Community, Middle East Conflict, Relationships, Writing

Beyond the yellow gate

Beyond the yellow gate

there is a woman.

Her airy black head scarf almost shields her effervescent eyes.

But when she looks up, sky blue bounces off her peasant shirt and into her pupils so they ignite.

She touches my wrist gently as she feels for my pulse.

Ba-boom. Ba-boom. Ba-boom.


Beyond the yellow gate

there is a man.

His navy blue striped rugby shirt and acid washed jeans foretell a deep, defiant  voice.

But when his lips part and open wide, out fall directions in a timid, mouse-like squeak.

He guides me — turn left, turn right, and then

straight, straight, straight, always straight.


Beyond the yellow gate

there is a building.

A tall, two story white stone building, a dusty green awning greets the afternoon sun

But behind the glass door is woman with a cleft-lip

whose job is to collect, from everyone who enters, 30 shekelim

shosheem shkreem, she says. Ma? Shosheem shkreem.


Beyond the yellow gate

there is a town.

A busy town. A bustling town. A restless town.

But living in this town there is Farid and Dr. Haddad and the two girls

in pigtails eating popsicles



Beyond the yellow gate

there are people.

Their faces, weathered or leathery or lean,

are  thumbnail previews of the beauty within.


This poem is one in a series about Kfar Manda, an Arab village three miles down the road from Kibbutz Hannaton, where I live, in the Lower Galilee, Israel.


What’s a little closure between friends?

I sat alone in a movie theater in Haifa last night.

There were other people around me — strangers.

An American guy and a Russian girl out on a date.

Two elderly couples.

A grandmother, a mom, and her teenage daughter.

There were people in the theater, but I might as well have been alone.

It was that kind of movie experience.

The expression on my face moved in rhythm with the fictional couple’s tension and release.

I smiled.

I laughed.

My eyebrows furrowed.

My heart swelled and sunk.

Like the couple on the screen, I remembered 1994.

Except I wasn’t in Vienna with them when we first met. I was in Washington, D.C., sitting in a dark hall next to a good friend watching a free showing on campus of Before Sunrise, starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy.

Courtesy wikipedia
Courtesy wikipedia

I left that movie theater in Washington, DC in love.

In love with an idea.

In love with this fictional romance.

This couple.

It’s pretty easy for me to pinpoint what I was so smitten with — the Ethan Hawke character was certainly the kind of guy I was into at the time. Intellectual, but funny. Confident enough, but still obviously insecure.  Boyishly handsome.

But most of all, I loved that their romance –Jesse’s and Celine’s — was centered around conversation, connection, and culture.

This type of romance — not the kind featuring princes and princesses —  was, to me, the stuff of fairy tales.

But how often do we get to see how the fairy tale turns out once the prince starts going gray and the wife’s eyes are underlined by heavy bags?

We don’t.

And it’s this reason why our image of romance is so royally fucked up.

Before Midnight is exactly the kind of film experience — and happy ending — we need more of.

“Happy ending?”, asks anyone who has seen Before Midnight, the 3rd installment of the trilogy, which finds Jesse and Celine married, approaching middle age, and discontent.

Yes, happy.

Real life, up-and-down, work-hard-at-it, happy.

Watching Before Midnight, we ride for two hours along with the couple through highs and lows during their family vacation in Greece — highs and lows not atypical of a middle class couple with young children.

As I observed Celine and Jesse, I could tell they are still clearly in love — or, at the very least, in “like.” They enjoy being with each other; they support each other. At times, I even found myself envying their verbal repartee, the ease with which they bounce off each other clever, but relatively harmless jabs.

They seem good.


Until they don’t.

Midway through the movie we also come to understand exactly how very detached they are from the magic that first enchanted them.

And yet they long for that magic. You can tell.

There exists a struggle in each of them between wistfulness and resign.

But the fact they struggle at all is, in my opinion,  a good sign.

Any couple who still wants the magic is a couple who can most likely make it.

If they work at it.

Before Midnight illustrates the work that is behind long-lasting love. It lays out in ugly truth how hard marriage can be. And how easy it can be, when you are willing to put in the effort and accept your partner … even when the person who once enchanted you is buried beneath years of diapers, laundry, or uninspiring monotony.

The couple’s dilemma and resolution at the conclusion of the film was better than any “happily ever after.”  As the credits rolled, I felt my shoulders release and was overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude. Grateful for the gritty, yet satisfying, conclusion at the end of Before Midnight. And grateful that the idea I fell in love with in 1994 was one that could last. That could make it…somehow.

I sat alone in a movie theater in Haifa, and breathed in deep the longing I sometimes find lodged in my throat. But I breathed out wisdom and understanding.

And closure.

Health, Letting Go

Stuck in Your Throat

Your silence is a cover-up.

It’s a conspiracy between you and the way you think people see you.

Your silence is a ruse.

It’s a simple means of getting from here to there.

Avoiding an accident.

Your silence is a hushed conversation between you and yourself.

It’s a promise.

It’s a plan in the making.

It’s a vendetta.

Your silence is silent until it’s loud.

And then BOOM.


Why are you silent in the face of men who care not if you smile or frown, stay or go, live or die?

Why is your silence, then, in front of them, so valuable? Such a commodity?

Why are you loud in the face of children whose only desires lie in pleasing you?

Why is your silence, then, in front of them, so rare? Out of stock?

Stuck deep down in your throat are all the things you want to say

But you are silent

Anger rages like a river, swirling whirlpools in your throat you swallow.

Until a tidal wave of release

Drowns the ones you love.

Mindfulness, Relationships, Survivalism

We’re all gonna die!

What do you think causes the majority of our existential angst?

A. Knowing we’re going to die (and not wanting to)

B. Not knowing exactly when we will die

C. Not knowing exactly how we will die

D. All of the above?

I struggle with all of the above.

But today I was having a conversation with myself that went like this:

Let’s say we are somehow able to accept we will die.

Not just understand it intellectually, but actually accept it.

And let’s say, by some magical twist, we are able to learn exactly when and how we will die…

Would we really live our life any differently than we do today?

And, what would World Order look like then?

(I don’t really talk to myself in the third person, by the way.)

There is a phrase:


But the essential problem with that advice is that gleefully dancing as if nobody’s watching is not really an option if the machine is to keep running.

Quite the contrary, living each day as if it’s not our last is what allows us to pack the school lunches and separate the laundry and spend an hour with the accountant without feeling as if our life is completely pathetic.

We count on tomorrow being better.

= = = =

Most of us live –because we must — as if we have an endless supply of days.

And, yet, we’re terrified each and every day because we know that we don’t.

That is quite a quandary.

No one wants to be a machine.

Yet no one feels comfortable abandoning everything and everyone so they may live their last day every day.

This is the majority of our existential angst:

Finding the absolute perfect balance between living your last day and living as if you have an endless supply.

Letting Go, Love, Mindfulness, Uncategorized

Joy ride

I almost got stuck in a worry this morning.

I was in my car, driving to an appointment for a medical test.

I started imagining doom and gloom.

But about five seconds into the worry, I shook my head. Literally shook it.

And forced myself to get stuck in something else.

Something joyful.

I quickly looked around for a prompt.

Once, not too long ago, the winding hills of the Galilee would have been enough to move me. The goats and shepherd along the road. The fields lined with greens ready to be picked.

But not today. The scenery didn’t do it for me.

Like a Freudian free association exercise, I quickly reminded myself how happy I was only three weeks ago to be driving at all.

Feel it! I told myself. Feel the gratitude just to be driving with a real, certified driver’s license.

Nope. Didn’t feel it.

Next, taking a page out of my friend Andra’s “First Times” series of blog posts, I tried to turn my attention to more than two decades ago when I first got my American driver’s license and when I finally had a car of my own. Tried to imagine myself 17, alone, on the open road, without a grownup.

Surely memories of my youth would move something inside of me, I thought.

And, indeed, something started to stir.

The worry moved aside for a minute. But the “something” wasn’t quite strong enough to overpower the worry.

Then in an instant, in the mysterious way memory works, I remembered a “first time” that would move me from worry to joy.

I was 23.

I had just moved to New York City from Washington, D.C. where I had studied.

I was living, at the time, with a bunch of girls in a dorm room at NYU to take part in the university’s Summer Publishing Institute.

That day — the one my memory drifted to this morning– was a typical stifling hot summer day in NYC in 1997. Extra stifling in the subway system.

There’s a long underground hallway at Times Square/Port Authority that takes you from what was then the 1-2-3 line to the A-C-E. The walls were peppered with advertisements, of course. But hanging from the ceiling was a series of signs…an art installation geared towards the walking commuters. It apparently still hangs today.

The series starts with one word:


And continues:




One in a series of subway signs at Times Square. Photo by Daniel Goodman / Business Insider

I remember being 23 and noticing those signs and having an out of body experience a la Steve Martin in LA Story.

“Are those signs talking to me?” I wondered.

I paused and considered what the signs were saying. Who they were speaking to.

And in my head, to the imaginary voice or to myself, I answered.

Not me.

“I’m not tired at, all. In fact, I feel more alive than ever!” I thought.

Those signs were clearly speaking to some very sad and sorry grownups — not me! — who were already tired from life.

I laughed out loud.


It suddenly occurred to me that I was a grownup!

“I can’t believe I am a grown up,” I thought. “This is IT. I am officially a grownup.”

My self-talk continued:

“Here I am.  In this subway station. Underground. Alone. On my own. Nobody here knows me. I can do or be anything I want. No one can tell me who to be or what to do anymore. I am an adult.”

I remember this as the exact moment I felt adult.

I remember a combination of terror and joy.

But mostly joy.

I wanted to dance around the room.

I was free!

Free to live my life!

Instead dancing, I just smiled.

I smiled at the strangers. The tired ones. The ones wondering, “Why bother?”

I felt sorry for their malaise, but I walked underground between 7th and 8th Avenues with a lighter step and a huge smile on my face.

“I am a grownup!” My smile said. “Just try and tell me what to do!”

The fragments of that smile remain today, sitting in the back of my throat, waiting for worry.

And I accessed that smile today and the emotions behind it.

Alone (!)

On my own (!)

I can do or be anything I want!!!

I laughed at myself, then

and at life.

At how funny life is.

At how funny humans are.

Fragments of a smile became a true smile of joy as I realized I was free.

Health, Living in Community, Love, Making Friends, Mindfulness, Relationships

I’m happy and I know it … clap your hands

I giggle.

I work hard to make others giggle.

I dream…and enjoy analyzing my dreams.

I engage on social media.

I innovate (at work)

I create (at home)

I write.

I share my writing with others.

I bake cookies.

I surprise the people I love with small treats or notes.

I want to be around people.

I want to know them.

I want to learn more about them.

I want to discover what we have in common and how we can help each other.

I sing.

I kiss my husband.

I take beautiful pictures.

Or silly ones.

Mr. Sunglasses Face

This isn’t a list of the things that make me happy.

It’s a list of ways I know that I am happy.

That life is working for me.

These are ways I know I am doing what is required to care for myself so that my life is one I enjoy … or, at least, feel reasonably satisfied by.

Often times, we think  — if we think at all — about the things that make us happy.

Ice cream.





Air conditioning.

We make mental or actual lists of all the things we need in our life in order to be happy. Or we delineate end goals or possessions we are convinced will make us happier if only we reach them or one day have them.

Better job.

Better wife.

A baby.

Older kids.

A degree.

More sleep.

More quiet.

Less stress.

And while some of us are good at being grateful for what we have– and even acknowledging the good in our life — I don’t often hear from my inner voice listing off the ways I know I am happy now.

Right now.

Or what happy looked like back when it colored my life.

What does happy look like?

Who are you when you’re happy?

If we don’t know what happy looks like, how will we ever get there?

I’ve noticed over the past few weeks that my happy evidence is somewhat missing from the scene.

This was a red alert for me to DO SOMETHING.

So I started thinking about my list.

The list of things that act as evidence that I am happy.

And I started doing those things.

Even though I wasn’t yet happy.

And today, I’m happier.

(I didn’t say HAPPY.)


I’m writing.

I’m baking.

I’m spending time with real live human beings.

And engaging a little with the imaginary real live human beings on my screen.

What does happy look like for you?

How will you …

How do you…

recognize it?

Letting Go, Love, Mindfulness, Parenting, Relationships, Survivalism

Fast or Slow, This is Life

I read and sighed and groaned with interest this morning, “The Day I Stopped Saying Hurry Up” by Hands Free Mama.

Her words resonated with me and stabbed me like a fork in the heart.

I know I hurry my kids too much.

I hurry through life too much.

And I know I don’t deserve an award for the fact that I hurry them a lot less now than I used to.

Or that I hurry life a lot less since I moved to the country.

But maybe I do deserve a pat on the back.

Just a little one.

Because there are certain people that have a really, really hard time slowing down.

They have a hard time sitting still.

They have a hard time being far away from action, from access, from information.

Because action and access and information make those particular people feel as if they have control over their very fast-moving, often frightening and sometimes frustrating lives.

I am one of these people.

Our busy, busy world of  24/7 cellphones, emails and carpools only accelerates my in-born madness.

I was born running.

Running my mouth.

Running my head.

Running the world the way I want it to run.

Running away from scary ideas or circumstances.

Running towards change, adventure.

For people like me, slowing down is infuriating and unnatural.

Until we do it.

And reap the very quiet rewards.

It’s still unnatural, but we can be trained to understand how slowing down sometimes works better and faster than running.

= = = =

I sometimes fantasize about the End Days — the day after the solar grid is taken down by a Coronal Mass Ejection and we’re all forced to live Frontier House style.

I’m sure I’d still be running in the End Days, but less like a lower paid, less inspiring Sheryl Sandberg. and more like a nicer Mrs. Olesen

Little House Mrs Oleson

I have this fantasy that if the world was forced to slow down, I would slow down too.

Because I want to experience life.

And I realize that running past or through life, blurs the experience.

But I also accept (with bitterness) that not all of my real life (the one I chose, and built, and need to maintain) can operate on slow, as much as I do appreciate what Hands Free Mama illustrates as the benefits of slow living.

My challenge — above and beyond trying to live slower — is to acknowledge that THIS is life.

Fast or slow

THIS is life.

This making-the-lunches

This sitting-with-my-daughter-for-ten-minutes-at-preschool-before-heading-to-work

This watching-my-son’s-school-performance

This taking-the-car-to-the-shop

This scheduling-the-parent-teacher-conference

This waiting-for-bloodwork

This wrapping-the-present-for-my-daughter’s-friend

This making-sure-all-three-kids-brushed-their-teeth

This listening-to-my-husband’s-day-at-work

This showing-up-for-book-club

This calling-the-plumber

This schlepping-the-kids-to-that-experience-we-really-want-them-to-have

Sure — I can and most definitely should– SLOW DOWN.

Because the slower I live life, the better I process it.

The deeper I experience it.

And the more vividly I remember it.

Slow works wonders.

I, too, have found that living life slower   (…and taking pictures with my camera or my mind)


pee wee

But slow is hard.

And there are days I simply wish I could wind the world backwards the way Superman does

and there are days I wish I could simply freeze everyone and everything in it like Piper Halilwell.

Because that’s the only way I can imagine slowing down.

But then, there are days — moments of unexpected presence and awareness and awe — when I fully realize that THIS is life.

Fast or slow

This wanting

This noticing

This fixing

This laughing

This burping

This farting

This regretting

This missing

This needing

This freezing

This sweating

This balancing act

This being alive in this very awkward, too short, not-exactly-as-I-planned-it moment

THIS is life.

= = = =

Handsfree Mama, in her poignant and beautiful post, writes “pausing to delight in the simple joys of everyday life is the only way to truly live”


But this begs a question in my mind: how do we move through the less than simple (but required), the less than joyful (and often scary) parts of life?

May we move through those moments quickly?

Is “fast”, not “slow” what these moments call for?

Or do they also call for slow?

Dealing with the rotten eggs life sometimes throws me is where I tend to struggle the most

I want to run past those moments as quickly as I can

I want fast. not slow

= = = =

Will I one day, on my deathbed, understand that





Those moments I ran through?

Will I suddenly smell the sweet smell hidden deep inside the rotten eggs of life and will it smell like cookies baking?

I don’t know.

Born a runner

I am trying to stop running

I am trying not to wish myself out of this moment.

I am trying not to judge this moment either.

THIS life.

Which is easy when you are in the middle of something magical, but not so easy when you are moving through something hard.

Fast or slow,

rotten or sweet

THIS is life.

Born a runner, I am trying to say those words


with a smile

with conviction

THIS is life.


Chin up, buckaroo

Do you ever notice how when we perseverate on good thoughts, we say we’re meditating on something… but when we harp on bad thoughts it’s called worry?

I suggest that meditation doesn’t indicate good or bad.

It indicates focus.

When we worry, we’re still meditating, just on the bad stuff. The stuff we want less of, not more of.

And by meditating on the worry; worry becomes your world.

You can pretend you’re fine.

You can pretend you like yourself, your life.

You can pretend the fears aren’t debilitating, don’t keep you up at night.

But even if you do a great job at pretending, and even if most people you come in contact with can’t smell your worry on you, your worry will stick to you like the smell of rotten eggs.

And it will persist.

It will become your tomorrow, your next week.

Until you stop it.

Just stop it.

I write a lot about mindfulness.

Mindfulness — in my own personal practice — usually means

paying attention

pausing before reacting


breathing again

focusing my thoughts and self-talk on the positive in my life

on what I’m grateful for

on what I want more of.

But over the past few weeks as I’ve been moving through some health issues, I’ve been meditating on doom and gloom.

My thoughts sound like this:

“What’s wrong with me?”

“This can’t be good.”

“Something is seriously not right here.”

“Why doesn’t anyone take this seriously but me?”

“No one wants to help me.”

This is a really easy funk to fall into when you don’t feel well.

But as with positive thoughts I like to meditate on, such as

“I am loved.”

“I am strong.”

“People like being around me.”

The worry I’ve created in my mind has become my world.

And my world has suffered.

I’ve noticed I don’t want to write. Not blogs or the novel that I was half-way finished only three weeks ago

I don’t want to take beautiful pictures on instagram.

I’m tired and uninterested in deep, meaningful conversations with my friends, neither in real life or on social media.

Because I’ve been meditating on worry, instead of love, positive change, and possibility.

The truth is — pain and fear will do that to you.

Pain and fear can send the most mindful of us down dark roads.

But yesterday, I had a brief chat with a fellow mindful friend who is also going through a difficult time. She told me she’s trying to be and speak as positive as possible, and it’s helping her move through this time.

I know for a fact that people think she is faking it … or they wonder, “How can she be so happy all the time?”

I even asked her (a bit bitterly), “Is that working for you?”

The truth is — she is probably kinda faking it. She’s choosing to not be her worry.

And it’s working for her.

But I didn’t think it would work for me. I’m in a funk, you know.

This morning, however, I saw in my twitter feed, an update from a stranger.

It piqued my interest.

amanda tweet

I clicked through to the picture on instagram, and realized suddenly I knew exactly what Amanda meant when she wrote “Keeping my chin tilted ever so slightly, even when it’s hard.”

Chin up — even when it’s hard — That’s mindfulness.

Smiling at your friends when you pass them, even when it’s hard — that’s mindfulness.

Choosing to take a walk and breathe in nature when you could just as easily sit on the couch and worry about the results of your blood test — that’s mindfulness.

It may not be the Buddha’s version of mindfulness, but it’s mine.

Mindfulness is noticing how hard life is right now. So hard, you can hardly lift your chin.

But you do it anyway. That one small motion.

Chin up.

And before you know it, your body and mind will follow.

It’s just as easy to chin up — isn’t it? — as it is to look down, to look back, to look away.

Chin up lifts you up.

Puts your eyes in the direction of beauty

of friends

of family


towards life.


Studies show: Sticking a bead up your nose indicates entrepreneurial spirit

Every family has one.

The child who sticks beads up her nose.

In our family, the child looks like this:

annabel in the yard

Of course, she always has a good reason. In this instance, she wanted a nose ring.

You know, like the one Jasmine has in the Disney makeup tutorial I let her watch 50 times a day?

Which made a lot of sense until I went back and watched that video (while simultaneously criticizing myself for being the kind of mother who allows my 5 year old to watch such junk), and realized that Jasmine doesn’t have a nose ring — nor does any other Disney princess.


So, either she was referring to the Goth makeup tutorial that was recommended to her in the “Related Video” section on YouTube or she just wanted to stick a bead up her nose to see what would happen.

Either way, I still have no idea exactly why she would stick a bead up her nose.

Perhaps, she’s just curious. Perhaps that’s also why she swallowed a penny when she was 4 or why she cut off own hair when she was 3.

Marry her natural curiosity and stubborness with her Israel upbringing, and you got a start-up superstar in the making.

But she also possesses a virtue most entrepreneurs could use a little more of.


When she realized last night that the bead was good and gone far up her nostril and no 5 year old digging was going to get that sucker out, what did she do?

She asked for help.

“HELP! There’s a charuz stuck in my nose!” she cried to anyone who would listen. Charuz is the Hebrew word for bead. (Guess who was the one who figured out what she was saying? Score one for the immigrant mother.)

My husband, two sons, and I all gathered around to her to evaluate the situation.

You could see she was scared and wished she had never stuck that bead in her nose in the first place.

But she didn’t cry. She didn’t scream. She just listened.

First my husband looked inside. “I can see the bead,” he told us, silently thanking God for small favors.

“Hold the other side of your nose, and blow,” I told her.

She had never done this before. It was new to her.  Up until now, as much as we’ve tried to teach her how to blow her nose, she’s only been able to sniff in.

She gave it careful consideration, as all four of us showed her how to blow out our own noses, instead of sniffing in.

My husband held her other nostril, and then instructed her, “Now blow!”

She looked at us, seeking our backing and support.

We all smiled expectantly.

Truthfully, what I expected was a trip to the emergency room.

But, she did it!

She blew the sucker out on the first try!

A snotty, but glittery pink bead flew at G-force speed across the room.

We all cheered and danced around her. Siman tov uh Mazal tov!

We kissed her. We hugged her. We congratulated her.

And of course, we listed off again all the appropriate and inappropriate things for inside one’s nose, mouth, or any other orifice. And we emphasized that beads don’t belong in any of them.

For now, at least.

After the incident had passed, and relief had washed over all of us, my daughter came up to me and said, “I was so brave, wasn’t I?”

I hugged her, and agreed. “Yes, you were very brave.”

“You know what was really brave?” I asked her.

“What?” she said.

“Asking for help. Sometimes that’s the scariest thing for someone to do.”

“You’re right, Mommy,” she replied, not necessarily because she agrees, but because in addition to being curious and humble, she is also wise.

She knows that next to “I love you” and “You’re pretty,”  “You’re right” is the answer mommies love most.


The felicity of freedom

I do not feel connected to Israel’s independence, nor America’s.

My heart does not swell enough on Yom HaAtzmaut, nor does it burst with pride on July 4th.

I am neither a loyal patriot nor a faithful expat.




a spoiled brat.

Or a heartless wench.

One or the other.

If I were put on the spot and asked why I am so numb when it comes to celebrating freedom, I’d choose spoiled brat.

Entitlement is what happens when you have always had something come easy and come free.

My freedom has always been free. And you are less likely to celebrate what you have always gotten for free.

If my freedom was a gift only to the 1000th citizen born on every third year — like a raffle or a supermarket prize — maybe I would jump up and down for joy.

If my freedom was a surprise miracle in a barren wasteland — like Sarah conceiving Isaac in her old age or a lone soaptree yucca surviving the desert heat of Death Valley — maybe then I would thank God in silent prayer.

If my freedom was one true thing in a sea of falsities — like my breath, like my love for my children — perhaps then I would weep tears of gratitude.

But my freedom is free.

And my freedom has never come with strings attached.

And my freedom will be here tomorrow, or so my entitled mind tells me.

We only know what we know.

And so therefore, on the 4th of July or any other day I choose, I must stop.



The good fortune with which I was born.

The grace of good men and good women who do not know the life I know.

The felicity of FREEdom.

Letting Go, Love, Mindfulness

Kindness is less expensive than you think

I was sitting at a sidewalk cafe table when I noticed a praying mantis slowly crawling on the arm of the plastic chair next to me.

praying mantis
A bug in Israel

I was sitting there because I had nothing to do but kill time  — 15 minutes to kill — until my scheduled driving test in downtown Haifa.

It would be, in fact, my second driving test in as many weeks. I failed the first one.

Since waking up with a startle at 4:30 am, I had been psyching myself up for the test. Trying to remind myself that the test was not that big of a deal; that passing or failing wasn’t life or death. I told myself I’m a good and safe driver, but (as I learned last time) there is only so much I can be prepared for such a test.

As in life, sometimes a street cleaner in an orange vest decides to walk backwards into traffic and you have to make a split second decision, and hope for the least messy result….and, in the case of a driving test, the kindness of the instructor.

Sitting in that cafe chair with 15 minutes to go and nothing else to do, I noticed the praying mantis. I thought to myself, “That guy is lucky I sat next to him and not some 6 year old serial-killer-to-be who would have enjoyed pulling off his skinny little legs one by one.”

I examined the creature closely. How was he so calm? How could he possibly just meander along like that without worry? Did he sense the presence of the fat hairy guy standing next to him drinking an espresso? Was he worried at all that the guy would sit down and rest his heavy arm on top of him?

In fact, I could very easily smush that bug myself, I thought. Or at least swat him away, off the chair, simply because I don’t like bugs.

Instead, I’m observing him, I thought. Acknowledging him. Letting him be.

Lucky him. I kinda wish I were that praying mantis right now.

Or, at least, I wish for the same kind of luck.

I need to be let alone today.

I need a lucky break.

I need the simple kindness of a stranger.

Then it hit me.

Sometimes, just letting someone — or something — be is an act of kindness.

To be kind doesn’t require a lot of time or money. Nor does it require great courage or forethought.

Sometimes, you just need to let someone be.

Leave a bug alone.

Allow someone a mistake (without reprimanding her for it)

Give someone a break (when she doesn’t necessarily deserve it)

Back off  someone when you could just as easily crush her

(Pass her when you could just as easily fail her).

Sometimes (just as our listening is sometimes a bigger gift than our speaking)our inaction is a greater kindness than our action.