What are you going to be when you grow up?

 

wholeheartWhat are you going to be when you grow up? What do you do?

Tough questions for any kid, and not always easy for an adult. People love to pigeonhole: the doctor, the artist, the nurse, the mom, the cop, as if that title sums you up and all their questions about you have been answered. But what if the answer to that question is qualitatively different– an answer that covers what you want to be regardless of whether you’re a kid, employed, unemployed, retired, sick, etc?

What if that answer is: kind and brave?

In a recent blog post, Glennon Doyle recounts a time when her son said just that:

When Chase was eight, a woman approached us at the grocery store and said, “What a handsome boy! What do you plan to be when you grow up, young man?” Chase looked at her and said, “I plan to be kind and brave, ma’am.”

This was just one of the best moments of my life. Kind and brave has been our family’s battle cry for as long as I can remember. And I’ve always told my kids that your job isn’t who you are. Your character is who you are. So when folks ask my kids what they “want to be,” they think character, not career.

The great thing about this shift is that my kiddos understand that their life doesn’t magically begin when they “grow up.” Anybody still waiting for that to happen? Me too. Not them. They know that their life is NOW. Childhood is not just a dress rehearsal for adulthood. No way. It’s a whole beautiful thing, all on its own. Childhood is just as real as adulthood. Just as important. Kids can be who they want to be TODAY. They don’t have to wait.

Chase wants to be a human being who is kind and brave and he is already that. He know that his “success” does not depend upon whether he lands some job or not. He knows he’ll be a success if he continues to practice kindness and courage wherever and with whomever he finds himself. His roles will change but his character will remain. He is already who he wants to be. So he can just go about being himself forever. Following his curiosity. One Next Right Thing at a time.

You too. You can just go about being yourself. Following your curiosity. One Next Right Thing at a time. Life starts now. There is no “When I” there is only “I am.” And it’s just as simple and hard as that.

Now take a look again at those few job descriptions above. They’ve morphed a bit, haven’t they? What does a kind and brave doctor look like, a kind and brave artist, a kind and brave nurse, mom, or cop? Suddenly the picture of that person has stretched out of one-dimension and become complex and layered. Kind and brave people in any role or job description and at any age have unique challenges depending on the circumstances.

So what do you want to be when you grow up?

 

 

 

What’s your problem?

problem

Who are your heroes? Were they people who stuck their necks out on behalf of others, worked to make the world a better place, gave freely and generously of themselves? These kind of heroes make the world a better place because they are in it.

You can be a hero. It doesn’t have to be a huge thing; it can be as small as seeing someone suffering and doing something to help.

The first step, though, is the seeing.

Sow love.

sowlove

How do we bring peace to a contentious world? Perhaps the only way is to meet hate with love, anger with forgiveness, strife with peace. Please take a minute to enjoy these children singing Make Me a Channel of Your Peace:

Make me a channel of your peace.
Where there is hatred let me bring your love.
Where there is injury, your pardon, Lord.
And where there is doubt true faith in You.

Make me a channel of your peace.
Where there is despair in life let me bring hope.
Where there is darkness only light.
And where there’s sadness ever joy.

Oh, Master, grant that I may never seek
So much to be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love with all my soul.

Make me a channel of your peace.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
It is in giving to all man that we receive,
And in dying that we are born to eternal life.

 

Thank an animal.

snoozepup

Those of us with pets know how close the bond between animal and human can be. You look deep into the eyes of a cat or dog and see another soul, one who greets you, perhaps, with unrestrained love and affection. We think of ourselves as caring for our pets and sometimes forget how deeply they care for us in return. The bond between animal and human can be transcendent. And, beyond dogs and cats, is that close bond possible?

In this remarkable video, consider Blue, the pot-bellied therapy pig who cheers up seniors in assisted living:

It is not unusual to see 2 year old Blue in the hallways cheering up people a few times a month….

[Blue’s certification as a therapy pig] has been rewarding for both pig and people. The potbelly helps residents “get out of their element” and forget about pain or depression they may be experiencing, says Nu Vista Living Facility lifestyle director Pamela Collins.

“It’s amazing how much Blue is drawn to the people at the nursing home, it is as if she just knows that they need her,” said Zamora-Duran.

Life on Earth is complex, and the possibilities for connection nearly limitless. Isn’t it remarkable that we all–humans and animals–can connect as we share this planet?

How to find your north star.

younger

In every life, there comes a time where you consider what kind of a person you want to be. Sometimes this is when you make career goals, but often it involves thinking about the ways you want to relate to others independent of any job.

Think back over your own life. Who made a difference when you really needed it, who inspired you, nurtured you, helped you grow and develop? Perhaps there is something there you can now emulate for others.

But, also, consider what may have been missing that you really felt you needed but didn’t have. An attentive parent, a true friend, a nurturing teacher. Someone who saw beyond the external and valued your worth. Perhaps there is someone in your life who needs this type of role model just as much as you did. Maybe that person is you.

Imagine what a difference you can make!

Is it time for a tune-up?

maintenance

Everything falls apart. Cars, buildings, peace, relationships, houses. That’s not pessimism; it’s entropy. In our quest for more, better, and brighter stuff, sometimes we forget about the energy that goes into maintaining the things we already have. In our dogged courtship and pursuit of a loved one, sometimes we forget the importance of maintaining the close relationship after we’ve sealed the deal. After reading all the books on childbirth, we sometimes forget the time and attention that goes into building a healthy relationship with a child, then teen, then adult.

If we neglect our things or relationships, they will suffer. But we don’t have to be content with this. With attention and care, anything will shine–even our most important relationships.

Take a self-exam. Consider where you put your time and energy. Does anything in your life need a tune-up?

Improve the world.

savetheworld

What tools do we need before we start to improve the world? What are we waiting for? Perhaps we are waiting for extra money or time. Perhaps we are waiting for retirement. Perhaps we are waiting to get all our own issues squared away first before we start thinking about helping someone else with theirs. Perhaps we are waiting for someone to ask us for help.

But consider Anne Frank. Forced to live in hiding to avoid the Nazi round-up and murder of Jews, she had little contact with the outside world. She, herself, was in mortal danger around the clock. She was just a kid, really, someone we think of helping rather than being the helper. And yet her attitude was so full of optimism and hope, it continues to shine now, decades later, lighting a weary world.

What a difference an attitude makes! She didn’t wait for the right time or resources. She didn’t wait until she could have a huge impact on the world. She didn’t wait until she was old or famous or wealthy. She didn’t even wait until she was safe. She started right then with what she had. A cheerful disposition, a concern for her family and the others in hiding with her, a willingness to step forward and try to make the world a better place.

What can you do to improve the world? Isn’t it wonderful that you can start right now?

 

Happy Earth Day 2017!

earthday

Today is Earth Day 2017, a global celebration of Earth, its resources, and its diversity, and a chance to promote environmental protection. On Earth Day, we each have an opportunity to make our planet a bit cleaner, healthier, and more sustainable. We have learned so much about how interconnected life is and how each of us can make a difference to help sustain earth’s resources for future generations.

What will be your contribution to the planet you call home?

For ideas, consider this article for DailyGood.org by Shari Swanson.

Peace to you, my friend.

peacepath

Before his crucifixion, Jesus told his disciples: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27.)

Today, as we celebrate Easter, remember his words and his sacrifice. For a lovely story and song in the Easter spirit, go here:

Grace is upon us
Open your heart
It is done

Grace is upon us
Open your heart
This is love,

The Lord is here
This is love

Come to the highest point of the mountain
At the earliest possible moment

Happy Easter!

 

Look at your stuff.

stuff

Look at the stuff around you. Isn’t it neat?

Paper milled from trees, decorated, maybe even scented. Ink dispensed evenly and gently maybe with a little roller ball. Books mass printed for everyone. Glasses to help you see.

Look at the little paper clip folded around and again just so. Isn’t that clever? Where did that coffee come from? Maybe from beans grown thousands of miles away. Isn’t that amazing? What about your computer, able to connect you, literally, to any one in the world and even beyond? Maybe you’re reading this right now out and about in the world somewhere.

All these little astonishing things sitting right there on your desk or in your pocket or your glovebox.

Take a minute to be astonished.

And then treat yourself to this 3-year old’s performance of Ariel’s song above and prepare to be filled with joy and even more wonder!