I’ve fallen asleep for the last five nights swimming in a sea of gratitude for this place, it’s absolutely alive with the most magnificent energy I’ve ever experienced. I’ve never been “glamping” but I would consider this trip exactly that. We dropped in on a place in the rainforest where people are the visitors and our energy was on loan from the trees and wild creatures that call it home. It was a week of calm, the jokes were pure and funny, and we found one of those places in the world that will make me better just because I know it exists. Luke wants to bring home a monkey, I want an Ocelot…since neither will happen, I guess we’ll have to come back to visit.
So often the lesson for me is about letting go - of expectations, of control, of the way things are supposed to look, and when I slow down and see what is, I realize that we are exactly where we are supposed to be. There will always be the things in life that come to challenge us and make us stronger, but when it’s peaceful and good, don’t forget to sit and watch it for a moment, you can see the energy glow in this place. It lowers my heart rate and brings tears to my eyes, because o often I forget about the time that has passed and the places we have had to go to get to this place. The last podcast I did before we came on this glorious trip was with Jim Karas, New York Times best selling author, he and his daughter wrote Confessions of a Division I Athlete together. One of the things we talked about was the importance of showing your kids your mistakes. What I realized on this trip was that we have broken through to a place that is so real it and honest it that anywhere feels like home, and we have a closeness even when we aren't together. It’s a beautiful place to sit, be able to trust this energy, and know how to stoke its fire to help them create a life path that has no expectation of what they will be, just who they will be. My deepest desire for each of them are to be strong, kind, unselfish and free.
I realize what I saw on this trip is our family’s collective nervous system. It's healing and it's good for all of us. To be able to downshift together wasn’t just calming, but confidence building as well. As I sat on the back of the jet ski with my 17 year old driving, I realized that I’ve spent most of my life struggling to lean into the curve and go with the struggle. That need for control comes when I try to avoid what I don’t want to happen, rather than trusting that the struggle is part of the process to lead to exactly where we are supposed to go. This week that struggle broke free to beautiful flow that I’ll never forget. It’s a wonder to sit and look at these beautiful giant humans…22, 20, 17 & 15. This is a definitive sweet spot. What a ride it’s been, and with our energy recharged, it feels like it’s just getting started.
What I enjoy so much about this new ‘What I Meant to Say’ podcast journey is the wisdom that flows from people of all ages and walks of life and the way it helps me connect the dots to high performance. One of these great conversations was with Mike Hagensick, a Special Education Consultant and Swim Coach from Iowa, not to mention a husband and father to TWO sets of twins, ages 4 & 2 (that should shed some light on his energy level). Our connection came through my favorite podcast, Finding Mastery. Years ago, Mike started a program to teach special needs kids how to swim that caught my eye. I sent him a small donation to support his efforts and our conversations have continued through his podcast with the E3 collective and now mine. This week, as I worked on a video about the IEP process to send to an teachers conference in Iowa, I was amazed at how that long distance connection (we’ve never met in person) that started out small has helped me see my own massively transformative purpose for my own life:
I started Be Better because I believe that every human, not just an athlete or a performer, is on their own path to high performance and through storytelling, human connection and better understanding of the habits and innovative products and services that are out there to help us unlock it, we can build an empowered community to inspire that journey.
Pulling on this thread has helped me unlock healing in myself, my kids, and the people I work with so that our lives become more calm and connected and, through that, purpose emerges. I count my blessings daily that so many meaningful relationships have come from this social media space…it doesn’t just have to be a place of mindless scrolling. The world is smaller because of it and there is a parallel universe of great wisdom emerging beyond the dust of the 24/7 news media that help us find alignment within ourselves and build that out into our communities.
This weekend part of this connected vision comes to life down in Louisiana. My friend Shawn Ledig, another entrepreneur, athlete, and family man, with boundless energy and heart, put together a volleyball team for the Special Olympics and they compete on Saturday July 16. I wish I was there because just through the photos and videos he has shared, I can feel what he has achieved. The path to high performance and inclusion are not mutually exclusive, and Shawn and his team are living it. Kindness is inclusive, and that helps everyone BE BETTER.
There is a spring in my step, because work doesn’t feel like work and this world of BE BETTER expands and sheds light in corners that need to be seen. Don’t be afraid to reflect on where you have been, it's likely to lead you to a place of greater passion and purpose. Check out some of these What I Meant to Say conversations and stay on your own path to high performance. There is a beautiful view when you can see the universal truth in every stories, and realize that your path doesn’t look like anyone else’s.
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” - Ronald Reagan
As a kid, 4th of July was my favorite holiday next to Christmas. Staying in my bathing suit all day, feet burning on hot pavement, and popsicles and fireworks in the street are among my favorite childhood memories. This holiday weekend though, what is heavy on my mind is how different what I learned about America was from what my kids learn. Last weekend a sweet 15 year old girl asked the question “Why is it a big deal when people take a knee during the national anthem?” and I was grateful to be the one who got to answer her. What she heard from me about the sacrifice made by men and women of past generations under that flag for our freedom definitely wouldn’t be the answer she’ll get at school. Everywhere we look, the message that we have nothing to be proud of as Americans is being spread loudly to the next generation. Yesterday I saw the headline that a woman member of the Contra Costa school board called for a boycott of the 4th of July because there is nothing to celebrate about America. Just the fact that criticism gets a headline shows what there is to celebrate, but all points of view don't share that same freedom these days.
What the next generation believes about America becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. This country is only as great as the people who have the energy to get up and make it happen and as that torch is passed to them, the current narrative will never give them the energy or belief that has been the bedrock of our country in generations past.
Today there is a great divide between real people and power and it's easy to get discouraged. I only let the news in enough to be informed instead of inflamed. The reality of the headlines and everyday life for regular people, from gas prices, bare store shelves and ridiculous arguments about whether a man can get pregnant are exhausting for everyone and we have to choose where we expend our energy.
American life comes with personal responsibility and a hopefully hefty dose of self reflection. When we know this, we have the power to change things from a conscious mind and heart rather than what we see today that more and more looks like a giant trauma bond. So often what we criticize is what we fear most about ourselves. We will never empower from a place of lack, and yet that place of lack and unworthiness is the loudest story out there. Greatness comes with the ability to stand on our own feet, and the ability to recognize where we need to adapt and change to BE BETTER, then we can ask for the support we need to do that. The state of our country can’t be greater than the state of our homes, or our own hearts, minds and spirits. So many of the root problems in America could be solved with introspection instead of outrage. Maybe then we could consciously and calmly connect to talk about the differences between us.
Last night my friend Chrissy and I sat on the beach, watching her boys play in the water until the moon rose in the sky. You could barely see it shining, it was only 2% illuminated according to Google, but it was there and it was beautiful. Our shine is still there if you look for it, I see it everyday. If we don’t teach them to look for the shine, they will never discover how to create it for themselves. What we focus on grows, and in so many places we are focused on the wrong things. Look for that sliver of light this weekend, and be one who coaxes it along until it shines brightly again. See the light, be the light, and let the connection come from there.
Happy 246th birthday America. I believe in you.
With love and optimism,
"What if the world was already good?
What if what you seek, you find?
What if everything wasn’t an emergency?
What if we cared more about stories and less about labels?
What if we stopped shouting so we could listen?"
-Chrissy Kelly greatest mom, friend and writer
Her words put a lump in my throat. Our conversation helped me connect the dots today. So often on many issues, I feel like a fish out of water. I have friends that will join the protests, I have friends that are unabashedly pro life, and the thing I know most about all of them is that they are strong women with fierce value systems that rose out of their stories. The last thing I would do is judge or base our friendship on what they think about a woman’s right to choose. But why am I afraid to open my mouth and say what I think? The evolved me answers that question that real issues deserve thought and care, not instant outrage.
If you judge by social media, which I wouldn’t suggest, the masses are not muffled. They are loud and angry on one side and virtuously gloating on the other. They recite strawman arguments and incite fear on both sides. There isn’t a leader in sight who is tempered, compassionate, and direct about what happened with this ruling. This ruling did not make abortion illegal. It denied that abortion is a Constitutional right and turned it back to the states to decide on a state by state basis what the law will be. I live in California, I’m confident that nothing will change as far as access to abortion where I live.
I am a Catholic mom of four who has been a mom since I was 25. Being a mom was the first thing I knew without a doubt I was good at. Today, I can confidently say I wouldn’t have an abortion. That’s not saying a lot given I have a roof over my head, know myself on a deep level, and understand what it feels like to be a mom. It’s the most deeply held love in my world. I can’t say that had I ended up pregnant in my teens or early twenties I would have been so strong. I only had one time when I had to contemplate that thought, sitting at Stanford Medical Center at 21, sick with a kidney infection and waiting for the ER staff to return with my routine pregnancy test, scared out of my perfectionist mind and deeply ashamed. I have never forgotten that hour that felt like an eternity. The relief I felt when it came back negative was overwhelming, I wasn’t ready, but I was human and I’m grateful that I wasn’t faced with that choice at that point in my life. I’ve talked to friends of mine who were in that position and had abortions, others who had the baby and put her up for adoption, and more that had the baby and kept her. When I hear their stories, I feel nothing but compassion and love for the human condition and the choices that they were faced with at that pivotal and tender time in their lives. None of them were rich, all of them were scared, and whatever their choice was has become a part of the fabric of their life and who they are. For me, it only took that one time to learn where I didn’t want to be. I also know that when we have a deep wound, we will seek connection with other people in ways that aren’t born from real love. How can we connect and care for others before we reach these moments of desperation? If we don’t, will they happen over and over again.
Last weekend in Nashville, where I met more new friends that don’t think exactly like I do, I picked up a Maya Angelou book, Letters to My Daughter and read the whole thing on the flight home. Her books are things I can never resist. She was a rebel, an intellectual, artist, and above all, the greatest example I have seen of someone that transcended suffering and mere survival with grace to realize her fullest potential in her lifetime. She passed her generational wisdom on to others with the gift of her writing. Her only son, who recently passed in February, was born after one encounter with a man she didn't love. She stood for the human race and against injustice but was never a victim confined by her circumstances. I’m sure that if the world had the grace and courage of Maya, this country would be different from the place we find ourselves today. She had the courage to speak to transcend power structures and reach people in a way the government never can. I don’t think she would yell and kick and scream and wear shirts with the word vagina on them. But I do think she would smile at the woman who did, and listen to her story with the calm dignity of a woman who knows the power she wields in this world. She is my answer to the question:
“If you could have dinner with anyone throughout history who would it be?”
More than her writing, which is flat out genius, her life story is the epitome of resilience.
As I wrap my head around where we find ourselves today, everything in me says that we can create a society that connects with kindness and empathy instead of fear and judgment. We would raise stronger, happier, more well adjusted humans who know how to care and connect, not just in the moments when our foundations are shaken, but in the simple quiet moments that unite our hearts and minds instead of focusing on what makes worldly power and profit. With our culture today, we can’t see those moments, or our own resilience and strength, when we work from our own place of lack and insecurity. No matter what side, that is what I saw all over the news and social media after this verdict and I wrestled with my thoughts and words all day long.
When a women is faced with the choice to have an abortion, which is still possible in America this morning, whatever she chooses will leave it’s imprint. I’m not upset that it isn’t so available that it can happen without careful thought about the implications of what it means to both the mother’s and baby's lives. It’s not just the body, but her mind and spirit that needs to be cared for. As a woman, I will always be available to listen with love and lack of judgment. Ultimately only she can find peace with her choice. In that spirit, my hope is that she is met with compassion from all women who have walked the road before her so that she can embrace the power she has within her, which is far greater than anything the government can ever give or take away. That is the real sisterhood, and no matter what you believe as a woman, you are part of it.
With love & optimism,
I saw Top Gun this week. It’s so weird to see the actors of my youth get older. Like so many of us, it took me back to 1986, getting dropped off at the movie theater at least 3 different times to see it. Although I loved the story and cinematography, what struck me most was what a foreign storyline this movie was for my kids generation. I couldn’t remember the last time I had been in a movie theatre and had the feeling of American pride that I grew up feeling everyday. And although the movies we watch on the big screen are usually fictional stories like Top Gun was, they communicate a message about who we are as a culture and what we are made of that allows us to rise from the ashes of our darkest places. What we hear in so many places in America these days are about our faults, our division and the place of lack that will never allows us to connect to our greatness and create anything good. I shudder to think that my kids have heard that message for so long, they don’t believe in the America I do. They live in a world of more content and less connection. Short form messages that when tied together create a mentality of victimhood that creates wounds not warriors. And again I started to think about how we as an American society can inspire each other to BE BETTER.
One of my kids said to me this week:
“Most kids aren’t nice because they haven’t learned to care, not because they are choosing to be mean.”
Her words struck me hard and made me sad. We have to choose and inspire care in this world. When we stop trying to figure out where we fit in, we learn how we fit together. Enough with the labels and separation, kindness is inclusive, so let’s embody it and see where it gets us. Greatness comes through our own healing, it takes courage to do it and it is the only way to BE BETTER with each passing day.
Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there making a difference for the next generation. I was blessed to have a good one that inspired my optimist’s lens.
With love & optimism,
Kate turned 17 on Thursday. For anyone who hasn't followed her story, she's the one who stopped playing volleyball to be a theatre kid. And man does she blow my mind on that stage. It's so fun to see her risk, I would have been terrified of that at her age. Maybe she is, but she does it anyway. Thursday night, I looked around my family room, and they are all so big they fill up the entire space. Lauren cooked the dinner (Matthew handled the steaks) and all I had to do was do the dishes. What a shift of energy and life.
For the last five years birthday’s had a sad tinge in them, but I think we are coming out of that. I remembered that I had written some words of wisdom on The Optimists Journal on Lauren’s 17th birthday and I thought I would review and see what I have learned or would add with five more years experience. The things I said still ring true…but I’ve learned to be more direct and succinct. Over the last five years I’ve learned less is more, that it’s ok to let your words sit and be open to others interpretation of them. No more over-explaining. So I took the 17 things and brought them down to a Top 10:
I give these to you Kate on your 17th birthday, but they are for all of you. I can’t believe I have four that fill up a room. Birthday’s will always take you back to the first time you held them, and now so often they hold me in ways they don’t even know. Not because I’m not strong enough to hold myself, but because we are connected. And nothing feels better than that. Time marches on, and life feels normal. So much different than it did when Lauren turned 17. Whatever you are moving through, slow down and breathe, and day by day a lighter and wiser version of yourself will be revealed.
With love & optimism,
As a writer, I am thankful that I have a good memory of my early life. So many of my thoughts take me back to places and days from long ago. When I am able to feel those feelings of the younger me, it gives me perspective for what I’ve learned and fills me with gratitude. Even if life doesn’t look like you thought it would, there is always something to learn about yourself and why you are here.
This week I visualized the playground for the kindergarten that had a fence around it to keep the youngest kids at my elementary school separated on their own small playground from the vast expanse of field and jungle gyms that was meant for the grade schoolers. I’m not saying it wasn’t a good idea for the little guys at the time, but it was only for that one year. I was young for my grade and I remember the scary feeling of the wide open space of that bigger playground. To me it felt like millions of kids and loud bells that would ring just when I got comfortable enough to start to have fun.
I think about these different playgrounds today…at 47, because it reminds me that we evolve to a point in our lives where we choose which playground we want to play on, and as long as we are willing to put the work in, so much of that choice has to do with our mindset and the way we feel about ourselves. For a long time, and without making a conscious choice, I saw myself on that small playground, I could see through the chain link fence and watch all the things that caught my eye, but I was a spectator. Whether it’s personality, life experience, or conditioning, in the end we have a choice to make. Whether you are an athlete, student, parent, or entrepreneur, the way you view competition plays a huge role in the choices you make and the way that you feel about getting where you want to go in life and we pass this view on to the next generation. Maybe you don’t even allow yourself to admit where you want to go. For much of my life, I know I didn’t, and it left me, even at 6’0 tall, feeling small.
The cool thing about life is that if we are willing to keep our eyes up and hearts open, there is no point of arrival and we can always learn new ways to BE BETTER.
One of my quotes that I channel frequently is:
“Compete with yourself, collaborate with your community.”
The places we go in life align us with people of the same interests and pursuits. Most of my closest friends have been made through sports - in the locker room, standing on the beach or pool deck, or in the gym. They have become my community, people who I want to support and see succeed. In sports and life, sometimes it can feel like we compete against those very same people we love to hang with off the court or out of the office. Sometimes they are even in our own family. But an abundance mindset helps us realize that we each have unique gifts and all we have to do is be more of ourselves, and perhaps less of who we think others expect us to be, and that abundant feeling starts to flow. This is where our true nature and talents are unleashed and we get to play on the big playground.
If you haven’t heard of abundance mindset before, you are in for a treat because it is the most freeing place to be in this world. It gives you the freedom to compete and evolve with more ease than you could have ever imagined. To put it in a nutshell it’s precepts go something like this:
It will help you battle and more often than not free you from:
So wherever you are along this road of life, whatever you work on that you want to achieve, you will have moments where you feel you don’t belong, like the challenge is too big, your vision out of your reach. You may feel paralyzed with fear that you won’t make the team, create the business, get the promotion, or ultimately have the life you want to live. Come back to the present moment, breathe and identify what you are scared of. Then embrace an abundance mindset and feel the energy flow freely toward your wildest dreams and biggest goals. Don’t let your mindset get in the way of you and your best life. Take down the fences, do the work, compete with yourself, and collaborate with your community. Welcome to the bigger playground of life. It’s fun out here, I promise.
With Love & Optimism,
Our country is hurting. As much as I am an optimist who looks for the good and the growth in all things, you can’t have a week like this one and not feel like you have been kicked hard in the gut. When you attack anyone’s child, the horrific trauma of an unimaginable situation knocks us, especially a parent, to the floor. Immediately, we go to that place of how this could be real and what if that were my child? But in the aftermath of horror, we struggle to find answers we can agree on, and our ability to take to social media and broadcast our thoughts and feelings are real.
This is America, we all have the right to say what we think. For me, I needed to sit with this one. In part because there are no words that can undo another unimaginable tragedy, and because every problem within ourselves and our society has a symptom and a root. My mind always looks for the root.
As I walked through the WWII museum in New Orleans on Thursday, the tears rolled for the price we have paid for our freedom. Men my son’s age were shot down from the sky and sunk to the bottom of the ocean. The loss of life was immense, the heroism, unlike anything we hear about on the news today. My junior in high school just took an AP History exam and there was nothing from the 1900s on it. What are we teaching them? The difference between now and then is that as a nation, we were united in what we were fighting for; an American way of life, and our freedom. Today, there is a giant divide between what we are teaching them about America, and what our story is about that will translate into the way the next generation feels about being American. The words American exceptionalism are rooted in the human spirit’s desire to be free, not the egotistical way it is portrayed in the news and taught today. Freedom isn’t perfect, but it is the way every human being, at their core, wants to live and it’s the only way we find our path to our greatest potential. I am grateful for the exposure and understanding I have gained from my travels around the globe, but I am always proud and happy to come home because I believe that every day I can get up, I can make a difference.
Before you stop reading because you think you know where I am headed with this, I ask you to take a deep breath, decompress and settle your nervous system.
We are a country of diverse opinions and a power structure that has forgotten its roots and its people. Do I see a need for reform in gun laws? Absolutely. And I have friends that wouldn’t agree with me on that. Do I see a need to protect the Second Amendment? Absolutely. I understand the escape from the tyranny that birthed this country. And for that, I would be dubbed a gun lover. I am neither. Am I a law-abiding citizen that follows the laws in place? Yes. Criminals don’t. So to demonize the gun without talking about the hypocrisy within the government and the mental health and identity crisis we are experiencing as a nation will not solve the problem.
Do I trust the people in power to handle these incredibly important issues that set America apart from the rest of the world? No, I do not. Our leaders take to the airwaves in dramatic fashion, alarming an already traumatized public, with the full knowledge the outcome of this discussion lies between Congress and the NRA, not ‘We the People’. So while we argue and divide our homes and neighborhoods with no real ability to affect change, they seize the moment of our anxiety and pull at the fabric of what it means to be an American, thinking we will be scared into submission.
Yesterday, as we rode back to our hotel after the museum and the French Quarter with an African American uber driver, we shared stories. He told me that he was independent and free in his younger days, and now, from underneath his N-95 mask, he is more afraid of the world. I told him how my life experience had produced the opposite story. He was a chef and a musician, and clearly had some stories to tell. There was no judgment in our differences as we chatted back and forth. His message:
“This is New Orleans, be real, come as you are, we love you.”
Let that sink in, how does it feel? It felt good to me.
Where do we connect and find inspiration to BE BETTER these days? I see it when generations connect through music, the American table, and sports, but to feel it we have to be able to come down and experience American life on a cellular level. To feel safe in society, and with each other, we have to learn how to breathe, listen, and process even when we disagree and sense all of the things that are out of our control. Each of these experiences and habits take center stage in my life every day.
The tragedy experienced in Uvalde this week is immeasurable. The anxiety and heartbreak we feel as Americans are real. There are no words that make it ok. Today I trust people, not power, and work to be part of the parallel universe of kindness, connection, and community that creates the safety that the human spirit needs to thrive and do good in the world. This Memorial Day Weekend, as we celebrate those who have died for our freedom, I find myself asking the question again that has been in my mind for the last few years…what would happen if a growth mindset and mindfulness were a part of American politics? There are so many things wrong, and rIght now the only answer I can come up with that feels right is to breathe, connect, and tell the stories that inspire us to BE BETTER.
Sending love and prayers to the people of Uvalde, Texas. I don’t know what it is like to stand in your shoes, but you are in my heart.
With love & optimism,
I usually don’t have the title of a blog when I sit down to write, generally speaking it comes last. But I have leaned into something new that has given me so much peace in the hardest moments of transition that I knew it was time to write about it. I’ve been working with Emily Hightower, a beautiful mentor who helps so many with her deep knowledge of the intersection of biology and psychology. To have time with her each week to process and apply what I have known intuitively forever has been a gift. Just like every athlete has a coach that says something in a way that instantly changes their process, Emily had a zinger for me a few weeks back:
“It’s about alchemy, not strategy.” she said.
Instantly I knew what she meant, and I connected with the truth that strategy is exhausting. When I fall into it, It doesn’t take too long until inspiration and energy feel tapped out.
Do you know what alchemy is? According to Webster it’s a seemingly magical process of transformation, creation or combination. But I have a new definition.
Alchemy is what happens when we lean in and trust our mind, body, and spirit and all the energy around us to support us in a process of growth and change…which life always seems to have in store for us in one way or another.
Whether it’s a graduation, new job, new team, beginning or ending of a relationship or launching a new venture, we can often get stuck thinking there is just a technical strategy to get from Point A to Point B. When we become aware of our own special alchemy though, we develop what works uniquely for us in the midst of all the data and universal truth out there. Alchemy is freeing and never forced and gives you the energy and ability to trust in transition. It’s what I depend on to create stories and coach others along the journey too.
It’s a time of year that always reminds me that change is the only constant. Somehow that should make me feel better at this point, but change is hard. As human beings we crave what we know, we will even repeat patterns that aren’t healthy because we haven’t learned to work with the alchemy of change.
Here are some of the ways we can honor alchemy over strategy:
Embrace what Is and look for the beauty. I encounter things on my path everyday that remind me of what I want in the future and things that feel different than how I thought I wanted them to feel. But finding gratitude for what is always brings me back to the infinite possibility of change and gives me the energy to work for it.
Work with your limbic brain. This is the most primal part of our brain that functions to keep us safe at all costs. If this part of our brain hasn’t learned to feel safe, our executive functioning logical brain will not be able to convince our body and spirit of anything. To work with this part of your brain, try using the pronoun you with any affirmations you use. YOU will finish this project. YOU will make the team. YOU are loved. YOU is the specific pronoun that speaks to this part of your brain, try it. It’s worked wonders for me and I think you will feel something release deep inside of you that unleashes a calm through any change or challenge you experience.
Work with your biology. There are so many active recovery strategies that I highlight in my High Performance Zen Course that you can engage with to promote cellular change in your body that your mind and spirit will begin to embrace. Through breathwork, cold plunges, yoga, meditation and sound healing, I have used each of these to develop my own healing alchemy through so much traumatic change. Whether the transition to single life and parenting or the ankle reconstruction I have been healing through since February, each of these processes that helped me create peace, self awareness and forward progress instead of giving in to self doubt in uncharted territory.
Try Reiki - Working with the energy in your body and the universe, reiki is able to stimulate the natural healing process to promote deeper health and healing. I would love to show you how. It’s calming, safe and gentle and you will love it. It’s safe for athletes, kids, I even use it on my animals and brings deep calm and connection to your mind, body and spirit.
What I know at this point is that life is one long transition. It’s going to bring you things that are greater than you ever expected and deliver blows that knock you off your feet. But trust in the alchemy that will bring peace to the process and help you BE BETTER with each passing day. Feel into it this weekend and enjoy it. Rest in the knowledge that what you need to succeed is within you and keep your eyes and heart open to what will add to your process. We are bringing it to you at BE BETTER. Come join us on this journey, and add your alchemy to this amazing process.
With Love & Optimism,
Hi. I’m Wendy. Even though I’ve written over 200 blogs, you don’t really know me. I show you glimpses of me in my writing, if you have seen it. But even though I write openly about my life, you don’t know everything; I suppose that’s how it should be. I worry about exposing too much. But after my divorce, I discovered even though losing hurts, there is always something we can take from a loss to BE BETTER. I have been on this journey to help understand our generational stories and help create environments where we feel safe enough to share what we go through and understand ourselves and relate to each other BETTER. At the root of it all, that is what I know has to happen to make life BETTER. We have to be brave enough to ask questions, be proud of our strengths, and know where we can grow. At the same time, we must care about what it is like to walk in someone else’s shoes and not be so quick to judge when someone thinks differently than us. The world is made up of so many different perspectives, and we have to know that ours isn’t the only one.
I’ve spent most of my life afraid of attention. It’s been my experience that when I stepped out of my comfort zone to claim some space where I felt that pull of authenticity, I would run into trouble. That fear has held me back in so many areas of life…on the court, in relationships, and in understanding my own vision and contribution to the world. One problem that I know I have encountered along this journey, and maybe you can relate, is that I believed there were two playing fields. I thought I had to play on the practice field and wasn’t ready (and may never be) for the Friday night lights. I knew how to prepare others for those places, I’m great at recognizing strengths in others and coaching them along, but I’ve come to understand that came much easier than recognizing my own greatness. We all have greatness, and that is why I'm so fascinated with what turns potential into performance.
As I have walked this road to understand myself BETTER, I realized that my relationships weren’t always aligned with my vision and, when they weren't, all this crazy chatter would start in my brain. Imposter syndrome, fear of failure, all the things that naturally occur in us as our energy looks toward the light. Today I also know that it is also just my nervous system trying to protect me, and I’ve done lots of work to learn more about how to balance and bring calm to the chatter so I can continue to follow my vision to tell stories that help humanity and connect people with their own greatness.
I believe that people learn through stories because they disarm the listener and help us zero in on the universal truths that unite us as humans. When we identify with a feeling we have had ourselves, we are less likely to judge, or jump to conclusions. My favorite ways that stories play out are through sports, music, and the way that they are both microcosms of, and inspiration for, American life. I’ve been so amazed to see that the things I thought were just pastimes for me turn into a full fledged vision to use my gifts and talents to help the world BE BETTER. No matter what you read in the news right now, what is going on in your home, on your team, or in any other relationships in your life, I know this:
Abundance > Scarcity
Growth mindset > Fixed mindset
Optimism > Cynicism
It’s not lost on me that both of my older kids experienced painful losses on the volleyball courts this past week as Stanford just barely missed a trip to the NCAA tournament, and TCU took an early exit at their NCAA tournament after going in ranked #2. What wasn’t lost on me though was that as much as defeat hurts in the moment, they were able to bounce back with musical experiences, strong relationships, and American life. Luke’s pictures from Stagecoach and Lauren’s text to me about the country music she got to take in after the loss remind me that it’s all connected to this amazing American experience we get to cultivate with our families if we focus on the right things. I’m here to tell you, those stories are not on the news right now, and I’m here to tell them. They are so much bigger than my life, or my family. From The Optimists Journal to What I Meant to Say, and more to come, BE BETTER is here to inspire with stories that fill you with optimism that gives you energy to work to make life and this world BETTER.
With love & optimism,
I had the chance to revisit my 19 year old mind this week with a reconnection that happened because of this crazy social media world. I have journals, but the chance to look back on a letter I wrote to someone else about life in that season, my sophomore year of college, was even more special. Hard to believe that I have two kids now that are living that life and older than me at the time I wrote those words. As a writer, a chance to look back on what I wrote is one of the greatest gifts you could give me. In fact, it’s the reason I started my blog… so that I could give myself and my kids that experience in the future, see the road we all traveled from my view, and hopefully learn some things along the way. The writing skills at 19 weren’t what jumped out at me though, it was the the story, it’s always the story. And my greatest realization as I read the screen shot of that letter on my Iphone, was how simple life was back then. The pace, the innocent things that caused the right amount of stress, like a final project deadline, the memory of keeping one room organized and going to bed with all of the laundry done and things in their place. The art of the letter…write, seal, stamp, send off with the hope that it will be received, and then wait to see if someone would take the time to write you back is all history now, but talk about delayed gratification in the best way.
There have been more stories in the mental health space this week, we’ve lost yet another NCAA athlete to suicide, I didn’t know her, but saying her name out loud, Sarah Shultze, brings chills to my skin. She is the third athlete in a little over a month to take her own life. I’ve never been to that dark place in my mind, but it’s scary and heartbreaking every time I try to contemplate it. As someone who has battled anxiety and a dysregulated nervous system most of my life without the words or realization of what was going on inside me, I can connect intimately to the story of human struggle. My lens is that of a mom, coach, athlete, and writer who wants to create calm and connection through these stories from the highs and lows of life. The through line this week was a glimpse of life circa 1994 and the reality of what I live today with my own kids at that same stage. There are so many differences in how we live from then to now, but the things that ground us stay the same. These are some thoughts that bring more peace to my mind:
In the course of a little over a week we've gone from Division I Volleyball highs and lows, IEP meetings with the most brilliant team at Hermosa Valley School who care so deeply it brings tears to my eyes, incredible connections and stories on ‘What I Meant to Say’, and watching my kids surrender to what is and enjoy their lives. Even with my body still compromised from this ankle reconstruction, nothing brings me more joy. We are so much more than what any one moment brings, but the chance to look back this week was a gift that I am grateful for. Presence is key, but perspective is the gift that helps us see where we want to grow and BE BETTER. When we choose the right one, we have the energy to tell the story we are meant to tell. If you ever need help reframing that perspective, I’m here, reach out, the world is safer than it feels sometimes. Your life is meant to tell a beautiful story of joy and resilience, and there is always a supporting cast who helps make that happen. Trust it, believe in it, and surrender to the beauty that is this imperfect life because the only thing I can tell you for sure is that you are enough today, and whether it's a high or a low right now, it will to change.
With love and optimism,
***IF YOU NEED IMMEDIATE HELP CALL The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
In addition, 988 has been designated as the new three-digit dialing code that will route callers to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. While some areas may be currently able to connect to the Lifeline by dialing 988, this dialing code will be available to everyone across the United States starting on July 16, 2022.
Every athlete I know, including myself, has always wanted to BE BETTER. My mission and this concept can sound a little brash to some but it’s not meant to be harsh, or make anyone feel like they aren’t measuring up. The goal is to put the emphasis on BE (instead of do) so that we can find BETTER. And in these high stakes environments in sports, if we can find 1% BETTER and understand the intangibles of our character we can push the limits of our potential. And that is the story that the challenged and rising Stanford Men’s Volleyball team is telling right now.
What a difference a year makes. When the last ball dropped against Pepperdine at BYU last year, it was supposed to be over. This smart, young, and talented group of men who have played at the top of their sport and loved volleyball for most of their lives would have to find another place to play if they wanted to continue at the NCAA level. They had all played through the club volleyball ranks, and shown that they had the skill to play at the next level, but they almost lost the ability to execute this chemistry together when Stanford cut their program last year. Fast forward one year, and the family of coaches, alumni, parents, and fans who fought to save the program will surround them tonight as they play for an MPSF Conference Championship, one year to the day they were knocked out last year. The optimist in me always believed this was possible. They are here because they defied the odds and defeated the #1 ranked team in the country. Beyond their incredible technique, there were some intangibles that are the hallmark of great athletes that made the difference.
So what were they?
CONFIDENCE- in themselves, each other, and the alchemy that results from that belief. Even when they were down in the semis, their belief that they could win radiated all the way into the stands.
LEADERSHIP - Volleyball is about chemistry, trust, and leadership. It’s possible for everyone on the court, and even on the bench, to lead if they understand their talents and those of their teammates. It’s a game that can’t be won alone, and true leadership fits together like a puzzle where each contribution fits seamlessly into the others.
GRIT - There was a feeling that they wouldn’t give up. Even losing the fourth set by 10, down 4-7 and losing an 11-7 lead in the fifth set, the tenacity to win the point never wavered.
The love for growing the technical skills of volleyball is a must to play at the highest levels of the game, but athletes should never forget to develop the intangible skills that create relationships, memories, and skills that will last a lifetime. Tonight I’m hoping these qualities, along with the beauty of their technical game, will earn the Stanford Cardinal a conference championship, the first since 2010, and a bid to the NCAA tournament. This Cinderella run is too fun to watch and write about, but no matter what happens, these guys are where they are supposed to be, playing together and writing a story that will serve the world far beyond the outline of that 30 X 30 court.
Let's go tonight Card! Rooting for you all the way to the National Championship!