“For a star to be born, there is one thing that must happen: a gaseous nebula must collapse. So collapse. Crumble. This is not your destruction. This is your birth.” ~Zoe Skylar
We work so hard to keep things, even ourselves, from falling apart. Somehow we have managed to associate becoming undone with being completely done, forever. Don’t be ashamed of your undoing or your failure, your missteps or your losses. This is a cycle of life – catching and releasing, holding on and letting go, rising up and falling down. There’s so much to be learned and experienced in the collapse. There you can rest, restore, and rebuild. Wiser, braver, stronger, more focused, and with the knowledge that no matter what life throws at you, you will find a way to shine.
Need a feel-good story to fill your heart today? Here’s one. This 5th grade basketball team voted unanimously to forfeit the rest of their season because they refused to play without the two girls who are on their team. This is what unity and equality look like. So proud of these kids! Warning: you’ll need a tissue when you read the details in the article. It will bring tears to your eyes in the best possible way.
In business school, one of our professors was famous for his line “Hope is not a strategy.” While I appreciate the sober practicality of this advice, hope has a very prominent role in our lives: hope is fuel. It helps us rise, roll up our sleeves, and get to work. Is there anything more inspiring than a dream? Is there anything more empowering and emboldening than a vision of the world we want to live in? Have hope, and use it. (And hat tip to my friend, Michael, for inspiring this post.)
“Raise your words, not your voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.” ~Rumi
As much as 2016 was a year of hype, I hope that 2017 is a year of substance. I hope we stop rewarding the person in the room with the loudest voice and start listening to those who are take action in a thoughtful, collaborative, and inclusive way. I hope we learn to revere love and reject hate. And most of all, I hope we collectively come to understand that caring for people and assuring equality is not a liberal value, but a human one.
“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 them 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, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” ~Theodore Roosevelt
As a writer and an artist, I get rejected every day in one form or another because that’s what happens when you put your work out into the world every day. Critics are everywhere. I am still inspired to keep going because I create the work I want to read. I write the stories I most wanted to believe in, and that belief is a shield and a sword against any rejection. All artists in every medium need that belief.
If you’re struggling now to get your work out into the world or dealing with rejection on any level, keep these words from Theodore Roosevelt close to your heart. They help me keep my head up and my fingers tapping on the keys.
I was obviously very upset sitting in the waiting room at the animal hospital as the doctors checked Phin’s back early Tuesday morning. I was sad that he was in so much pain, and also grateful that we have such amazing care for him here in D.C. Then, I asked myself “what’s the worst possible thing that could happen?” He would have a back issue that couldn’t be fixed and we’d get wheels for him. And that’s exactly what we’d do so long as he could still have a good quality of life. (Check out this amazing company, Eddie’s Wheels, that has made wheelchairs for dogs for 20 years!) He’d still be my little guy and I’d still be his mom. And that’s really what matters.
(I’m happy to report that he is doing extremely well on rest and meds so I feel very hopeful that he’ll make a full recovery! He just wishes he could get out there for a long walk around the neighborhood. That won’t happen for about 3 weeks. Rest is the most important part of his recovery.)
Don’t you hate it when you’re having a tough time and someone’s first reaction is, “oh you’ll be fine.” My first thought is always “how the hell do you know that?” And then my second thought is, “they’re right. I am going to be fine. I’ve gotten this far, haven’t I?”
In the midst of any kind of stress, it’s easy to feel down-trodden, to feel like it’s never going to get better. But bit by bit, step by step, day by day, we can and do make things better. I know it’s not easy. I know that it sometimes feels like we’re going backward or in the completely opposite direction of where we think we want to go. And maybe you are. When that happens to me, in time I realize that’s the way I had to go—completely out of the way!—to find something or someone I needed to move forward.
Goodness knows there is plenty to be disappointed about in the world today. Flip on the news in any channel of your choice, and it’s there front and center – violence, heartbreak, and a massive amount of fear. It makes you want to tear your hair out, right? I certainly feel that way at some point every day. And then I have to remind myself that yes, I am just one person and yes, I can have an impact. I can at least shape my very tiny corner of the world through my time, energy, attention, and funds. Once I remember that, I find myself replacing those feelings of helplessness with pure hopefulness. And I’ve found that hope is where all great change begins.
I knew I’d be emotional watching Hillary Clinton accept the nomination. What I didn’t expect was the overwhelming sense of hope her nomination would give me. We have massive problems in this country. We have so much work to do to create true equity, particularly an equity of opportunity, among all people. What Hillary’s nomination shows me is that rolling up your sleeves and getting down in the trenches is how we rise to the highest heights, and how we also take others with us. She’s not focused on building walls. She’s busy building a larger table where everyone gets a seat. Everyone. And that’s a crowd I’m proud to be a part of.