A Week of Heroism

It didn’t strike me until late Friday afternoon how emotionally drained I was from last week.

No matter how many times our country and our world goes through a terrible act — terrorism or natural disaster — it always takes time for the pain to set in. And at each of those events, the days always begin with the same sentence: The day began just like any other.

Monday, April 15, 2013, is no exception. The weather was perfect in Boston for Patriot’s Day and the historic Boston Marathon. I checked Facebook in the morning and saw that I knew two people running. And now, as a marathoner myself, I did my best to keep up with the race.

Then all of a sudden, the skies darkened and evil had a face. Two of them.

We all know the story. Moments after the blast, first responders, viewers, and fellow runners tended to the wounded. It was, in a word, a war zone. Any other adjective does not do the aftermath justice.

Three dead. Nearly 200 wounded. A nation shaken … again.

Living in New York City, security was tightened. Events in Boston were postponed or cancelled.

We again lost our innocence. And then on Wednesday, there was the massive explosion in Texas. And this on a week where we already had the 20-year anniversary of the Waco Compound event, the 18-year anniversary of the Oklahoma City Bombing, the anniversary of Columbine, and the anniversary of the BP Oil Spill. So, perhaps we haven’t had our innocence anymore.

Most of the deaths in Texas? First responders.

For me, it seemed that nothing would be getting better. And then came Friday. We had suspects. One was dead. One was on the run. And the city of Boston was locked down. I hated watching it. And then came 6 p.m. and the lock down was lifted without an arrest. I came home and cried.

Finally, news came they had someone. And when it was confirmed by the Boston Police, I breathed a sigh of relief I didn’t know I needed.

Someday soon I will tie my sneakers and go for a run in honor of the victims. I came home early Saturday morning and cried again.

We live in a world full of hate. But we live in a world full of love. And if I have seen anything this week, it has been a true passion for peace, for justice and a selfless sacrifice for our fellow humans. And I believe that is what Boston, Texas, and America can continue to be.

24 Hours of Gratitude

Yesterday I marked each hour with a tweet of something I am grateful for. The full list is below, but I challenge you to do the same. Use the hashtag #24HoursOfGratitude and see what really matters to you.

1:00 – Family
2:00 – A Job
3:00 – Steve
4:00 – Friends
5:00 – Love
6:00 – An Education
7:00 – A 401(k)
8:00 – The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
9:00 – Food
10:00 – Faith
11:00 – Art
12:00 – A Home
13:00 – Animals
14:00 – Health
15:00 – Brother
16:00 – Niece
17:00 – Sister
18:00 – Dad
19:00 – Passions
20:00 – Mom
21:00 – Laughter
22:00 – Understanding
23:00 – Compassion
24:00 – You

FOCUS: Be Open!

Selected Life Lesson
My husband and I walked into a store we don’t shop in and we were quick to judge this girl — we were both ashamed. She was very sweet and helpful.
-Lori R’s Life Lesson from Des Moines, Iowa

Richard’s Thoughts…
Last week’s lesson was about assuming. How did your reflection on that lesson go?

When we assume, we make decisions that are not based on rational thought and reasoning.
Sure, I recently wrote that I am a proud conservative, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t get along, or encourage friendships and relationships among those who think and view the world differently than myself.

It’s tough to not judge when you have a history built up. But just try it.
People can and often do surprised us.

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The Power of Positivity

Talking to strangers is something I have never been good at doing. Perhaps it has come from bad airline conversations or super-awkward moments on the subways here in New York City, but I usually refrain from longer than “hello” conversations with people I don’t know.

All that began to change as I took my trip to San Diego for my recent marathon. I spoke to a wonderful lady here at LaGuardia when our early morning flight was delayed. Then I spoke to a great lady on the trolly in San Diego who actually grew up and once lived in New York City. And of course, at the race itself, I was more than happy to talk with other crazies like myself.

But what did all of these interactions teach me?

positive image

It’s simple really: That positivity breads positive experiences which can in turn change the life of someone you have never met and will likely never see again.

Case In Point: I was on a date my last morning in San Diego, enjoying a coffee with a wonderful man and this woman approached us. Now that I am an NYC cynic, I expected her to ask for money. Instead, she asked, “How do I look?”

I was surprised by her question and I gave her a quick look and said, “You look good.” She then went on to explain that her was on her way to a job interview and had been crying for the past few days because her mother had just died. In that moment, I felt terrible, so I reassured her that she did in fact, look good.

We wished her well, and luck on her interview. I’d like to think she did well and perhaps we had something to do with that. In that moment, I hope she felt comfortable come up to us because we were laughing and exuding positivity on an early Tuesday morning.

image source

Do you notice a change in the world and your environment when you are positive?


Kindness Heals

In this world, no matter your culture, your language, your faith, your career and anything else that is a part of your life, I argue there are a few commonalities between all humans. We all love. We all want to be loved. But we are all also battling something.

For some people, it is love they are battling. Perhaps they are in a tough relationship or just lost one. Perhaps they want a relationship.

boxing gloves

For other people, it is a career they are battling or perhaps mourning the loss of a job.

For still some others, it can be family, pets, finances, friends, an injury or countless other battles.

Blackbird Can Write says, “…I realize we are all fighting a battle i one way or another.” And it’s true.

So what does this mean for you?

Be sensitive. Be kind. Be compassionate. Hug. Love. Smile. That’s what you can do to each person that you come across. Remember, they are fighting a battle too.

FOCUS: The Little Things!

Selected Life Lesson
Make eye contact and greet people by name.
-Sara C’s Life Lesson from Strafford, Missouri

Richard’s Thoughts…
I forget who said it, but I remember hearing it a long time ago, but it went something like this: The most beautiful sound in the world to someone is the sound of their own name. It sounds odd and possibly pretentious, but it is true.

I know that when I get a text message and the sender uses my name in the text, it adds a smile to my day. It is a level of personalization, of caring, of compassion.

That’s why this lesson is so important because these little showcases of personalization matter on a very deep level. Try it before the end of the week with someone you know. Don’t just say good morning. Use their name and see what happens.

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FOCUS: Family First!

Selected Life Lesson
Do not take for granted the people you love will be around forever — love the
ones you are with each and every day!
-Cindy W’s Life Lesson from Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Richard’s Thoughts…
Love is a crazy, emotional thing. In my (little more than a) year here in New York City, I have been fortunate to meet some amazing people … people I count among my close friends. And as someone who keeps a pretty tight-knit clan, this is a blessing.

And I make sure to tell them what they mean to me. In fact, the other day I saw one of them having a rough day and I made a point that evening to send her a quick message. It wasn’t anything special, but it was a, ‘hey, I’m thinking about you,’ kind of message.

About a week later, I pulled her aside and we sat and talked about our lives for nearly half an hour. It was a surprise, but we have both decided to double-down on our dreams and make them happen. It is those moments, of vulnerability, of kindness, of love, where you see what someone means to you. Do what you will with the story … I hope you either forward this e-mail to that someone you’re thinking about, or quickly close this and go tell them now!

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FOCUS: Love Unconditionally!

Selected Life Lesson
It’s important to show love and compassion.
-Paula W’s Life Lesson from Fenton, Missouri

Richard’s Thoughts…
Happy (early) Valentine’s Day! Whether you are celebrating with your significant other in the coming days, the lesson this week centers on love as an idea. That’s really all it is.

When you care about someone, friends, siblings, co-workers, competitors, and strangers,
there can be a sense of love and compassion. We can create relationships that are win-win,
both in life and in business.

We can all strive, each and every day to show love, to share love, to give love and to express compassion, be compassionate and live compassionately. To me, that is what Valentine’s Day is all about. Share and spread love and compassion.

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