Today is my son's birthday. It's also 9/11. Like so many people I know, every year this brings up a mix of emotions for me.
I'll never forget the visual of my son walking around the living room on his 1st birthday. He was in his cute little plaid trouser shorts, carrying his sippy cup in one hand while navigating the many strings of his balloons in the other. He was as happy as could be. In the background, the TV replayed video of the planes crashing into the World Trade Center, and my mom and I sat with tears running down our cheeks.
The visual of seeing the devastation through the gaps in his balloons, and feeling my son's birthday delight, mixed with my terror and utter disbelief, is a feeling I will never forget.
My husband, at the time, was also boarding a plane. We couldn't reach each other for hours.
It was my kiddo's first birthday. My husband was missing. The world was mourning.
It was a dance of allowing myself authentic emotion, WHILE honoring and celebrating my son, and not letting my imagination go nuts.
Five weeks ago, someone on our team, and very close to me, passed away. I was on vacation, blissed out, working on my book and enjoying "summer camp". Heartbreak, devastation, confusion, disbelief, anger - blended with the "happy stuff".
It was a dance of holding space for heartbreak, while feeling the good and keeping the business running.
At the same time, all sorts of stuff was happening in our country and world.
It's a strange feeling - I imagine you have your own version of this - to be going about "normal" life promoting programs, celebrating birthdays, laughing, getting workouts in, launching your product, or nailing paragraphs...when tragedy and despair is...everywhere.
I've noticed it can seem very "What's the point?" when so much is falling apart.
As I celebrate my son today, I am deeply aware of 9/11, and Harvey and Irma, and too much more to list here.
So what's the point?
I think the point is life.
The point is contribution.
The point is staying connected to love, joy, gratitude, self-care, good, and enjoying every moment we have so that we are energized, well, full, and better equipped to serve others.
I don't have the answers for how to navigate all that's going on right now. And I don't presume to tell anyone what to do or to even understand what they are going through.
But, I do have my own version of balancing grief and joy and "doing the work" around both when big things are happening. I do work with humans and organizations in chaos, and here's what I've learned...staying connected to each other, tapping into gratitude, and being of service however we each can; be it donating time, money, resources, energy, underpants, hugs, an ear, some extra love and compassion, anything....is a way to contribute and bring the vibration up in our world.
Here are a few places I've found useful for navigating the complexities of life. As always, take, toss, or tweak as they serve:
- Take really good care of yourself. Food, exercise, and sleep as you can. Don't forget naps and hugs.
- Be really nice to yourself. Your self-talk is either making you stronger, more expansive, and more available, or weaker, contracted, and less able to be helpful. So be kind. (Note that this is free, you have control here, and bonus, it's contagious.)
- Celebrate the "good". Allow yourself to have it. Things going well? It's your child's birthday? Your birthday? You're on vacation? Great. Enjoy it fully.
- Honor the "bad". The emotion of it, the fear, whatever is true for you. Give yourself full permission to grieve, receive help, be angry or hurt or scared. And, then when you're ready, decide how you want to move forward with it.
- Do all you can to contribute and help things go well. One place to look that I've found incredibly helpful in grief and pain is asking: How can I contribute to helping things go better? How can I be a part of the solution, or create something meaningful and life-giving from this experience? Donate money, time, resources, energy, positivity, empathy, care, whatever you've got. Give it. Fully. 100%. Show Up.
- Love people. A lot. Be kind. Do that extra thing. It doesn't matter who they are, where they are, if they're in the middle of chaos and tragedy or standing right next to you enjoying life - love them. Kindness is contagious, and I think it's our best bet for doing well together.
Wherever you are today. Whatever you're working on in your life; celebrating, mourning, being challenged by... a deep bow and appreciation for you.