It's easy to forget that we are all perfect in our own design. Sometimes we muck it up with habits and choices that do not serve us. 

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What Are You Fighting For?

11111cover.112442 "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." -Eleanor Roosevelt

I've Been Thinking...

Dear friends, 

How are you? I really want to know.

How are you feeling emotionally, physically, and spiritually on this Sunday? Are you feeling optimistic about September and about the fall? Or are you Zoomed out and stressed out by all the politics, social unrest, and COVID-19?

Take a moment to check in with yourself. Put your hand over your heart. There is no hurry or right answer here. Allow yourself to be exactly where you are. That’s how I try to start each day, assuring myself that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. 

Today, I am back in your inbox after my August break. I am so grateful to be here again! Thank you for making me and The Sunday Paper a part of your weekend routine. If I’m being totally honest, I thought twice about returning this month, particularly when it comes to social media. The distance I’ve had allowed me to look anew at all the noise and wonder whether I’m adding to it. 

The mission of this newsletter is to rise above the noise, clutter, and mayhem. It is to lift up the voices of those trying to move us forward in a passionate and purposeful way. The more I thought about that mission over these last few weeks, the easier it became to return to this forum. My hope is that the inspiring voices we elevate in The Sunday Paper will elevate and reassure you. I hope they will remind you that you are where you are supposed to be, and that you and your voice are so needed at this time.

These last few weeks, I’ve been working at practicing detachment and letting go. I’ve been letting go of expectations, demands, worries, and of things (lots of things, in fact, which isn’t easy for me at all. Coming face to face with decades of storage has forced me to reevaluate a lot!) 

My break this year felt different in so many ways. Last August, my time away began with the sudden death of my cousin’s only child. It was shocking, heartbreaking, and deeply emotional. It took over my time away. I thought about that as I drove away from my office this year. It made me think back to what I went through at this time last year. I heard my interior voice say, "Count your blessings, Maria. All in your world is quiet right now. Value that. You are blessed. Quiet is underrated, and calm is what you have worked hard to achieve. Honor it!"

As I drove home, I thought about my lack of plans. I had nowhere to go. I had lists I wanted to make, and storage units I wanted to clear out, and other things I wanted to get in order, but my big "to do" was to await the birth of my first grandchild. It was only in the last few weeks leading up to her birth that I began allowing myself to feel excited about this new chapter. 

COVID-19, staying at home, and everything else hadn’t really allowed this impending birth to take hold in my heart. Maybe it was my way of protecting myself from getting too excited. I think I told myself: Just stay focused. Help your kids. Keep your pregnant daughter calm. Do what you can to keep everyone at work and home moving forward.

Slowly, though, the reality began to land. I cleaned out a closet and dubbed it the "baby’s closet." I put baby supplies in it for this unknown person who I hoped would become a frequent visitor to my home. I thought about names for this child, who I was sure was going to be a boy. I thought about how I would inhabit this new role. I thought about my own mother and grandmother and how they both took on the role of grandmother. I missed them so much. I wanted to ask them what this moment in their lives had been like. Did they enjoy it? How did they approach it? How were they different as grandparents than as parents? 

Then, just a few days into my break, my daughter called to tell me that she and her husband were on their way to the hospital.

I could feel my heart race. I went to get a COVID-19 test so that I could see the baby and hold the baby when they got home. The day felt like it took forever. I sat at home with my other kids waiting for a text, a picture, anything that would alert us. Then it came. "It’s a girl!" my son-in-law texted. "And mama and baby are great!"

A few seconds followed and then he sent a video of my baby girl crying as she held her baby daughter. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I fell apart. I watched the video over and over, stunned at the sight of my oldest daughter holding her daughter. In that moment, I felt my life shift. A new chapter had begun.

My granddaughter, Lyla Maria, is now one month old. As often as I’m allowed (lol), I go to my daughter’s house and sit six feet away and simply marvel at her. I marvel that my daughter is a mother, and what a great mother she is becoming. I marvel that I am alive to bear witness to this miracle. I marvel yet again at the strength of a woman’s body and her ability to birth a human being. I marvel as I watch my granddaughter stare at her mother. I marvel at how much has changed in the world since I gave birth to my kids, and how much still hasn’t. 

As I watch the bonding process in real-time, it’s inconceivable to me that we still have no family leave in this country. As I sit quietly watching, it’s not lost on me that there is so much unrest and upheaval in our world. I think about what world Lyla Maria will inherit. It reaffirms for me the importance of doing all I can right now to ensure that she walks out into a world that is equitable, just, caring, compassionate, fair, safe, and loving—not just for her, but for all, regardless of gender or race.

I know that kind of world won’t just happen without each of us doing our part to make it so. In this last month, actually in this last week, there were so many things in the news that I wanted to scream about. There were so many things that upset me, enraged me, perplexed me, and yes, even inspired me. (Thank God there are always way more things and people that inspire me than things that take me down.) 

And so, I come into this heated political season with a sense of calm and a sense of urgency. It’s not lost on me that this is the most important election in my lifetime—and I’ve seen some important elections in my life. This election will determine whether the world I envision for my granddaughter, and for you and everyone else, will be able to become a reality. Will the country my generation hands over be a just one? An equitable one? A caring one? A safe one? Will our country be brave enough to reform itself from the inside out so that its institutions better represent everyone they are meant to serve?

In my lifetime, I have learned that it is impossible to demand peace, justice, equity, and calm if one doesn’t first acquaint oneself with those emotions within their own being. Reform need not scare us. Changing from within should inspire us. It’s admirable. Talk about love and character, decency and compassion, should not be deemed the language of the "weak." These are the qualities and characteristics of strength, stability, and calm. These are the values we hope to instill in our children and in ourselves. It’s way harder to exhibit these qualities than it is to just scream and rail. 

I know the majority of people I speak with tell me they feel "out of sorts," concerned, anxious, afraid, discouraged, and dismayed. I understand that, but I also know that pushing through those feelings is what gives birth to a new world order within oneself and within our larger world. Anyone who has personally had their own dark night of the soul (and I know I have) can attest that lightness is on the other side of that difficult darkness. It’s the same for our country.

So, may we all walk into this season unbowed and unafraid. We have a huge opportunity in front of us to become who we truly believe we are. It is true that character and decency and compassion are on the ballot this November. They are not on the ballot in the form of just one man, but in the form of our country. When we vote, it’s not only about the person we are voting for, it’s actually about us. It’s about what is important to us. It’s about what we value. It’s about who we are.

What do we want for ourselves, our neighbors, our children, and our grandchildren? I couldn’t be clearer about the world I want for my granddaughter. I couldn’t be clearer about who I’m voting for—Joe Biden—and I couldn’t be more clear on why. I’ve known Vice President Biden personally for many years. I know him to be a decent, compassionate, empathetic, calm, and strong man. He is an experienced leader who knows how to work across the aisle to get things done. He also knows how to lead without disparaging others and he's not afraid to surround himself with a competent, experienced, level-headed team that I bet will include people from both parties. Decency. Compassion. Empathy. Calm. Strength. Patriotism. Those are values we need more than ever, and I will do whatever I can to ensure that that we courageously and openly embrace them. 

So, yes, I’m tired of COVID-19. Yes, I’m Zoomed out. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that the uncertainty of this time hasn’t gotten me down. Yes, I’m concerned about what I see on the news and on social media. But, I’m also hopeful and confident that the vast majority of us in this country want the same things for our families. That is what connects us. That is what bonds us together. I know the safety and future of my granddaughter are connected to the safety and opportunities that your family gets to experience. I know her life is fragile, and so is yours.

No generation gets off easy. No generation will. But if you know what you are fighting for and why, my belief is that the fear will fade to hope. The "out of sorts" feeling will be replaced with clarity and certainty. The soul of our nation will be reborn. 

In the end, that’s why I felt it was important to return to this platform. I want to use my voice as best as I can to reassure, to provide hope and inspiration, and to lock arms with others doing the same. It’s good to be back. Thank you for listening.

Love,

Maria

PRAYER OF THE WEEK                                        

Dear God, please help my fears fade into hope. Please replace my uncertainties with clarity. Please help me remember that through the darkness, we can and will find light. Amen.


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