World Needs Hope for the Holidays

Hope for the Holidays

December 10, 2017

‘Tis the season to feel like a snowflake—either floating on air or somewhere adrift. Don’t be surprised if you shift between Bill Murray in “Scrooged” and Will Ferrell in “Elf,” depending on the holiday shopping list, family obligations and year-end work deadlines. Give yourself some holiday grace.

However, if “I’m fine” is the track you have on repeat this holiday season, I want to speak to your heart. It’s ok not to be fine or merry. It’s ok to dread aspects of the holidays because they remind you of a loved one who passed, a partner who moved on or a time since passed. In fact, the holidays can feel downright uncomfortable, even painful, to someone in grief.

You’re not alone. You’re still healing. You’re human.

Please keep a few things in mind:

  1. Surrounding yourself with support is important. Shutting yourself in, pulling away from all events and closing the blinds to the world will only exacerbate your hurt. Perhaps, whittle down your social calendar and take it slow. Certainly you can step out of the hustle and bustle for a breather. But please lean on family and friends (or even a grief support group) to offer buoyancy through the holiday season.
  2. Expecting too much of yourself is draining. Sure you used to decorate the house, do all the shopping, have 20 people over and throw the best NYE party . . . before your spouse died. Now, choose the things that feel manageable and begin there. It’s the partridge in the “pared down” tree approach and it works to limit unnecessary stress.
  3. Putting on a happy face is not a gift to anyone. Despite the pressure of society , you don’t have to paste on a smile and pretend to be ok during the holidays. So many grieving souls feel the expectation to “get better” or “move on.” That’s not healing, it’s acting. I’m not saying you should play on the sympathies of others or wear black to every holiday party. What I am saying is that responding with “I’m taking it a day at a time” or “I have my ups and downs” (perhaps include a “thank you for asking”) is an honest alternative to “I’m fine.”

Remember, if you need support in your grief journey, please access GriefShare.org. And if you ever need immediate help or consider taking your own life, please reach out for your Lifeline.

The holidays are not easy for everyone—believe me, I’ve been there several times. However, being real with yourself and trusting others enough to be real with them is two gifts in one.

The Poverty of Hope

Someone You Know is Living in Poverty

October 1, 2017

What does poverty look like? Tattered clothes, unwashed hair, a gaunt reflection or, maybe, dirty drinking water. Yes, it is all of these things. But what about the poverty right next door, in the row of cubicles you sit in every day . . . or your own home?

When we think of poverty, our minds often turn to economics. We think of food, shelter and the amenities of what we deem to be physically necessary to life. I was reminded today, as I sat on a comfy chair, sipped my latte and looked around me, that poverty is more than being poor in material goods . . . there is a poverty of hope. It hit me like a punch in the gut and brought me to tears to really tune into the level of hope in those around me.

Insufficient, deficit, scarce—whatever you call it, a lack of hope can create a poverty of the soul. Sullen shoulders, a vacant stare, a distracted longing. It should make you ache to think about it. Look up from your cell phone and really see the people around you. Is someone struggling under the burdens of despair, past choices or a feeling of unworthiness? That hurt needs hope.

Just like you give your spare change to help others in need or donate warm clothes to those in need this fall, give of your hopeful energy and share warm hugs of support. Even as one of the richest nations in the world, we suffer from a great epidemic of the poverty of hope. It’s easy to believe that “me is enough,” that you “don’t want to interfere” or that you have “too much on my plate already.” I call bullshit.

No one was created to be lonely or go it alone. Love and kindness are never interfering (we both know that’s an excuse for inaction). And yes, we all have a ton of distracting tasks and weighty to-dos, but giving to others is the best way to get right in your own life.

The poverty of hope is not something that I, you or any of us can tackle solo—we must turn to each other in humility, care and mercy to share the hope we have and reverse this trend of poverty in our neighbors, families and communities.

Start by showing up for the next person you see . . . a smile, a bright hello, an offer of assistance, a prayer . . . every little act is an investment in their life and your own.

Worthy of Reflection

Worth a Thousand Words

September 17, 2017

Do you feel worthy? Of your blessings, of your life, of love. Worthy of compliments from others. Worthy of feeling confident in your own skin. Worthy of praise for your actions. Worthy of celebration for your personal triumphs. Worthy of happiness.

Worthy is a tricky, funny word that trips many of us up. It begs for recognition . . . but that recognition may not always feel like roses and rays of light. Sometimes our ability to feel worthy is influenced by the world, our hurts, our hangups and our fears. Worthy becomes a distant cause and may seem a far cry from your present existence.

However, worthy is not about looking the best or performing the best. Worthy is about feeling a glimmer of care within yourself. It begins with a deep inkling of hope and grows with patterns of nurture. Worthy is whispering, “I believe in the goodness in me.” and “I feel love washing over me.” and “I am worthy of realizing my dreams.”

I challenge you: speak a 1,000 words of worthiness to yourself. Begin with things like, “I love myself.” and “I am beautiful.” and “I delight in my existence.” and “I rock!”

Worthy is worth daily reflection. Whether it’s tallying your finer points or simply owning the here-and-now you, it takes practice.

When you give into thoughts of what you lack, how you don’t matter or why you don’t deserve something, you devalue yourself. You are worthy. You are remarkable. You are you for a reason.

You are exactly where you need to be but not where you will always remain. You are worthy, my friend. Hear me and repeat this as often as you need to make it real.

Oh, and when you feel stronger, freer and more hopeful . . . pass it on by sharing 1,000 words of worthiness to those around you. Strangers, friends, strange friends. You feel me.

Notes to My Sisters

January 19, 2017

Spiritual sisters, career sisters, traveling sisters, biological sisters, sisters I have yet to meet . . . to the ladies I love, respect, appreciate and admire, I have a few words for you.

Deepest gratitude for the off-hours texts and just-because calls. You never cease to amaze me with your heart, your wit and your ways of knowing where my heart drifts. Every prayer and every sweet hug are fathomless in my book of life.

Never, ever, ever give anyone the power to degrade you. Your joy, your trajectory and your very breath are for you and the Lord to command. Knock down the harsh words, judgmental stares and doubting intentions that may mar your path. Sweep it away swiftly.

Embrace your roots, smile forward and be present now. The past is a lingering lesson not a tether. The future is a glimmer of hope not a destination. Now is your gift and everything it should be. Love it, celebrate it, learn it and sink into it fully.

Resist measurement. Your eyes will break you down, piece by piece. Your worries will hold you captive. Your presumed obligations and expectations will throw you off balance. Accept the glory of you and the gift of exactly how you are wired, created and forged in faith.

Laugh as much as your cheeks and belly allow. Humor is grace let out. It lightens heavy burdens. It quells arguments. It puts thoughts into perspective. When paired with compassion, childlike curiosity and bubbly effervescence, it is the answer to oogley moments.

I welcome your wisdom below in the comments. May hope, love and light be yours today!

What If We Stopped Asking Why?

September 5, 2016

Here is a guest post from the phenomenal Sherri Martin of LiveWonderstuck.com. Enjoy:

What if, just for today, we didn’t worry about why we are here? What if, just for today, we stopped asking, “God, why?” What if, just for today, we said, “I am open to Your wonder.” Then, what if, just for today, we paid attention to only what is right in front of us. What might we see, hear, and feel?

We might see how the light shines through the window like a spotlight, how it highlights the gentle curve of the couch arm. How have we never noticed this thing that we use every day? This thing that is both soft and sturdy. This thing that holds us when we are weary, that holds our loved ones.

We might see the mess of shoes by the door. Rather than fretting over tidiness, we might notice how each pair represents someone we love, how some lean on others and some laces intertwine. But isn’t that what family is? A mess of different styles, of different fits, jumbled together, being okay with showing their wear and tear.

Outside, we might see the flowers standing tall, boldly declaring their colors. And if we get closer, we will see how their petals are imperfect, asymmetric, dappled with holes, frayed at the edges, and still these flowers have the audacity to be seen. Do you?

What if, just for today, you stopped asking God why you are here and instead said, “I am here, God. Give me the audacity to see and be seen. Not at some future point when I think I am perfect and ready, but now, God, when you know that I am imperfect and that I am ready anyway.”

What might today look like?