“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.
Tell bread to rise and it ignores you. It will rise of its own accord. You can’t make it rise faster. It often requires work, and lots of it. Baking bread is a contact sport, and you must give it your hands, arms, and heart. In all these ways, it is a holy act. It is an act of patience, belief, and faith.
Lately the only thing that makes me feel better is cooking and baking, and baking bread most of all. I can’t write or read or multi-task while I bake bread. It helps me to pause, be quiet, and reflect. It demands my mind, my hands, and my attention for a certain amount of time, and then it demands I leave it alone for a good long while.
So if you’re feeling lost or disillusioned or confused, even angry or sad or disappointed, I suggest stocking your cupboard with the magic combination of flour, salt, and yeast. Add some water, tuck it away for a while in a warm, cozy place, and magical things will begin to happen. It will rise. And you will rise with it.
“Some of the sweetest berries grow among the sharpest thorns.” ~Scottish Proverb
The new administration has activated an ugly underbelly in this country. And it’s also activated something else it didn’t bargain for—you, me, and everyone else who cares about fair treatment, justice, and dignity for all people. Let’s not underestimate the power of persistent, unrelenting goodness and what Congressman John Lewis calls “good trouble“. Now that’s a rally cry I can believe in.
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.
“Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness, and discomfort, and letting it be there until some light returns.” ~Anne Lamott
Anne Lamott is one of my very favorite authors. I like her sass, crankiness, and craziness as much as I adore her poetry and poignancy. Her thoughts on faith are particularly inspiring. I’m not a religious person. I don’t go to any kind of house of worship (except to see art and architecture), and I don’t consider myself to be of any denomination. I do believe in the goodness of people and the wisdom of the universe. I do believe we are all connected and the very best we can do on this plane is to take care of each other.
Sometimes life leaves us shaking our heads. It leaves us confused and bewildered. Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do people who behave badly often seem to skate by unscathed? Why is there violence, cruelty, loss, narcissism, and on occasion, massive disappointment? I don’t know any of those answers, though I do know this: the light returns. Always, always, always. The scene that the light illuminates is undoubtedly different after any kind of major emotional event, and it will be seen.
I often hate the mess of life. It can leave us gutted and uncomfortable. In those moments, I sit. I breathe. I listen to the beat of my heart. I remind myself that all over the world every living being is experiencing that same rhythm of life, whether they know it or not. If we can tune our senses to that oneness, then I find that we can bounce back from anything. Braver, wiser, and with more compassion than ever. We become the light.
“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.
When you feel like the world is trying to bury you beneath hardship, disappointment, and frustration, remember this: you are a miraculous being, a seed. With a little time, a little care, and a little light, you will make great things happen. Believe.