Hello! It has been another month or so since my last blog post. I am not exactly sure why it has been challenging for me to write and post recently. It is not that I have a lack of thoughts on my mind. I think in light of Richard’s death and my posts about that…not much seemed to fit into the category of “important” enough to post. Now I am ready to start sharing thoughts, ideas, tips, suggestions, struggles, inspiration, and more – each week (or more ofter).
In the spirit of my last post about speaking my truth, I am going to talk about the “taboo” subject of politics. Two weeks ago Michelle, Samantha, and I went to Washington DC. While we were there we stopped by to drop off a letter of support for Senator Barack Obama…to let him know we believe in him, we are with him, and we are excited to volunteer for his Presidential campaign. To our amazement, we ended up running into him in the elevator of the Hart Senate building going up to his office. We had a wonderful conversation with him and were able to take the photo above with him in his office. It was an extraordinary moment for Michelle, Samantha, and me…one we will not soon forget.
Michelle and I were fortunate enough to be at the Democratic National Convention in Boston in 2004 (working for Dennis Kucinich’s Presidential campaign). We were at the convention the night that Barack Obama gave his remarkable speech and introduced himself to the country in a most inspirational way. We were moved to tears that night and began to wonder with excitement and anticipation when he would run for President. Like most people, we figured it would be at least 8 or 12 years before he would be able to make a “legitimate” run for the White House. But, given the nature of things in our country and our world, and his incredible appeal and popularity, he has decided to seize the moment and step forward now. I applaud him for his courage and am so inspired by his vision, passion, and authenticity.
As you may know (or at least imagine from reading the previous few paragraphs) I am a proud LIBERAL Democrat and always have been. I say this from a place of pride and also as a way to honestly share my political perspective. I don’t share this in a self-righteous, closed-minded way. However, over the years I have become increasingly concerned about the lack of communication, honesty, and acceptance across the political spectrum. It seems to me that things in our country have become intensely divided and polarized. As a Democrat, I am excited to see someone like Barack Obama come along – an exciting candidate who seems to be able to genuinely connect with people and who also seems to understand the complexity of the issues. As an American and a citizen of the world, I am deeply moved that Barack Obama is the first politician in my lifetime who honestly looks like he can inspire, lead, and unify our country. Given the seriousness of what is going on in our world, we need a new kind of leadership, a new perspective, a new approach, and a new kind of leader. While I agree with his politics, my passion, excitement, and support of Barack Obama feel to me like they have less to do with his political views and more to do with his vision and message of HOPE and UNITY.
Without being naive, I believe it is possible for us to disagree with love, respect, and appreciation for one another. I am excited about our society moving in a direction toward peace and unity. I believe it will start within our own hearts, our own families, our communities, our schools, our politics, and then throughout the world.
If you want to be truly inspired, pick up a copy of Barack Obama’s new book, The Audacity of Hope. It is a beautiful vision of what things could be like in our country and our world.
As Martin Luther said, “Everything that is done in this world is done by hope.”
With Hope and Excitement,
Hey there. Happy New Year! It has been almost a month since I last posted to my blog. My intention is to post something each week. However, this past month I have been a little stopped in this area. It has nothing to do with me not having anything to say or write. As you probably know, I am rarely at a loss for words, ideas, or expression.
It has been hard for me to find something that I felt was “appropriate” for my blog. As weird as it sounds and as much as I say I am all about honesty, openness, and authenticity, I realize that I have lots of “rules” in my head about what I am “supposed” to write about in this blog, in my e-zine, and what I am “allowed” to speak about when I talk publicly. My work is all about appreciation and gratitude, I should stick to that, right?!? Well, not really.
There is so much more on my mind and in my heart, in general, and especially these days. However, much of what I want to talk about doesn’t seem to fit into the appreciation/gratitude box and in all honesty, I worry that people will not want to hear me talk about some of the other things on my mind that I am passionate about. I want to talk and write about death, politics, God, peace, relationships, love, spirituality, our shadow, the nature of the universe, and much more. Somehow, many of these topics are ones I either feel I am not “qualified” to speak or write about, or more honestly, I am worried that people will not agree with me about them and somehow I will be alienated.
Richard’s death has rocked my world in so many ways. I miss him and am incredibly sad. I am also still in a state of shock that he is gone. And, it has been such a magical experience this past month as I have been moving through my grief and connecting with others who knew him, loved him, and still do. I am clearly still in the midst of it, but so many profound thoughts and feelings have been coming to me about Richard, about me, about family, about my work, about life, about death, and more.
Richard speaks to me all the time – in my thoughts, feelings, meditations, and dreams. I mean he literally shows up – I see him, feel him, and hear him. This is one thing that I am scared to share publicly, but it is true and I love it. His message to me is clear, “Focus on LOVE, that is the only thing that is real. Most of what we focus on in life is nonsense and it takes us away from what is true, what is real, and what we all want.” I am feeling so connected to Richard, but also to my father and others who have passed away and are on the “other side.”
There is a real magic in death. This is another thing I have been scared to say out loud, but I feel it so deeply within me. I actually love funerals and memorial services. My friend Theo was the first person I had ever heard say this. I was shocked when he said it…not because I thought it was weird or bad; I was just amazed by his honesty about it and I totally agreed. I was grateful for Theo’s honesty because it gave me permission to realize that this was true for me as well.
Memorials are often so real, raw, and human. I love the intensity of emotions and the authenticity that comes out. I love that so much of the stupid stuff we focus on in our daily lives seems meaningless in the face of death. I love being able to appreciate the person who has passed away, the other people in our lives, and our own life. I love how it wakes us up to precious nature of life that most of the time we forget about. I don’t wish death onto anyone, although we are all going to die someday. Sadly, we rarely live our lives on a daily basis with any awareness of our own death. If we did, I think we would live in a totally different, much more real, and passionately bold way.
I wish with all of my heart that there was some way for Richard to come back to life in body. I miss him, I want to see him, hug him, and connect with him in human form. However, I believe strongly that there is a plan for all of us and that we each get to choose when we die…we aren’t victims of accidents, health problems, or anything else. I think we each choose when it is time for us to return home, to the source of life…to God/Goddess/All That Is.
Maybe this is just a rationalization for the biggest mystery of humankind and something (death) that I struggle to make sense of, as most of us do. However, deep in my heart, this notion of choice regarding death feels so true to me.
Another gift of death is that it often gives us the courage to speak our truth – whatever that truth may be. For me, I feel a sense of liberation and passion about my own truth right now. I want to talk about life, death, love, appreciation, fear, shame, guilt, hope, dreams, and more on an even more REAL level. I want to talk about God, spirituality, the nature of the universe, and why we are here…in a more authentic way. It is time for me to stop apologizing for my beliefs, my opinions, my commitments, and my values. I do want to be aware of and sensitive to the fact that not everyone shares my point of view, but I don’t need to sell out on what is true for me in service of being “respectful” or “inclusive.” Being respectful and inclusive are both very important to me, but in all honesty, I often use these as a justification for not speaking my deep truth and my fear of upsetting people or having them not like me, agree with me, and think I am wonderful.
Richard’s death has been a true wake up call for me. I am not here to just say the “right” things, have people like me, make as much money as I can, impress others, look good or fit my message of love, spirit, connection, God, and life into some “corporate box” that will not not ruffle any feathers, and will be “appropriate” enough to allow me to get paid to deliver speeches and seminars in the corporate world. I am here to love myself, love others, teach about love, life, God, and truth in the very best way I can. I am here to step out and speak my truth, and in doing so I hope that I am able to inspire and empower others to do the same.
This blog post was easy for me to write, but is scary for me to post. I do so with my own commitment to truth and realness. I hope you hear and see things in what you have read here that speak to you. And, I realize that I have no idea what you will think or how this will impact you. At some deep level, that is not my job to figure out…it is yours. My challenge to you, to me, and to all of us is to speak what is true in our own hearts – now and always. Imagine what the world would be like if we all did that! Amazing! As I heard someone say in a seminar I took years ago, “We are all trying to survive life, and none of us ever will.” Let’s remember this and speak what is true for us!
With truth, courage, and vulnerability,
P.S. The photo below was just emailed to me and I am so grateful to have it. This picture was taken on 11/9/06 – the last time Michelle and I saw Richard. It was at Rich and Yvonne Dutra-St. John’s house (the co-founders of Challenge Day) the day that Challenge Day was featured on Oprah. It was a magical, beautiful day and we all shared in the pride, love, and appreciation of Challenge Day’s work and exposure. In this photo is my wife Michelle, our daughter Samantha, Richard, Richard’s wife Kris, and me. What a great memory!
It is still hard for me believe that my dear friend and mentor Richard Carlson is gone. Richard died suddenly and unexpectedly on December 13th on an airplane to New York. He was traveling to NYC for some media appearances for his new book, Don’t Get Scrooged. He died of a pulmonary embolism while on the flight.
My last blog post was celebrating him and his new books…and now I am posting to share about his death and to celebrate his life. He was such an important person in my life and in the world. The past week has been one of the most challenging and remarkable weeks of my life. Never in my wildest nightmares would I have expected this to happen. And, there have been so many miracles, blessings, and things to be grateful for in the midst of this tragic loss.
I was asked by Kris, Richard’s wife, to officiate the memorial service that was held for Richard on Tuesday. I was honored to do so, although terrified at the same time. This past week we spent a great deal of time with Kris, Richard’s two teenage girls, and the entire Carlson family.
What an honor to be able to support them in this painful time. As challenging as it has been, it has also been incredible. So much love, so much gratitude, and so much peace. In addition to being an incredible author, teacher, and healer…Richard was an extraordinary human being, husband, and father. He got as excited about a new book as he did about one of his girl’s soccer games or taking his oldest daughter to visit colleges.
I mourn his death and I celebrate his life. I will miss seeing him, hugging him, and spending time with him in physical form. I feel deeply connected to him – as much this past week and in the years we spent together as friends on this earth. I know that he will be with me always and that his wisdom and mentorship will continue to guide my life and my work.
Thank you Richard – for all that you did to make this world a better place and for the many gifts that you gave to me. I love you…
With Love, Celebration, and Gratitude for Richard’s life,
For more information about Richard, his life, and his work – check out his website at https://www.dontsweat.com/ Let’s all share his incredible work as a way to have his spirit live on through us and others!
Happy Holidays! I hope that you and your family had a great Thanksgiving and that you’re enjoying the holiday season. Michelle, Samantha, and I spent a glorious 10 days on the Big Island of Hawaii celebrating Thanksgiving and taking some much needed and deserved “down time.”
I love the holidays…and, for many of us this time of year can be very stressful. Family gatherings, parties, rushing around to find gifts and take care of things, decorating the house, sending out cards, standing in line…the list goes on and on.
One of the most challenging aspects of the holidays for many of us is dealing with other people – our family members, friends, and even strangers in stores, on buses, and in general. It’s easy to get annoyed, frustrated, or to forget about the power of appreciation.
My dear friend and mentor, Richard Carlson (author of Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff), has written a great new book called, Don’t Get Scrooged. In his honest, open, and straight forward style, Richard offers insightful, practical, and heart-opening tips for dealing with difficult people in a kind, peaceful, and stress free way. The book is wonderful and it will help you stay grounded, focused, and positive in the midst of this potentially stressful time.
For more information about this book, all of Richard’s other great books, and his 10th anniversary edition celebrating 10 years of his “Don’t Sweat” series (The Big Book of Small Stuff), check out his website at https://www.dontsweat.com/
Enjoy this book and Richard’s work. Have fun this week appreciating the holidays!
P.S. Below is a photo of Samantha in Hawaii getting ready for the holiday season. She does not get “Scrooged” at all!
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. It’s a great time to be with friends and family, to connect and share with them, and to focus on what we’re grateful for in our lives. Sometimes, however, even on Thanksgiving it’s easy for us to get caught up in “doing” all of the things we need to do – cook the dinner, clean the house, travel, etc. While the details and logistics of this holiday can be involved, stressful, and even fun, it’s important that we remember the true essence of the day – to GIVE THANKS.
As we gather with our families and friends this coming Thursday, let’s take some time to really think and feel deeply about all that we’re grateful for, the people that we appreciate in our life, and the many gifts and blessings of our own lives. When we stop to pay attention, there are so many things for us to be grateful for.
When you sit down for your meal, have someone (probably you) start by sharing some of the things they’re most grateful for in their life. Have each person take a turn with their own “gratitude sharing” until you have gone around the entire table. To make things even more powerful a meaningful, see if you can spend some time with each person during the day and let them know what you appreciate about them.
By putting some attention and focus on what Thanksgiving is all about, not only will you have a more fulfilling holiday, it will allow you experience the incredible power of gratitude and appreciation.
Have fun and Happy Thanksgiving!