The Only Way


My world changed on Friday.

And most likely, so did yours.

I sat at my computer and wept. My heart shattered as I tried to comprehend the unthinkable. One of those “worst-case scenarios” had come true and it was much worse than any of us ever dared to imagine. And I thought to myself as I sat at my computer:

“I give up.”

I meant it.

I walked around all day in a fog of grief, crying off and on as I tried to process the horror. I shut down my laptop and the news never went on in my house. I have two gradeschool children who didn’t need their innocence stripped away by horrific images on the tv. My hope is they never find out about it. If they do, we’ll talk about it honestly but with only enough information to help them move forward.

At bedtime, my youngest, the same age as many of the victims, asked me why she had seen me crying at the computer earlier in the day. I explained:

“Because I was reading about something bad that happened today and it made me very sad.”

She asked me if I could tell her what it was, and I told her no. She said she wanted to know because now she’d be afraid of what it could be.

I told her it was nothing that had happened close to us. I promised she was safe. And then (in a tremendously poor choice of parenting, clouded by my grief), I added, “Bad things happen every day.” In moments like this, it’s easy to focus on the negative. How can we not? When so many people are hurting, are dying, when we destroy so much of what we are given through apathy more than creating through intentionality – how can we not?

She looked at me for a moment- and then in the wisdom of her innocence said, “But some good things happened today too Momma, right? Like babies being born and people hugging and dogs and all the animals and you reading to us.”

And in that moment I realized, I can’t give up. I owe her and the world at least that much.

Bad things do happen everyday and so do tremendously great things. We need to rally and change the world. We need to clear our heads, process our grief and then it’s time to get our hands dirty. We can sit around on FB all day and post pithy comments that either enflame or preach to the choir about certain issues that describe what we think should be done to fix things. Or we can get out there and do something about the pain in this world. We can love fiercely. We can be kinder to everyone around us. We can look for opportunities, big or small, to make a difference. And every single one of those acts does change someone’s world. We have more power than we give ourselves credit for. Even tiny little baby steps get us closer. But it requires action. We won’t change the world sitting around lamenting for we’ve lost.

This weekend I had the opportunity to make blankets for the homeless and for children in need. It was a few hours of powerful healing action as part of a community. The unspoken was that we all needed to be there- we needed to heal ourselves and the world just a little bit, epecially this weekend. We are powerful. We make a difference. We can change the world and infuse it with love, with caring and understanding.

After 9/11 folksinger Ellis Paul recorded a song written by, Mark Erelli called “The Only Way.” You can listen to it at this link but here are a few of the lyrics:

I read the paper
I watch the news
It seems there’s only pain and sufferin’
And there ain’t much I can do
It’s so senseless
I feel defenseless
So small

I could shut my windows
Bolt my doors
But if I don’t feel safe enough
To speak my mind anymore
Then what’s the use
I’ve nothing left to lose
And no farther to fall

So I’m gonna love
I’m gonna believe
I’m still gonna dream
I’m gonna roll up my sleeves
Give everything until I’ve nothing left to give
That’s the only way that I know how to live

Go out and make a difference in the world today. And then again tomorrow and the day after that and that and that… This is the only way to make sense of the senseless and honor all the lives lost not only on Friday but in every act of evil. We have the power to change the course of our planet, but it will take small steps from everyone of us. I know we can do it. We can’t give up. We owe at least that much to all the souls who’ve gone before us and to this world.

I Saw A Starfish On The Ground…


As a follow up to my last post, I’d like to offer you one of my favorite stories.  It has it’s origins in an essay entitled “The Star Thrower” by Loren Eisely and has been used in various forms throughout the years, particularly by motivational speakers.  You’ve probably heard it before and I believe it bears repeating, so think of this as a gentle reminder about how the little things you do can change the world.

This version was created by Joel Barker.

Once upon a time, there was a wise man, much like Eiseley himself, who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work. One day he was walking along the shore. As he looked down the beach, he saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself to think of someone who would dance to the day. So he began to walk faster to catch up. As he got closer, he saw that it was a young man and the young man wasn’t dancing, but instead he was reaching down to the shore, picking up something and very gently throwing it into the ocean.

As he got closer, he called out, “Good morning! What are you doing?” The young man paused, looked up and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”

“I guess I should have asked, Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?”

“The sun is up and the tide is going out. And if I don’t throw them in they’ll die.”

“But young man, don’t you realize that there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it. You can’t possibly make a difference!”

The young man listened politely. Then bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea, past the breaking waves. “It made a difference for that one!”

Be a star thrower.

How to Change The World One Tiny Step At A Time.

There’s a lot of negative stuff happening out there on this tiny planet of ours. Many of us have been tuned into some overwhelming tragedies in the last couple weeks and when we are reminded of this kind of pain, it’s really easy to get overwhelmed at the idea of trying to change the world.  There is so much to be done  – how can one person make any difference at all?  And yet, each of us has the ability to change the world and make it a little better all the time. So, while by no means a comprehensive list, here are a few tiny steps we can all do to change the world.

  • Spend some time with someone who has opinions radically different than yours and find your common ground.
  • Be exceedingly kind to people you don’t know but with whom you have contact. Bonus points for doing this to someone who isn’t acting kind towards you.  They need it more than anyone else.
  • Stop watching the news. Seriously.  It incites panic and anxiety and depression.  Miraculous happenings and positive events rarely take the lead story.
  • Join  (, Epic Change (, Kiva ( or any other group involved in changing the world one small step at a time.
  • Practice radical gratitude.
  • Let go of an old grudge.
  • Find a way to be helpful to someone everyday, even if you don’t know them.
  • Say thank you as much as possible.
  • Hug more people.  Or if you’re “not the hugging type,” put your hand on someone’s shoulder more often.
  • Look people in the eye when you speak to them, especially those types of people who we sometimes treat as if they are invisible (cashiers, delivery people, strangers, panhandlers).
  • Ask someone how their day is and really listen to the answer.
  • Ask more questions about people during a conversation.
  • Read more things that uplift your spirit.
  • Give a little more to charity even if your budget is tapped out – every dollar truly counts, especially in this economy.
  • Donate blood, tutor at the Boys and Girls Club, take an ASPCA dog for a walk – get out and volunteer your time at least once a month.
  • Send a quick email to let someone you are thinking about them.
  • Better yet, send a postcard- everyone loves getting personal mail!
  • Unplug entirely – talk a walk, hike, bike ride – clear your head and see what pops up.
  • Give unexpected little gifts.
  • Work hard to put yourself in other’s shoes. Remember that people are usually doing the best with what they’ve got.
  • Encourage someone every day.
  • Live your truth as honestly as you can – repressed anger and resentment does not create peace.
  • Love as many people as your heart can hold.

Now I want to hear from you. What else can we do to change the world one tiny step at a time?