

So, if I want to live this big life and do it with urgency, I better ask myself what am I hurrying to and hurrying from?

Lucian James, author of the blog, Underthink, recently offered “Questions to Take on a Long Walk.” Two of his questions are

  1. What do I need to leave behind in 2021? (It might be an idea, a grievance, a habit, an object, a person or something else…)
  2. What did I fail to prioritize this year? What’s up with that, and how will I find more time for it next year?

For me, letting go of comparativeness is a big one for 2022. So is a need to wear high heels. And I need to let go of being close-minded and opinionated in situations that call for a different energy and stance. I want to let go of blame and of that ‘grass is always greener’ idea. And probably of fitting into some clothes of a smaller size that are a little outdated anyway.

And for prioritizing… more laughter. And more silence. And recognizing that I should be in awe a lot more than I am now. And more time to travel (even small adventures close to home) and more hugging, as is safe. And more music and more sharing of gratitude for friends and family and health.

Giselle’s passing was the most recent passing of a dear friend in 2021 but not the only one. My friend, Linder, and my friend, Stuart, also died. Over and over again at Zoom funerals or backyard memorials, I was reminded life is precious. Thinking of those ceremonies reminds me of my friend, Barbara McAfee‘s recording of Navajo Chant with the words of 15th century poet and mystic, Kabir.

“When you were born, you cried,
And the world rejoiced.
Live your life so that when you die,
The world cries and you rejoice.”

Please take a minute and listen to the chant. What do you want to leave behind in 2021? What do you want to find more time for in 2022? Here’s to joy. L’Chaim.

If you have any questions, comments or topic suggestions, please feel free to email me at jennifer@jenniferabrams.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

Cool Resources

Creative Acts for Curious People by Sarah Stein Greenberg from Stanford’s d.school. “A provocative and highly visual companion, it’s a definitive resource for people who aim to draw on their curiosity and creativity in the face of uncertainty. Teeming with ideas about discovery, learning, and leading the way through unknown creative territory, Creative Acts for Curious People includes memorable stories and more than eighty innovative exercises.”

Power of Us newsletter, from Jay Van Pavel and Dominic Packer, authors of The Power of Us: Harnessing Our Shared Identities to Improve Performance, Increase Cooperation, and Promote Social Harmony is “designed to help people get smarter about groups and make groups smarter. Each week, [they] delve into the science and the stories of social identity, group dynamics, and collective behavior.”

Affirmation Chickens – A weekly positive affirmation from the chickens of Good Spirits Farm. Really fun to just ’embrace the ordinary’ on this farm, get to know the dogs, chickens and cows and get an update from them each week.