One of the most rewarding projects I have ever created began last year in the wake of the tragic deaths of two boys at the high school my kids attend. They were on a school outing at the Oregon coast when a wave came up and sucked them into the ocean. Several others were there too, helpless to save their friends who perished in front of their eyes. It is a jarring image to consider even several years later. The memorials that followed the event and the immense community response were the most inspiring and compassionate experiences of loss I have ever had the honor to witness; the students all felt it, too. Tragedy creates a unique depth of tender connection between people because we recognize both our common frailty and humanity. The kids wanted to hold onto that connection and somehow permanently mark the event.
Join Wendy while she works to master the art, study the science and discover the practice of positivity one day at a time. The growing body of scientific research in positive psychology proves without a doubt that shifting your thinking habits from negative to positive creates a thriving life. When you train yourself to remain open, curious and lean towards wonder, surprise, gratitude and occasional moments of awe, the way you see your life changes the life itself.
Join the quest here….
I don’t know why there is so much shame about losers in our culture. We are trained to want to win from the earliest age and all the thousands of hours of sports coverage that we watch throughout our lives centers on the winning. Even when the win is gotten by millimeters or milliseconds, the loser is out of our focus in an instant. This is a tragic misinterpretation because the truth of the experience- in training and competing between winners and losers is more similar than different. Instead of celebratng the development and the effort required by all the competitors, we keep our eyes trained on the one who comes up on top.
Tomorrow is the service for my friend who just died of cancer. Next week would have been her 58th birthday. Random memories of our friendship pop into my head with regularity. I can hear her warm voice turning to honey as she responds with her honey endearment that she always used when we spoke. I study the art she has made for me over the decades of our friendship; seeing the thousands of strokes of color individually for the first time. In one portrait, I am young with my first babies laying on my chest. I think she drew me more beautiful than I am… I have always thought that and she always reminded me- no, truly, you are that beautiful. Real friends see your beauty first, often even before you do. They grab onto you in your sadness so you don’t slip too far down, forgetting yourself.
One of my oldest friendships ended yesterday with the premature death of my friend, Janice. She was just shy of her 58th birthday, a day exactly two weeks before mine. I feel her all around me today. She is probably happy now to be free from her cancer-ridden body and all of the physical constraints that tethered her endless sense of beauty and spirituality to the ground. She held on loosely to this life- a fact that sometimes was hard to witness… but there was never any arguing with her about how she lived. It was too full of love. She was one of the first people I had ever known who never looked at me with judgment. I learned what unconditional love felt like from loving her.
If modern day politics and the increasingly large polarization that is dominating rhetoric has anything to teach, it is this: there are no solutions to be found when we are asking the wrong questions. Demanding answers to the wrong questions is a practice that often get trained into us in our personal lives. The wrong questions are easily identified as a product of our fears and judgments. At best, these questions help you identify the guilty; at worst you end up in a polarized argument, which is the foundation of seeing people who are more like you than not as the other. The wrong questions are a reflection of personal values more than an honest inquiry that could lead to a solution. Of these questions, one that is particularly divisive in our culture is the question of the right to marriage by same sex couples.
We can’t come up with real solutions for the diminishing resources we face as a society until we all agree to a few basic premises. The first premise, which at least rhetorically is shared by both parties in the current debate is that the most accurate measure of any civilization is seen by how it cares for its least fortunate, most vulnerable members. The Republicans family values are at their very core calling for a society that embraces the idea that we care for one another in the way that their Christian ideology dictates. The second premise that must be acknowledged is that in this humane society that both parties claim to create there must be a safety net, which provides a minimum of support for health care, food and lodging for those unable to provide for themselves.
“Each of us is here for a brief sojourn; for what purpose he knows not, though he sometimes thinks he senses it.
But without deeper reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people.” –Albert Einstein
Some days I deeply miss my old daily ritual positivity post. Back when my days always concluded with written reflection on the different ways of relating to my life positively, I enjoyed learning how to document what I was learning as much as the learning itself. Slowly practicing positivity in the world took up more of my time and in place of the daily writing I am creating on a bigger canvas. In many ways I have just as much, maybe even more to record than before now that I am actively leading so many positivity projects in the world. Still, there is nothing like the organized recording of a life to gain insight into where it is working and what needs more attention.
We are storytellers at heart and, in fact, the most powerful and instructive moments of our lives are the narrative that we share and even more deeply, how we know ourselves. For all the hundredth of second photo finishes or hundredth of a point deductions that make the difference between winning and losing in the Olympics, nothing stays with us as meaningfully as do the stories of the personal courage and the unrelenting drive to see a dream materialize against ridiculous odds. These profiles in what it means to find our own greatness and not be deterred by accident, injury or competition are what makes the Olympic games unforgettable.
It is unusual for a newly installed bee hive to swarm, and even more unusual for a new beekeeper to witness it happening. In fact, in the couple of weeks since my bees executed their escape, several people I know who have kept bees for over a decade have told me they have never seen it. Truly, it was a remarkable occurrence. I am rarely at home midday and even less rarely sitting at the only window that would have given me the view. In truth, I was sitting on my bed, looking at this screen when my 14-year-old daughter said, “Mom, this is freaky – what are the bees doing?”
I am learning to see myself in this newest version of my face. I wish I had appreciated the unique blend of features I had in my more youthful face. I wish I had loved the high cheekbones and paid less attention to the length of my chin back when my beauty was given with my youthful skin, still adhering tightly to my bone structure. I remember listening to Nora Ephron lament about her disappearing neck and looking in the mirror wondering what she was talking about. I still remember the first time I felt wrinkles under my hand as I brushed hair back from my forehead at 37.