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Photo by stevendepolo on Flickr

What is the surest way to jump-start your heart into aliveness?

To do something which terrifies you – to push against the edges of your comfort zone – to walk towards fear with the intention of love.

This is the lesson I gleaned years ago at a Dr. King’s Legacy celebration talk.

This year, as I sat in a bookstore cafe wondering what I’d do for my MLK “comfort zone challenge,” I thought about the clash between my long-time desire to be in community – and my equally fervent wish to stay hidden among my books and papers.

What is more uncomfortable for me right now than walking towards strangers, I asked myself? And how would I go about trying?

And then I remembered The Lesson of the Rat Man.

My encounter with the Rat Man happened in September 2010 when one of our friends, for his 43rd birthday, asked us to celebrate his life by giving a gift of something we “love and value” to a complete stranger.

My resulting attempt to give away an original poem and a basket of wine and cheese (representing good times with friends) – and my meeting with the Rat Man – was terrifying, exhilarating and full of surprising lessons.

And so, right there in that over-bright cafe, with my heart beating fast enough to tell me I was on the right track, I made the commitment:

52 weeks of sharing what I love and value with complete strangers

starting right here right now

and a blog to record my experiences and keep me going.


  1. To push myself to do something hard – with the hope of GROWING.
  2. To explore and discover what I value and love – with the hope of cultivating GRATITUDE and MINDFULNESS.
  3. To share what is most precious to me – with the hope of CONTRIBUTING to others.
  4. To engage in the discipline of daily writing – with the hope of IMPROVING MY CRAFT.

If you’re just joining me, you may want to start with:

I appreciate your support on the journey and would love to hear reactions, thoughts, encouragements or shared experiences.


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