Lending Hope

Lending Hope

“Even darkness must pass. A new day will come and when the sun shines, it will shine out the clearer.” –J. R. R. Tolkien

Guys. I’m going to be very real for a second. I had a meltdown this week–a huge catastrophic meltdown. The last few weeks finally caught up to me and I felt all of the feelings. Anger. Sadness. Hopelessness.

Sobbing, I texted my best friend. She didn’t even hesitate, and she raced over in the night to hold my hand and sit with me in my mess. She let me scream and shout and cry and throw things. She didn’t try to talk me down out of my crazy. She just listened.

Even in all the darkness, she didn’t leave. (And trust me, I’m not a cute meltdown-thrower. It’s ugly crying on steroids.) She didn’t try to talk sense into my irrationality, she didn’t try to talk at all actually. She let me be upset, she let me cry because she’s wiser than me and knows that tears really do clean out the soul.

She’s the hero of this story. And she’s the kind of friend that we all need. The one that climbs into the darkness and doesn’t try to fix it and doesn’t try to analyze it. By staying, she ever so slightly became the beacon of light that quietly started to illuminate the shadowland. She is the definition of a hope-lender. And I think we all could learn from her. 

We all need a hope-lender in our lives right now. Each one of us is going to have our catastrophic meltdown moment, the world is stressful right now. Things are scary and fear continues to roar its ugly cry. But even in the darkest moments of the unknown, hope-lenders can shine their lanterns to remind us that we aren’t alone and that this too shall pass. I’m a firm believer that if it’s not good, it’s not the end. And right now, for all of us, things aren’t good. But even in the not good, hope-lenders charge into the darkness to sit with us and remind us that it’s going to be okay. We are all going to reach the point of needing a hope-lender, but we also all need to be hope-lenders. We are all in this together and we will get through it, and we will be stronger than before.

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Hope Does Not Disappoint

Hope Does Not Disappoint

(Let me preface this post by saying that I am totally aware of the real danger of this virus and 110% support and am participating in the actions taken by officials in the past week to #flattenthecurve — I am grateful that we have elected leaders who are doing the best they can to navigate this very real and time-sensitive crisis.)

We live in a time where the world as we know it has completely been blown to pieces. COVID-19, or the coronavirus, has overtaken our news cycles, engulfed every social media scroll, and overwhelmed every political and social system that we have in place. 

I watched the horror of the current reality of COVID-19 set into the lives of the people I care most about this week. I listened to the choked back tears of my senior brother as he realized that the end of his high school career came much closer than he had anticipated. I’ve seen my teacher friends’ heart-breaking Facebook posts as they lament about the fates of the children they love and care for so much. I’ve watched the doctors and nurses of my town frantically search for options for their older children because public school doesn’t look the same anymore. My elderly neighbors are cautiously peeking out of their windows and isolating themselves due to the reality of a virus that can kill them. People are cowering behind their computer screens totally immobilized by the fear of the unknown. And frankly, I’ve had enough of it. 

Dear people, we’ve been given a great opportunity to be human again. We have to wake up and start being beacons of light in the darkness. So start looking out for others by checking on those elderly neighbors that are struggling. Reach out to those seniors who are nursing broken hearts and dreams. Help those kiddos whose educational and social normalcy was ripped out from under them. Start spreading kindness one act at a time (and for the love of all that is holy, please stop hoarding toilet paper). 

Stop the constant cycle of fear and panic—even amidst the uncertainty of the times that we live in (you actually can educate the public without frightening all of humanity). We must combat that overwhelming fear with love. And generosity. And kindness. We need to be hope-lenders. We need to leave anxiousness at the door of every room we enter and radiate peace regardless of what is thrown at us. We must choose joyfulness in every circumstance. We have to start believing with faith that there are still little miracles taking place every day. 

Perhaps our greatest legacy out of all of this will be how we treat each other in the coming weeks and months. I pray that it is a positive legacy. A world-changing legacy. I hope that our children and grandchildren will one day tell the tale of how the world learned kindness in the midst of a global pandemic. I dream of a world that is bursting with a hope that sings out in unison of how a new day will dawn again and the long night will eventually end. 

The choice has been given to you: be a fear-spreader or hope-lender. I hope you go change the world, one small act of kindness at a time. <3

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Intern Insights: Join Rachael every week as she journeys into the world of communications and marketing.

 
Why Gratitude Matters

Why Gratitude Matters

“Give yourself time to worry.”

This was the advice that I was given this week by someone whose word I take as gospel. 

“Time to worry, really?,” I asked myself as I contemplated my choice of mentor. It seemed so counterintuitive. I’ve been told my whole life not to worry, because worrying is bad and pointless and never leads to anything good. But yet, here I was being told to schedule time out of my day to worry. 

“Okay,” I hesitantly responded to the seemingly mad advice, “I’ll try to worry more.” As I fidgeted in the chair, trying desperately to figure out the solution to my momentary crisis of faith came the lightbulb moment. 

“But I hate worrying,” I started to ramble, “Worrying leads to nothing good. It’s ridiculous, almost obnoxious even. As I worry, I get irritated with myself because I see how good I have it, therefore, why should I be worrying in the first place?”

A small, knowing grin emerges from my mentor’s mouth as she chews on the pen cap while she watched me stew over the irony that was materializing in  my mind. 

“I have it so good,” I continue, “Like there’s so much that I should be being grateful for instead of worrying.”

Bingo. There it was. See, this woman knows me well, almost too well. She knows how my mind works–how it gets from Point A to B. If she let me debate worry for a while, she knew I’d come back to gratitude–I always do. Gratitude is the saving grace of my life. 

If comparison is the thief of all joy, then gratitude must be the giver of all joy. It’s science, gratefulness is the deciding factor of what makes joyful people,well…joyful. (Seriously, Harvard did a study on it to drive this point home.)

We as a people have to practice gratitude more. It has to be the narrative consistently rehearsed over and over–during the good, the bad, and the ugly. We have to call out the things that are worth celebrating, no matter how big or small. Those tiny moments of insignificant good add up, and those are the moments that we should be screaming from the rooftops. That version of the story will change your entire life. 

So if you’re anything like me–stubborn, think you’re always right, slow learner–worry your way to gratitude. But if you’re smarter than me, just start with gratitude. May we all try a little harder to attain this quaint, light-filled spirit–it’s absolutely worth it. 

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Forget You, Fear

Forget You, Fear

I have an adventurous soul–like I want to do all the things, dream all the dreams, visit all the places. I have at least five maps hanging on the walls of my house and a Pinterest board filled with places that I want to visit and things that I want to accomplish. I would like to think that I’m brave enough to make all of these wonderful dreams come true. But one tiny thing always gets in my way. And that’s fear. 

We all struggle with it, and if you try and tell me that you don’t–you’re lying to yourself, your mama, and me. 

Fear is a funny thing. It’s always being portrayed as the villain of the story, but in reality, fear keeps us safe. A healthy dose of fear keeps you alive, it’s why you look both ways before crossing a street and why you wash your hands after you cough or sneeze. 

And when left unchecked, my adventurous soul would get another dog (because one more can’t possibly hurt anything) or sell all of my belongings and move halfway around the globe without thinking twice about it. Fear, partnered with a healthy dose of realism, keeps me from doing irrational things with my time, energy, or money. But I also have noticed with my life, that this fear and realism sometimes hinders the pathway to the life that I want. I can continue to “play it safe” and leave my nice, quiet, and predictable life alone, or I can step into the unknown and see what else is out there.

For growth to happen, I have to be willing to be stretched. I have to step past what I can see in front of me and take a chance that there is even the possibility of something more. I have to be brave. I can’t let the fear stop me from trying again, from reaching a little further, or stepping completely off the beaten path. I have to be willing to face failure and rejection over and over. I have to be willing to put up with the pain of continually showing up only to be knocked down again. 

I am a firm believer that the universe listens to the brave. So today (and every day), show up and be brave. Take more chances with your life, because darling, this is it–today is the only chance you get and you’re not promised tomorrow. Be courageous in what you go after, leave no stone unturned and absolutely nothing left on the table. We’re worth it, and kind of owe it to ourselves to go after the life that we dream of. Stop saying “one day.” and conquer today. Chase today. Be brave today.

And that concludes my Ted Talk inspired completely by my idol Brené Brown Thank you.

Photo of Intern Rachael smiling. She is a young woman with dark hair and green eyes.

Intern Insights: Join Rachael every week as she journeys into the world of communications and marketing.

 
Effective vs. Efficient

Effective vs. Efficient

I remember when I was in high school and my teacher did an object lesson on the Industrial Revolution. She gave us each plain white sheets of paper and gave us five minutes to draw a person. “Make them as ornate as possible,” she said. The timer started and off we went. Our creations varied in skill, but the true artists in the class generated beautiful works of art. For the time given, I was quite impressed with our illustrations. Then, the teacher changed it up. She told us to arrange ourselves into an assembly line. Each of us would be given five seconds to draw a specific body part and then pass it to our neighbor for them to complete their designated job. We were supposed to crank out as many complete people as possible in five minutes. The timer rang and that second group of drawings we produced were TERRIBLE. We made a lot of them, but the quality was awful. 

Fast forward this valuable life lesson about 7 years into the future. Enter me today. I’ve always been speedy fast. Like, I get yelled at the most for running around like a chicken with my head cut off. “Slow down Rachael” is something that always echoes after my footsteps. And due to circumstances in my life, I’ve been forced to learn how to slow down and pause–and it’s taught me a lot. 

There is an art to stopping to smell the roses. There is a craft to slowing down and taking your time. Admiring the beauty of things is good–actually it’s necessary. While efficiency gets things done, it doesn’t produce the same quality of work that is needed to stand out in a crowd, especially in creative circles. In the creative field, it isn’t the quantity of work that counts, it’s the quality. I’ve found that when I take my time, my skill level increases. The people that count on me actually have less work to do when I take my time and do it right. I am more effective in the impact that I make when I take my time, and that is what ultimately counts.

Photo of Intern Rachael smiling. She is a young woman with dark hair and green eyes.

Intern Insights: Join Rachael every week as she journeys into the world of communications and marketing.

 

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