When people would say, “Be the Miracle,” I was always intimidated. After all, I was brought up back in the day when Divine Intervention was at the root of all miracles. At the time, the concept that any of us could be a miracle for someone else eluded me. Now that I am older, I have a different feeling.
In thinking about Women’s History Month and the women we celebrate, the notion of being the miracle for someone else has become a lot more understandable. As we commemorate the accomplishments of women in history, it seems that so many of these women were miracles of their time. It is important to applaud their contributions and how they impact us still today.
As I consider the other women who have impacted my life, I think back to my 29-year old self, when I was applying for a job that was lots bigger than I was. Not to worry, the woman who interviewed me said. “I think you can do it.” Over the last 35 years this woman has been a mentor, a friend, a confidant and huge supporter. In essence, she is a miracle in my life.
I think the mission of being a miracle for others calls us to be a mentor, a teacher, a supporter and cheerleader for those around us. Not just for our family and friends, but for those we meet along the way. We are called to be leaders, friends and advisers. The Old Boys Network has been around forever. What we women are called to do is to create our own empowering network. I am inspired by the Chinese Proverb, “When sleeping women wake, mountains move.”
Women can relate to each other. We understand the many balls we have in the air at any one time. We are called to find our similarities, not only our differences. Sometimes we can be our own worst enemies as we tend to be hard on one another. We must also remember that we are called to celebrate our successes with one another. While we don’t need to agree all the time, we do need to be willing to listen and to take seriously the thoughts and aspirations of those women we champion as well as those who cross our path.
When I think about the women who have been instrumental in my own life, my mother, mother-in-law, special aunts, a sister, daughter and my co-author friends, I am challenged to think about how to have an impact on other women. It will require time and effort. It will also require openness and vulnerability. Women’s History Month reminds us it is time to be the miracle for someone else. It’s time to move mountains.
"The heart has its reasons that the mind does not know." 17th century mathematician, physicist and theologian, Blaise Pascal, was a defender of the scientific method. Yet, it is his realization that we come to know things, even truth, in ways that transcend reason that resonates hundreds of years later. The "heart" for him, then, and for us, now, is at the center of what gives the human race it's humanity. It is the intersection where each human being connects with others because we can all understand love and loss, and the many virtues that flow from love and loss - compassion, sacrifice, forgiveness, trustworthiness and faith to name a few.
The metaphorical heart is the powerhouse of our very existence. We can wear it on our sleeve, or choose not to. The heart can bleed and it can break. And mend, thank god, always leaving behind the remnants of what was lost and a scar to remind us that we have earned the lines on our face and the wisdom in our soul. The heart can ache for someone else's difficulty, or it can ache when missing someone so much we feel a hurt that won't go away. And, when we have a heart-to-heart conversation, it means we have allowed ourselves to be vulnerable and authentic, whole-hearted, in truly connecting with someone else.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery wrote that, "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye." This is how we fall in love with one person and not another, why we follow our intuition or take a chance on our dreams. It is how we are able to read the spiritual signposts that light our way. No wonder the heart gets its own holiday. With origins in an ancient Roman fertility festival and named for a real St. Valentine, a Christian martyr from the 3rd century, Valentines Day in some iteration has been around for millennia. Though the holiday is associated with romantic love, it is good to remember that the heart works its magic in a broader sense all year long, if we but follow. (Katie)
I may have been a matchmaker in a former life. As 2018 came to a close and I was thinking about my New Year's Resolutions, one word kept coming to mind: connection. I love connecting with people, like the elderly gentleman at the pre-Christmas Lessons and Carols who made room for us in his already crowded pew. Once the service was over the hug we shared after talking about his far flung family and recently deceased wife was meaningful to me and I hope to him.
We connect with others in many ways like my California workout "tribe" with whom I actually look forward to exercising. When the manager of the health club suggested we were doing far too much talking over spinning, we took matters into our own hands and developed our own SpinChat session three times a week.
Connection is obviously behind the huge international meetings I've attended, whether it is health care like JP Morgan in San Francisco this month, or other professional groups like the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. And it's not just business that brings people together, the prevalence and number of online dating apps suggest I am not alone in both seeking and relishing connection.
Connection is cathartic; an emotional release that is rewarding. It is a gift you give yourself. And like most meaningful gifts, it requires some degree of effort, not only to reach out to others, but also to become vulnerable by sharing a part of yourself. As we have moved around the country, I've found connection to be an important part of fitting in, a way of finding a sense of belonging.
When I reflect on those friends that I've had that somehow have faded away, the gratefulness I feel for having had them in my life is tinged with a sense of loss. And when suddenly there is a message out of the blue and a lost friend returns again to my life as happened this Christmas Eve the joy is real, a sense of wonder in the rekindling of a friendship and a profound relief that they have emerged out of the silence intact.
Connection allows me to make sense out of my past, to recognize where I am in the present, and to provide guidance of how I will cope with whatever the future may have in store. It is a way to acknowledge who I am, how I engage with others and learn about myself - both my strengths and my weaknesses. Connection teaches openness, gratitude and compassion.
I suspect 2019 will be another landmark year of travel to see family and friends, for work and for play, and I look forward to making new connections along the way. For me, it's the only way to fly. (Joan)
There were a few days this last month where California had the worst air in the world. The firestorms created issues with air quality that made breathing outside air as bad as smoking seven cigarettes at once. Entire neighborhoods, communities and even cities were incinerated. And then, the rains came and washed the air clean, leaving fire survivors with an uncertain future, and others, thankful for blue skies that were appreciated like never before.
I felt such compassion for those whose lives were changed by the wildfires even as I felt happy to be out in my garden again. As I raked leaves and put the garden to rest for the winter, I thought about the perennials that would regrow in the spring and the seeds - especially the grasses and the weeds - that would return with spring rains. I thought about the ancients celebrating the Solstice on the darkest night of the year, who, without benefit of the internet clock and weather channel, knew in the dead of winter, that spring would come again. Resilience is a remarkable characteristic of human beings! In the darkest of days, we know, with mystic certainty, light comes in the morning and spring will arrive some day.
Trauma, redemption, resilience and miracles feel closely connected to me. You can think about miracles as second chances; beyond survival, there is an opportunity to make a change, live more fully, or do something differently. I wonder about how often a second chance is actually about recognizing the opportunity and taking that chance. Remember the joke about the man on the roof in a flood who prays for God to deliver him? As the waters rise, a boat comes by and he’s asked if he wants to climb in. He says he’s waiting for God to grant him a miracle. Then another boat comes by and the boat captain says, “Get in” but the man says he has faith in God and God will grant him a miracle. Then a helicopter comes and lets down a ladder, and the same thing happens. The man says he’s waiting for a miracle. Finally, as the waters rise over his rooftop, we hear him wondering aloud to God, “God why didn’t you save me?” The man arrives at the Gates of Heaven and he says to Peter, I thought you would send me a miracle. Peter shakes his head. “Buddy, we sent you two boats and a helicopter!” We can all relate, for we’ve all let chances pass us by, and so we laugh at that truth embedded in the joke.
In no way am I suggesting that victims of any disaster are those that missed the boat. I am really thinking more about those of us who have been given other chances - a chance to repair a relationship, a chance to take action on some small thing that will make the world a little better, a chance to change a bad attitude or a bad habit. I’m thinking about how I forget to be grateful for moments of redemptive relief. It’s so easy to walk back into blue skies and forget that once they were not so blue.
The Winter Solstice – December 21 - marks the shortest day of the year. The word solstice comes from the Latin sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still). The Solstice marks a moment in time to pause. We can think about this holiday season as a season of second chances - a baby born in a manger to change the world; evergreens symbolic of hope; miracle lamps that shine in the darkness. Take a moment to pause and reflect on your second chances. They are nothing less than miracles.
Wishing you a holiday season filled with hope and promise, gratitude and redemption. May your days be full of light. (Meb)
Thanksgiving is the mandatory annual gratitude check and inventory for most of us, and no matter how much we want to employ a gratitude attitude all year long, there is usually room for improvement. It must be part of the human condition to resist appreciating the abundance that surrounds most of us reading this newsletter due simply to its constancy in our lives. The friend or spouse who drops everything to listen, the son or daughter who calls just to chat, the barista who knows our coffee order and delivers it with a smile, the new sweater hanging in the closet or thank you note someone took time to write, the sun on our face or the rain on the roof, the little daily kindnesses that may come our way.
I have tried to keep a gratitude journal for years – writing down three things every night I’m grateful for that day. Every once in a blue moon I get on a roll, and then forget about it for several months. But when I go back and read my entries I’m always struck by the moments I’d already forgotten and wonder about the many I never captured at all. Thanks to one entry, I can tell you that on May 27th while driving from Bryce Canyon to Zion National Park we missed our turn and drove twenty minutes out of our way before any of the six of us noticed, so engrossed were we in the company and the scenery. Ah, yes, the journey, not the destination, a metaphor for life.
I heard recently about an elderly woman of faith who regularly enjoys involvement in her church community. When they had a talk about miracles, she was so distraught that she had never experienced one, she couldn't face coming back for the completion of the discussion the following week. Perhaps, like my own previous disposition, she has a very narrow view of miracles. It took me years to recognize that miracles are best understood when imagined within the full spectrum of all life has to offer, a veritable kaleidoscope of possibilities. Like Thick Nhat Hahn said, “The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth, dwelling deeply in the present moment and feeling truly alive.” This is where gratitude and miracles intertwine.
The more we can find to be grateful for, the more miraculous life seems. Though I have found it does help to write it down. (Katie)