I was a Morning in America child of the 80’s. I grew up listening to the news and writing letters to the editor. Today, I read the paper in the morning because I want a glance at what is relevant, but unless a major news alert pops up on my phone, the TV is hardly ever on at my house. Podcasts deliver so much more optimism than the news these days. But there is a problem if we choose not to inform ourselves, because the opposite of empathy is apathy. And a democracy is only as strong as its informed citizens. We need leaders who want to serve, and have empathy for what morning in America feels like right now. We are due for an awakening.
After I finished this amazing talk on Generational Consciousness with Jeri Reeder last Wednesday, my news alerts were buzzing, so I cautiously flipped on the TV. What I saw squeezed my American heart so tight. As my friend Chrissy put it, what I saw at the Capitol was the opposite of evolution, and it sure wasn’t any kind of awakening. And that’s when I picked up my phone and posted this video that resonated with some and upset others, which seems to be standard when you speak your mind about something these days. Some think that when we show emotion, it’s an untethered moment, but for me it was a deep connection to who I am and what I believe. I’m finally comfortable enough with myself and the camera to talk to you guys, instead of just write to you about what I think. When I started out, even writing felt scary, telling you what I thought and felt was intimidating and I just knew someone was judging me…”she needs attention, why doesn’t she just go talk to a friend”…and I cared. But I knew I wanted a record of my thoughts for my kids, I needed to unwind my monkey mind, and hoped to help others in the process, so I pressed on. Imposter syndrome and fear of what you thought of me loomed large. With video, I fought my demons that whispered you have to know everything (as if that’s even possible) to say anything, and you better look good and like your voice before you share a post. I had to learn to recognize and wrestle with self sabotage and give it a name, but that is all part of awakening and what keeps my bare feet on the path of growth. I remind myself often that a life lived with good intention, and what we learn from it, can’t be wrong unless we stop trying. Every day is an opportunity to learn and correct course if the need arises. So I press on, and know my intention is to spread light and inspire other real voices to know and share their own stories, so that we can connect, release shame, and set an example for the next generation… and now that camera doesn’t phase me anymore. I can check that one off my list;)
It feels rough out there right now. This week we have seen a nation in fight or flight. For so many reasons, we don’t feel safe, we do feel isolated, and we’ve seen the worst in humanity magnified in a 24 hour news cycle. We’ve retreated to our corners, pointed fingers and want to have something to blame to make sense of it all, or know that we are right, as if somehow that is going to help us find the safety that we are craving. And while I have opinions and deep disappointments, I feel the calming difference between awakening and activism, so while I don’t have all the answers for the vexing issues and deep divide in our country right now, I know that awakened citizens make better activists. Awakening starts with understanding our state and our story, and helps us move away from dualistic thinking. It allows us to hold space for divergent ideas and not jump to extreme conclusions quickly. It helps us find trust and compassion in our common humanity and pray for each other no matter what our beliefs. It helps us to know that our story isn’t the only story, and teaches us to seek connection instead of comparison when we speak. Awakening helps us see our own conditioning, how we have come to stand in the place we are today, and why we think what we think. Values are stronger tenants for living if we know how we arrived at them. And one thing I know for sure, radical thinking isn’t awakened, it’s fear based, and it sells.
Many people asked when I felt hurt by what went on at the Capitol if I was just as outraged at the riots and looting over the summer, and the short answer is yes. I don’t believe in violence as a means of social justice ever, and I know that in a crowd of many, the extremists will move to the front and find their ten seconds of fame on camera, but that doesn’t change the fact that the damage done at the Capitol was heartbreaking to see. The reason I spoke out on Wednesday was because patriotism and love for this country and it’s institutions are things that run deep in my DNA, even if I am disappointed in corrupted power structures and ego driven leaders. My story includes honorable and decent people who taught me about leadership and civic responsibility that looked nothing like what I see today. We have deep problems in our system from government, to corporate America, to the rise of technology that is outpacing our brains and hijacks our emotions on a daily basis, so what I know to do at this point is work to find presence in a chaotic world.
Here are some ideas, all of which you have heard from me before,
Embrace Solitude: Take a phone break, turn off the TV, stop scrolling and find a quiet corner of the house or take a walk by yourself. Our minds and nervous systems need silence to move us away from fight or flight.
Breathe to Find Presence: Nasal breathing is a game changer. Just four rounds of four second box breathing will activate your parasympathetic nervous system. Inhale four seconds, pause at the top four seconds, exhale four seconds, pause at the bottom four seconds. Or simply take 10 deep breathes, letting your exhale be longer than your inhale. Next time you are feeling stressed by what the world has to offer, stop and breathe.
Move - All of my life I have had a form of play and I don’t know what I’d do without it. For decades, it’s been my go to for stress relief. Whether it’s been running, pilates, swimming, volleyball, or yoga I am always mentally and physically better off than when I started. Find something you like to do and make time for it, it does wonders for completing the stress cycle.
4.Get Adequate Sleep - Ironically, one of the keys to ‘awakening’ is to get enough sleep. When we don’t, our mental abilities and emotional state are negatively affected and we find it more difficult to handle and complete the stress response in our bodies, leaving us irritable and with a weakened immune systems…something we especially don’t need these days.
5. Eat Clean & Hydrate - I’m doing a January cleanse. It’s all about repairing the Gut/Brain connection and flushing the toxins from our body. It helps me sleep better, reduces brain fog, and reduces inflammation. It also helps drop a few pounds. Everything works better and our cells can communicate more efficiently when we eat clean and are hydrated. If you are feeling like you need help in the nutritional arena or want more information let me know!
It’s not about getting all of these things right everyday, we can find grace and progress in the same moment. With so much out of our control and with every new day that still feels raw and unknown, we are better equipped to handle it if we know how to take care of ourselves. Awakening is about finding the presence to live in a world of opposing issues and understand our values at the same time, so we know how to be conscious activists for the issues that mean the most to us. And those issues don’t have to be the same or compared to each other to matter. Morning in America still happens everyday, what does your routine look like? Let’s find ideas we can connect on, and sit down and figure out how to build bridges to talk calmly about the rest. Maybe we the people can show the ‘leaders’ what to do.
I really wish that Tim McGraw’s & Tyler Hubbard’s new song, Undivided, was out to put on this blog…gotta wait until Wednesday. But the lyrics in this song are still speaking to me:)
With love & optimism,