“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” ~Friedrich Nietzsche
It can be hard to see the future so clearly while living in the present. We see change marching in our direction, and we want to adapt, we need to adapt. Others refuse to recognize it, and do everything we can to help others see what we see, hear what we hear, and they can’t or won’t.
Years ago, Brian told me that I see what I see and I know what I know, and that’s what’s made all the difference in my life. That’s the basis from which I had to make my decisions, and so I did. I stopped worrying about what other people thought about my choices. I stopped worrying about being judged or criticized or misunderstood. I just decided to do the best I could with what I had and what I knew.
And you know what? It was the best decision I ever made. I chose to be free.
So you go right on dancing and believing and creating. Let your life be a beautiful expression of exactly who you are.
What I imagine is as real as anything I can touch. I’ve come to believe, and live by, the principle that if the human mind can imagine it, then the hands and heart can and will create it. It will take time, effort, and dedication, and it will happen. Creativity is the most powerful tool we have.
“You can’t calm the storm, so stop trying. What you can do is calm yourself. The storm will pass.” ~Timber Hawkeye
One day this week tapped into my prime stressors. I had a too-packed schedule, my blood sugar started dropping because I forgot to eat, subway delays abounded and made me late to my final meeting, and I had an unexpected discussion about my apartment building fire that threw me into some uncomfortable flashbacks. All of it was manageable, but together in a short span of time those stressors added up into a palpable storm.
As I stood in the subway on my way home, I closed my ways halfway, focused on my breath, and reminded myself that despite all of these circumstances, I was okay. I got through the schedule, I grabbed something to eat, everyone understands the subway issue, and I had survived the fire. Slowly the stress seeped away into the street below my feet as I made my way home. By the time I reached my apartment, I was back on solid ground.
Letting go of our troubles isn’t a one and done deal; it’s a continual process. Smiling helps. Breathing helps. Gratitude helps. Friends help. My dog helps. If you’re facing a storm now, of any proportion, give yourself a break. You’re doing the best that you can. Eventually, every storm breaks. You will go on. Believe.
“If you stand for nothing, Burr, what’ll you fall for?” – lyric from the song “Aaron Burr, Sir” from Hamilton the Musical
In our country, we are seeing leading and misleading. Comments on social media, with no substantiation or proof, are believed simply because of who’s saying them. Opinion is too quickly becoming fact. It’s important to know what we stand for, not who we align with or how we label ourselves, but what we stand for individually when everything else falls away.
I’ve often talked about being on Team Human, meaning respecting, defending, and advocating for the rights of all people to be free to live a life that suits them best so long as they don’t inhibit anyone else from doing the same.
I believe that health, happiness, and the prospect of success should we attainable for all people everywhere. They’re not luxuries or decided by luck of the draw; they are human rights.
That’s what I stand for. It’s the lens by which I judge everything. It’s the motivation that causes me to act, stand up, and speak out. And it means I don’t fall for anyone or anything that violates that belief, regardless of who may be advocating for it.
Recently, I’ve had some pretty remarkable reminders that we can attract and create what we need. Even if it seems improbable or impossible, somehow once we decide we are ready for something to happen, the way opens. Our state of mind is especially important during difficult times, when all seems lost, when it seems that nothing we do will make things better. It’s times like these that I stop. I regroup. I let my mind and body relax. I breathe. I let go.
And then something rises up – an idea, an image, some untapped source of strength I didn’t even know was there. Just when I’m as down as I think I can be, I find myself floating back up to the surface. Life’s like that. A wave, a roller coaster, a trip with plenty of winding roads.
Maybe you’re in this cycle right now. Maybe something difficult or sad or disappointing happened. Maybe you’re worried, confused, or unsure. Close your eyes and imagine the best possible outcome. Imagine leading yourself out of your situation today and into a brighter tomorrow. Believe that it will get better and when you open your eyes, work hard to make it so. You can do this.
This week I was comforted, as I often am, by the words of Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne. “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
My family faced a sad loss on Tuesday. Our dear family friend, appropriately named Faith, passed away. At the incredible age of nearly 85, she lived a happy, fulfilling life of service. I was lucky to know her and she remains one of the kindest people I’ve known.
She was there for all of the milestones in my childhood, the good and the difficult. Birthdays, Sunday dinners, graduations. Her smiling face was there, camera in-hand to capture it all. She was a constant source of love and support. I think of her as one of my many aunties who helped me realize what kind of life I could have if I worked hard and was good to others. She instilled in me the sense that I mattered, and what I thought and felt and did was valued and valid.
When I heard she passed away this week, I was so sad. I felt a little light go out, but it was only a blip because immediately I felt that same light reignite, brighter and warmer than ever before. I’m sad that she’s gone from this plane and I’m so glad that she crossed over to a place free of pain and discomfort. I’ll see her on the other side, eventually, a long time from now. And I am as grateful for that as I am to have known her in this lifetime. RIL – Rest in Love.
There are so many things that I will say in the coming days and weeks about this weekend celebrating Teach for America’s 25th anniversary summit. I feel more hopeful – for the world, our children, and myself – than I have in a very long time. I also feel an urgency to speak up, show up, and never give up on the causes that matter most to me. One of those causes in ensuring that all children – particularly those like me who are low income and high potential – have an equal shot at building a life they love through obtaining a high-quality education. I spent the weekend surrounded by 15,000 people who have this same passion and drive, and it was nothing short of exhilarating to talk to them, hear from them, and be united with them.
My education saved my life. I am not unique in that. Education saves children all over this country every day. And it also loses them. It falls short and disappoints them. Significant gains have been made, especially here in D.C. which is the fastest improving urban school system in the country, but they are not enough. We still have so much to do.
We are only part of the way through our climb. This weekend I found people who can help me keep climbing, and whom I can assist in their climb. Find your tribe. Together we rise.
“If you sense there must be more, there is more.” ~Alan Cohen
Have you ever thought this: “Is this all there is?” This has happened to me, oh, maybe several hundred times in my life. Maybe thousands. At some point, it happened so often that I just lost count.
And here was my second thought every time: “Of course there’s more out there. Go find it.” And I don’t mean more as in more money, notoriety, or some other superficial possession. I mean more in terms of inspiration, better health, more happiness, peace, love, joy, passion, knowledge, adventure, and all the good things that make life worth living.
I didn’t always know where to find it or how to get it. I had to work hard for it. I had to make difficult choices. I had to take the long view. I had to go through hard times and plenty of uncertainty to find the good stuff. But I did find it, always, eventually, in spades. And I’m grateful for it every day, every time.
There are more of these things for you, too. For all of us. And I want us to be brave enough to go out there into the world and get them and share them. In 2016, let’s do that, okay? Okay.