Monday, February 21, 2011

Good Morning World, it's me Hope

With my neighborhood blanketed with a fresh heavy snowfall and the morning media waves spewing news of anything but joy or peace, I willingly opted to turn off the news and to head outside with my shovel...again.
Hours later, walking into my house and shaking off the snowy clothes, I glanced at the darkened television in the corner.  I prescribed a mental prevention diet, a fast from the news media.  Not forever, but maybe a few weeks. I don't plan to run from world but I am going to stop taking the time to read the paper, or surf the web news scanning for headlines. I am resolved to change my mental diet.  And this blog will be my virtual oatmeal in the morning that will hopefully help suck up the residual junk running through my veins.

Show me the Oatmeal
My quest will be to unearth stories of hope and peace to keep my heart singing while I'm working toward my bold vision to help the world. I will share the stories of people who are doing the right thing, persevering and making a difference even when the task seems insurmountable.  I plan to dig for things that encourage my soul, starting by telling the stories of some Nobel Peace Prize Laureates and those who are confirmed 2011 nominees.  The Nobel nomination rightfully inspires others to pursue paths that bring peace and hope.  I am super excited to be attending a conference to hear some of these wonderful people in the next few weeks and I'm so pleased to have begun networking and sharing stories with each other.

As March 11, 2011 approaches, I view this Nobel nomination announcement as an affirmation that this bold vision is moving in the right direction and in an honorable way.  I am humbled to be one of the instruments that has helped move this collaborative vision forward.   Everyone close to this project knows that only God could orchestrate all the moving parts and to bring this bold vision to fruition -- and He alone will get the credit.  What a blessing to be part of something so big that only God could do it!
How Shoveling Snow Inspired my Quest for "Spiritual Oatmeal"

Even with the soreness from an earlier shoveling adventure rising in my forearms and back, there was something invigorating about facing off against the giant mound the city snow plow so unhelpfully delivered to the end of my driveway.  Rather than bemoaning the fact that I just cleared it yesterday (and last week and the week before that)..scoop by scoop I saw the progress and somehow it kept me going.  Just enough hope to keep me trying. No complaints -- I'm a Minnesotan by marriage and by choice. This is home and I love it.

An hour into the dig, the newscaster's expected snow totals for the day resounded in my head above the hum of the next door snowblowers and I felt a weird new sensation, a pang inside and a voice that said "It's just too big.  You can't possibly do this."  And I knew it wasn't about the snow.  That's when my Knight with a Shining Toro, a teen from next door entered the scene and worked for about twenty minutes on my driveway.  His smile and fast progress gave me a shot of hope.  That momentary pang dissipated as fast as it came.

So even though King Boreas is apparently winning the battle to hold off spring, I actually enjoyed my morning workout in the snowbank. I came, I shoveled, and thankfully I have terrific neighbors who shared the snowblower love with me when my body was just about spent!  When I was at a tipping point, something changed and I could keep going.

And while I was out there sloughing new powder and huge snowplow clumps, I had an epiphany about my attitude...  I was out there boldly singing "I Have Confidence" from the Sound of Music and beaming warmth through my face wrap as I finished the last ten minutes. It took so little to pick up my spirits.  I looked up and down the block at everyone else outside doing similar tasks as I finished (Surprisingly no one else was singing and standing on the top of the five foot snowbank with a shovel over their head like a Stanley Cup!)

It was in that moment that I was reminded again that God just crafted me differently. Even on a normal, no big deal Monday when I woke up slowly and felt a bit mentally worn out already, I was still wired to see the driveway a
half-shoveled rather than a half-covered.  But as a person who naturally operates in prevention mode, I recognized that I had just experienced a tipping point. I really need to do something to protect my attitude and perspective if a little thing like some snow could shape my world view.

As a baseline comparison, all winter and every other winter I've shoveled.  Over and over and yet honestly today was the very first morning I ever thought of just going inside and quitting, returning to bed to wait it out.  That voice wasn't some naysayer ( I know -- I've heard plenty of those).  No, it was my voice. And it wasn't about the snow at all.  After twelve years working on a vision that I truly believe will bless the world, we are so close.  But this new symptom proved to me that I need to take some intentional action to guard my heart. I needed a dose of hope myself and then I could go and help my neighbors.

As the snow continued to fall,, everyone kept working on each others' property until all the driveways were cleared and all the roofs were raked -- what a blessing to be neighbors.  Before you begin to doubt the existence of a fairytale block like this, no one seemed overjoyed about the weather, but boy was everyone genuinely willing to help.  At least an hour later, I returned inside, feeling a renewed sense of accomplishment and a connection to the families on my block who truly embody "Minnesota Nice."

I had survived the tipping point and I had enough energy to help others.  And it all started with someone encouraging me.    Beyond a Hippocratic Relationship Oath to "squash no dream" should be the simple idea of helping each other tip to a good way. 
Like leaning when you go bowl?  

Maybe that's our biggest calling for us each day. Wrap your mind around the potential we could unleash in each other that is bigger than anything we could have ever accomplished ourselves.

Unlike other awards programs, those who have been nominated for this honor are not truly competing against each other -- instead they are allies trying to bless the world.  Shouldn't we all be doing that?

After hanging up my wet coat over the tub in the bathroom, I glanced in the mirror. With a new resolve I committed to the person I saw looking at me to keep doing exactly what I was born to do.  My Mom named me Hope -- and simply put, I don't believe it was on accident or a fluke.  In fact I truly believe that my calling in life is to be a Hope-Bringer. It's not about what job I hold or where I live.  That's my purpose.  That's the gift the Created chose to entrust to me.

It dawned on me that if I am not reaching my full potential to live out my calling because a have something negative starting to clog my veins, I can either wait for a complete blockage or I can choose to change my health. 

I'm well aware that there are plenty of unintentional joy-killers who are looming in the next meeting or un-returned phone call which could dump a fresh load of negative junk in the chambers of my heart. For those like me who woke up this morning and unexpectedly found themselves at the tipping point, I believe this journey together will give us all just enough hope to keep us all shoveling. Plus I've heard that blogging is good medicine -- and it's cheaper than a therapist.  So whether or not anyone reads this, I need to write.

Warning: So pessimists beware and don't link to my blog because if you're not careful you might find yourself converting to a sunny disposition.  At the risk of being too transparent and vulnerable, I'm going to record my journey, meeting and reading about some very inspiring people.

I trust these stories will serve as a good reminder that if we ALL keep doing the little things we are compelled to do that somehow collectively we CAN change the world.  Blessings!