Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Daily Task of Rising

Tomorrow I am scheduled as a Women at Noon Series speaker at Des Moines University. It was an honor to be asked to share my story, especially among the stellar line-up of exceptional women. It was not the first time I had been asked to speak about my journey but it felt like it. Part of the reason is that the event is open to the public. I have done a lot of speaking for private events. Being that this is open to the public, I have no idea how many people will show up - if any, and what they want to gain from hearing my story. That triggers my desire to please everyone as I try to imagine why anyone would be motivated to spend their lunch hour learning about me.

As I worried and wondered what to focus on, I thought to presentations I've heard in the past. The more personal the story, the more I related to the speaker. The vulnerability of being in front of a group and sharing innermost thoughts and experiences is a great show of humanity. I have had the privilege of having heard many speakers and their examples came to mind. It also filled me with doubt.

  • Can I be as truthful as those who put it all out there and drew me in?
  • How can I hold myself accountable to the truth?
As I prepared the presentation I kept telling myself to relax. I have spoken to large groups before. There is a reason I was asked to speak. I needed to own that. It's tough to do that when you aren't feeling in your prime.

The last few weeks have come with some parenting challenges that have made me question who I am at my core. I am in a constant state of processing that but when something brings that to the surface I become guarded and protective. I didn't want that to come across as me being less than honest in my story. I want to be like the speakers who have uplifted me. If people are going to take time out of their day to listen to me, I want them to go away with not only a message of hope, but a better picture of who I am. My goal is to connect with my audience at a level that surpasses the event and opens the door for further interaction. That means I can't be restrictive. I have to share the good along with the ugly. 

There were and still are ugly parts of my journey. It is a daily part of my life and I am not alone in that. We all face the daily task of rising. For some it might be rising to get their day going because they face circumstances and situations they would rather not deal with. For others it might mean rising to an occasion they fear. We all walk paths of challenge and choices. Sometimes they are easier than others but it is the ones that want to knock us down that move us to choose to listen to the stories of others. We rely on their narratives to fuel our own. In the end, it is this that helps us choose to rise to our own destinies, even if the stories are unrelated.

With that as my guiding principal, I will rise to confront my doubts and insecurities and tell a story that comes from the deepest part of me. It won't be easy and I'll have to fake confidence with every word but I owe it to every listener who comes to find a piece of their story in mine. If nothing else, it is part of the legacy I hope to leave. It is part of my ultimate life goal to leave this world a little better than I found it, even if that is only true for one person. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Pura Vida

Last month I checked off a ten-year bucket list item - I went ziplining over the rainforest in Costa Rica.  It was as amazing as I dreamed it would be and I'd do it again in a heartbeat. 

Aside from the adrenaline of the zipline, the trip was filled with hiking, horseback riding, thermal hot springs, an impromptu trip to Nicaragua and scalping tickets to a World Cup qualifying match at the National Stadium.

It's hard to pinpoint what I liked best about the trip because the truth is, I loved every minute of it. I often like to check off countries and move on to other continents, but I would gladly return to Costa Rica and Nicaragua if I have the chance.

Here are some more highlights. 
Eco lodge in the rain forest
Volcán Arenal

One of many hiking trails

View of the volcano from our lodge balcony

Lodge grounds

Scenes from the lodge grounds

Arenal volcano in the background

The beach along the northwest coast

Impromtu trip to Nicaragua

Lake Nicaragua

The largest lake in Central America

Small town in Nicaragua

Gases from an active volcano

Monkey Island
Scene from Monkey Island

More scenes from Nicaragua:

World Cup Qualifier: Mexico vs. Costa Rica:
National Stadium in San Jose
Scalped tickets
Stadium lit and ready for the match
Costa Rica's team

75,000 fans

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A Conversation and Discovery

True to their promise, my parents in law came for their annual visit. They timed it so they would be here for the Warren Morrow Music Festival I help organize every year. They also wanted to be in his home on what would have been Warren's fortieth birthday and arrived on that day. Unfortunately, I was out of town the day they arrived but luckily my mom had planned a family party to celebrate their arrival and his birthday. 

Their visits bring us closer as a family, and in particular, my nieces and nephews love having an extra set of grandparents doting on them. One of the things they loved most about their visit was a party game my mom created where she wrote a question about Warren on a slip of paper and put it inside a balloon. Each child took turns popping the balloon and answering the question and Warren's parents helped them with the answer or shared a story related to the response. The kids learned more about their uncle and my in laws said they felt proud and touched at how eager the kids are to remember Warren and learn more about him. 

I was sorry to have missed that celebration but thankful for a chance to learn more about Warren's childhood in a more intimate setting when his dad and I participated in StoryCorps. For those who do not want to click on the link, StoryCorps collects personal stories through people interviewing one another and archives the stories at the Library of Congress and eventually on their website.

In any case, the conversation was enlightening and it was one of few times Warren's dad and I were able to talk about him, just the two of us.

We shared some interesting stories and I was proud of myself for not crying. I really thought I would get in the room and lose it, especially while looking at his dad, with whom he shares the warmth in his smile. I see bits of Warren in his dad so I knew that talking about him to his dad would be difficult. All day before the interview I told myself to calm down, to focus on the present and to make the experience about the conversation and not about the topic. That was easier said than done but in the end, I was happy that I kept it together and we shared a dialogue and some quality time we would not have had otherwise.

I had hoped to have a clip to share on this blog but I haven't received it. Stay tuned and I will share it when it becomes available.

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