A word I use a lot, and spend a lot of time thinking about, is grace. It defines the core value of who it is that I want to be in difficult circumstances. I do not want to be angry. I do not need to be righteous. I do not want to be superwoman. But I want the power and the rightness that comes from being someone who thinks and acts and speaks with grace.

When I am thinking about grace, I slow down. I will take deep meditative breaths, and move my hands as I move my lungs. I will reach in and reach out in sweeping movements, as if my body can imitate the state that I am trying to achieve with my mind. When I am upset and thinking about grace, I change my actions and movements even when I cannot quiet my emotions and thoughts.

I took martial arts for years, and I know I was one of the clumsy ones, not a dancer, not a gymnast. But here’s a truth, and the truth is that if you practice anything long enough you will get better at it. I am sure when I left the class that I had internalized the principle of moving from my center, not that I do it perfectly all the time, but that if ever my consciousness rests on my body, that is what my mind is asking my body to do. And I can see it, in myself and in others.

And grace is like moving from your center, or all those graceful dance or martial arts moves. It comes from the core of your values. It has to be rooted deep in your connection to the world and everyone else in it.

It is the idea that what is is, but you can deliver things hard or soft or just right, and grace is all about the just right. And it isn’t one eloquent thing; grace can be funny or firm or angry or kind, it comes in all those flavors depending on what it needs to do.

And grace is all about redemption, but, for me, not at all about religion. It is redemptive for the giver and redemptive for the receiver. At least if both have the grace to accept the gift of grace.

It is all about reaching for something that is one step greater than who you are, one step gentler, one step calmer, one step firmer, one step more right than you’ve ever been right before. It is all about reaching and reaching just like the martial arts practice. Move from your center. Move from your center. Move from your center. Focus on your center. Focus on grace. Until you get it down, and even then, every moment when you need it you must keep your mind’s eye on grace.