Wednesday, January 31, 2018

...the Right Words

Words have power. They speak worlds into existence. They can stir the soul or break a heart.

We use them too much and say too little. We hold our tongues, when we should say what we need to say. Or we rush to anger and utter what is irretrievable.

Words carry with them the energy of our intentions, and whether it’s a song lyric, a sonnet, or a political speech, they help shape who we are, and they are what we use to define and describe ourselves and each other.

So whether it’s the voice in our heads or what we utter aloud, we ought to stop and think and pay attention to what it is we say, because we will create something with it – good or bad.

This whole thing about words came to mind, because I watched Joe Kennedy’s speech last night after the State of the Union (or Uniom as the case may be). And for the first time in what felt like an eternity, I had my faith in humanity restored, momentarily at least, and felt this long absent thing I would describe as hope.

And it got me thinking about the sheer power of rhetoric, that this could do that in just a few sentences. But it wasn’t just the words. It was that I didn’t have to wonder if the man saying them was genuine. I didn’t feel like I was a pawn in a political game of chess. I felt like I was someone who was cared about and spoken for, and it occurred to me that we ought to start speaking the world we want to live in into existence.

So how do we do that?

I think we appeal to our better angels and not the lowest common denominator.

I think we build each other up instead of tearing each other apart.

I think if there is a nice thing to say, we say it, whether it’s, “I like your shoes,” or “I love you.”

I think we start being kinder to ourselves in the ways that truly matter, and stop the internal voice that would say we are anything less than capable, intelligent, worthy and desirable.

Somehow, we’ve got to begin standing up for each other, instead of this whole isolating “my God is better than your God,” or “my race is better than your race,” or any lie we perpetrate against one another because of our differences.

Our differences are our strength, not our weakness. Our inclusivity is what enriches our lives. We all come from the same place, whether you call that place God, the Big Bang, or the Candy Man.

When all is said and done, our time here is brief. So dare to say what you want to build. Dare to be vulnerable and trust that your honesty will deepen your relationships. Dare to be bold about what excites you.

Words have power. And we ought to use that power for great things. For encouragement. For empathy. For kindness. For big ideas and stepping stones to healing. For compassion and striving. For being a voice for the voiceless. For declaring what is possible. We can do that, because words have power.

So take a moment wherever you are right now and say something nice to someone, even if it’s a stranger on a bus. Seriously, try it. Words have power. 

Thanks for stopping by today. Please tell your friends.

Friday, January 19, 2018

...Going Home Again

…Aaaand we’re back. Not a moment too soon. We’re home, where this blog began, and where it will likely remain, although if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past 24 hours, it’s not to get too used to anything. 

Change is the one constant, and you’d think knowing that, I would have managed to be better by now at coping with it and even embracing it. But my knee-jerk reaction is momentary hysteria, followed by oh yeah, it’s all gonna be fine..and maybe even better. 

If you’re new to my blog or to me, and this is your first time here, welcome. I’m so glad you stopped by. 

This blog began in 2009, before blogs were even a “thing” like they are now. 

In fact, I had to call my cousin Erik and ask him what a blog actually was and how to start one. 

I was trying to get a book deal at the time, and a publisher told me I needed to create a blog to gather fans. But the funny thing is, I had a feeling about it as I was starting it. I felt like it was going to take me somewhere unexpected. I felt like it was going to lead me to something big. 

And the truth is it did. 

This blog has taken me on adventure after adventure, while honing my skills. Me and my big blogging mouth became political activists, impacted honest to goodness television news, rallied the troops to get healthcare passed, and eventually began writing for The Huffington Post, which was still Arianna’s baby at the time. (She sold it in 2011 to AOL.)

As of yesterday, however, HuffPost, as it is now called, did away with their contributor’s platform, and thus, another new era begins. 

I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately to how we change the world. On the eve of the second Women’s March tomorrow and the anniversary of the first one a year ago, I am pondering the various ways we all contribute. 

A year ago, I was moved to tears as my friends and I approached the massive crowd in New York City, the likes of which no one had ever seen before. 

The love was palpable and so was the peace. It was the living embodiment of “we’re all in this together.” 

Most of us are not inclined to lead. We’ll follow gladly, but not be the one to lead the charge. The thing is we don’t have that luxury anymore. 

Every one of us must face our own discomfort and do what we can. If you’ve never seen yourself this way before, see yourself this way now. 

As my friend Lorraine once said in a completely different context, “If you’re not dead, get up!” 

Seriously. If you’re waiting for someone to come in and save you, forget it. Get up. It’s time we saved ourselves and each other. 

Last year, as we were marching, I could see the music video of this event playing out in my mind. 

As I started to put it together, I found people from around the world eager to contribute and send pictures and video clips of the various marches. 

I enlisted the talents of a young filmmaker named Dustin Scully to help me realize this vision. The result is the following video of my song “We are the Ones.”  

I hope that tomorrow will serve as a reminder of what unites us. I hope that each of us will remember to lend a hand, build each other up, lead the way, and be the voice for the voiceless. 

Thank you for stopping by. Please tell your friends, and visit again.