Thursday, April 28, 2011

Wired to care.

I had a fascinating conversation this week with a colleague in the non-profit world about what drives us as human beings to help, volunteer, donate and reach out to others.

At times the need seems so deep - genocide, crimes against humanity, gender violence around the world, preventing child abuse and sexual trafficking, helping sick kids, clean water, ending poverty, fighting disease, promoting health, disaster relief, feeding the hungry, concern for animals, saving the planet.... The list of causes and needs could go on and on. Sometimes this list grows so long in our consciousness that it is overwhelming.

I believe human beings are good by nature and that a caring, compassionate spirit is inside the real us - although it can often be buried under a hardend facade or a cynical exterior. It never ceases to amaze me how we humans rise up and help another in need. Often I wonder, though, if folks just get saturated with sorrow and tune out the images, the news reports and the appeals for help. We ask oursleves, why should I care about something happening on another continent? Or there is no point - my contribution or time will just be a drop in the bucket so I am going to hide away from the pain. .

Then something happens- a tornado, earthquake, diagnosis, a photo of a starving child whose eyes haunt us or perhaps a news story on genocide in Darfur and the enormity of the loss of life strikes us. Of course we care, even if it happens across the globe. Why, because we see ourselves in another's eyss. There except for one strand of DNA or a twist of fate and that could be us. Sometimes I wonder if it is God's way of reminding us to be grateful for our own lives. I read a great quote the other day from a woman who was sharing the great advice her mother had given her - she said if you are depressed or sad go out and do somthing for someone else, it will put your problems in perspective.

On a deeper level, I think that at some point of our core we remember in these moments that we are all connected - at a soul level, at a cellular level and through our shared energy. Science is now proving this energetic connection between life. There is an amazing new documentary out called "I Am" which really demonstrates that physics prove that fundamental connection between us and that we are wired to care for one another. Compassion and cooperation are part of our DNA. I have just read about the film but can't wait to see it. I too believe that we are wired to care. The need seems overwhelming, but is it really? If all of us tapped into this wired reality of our hearts and spirits, couldn't we collectively make a huge dent in this pile of need?

That "wiring" is why we keep giving, volunteering, helping our neighbors and supporting causes that touch our hearts. It is also probably why is feels so good to help another person, be generous or to do he right thing - we are acting on our true nature, honoring our connections and that brings us joy. Think about it, have you ever met a happy person who also happens to be selfish, mean or uncaring - instead, they are miserable. Isn't it wonderful to know we are wired to care?

Thursday, April 21, 2011


I follow up my recent blogpost about helping our girls keep their voice with something I think is quite extraordinary. My 12 year old daughter wrote a poem for her Language Arts class. In addition to the beauty of the words, I was impressed and actually rather in awe of her strength and confidence. I believe that she may indeed have her voice and I have a deep belief she will not lose it.

After much discussion, she agreed to allow me to post her work. She amazes me..

Taking Chances Lily Stephens 4/20/11

don’t sit around
for life
to find You

grasp it
in the palm of Your hands

let it shine
let Your dreams
become Your reality

its like a dare
You have two roads
to walk…

the easy-going,
obvious choice:
NO I can’t

with Your eyes beaming
You can walk
that plank
into the unknown realm
of YES I can

don’t let fear
Your courage

feel the wind
as You jump
out of the plane

let Your heart
skip a beat
as You finally
ride that ride

You are You
and only You
have the power
to what You become

so go ahead.
say NO
don’t climb that mountain
sit in the shadows
of Your dreams

live life
create the climax to Your story.
Take Chances.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Helping our daughters keep their voice

Speak and stand in your truth. To thine own self be true. Follow your bliss. Be yourself. How many times have we heard and read these bits of wisdom? Follow your instincts. Know your worth. These nuggets of truth really do offer a road to happiness and peace, but are certainly harder to live by than it may appear on the surface.

The past weekent, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a fundraising event for G-CAPP (Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention) and the focal message of the evening was to help our girls - our daughters, nieces, granddaughters, sisters- find and keep their truth, voice and their spirit as they experience the tumultuous time of change that is adolescence. The special guests- Jane Fonda and Gabby Sibide told their stories of finding, keeping, sometimes losing and then re-discovering that very essential strength of sense many years later- often in mid-life.

Our girls seem to lose that sense of fearlessness and confidence that marks early girlhood. I have written of this before- about how these tigers (or I guess tigresses) of girlhood are strong, smart, confident, funny, like to get dirty, play sports, dream BIG and excel at school. If you have any doubt, observe a gaggle of 7-11 year old girls at play or as I have in large numbers at a slumber party! Unfortunately, they often lose a little of that luster when hormones, pressure, competition for male attention and societal mores that they be "good girls" but also sexy girls, not make a scene, not outshine the boys and by all means fit in that begins to kick in with puberty.

So how do we help them keep that strength, that voice and confidence? I don't think there are any easy answers. But here is a bit of what I have picked up and will do my best to try and do as a mom: let them discover who and what they are - without pushing them in the direction of your choice, create at haven at home where she can be her true essential self, try to remember what it feels like to be 12, 13, 14 and be discovering who you are while making mistakes along the way, listen without judgement and talk even if it doesn't seem as though she is listening.

The other aha moment from the evening was really a reminder- you can't expect your daughter to keep her voice, stand up for herself and know her worth - if you don't know yours. That may actually be the most powerful tool of all in this quest. Do I stay true to me, pursue my dreams with abandon, require respect from those in my life and love myself no matter what?

In spite of all the history, the statistics and concerns - I do have great hope for this generation of girls.