Reciprocal Living

A dear reader friend shared the quote meme below on her page earlier this week, and then I ran across this sister-love pic of Madame Sheryl Lee Ralph and Quinta Brunson, and it struck me that each is a reflection of the other, because in our own unique ways aren’t we all trying to do all of these things?

Photographer: Dan Doperalski for Variety

Love the people around you, flaws and all, and yourself. Celebrate others and yourself, and trust that you’ll receive reciprocated patience, openness and grace along your way.

Think Like Serena, Act Like You

Serena (no last name needed) shared in the inspiring remarks she gave during her post-game celebration last night that she hopes her journey from the tough streets of Compton, California to the world’s stage has inspired little girls everywhere to dream and do. It has indeed.

Just know that you hold that same power. You may be touching people around you who may never tell you, and/or transforming the lives of those you may never meet.

How? By being the best at being you. And being yourself with an authentic mix of boldness, humility, enthusiasm and purpose.

So just be you. Do you.

Choose to enjoy your journey.

In living your life fully, you’ll help others rise to their own occasion.

Words of Wisdom from Mom-In-Chief

The hottest ticket in town this week was Michelle Obama!

She graced the Altria Theater stage as a guest of The Richmond Forum, and I was grateful to be in the building.

Mrs. Obama set the tone from the start that this would be a nonpartisan, apolitical conversation, borne from her forever title: Mom-in-Chief.

Through that lens, I resonated with her greatly, having children the same age as hers (her youngest child turns 21 on Friday; mine turns 21 on Sunday), and having penned a daily newspaper parenting column for 11 years.

There were so many great takeaways from her conversation with Forum Executive Director Heather Crislip, many of them directed to parents and to the young people who were in the theater or watching via simulcast.

But there also were some collective words of wisdom for all.

In the spirit of the “Wednesday Wisdom” I occasionally share, here are some of the gems Michelle Obama dropped:

* You don’t have to change the world to change something.

* There is power in the small – in the little, everyday things that we take for granted, like spending time with family, voting, etc. Doing these things with excellence and intention make a difference.

* Don’t lose sight of your own destiny. It holds power.

* We owe hope to the next generation. Democracy requires us to be hopeful.

* Find your passion and do something meaningful with your life.

* You are smart enough to be there, wherever your desired or longed-for “there” is.

* When someone kindly touches you, that gives you the liberty to respond in kind, even if it’s the Queen of England. (That’s how and why that went down, she says! Lol)

And my favorite: Stories matter.

Mrs. Obama delivered that declaration as she discussed some of the projects she is working on with Netflix and due to her interactions with people from all walks of life, all over the world, whose stories have inspired her.

I share that view, from my local and lived vantage point, and through the work I do as a journalist, writer mentor and author.

It’s in this spirit that I invite you to “Save the Date” for an October 22 storytelling event I’m hosting in RVA. More details are coming soon!

In the meantime, lean into some other wisdom that Mrs. Obama shared, which is to consider tackling big issues and hard conversations by starting with connection first.

Get to know your neighbors and colleagues and find some commonalities rather than letting social media or other sources shape your views. Once you understand what you have in common, you’re better able to appreciate others’ similarities and differences, maybe better understand their perspectives, and maybe even become friends – and then, through those lenses, talk about the tough, and important, stuff.

June!

How did we get halfway through 2022? Hopefully with some beauty, some growth and lots of gratitude.
#welcomejune #LifeUntapped #lifemusings

We move through life in ways that are both unique to us and collectively familiar, and perhaps many of you join me in wondering how half of this year has zoomed by.

Welcome to June!

Some of the things I’ve come to appreciate about the first half of 2022 are the experiences that have stretched me the most, and in the process, helped me get to know myself all the better while appreciating others as they are.

I make that sound easy, but we all know this is where the work lies!

In these six months I have learned to find peace in surrendering to every day’s measure of work, rest, hope, contentment, and mutual giving and sharing.

I invite you to reflect on your highlights and challenges thus far, too, and to celebrate how far you’ve come, while seeking lessons from the valleys you’ve traversed and the mountains you’ve scaled.

There’s so much to reflect on and grow from, and in some cases celebrate, including the simple gifts of each day and the aha moments that have opened your heart.

So, with what I pray are miles to go, I say hello to June, and to the possibilities and promises the rest of this year holds. They are ours for the taking, if we’ll believe, trust and invite these blessings in, however they come.

Words Matter

“I am tired, just fatigued.”

I spoke those words in a meeting with acquaintances yesterday as we chatted about the recent wave of hate crime murders in Buffalo, NYC and other cities.

We had no idea as we gathered that horror was unfolding in Texas, and when I learned about the school shooting last night, I had no words.

I was left speechless because words seemingly haven’t served as a shield.

Yet, I realized this morning that while they may be rambling or awkward or filled with trepidation, words do matter.

Words still hold power.

Words can be the first step to keeping hate from having the final say.

So we must use them, however imperfectly,

to voice our anger,

to share our collective pain,

to let the families of these 19 murdered children and their two teachers know they don’t grieve alone;

to speak the names of those who were killed yesterday,

and in recent weeks, and even over the years,

so that these men, women and children don’t become invisible casualties in the hate that seeks to become a societal norm.

We must speak up and speak out, because regardless of whether we personally know victims of gun violence and hate crimes,

humanity is deeper than DNA.

We are our brothers only keepers.

We are our sisters only keepers.

We are our children’s collective keepers, too, and we cannot quit on the job.

When one soars we all benefit. When one is harmed, we should all be hurting.

I can only imagine how every teacher, principal and school official aches today – wanting to protect your “school babies” yet having to talk to them about murder.

I still have no words that can make it any better. But I hope that knowing I care helps.

Because I am a woman of faith I am indeed praying for God to bring comfort to the families and all who are grieving.

Because I‘ve long lent my voice to child advocacy issues, I also will lean into seeking out ways to support changes in policies and laws that can make a positive difference.

I will continue to vote.

I will stand for good in other tangible ways, on an ongoing basis, even when silence could be easier.

So yes, I am tired.

And yes, my heart is broken.

And yes, I’m at a loss for perfectly poised words.

But even so, this post matters, and your words and actions do, too.

Please, please use them to help staunch the hate and end the violence.

14 Ways to Treasure It All

I’ve been reminded in various ways these first 90-plus days of 2022 to not take anything or anyone for granted – including yourself.

Treasure it all.

Stop to smell the roses.

Eat the cake without counting the calories.

Exercise not because you should, but because you can. 

Apologize sincerely, regardless of whether it’s acknowledged.

Forgive freely, even when it’s not requested.

Give thanks for your blessings; appreciate the lessons. 

Stretch yourself. Relax yourself. Enjoy yourself. 

Breathe more deeply, more often.

Smile more.

Laugh more.

Love more.

Pay attention, with intention.

For this is the journey called life, and yours is yours alone to treasure.

Trust Yourself

In these final few weeks of 2021, take some time to sit with yourself and just be.

Settle your heart and accept all that has been and

Renew your hope for all that could be.

Seek wisdom and listen to wise counsel; then trust yourself and that muse in your soul. 

Some dreams are so big and some callings so powerful that you’ll be paving the way into unfamiliar territory; so of course everyone won’t understand. 

Trust the seed that God has placed in your heart.

Drown out your fears and ignore naysayers’ worries.

Believe that even in a pandemic you can deliver something amazing.

Envision the future you desire, and even as you keep climbing, start living in expectation.

You’ve got this. Trust yourself. Get ready to receive.

Expecting Less, Caring More = Grace

During a leadership event I attended this evening, a new acquaintance informed me about a trauma-relief organization for adults that she leads in the Richmond region called Robin’s Hope.

She and her staff are running 20 groups, 7 days a week, mostly virtual she said, to help people with all kinds of grief, trauma and mental distress.

That level of need blew me away, yet it is very real, across the land.

Nod to UNC-Chapel Hill for acknowledging the mental health crisis unfolding on its campus right now.

Perhaps it’s time we individually take on the charge. I challenge you to look around you, my friend, and be extra kind to those who seem a bit sad, stressed, withdrawn or even overly chipper.

We may not be comfortable yet giving random hugs, but random messages of “Hello” “Have a nice day” “I see you” “I will help you” and “I’m here for you” matter.

Let’s do our best to see each other through this global health pandemic. As you extend more grace to others, also be open to receiving it, because you matter, too.

What’s In Your Bag?

Nothing can trump my love of being near water, but being in the mountains is a close second.

A recent weekend visit to Carter’s Mountain in Charlottesville didn’t disappoint, and in the days to come, I’ll enjoy some of the fruit of my efforts – handpicked apples that I mostly pulled from trees myself.

The pic below was taken before my bag was full, but I left the mountain with it bulging with some delicious apples and a few gems for life.

For what we choose to fill our bags with can both feed us and fuel us. No one gets the mix right 100 percent of the time – my sweet tooth wins more often than it should. However, just enough filling of goodness, wisdom, love and hope can add weight and substance in our life’s favor.

What will you fill your proverbial bag with today? This week?

I’m throwing in some creative juices for my writing,

some sneakers for the miles I want to walk,

some generosity and fun for myself and my loved ones,

some courage to push past fear and take a few more risks,

some prayer for those who are grieving or angry with the world,

and some kindness and grace for all I encounter.

Be intentional. Make sure you enjoy filling the “bags” you’ll carry along your way.

You’ll be more likely to find them weighed down with blessings and lessons you won’t mind holding onto.

30 Minutes To Success

A friend and I have been challenging each other to get things done this fall, and to take baby steps, if necessary.

We check in once a week with a reminder to devote at least 30 minutes that day to our goal.

No matter how busy I am that day, can I fit in at least 30 minutes of creative writing? And can she accomplish an art-related task or project for at least half an hour?

We both are certainly devoting more time throughout the week to our endeavors, but this check-in at the start of each week is a helpful reminder that if we put our minds to it, we can do it.

Encouragement and climbing together matter.

Consider finding yourself a challenge partner – one who won’t stress you out or condemn you on the days you falter – someone whose gentle belief in you will help you believe in your dreams all the more.

You’ve got this – one step, half-hour commitment, or day at a time.

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