Can you look beyond the obvious to see possibilities? Resilient people can. Watch this video and I promise you—you will cry and believe. Sent to me by my very resilient twin brother. http://bit.ly/ppL0WA
I was going through my digital files and found a tribute I had written for a friend who passed away in the summer a few years ago. Why I opened that file I will never know. But reading the words, I was struck that I needed to hear them NOW. TODAY.
Perhaps you do too.
It’s late July in Beaver Creek, Colorado. The sun has nestled behind the ridge and aspen trees shake their leaves in a goodnight kiss. A hummingbird keeps dodging at an unseen enemy, making the strangest clicking sound. Below my condo, a snow-fed creek attacks stones with the vengeance born from ponderous winter blizzards. Here but a few hours and already I’ve watched tiny swallows bring food to their babies housed in a roof tile and a brown bear chase a coyote across the upper ridges of a driving range. Ah yes, let’s not forget the toddler on bowed legs exploring the outer reaches of park grass and petunias.
Life: immutable, amazing, varied, fragile.
I’m here for a memorial service of a 78 year-old man who chased life with a vengeance and within nine months, melted away as a brain tumor took his mind, personality, and eventually, his body. The juxtaposition with teeming life at my fingertips underscores what the ancient Celtic race knew with certainty: life is a circle. When James’s ashes are cast to the winds, the brown fox with amazing multicolored tail will roll in the dust of the man who once stood facing the wind. The swallow’s babies will hatch and the toddler will hold sway as a precocious kindergartener.
Life: immutable, amazing, varied, fragile AND precious in the smallest of moments.
Blink and you miss the bird. Bury your head and the fox vanishes. Stare at a computer screen and you miss the man. James Campbell would remind us not to miss anything. He’d tell us only to be present and use our ability to soak in all that matters. Do we listen to the love of our beloveds, the delight of our children, the words of a friend, and the instructions of a God who tossed an eagle into the air and rolled the sea like a bowling ball from his cup?
Listen. Learn. Love. Leave behind. Return again. Life is a circle. Forward. Ever Forward.
I grew up with the yellow/black National Geographic. We devoured old copies dating from the 1930s in the musty basement of my grandparents’ home. As a teen, it was always on our coffee table where we’d pick it up after school. Long ago, I decided that if the ground sank, it would be because so many of us can’t stand to throw away the magazine.
Today, however, I am distressed at the National Geo’s nominees for Adventurer of the Year. Yes, there are only two women in the 10-person line-up and I wish there were more. But it is the nature of “adventure” that I find so incredibly sad. All but one of the nominees have performed an adventure that was all about self. Sure there are teams that helped different nominees achieve their goal—like Felix Baumgartner who jumped from 23.5 miles above the earth and broke the sound barrier before activating his parachute. But in the end—it was a singular achievement.
Shannon Galpin is the only nominee to do something the benefits more than her. As a women’s rights activist, her adventure has been to use her art to call attention to the plight of women in Afghanistan.
In her nomination description it says:
In 2006, Galpin founded Mountain2Mountain, a nonprofit dedicated to creating education and possibilities for women in conflict regions. Her idea was to connect U.S. mountain communities with mountain communities abroad. She picked Afghanistan because of its high infant mortality rate, years of extreme religious rule, and history of war.
The 38-year-old has braved some of the most violent periods in Afghanistan—a country considered by many humanitarian agencies to be the worst place in the world to be a woman—to work on women’s education and health. She fostered midwife training to combat infant and maternal mortality in the Panjshir Province. In Kabul and Kandahar, she helped develop reading programs for the daughters of women in prisons, some of whom were jailed for adultery after they were raped or for escaping arranged marriages.
I’m sorry, but I think this is far more earth shattering than scaling a mountain, running huge distances, or diving headlong into the stratosphere.
Shannon has taken a leadership role in crafting an “adventure” that mirrors what a difference one person can make. We have only until Jan 16 to vote for Shannon—and you can do it every day!
Will you join me in sending a message to the magazine I have long loved: the time for ego is over. The time for adventures that speak to the hearts of many is now here.
We have until January 16 to vote for her. Please join me in supporting Shannon.
Heather is not a child—she is 42. But she will always be the baby of the family. She’s my party girl, my shopper, my neat-and-clean kid, my remember to write thank-you notes child, and the lover-of-good-wines-and all desserts. She is also a brilliant ultrasound technologist.
Yesterday she went to LAX Airport to board a plane to take her away from her beautiful home and husband, away from our hugs and into Mae Sot, a region at the Thailand/Burma border and the site of a clinic. For two weeks, she will use her skill to help radiologists and doctors identify medical problems. She will also teach while there. She decided but a few weeks ago to volunteer for this mission and I couldn’t be prouder.
This region has a heavy refugee population. The exact number of Burmese in Mae Sot is unclear but estimates say that over 100,000 exist in addition to the 106,000 already recorded in the official census. In recent years the ongoing refugee situation has attracted NGO’s and International aid agencies to set programs in the town and surrounding areas.
One of the most notable organizations is Mae Tao Clinic located just outside the west of the town. It was established by the Burmese/Karen Dr. Cynthia Maung to offer free medical services to Burmese who do not qualify for treatment at the local Mae Sot Hospital. A native of Burma (Myanamar), Dr. Maung is considered the Mother Teresa of Burma. And Heather will meet/work with her.
Heather will see what true NEED really is. She will understand how much of the world lives. She will find out about an NGO called Earth Rights Thailand that combines the power of law and the power of people in defense of human rights and the environment. The bubble that my family lives in— too often unaware of corporate abuses that put gas in my car and clothing in my closet—will be shattered by her first hand account.
Wow. What a way to lead our family into 2013.
Found a great mail service called Postini which takes messages that look “dubious” and puts them into a daily quarantine until I can review and keep the ones that matter.
Literally hundreds come daily. It’s almost amusing. Someone (or entity) named “Kelly” with different e-mail extensions sends notices on everything from Dr. Oz’s amazing weight loss video to hair loss prevention, to policy offers on any kind of insurance. This chick gets around.
Then, I have been warned multiple times from multiple sources that my credit score has changed. (That’s what happens when you successfully re-finance your house). I’ve been offered sprout converters, half-off sports cars, “amazing wood” products, and multiple ways to get women into bed. (No, thank you.) I’ve been offered free loan advice, more discounts on cars, I-pad freebies, and Dr. Oz videos–again! I think Dr. Oz and Kelly should get together.
It’s actually pretty effective at culling out the undesirable. What is astounding is that someone must actually profit from these emails. Someone who has nothing better to do than to read such silliness must open these and respond.
Wanna bet they’re sitting in Congress?
My son-in-law, father of two amazing granddaughters, is a Fire Captain for the City of Portland, OR . He also serves with the volunteer fire department in his local community of Corbett, OR. After the horrific events at Sandy Hook Elementary, Phil—himself a first responder- sent out an email that took my breath away. I had no idea about this group AND it gave me a way to put some action behind my grief.
Here is what firefighter Phil Dearixon wrote to our family:
Dear Family, I’m sure all of us have been affected in some way by the events of the past week that occurred at both ends of our country. Being a first responder myself and seeing first hand the pain and suffering family members experience after the tragic and unexpected loss of a loved one, I would like to propose that our family Christmas project involve a non-profit program that assists families of victims as well as first responders after a life- changing event.
Trauma Intervention Programs Inc. (TIP) has many local chapters throughout the nation. We have a really good one here in the Portland Metropolitan area that I have had first hand contact with numerous times. The volunteers who come out to the scene after an emergency to console grieving loved ones and explain options to help them cope with the situation are very professional and add a calming effect to the aftermath of the event.
These programs operate solely on donations and fund raising activities. I would urge everyone to look into their local chapter, see what they do and consider a contribution or maybe even consider volunteering.
I cannot imagine my pager going off or being awakened by the bells and being asked to respond to what the volunteer firefighters in Sandy Hook, CT had to respond to yesterday. But I am absolutely certain there were TIP volunteers or some form of same at the station waiting for the first responders when they got back to help them cope with the feelings they must have been experiencing.
My friends, this is an organization I knew nothing about until Phil brought it to my attention. It started in California and spread eastward.
I offer this to you as a way to let our heart be broken OPEN so we can learn how to respond to others with compassion.
My colleague, Bonnie St. John, is herself incredible. Despite having her right leg amputated at age five, Bonnie St. John became the first African-American ever to win Olympic medals in ski racing at the 1984 Olympics.
This week, she wrote me about another amazing young women Caitlin Sarubbi.
Caitlin is a blind ski racer who is training for the Paralympics in Sochi and had her equipment, her house, and her father’s business wiped out by Hurricane Sandy.
As Paul Harvey would say, “Here’s the rest of the story”:
Caitlin was born with a very rare condition called Ablepharon Macrostomia — a disease of physical abnormalities that affect the head, face, skin and extremities. She has endured over 60 reconstruction surgeries, leaving her almost completely blind. She wasn’t expected to live through infancy, but she is now a pre-med student at Harvard and one of the best Paralympic Alpine ski racers in the world.
She has already competed in the 2010 Paralympics in Vancouver and is now training and competing to get a spot on the US team going to Sochi in 2014. Everything was lining up for her to take time off again from Harvard, getting a guide/coach that would fill in for her sister Jamie (who plans to be the primary guide) and also coach the two of them going to Sochi.
Hurricane Sandy changed all that. The storm destroyed the first floor of her family’s home in Brooklyn. All of Caitie’s ski equipment was ruined (she also lost most of her US uniforms from the 2010 Paralympics as well as the Olympic Torch she proudly carried through the streets of Brooklyn).
Caitie, by the way, is not the only extraordinary member of the Sarubbi family. Her father, John, is a NYC firefighter who heroically risked his life in lower Manhattan on September 11, 2001. Caitie is the oldest of 5 children, all of whom excel in both athletics and academics.
So often we wonder: what can I do to help someone who was devastated by something like Hurricane Sandy? We want to reach out, but how? Donating to the Red Cross, giving blood and other anonymous acts of genuine concern are all extremely valuable, but most of us don’t get a chance to help on a person-to-person basis.
Here is a chance to give directly to a family that is working hard, praying hard, and living a life far exceeding anything others thought was possible. The Sarubbi family is what America is all about. Will you go to https://www.rallyme.com/rallies/20 to give $10, $20, or more, to help set Caitie back on her course to victory?
Bonnie St. John has vetted the site and assures me that all monies go directly to Caitie.
Today is THE day. While taste might have been more appropriate for the culinary creations found tis Holiday, I believe that touch is what we yearn for more than food. Certainly my day could never start without the ritual hugs that let my sweet husband and I breathe the same air at he same time.
Touch. Hugs. Hands clasped. Doggy kisses…all of those tactile sensations which says someone or something reached out to us. Last week, while visiting an assisted care facility, I found that despite minds and bodies bent with onslaughts of age, their eyes lit up with gentle hugs, with a touch to their hand, or a kiss on the cheek.
Touch is so vital that therapist and author Virginia Satir stated that human beings need four hugs a day for survival, eight hugs a day for maintenance and 12 hugs a day for growth. I personally would double all those amounts.
This is the first Thanksgiving without my Mom. I woke up thinking of all the ways she touched me. She cuddled me in bed when I had a nightmare, put a cool hand on my burning forehead, bandaged up scrapes and cut out ingrown toenails. In the last year of her life, when a stroke paralyzed her entire left side, I would kneel beside her wheel chair, throw my arms around her waist and place my head in her lap. Her good hand would caress my hair and we’d be still in peaceful silence.
I think I was touched by an angel. And you??? Who touches you today? Better still, whom will you touch?