Kindness Defined


“Of the sweets of adversity – and let me say that these are not numerous. . .one of the most precious was the lesson I learnt on the value of kindness.  Every kindness I received, small or big, convinced me that there could never be enough of it in our world.  To be kind is to respond with sensitivity and human warmth to the hopes and needs of others.”

Aung San Suu Kyi



If you ever wondered what a “futurist” does, try reading what others think about the future.  Here is a list of over 170 blogs written by folks who write in this area regularly.  Enjoy.

Future Blogs List

Are you an amateur or a pro?

Last week, I found in my inbox a wonderful post from the folks at The Behance Network, and their award-winning blog, “The 99% – Insights on Making Ideas Happen.”  The title was, “Are You Trapped in a “Shadow Career”? The Artist vs The Addict,” and it refers to a new book by author Steven Pressfield, Going Pro:  Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your LIfe’s Work.  This book is a sequel to his earlier book, The War of Art:  Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles. The excerpt from Going Pro at the Behance blog made me choose to read the sequel first, and I can report that I finished it while working out yesterday afternoon.  I have now ordered the first book, and when I finish re-reading  the sequel, I will begin The War of Art.  Both books are available in multiple formats at Black Irish Books.  Look for more posts in the future as I complete my initial reading, and digest the wealth of insight in the work of this author.  For now, let me share some of my first impressions.

This is one of those books that grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and just wouldn’t let go.  The first quote that caught my breath was this:

Turning pro is free, but it demands sacrifice.  The passage is often accompanied by an interior odyssey whose trials are survived only at great cost, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually.  We pass through a membrane when we turn pro.  It hurts.  It’s messy and it’s scary.  We tread in blood when we turn pro.

Pressfield goes on to talk about the “shadow life,” the life we lead that takes us away from our true calling, the one we nurture and grow and feed to avoid the hard work of “turning pro” and doing that which we are truly called to do.  In describing the shadow life, he says,

We pursue callings that take us nowhere and permit ourselves to be controlled by compulsions that we cannot understand (or are not aware of). . .The shadow life is the life of the amateur.  In the shadow life we pursue false objects and act upon inverted ambitions.  The shadow life, the life of the amateur and the addict, is not benign.

He goes on to describe the life of the professional, and qualities of the professional, including (among many others):

  1. The professional shows up every day
  2. The professional is committed over the long haul
  3. The professional acts in the face of fear
  4. The professional self-validates
  5. The professional is courageous
  6. The professional has compassion for herself

This book is rich in its descriptions of the life of the amateur and the professional, and it makes me think about reasons many of us went into health care, healing or helping professions.  In my own experience of my career and those of others, many helper/healers  chose careers that allow us to be helpful in the ways in which we were initially acculturated.  Some of us chose helping professions that were socially acceptable ways to pursue ambition and high income, and some of us chose these paths for reasons of others’ expectations for us.

As life takes its course, we sometimes find we must turn and face those first choices, and become brutally honest about the “shadow” reasons behind our career decisions.  We must ask if our current career trajectories are those of an amateur, or those of a professional.  We must discern whether in fact, we should remain in our current path and “turn pro”, or whether we must instead step out of “shadow careers” and do the hard work of “turning pro” in another arena.

Either choice requires courage, commitment, and compassion for ourselves.

Stay tuned for further thoughts, and for now, perhaps it is enough to ask ourselves, “Amateur or Pro?  Am I ready to make the leap?”

Play: A Key to Balance (ReBlog from

This post, from the Tiny Buddha blog, is outstanding, and showcases a tremendous web resource for self-care, perspective and balance.  So many of us in health care talk about wanting to find “work-life balance.”  I’m not sure that’s possible, but I continue to try.  PLAY is an important contribution to the equation for all of us. .  .


Editor’s Note: This is a contribution by Angela Marchesani

“If it’s not fun, you’re not doing it right.” ~Bob Basso

I spend a lot of time contemplating and philosophizing about life. According to my mother, I spent the first year of my life silently observing the events around me with a serious stare and a furrowed brow.

I’ve always leaned toward reverent acts of self-discovery and introspection. In high school I studied Buddhist texts and on Sunday mornings at age 18, when my college classmates were nursing hangovers, I was shopping around for a spiritual home, which I found in the form of my Unitarian-Universalist church.

For most of my life, I’ve lived with intention and rarely with abandon.

And I think I’m starting to feel the weight of this.

Contemplation has its place, but sometimes life just calls for a little spontaneity—a small dose of irreverence interspersed amongst the otherwise-trying bits of living.

I write this tonight because I have had a few uncharacteristically playful moments over the past few weeks, and I am quite sure they have prevented me from cracking up during somesignificant stress. Either that or, I am cracking up and my behavior has regressed to that of a 4 year-old.

In either case, it feels good.

And I want to share those good feelings. So to encourage you to foray into the world of play, I’ve created a list of some things that have brought me unexpected and simple joy the past few weeks (along with some things I haven’t quite worked up the nerve to do just yet).

Have fun and en-joy!


1. Blow bubbles in the bathtub. Sometimes they bounce off the surface of the water. And when they pop, they make this satisfying “click” sound. If the lights are off and you have candles burning, the reflection in the soapy dome that hovers on your bath water is mesmerizing.

2. Hula hoop. I just learned this skill. At age 32. It’s addictively fun. Jump “rope” with the hula hoop, too. Just for laughs. My good friend advised me to, “Never hula hoop naked.” But I think that if you’re after laughs, this might be a good route.

3. Make a “fortune-teller.” Then write ridiculous fortunes on the inner flaps. Present it to friends and neighbors for a range of amused smiles and baffled glances.

4. Teach your dog a trick. Another hula hoop-inspired one for me, as my dog loves to leap through the hoop with the promise of a morsel of pepperoni. And her enthusiasm is contagious.

5. Be a “surprise fairy.” Leave an anonymous gift or token for someone special. It could be a trinket or a poem, a hand-me-down necklace, or a handmade card.

6. Belt out a show tune. Preferably in public. I won’t even tell you what’s been in my repertoire recently, but it’s a calypso tune sung by an ocean-dwelling animated crab. Catch my drift?

7. Use stickers. Liberally. Just slap ‘em on notes and letters and planners. I dig Hello Kitty, but to each her own.

8. Write silly poems on the envelopes to your bills. Last month’s masterpiece to my electric company expressed my relief at the rising temperatures and the lowered energy bill, and wished the reader a sunny afternoon.

9. Leave a song on someone’s voicemail. Your high school best friend will be thrilled when he leaves work to check a voicemail containing the epic musical swells of “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

10. Play with clay. You don’t have to be a sculptor. Get some play clay and roll out some worms, construct a tiny dinosaur (even if it looks like a rabbit), or use a cookie cutter to make a row of stars.

11. Run down a hill. Or roll. Get some speed and feel the abandon. You’re freeeeee!

12. Draw on the walls. Use bathtub crayons and create something while you shower. Or get some sidewalk chalk and have fun making hopscotch courses outside. Tape paper to your wall and scrawl in broad strokes with markers. It’s liberating.

13. Give in to an urge. It’s 11pm and you’re suddenly compelled to drive to the beach? Do it. It’s 10am and the sunshine outside your office window is luring you out to take a walk? Do it. Not all urges are irresponsible. I think when we feel drawn toward freedom or to do something spontaneously, it’s usually our soul’s plea for joy and levity. We can’t always ignore that or ask it to wait patiently for the weekend. If we do, it may stop speaking to us all together.

14. Borrow a kid. If you already have one, borrow another for a change of pace. Go to the playground and chase them around. Let them push you on the merry-go-round. When the other adults shoot you a look, smile inside, content in the knowledge that you know a secret to happiness: Play!

15. Swing on the swings. With or without kids. Feel the breeze across your face and the drop in your stomach when you go just a little bit higher.

16. Learn a new trick. I still can’t do a cartwheel. And I can’t quite dive. But every time I set out to do either, I feel a renewed zest for life. Try something new and have fun with it.

17. Play an instrument. Bongos and kazoos are fun for the not-so-musically-inclined.

18. Make a “faerie garden.” My mother did this with my son recently. She used an old wooden crate and some found objects, and let him create a beautiful little “garden” filled with ceramic turtles, tree branches, and an angel figurine. There’s no real reason. But why not?

19. Throw a party. Go all out and make it a themed event for all of your friends. Or go small scale and celebrate your dog’s birthday with some balloons, a new toy and a feast of fresh beef and rice. You can celebrate anything, if you want to.

20. Dance in Public. At a karaoke bar or in the grocery store. And if you somehow just can’t bring yourself to do it…do it anyway.

These moments of fun and play are what keep me feeling alive. I consider them to be my soul’s expression of joy. And my body’s expression of joy. And my heart’s expression of joy. But my mind is blissfully quiet during these times.

In these moments, my mind is off the hook, and all I have to do is just play.

Photo by Brian Tomlinson

How We View Ourselves and the Work of Health Care

In my personal journey, the degree to which we make assumptions about why we choose our professions, and what it means to “do the work” of healing/caring are subjects of interest these days.  These topics are not something we speak about easily in this profession, and sometimes we find ourselves needing to assess, or reassess, these assumptions.

I have just begun reading a book called Turning Pro, by Steven Pressfield.  He also wrote, The War of Art and Do the Work, which I have not yet read.  I will be reporting back in these pages about my journey through these books and my experience of the work life of physicians in particular and health care providers in general (to the extent I have any knowledge of what it’s like for others).  If you’re interested in either book, check out Steven’s website.  If you have read the book(s), please add your comments as well.


On an Open Mind


One’s mind once stretched by a new idea, never regains its orginal dimensions.

Oliver Wendell Holmes

On Getting Things Done


Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.

Margaret Mead