The Warrior’s Walk

I’ve been reflecting on the word warrior lately. It seems I know quite a few. 

One might think that a warrior looks like a big strong man with armor and a mission to save the kingdom, and that may be true, but they also appear in different forms. 

Here are a few- 

Warrior of Light- I am honored to know a women who stands for love and light.  She stands at the alter every morning praying for her loved ones and the world. She has challenges just like the rest of us, but she slices anything not of the light with her Excalibur sword. 

Recently she has been faced with the loss of her partner and the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. She has handled both of these with more grace than I have ever imagined possible. Her motto is “love’s victory” and she marches streadfastly towards healing with the strength of a thousand angels. Darkness does not have a chance around this warrior. She is my mother. 

Warrior of Truth- Another warrior appeared in our lives this week. Her knowledge and kindness unparalleled. She is the heroine stories are written about. She road into a situation when all looked dark and brought hope. She’s traversed obstacles like medications, pallatative care, and transportation to doctors appointments swiftly and with ease. She is weaving together a comfort quilt for a loved one with so much care and honor. She is unstoppable. She is my aunt. 

Warrior of Love- I know a warrior who has been fighting against injustice for decades. When he speaks, people listen. When he writes, people buy books to hear how to be more engaged in their lives and with the youth of today. He has returned home from this travels of late and walked back into my life with determination. “Whatever you need” he keeps saying, and proves it with pizza deliveries, neck rubs, light saber battles with teenagers, listening ears and open arms. He is a man of honor and deep love. He is my hero. 

Warrior of the Earth- This friend has been committed to being the earth’s protector for many years. She has studied ecology, planted roots, taught children to care for our planet and volunteered to serve at risk youth through growing good food. Most recently she set up a meal train for a family going through a tough time. She is an inspiration to me. She is my friend.

These warriors all carry missions of hope. They are strong and look obstacles directly in the face and say “I am here to fight for what is right”. They are a constant inspiration to me and I am honored to be walking with them, onward. 

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What if love…

 What if love was the first thought you had in the morning, and last thought at the end of the day?

What if love was an agenda item at the top of your to do list and staff meeting agenda? 

What kind of love? All kinds.

Self love, love of family, kids, partners, each other, people we don’t know, people who are different than us. 

What if love moved beyond a feeling between two people and one day a year with roses and chocolates, to a daily expression to the world around us. 

I love the postman who delivered my letter, the cashier at Trader Joe’s, the nurse how helped my mom. I love my loud kids, my partner who is miles away, and my dad who always wants to help. 

Here’s where it gets harder… I send love to those suffering in countries near and far, to those suffering and making unkind decisions in our government, to those who feel marginalized and afraid today. 

May this love begin like a raindrop and become a full storm, blanketing the world in love.

What if you and your friend, and her mom and your neighbor started this day with love? 

What if just by creating this loving intention, this tide of love starts to build and all of a sudden, someone let’s you in front of them in rush hour traffic, or someone else holds open the door, or a smile from stranger to stranger brightens someone’s day. 

What if? 

What if love… 

Where do you want to go? 

It’s a regular Tuesday morning, time to get up and bustle kids to school. 

Facebook says the United States is still in a mess of arrogant power and injustice, with a side of hope by a growing group of truth speakers. People are protesting, marching and speaking up for truth. 

All of this can be discouraging today the least.

The question in my mind today is, “where do you want to go?” In this day, in life, on a walk. 

It can be so easy to feel stuck or just stop moving forward when outside concerns feel out of our control. 

And yet, we have the power to choose our own reaction to whatever life brings us. We can put one foot in front of the other and keep walking in the direction of our dreams.

Today, I choose to walk in the direction of love. I choose to bring peace with me into this day and pick up some joy and an extra helping of laughter along the way. 

I choose kindness and empowerment of my fellow walkers. I choose health for me, my family and the world. 

As I walk into this day, I am clear and focused on where I want to go. I will not be detoured or distracted by stress or injustice. I will stand in my power as a woman, daughter, and mother. I will walk with love. That is where I want to go today. 

Where do you want to go? 

I imagine

I imagine

a world at peace.

Where people love and value each other.

Where we appreciate and embrace each other’s differences.

Where hope and kindness are commodities,

instead of hatred and fear.

Our country is grieving,

from the loss of innocent lives.

People targeted because of the color of their skin

or their choice of who they love.

How is that anyone’s business?

How is it that children are raised to hate instead of love?

In my life I will love openly,

and teach my children the same.

I will not cower in fear,

I will stand tall in love.

I will embrace openly,

expand in learning,

and build up,

not break down.

Join me,

open your heart,

wider than you imagine you can.

Imagine with me,

a world of love,

let’s create it,

together.

 

Fire in my Belly

Do you ever feel like there is just something you were born to do? Some issue, or problem to solve and that you are the one who was meant work on it?

Well I do. I am fired up about making the world a better place, for everyone. About creating a world with equity for all that builds our communities up and brings people together.

I wake up in the morning with this fire in my belly and it burns all day long. I am passionate and committed. I am creating a revolution, a caring movement that will bring people together in solidarity and kindness as we navigate this world called life.

I get that some people can be electricians, bankers and doctors and that is their calling. My mission is that of revolutionary kindness, of hope, and strength.

This sense is so powerful and strong that it is hard to slow down and relax sometimes. I feel like there is a lot to do and no time to waste. How do people go see movies, or drink beer when there are 1.2 billion people without water, countless domestic violence acts each day, and families living out of their cars. How can we rest when our neighbors, our brothers and sisters are aching?

I have work to do, to make this world a better place. We all do, some feel more strongly about it than others. Me? I’m fired up. 

I will walk in strength, surround myself with powerful advocates and live true to my values. So that someday when long gray hair waves down my back and my grandkids ask me if I lived a good life and made a difference in the world I can say, “Absolutely. And you can too.”

What are you passionate about?

The longest day in the world and the wall of love

I had seen this day coming on the calendar but I didn’t realize how full it was going to be.It started with attending a breakfast with 850 people and one former Seahawks player. I saw so many people I know and talked about all kinds of projects I am working on with them. I moved forward a trails project, a scholarship, a microloan fund and all before scrambled eggs, just by being in the same place at the same time with so many community members. photo: my coworker and I with Marcus Truphant

Because I left the house at 6:45am and didn’t sleep well the night before, I drove home and feel asleep for a 30 min powernap, it was genius. I called my mom on my way to the office, she was on her way to Chemotherapy and in good spirits, I told her how much my love surrounded her on this day and everyday. She is a fierce warrior on this journey called cancer, I am amazed by her strength and sense of victory, everyday.

I went to office, talked about scholarships and the amount we spend as an institution on diversity – $84,000 last year and a $30,000 increase from the previous year. Not bad but we have more to do to serve our underserved populations.

For lunch, my coworker and I went to a community partner lunch hosted by one of our local credit unions, they supports many community organizations. We sat with our friends from the YWCA, and GRUB and visited with Community Youth Services, United Way and many others. At lunch, the Executive Director for a local youth empowerment via gardening nonprofit and I drummed up plans for a veterans community garden on our property. This would both support our community by providing fresh food to our local food bank as well as supporting our veterans population in skillbuilding and therapy for PTSD. I can’t wait to see where that project goes!  photo: my coworker and I with credit union partners

The afternoon held meeting with one of my favorite tribal elders to create a project to support STEM learning and Native youth. This was followed by an interview for an open position on my team.

Right before the interview, I got a call from the school principal…. oh dear. It appears my sweet child got into an argument with a friend that turned into a pushing match, which turned into 2 days of suspension. My sweet son is a sensitive little guy, the world sometimes feels big and loud to my introverted dude. Should he push a friend because he was overwhelmed? No way.  I have never seen anything like this from him and it shows that we have some work to do to create new tools for his life toolbox. Needless to say, I was pretty shaken up.

Next we set up for our final Artist and Lecture Series VIP reception with 50 women community leaders. We drank wine, enjoyed North Indian cuisine provided by our culinary department and talked about the future for students and how we can make a strong pathway for their success.

 photo: another coworker and I at the VIP reception

I walked into my house around 8pm, tired and worried about my son. How was I going to talk to him about this, what if I didn’t do it right? I prayed for guidance. I turned the corner in my house and bam!! My friend and her husband had created a wall of love. There in front of my eyes were pictures of the kids and I all over the wall. Baby pictures, adventures, pictures of my mom and dad, it blew me away. I just stood there speechless with tears streaming down my eyes for what seemed like an eternity.Unbelievable.
 photo: the wall of love

As I went to sleep that night, I thanked God for the day and for the kind people that fill my life. Sometimes on days like this, I feel like I just give and give, and I love that don’t get me wrong. But this day, I got the feeling like good things do happen to those who pour their heart into loving the world.

I am so grateful for the longest day ever. The multi-faceted, community filled, overcoming challenges, and wall of love longest day ever. Thank you.

Love More, Fear Less 

Today I woke up annoyed. This doesn’t usually happen to me, I usually wake up grateful for the day and the blessings in my life.

Today I woke up so frustrated by another shooting in our country. This pattern is the craziest thing. If we had a disease that was killing people weekly across the county, we would be up in arms and funding research to solve the problem. Hello congress, we are at that point. 2,000 doctors told you yesterday that they need the ban on gun violence research lifted, do it. How does that harm anything? I guess it could piss off those who believe in the right to bare arms but at some point, regardless of political party, their constituents are going to demand that their neighbors stop getting killed.

Oh, that we could make decisions from a place of love instead of fear. If I could give congress a big blanket of love and say, “you’ve got this, protect our society, make decisions out of love”, I certainly would. I know it’s simplistic and silly but seriously, something has to change so that my kids have to do less active shooter drills. So that I don’t need to know what run, hide, fight means and need to promote that to my staff.

It seems like it boils down to this…

More love, less fear. Support for those that need it. Solutions so fewer people need support.

What will you do today to “be love” and be part of the solution?

Creating a healthy community. Let’s work together, right now. 

Today was “Goverment Day” for our Leadership Thurston County group. We were visited my mayors, commissioners and other elected officials. We toured the State Capitol via a personal tour by a state representative. It was inspiring to hear from these committed, passionate leaders – all working to make our community a better place.

The wheels in my brain were turning all day. We have this many inspiring people working on better social services, climate change and afforable housing, and that is tremendous. And… I wonder what would happen if we had more people helping or we all focused our efforts on one issue?

I’ve read studies on “collective impact” where exactly that happens, the community comes together and actually “solves” a community problem. As a lifetime social service worker, “solving” a problem is a mind-blowing concept. Examples of this do actually exist like the Road Map Project out of South King County and Changing the Odds Salt Lake City. I want to know how.

In our community, we have a number of initiatives attempting to bring the community together like Thurston Thrives as well as many jurisdictions and organizations striving to improve community conditions. And that is awesome, and complicated and…not fast enough. Not fast enough for the homeless veteran sleeping in a doorway, the domestic violence victim who doesn’t have a place to stay in our town, or the young person who is moving to the next foster home. It’s just not enough.

I don’t know how people can go to Black Friday and care about sporting events when one of us, in our community is out in the cold tonight.

Someone called me a passionate nerd tonight and I guess they are right. I am passionate about our community. Every religion I am aware of says we should care for others, the sick, the poor. How are we doing with that America?

Imagine what would happen if we put down the remote control, big mac or beer and instead spend that time or money on something that helps the world. Guess what, in an age when antidepressants are doled out like candy and we “connect” via social media, helping others is exactly the medicine our society needs.

So what’s the hold up? Why aren’t there more people outraged by the living conditions of our homeless families? Is it because we are so desensitized by the media, or cable TV? Is it because there is a “that’s their problem” mentality? Or are we just so overwhelmed by the pace of our society that we just don’t have the capacity to help another human being?

I don’t know. But you can bet I will keep asking the question until I do. And keep working on a solution until there are enough warm homes, adequate food and hope on ther hearts of our community. That is the vision I hold, share this vision with me.

Gratitude – Day 13 – Health and well being

imageThe rain pours down outside as my ginger tea steams and the fireplace radiates warmth.

My kids are everywhere today, cared for by the village I love so dearly, as I nurse a cold and have a little quiet time.

Today the world aches as we see the news reports from our global neighbors in France. Yesterday’s terrorist attack is unbearable and I have been struggling to find the words to express my feelings about France and the world’s strife in general. 

As usual, Dr. King says it beautifully.

image

Today I am grateful for health and well being for my family and the world. I am grateful to be well and be a vessel of God’s love on this earth. I am grateful for all of the helpers in Paris, Beirut, and Baghdad who are surrounding those hurt with care, compassion and healing. 

May you and the people you love feel healthy and whole today.  May you be well. 

Gratitude – Day 6 – A random act of kindness 

 

 Yesterday afternoon we met with an English Faculty member. We called her in because earlier this week we received a call from a gentleman whose family member was in her class and he was so impressed by what he heard that he wanted make a donation in her honor. 

We shared this story with her and at first she said, “is this a joke”? I said no, of course. She got emotional and shared that her daughter had passed away from a drug overdose several years ago. I think she said on Christmas. She will be using this donation to establish a scholarship in her daughter’s honor, it will specifically help those struggling to overcome addiction. She had always wanted to start a scholarship but was never able to do it.

There was not a dry eye in my office.

The next day we called the donor and shared the story. He had to pull over to the side of the road he was so moved by the story.

It gets better.

I posted this story on Facebook. This moring I got an email from the local newspaper asking if they could do a story on this incredible situation. Last night I was talking with a judge friend who works in family court, specifically in juvenile drug court, I told her this story. She said this is exactly the type of scholarship that would help the kids she knows struggling with overcoming addiction, and a perfect “carrot” to help them get clean. 

You never know how one kind action will start a ripple effect of kindess in the world. Amazing. Today I am thankful for kindess.