My 9/11 Story – Love Is The Key

​If you are of a certain age, you’re among the many of us who have a September 11, 2001 “Where were you?” story.

Mine involved focusing on things that have long mattered most to me: ​

  • striving to be​ a​ caring​ mother
  • ​striving to ​be a​ ​courageous storyteller
  • ​intentionally ​using my words to make a difference.

That day was my first day back​ at work as a newspaper reporter, after a 12-week maternity leave​.​


I​’d placed my infant son in ​his babysitter’s arms and dropped off my daughter at a ​nearby ​preschool, and was ​settling​ at my desk just before 8 a.m. ​in​ the quiet newsroom.

Suddenly, a photographer ran past me and yelled to turn on the TV – a plane had hit one of the Twin Towers in New York City. Then a friend called to welcome me ​bac​k and to share that she’d just seen live news reports about the plane crash. Together, we watched as a​ second​ plane hit the second tower, and we knew the world had changed.


After reminding myself that both of my kids were in good care, with people who loved them and would keep them safe, I did what journalists do – went right into reporter mode, knowing that I’d have to somehow help make sense of this madness for residents of Central Virginia and beyond.​


​Within the hour, I was driving down a winding road south of the city to visit a local mosque. ​ ​Despite ​growing fears for safety ​in the wake of the terrorists attacks, ​t​he​ Imam (spiritual leader)​ trusted me enough to ​let me inside the building, which was teeming with young children, because it doubled as a daycare and preschool.

There was mayhem. The phones kept ringing with ​death threats​, ​frightened​​​​​ parents ​showed up to pick up ​their children and ​the Imam​ sought to keep everyone ​calm​.


I saw fear and hurt in his eyes, both over the tragedy that had occurred ​in our nation a​​​​nd over the need to defend himself and ​the Muslims he knew and loved​.​ He requested that I use my news article to remind people that not all Muslims are terrorists and that he, too, was grieving.


On my drive back to the ​Richmond Times-Dispatch ​newsroom, the radio waves were eerily silent and my cell phone wouldn’t work. ​I returned to learn from colleagues about the attack at the Pentagon and the crash of another plane that was believed to be headed to Washington, D.C.​


I sat at my desk and wrote about the Imam’s plea ​for people ​to look past ethnicity ​and ​into hearts​,​ and not to harm Americans who looked him or those in his spiritual care because of the hateful and evil acts of others – acts he also denounced.

That conversation with him, and witnessing the distress at the mosque that day, led me to write a year-long series of newspaper columns about people of various faiths – Muslims, Quakers, Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians and more – and to use their personal journeys to educate readers about ​​​​​​​the principles of each religion, so that perhaps we could really “see” our neighbors, colleagues and strangers and find some common ground.


​What my readers (and I ) discovered through my columns is that ​regardless of the different commandments​, laws and practices of the various faiths, the​ primary mandate of ​absolutely ALL of them is to​ LOVE,​ and to use love as a guide to honor God, ​live peaceably with others and​ ​flow positively through this world.

Sometimes ​love must be ​giving.

Sometimes ​love must be sacrificial.

Sometimes love sets boundaries.

All of the time love can heal and produce hope​​.


​This isn’t as easy at it sounds, of course, which is why people of faith are always “practicing” their faith.​ But leading with love never fails and never goes out of style.

Twenty years later, as we remember this significant and painful day of loss and fear, may we also remember the love that followed in the aftermath. And may we continue striving to look past what we see on the surface and give others’ hearts a chance, while having the courage to share our own.

Let Me Reintroduce Myself

Happy September. I stepped away from most of my online posting during a well-enjoyed August break, and now that I’m back, I say hello to you all and welcome to my new friends and followers. Please indulge me as I take a few minutes to reintroduce myself; and after reading my update, feel free to share a bit about yourself in the comments. I’d love to get to know you and discover what inspires you.  

I’m Stacy. A creative spirit and lover of words. I have a big heart, a feisty streak and a soft spot for all people  – kids and young adults in particular. I’m an optimist who keeps my eyes on life’s prize.

My “It List” includes writing, reading, music, chocolate, fresh flowers, candles, laughter, hugs, sunrises, beaches, mountain views, helping others and learning new things. 

I’m the mom of two young adults who are blazing their trails in the world and allowing me to enjoy their ride. 

I still use all three names though I’m divorced, because “Stacy Hawkins Adams” has been my “pen name” for decades and has taken on a life of its own. Lol ✍🏽😎

Plus, the Adams clan will always be fam and friends. 🥰

So look me up under that name and you’ll find 11 nationally published “book babies” that I hope you’ll consider reading and enjoy. 

I also blog here, at LifeUntapped.com, post inspirational musings on Instagram and on Facebook, and occasionally pen freelance articles and essays for national publications.

I’m in the process of writing a new novel – a piece of women’s fiction that is stretching me and thrilling me (while praying that my agent and a publisher’s gonna love it).

I can be serious, but those closest to me know that I am just as often playful. 

I dance and sing behind closed doors, but I’m a prayer warrior wherever needed. 

I love that my milestone birthday this year has opened me up in ways that are freeing and fulfilling.

I am more often speaking my truth in love

and trusting myself the first time

and believing bigger because, Why not?

I also am still stretching, stumbling and growing; but isn’t that what makes life’s journey a beautiful mosaic? 

I hope the words and images that I routinely share here with you, and on the written page, will remind you that you can do the same.

Stacy Hawkins Adams

No More Living on Empty

By Guest Blogger Valerie Henderson

When I was child back in the day, you could drive up to a gas station and someone would pump your gas for you.

You would just pull up to the pump and an attendant would come out to your car. All you had to do was roll down your window (and I do mean roll) and say, “fill’er up.”

By the time I learned how to drive, the new thing was “self service,” which meant you had to get out and pump your own gas.

I don’t like to pump gas. I’ve tried to convince my husband that this should be his job, but to no avail. I have even figured out how long I can drive around on fumes once the “almost empty” fuel sensor light comes on.

Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that driving until your tank is empty can mess up your car. It leaves room for “junk” to build up in your tank, and it can cause your fuel pump to overheat and wear out more quickly.

I think you know where I’m going with this…

What happens when we continually live on empty, refusing to refuel at appropriate times or even when the warning light comes on?

Sometime last year, just before our world became engulfed in a global health pandemic, I read a book titled Leading On Empty: Refilling Your Tank and Renewing Your Passion. It was penned by Wayne Cordeiro to help pastoral leaders who are suffering from burnout, but you could easily re-title this book Parenting On Empty or Working On Empty  or Praying On Empty or Loving On Empty.


I think if we called it Living on Empty it would speak to all of our situations. For those of us who spend a significant portion of our time serving others (whether it’s your profession, vocation or just who you be), living on empty  could be an adequate description of what we feel like on the regular.

Many a day we operate solely on fumes, just trying to get through the day, through bedtime or through the next crisis.

It’s so easy to put our own needs on the back burner. We have good intentions to go back and take care of them later. But somehow later never happens.

Living on empty happens when we are blessed with children who need our care. (They are demanding little creatures just by their very nature and before you know it, they have consumed our entire lives.) Or perhaps it happens when we are serving as a caregiver for a loved one who is ill. We want to be there and our efforts become all-focused on their wellbeing.

We don’t have the energy or the will to do something for ourselves.

Living on empty happens when our vocation is to serve people in our community, and as our nation has endured an economic crisis that has led to job loss and personal devastation, the amount of people needing to be served has increased significantly.

There is not enough time in our day to do all that needs to be done. The needs of others leaks into our private time and we don’t know how to shut them off or hold them back. 

Where do we go to be refueled? When do we find time to fill up our tank?

Maybe we’re afraid if we turn our engine off, fearing that it won’t start back up. However, if we never turn it off for maintenance, it eventually will die out anyway.

We know these things. We understand that this is what self care is – turning off our engine (resting) and then making sure we pour back in to ourselves, to replenish the well from which we have been giving.


The thing we are not quite sure about most of the time is how  did we get here in the first place? Why do we allow ourselves to run until we burnout?

These are questions we have to be willing to ask and seek to honestly the answer. Discovering your answers, and leaning into them, will change your life – and fill your tank – for the better.

As a wife, mother and grandmother, Valerie Henderson enjoys spending endless amounts of time with her family. As a minister, she loves assisting others as they journey through their faith walk. As a creative soul, she finds her greatest solace when she can retreat, craft and write.

Winning at Life

Recent examples abound of how one can speak the truth with love, 

choose to be a priority rather than an option,

and operate in integrity even when the consequences are steep.

Google Tabitha Brown, Nikole Hannah-Jones and Shacarri Richardson.

They’ve handled public dissing, downplaying of value, and rules-based punishment with integrity, and I’m sure you can think of others who’ve done the same.

Regardless of your view their personal choices, what seems to matter most is how they value authenticity and love on themselves; 

and when we all learn to hold our heads high while giving others grace, acknowledge our humanity and our worth, and own our missteps with plans to course correct, 

we’ll know that we’re capable of rising, and we’ll realize that whatever the fallout, we’ve already won.

The Gift of Words & Writing

I’ve connected with quite a few writer friends this week and it has fueled my creativity in ways that I didn’t realize I missed so much during the pandemic.

Two of the catchups were one-on-one reunions over a meal, and both of those friends/mentors reminded me that writing is important work – to be leaned into, wrestled with, granted free reign, yet relented to with finesse, because words hold power and stories help us understand each other; and when we put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, sometimes we even surprise ourselves at the important truths, wounds, dreams, hopes, fears, strength and more that lie just beneath the surface.

Whether we’re writing fiction or nonfiction, that power – and responsibility – are the same.

My other gathering with writers was filled with amazing talent and wisdom too, and left me with an inner glow.

I share all of this to note that as I’ve spent time at my keyboard after hours and in the wee hours of morning this week, editing others work and also nurturing my own work-in-progress, I’ve felt more grateful than ever for the gift of words and writing, and for the opportunity to speak to the world in a manner that can endure.

What part of your purpose or your journey are you most grateful for this week? Acknowledge it and celebrate it in some way.

Author & Essayist Stacy Hawkins Adams

Naomi’s Reminder

Welcome to June. We’re halfway through another historic year!

In light of young tennis star Naomi Osaka’s dramatic (and courageous) decision a few days ago to put her dreams on hold and practice self-care, I share the sentiments in this post as a reminder to all of us that what matters most is not material gain nor worldly success.

It is what flows into and from the heart that can make you or break you.

Let us live and lead with more empathy, truth and love, because everyone, at every level, needs it.

You never know what someone else is going through behind that smile, that frown, that fear, that anger, those actions or that attitude. So give everyone grace, because they don’t know your full story either.

Judge little; love liberally – rinse and repeat!

Wisdom from Meghan

Regardless of whether you thought Sunday’s bombshell Oprah+Meghan TV interview was worth your time, one of the revelations Meghan Markle shared during the two-hour conversation offered some wisdom:

Have compassion for people. You have no idea what’s going on behind their bright smiles, polished perceptions and fabulous photo ops.

As we pass the one-year milestone of pandemic living, we do indeed know that everyone is going through something, and wherever you find yourself on the pendulum, be intentional about judging less and caring more.

You could be someone’s differencemaker.

50th Plans…And Then Came COVID

Celebrating My 50 While 50 – Update #1

Nearly two months ago, in mid-January, I celebrated the Big 5-0. Like many people do as a milestone birthday approaches, I’d begun pondering months earlier just how I would celebrate.

I was super excited about this birthday, because 2011 – the year I turned 40 – had also been a big year of a big change in my family dynamics. I spent the decade between then and now leaning into my new role as single, co-parenting mom of two adolescents, making sure they had the nurturing, the education and the extracurriculars that would help them thrive and be prepared to discover their purpose. The choices and sacrifices I made during that season were more than worth it; but I was looking forward to launching this new decade with a special trip somewhere in that world that would serve as a kick off for more opportunities to explore never-visited American cities and states, and places around the globe.  

Then came COVID. The world stopped, and along with having to help my son celebrate his high school graduation virtually and my daughter celebrate her college graduation without a formal ceremony, I had to abandon my looming 50th birthday plans. 

Trust me, I know how minor these and a few other very disappointing setbacks were, given the tumult and loss unfolding every single day. I couldn’t complain (then or now), and I continue to seek ways to offer help and encouragement to friends and many others who are in need.

My past 12 months of pandemic living have been graced with many blessings, including a new job filled with meaningful work; settling my son into a college where he gets to run track; watching my daughter practicing “adulting” in a way that has made me proud(er) to be her mom, and everyone in my immediate family remaining healthy.

I know this hasn’t been the case for many people, including some of my closest friends and loved ones, and I don’t take it for granted. So, being the optimistic person I am, I turned my attention to creating a Plan B. For me that is my 50 While 50 List – i.e., a list of 50 things to do while I’m enjoying my 50th year. 

I asked readers of my author newsletter to chime in with suggestions, and boy, did they answer. Between the 30 or so ideas I already had on the list and their wonderful ideas, I’ve now got a lineup of 67 things to do! Lol And if you know me, you know I’ll fit at least 50 things in during 2021 and “carryover” the other 17 into 2022, if necessary.

I promised my newsletter readers that I’d be sharing periodic updates on my progress in this space and this is my first 50 While 50 installment. 

I’ve spent January, February and some of March keeping promises that are fun, practical, fulfilling and maybe a bit uncomfortable enough to stretch me, including:

  • Treating myself to a few favorite “non-everyday” foods whenever the whim hits me, including calamari and German chocolate cake. I haven’t gone overboard, but I’ve enjoyed leaning into those “why not today?” urges when they’ve randomly occurred.
  • Getting a colonoscopy. Not a fun task, but not a necessary one! It was uneventful, and it gave me peace of mind to check this off my list of responsible things to do.
  • Sitting in silence more than usual. As a writer, I often ponder and create in silence; but these particular quiet times have been filled with more intentional journaling, meditating, letting my thoughts roam free, praying, and envisioning some of my goals and dreams as reality. The process has helped me refine my goals and know myself even better.
  • Buying two instead of one. I’ve bought myself a bouquet of fresh flowers every two weeks, just because, for years. Since January, I’ve sometimes made it two – one bouquet graces a vase on my dining room table and the other is placed where I choose – my living room or family room or bedroom.
  • Taking time away. I spent a few days on the Chesapeake Bay, leaning into long walks, prayer time and socially distant meals and laughter with two of my closest sisterfriends. The experience was fun and gave me the clarity and courage to say yes to a few new things. 
  • Spa-ing. I treated myself to a mid-week facial with a fun millennial esthetician, whose chatty style and excellent work left me refreshed and renewed.
  • I sat in on a virtual masterclass about the book-to-movie process, with goals of learning how to someday see my novels on the big screen.
  • I secured three sessions with a life coach to help me refine my short-term goals and to create an accountability plan. This has been a worthwhile investment!

These are just a few things, and it’s only mid-March. I’m enjoying this process and along the way asking myself a question that a professional acquaintance posed to me in a recent conversation: What will you do differently? 

I’ve been leaning into that query in every area of my life, to ensure that I’m not just going through the motions or simply checking things off the list to say I’ve gotten them done. Either I am leaning into doing things the same as always because there’s a reason this way is best, or doing them differently because making slight changes will get me closer to the joy, the journey and the results that I want to be most impactful and lasting.

What about you? How’s your start to 2021? What are you leaning into? What are you willing to do differently? Regardless of whether this is a milestone birthday year for you, this can be a year that you set and reach new milestones, just because you’re worth it.

Share your plans in the comment section, and thanks for reading and cheering me on. As we all move forward and evolve as best we can, may we also remember our simple and significant blessings and pay them forward as best we can.

Pursuits of Passion

A message I watched on YouTube this week reminded me that just because we’re pursuing our passion doesn’t mean we’ll coast. In fact, living out our passion often requires sacrifice, late nights, elbow grease, and fits and starts. But because we love it, it’s worth it, right? 

The story I’m writing these days is kinda like that – it requires digging deep, sitting in silence, answering the hard questions and embracing the authentic answers. 

Yep, I’m talking about the novel I’m penning, but real life, too. For isn’t this how it’s supposed to work? Fiction is a reflection of life that’s meant to help you better understand yourself, and others. I’m excited to be in this “creating magic” phase. 

Help Me Choose 50 Things While 50

Whew – if you’ve been following the news at all this past week, you’ll probably agree with me that we’ve had some kind of start to the New Year – the kind that has left me at a loss for words, while alternatively holding onto what I know to be true: The reality that even when darkness or mayhem gains a foothold, goodness will find a way to shine through, and inner peace is still possible.
I’m clinging to that belief in 2021, and especially on today (Sunday, January 10) – my 50th birthday!


There are so many sappy cliches about this milestone that would be fitting to spout; but the simple refrain coursing through my mind, heart and spirit is that I am grateful, excited and feeling abundantly blessed.


My 50 While 50 Challenge
One of the ways I plan to commemorate this special year is to challenge myself to do 50 Things While 50 – from simple delights such as treating myself to a few at-home spa days to achieving big goals like finishing my current manuscript-in-progress to lofty plans like preparing for a big trip abroad that I hope to take once it’s safe to travel again.


I’ve started a list of simple and significant experiences that will allow me to rejuvenate, reconnect with myself, have fun and reflect on my life’s next chapter, but I’m stuck  at 35! Can you help me by suggesting a few pandemic-friendly things I can enjoy, learn from or find meaningful during this very special year?

Post your suggestions for me in the comment section!

Everything I choose must bring me some measure of joy, growth, peace or pleasure. I’ll write a brief update about each thing I check off my list as I plow through it throughout the year, and you can follow along by subscribing to this LifeUntapped blog.

If  you give me an idea, I’ll consider adding it to my list – unless it’s beyond my personal tolerance for adventure!

Stacy


I know that I’ll be thankful to have these memories to look back on someday and finding more ways to savor as much of life as I can, while leaving others feeling empowered enough and worthy enough to do the same  – whether it’s through your reading something I’ve written or recommended; in our one-on-one dialogue; through social media, or any other means.


We can’t change others or the world around us; but we can protect the good within us and find the courage to share it broadly, come what may. Celebrating with you is one of the ways I’m turning up my joy. 

As I focus forward, consider joining me!  Why not create your own To Do list of simple and significant adventures for 2021, just for you and just because? 


And if this is a milestone birthday year for you too, please accept my congrats and let me know how you’re commemorating it!