Real Help Comes From Being Present

A few years ago, I was working at a community college in the financial aid department. I called my job “the dream killer.” I had to meet with students who were struggling both academically and financially, look them in the eye, and tell them they were not going to get financial aid, to pay their tuition or to cover the costs of living while in school. These students had one thing in common—they needed help, real help. Continue reading

Being Available to Respond in Relationships

A friend was recently having a hard day. He had just found out that his dad needed surgery and that he would be responsible for months of aftercare. In communicating his frustration via text, he made a comment that sparked an emotional reaction in me. I reacted with such immediacy that it surprised me. It was clear to me that I was not responding to the circumstances in his life but reacting to something in mine. I saw myself in that moment. Where was I? Was I even engaged with what he was communicating? I wasn’t.

When I looked at what was bothering me, I saw I was upset from an earlier conversation with my mother. I had a wish to be available for my friend, and yet I was caught in my thoughts of past and future. I took a breath and wrote something that I thought expressed sympathy, but I saw that I was still in an emotionally reactive place. Then I put the phone down and just sat there for a moment. I remembered my aim was to be present, and to live my life consciously. Continue reading