Sending out a Global Virtual Hug

“I think life is always dangerous. Some people get afraid of it. Some people are afraid of it. Some people don’t go forward. But some people, if they want to achieve their goal, they have to go. They have to move…”  ~ Malala Yousafzai

It has been a week since the Women’s March, originally planned as a march on our nation’s capital the day after our presidential inauguration.  What began as a peaceful protest in Washington D.C. mushroomed out across our nation and spilled out onto all seven continents. It is now being called the largest demonstration in U.S. history, all done with zero arrests.

My husband and I marched in San Diego, CA and we are still reflecting back on the powerful emotions, images and the significance of that day.  The latest numbers I have read for “sister marches” show upwards of 673 marches across the globe, totaling 3.3 million people.  Never have I been more proud to be a woman.  Never have I felt more of a interconnectedness with all humans world-wide.

Whatever your motivation for marching, one thing is certain – this was our wake-up call.  No matter where we live we must stay informed and be an active participant in our life, no longer just an idle spectator as I have been prone to do in the past.  The rights that our ancestors fought so hard for are in jeopardy once again, not to mention the rights of Mother Earth, who we assault daily.  We must respectfully question lawmakers’ decisions and understand how those decisions affect our future and that of our loved ones.  We must live a life that honors all others and we must act against hatred and ignorance in our world.

At times I grow weary thinking about all the work ahead of us but then Gandhi’s words, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world”, echo in my head and I wonder how I can ever go back to being that girl I was before the march.  I do believe this much – our silence will not protect us.

I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of support by women and men across the globe.  So many of you know persecution well.  I honor your courage and am proud to have walked with you.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

NOTE:  All slideshow images courtesy of npr.com and nytimes.com.  

The Long Sad Farewell

It seems I just stepped back into the blogging world and already I am taking a hiatus…not planned, just other thoughts and activities have swirled around me lately.  Since my aha moment several weeks ago that I haven’t done enough to further causes I believe in, I decided to change all that.  Staying informed and researching volunteer opportunities is what has occupied my time.

I recently watched a program highlighting Barack Obama’s presidency and was reminded again of all that he accomplished for us, the American people, while under constant scrutiny and resistance from so many in Congress, whose main goal was to thwart anything he wanted to accomplish.  And tomorrow this man of unwavering courage and compassion, President Obama, will step away from public office and a new regime takes the helm, one so much different from him that it is difficult to wrap my head around.  But this post isn’t about my anxiety or fear for our future, and there is much, but rather a heartfelt farewell to a leader whom I will miss terribly.

So to you, President Obama, here are a few of my thoughts:

My heart is heavy as I write this.  I cannot believe that your eight years as the leader of our country is drawing to a close.  In many ways it has sped by, but at times for you and your family it must have felt like an eternity.

As a white woman I see that there has been some progress made on the racial divide in this country but at times when you faced obstacles moving issues forward, I wondered and suspected that the racial divide played a role, and for that I am deeply embarrassed.  Even so, these impediments seemed only to propel you forward more urgently, always with the vision of making our lives better.

I believe so many of us sensed, from that moment as we watched 1.8 million people lined up on a frigid January day along the National Mall, anxiously awaiting the inauguration of our 44th President, that this was a ground-breaking moment that we would forever look back upon with reverence, and I will.

Your speeches, always charged with emotion, so powerful, so eloquent, gave me hope.  You were not afraid to show your vulnerability, particularly after tragic events in our country.

The Sandy Hook tragedy, when so many young, innocent children lost their lives, seemed a weight almost too great for you to bear, yet you stood before us, tears wetting your face, bolstering us.  When you stood at the podium and sang “Amazing Grace” after the Charleston church shooting, your grace and compassion shone through above all else.  These are images I will forever carry.  During these moments I felt we had a glimpse into your soul, the incredible man that you are.

Your vision has always been one of unity and the intense desire to ease our burdens.  You know far better than any of us that your work is far from over, so it is now incumbent upon us to keep your vision alive.

When John Lewis, civil-rights icon, recently spoke about you, he said you “never gave up, never gave in…and kept moving ahead”.  Now it is up to us to carry that torch.

Farewell to you President Obama, and your lovely, courageous First Lady and family.  We will miss you terribly and we will be forever grateful for having you as our leader these past eight years.

Yes you did, and yes, we can.

Note:  All photos in this post courtesy of google search.

My Wish

A new year is meant to invoke a sense of wonder, a hopeful new beginning.  It marks the time when we open a new journal, crack the binding, and begin the next chapter of our life, with countless new ways to make our mark in this world.

Several times this past week I sat at the keyboard with the intent of writing a heartfelt post on closing the door on 2016 and stepping into a brand new year.  When that didn’t work, I picked up pen and paper.  Cursive writing, the process of creating curves and lines that dance across the page, often allows my creative juices to flow. Although it did help to move the process forward, it didn’t dispel the apprehension I feel at crossing into a year with so many unknowns.  But I know that times like these demand that we reach inside and find that kernel of hope that resides in each of us.  As Desmond Tutu once said, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all the darkness”.  So, with a hopeful heart, here are my three wishes for the upcoming year for each of you:

1)  Be the healthiest version of yourself, both in mind and body.  

Get outside in nature, which is transformative for both mind and body.  Meditate; reduce the stress in your life where possible; release your mind of negative thoughts and your personal space of unimportant “stuff”.  Plan some exciting adventures that will create instant, incredible memories.

2)  Use your voice.

Stay true to your convictions.  During troubling times it is easier to conform, to echo someone else’s words, not rock the boat.  My wish is that you find your true voice and use it respectfully to stand up for your beliefs and remain steadfast about causes that speak to you.  Shine your light brightly, lighting the path for others.

“I raise up my voice, not so I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard.” ~ Malala

3)  Hold a space of gratitude.

As I take the time to reflect back on the year, I am most grateful for the love of family and friends.  As we move into a new year, I hope to extend that gratitude to those around me with whom I don’t agree, as I know they will challenge me to look inside and analyze my own beliefs.  I’m still working on this one.

Let’s all move into this new year being true to ourselves, not living someone else’s version of the life we should live.

May you all have the gift of abundance, excellent health, and much love in 2017!

I Believe

I have agonized over writing this post for the past couple of days, a post that many will view as political, a post that may prolong the vitriolic conversation.  Although it is being written on the heels of a rabid political campaign season, that is not the intent.  So, if you don’t agree with, find fault with, or take offense with anything I have written, don’t read it.  All I ask is that you don’t use this platform to continue the hateful rhetoric.  That is not me, never has been, and I will delete those comments.

Ok, (deep breath), where to begin?  After much reflection, I believe this post was born out of a need to right a wrong, a flaw in my character if you will.  I feel the need to point out some of my deficiencies in a public forum, to hold me accountable for changes I plan to make.  More on this in a moment.

I, like over half of those who voted in this insane election, did not vote for the President-elect.  I will also admit to breaking down and having a good cry when I saw what was to be.  This had nothing to do with my need to be on the winning team or my desire to see the first female President in office (but as a woman how great would that be).  It had everything to do with me succumbing to my fears.  And not my fear for what this change in office would mean for me personally, but the fear for our planet and a potential move to a far less inclusive country, one now filled with diverse thoughts and peoples, one I greatly love.  This fear is based on rhetoric I so often heard during the campaign, and I believe it is the fear of many from around the globe, based on what I have read during and since the election results.

I have read some cringe-worthy comments from Republicans, Democrats, and Independents alike, and many I believe stem from two emotions, fear and hatred.  Anger is a by-product of both.  I have seen many of these while on Facebook, and I’ve hovered around Facebook more these past two days than is the norm for me.  But I have also seen beautiful, thought-provoking, touching reflections, thoughts that buoy me and give me hope for a brighter day in this country and in the world.

Click below if you’re in need of some lightness and comforting words right now.

Who do I want to be in this situation?

The parade of horribles

A Trump Presidency need not be the end times.

I embrace friends across the political spectrum, because I believe our diversity makes us stronger, if we choose to have the openness and strength to give thought to viewpoints that extend beyond our small world.  So, for those of you who have ridiculed others for their comments since the election, I believe this is what grief looks like.  We all grieve differently and who are any of us to criticize one style over another?  We still all believe in free speech, right? Unfortunately, with the advent of social media, it is all out there for everyone to see, much as this post is. When emotions are so raw and people are scared, they say and do things at times that extend beyond their normal.  I believe now is the time for patience and kindness, not criticism.  If you don’t want to hear any more of what is being said, don’t read it, including my thoughts.

I believe there are always lessons to be learned during difficult times.  As I continue to reflect upon what this new country of ours may look like, I have had to look in the mirror and admit a hard truth about myself.  Although I take pride in the fact that I believe in a diverse world, where everyone is viewed as an equal, and do my part to help keep this a healthy planet on which we, and future generations will live, I haven’t been doing nearly enough. I give voice to these ideals but have not done enough to allow them to flourish.  Although volunteerism where I have my winter home is promoted and encouraged, and I do my part, I must move beyond those borders, as I did so often when I was in the work force.  If I had time then, I certainly do now that I am retired.  So, I am putting down on paper those causes I feel passionate about, and vow to do more to help those in need, in a real way.  I believe this is what we are all called to do to heal this great country of ours, to make us a kinder nation again, to give voice to the impoverished around the world.

What Draws Us to Nature, to the Wild?

I recently read a blog post written by Julianne, a woman I met several years ago in Yellowstone National Park, a woman I admire for her spirit, her strength, her connection with nature.  She shares a blog, Writing the Wild, with two other friends, both women, both with strong voices and intensely personal relationships with wilderness, just like Julianne.  It’s a blog that draws me in deeper with each new post I read.  Julianne’s latest, Living in the Present, is deep and resonated with me immediately.  I found myself reflecting upon her message for days, and in that contemplative space the kernels of a blog post started to sprout.

nature post-1140346

“The mountains are calling and I must go.” ~ John Muir

We recently returned from a trip up north, back to our winter home base in So. California.  Although I knew we were heading back to complete details for an exciting trip we have planned this fall, I felt this sadness as I reflected upon the trip we had just finished, where nature and the wild imbued our every cell daily.  I was not ready to step back into the modern-day trappings of excess and commercialism.

“Look deep into nature and  you will understand everything better.” ~ Albert Einstein

It seems the more time I spend in nature, the more I have this reaction when I step off the trails.  So I have asked myself, what draws us to nature, to the wild, even when it could potentially put us in harm’s way when we traverse the same land as predator species?

“I held my breath as we do sometimes to stop time when something wonderful has touched us…”  ~ Mary Oliver

Yes, we take to the trails and the rivers for our source of exercise, but I believe it goes beyond this.  Julianne certainly touched on it when she said that being in nature forces one to live in the moment, as it takes all our attention to navigate a flowing river in a kayak or avoid sliding off a mountainside on a steep trail.

“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit.” ~ Edward Abbey

Living in the moment in the wild takes us to a place where we begin to move at nature’s pace, instinctual, perhaps due to a base need to reconstruct our lives.  Is it our soul’s longing to live free of the attachment we have developed to the various screens that have become an intrinsic part of our day-to-day existence, teeming with a set of perceptions on how well “liked” we are?   Or are we trying to salvage that indigenous part of us that once was wild?

“It is not half so important to know as to feel.” ~ Rachel Carson

A famous study conducted by the University of Illinois, Chicago, found that we spend 25% less time out in nature than we did in the late 1980’s.  If more of our society embraced nature and the wild, would we learn to live in harmony with our surroundings, be more at peace with ourselves and those around us?  Would we realize that we need less to live a life of fulfillment?

“I feel like lying down by the side of the trail and remembering it all.  The woods do that to you.” ~ Jack Kerouac

Nature is full of contrasts – rushed yet unhurried, quiet yet raucous, organized yet chaotic.  Even with this diversity, there is an underpinning of calm, a sense of serenity that eludes so many of us.  It is my hope each time I walk out of the wild that this sense of stillness will continue to reside in some deep recess of my soul, something I can draw from when day-to-day stresses arise.

“One way to open your eyes is to ask yourself, “What if I had never seen this before?  What if I knew I would never see it again?” ~ Rachel Carson

“Nature never struggles to accomplish its purpose.  All things in nature live in a state of total grace and bliss, completely connected to life itself.”  I long to live this easy, effortless flow.