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.

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.

Sacrificing Season

You get to define what success looks and feels like for you – which means you also must decide what will get you from here to there.

Those considered great among us can confirm that their success required (and requires) sacrifice – even when they make it look easy. 

So what are you willing to sacrifice in the short term to see that vision or goal become your permanent reality? How will you be a better steward of your purpose or dream?

As I continue to “bake” a new book – and prepare a few surprises for readers friends along the way – it is requiring some sacrifice.

Less TV time and limited hangout time, just for a season. Earlier morning risings. Deeper dwelling in my “writing cave.”

Additional quiet time to reflect, brainstorm and be. (For writers, this is part of the process.)So if you have a writer in your life, grant us some grace if you see us staring off in space or at a blank wall. We’re creating!


And for everyone else moving in your flow, don’t apologize for needing to shut things down for a while. Your results will someday offer clarity on your behalf. Stay the course, and win in your own way.

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.

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.

Do The Work

On this Labor Day, may we find some time to pause, breathe, reflect and reset.

In doing so, perhaps we can lean into what we love about having the opportunity to work and the opportunity to live with purpose.

Regardless of whether our life’s purpose intersects with our day-to-day work, I imagine that one feeds off of the other – with our job providing the resources and space we need to execute our life’s calling, and our calling being shored up and reflected in the formal work we do consistently.

So today, my challenge to you is to be grateful for your opportunities to live, work and be.

In doing so, you contribute to your own wellbeing and that of your loved ones, while in many instances also fostering greater good in the world around us.

Whatever kind of work you do, it matters, especially during a pandemic that has significantly altered over the past two years what formal work looks and feels like, and perhaps has led you to set aside your hopes and dreams.

Today, pick them back up.

Consider what pushes you forward even when you’re tired,

what wakes you up before the alarm sounds,

what brings you joy, in season and out.

That thing called purpose won’t be fickle, and when you recognize it and honor it, neither will you.

Do the work to discover the work you were born to do, then give it your all. And even if you’re in a season of retirement or between formal jobs, explore and discover how this new phase or next chapter still can be deeply meaningful.

Glass Half-Full Living

Someone asked me recently why I routinely see life’s proverbial glass as half-full – especially at times when the tug to focus on half-empty is just as strong.

I don’t have an elaborate, philosophical reason; and the truth is we all have bad days, sad days and the like. This is what makes us imperfectly human, and I’m right there with you. 

I’ve learned through living, however, that our journey is what we make it, and the hours we’re given each day can be eaten up with negativity or treated as the treasures they are.

I’ve had a sister survive a double lung transplant, friends survive a devastating fire and several others surmount cancer. I’ve lost loved ones, tangible treasures and valuable opportunities. This has ingrained in me to take no one and nothing for granted. And through it all, I’ve kept my eyes on what’s most important – powerful lessons learned, deeper relationships with those who remain, a stronger sense of self, beautiful surprises and unexpected blessings.

I’ve also remembered that God loves me most, and clung to choices that make my heart smile. 

Those things are my “whys” and they drive me to keep seeking joy on my journey, appreciating the simple aspects of each day, and serving others with my gifts and personal passions.

What drives you or lights your way?

Give this question some serious thought, and when the answer comes, embrace it. Honor your “whys” and you’ll walk in the power of being a unique and necessary gift to this world.

Grasp the Vision

Sometimes you alone can imagine the vast potential of your dreams. That’s okay, because they were placed on your mind and in your spirit, not others, even those closest to you.

So grasp your vision and don’t let go.

When your “suddenly” successes arrive, you will have earned the right to soar wherever they take you.

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