When I pause and reflect on my journey, I’m often amazed at how God fits together my life’s puzzle pieces in the just-right way to connect my part of His universal design to someone else’s puzzle:
The brief but powerful encounter I had with a stranger last Tuesday, all because my girlfriends and I just “so happened” to reschedule our dinner date for the 3rd time and randomly choose “that” restaurant
The reconnection with a longtime acquaintance at a stage I can guide her through, because I’ve already successfully navigated it and it’s time to pay forward the support I once received
The mentors coming into my babies’ lives at just the right time and in just the right way to help them grow and thrive in independence while reminding me of the power of the village
The emails from readers about how the words I penned anywhere from last week to 15 years ago have somehow changed their lives for the better, at just the moment they needed the laughter or encouragement or understanding that great love is grace-filled love.
I could go on and on, and I’m sure as I shared my examples, a few well-timed miracles of your own came to mind.
Today, I give thanks for the opportunity to be a blessing while receiving blessings in ways that are simple, profound and often in between.
You matter and I matter, and our puzzle pieces are divinely designed to interconnect with others’ during seasons and in ways that we may never fully understand.
Just keep doing you, being you and loving you, and trust God’s timing. Our masterpieces are in the making, and it’s a bonus when we choose to find hope and joy in that process.
I’m not a huge fan of current-day rap, and I didn’t know the name Nipsey Hussle until the rapper/entrepreneur/community builder’s recent untimely death. But in that brief time, the overwhelming mainstream media coverage about his impact, and the unfiltered grief of his friends and fans (he’s reportedly the Tupac of this generation), have shown the world what it means to live with honor and create a meaningful legacy that outlasts you.
I also don’t know whether Nipsey Hussle was a man of faith; but in his own way, he exemplified the St. Francis of Assisi mandate to “Preach the gospel and sometimes use words.”
Today is his memorial service. May he RIP, may those who loved and admired him be inspired to emulate his positive focus and generosity, and may we all aim to leave our family, our community, and this world a little better for our having been here.
When your college-age daughter comes home for spring break and convinces you to binge watch the hit TV show A Million Little Things, it’s a struggle to get anything else done. (Amazing show!)
But as a writer, at least I can count this as storytelling homework, and the takeaways from every episode are so rich that they leave you contemplating life, grief, ethics, truth, relationships, the power of love and more.
Just halfway through watching the season on demand, the lessons I’ve gleaned so far are ones that most of us already know, but often need reminders to practice. Among them are these gems:
You never know what someone else is going through, so be kind.
You never know what someone else has been through, so stop judging.
Things aren’t always what they seem, so quit longing for the greener grass across the fence.
Pause in your busyness to really see and hear the people closest to you. Give them the space to be vulnerable and imperfect, and love them anyway.
Love yourself enough to give life all you’ve got, no matter how many times you fall and have to get back up again. You and your purpose are worth it.
May these reminders guide our actions and interactions in the days, weeks and months to come, until we no longer need to recall them, because they’ve become our habits.
Am I perfect? Nope – far from it.
Am I persistent? Yep – about the dreams and goals that fuel my purpose.
Am I mistake-proof? I wish! But the lessons learned through missteps are refining, and sometimes life-affirming.
Am I kind? Certainly not always; but I do my best to lead with love and follow the Golden Rule, because in the end all that really matters is somehow leaving others better than you found them.
What say you?
How would you answer the questions above?
If you can cut yourself some slack, yet still give , you can enjoy the journey to becoming your best self as much as reaching the destination.
And, perhaps, you’ll better appreciate the excellence-seekers on the path with you, as they stumble and stride forward, too.
The joy is indeed in the journey.
“Don’t Make Assumptions.” I appreciate this one of Don Miguel Ruiz’s tenets from his book The Four Agreements in particular because it reminds us to give grace to others due to our own blind spots.
There’s no way we can fully know what someone else is going through or has gone through – especially by watching their social media “commercials.”
There’s no way to know the complete behind-the-scenes experiences that have motivated others’ next steps or perhaps left them stuck – unless we both ask with an open heart (when appropriate) and listen with unfiltered ears (always).
Until we can truly see and value others, we’ll always assume what “should” or “could” be their reality and/or their responses. But what good does this kind of judgment yield?
So consider this agreement a practice worth pursuing, in the spirit of elevating relationships of all kinds.
Ask instead of assuming you know their truths and speak up instead of assuming they “should” know yours.
Pause instead of pointing fingers; reflect instead of rejecting. Know that unless you’ve walked the very path they’re trodding, you really know very little – and vice versa!
Extend grace as you’re also seeking it. Hold at the forefront of your mind that each day and each personal encounter should begin and end the same – with love as the central force.
I own two Kate Spade purses. A dear friend gifted them to me a few years ago as a “no special reason – I just wanted to” present. So whenever I’ve carried them, she has always filled my mind with loving thoughts.
Now when I use those handbags, I’ll also remember that Kate Spade was a real person, in need of help. I’ll remember to continue looking past people’s automatic smiles to make sure their eyes are smiling, too. If the light seems to be missing, I’ll offer a hand, listening ear, the truth in love, a therapist or counselor’s contact info, or a shoulder to cry on.
Let those around you know that your shoulders, hands, heart and lack of judgment are available, also. We all need safe spaces to land every now and then.
My thoughts are with all who are struggling with emotional or mental health challenges. There’s nothing wrong with seeking help; in fact, it requires a certain strength.
Do it today. Many, many of us are cheering for you.
Were you one of those kids who believed that ghosts or monsters lurked in your bedroom closet, waiting until the lights were out and you were trying to sleep to make their presence known? (See my raised hand.)
Or, maybe you were the young adult with the world before you, yet you were so anxious about making wrong decisions that you opted more often than not to play it safe and make choices that were safe. (Hand still partially raised.)
Or, could it be that now, as a full-fledged adult, you view your age, weight, finances, personality or other personal circumstances as reasons for staying in a holding pattern or coasting through each day? (Hand NOT raised.)
It took me a while, but after living for a bit and surviving a couple of life’s major “D’s” – death of loved ones and divorce – I’ve come to realize that life’s not meant to be expansive and enjoyed only after you’ve conquered your challenges; instead, while you’re wading (sometimes knee-deep) through them, you could be growing, learning, laughing, loving and even thriving in your inner soul.
Watching my now-deceased older sister find enjoyment in simple things after surviving a double lung transplant in 2011 taught me to value each breath, each opportunity to connect with loved ones, and indeed, each day.
Experiencing the death of important relationships and the snuffing out of their accompanying dreams taught me to value myself, flaws and all, because even if no one else is around, I have to live with and love me.
Pushing through all kinds of highs and lows with others shook me and shaped me into a more empathetic, peaceful and purposeful person – someone filled with more resilience, hope, deeper faith and joy for simple blessings than I otherwise might have possessed.
While my experiences have been uniquely my own, the benefits they’ve yielded are universally possible.
What has hampered you or broken your heart? What has made you press pause and enter a journey of self-examination or sacrifice? What has led to tears that have filled God’s bottle with your name on it, yet also grew a garden of unexpected supporters and mentors to surround you?
Consider those consequences as the gems for your journey. Allow them to fuel your steps forward and foster more hope and heartiness where needed.
Fear comes to us all, yet fear can’t take up residence unless we grant permission.
When it pays a visit, greet it with these behaviors:
Acknowledge the emotion’s presence, then try to assess why you’re afraid.
Envision your worst-case scenario. If the thing you’re fearing were to happen, how would you survive? (Your faith, your Plan B, support from family or friends, or all of the above? )
Envision your best-case scenario and how this outcome would empower and elevate you. If this were to happen, how would you stay centered while sustaining the success?
Remind yourself that whatever comes, you are strong enough, smart enough and loved enough to fall down and get up, or to stand and wait, or to rise and forge a new path – whatever is required.
Remember that by some accounts, FEAR is simply “False Evidence Appearing Real.” You have all within you to overtake whatever is causing you to stumble or spin your wheels.
Embrace the five suggestions outlined above and execute them routinely – one moment, one hour, one day at a time. Refresh and repeat as necessary.
Invest attention and intention in yourself, and before you know it, you’ll find yourself shedding your cocoon and soaring, in your solely special way.
You’ll be living life “untapped,” in a space where regrets are few, life lessons are abundant, and grace is more than sufficient.