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So many times when we pass someone on the street and they ask, “How are you?” Our simple and automated response is “Fine, thanks.” But the truth is, that is not often the truth. We simply say the words. Maybe to try to convince ourselves, but more likely it is the innate desire not to burden others with our problems. Many people keep it inside and play it over and over again in their own head without sharing it with anyone. This is the absolute worst thing that can be done.

The world is heavy with emotion. The last week has been especially trying for me personally. If the worries about COVID, Afghanistan and Haiti are not enough, Ida hit my home state. I sat helpless… states away as a category 4 hurricane headed towards my childhood home inhabited by the family and friends that I hold so very dear. Most of them did not leave and I was scared for their safety. I was a mess of emotion feeling everything from worry and regret to anger and frustration. I had all of the feels and just waited with bated breath to see where the monster called Ida would go.

I cried.

I yelled.

I hoped.

I prayed.

When the storm finally passed, communication slowly trickled in since cell towers are down. Everyone is safe, and in the end that is what is important. My head tells me that, but my heart sees the pictures of the devastation and my heart breaks. The people are resilient, but they are tired.

We are all tired of one thing or another. The problem is that we often simply keep it to ourselves.

During the writing of this post, I received a call that my son was quarantined for a 3rd time from school. He just started school on August 10th. Let that sink in for a moment.

This is not meant to be a rant, rather simply a realization that we are all in seriously unprecedented times. We need to be real with one another and not say that we are fine. I just read this morning about two suicides of “fine looking” people that just couldn’t take it anymore. I am begging you, please do not get to that point. Find someone to talk to. Anyone! I am not a trained professional in the mental health space, but I know without a doubt that taking about what is going on in your mind is essential to good mental health.

I saw a post today from a friend who put herself out there. She was still processing everything that has happened and just needed to let it out. She lost her home in Ida. She lost her belongings, but most of all she lost her safe place. She lost the place where she brought home her children and it seems like life as she knew it is simply gone. She just wrote what she was feeling and openly acknowledged that she does not know where to start the process of rebuilding her life. She might not know it, but she has taken the first step. She has openly admitted that she is not fine.

It is normal at this time to not be okay. We have all been through a great deal lately, in one way or another. Instead of channeling all your emotions inward, I challenge you to find at least one person to confide in. We have the courage to lean on one another right now. We must have grace as we do not know what others are facing. Instead of simply saying, “If you need anything, give me call,” reach out and take the initiative. Don’t make them come to you. Go to them and simply BE THERE. Your family, friends and neighbors will be truly thankful... even it they never say the words.

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Greek yogurt. That was all that I needed from the store. One simple thing.

As most grocery shopping goes, I thought of other things that I needed along the way. I had a short list, put the items in the cart and headed into the check-out lane. It wasn’t until it was time to pay that I realized that my wallet was on my desk…at home. No problem, I’ll just use Apple Pay on my phone, I thought. I suddenly remembered that it would not work since my husband had misplaced the credit card and we had to cancel it. There I was in the store with no way to pay.

I was racking my brain trying to think of what to do in that moment.

It is 2021.

“There HAS to be a way,” I thought.

I left the store defeated, until I looked at a stranger who made eye contact with me. I decided to step out of my comfort zone and ask her if I could electronically send her the money in exchange for cash.

She agreed. We quickly realized that we did not have the same app (such a 2021 problem). She patiently sat while I called my husband to download the app and load our credit card information, since I didn’t have it on me:)

It took some time and she was willing to wait. We made the transaction. I expressed my deepest appreciation and we both went on our way. She gave me much more than a crisp $20 bill during our interaction. She showed love and kindness to a complete stranger that was in a bind. She did not look at her watch incessantly and make me feel like there was somewhere else that she would rather be. She made me feel like I was worth waiting to help.

I learned a great deal from that stranger. She showed me that people really are good at heart. When the world gets crazy (as it is now) with polarizing topics of conversation and life gets busy with never-ending to-do lists, it is important to remember that at the core we are all human. We all are going to make mistakes. That is human nature. The one thing that we have absolute control over is how we treat other people. May we show the kindness to others that we would like to receive ourselves. The world would be a better place for it!

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It might be a bit strange for someone that writes so much to say anything negative about the written word. Don’t get me wrong, it is important, crucial even in everyday life. Words are used in every aspect of living, but that doesn’t negate the fact that simple words cannot be solely responsible for every expression, social interaction and business encounter that we face on a daily basis. There is always something behind the words – feelings and emotions that we are trying to convey using black and white shapes on paper or via text. Words have power, but not all the power. The true power is the action behind the words.

I took this to heart recently as I always say that I want to be more present with my kids during the summer. I want to work only when they are occupied doing other things. I do not want to work on family vacations or during an impromptu pool party. I want to be there because the times are fleeting and the days when they request my presence are going to end someday. I have not blogged as much as I wanted, but I was there. I chose to put action to words and the combination has led to moments that I will forever cherish. Let me clarify that sometimes work must be done even when my kids are asking for my attention. That is life. When I can prioritize my family, it is an easy decision.

The simple fact is that words have power, but this power is only actualized when actions accompany and reinforce the words. A great example of this occurs when looking for a job. You are asked to use words to reflect who you are both personally and professionally in the form of a resume and cover letter. The potential employer then uses those documents to “judge” who should proceed to the interview phase for the position. There has only been one time in my professional career when the traditional way of doing things was thrown to the wayside and I was asked to create a breakup letter instead of a cover letter. I must admit being stumped at first, but quickly realized that this change in the status quo was a stroke of genius. It made me think. The new criteria forced me to create something original. It pushed me to be real. I broke up with my cover letter that day. I wrote “You focus so much on formality that you forget that I am a person who cannot be truly described using only formality. It is true that I have over 18 years of communications and development experience, but I do not stop existing when the workday is over. You do not tell the story of who I am, rather simply focus on what I have accomplished professionally.”

To this day, it is one of my favorite pieces that I have ever written.

When we ask someone to describe themselves with certain specifications, we are only getting a glimpse into the entire portrait of the individual. When we say one thing and do another, integrity is lost. The answer is simple. Your words and actions should compliment one another in the best way possible.

They are powerful when used in unison.

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