Actions do speak louder than words

You know the old saying, talk is cheap. Well, some folks were wondering what would happen after the Women’s March of 2017 and if anything would happen afterwards. Wonder no more, actions do speak louder than words. Did you hear about The Resistance throughout 2017? Did you hear about the calls to Congress in the spring of 2017 to turn back the votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act? Did you hear about the special elections in the fall of 2017? Did you hear about the November 2017 election results in Virginia, New Jersey and Georgia and all over the country? Did you hear about the special election of a Democrat Senator in Alabama? Well, don’t doubt that actions did speak louder than words. The Women’s March & Rally of 2018 was as tremendous in its impact as 2017. People wondered what would happen after January 21st, 2017 and month after month throughout 2017 we saw the momentum keep going. It was amazing and strong.

My blog today provides some voices of women who marched this year on January 20th, 2018. They were part of The Resistance during 2017 and stood up to start 2018 with renewed messaging to say we are appalled by the unfitness of the occupant of the oval office, the complicity of this Congress, that enough is enough. We are energized about protecting women’s rights, immigrants rights, pay equity, health care for all, better education and tax equity. We are enthusiastic about women running for office and getting elected so that they are at the table when important decisions are made. I am excited for you to hear from them directly about their experience.

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From Shelley Douglas Slachowitz in Fayetteville, Arkansas:

“I was proud and excited to attend the Women’s March in my area, and VERY proud that my 15 yr old daughter was excited about going. She needs to see there are people fighting for and with her.  As a black woman it is critical I pass onto her the tools for her to be successful- especially the tool that is her VOICE!

For a small town march (~500 people) it was a good Women’s March with good speakers. From local activists, professors from the University of Arkansas, to local elected officials – the program was solid. We heard inspiration from women from all walks of life. Immigrant to LGBT, disabled to single Mom, Native American to Hispanic to African American. Each story helped us all understand the struggle & the “size of the prize” in front of us.

Could there have been more marchers? Yes. Could there have been a better PA system to hear the speakers? Yes. Could there have been more high profile leaders from the area to show support? Yes.

NW Arkansas is home to Walmart, JB Hunt & Tyson Foods. But yet, we didn’t see their presence at the March, supporting women’s equality & rights.

This was only Year 2 of the NW Arkansas event, so there is still time to see these companies take a lead and show their support for the women who lead their workforces and purchase their products.

I left the Women’s March with hope. There were strong women there who won’t give up. There were husbands, fathers & sons there supporting the women in their lives. And if each one of them can influence someone and create the change needed, we will succeed!”

Involving our young girls in the Women’s March is such an important thing to do. For girls and young women to see their mothers participating in these initiatives shows them that they matter, that their rights to grow up and make their own decisions about their bodies matter, and their capacity to be a leader is on full display. I love that Shelley involved her daughter in the Women’s March.

Renee Allain Stockton marched in 2017 and again in 2018.

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January 21, 2017

 

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January 20, 2018

Renee is the mother of two daughters in their twenties. She is active in her community and in contacting her Senators and Congressional Representatives regularly. She believes in a woman’s right to choose, in health care for all, and in voting rights for all. She recounts her experience:

“It was so encouraging and hopeful to see just as many women (plus men) participating in the Women’s Rally on Raleigh this year as the Women’s March last year! I was worried that people might be fatigued after so many stupid and embarrassing comments and decisions made by the current administration. However, I’m cautiously optimistic that we will not be silent, voice our concerns with our Congressional Representatives and take action to vote those out of office who do not represent our best interests.”

Dawn Steele Halbert marched in Chicago on January 20th, 2018. She had marched in 2017 also. She recounts her experience:

“The Women’s March in Chicago was amazing.  I also attended last year when the projected number of attendees was 25,000 and 250,000 women showed up.  This year the number was closer to 300,000, though only 35,000 actually registered for the March online.
I rejoined my two girlfriends Karen and Deb, that I marched with last year.  I got the usual send-off from my husband, which was “don’t get arrested”.  The first time he gave this advice was a few years ago when I attended a Black Greek organized “Die-in” in front of the Chicago Water Tower Shopping Mall on Michigan Avenue.
Anyway, yesterday my friends and I started out by attending a brunch sponsored by the Illinois Democrat Gubernatorial hopeful, JB Pritzker.  He has picked Juliana Stratton, a sister, as his running mate as Lt. Governor.  The theme that started there resonated for most of the day, which was all of this is for naught if we don’t get out and vote our interests, and more importantly, elect more women and people of color into positions of power.  Dori McWhorter, the CEO of the Chicago Metro YWCA expressed her frustration that in 2018 we have to march at all for basic human rights, but we must, so our daughters won’t have to.
I was really encouraged by the multitude of people that showed up this year in Grant Park.  Just like last year, white women were the majority of attendees, but there were a lot more Black and brown women and men that showed up as well.  The speakers included local celebrities, politicians, activist, unions representatives and religious leaders both Christian and Muslim.  Lots of kudos were given to the Black female voters of Alabama and an emphasis again that we need more women and people of color in office.  We also got an impromptu performance by the Chicago cast of Hamilton.  The challenge was given to the crowd to get involved in politics and to even consider running for office.  While my feet were cold, the warmth of the crowd was energizing.  It was great reading the signs and having conversations with like-minded strangers as we marched over to Federal Plaza across town.  It was a strange mixture of anger, disgust, resolve, and hope.
Oh, and my favorite signs are the ones that were cleverly displayed on the port-o-potties, which said “This Shi*t hole is brought to you by Donald Trump’s Mouth.”
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Dawn, Karen and Deb in 2018
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Dawn with Karen & Deb at 2017 March

The New York Times did a good summary article on the Women’s March, as did many other newspapers, you can read about them and view video via this link:  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/20/us/womens-march.html?smid=fb-share.

Key to moving forward in 2018 is the ballot box as well as keeping the heat on Congress. 2017 was successful after the Women’s March because things didn’t stop after the Women’s March. I don’t think things will stop in 2018 after this year’s March either. Women are already being trained for candidacies all over the country. Voter registration drives are planned and in fact were taking place during the Women’s March rallies. Women know their power. MeToo, Enough is Enough, Time’s Up, The Resistance and other movements are alive and well. They are all showing that actions do speak louder than words. The midterm elections are another chance to show action. Let’s do it.

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Is it style or substance?

As much as we now see Dr. King as beloved and a role model, during his life his fight for justice was conflicted and rocky. Were the disagreements with him over style or substance? There’s an interesting dialogue going on now regarding being a racist, having racist views, or being ignorant on racism. So, again the same question could apply, is it style or substance?

This is the week we celebrate the birth and the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. For most of us, we have heard a lot about Dr. King’s life. We understand that he fought for human rights, civil rights, voting rights, and equality in many areas of life for people of color, for poor people, for the underrepresented and for women. There are people who disagreed with him and thought that his style wasn’t what we needed at the time. Some didn’t think the approach of nonviolence was the most effective and some were impatient with what they saw as slow progress. Some people didn’t think Dr. King should sit down and meet with President Lyndon B. Johnson to negotiate.  Not everyone was on board, black and white. So, was it style or substance they disagreed with?

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At the time of the mid 1960s, a debate raged about Malcolm X versus Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and their different styles. The approach and style and Malcolm X evolved and it was much closer to Dr. King’s -at the end of Malcolm’s life that some would give credit. They both had their points of effectiveness. A drill-down of their substance instead of their style probably reflects an alignment that benefit the larger community in significant ways.

In fact, there’s a theory that the assassination of Malcolm X was instigated because he had moved on the continuum, leaning much more in substance toward the approach of Dr. King … I’m not trying to purport a conspiracy theory but just mentioning it. And, while the “cliff-notes” version of what we hear about Dr. King has become abbreviated over the years, he was actually leaning in substance toward the approach of Malcolm X. I encourage you to read this article from Teen Vogue on Dr. King that reminds us of how radical his views were considered at the time: https://www.teenvogue.com/story/mlk-more-radical-than-we-remember. 

What is seen by some as “radical” in the taking-a-knee NFL movement would likely be very much aligned with both Dr. King and Malcolm X.  The New Yorker magazine’s issue for this week captured the connectivity between today’s protest by NFL players to Dr. King. I think he would be okay with this depiction.

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Sometimes we have to get away from the style and look at the substance. I think we can say both Malcolm X and Dr. King were substantively significant in making the country wake up to its ills and move toward a prescription for change. So too are many of today’s current actions. Stay woke, women’s march, me-too, the resistance, take-a-knee … they aren’t radical. They are substance. They are relevant and demand our attention and a response from the nation.

Also this week of January, we see the anniversaries of the founding of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority. Sigma Gamma Rho was founded in the month of November. These are predominantly black collegiate sororities with longevity way beyond the college years.

There have been dialogues about black sororities and fraternities through the prism of substance versus style. If anyone thinks these organizations are only about style, they would be wrong. The substance of what they accomplish in their communities is huge. Collectively they represent about 800,000 women and touch the lives of tens of millions people every year globally through their community service programs. That is substance over style. Developing women for leadership in careers that span every profession, that is substance over style.

Founders day logo  Delta Sigma Theta Zetas SGRho_Since_1922_Patch

I won’t spend time trying the case here for those who don’t get it. Civic and community service organizations do so much good in this country and around the world. These four NGOs are just in the elite that I get to network with.

These four sororities in conjunction with the five predominantly black fraternities, have made the lives better for many millions of people via the community service rendered by their organizations. They don’t just talk the talk, they walk it and do it.

I am convinced that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a member of one of these five fraternities and Coretta Scott King, a member of one of these four sororities, were indeed full of style in how they modeled a way of life in the 1960s. But they certainly were not just style. Their lives were about the substance of making life better. Their lives were about not accepting mediocrity where equality is absent. Style or substance? Don’t bother to take time on the question, instead be about what needs to be done and the answer will be obvious.

Photo of Martin Luther King Jr

Are you riding in car you want to be in?

I was driving in the car this week and a commercial came on the radio that asked, if you could choose any car you wanted but it would be the last car you would ever own, what car would you choose? Are you driving in the car you want to be in? If not, what car would you choose if you could select any car at all, with the stipulation you have to stick with that car forever? A Rolls Royce, Lincoln, Ford, BMW, Lexus, Tesla, Buick Regal, Cadillac? And once you chose your car, since it’s going to be a car that you will have to keep forever, I would think you’re going to know that it has to be maintained well to really do what you need for the long haul. The point of the commercial was to draw an analogy with how we take care of ourselves, our bodies.

How much time do you actually devote to taking of your body, your vehicle / mode of transportation for getting through this life?

I see people who appear to have spent a lot of money on clothes, shoes, make-up, jewelry, expensive cars and houses but I wonder if they are devoting similar resources to their bodies. Do you take five minutes to meditate or have quiet times of prayer to keep your mental/emotional state of mind in tact before starting your day or at the end of the day to clear your mind? Do you take 30 minutes at least three or four times a week to physically work out your body to be in good physical shape? Are you eating too many carbs or drinking too much wine? Even as a pescatarian (veggies, fruit and seafood), I have to make sure I eat enough fruits and veggies rather than depending too much on starches.

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Are you putting the right fuel in the tank of your body so it has the energy to carry you for the whole trip of life or have you set yourself up for a shortened route?

I recently was sick during the holidays and had to forego my daily walking / jogging routine for several days. I was very fortunate that our son and two of our daughters were home and I could spend time in bed fully resting while they brought me medicine, tea, and other fluids to stay hydrated. Then, the very cold snap / bomb cyclone hit and the temperatures were so bitterly cold that I didn’t venture outside and missed another few days of my walking / jogging. I felt like I was neglecting my body since I have a routine of walking / jogging every day. The good thing is that I had been on a good routine up to that point so this detour wasn’t a complete ruin, only a short setback.

Many years ago, Oprah gave a car out to everyone who was attending her show that particular day. I wonder how many of those people still have that car? I would be willing to bet that many of them don’t. While they received a brand new car, the maintenance of that car was key. So even for those that have the car given to them by Oprah, how many kept it in fine working condition? Something brand new will wear out if it is not kept up well. You can put some new paint on a car but if what’s under the hood isn’t tended to, the new paint won’t make the engine run. The same goes with our bodies, and our minds too. Fancy clothes, great looking shoes and flawless make-up are wonderful but if we haven’t put the effort into our bodies, the rest is really just camouflage.

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So, as you get rolling into 2018, set up your routine to invest in you. Choose to maintain your personal mode of transportation for the long haul. Read some good books each month, not just spend your time online with social media and on TV. Read a variety of books, some for fun, some for awareness, some for self-help and some for enriching others. Spend time in your community giving back … that will enrich you too and add to your community. The price of living on this earth is giving back to others. And, set time on your personal calendar to take care of your body.

Sleep well and get a good night of rest. There’s been a debate about whether an extra 30 minutes of sleep vs. 30 minutes of exercise. So first, you probably don’t even have to have that debate because you could spend 30 minutes less time online or 30 minutes less time watching TV. But, if you have to choose, I suggest 30 minutes of exercise. The 30 minutes of exercise will invigorate you and are a real investment in what your body can do for you for a long time to come.

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The exercise and 10 minutes or so of quiet time / meditation / prayer time are good habits. I have talked with fitness trainers a few times over the years and what they know for sure is that no matter what fitness program you do, no matter how much time you spend, they told me the general rule is 80/20. It’s 80% what you eat and 20% what you do. Our nutritional habits can cancel out even the best physical routines so moderate, moderate, moderate on eating. Of course there are celebrations and holidays but don’t eat that way every day. The 80/20 rule can be applied to eating habits too, 80% of the time is moderation and no more than 20% of the time is celebration with the stuff that isn’t so healthy.

I’m driving a Buick right now. My hubby is driving a Lincoln. My next car might be a Tesla. I exercise just about every day. I love sweets but I try real hard to not indulge too much every day. I have to think long-term not short-term. I’ve got to think about what kind of body (car) I am going to be in for the next 50 years.

So, what kind of body (car) do you want to be in?

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This time you decide

When the calendar turns to a new year, we get the chance to start anew. We can let each day come as it does without making a change. We can start the year with a list of resolutions that are totally unrealistic which we expect won’t last more than a week or two. We can start the first week all energized with a new exercise plan and determined to lose those 20 or so pounds that we’ve been carrying around for the last decade. We can have a list of to-do items that we are going to tackle and start out strong. Or, we can take one day a time at time and see what comes. We can make resolutions or not. We can give in to the pressures that others around have placed on us or not. This time you decide.

This time you decide what 2018 will be. This time you decide what each day means to you.

This time you don’t have make a long list of resolutions. This time you don’t have to have a super fantastic and ambitious set of goals. Of course that would be super fantastic but is it for you. This time, you decide. If 2018 is going to be anything at all, let it be the year you do you.

I think being you is an awesome sequel to the year of The Resistance. We deserve to reclaim who we are and decide who we want our country to be and how we want to spend our time. We deserve to decide who our representatives will be in Congress, not the rich, fat cat lobbyists. What I learned in 2017 is that we truly have the power. What I learned is that the farewell address of President Obama in January of 2017 was right. The most important role in this country is citizen. That was proven in the streets at the Women’s March. That was proven in the phone calls to Congress in the spring & summer to say don’t take our health care. That was proven at the ballot box in Virginia, New Jersey, Georgia and Alabama. Those times, we decided. What I know for sure is that if we decide on November 6, 2018, we will have an awesome message sent. But, that’s just the political part.

On the personal front, 2018 is the year for me and you to decide on who we will be. I am all in for deciding on who I am and what I am. I am not willing to do that which does not serve me well. Life is precious and meant to be lived as well as it can be lived. I have decided that. I envision 2018 being totally fabulous. And why not. Do you think there is something you can’t achieve? There are many things that take more will power and tenacity than anything else. How often does a tree ask how tall it can grow or struggle through the process? Yeah, ok that is a simplistic example but my point is that we can sometimes overthink things instead of just going after what we want to do.

That isn’t to say that a task doesn’t require effort and know-how and even some frugal behavior to be about it in a careful way. But, yeah if you can conceive it then you can probably achieve it. You get to decide. Once you decide, then do like Harriet Tubman said, don’t let anything stop you … keep going for it.

“If you hear the dogs, keep going.
If you see the torches in the woods, keep going.
If there’s shouting after you, keep going.
Don’t ever stop. Keep going.
If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.”
― Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman

This time you decide.

What I know for sure in 2018 is this is the year for each of us to take personal responsibility for what happens to us. No more blaming anyone else or any circumstances. We actually have a lot of control, more than we give ourselves credit for. We can control what time we get up in the morning and whether we get up early enough to exercise before the rest of the day gets started. We can control what we eat, whether we take our lunch or snacks to work with us so we eat the right foods or not. We can control how much we spend on those clothes or cup of coffee (or not spend at all on that unnecessary cup that I could have made at home or the shoes that we don’t need). We actually can make a budget and stick to it or not. We are not powerless after all. This time you decide.

I have this written on a small piece of paper in my jewelry box that I read several years ago:

“You have more options than you generally see and more control than you tend to take.”

When we were younger, we may have been less likely to understand that we were the captains of our fate. The greatest two gifts that God has given us are unconditional love and free will. Free will means that we make decisions. Those decisions have consequences and even if we may not have understood or foreseen the consequences, we made the decisions that caused them. Here now is a year for owning it. Not just owning it but seizing it.

Women may have seized 2017 with The Resistance but in 2018, we can all be engaged to own what happens next. This time you decide.

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What is your reason?

This time of year I see many postings about remembering the reason for the season. I wonder though what is your reason for what you are doing this time of year. Were you running around shopping? Is that what it is about for you? Were you frantic about what you would get others for gifts if you celebrate Christmas? If you celebrate Hanukkah, did you busily get all of the preparations for the days of the festival and ready the latkes and menorah?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I was raised Catholic and I am fully aware and engaged in all of the Jesus is the reason for the season rationale. I am just expanding on this because we live in inclusive times of appreciating diversity of many people but also expanding our thinking about this time of year.

There are many holidays celebrated during the period of the middle of November through the middle of January, at least two dozen representing Christian, Judaism, Hindu, Islam, Baha’i, Buddhist, and others . It is not an insult to any of the holidays or religions to say, “Happy Holidays.” It is an inclusive expression of good will. There is no war on Christmas by doing so. Companies like Starbucks who choose to create and utilize a coffee cup that is celebratory for the holidays but not specific to one particular holiday is good business practice not offensive or a war on Christmas.

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But besides the religious aspects of this time of year, what is your reason for doing what you are doing? Mine is love. I love my family, friends and community. I love that this time of year is an extra bonus period for me to show my love. I love that even though my family and friends know that I love them, I can do a little something extra this time of year to leave them with a memory of my love for them. It’s not really about the gifts, it’s about how they feel. I always look at their faces, their emotions and see how they feel this time of year. That’s one of my reasons for the season.

I love to see the decorations and lights and the warmth that people feel this time of year. I love to feel that even with the tightness and drama of whatever bad may be going on in the world, people usually will come together this time of year and give a little extra kindness for others. That’s one of my reasons for the season.

I spend three to four days decorating our house inside and outside because it’s a special time of year and there is no other time of year that this happens to this extent. Sometimes we host a holiday open house for a small group of close friends but sometimes we just enjoy the decorations ourselves. For many years, my husband did a Santa’s runway of lights from the top of our chimney all the way through the backyard out to the street. The neighborhood loved it, the kids looked forward to it each year, neighbors would leave notes in our mailbox thanking us for Santa’s runway.

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My husband also lined Christmas lights all along the driveway, just in case Santa came in a Cadillac instead of a sleigh. As we have gotten a bit older, the lights on the chimney have burned out and we haven’t gotten around to getting a 30 ft. ladder to replace them but the memories are strong. Memories … that’s one of my reasons for the season. We made memories for our children and many children in the neighborhood.

Cooking. Oh my, the cooking this time of year. Sweets and all. Yes, the food this time of year is one of my reasons for the season. My special treat this time of year has been to make homemade pralines candies (native to my Mom’s New Orleans). Pralines were made for neighbors and teachers of kids when they were in elementary and high school. That’s a lot of pecans, sugar, cream, vanilla extract and hand mixing.

Pralines

One year, I took a short cut and got Godiva chocolates for the teachers instead, that caused rumblings. Several teachers commented thank you for the chocolates but wondered what happened to the homemade pralines. Homemade cooking & sweetness … reasons for the season, they actually represent love.

Giving, most definitely a reason for the season. If you are a believer in Christianity, you would believe that God gave his son to humanity and that is a reason for the season. Giving happens in many ways in addition during this season. Charity was preached by Jesus and lived by him in his life. Charitable giving is a reason for the season. Give what you can to all those that you can. No one wants to be left out this time of year and we are all challenged to remember teachings of many of God’s prophets, particularly this:

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There are multiple reasons for the season that I can discuss here but for me they all have love at their core. I don’t want to debate the various religions because each deserves respect by those who choose to celebrate it for their own reasons. I learned many years ago that God really doesn’t take sides in that regard, no matter what humans try to tell you. In my own conversations with God, the dialogue has been that there is no one way to worship or one way path to God. Sorry if you think that is the case. And if you believe differently, that’s okay with me. I think the most universal religion of all is love and the greatest prayer any of us can say is thank you. No rules are required for that and I can’t imagine there is a bible or prayer book that finds fault with love or saying thank you.

My reason for the season is simple: love. I hope you have a good reason too.

 

How dare you!

How dare you think for yourself. How dare you be brilliant. How dare you be courageous? How dare you be vulnerable? How dare you try that career goal?  How dare you?

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again,

because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;

who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly ….” — Theodore Roosevelt, speech delivered at the Sorbonne in Paris, France on April 23, 1910

Brene Brown says to dare greatly means: “the courage to be vulnerable. It means to show up and be seen. To ask for what you need. To talk about how you’re feeling. To have the hard conversations.”  She wrote a book with the title, Daring Greatly, published in 2012. The core concepts of the book center around the thought that Teddy Roosevelt was challenging us to dare to be great by accepting that vulnerability comes along with that, yet the price for that vulnerability is indeed greatness. The daring is not intended to mean perfection. It means to go for it whether the effort is perfect or not.

“Vulnerability is not weakness, and the uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure we face every day are not optional…

When we spend our lives waiting until we’re perfect or bulletproof before we walk into the arena, we ultimately sacrifice relationships and opportunities that may not be recoverable, we squander our precious time, and we turn our backs on our gifts, those unique contributions that only we can make.” – Brene Brown, Daring Greatly

Oprah agrees, “vulnerability is the cornerstone of confidence. Because you have to allow yourself to take the risk to be open, to live as a wholehearted person.”

Some of us get to thinking that we may not be good enough and there are some subtle messages in society that question our capabilities, our good-enough, our capacity, our talent, our fit for whatever situation. It happens at every stage of our lives. As little children, we may be less bothered by it because we don’t know that we’re supposed to listen to it. But as we get older, we unfortunately start to let those messages sink in and they can become obstacles to us being great in what we believe our purpose is in life.

Statistics show that those societal obstacles happen often to girls during the middle school years and some never quite recover from it. They go to high school and college with slightly less confidence than guys if they’ve been crushed in middle school. Brene Brown says, “Daring greatly is not about winning or losing. It’s about courage. In a world where scarcity and shame dominate and feeling afraid has become second nature, vulnerability is subversive…but … nothing is as uncomfortable, dangerous, and hurtful as believing that I’m standing on the outside of my life looking in and wondering what it would be like if I had the courage to show up and let myself be seen.”

A good message here is don’t sit on the sofa or the sidelines of your own life.

How dare you be brilliant? How dare you be intelligent? How dare you apply for that job? How dare you run for that position in your community or civic organization? How dare you run for a local or state political office? How dare you not!

I am a firm believer in giving it all you’ve got no matter what the odds look like. I remember when our kids were applying for college, their predominantly white high school’s guidance counselors actually were less than enthusiastic with some of the colleges they were planning to apply to. They suggested, oh you may not get in there so maybe you shouldn’t consider applying.  For those of you who know me and my husband, you would know that we didn’t take that well. I made an appointment with the guidance counselor and made it very clear that if they had the grades and the SAT scores, then why shouldn’t they apply. How dare my daughter or son not be able to apply? And how dare the guidance counselor think they shouldn’t even try. Where they choose to go is another matter but don’t tell them where they can’t apply.  One applied to Duke University and was accepted, that was the school the guidance counselor specifically said don’t apply to. The sweetness of showing the guidance counselor was wrong: priceless.

So, don’t be discouraged at all. One of my sisters often uses a phrase, “be of good courage.” Dare to be of good courage.

How dare you? Because you have a calling, so how dare you not.Everybody has a calling

“Fulfilling your purpose, with meaning, is what gives you that powerful spark of energy unique to only you. The result is an electrifying current of clarity rising from the deepest part of yourself.

Make the choice to turn up the volume to your unique calling, the glory that is your own life.” – Oprah

 

 

 

Is it really better to give than to receive?

This is a bit of an old question, and a bit of quandary. Who really said that giving is better than receiving? It might depend on what your age is and I guess it could be relative to your circumstances. For a five year-old who wants that toy truck for Christmas, they might really believe that receiving is better. For the fifty-five year-old who understands that life is sweeter when we share what we have, giving is better.

Honestly, I think the answers to life can always be found in giving more than receiving but I suppose that is because of how I was brought up by my parents, elders in my community and the kind of environment I was schooled in where the expectation was that giving was the norm. The elementary and high schools that I attended were Catholic and so we were always given examples of charity, of giving back to our community and of not expecting to receive but being grateful when we did receive.

In college, the organizations that I was attracted to had service for others at their core. When I started my professional career, I worked for companies that had community service & giving back deeply embedded in their culture. I don’t think I would have enjoyed working there if giving back wasn’t a part of what those companies saw as their corporate responsibility. In my first job out of college at Arthur Andersen, the last month before I went out on maternity leave, I was a loaned executive to United Way for their fall campaign. In my last job before retirement, I was Global Director of Volunteerism & Employee Engagement for the GE Foundation. In between that span of a career of 34 years, I spent lots of hours of giving in community service. So, yes I do subscribe wholeheartedly to the belief that giving is better than receiving.

Giving Tuesday plug

As I write this blog, we are kicking off the giving season with #GivingTuesday. I hope it lasts for more than one day. This time of year is kind of interesting. When our kids were young, it was about giving them toys and fun things to have under the tree for Christmas. We walked the line of not giving too much so that they would still feel gratitude and not get spoiled or take things for granted. I actually remember one year when I was wrapping presents and felt that I had bought too much so I held back a couple items and gave them away to others instead. We wanted to raise children / young adults with a sense of humility and gratefulness, not just expecting everything was always going to be given to them but that they would receive enough and would feel okay with giving too.

We always had them think of others during this season too. We participated in the Giving Angel Tree at church and had them select gifts for some of the kids who needed a little assistance during the holidays. It was exciting to see them at the store choosing a toy for a child their age or selecting an outfit that they thought someone their age would want to wear.

We volunteered at soup kitchens, sometimes they went with their high school classes for this as well. One year we actually went to donate toys at a local Helping Hands Mission on Christmas Eve and the Director had us take the toys directly to a home rather than leaving the toys at the center. I will always remember that experience: the mother in that home, the two kids who didn’t seem to have much but lit up with absolute joy when we walked in with toys for them. I looked around the small house and felt inner grief at the living conditions but at the same time the look on the mother’s face was one of determination to make the best of what she had. I had to keep my composure then and I have never forgotten how I felt. Even now, I still have a vision of it.

In this season of giving, I encourage you to remember what it can really mean. The meaning is what we give it, not what the retailers or big box stores or advertisers want us to do with it. We get to decide the meaning. We get to decide whether giving is better than receiving. We get to know how it feels to give rather than to receive. Of course someone will be on the receiving end, it just doesn’t have to be us.

Many tragedies have happened to Americans this year so there will be no shortage of who needs help. Many people we can give to will appreciate the things we give a lot more than if we kept them to ourselves. There are many things to give too: Time, talent and treasure. Whatever your spiritual beliefs are, giving feels good universally. It is better to give than to receive.

Gift of giving back