The Hands.

time
I’ve learned that it’s easy to recall terror and trauma; that the memory of anything that’s caused us pain or damage or turmoil is so easily accessible and readily available.

I still remember this day in 2001 when our world came shattering and screeching to a halt. Time stood still. The safety we’ve always felt was torn from beneath us and images of terror and evil flashed before our wide eyes.

But, today, let us not remember the terror. Or, let’s remember, but not dwell on it. What you give thought to, you give power to. So, instead, recall the love.

Recall the faces and stories of those who were lost that day; how they were mothers and sons and aunts and sisters and fathers and brothers and children and friends and grandparents and how they were all the center of their own universe and how they were all – every single one of them – someone else’s everything.

Tell stories. Give memories a voice. Recall the outpouring of pride for our country; sympathy for our fellow Americans. Let us recall the kindness of strangers. Let us recall the bravery of our own. Let us recall how it felt to be united.

Let us not focus on the horror of how lives ended, but instead, focus on how those lives began; on everything between the day they were born and the day they died – because it’s everything in the middle that counts the most.

Let us not lose the lesson – because there is always a lesson, especially in the darkest moments. We’re all going to die. There is absolutely nothing we can do to avoid it. The clock is forever ticking – unstoppable even if we were to tear out the hands and rearrange the numbers in a futile attempt try to trick it into giving us one more day here. It shall not be tricked, for it is powered by a force bigger than us.

So, the lesson is not to find ways to live forever or to fight the inevitability of death. The lesson is to live every day with the knowledge that this is all temporary. To treat every person we encounter kindly and with gentle hands.

There will always be evil. There will always be those who seek to destroy, and spread hatred. It is dangerous to think we can stop it. We cannot explode it out of existence. What we can do, however, is realize that the only way to counteract it is with love. It may seem small and weak, because bombs and crashing planes are louder; but, trust in its power: The power of good and light and patience and love
and love
and love
and love
and love
and love.

This is my wish: anyone reading this, please do one deliberate act of good right now. Buy someone a coffee. Smile at a stranger. Look someone in the eye and ask them how they’re really doing. Hold a door. Hug someone for 9 seconds without pulling away. Serve a fellow human being. When you find anger, fight it with kindness. Practice patience. Notice each other. Let the despicable acts of this day catapult us into doing more good.

That is how we win.

I’ve been speaking my gratitude’s out loud every day and this usually includes a list that takes me about ten minutes to get through. But, today…today all I could say is “I am grateful to be alive,” over and over and over and over. It’s that simple today. I am just grateful to be alive; grateful that there is blood running through my veins and my heart is beating and my lungs are growing smaller and bigger,

smaller and bigger,

smaller and bigger.

Find love today. Be love today. Give love today.

9/11/2001

When I’m Driving In a Beautiful Place and See Someone Doing “The Ugly Face”

hemingway
Yesterday morning, as I drove along the winding Pacific Coast Highway singing my lungs out and smiling like a fool on my way to spend a relaxing solo day / night in Malibu, I pulled up next to a brand new silver Mercedes SUV at a stop light.

“Beautiful car,” I thought, as I shook my shoulders and wagged my head back and forth, dancing in my seat.

I inched forward to see if maybe it was anyone I’d recognize ( * True story: On this very same section of road, I once glanced to my left at the same stop light, and there in the SUV next to me was Julia Roberts. Seriously. Now you understand why I was behaving slightly creepy. * )

So, I glanced at the driver. She was a beautiful lady, I’d say in her mid-30’s, with brown shoulder-length hair styled to perfection. Beautiful earrings sparkled in her ears. Diamonds crusted her delicate wrist. But, something didn’t fit.

This beautiful woman…

she was sobbing.

And I don’t mean crying daintily and dabbing at her doe eyes with a tissue – I mean she was what I call “ugly face crying.” Face contorted, jaw quivering, mouth turned down at the sides, hand to her lips; her chest rising up and down quickly with her uneven breathing. The kind of crying you do when you’ve reached an emotional point of “I can’t contain what I’m feeling anymore,” and unleash because your heart aches too much to hold it in. The kind of crying where your soul is screaming louder than your voice. The kind of crying we usually only feel like we can do when we’re alone.

Only, she wasn’t alone. I could see her.

I quickly turned my radio down, the loud and happy noise now seeming cruel – and looked at her again. “Gosh,” I thought to myself, “this poor lady! What could possibly be making her so sad?!” I mean, maybe it was because I wasn’t in a sad place, but this woman – her sadness was profoundly affecting me! I mean, I REALLY felt for her. I could feel her desperation. I suddenly had the urge to smile at her, to offer her any kind of comfort I could. I wanted to reach out to her in case no one else did. When people cry alone in cars, it’s usually because they have to be brave and keep it together for the rest of their world. It’s a lonely cry.

The light turned green. I sped off, and she turned onto another road – only I couldn’t leave her behind.

Seeing the woman in such dire pain really got me thinking.

I’ve done the same thing many times: Cried and sobbed my eyes out in the safety and isolation of my car. (What is it about cars? Have you done this, too?) I’ve wiped my eyes, controlled my breathing, gotten myself together again, and continued on with my day – no one the wiser to my emotional breakdown. I’ve put on my braveface and made the world think I was fine. But, God, what I wouldn’t have given for someone to reach out. For someone, in my moment of complete isolation, to offer a kind word. A smile. To see that, despite how I held it together in public, I wasn’t okay. To acknowledge the suffering I was feeling. To be kind.

I wondered where this woman was going, did she have someone to talk to, why was she crying? I wondered how she’d behave when she reached her destination. Would she feign happiness and try to convince herself that she wasn’t just “ugly-face crying?” I wondered what her life looks like.

Though I’ll never get a chance to offer this woman comfort, I wanted to tell you about her. This woman was a great reminder. She reminded me that, even if people seem okay, we are ALL fighting battles that the rest of the world may know nothing about. So many of us put on a brave front, when inside, we’re crumbling. This is why it is SO important to BE NICE to each other. There have been days when I’ve been so broken and sad and lonely that the simple kindness of the cashier at the grocery store has brought me to tears.

Just because someone isn’t calling for attention and telling the world they’re sad, does not mean they aren’t suffering.

So today, I just want to extend this to you:

Sometimes we all get a little caught up in our own weird little worlds, but take notice and be gentle and be kind with the people around you, because we are all in the midst of fighting battles invisible to those around us.

– A

The Secret to Life

elephant

I have a secret.

And I want to share it with you.

But proceed with caution, because once you know a secret, you can’t un-know it.

You can try to pretend you never heard it, but it’ll always sit there below the surface, bubbling; causing ripples in your life.

This secret is wonderful and terrifying at the same time, because it is the one answer to every question you’re afraid to ask, and you already have all the tools to work with you could ever need…
                               but it involves a tricky little devil with an angels face called free will.

I felt like I should give you fair warning, because what I have to say could drastically change your life.

Picture cannon-balling into a pool. It’s like that.
It creates a real scene.

I know it did (and continues to do so) for me.

If you’re still with me, here goes. Here’s the biggest secret I’ve ever been privy to:
Continue reading

This Is Me – And I Am Worthy

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“I don’t care what you think of me. I don’t think of you at all.” -Coco Chanel

Sometimes, the people we trust enough to invite into our lives turn out to not have our best interests at heart. I used to allow these people to stay in my life in some capacity because I was too nice to cut them loose – always making excuses for them. Getting a point in my life where I feel strong enough to say, “You’re not welcome anymore,” has been so freeing and feels so liberating.

I don’t need to be liked or loved by everyone.

I am me.

I can wake up every morning and look at myself in the mirror with respect and love.

If those around me don’t offer me these things I know I deserve, they’re not welcome.

Take control of your life and tell people who don’t make you feel good to BEAT IT! You are amazing, and you are worthy of love and respect!