Category Archives: hope

Hope, Compassion and Oxygen Masks

There has been a lot of trauma in the world lately: Crimea and the Ukraine, Venezuela, the missing Malaysian plane, to name just a few. There’s fear, anger, hatred, and despair running rampant on our media outlets. We’re being told “what’s going on” without actually having to experience it personally. (Well, most of us, anyway.) Or are we?

Let me start by saying I’m not advocating ignorance or denial. It’s important that we know what’s happening around us in humanity to develop our compassion muscle. Burying our heads in the proverbial sand only weakens us, and humanity, in the long term.

What I DO want to say is this: everything that’s happening, even thousands of miles away, is affecting us. We ARE experiencing it.

Let’s go back to Einstein for a second – everything is energy. Therefore, everything carries energy about it. And energy can move faster than light. So, it stands to reason that when something “bad” is happening somewhere in the world you can bet it’s impacting the energy fields all around the globe in some way. (Likewise, when something good is happening, the same occurs. Yay!)

So, what does that mean for us?

Well, I’ve noticed lately that as I have felt more and more affected by the tragedy in Venezuela (it’s personal), I felt more and more compelled toward gluttony and devouring everything I could find on what’s going on…until I didn’t. I had to stop. Not because it’s gotten better (it hasn’t), and not because it’s resolved (far from it), and certainly not because I don’t care, but because I don’t want to add to the energy grid of despair, anger, and hatred that is encircling our blue/green orb. I want to mitigate it.

To do that, I need to take care of me. It’s the old “oxygen mask” theory:

Put yours on first, so you can help others with theirs.

I need to take care of myself, my emotions, and my energy in order to ADD positively to the energetic flow. That means I need to stay in balance, know what’s going on, and not react from a place of fear, but rather from a place of hope. In other words,

I need to be a guardian of hope during times of despair.

Hope involves compassion, which includes knowledge. Compassion is about knowing your boundaries, exercising them, and helping others from that perspective with grace, empathy, and understanding. Compassion also requires practice to be its most effective. It also requires self-care, as in the oxygen mask.

We need to be informed, we need to be compassionate, and we need to be breathing in order to be of service to change. Mostly, though, we need to be the hope.

Words, Gratitude and a MISSION!

“Changing the world by changing lives, one person at a time.”

That was my “old” motto/slogan. (Can I call it old if it’s only been 5 years?) I suppose in this day and age of digital everything; it’s almost ancient, actually. But it’s still valid today – and it will be valid every day, for the rest of my life and beyond. So it’s really very very new. ☺

It’s what I believe. It’s what I do, and I think it’s what I’ve always done. It’s what I choose every day that I wake up. I believe it’s a choice to chat with a clerk in a store, to engage in a conversation with a friend, to share an article or quote that we find inspiring, to hug or call someone who’s hurting, and to simply look a stranger in the eye and smile. These are choices I make to connect with the world around me, and I carry them forward in my coaching, writing and teaching.

What you don’t know is: Growing up, I used to think I could only change the world if I became a successful and famous (insert profession here), and then joined the UN Ambassador program to highlight areas of need. I used to think I had to do something notable and noteworthy in order to make a dent in the world for the better. I know a lot more since then, and I’m glad that’s not the only way to go about things, but sometimes my mind wanders back to those thoughts and ideas, and I wonder…

Then, as a reminder, last October I received this unexpected email from a reader:

Hi Martina,

Thanks for the gift of your words.

I forwarded this to a friend who is recovering from being involved with (someone)…
And your words lifted her world tremendously !

You’ve touched many today!

Blessings,
(name withheld)

I still fill with gratitude reading it. I am still in awe at the power of words to change someone’s life, and I am humbled by the fact that they came through me. (And THANK YOU my dear reader for sharing with me.)

So now I’m modifying my MISSION (formerly a motto/slogan) ever-so-slightly to more accurately reflect who I am and what I do:

Changing the world by changing lives –
one person, one moment, one word at a time.

I know this is possible. In fact, it’s more than that – it’s probable! So let’s do this together! All it takes is a smile, a hug, or even a word to change somebody’s world. Are you ready to join in?

Expectations are Hope in Disguise

I recently had an opportunity to experience suffering. The kind where you sometimes sit on your shower floor and cry, hoping the constant stream of water from above will somehow dilute the salty rivers on your face (and where nobody can hear you or see the snot that has also formed some sort of waterfall over your lip). Yeah, that kind of sadness. Suffering.

So much has been said in recent years about how expectations are the root cause of suffering. Hmmm. I’d always agreed with that. (Well, accepted it without challenging it is probably more accurate.) But these bouts in the shower gave me cause to pause. And guess what? I disagree. (Not that that should come as a surprise to most of you. lol)

My new thought:

I don’t think it’s wrong to have expectations.

Actually, I think it’s hope for humanity’s future to hold expectations of one another. I expect people to be kind, respectful, and compassionate, and act in a way that is in accordance with that. For me, these are some of the highest values of basic humanity. To expect less than these basics almost feels like I’m letting my fellow humans down – like I’m saying: “I don’t believe in you.”

So why is there a plethora of writing linking expectations and suffering? Well, suffering comes when I form an emotional attachment to the outcome of my expectations, to the decisions and/or actions of others. Attachment is quite different than expectation, because it involves control. And, if we’re honest, attachments, in their essence, are actually judgments. (And we all know about judgments, right? – if you don’t know what I’m saying, check out my spooky Halloween post.)

What, then, are attachments? Bottom line:

Attachments are attempts at control based in fear, and they’re unhealthy.

In my opinion, they are the root cause of emotional suffering. So many things can grow out of attachment that you probably don’t realize. Things like: low self-worth, low self-esteem, anger, frustration, disappointment, despair, disregard, are all products of attachment. If I were to attach an emotional investment (my happiness) in a fellow human behaving a certain way, boy would I be in trouble!

Trying to control things that are not mine will ALWAYS create opportunities for suffering, and control is a form of attachment. (Not to mention being a sign of disrespect toward someone else.)

Healthy expectations are an integral part of any relationship. They allow us to hold one another in high esteem, and challenge ourselves and each other to be the best we can be. Expectations are like little pompoms of encouragement waving wildly on the sidelines of the game of life. They help us identify what’s possible and feel supported in getting there. Attachments, meanwhile, derail us from our own truth and knowing, like the really loud fans from an opposing team trying to distract us from our purpose.

Expectations, therefore, are an expression of hope. And hope is always a good thing.

Hold on to Hope

Making Sense of the Senseless. We’ve all tried. On the news each night – whether you are watching local, national or international – we all hear of tragedies that make no sense. A suicide bombing here, an earthquake there, mudslides, shootings, fires, falls. It seems that every day, humanity experiences senseless acts of violence, nature and tragedy. And yet, we continue on.

The majority of us go to bed each night and wake up each morning with a new day filled with new opportunities to experience, learn, feel and grow. We watch, listen and experience our world around us as we celebrate milestones together, such as birthdays and anniversaries. But what do we do when the senseless hits home?

Most of us are lucky enough to go through life without experiencing the tragedy of a suicide bombing in our neighborhood, or a drive-by shooting. Those incidents are few and far between, though their prevalence on the media makes it seem like they are occurring everywhere. Truth be told, they are but a small percentage of the overall experiences of the human population. But they are tragedies nonetheless, that collectively affect our human psyche. So, what happens when tragedy – senseless tragedy – becomes personal? What happens when the nightly news story is about someone you know?

I recently had this experience for the first time in my life, and it is surreal. Nothing can prepare you for a senseless tragedy. Nothing. And in the end, you’re left with questions and memories. Eventually, the memories take over, but in the beginning the questions are most prevalent: Why? How? What for? I’m now paraphrasing my cousin Jerry, a priest, who conducted the funeral and memorial service for this tragedy. And I am more than honored to be able to share his words with you. Because their wisdom is so pure and simple. Here’s, generally, what he said:

How can we answer these questions? We can’t. There are no answers, and there never will be. What we have – what we always have – is hope. So hold on to hope.

And he’s right. Regardless of what religion, spirituality or beliefs you hold – there is always hope. Hope for mending a broken heart, hope for reincarnation, hope for a cure. The list goes on and on. Without hope, our world would be pretty dark.

Hope wakes us up in the morning after an hour of nightly news filled with tragedy and fear, mixed among the blessings and celebrations. Hope allows us to sleep at night, knowing that tomorrow is a new day, with new life and new opportunities.

“Hope,” (to quote ‘The Preacher’s Wife’), “is all a prayer is.”

So – how do we make sense of the senseless? We don’t. But with hope, we can move forward into our future, honoring our memories, and living each day anew. Hold on to Hope. You’ll be glad you did.