I miss her. Talking, laughing, inspiring.
The smile that lights up a room. You know what else I miss? She never slapped her husband’s hand away. On camera. In front of the world.
Does that sound dumb? It does. I know, it sounds kind of dumb. But there was just — something — about seeing love and laughter and warm family moments from the White House. It radiates outward. It uplifted so many of us.
Not that I’d want ole Donny to grab my hand either. But yeah. Not like I’m going to be on international news anytime soon. Anyway…
Grief, stress and strife can make us feel unmoored.
Like a tiny boat pitched around on the waves, motor dead, oars long gone, as we hang on for dear life. And pray. It’s been like that, lately.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, gone.
200,000 Americans, gone.
Millions of jobs, gone.
People isolated at home, venturing out in masks only when they need to. Wanting to feel safe again, but not knowing when that might happen.
Never mind when, wondering if we’ll ever feel safe again.
And an election in 43 days.
Too much. It’s all too much.
I miss her. And I’m not even American. I’m Canadian. But, American news is everywhere. The world can’t help but see what’s happening in America.
Michelle Obama to the rescue…
According to Gallup, she is still the most admired woman in America. She’s encouraged education for girls, championed equal rights, advocated for families in poverty, and pushed for healthy living.
Grace and humor aside, she reminds us how to think.
How to show up in the world.
Like a lighthouse, beaming a light to guide us to safe harbor. So I went and read a bunch of interviews. Collected up some words that I think we need to hear right now.
I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
1. Always take the high road…
“When someone is cruel or acts like a bully, you don’t stoop to their level. No, our motto is, when they go low, we go high. Going high is the only thing that works. Because when we go low, we use those same tactics of degrading and dehumanizing others, we just become part of the ugly noise that’s drowning out everything else.”
We all have a higher self and a lower self. We all know what that means. We know when we’re bringing our lowest selves. But those moments when we bring our best selves to the table, the times we bring kindness and humanity, those are the moments we feel truly good about who we are.
Psychologist and holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl called it the last of the human freedoms. The freedom to choose how to respond. As Michelle said, don’t ever let someone else take that away from you.
2. Take care of yourself first.
“If you do not take control over your time and your life, other people will gobble it up. If you don’t prioritize yourself, you constantly start falling lower and lower on your list.”
Remember flights to lovely destinations? The airline attendant would tell everyone, in the event of emergency, put on your own mask before you try to help anyone else. You can’t feed the hungry when your cupboards are bare.
You cannot make a difference in the world if you’re too exhausted to function. Take care of yourself. You are here for a reason and the world needs you.
3. Your voice is your power…
“When you see something that is not right, you must say something. You must do something. That is the truest form of empathy. Not just feeling, but doing. Not just for ourselves, or our kids but for everyone. For all our kids.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s the power of using your voice.”
It’s scary to speak out when you see something that’s not right. Especially if no one else is speaking out. For me, I end up regretting it and feeling a bit like a coward. Because I saw wrong and didn’t say anything. It feels a bit complicit
Desmond Tutu said if you’re neutral in situations of injustice, you’ve chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.
Thank heavens we’re all writers, right? We can write and share those thoughts and others will know they’re not the only one who feels that way. Write!
4. Don’t make decisions from fear…
“Don’t ever make decisions based on fear. Make decisions based on hope and possibility. Make decisions based on what should happen, not what shouldn’t happen.”
Fear is a useful human response. It keeps us safe. Fear is our internal danger alarm. It gets us out of burning buildings and saves you from the tiger that would eat you for lunch.
But it’s the wrong way to make big decisions. No matter what’s happening, we need to be able to assess what should be happening in a best case scenario. What should the outcome look like? And let that guide us.
5. Don’t ever let anyone drag you down…
You have to fill your bucket with positive energy — and if you have people hanging around you that are bringing you down and not lifting you up, whether that’s your boo or your best friend — you have to learn how to push these people to the side…
There’s an old fable about a farmer who dug a deep hole and dumped his old donkey in the hole. Too old to be any use. But every time he threw in a shovel full of dirt, the donkey stepped on the dirt until he climbed out of the hole.
Some people think it’s delusional to focus on the positive. And I don’t mean toxic positivity, because that’s not real. Dragging ourselves and each other down with negative energy seldom helps anything. You can be a realist without turning into a bucket of toxic energy.
6. Don’t underestimate yourself…
“You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not be able to solve all of the world’s problems at once but don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own.”
David Hynes was boarding the train, like any other day, when his foot slipped through the crack between train and platform. But it didn’t end tragically for him. The crowd surged forward and lifted the train to save his life.
Courage is contagious. Isn’t that a beautiful thought? Because, you know what we do, right? We sit back and think “who am I to change the world?” But you don’t have to. Sometimes, just being the first voice is enough.
Don’t ever underestimate what you have the power to do.
7. Real change comes from honesty…
“Real change comes from having enough comfort to be really honest and say something very uncomfortable.”
In 1851, Sojourner Truth marched to the podium at a Women’s Convention in Akron, Ohio and gave a speech. She asked, “Ain’t I am woman?”
‘twixt the Negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. That man over there says women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? [source]
Sometimes, we have to say the uncomfortable truth. We don’t have to be mean or condescending. We can stay on the higher road. But hiding ugly truths and pretending we don’t see them isn’t the higher road, is it?
We cannot change that which we don’t see. Real change is always preceded by someone with the vision to see and the honesty to say uncomfortable things.
8. When you succeed, you give back…
“When you’ve worked hard, and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you. You reach back and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed.”
To me, this one is the key to the future. To everything. We live in a world that idolized Steve Jobs who “didn’t believe” in charity and spent his life denying his daughter’s existence so he wouldn’t have to pay child support.
And? Demonizing someone like Bill Gates who donates so much to fixing the damn broken world including the pandemic, despite that people create stupid theories that he wants to chip them and other such nonsense.
It would take an Amazon warehouse worker more than 200 years to earn what Bezos does in an hour and when you say that, people defend Bezos.
We need to demand more of the people who have profited off the struggle of others. Until we do, nothing will change. Nothing.
“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune
without the words
And never stops at all.”
― Emily Dickinson
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Not the usual picks.