Thank you for the gifts you bring to your family, friends, community and the world.
May the holidays allow you to appreciate the Wonder around you and within.
May today be a day of wonder for you and your loved ones. May you find joy and peace in your heart during this special time of year.
Thank you for the gifts you bring to your family, friends, community and the world.
On June 14, 2018, eight women, three of whom had never sailed before, set out from Port Townsend, WA, on a grueling 750 mile race to Ketchikan, Alaska. The name of their sailboat was Sail Like A Girl. Their goal was to get from Port Townsend to Ketchikan, completely self-supported and without a motor. There's no official route, except to sail through Seymour Narrows and Bella Bella, British Columbia.
30 teams set out, and only 21 finished the race. The final team took 3 weeks to arrive. Sail Like A Girl's team leader wanted to assemble an all-women crew to encourage more women to take up sailing, and to push back against stereotypes about female sailors.
They didn't know each other before meeting up last October. Their boat needed serious maintenance and refurbishment. They didn't expect to win the race. They crashed into a log on a dark, foggy night, and thought their boat might go down. They thought they were way behind, but it turned out they were in the lead. They pushed hard, and in six and a half days, reached Ketchikan to the cheers of the crowd. Looking back, they say that while it was rewarding to win, if was just as fulfilling to see what the act of plunging into the unknown had brought out in themselves.
Each woman brought a different strength to the team. They could tackle all the concerns from different angles. They also wanted to honor their "warriors," their loved ones who had been affected by breast cancer. Their names were written on their boat. It inspired them to keep persevering no matter what happened. They credit their success to their cooperative teamwork and unity. Their courage to tackle the unknown and to persevere through all the obstacles paid off. Team captain Jeanne Goussev reflected, "It was the greatest experience that I've had in my adult life of teamwork."
Congratulations to this crew and all the women and men who strive for excellence and persevere!
(I got to see these 8 awesome women in our Fourth of July Parade; 3 of the women live on the small island where I live, and we all cheered mightily as they rode by!)
On these sunny, warm blue-sky days in the Pacific Northwest, I am basking in the beauty surrounding me, and I am so grateful for nature. Beauty is so important in my life. How about you? How do you feel when you are in a place of beauty outdoors? Does it make your soul peaceful? Take a moment and breathe deeply. Imagine yourself by the ocean, watching and listening to the waves roar, or gently lap against the shore. Imagine walking through the woods, inhaling the fresh scent of pine or cedar, with no pavement beneath your feet, listening to birds or leaves fluttering in the breeze. Remember back to your childhood. Do you remember exploring the woods near your house, or going to the lake in summer time with friends? How often do you take the time to be nurtured by nature?
Have a beautiful day!
Protecting Kids from Nature Deficit Disorder
Today’s kids spend less and less time outdoors, and it’s taking a toll on their health and well-being. Research has shown that children do better physically and emotionally when they are in green spaces, benefiting from the positive feelings, stress reduction, and attention restoration nature engenders.
Richard Louv is co-founder and chairman emeritus of the Children & Nature Network and author of Last Child in the Woods, The Nature Principle, and, most recently, Vitamin N: 500 Ways to Enrich the Health & Happiness of Your Family & Community. Louv has written eloquently about the importance of nature for children and what they miss by spending too much time indoors. Read what Louv says about what children need to lead healthier and happier lives in a recent article in Greater Good Magazine.
Is it possible to have Contentment in our daily life? I believe it is, even in the midst of chaos, stress and anxiety. Try this: take a deep breath or two; relax. Lower your shoulders. Relax your fingers and toes. Breathe in again and calm your mind. Read this virtue card of Contentment. Breathe it in, feel it. Remember a time when you felt contentment. What was it like?
How can we find Contentment in troubled times?
Whenever I read this virtue card, I am hopeful. I can reflect on each line and remember how to be content. I have experienced contentment. But how can I bring it into my daily life, in the midst of stress and anxiety? See if these ways are helpful to you.
Have a beautiful day!
Thank you, Linda Kavelin-Popov, for writing these beautiful Virtues Reflection Cards. Order them at https://virtuesshop.com/ Also available as an app at www.virtuescards.org
I've never liked rules! Whenever anyone tells me I have to do something their way, I dig in my heels and say, "Hell no!"
But when I was first introduced to the virtues as a way to live mindfully, and learned that setting clear boundaries was an important Virtues Project™ strategy, I listened.
Betsy Lydle Smith
I was very conflicted about setting boundaries and sticking to them. I grew up in a family where my dad would say one thing and my mom another. We were expected to be "mind-readers." Mom would get angry and say something like, "You never help me; I have to clean the whole house by myself." Dad didn't back her up, and so we kids didn't help either.
No one had ever told me that clear and consistent boundaries create a safe and healthy family. I learned that when boundaries are based on Justice and Respect, they become a foundation for a loving, healthy family life. Children need clear boundaries to feel safe and to have a structure where everyone is respected. Children need to know they can count on the adults to be their guides and protectors.
If Mom and Dad had known how to set clear boundaries, they would have sat down with us and talked about our responsibilities as members of our family. One responsibility might have been that we all needed to help clean the house and do the dishes, and there would be relevant consequences if we didn't. Each person's responsibility would have been discussed, spelled out, and written down with a timeline for it to be completed, ideally done in consultation with the whole family.
When I became a parent, I was conflicted about boundary setting, and I wasn't very good at it. I would say one thing and then go back on my word, just like I had learned as a child and teen. When I learned the reason for setting clear boundaries, I recognized the importance of it. I knew that I wanted to create that safety and structure for my children and myself.
At first it was very hard. I often heard myself sounding just like my mother, but with my husband's help, we were able to create those boundaries and hold strong to the consequences when they were broken. Expectations became clear; no one was expected to be a "mind-reader." Boundaries based on the virtues of Justice, Fairness, Respect and Orderliness made it easier to figure out what worked best in our family and for everyone to be on the same page.
Adults also need clear boundaries to safeguard our time and energy and protect us. When boundaries are consistently and lovingly stated, and followed up with relevant consequences and restorative ways to make amends, our boundary issues become teachablemoments and valuable life lessons.
Here's an invitation for you:
Take a look at the Virtue of Respect below. What boundaries would you like to set for your children, grandchildren or yourself? Whatvirtue will be at the foundation? Now, state it in a positive way based on a Virtue. Here are two examples:
"Our family is RESPECTFUL of each other in our words and actions. We refrain from swearing or calling each other names. We listen to each other without interrupting."
"We are RESPONSIBLE for keeping our home clean. Each person's designated chores will be done by Saturday at noon."
Now, it's your turn. Write one boundary based on a virtue or two, for yourself and your family. Discuss it and post it where everyone can see it!
See what happens and email me with your story.
May your day be full of joy and clarity,
If you would like to learn more about setting clear boundaries, consider taking The Introduction to The Virtues Project Online Course.
Sometimes, as I reflect on my year, I feel guilty that I haven't been more purposeful, or that I've eaten way too many holiday cookies, or that I haven't spent more time with my loved ones. Perhaps you too, feel guilty sometimes. Or does it turn to shame? Shame about your body after eating all those cookies, or shame that you are not enough. How can we address this?
Sheryl Sandberg, CEO of Facebook, reflects on the difference between guilt and shame in her book Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy. Ms. Sandberg lost her beloved husband Dave unexpectedly at age 48. In her discussion about grief, she notices that we are often critical and judgmental of ourselves. (Sound familiar?)
Sandberg says that, "we all need self-compassion, which comes from recognizing that our imperfections come from being human....Self-compassion often coexists with remorse." She suggests looking at our actions instead of our character. Erma Bombeck said that "guilt is the gift that keeps on giving," and Sandberg says "Guilt keeps us striving to improve.
Shame has the opposite effect: it makes people feel small and worthless, leading them to attack in anger or shrink away to self-pity." Research shows that elementary and middle school students who felt shame were more hostile and aggressive, while guilt-prone kids were more likely to defuse conflicts. Linda Kavelin-Popov, co-founder of The Virtues Project says that guilt should only be used as a signal for change.
So, what will help us to use guilt as a signal for change, to use self-compassion for our human frailties, and to leave shame behind in this new year?
I highly recommend Sheryl Sandberg's Option B, as well as Linda Kavelin-Popov'sGraceful Endings, for all of us who are dealing with serious illness, grief and loss or who want to know what to say to those who are.
Virtues Reflection Card Courtesy of The Virtues Project
Speaker, author, and research professor, Brené Brown, in her latest book, Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone, tells the story of her heart-crushing experience as a young teen of not making the drill team at her new high school. She knew the routine perfectly and did a great job at the auditions, but she wasn't picked and she was devastated.
Can you relate to this story? Can you think of a time in your life that you had your heart set on something you REALLY, REALLY wanted, to have that dream shattered because you didn't make the team, or the grade?
Brown goes on to say the absolutely worst part about her experience was that her parents didn't say a word when they drove home. They didn't comfort her or say she was courageous for trying; they all rode home in silence. What she really wanted was for her parents to say how terrible it was and that she deserved to be picked. This was a defining moment in her life; she felt she didn't belong anywhere, even in her own family. Dr. Brown says that the quest for belonging is a primal need for us as human beings, and our family is the most important sense of belonging we need. She explores how we can love ourselves, with vulnerability and honesty, even in the face of injustice and pain, and find our true sense of belonging.
Here are a few questions I'm taking away from this powerful story:
Questions for reflection:
1. What am I thankful for today?
2. What gifts have come from a difficult time?
3. What joys am I open to today?
4. How am I a blessing to others?
Wishing you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving!
Many people ask what is the difference between Ethics, Morals, Values and Virtues.
Dr. Dan Popov, co-founder of The Virtues Project™, scholar of the world's sacred texts and a pediatric clinical psychologist, has researched, written and spoken extensively on this topic. The following is a summary of one of Dr. Popov's talks.
Ethics, Morals, Values and Virtues:
Each one points to the same goal - the right way to be or do something. Each one uses a different criteria.
Ethics: Moral principles that lead to agreed upon standards of behavior.
Morals: Do good/avoid bad-do right/avoid wrong
Values: Anything a culture thinks is important
Virtues: The underlying basis of Ethics, Morals and Values
Virtues are elemental. Just as molecules on the earth are made up of the same chemicals, so the ethics, morals and values of humanity are made up of one or more of the virtues. Using the Virtues will give you access to each system.
Thank you, Dr. Dan for your service to humanity.
For information about The Virtues Project™ visit
While traveling recently in Northern Wisconsin, I came upon this document in the Ojibwe Museum and Cultural Center in Lac du Flambeau, Wisconsin. What beautiful teachings.
Virtues Reflection Card courtesy of The Virtues Project™
Virtues in Action
We've all seen the news of protests and violence in Baltimore, Maryland. But what about the rest of the story or stories? What's been going on since the day that Freddie Gray was killed and the uprising that immediately followed that horrendous event? I was honored to interview Dr. Geri Lynn Peak who is involved in healing work in Baltimore City, the city where she lives and works. Geri is the co-founder of Baltimore Youth Initiative High School, Master Facilitator for The Virtues Project, a Senior Equity Fellow with Equity Matters, a board member with WombWork Productions, consultant and artist. She believes deeply in telling the truth about racism, confronting the realities, and that cooperation and unity are not only possible, but necessary in Baltimore, the U.S. and the world. She says that racism shapes the way we think and act, even if we are tolerant.
There is a real opportunity in Baltimore for a multi-faceted approach to addressing social transformation structurally. Organizations such as Equity Matters and WombWork Productions, which both use The Virtues Project as a framework, along with diverse religious and community organizations, youth groups, and city government are collaborating and using courageous and innovative approaches to healing racism. Funding has become available in Baltimore to support these efforts. Students and staff from Baltimore Initiative High School have held healing circles in the community; these students, who have just had their first graduating class, are Warriors for Justice. Arts organizations such as WombWork Productions are addressing change, justice and healing through storytelling, dance and the practices of The Virtues Project. These practices support healing and recovery. The Virtues allow us to open our hearts to seeing others as human beings. People have been able to heal their individual trauma with the virtues, claiming balance and speaking their honest truth. Equity Matters believes in Radical Inclusiveness, which means having everyone represented at the table, not just a select group of organizations and leaders, has broad diversity as its objective. Baltimore is at a critical moment, possibly a tipping point, with the opportunity to create change in institutions, and it has started to shift the focus on the root causes of inequities, with the elimination of racism as the goal.
Geri says, "We are 'soul' people, 'heart' people. These qualities allow us to connect with the best of us. People with conflicting beliefs aren't going to listen to facts until their hearts are touched. Only love can help people change. The Virtues allow people to transform their behavior."
Thank you, Geri Lynn Peak, for your courageous truth-telling, sense of justice and work toward healing and unity in Baltimore and the world.
For more information about Baltimore Youth Initiative High School at www.byihs.org
WombWork Productions at www.wombwork.com, Equity Matters at www.equity-matters.org
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