Just Be

Must Be Present to Win

You want the prize. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have filled out the ticket with your information and dropped it in the basket. But then you notice the reminder that you must be present to win. “How badly do I want it?” you might ask. Is it worth it?

I used to wear my multi-tasker badge with pride. Isn’t that why a stove has so many burners? Isn’t a meal better with a variety of side dishes? Do more at once and pull it all together?

And yet, I am learning that there is a difference between coordinating a cohesive effort versus leaping back and forth from one task to another. The latter is an approach to which we’ve become accustomed, dubbed by scientists as “continuous partial attention.” We check our phones while ________(fill in the blank). We are expected to celebrate, “Yes! I can finally watch the game while walking my dog!”

How much are we sacrificing when we do this? When a friend calls to talk and midstream I say, “Sorry, what was that?” because I started reading an email, am I missing the whole point?

Recently I planned a business trip to Phoenix, Arizona with a couple of days built in up front to see my parents in Tucson. My wonderful seventy six year old mother was to drive 3 hours, past her Tucson airport, to pick me up in Phoenix for our visit. This way, my early morning return flight home would be close to my hotel. My travel included a connecting flight in Atlanta. While on the phone discussing business with a colleague, I hustled through the airport- searching for the gate for my connecting flight. By habit, I was about to say “Can you hold on just a second?” move the phone a few inches away from my head and ask an airline employee at the nearest gate to direct me. Instead, uncharacteristically, I said, “Hey, can I call you back in a bit, I need to figure something out.”

As I asked the Delta rep my question about my flight to Phoenix- scheduled to leave several hours later, I noticed the “Tucson” destination on the wall behind her. “I sure wish I could be getting on this flight instead” I said, thinking of the travel time it would save for both my mom and me. Turns out, I could. With a quick call to my mom to make sure she hadn’t hit the road yet and a new ticket issued, I was the last passenger to board before take off.

Thanking the Delta rep for her help, amazed at my good fortune, I said, “God is good.” To which she replied, with a smile, “All the time.”

Must be present to win. Yeah, it’s worth it.

For the Lord has said: “The Kingdom of God is among you,” (Lk 17,21). So virtue has only need of our will since it is within us and originates from us. -Saint Athanasius

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A life’s lesson in building bridges

Libby Norris built bridges.

While her day job was as a Watershed Restoration Scientist, one wonders if she knew she was actually a top-notch Social Scientist as well.

Would she have said that a core element of our lives is “social capital”- the value of our social networks- who you know, how you are connected, and what happens as a result of these networks? That success is when members do for each other without expectation of anything in return? That there are those who bond with people with similar interests and lives, while others expand and build bonds to bridge (seemingly) conflicting interests? Did she know that the latter takes far more effort and courage?

If she did, she didn’t shrink from the challenge. Libby built bridges.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF.org) posted “Quite simply, thanks to Libby’s good work, today there are more healthy rivers and streams, more fish, crabs, and oysters, and more clean water for all of us across Virginia.” Not the easiest bridges to build – from cattle farmers to watersheds. “Libby worked tirelessly with farmers across the Commonwealth. She also got to know Bay watermen on remote Tangier Island, and hosted many farmer trips to Tangier as well as brought watermen to the Valley to meet farmers. She instinctively recognized that these two groups had more in common than they did differences and sought to build shared understanding.”

The young athletes around Williamsburg will tell you she helped them bridge frustration and disappointment by illuminating that “it’s all a learning experience.” Fellow parents of athletes will share that she helped them bridge a knowledge gap of the sport, as well as how to replace nervous energy with pure enthusiasm.

Her peers will tell you she “got out of the truck.” She didn’t ponder a situation for too long; she dealt with it head on. She got out of the truck and got it done. She bridged thought to action.

Her friends and neighbors will tell you she just “was” – a reliable, genuine friend. Her encouragement helped many bridge self-doubt to the fulfillment of an ambition. Earning a Masters degree, becoming a coach, being more confident as a mom, and becoming an Outdoors Woman, to name a few. Her (perhaps EMT inspired) response time to a friend in need defied logic.

Her ready smile reminded us it was possible all along – to be a great parent, spouse, child, coach, athlete, citizen, scientist, coworker, friend, human being. Lucky for us we can see special versions of that smile in her two greatest accomplishments, her daughters. She bridged the next generation, and her laughter-ready husband will sustain the joy.

Here’s what the social scientists say at bettertogether.org, “We build social capital by creating new ties and strengthening old ones. These connections may increase individual well-being and opportunity by linking people more strongly to their local community and to larger societal resources. Or they may build community by strengthening bonds that link community members or by bridging divisions between them. The new ties may be formal, like a club, association, or civic institution, or informal, like a group of friends talking or colleagues collaborating. There is no limit to the number of specific pathways to social capital creation. How to build social capital in each community, family, block, or neighborhood is best left to community-based groups.”

Many felt it was “best left” to Libby with her “can do” approach. Now, it’s left to us.

Libby Norris planted the seeds of optimism and confidence within us. Because of her legacy, Libby continues to grow love.

“For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you, with the simplicity and sincerity of God, [and] not by human wisdom but by the grace of God”. (2Cor 1,12).

Categories: Grow Love, Just Be, like ripples on a pond, Not-So-Random Acts of Kindness, time talent treasure | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Beep and Wave

George’s sister shared this story. One day she was driving with her brother as he beeped and waved with a smile to everyone they passed. “George, you sure do know a lot of people!” she said. “Oh, I don’t know most of them”, he replied.

You see, George was that special guy who made everyone he encountered feel loved. His booming greeting and genuine interest in you confirmed that you really mattered.

Returning to her home state after the visit, George’s sister emulated her big brother’s approach. She beeped and waved. Smiles were returned. The habit stuck. She noticed that life felt better.

Today, George’s life was celebrated. A poem in the service guide serves as a reminder.

God has not promised
Skies always blue,
Flower-strewn pathways
All our lives thro’,
God has not promised
Sun without rain,
Peace without pain.
But God has promised
Strength for the day,
Rest for the laborer,
Light for the way,
Grace for the trials,
Help from above,
Unfailing sympathy,
Undying love.
                                          -Annie Johnson Flint

Thank you George, for growing love.

Many people will be beeping and waving in your honor.



Categories: Grow Love, Just Be, Poem, Witnessing Love Growing a Bit | Leave a comment


Sometimes things happen that are really hard for the fixers in the bunch. It’s what we do, the momma bears, we take action. But there are times when it just is. And all we can do is share the moment – share the pain.

Our loved one doesn’t have to “grin and bear it.” Instead, we embrace and share it. Embrace- a fierce hug that says I’m here, I’m not letting go anytime soon, so you let it out and I’ll share the pain.

In the words of John Lennon,

“When I find myself in times of trouble
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
And in my hour of darkness,
She is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
Let it be, let it be
Let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.”

Be still. Be in the moment. Be the comfort. Just be.

Categories: Grow Love, Just Be | Leave a comment

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