Hope, or How We Keep Going

Hope is the greatest motivator and the greatest gift. But what happens when we lose it? When tragedy comes calling, and we feel overwhelmed, our courage to face life can disappear. There are the little tragedies where we have lost hope for the moment. And there are the big tragedies where we have lost hope period. How do we keep going?

By somebody else’s hopeful story. Somebody else’s recovery. Somebody else’s survival documented. Somebody else’ s dream being lived out, for real. Somebody else who has been there, or is going there, and will take our hand and point the way. That is what can keep us going when we feel we have nothing left to hope for. Another’s experience  and courage can give us strength when we feel that we have none left.

When we start to believe in someone else’s dreams, in someone else’s visions for what can be and for what our lives can be, our own dreams start to return. When we hear or read stories of someone(s) who has been through what we are going through and has made it to the other side, we recognize that we can survive this. We can come through too. There are living examples to point to, and these thriving examples can help pull us back on our feet. If they could do it, if they could believe it, then maybe we can too. And the miracle is that little by little we build back our faith. Faith in ourselves. Faith in humanity. Faith in a higher power. Faith in our future. The kindness and courage of others and their stories can pull you through when your own words are too painful to speak.

The greatest testament to hope? Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream Speech.” His words inspire and uplift us while also acknowledging how hard life is. We can relate to what he says because it focuses on the unrealized dream of equality. The speech  begins, “I say to you today, my friends, though, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream.” Google it. Read it or watch it for inspiration.

Dreams are hopes unrealized. Draw from other’s experiences and other’s courage, from other’s words and other’s hope, to give you back yours. It’s possible.



Thanksgiving, Past, Present, and Future

The past was the past. Childhood was largely out of your control. Those holiday celebrations? Not of your creating. You were a pawn in a larger family game. And the pawn is forced to show up. If this notion is foreign to you, then I am happy for your childhood holiday experiences. If this notion is familiar to you, then I am here to remind you to take heart and take charge. You can re-write the script and change your holiday. You get to determine who you are with and who you are not with. You get to determine where you are, what you do, what you eat, and how to celebrate (or not). Allow me to illustrate….

Thanksgiving was awful when I was a kid, and I hated this holiday for a long time. We had to go to my alcoholic grandparents’ house. Where the tension between people was palpable and where more was unspoken than spoken. (This little empath spent the day sad and confused.) Their traditions included a catered in meal, a fancy table, and for us to be seen but not heard. If we were chastised and cried, my step-grandfather pulled out his “crying balloon” and made it whine while laughing at us. They tried to make us eat exactly what they served, but after I threw up in the water glass, I got a pass on that one.

As an adult, I ignored the holiday for a while. And then I decided to re-write it. With MY family – my husband and my children. I vowed to always cook a nice, simple meal to share at home. I vowed to let everyone relax and be comfortable for the day. I vowed to savor our time together. To be thankful. And that’s it. No big production. Short, simple and very sweet.

The hardest part was changing my feelings about the holiday. That is always the biggest hurdle for an empath. But it is doable. If you have a rattling ghost of bad holidays past, I encourage you to banish it and take away its power. You can create your own form of celebration however traditional or non-traditional you so choose.

As for future holidays to come, we can re-invent that too. Perhaps a destination holiday….hmmm….


Uh….Yes, Your Words Matter – Part 2

Words can save you. Their power is immeasurable. We remember the right words that are uttered at the right moment because they stay with us. We remember the words that help us to keep moving forward when we are so tired. We remember the words that verify our own unique place in life. We remember the words that tell us that yes, we matter, and yes, we are worth it, and that yes, we are loved .

When we need them most, we can recall the words that were told to us, and we can recite them internally or out loud. And they save us again and again. Because the words spoken to another become part of the listener’s history and a part of their story. So, we must be mindful to use our words carefully and thoughtfully at critical moments in someone’s life. The moment will pass, but the words spoken will live on.

Think about the most meaningful words ever spoken to you. You know what they are, and you know why they mean so much. They affirm a part of you. Here are mine. “In my family, we love seldom and deeply, and I love you.” – when learning to trust in love again. “You are a mighty oak.” – when doubting my own inner strength. “Can I copy your paper as a good example to show other students?” – when unsure if I hit the mark in my writing. “We had such wonderful times together.” – when my mother said good bye to me for the last time. These are all simple words, simple sentences. But they mean the world to me because they were spoken by people who I trusted and who believed in me. So I believed in me too.

Words and emotions are linked. We remember words with the emotions of the moment when they were spoken. This is true for everyone, though empaths often notice the emotions first and the words second. We feel it, and then we hear it. But either way, the words and emotions are imprinted on us to be recalled at will in times of need. Like a prayer.

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” -Mother Teresa


Uh…Yes, Your Words Matter – Part 1

Words can’t break your bones, but they can break your spirit, and they can break your heart. Because when we communicate with words, we exert power. When those in our inner circle, those we trust with our whole selves, say something, we listen. We believe. So recognize that there is a responsibility that goes with trust and a weight to your words. We can feel beaten down or lifted up by the words of others.

Think about it. What is the cruelest thing that someone(s) ever said to you? But you don’t even have to think about it. It’s right there, and you can remember it and spit it back verbatim. Here are the worst from my own catalog – “I don’t like to hold you at night because it makes me feel like I’m drowning and you are pulling me under,” from a former lover. “Beggars can’t be choosers,” from a former friend. “Your writing is pedestrian and boring,” from a former teacher. And the creme d’ la creme “Now you’re damaged goods, just like me,” from a (now deceased) relative. Pretty shitty, isn’t it? Made me feel small and worthless for quite some time.

But with age and experience, I gained more wisdom. I learned that it’s true that misery loves company, and that miserable people will pull others down with them. I learned that arrogant or narcissistic people only feel superior when they belittle you. I learned that I couldn’t prove myself otherwise, and that I needed to stop trying. I couldn’t change or save anyone mean or self-obsessed. I learned not to give away my self-definition. I know who I am.

But it’s been more recent that I figured out what I am. I’m an empath. And broken people are often attracted to empaths. We are by nature full of compassion for others, so we fall in the trenches with them and try to help them out. But recognize, it’s not your trench. I am not saying to not help others in need here. But I am saying recognize your own limits and protect your own heart. If someone is in pain, help them. It someone is always miserable and mean, step away.

“The moment you feel you have to prove your worth to someone is the moment to absolutely and utterly walk away.”      ~Alysia Harris

Lesson learned.