Gracious Gratitude
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Gracious Gratitude

Day 186

I cannot stop thinking of those kids. Those kids who will not go to prom. They will not go to college. They will not fall in love or get their hearts broken. They won’t get married and have kids. Instead, their parents are burying them.

To be honest, I ‘m having a really rough time trying to unpack everything I’m feeling. It’s too complex. And I am not even a mother. As I said in my commentary a few days ago, besides the abject horror and upset of an event such as this, I find myself roiling in emotional turbulence thinking about my friends who are mothers.

Today was a work day — meeting up with a training client, working with a new staff member, providing counsel to someone who’s considering getting a dog and a few other intense dog care action items. Being busy helped. It helped a lot. But now I’m home and the brain started whirring again.

So I did what I’ve taken to doing lately when such things transpire. I stop and breathe. The idea is simple — in order to reconnect with what is important (our selves, our loved ones) we must remember our humanity and step back. More often that not it means unplugging from technology. While I was doing so tonight, something occurred to me. I have been on this ride before. There was a time when my entire life was centered on this concept to stop, breathe, unplug and reconnect isn’t new to me.

It began and evolved as part of my consulting practice, which was focused on helping people (entrepreneurs, mostly) go spelunking through their business narratives to find their core truth. More simply, I helped people reconstruct the story of their professional lives by finding the personal reasons they did what they did. One of the common themes that arose over and over, was just how busy everyone was. It was too hard to dig deep, because they were always on the move. I began to see that it was precisely because of this kinetic existence their stories were falling flat, had no ballast. That was the case because due to the always on-never connected nature of things, there was no there, there.

In addition to working with individuals and companies, I spoke often on this topic — panels and a few individual talks. In June 2011 I was invited to deliver a talk at the 140 Conference in New York. Two nights before I was to speak I made a big decision. I decided to rip up my presentation and deliver the message as a spoken word piece. All I needed was a percussionist. Serendipity dropped one directly into my lap — a friend’s friend who was in town for two days. A drummer … and he had brought his gear. I chickened out a bit, and rather than doing the whole piece that way I opened up with a short spoken word intro and then slipped into slides. Consensus when I was done? I should have done the whole thing that way. So, five months later, when the conference producers asked if I would deliver my talk at their event in Tel Aviv, I did.

The month after this talk, I went on a life-changing trip to Peru. Then I turned the storytelling excavation work on myself. Less than a year later, I found myself in Las Vegas about to embark on a new path that would change my life forever.

Pausing. Breathing. Opening my eyes. It changed my life.

It occurs to me that in the process of self actualization and self-awareness all too many people get stuck in the egoic aspect of that effort and forget that the process isn’t about self … it’s about selflessness. In the process of going inward, of connecting to that true part of ourselves, we open the doors to connect with others who have done same. And when THOSE people come together, real change can occur.

Change. That is what we need now. First and foremost by people stepping away from the overly indulgent navel gazing of ego. Then stepping forward in authenticity to take action. There are such voices rising amidst today’s chaos. Of note, Emma Gonzalez, a 17-year-old who survived the nightmare in Parkland, FL this week. A clear, thoughtful and powerful voice — sounding loudly above the din of self-indulgent politicians’ “thoughts and prayers”. She and her peers who survived are showing us the way.

Take note. Take a breath. It’s time.

RIP Cousin Pink. RIP to one of the Twins. Another Twin continues a Dali-esque devolution, while the remaining cousin holds on with valiant effort and Junior reminds me of the beauty where it all began.

The Twins
The Cousins (top and bottom left) and Junior

Today’s Gracious Gratitude. Today I am grateful for:

  • Having the honor and privilege of caring for people’s beloved dogs
  • Puppy kisses and puppy breath
  • Seeing friends who lost a pup (way too young) utterly reveling in their new puppy
  • Dear friends who remind me of what true friendship really means
  • Dry roasted pecans tossed in truffle salt
  • Being terrified of something, calling a friend and saying it out loud and realizing it’s not so scary
  • Getting to provide someone with counsel who’s thinking of getting a dog
  • Sound sleep
  • Coffee, really good coffee



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Cathy Brooks

Cathy Brooks

Raconteur and Silicon Valley expat who’s gone to the dogs … literally. Read more here