Look Up: What Was Entrusted To You? Pay Attention


Philando Castile The System Is Broken
This blog post was inspired by “The Weekly Photo Challenge
Look up and see those who are coming from the north. Where is the flock that was entrusted to you, the sheep of which you boasted?” -Jeremiah 3.2
A Prayer and a Poem for #PhilandoCastile & Family

Look up and notice

with open minds and open hearts
Put yourself in the shoes of an opposing view
Pay attention and listen to those sharing their reality
They have something to say. Their experiences are real.
Their voices matter. They are suffering in despair
They deserve to feel heard. To be heard.

Are you listening?

Because when someone says “I am hurting
The only appropriate response is; “Tell me more, I am listening
Be patient; consider that the first story may not be the whole picture
Be open to new information, in a world full of endless possibilities
These things together will expand minds, hearts and our world

Look up and look around

We continue to see repeated patterns we know exist
Minimizing them torments our intelligence
The idea “if we don’t name it, it can’t exist” is excruciating denial
Inaction leaves us feeling stuck in perpetual wait
What are these patterns trying to tell us?
They are saying that idly standing by is no longer enough
They are directing us to take a stand and to do something
They are making it clear that we have so much more to learn from one another
When different views come together, they merge to create new knowledge, and that is a good thing. I have never known a time when we didn’t need ideas to continue to evolve

Entrust: to give someone the responsibility of doing something or of caring for someone or something  (Merriam-Webster)

  • Police officers are given the responsibility of protecting people, property and the law
  • Humanity is given the responsibility of being kind and compassionate to one another

Look Up2Lookup:  Today, Philando Castile, who was killed last week in Minnesota by a police officer, will be laid to rest.

Castile is not the first and sadly, will not be the last. The greater good in society happens as we work towards coming together and leaving our differences behind.

Pray for these families, because they are our families. Our families are hurting.

Pray for parents of young black men and women, who are faced with presenting a complex yet balanced view about systemic injustice, because the dialogue can be confusing for many. May they be given the words to adequately conduct constructive discourse in a loving manner so that it leads all of us towards the right solution, together. It is time to set our differences aside because we owe it to ourselves, and one another.

I want to hear from you. Thank you for visiting my blog, please feel free to leave a comment below, or, if you prefer to ask some questions confidentially, let me know and I will be happy to respect your privacy and respond one to one.

Sparkles, S’mores and Land that I Love | Happy 4th of July


Smores Fourth of July NostalgiaI love the Fourth of July (or Fourch of Guly as I said when I was little), it makes me feel a bit nostalgic. One of my first 4th of July parades I remember being sad because I wasn’t fast enough at getting candy and I’m sure there were one or two thoughtful kids & parents who saw that and walked over to make sure I had some. Then there was the first parade I was in with my sister where we both wore costumes and tap shoes from dance lessons. My mom told us to march holding our batons with one hand lifting them straight up and down with each step and of course, we thought it was a great idea.

As we grew older, we were blessed enough to spend the first two weeks of July up north with my dad and dear friends at Crane Lake in Voyageurs National Park on the Canadian Border. The only way to get to the cabin was by boat. Imagine hauling 3-5 adults, 5-7 kids and a dog, 2 weeks worth of food, clothing and fresh water for drinking. Sometimes it would take 2-3 trips and the boat would be so heavy the waterline was about a foot below the top. While we did have a short wave radio to hear the closest weather reports and listen to the international time, we did not have phones or television and we actually learned to appreciate that.

It was there we explored the chain of lakes where water is so clear you can look 15+ feet straight down and see the bottom. We learned how to water ski, responsibly shoot guns at targets, become great fishers and use a filet knife to clean and prepare our catch. At night, my dad would bring Crane Lakeout his guitar and we sang songs together around the fire, roasted marshmallows for S’mores and later hear the cracking and snapping of the fresh burning wood. Some evenings we would go out “on the rock” and enjoy the sunset, seen in the picture to the right. I would close my eyes and take in the fresh smell of the Norway Pine trees and burning fire. I would listen to the water lapping up on the shore, loons, seagulls or a boat humming in the distance. It was heaven on earth.

After fourth of July celebrations in the small town across the water, we would take the boat to the middle of the lake, cut the engine, watch the fireworks and have rich conversations about freedom, life or whatever was on our minds. It was there we discovered breathtaking views where stars are so clear you could see them sparkle right down to the horizon. In a good year, we could see the northern lights dance, displaying colors of green, blue and red.

I’m grateful for the people and all of those memories we created together. It shaped me in growing a deeper appreciation for this land where we live. Today, I think about so many people around the world who don’t have the same choices we do. At the same time,  we can not forget those who have gone before us and those still fighting for our freedom because they have laid much of the groundwork for us.

I also will not forget that there is still more work that needs to be done.

Regardless, I celebrate the fact that we are so fortunate to be citizens in a country where we have the freedom to express ourselves, choose to practice our faith, celebrate diversity, practice servant leadership,  be educated and to make a difference in the lives of others.

Wishing you a very happy Fourth of July. I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences about how this day has shaped you. Please share below and thanks for visiting my blog!

“I AM” and “SPIRIT” In Sync With One Another #FierceForward


Fierce Forward - I AM and Spirit = Parters

I AM – two of the most powerful words you could ever declare to yourself. This is your declaration, your choice to stand in your power and allow your vision to come to reality/ #FierceForward

SPIRIT – Your truth. Freedom is found when you live your truth and let your spirit live out loud. Do not hide. Do not deny your truth. Do not let her stay quiet. Go forward, fiercely and let your SPIRIT lead the way. #FierceForward

Knowing who we are and being grounded in our truth are at the core of what teaches us to be great leaders and even better human beings.

These bracelets are handmade using African Trade Beads to support women in Africa. They are special because they support a worthy cause and they were an authentic gift from someone whose friendship means a great deal to me.

This post is inspired by The Weekly Photo Challenge themed: Partners: Whether two of a kind or ten, give us subjects that are in sync with one another – show us partnerships.

Learn more about #FierceForward at fierceforwardforlife.com

Remembering Prince in Minneapolis ★ My Story


Today I got in the car after a long day at work and before I turned on any media, my heart sunk as I sat in the stillness of the moment and the words popped in my head; “Prince is Dead……… OMG, I just can’t believe it.” As a home-grown Minnesotan, whose stomping grounds used to be downtown Minneapolis, the reality left me feeling empty and sad, then I turned on the radio to find every-singFirst_Ave_Remembering_Prince_Minneapolisle-station playing his music and DJ’s talking about him. Later, I returned home, grabbed the remote and on the TV The song “Let’s Go Crazy” from the movie Purple Rain was playing and BOOM, I briefly saw myself on National TV news.

Sometimes it is surreal to imagine we were the very first audience to hear all of those amazingly brilliant songs and to be in his presence, witnessing him perform as the most authentic form of artistry in motion. It was unlike anything we had seen before, and it was phenomenal.

In 1983 my friend Holly and I went to a casting call to try out for Purple Rain as extras. The line was long, they took our pictures and information. After a few months, it was out of sight, out of mind.

Then the call came one evening in November somewhere between 10-11:30 P.M. asking if we could be downtown by 5:30 A.M. the next day…. No hesitation.

Um……YES!”  So on that cold morning when we arrived, we were escorted into an old theatre just around the corner from First Avenue. Although we were exhausted from all the energy we spent freaking out about what to wear, how to fix our hair, getting our makeup just right, etc. Our adrenaline was pumping as they provided us with instruction about what to expect and what they wanted from us, then it was game as we were led to the club to begin filming.

Holly and I were up towards the front of the stage, and when the music was playing, it was magic and exciting. At the same time, there was plenty of time to stand around  between scene takes and Prince’s wardrobe changes. I chatted with his body-guard Big Chick (Charles Huntsbury). He stood at 6’8″ and 400 pounds with  long white hair and a beard to match. He could have been mistaken as a biker one might see as part of the Hell’s Angel club, or even a wizarding character from Harry Potter. Despite his intimidating appearance, he was kind and always took the time to chat when we saw him. Remembering Prince In Minneapolis - My Story Little did I know, that I would run into him several times in the next few years.

Back then in Minneapolis it was not unusual to run into Prince out on the town, bodyguards in tow, or to see him hop into or emerge from a cool sports car with a beautiful woman. Sometimes he would perform impromptu (notice same day or 1-2 days in advance.) The venues included First Avenue, Pacific Club, The Fine Line, Glam Slam (later called “The Quest” nightclub.), and eventually, Paisley Park after the bars closed. Sometimes it was new material he wanted to debut, other times he was introducing new talent before going on tour, Diamonds and Pearls for example. He rarely spoke to anyone. As Minnesotans, we  respected his privacy and for the most part, knew not to approach him, unless, of course, we were feeling mischievous, like one night when I was with my cousin, Stacey, who had recently moved to Minneapolis from Omaha Nebraska. After a few cocktails, I triple-dog-double-dared her to try to talk to him (knowing what would happen). Of course, she did, he didn’t speak and body guards moved in. Yes, I set her up and to this day we still laugh about it. But I digress.

Between takes and wardrobe changes, movie directors passed out free packs of cigarettes, telling everyone to smoke up the bar. We were front and center stage as he sang Let’s Get Crazy, then continued with other songs like Baby I’m a Star, I Would Die 4 U, Little Red Corvette, The Beautiful Ones, etc. Looking back now, it is so great to have such an intimate connection to that moment in history. Sometimes I hear the music and think; “wow, I was really, literally right there” it is like I forget, and something brings me back to that time. Feeling reflective, I went online today and watched those performances again and found myself in other crowd scene shots I hadn’t seen before. Technology sure has made it easier to find these kinds of things. Imagine trying to find information using fast-forward and rewind on VHS tapes. 😏

In 1984, Prince performed here on Christmas Eve and I went with my sisters, The Purple Skyline of Downtown Minneapolisit was my youngest sister’s first concert ever. My grandpa had rented out a YMCA that night for a family celebration, so we headed there after the show. I remember hearing someone say; “What kind of person has a concert on Christmas Eve?” followed by a sarcastic; “What kind people attend a concert on Christmas Eve?” 

Prince was a die-hard, born and raised Minnesotan who was ahead of his time. He changed music industry business models. Looking back, now, if I were to put myself in his shoes, of course it makes sense. This is and always has been his home, he wanted to celebrate with his people, who he loved – us.

We listened to Prince and The Time (Now called The Original 7ven) before it was “C-O-O-L” to listen to them. Was that because we were all from Minneapolis? Most likely – it was the Minneapolis sound, keeping us front and center. 

Prince was a brilliant, creative, compassionate talented artist and fellow community member who cared about humanity. He profoundly changed the landscape of music and it will never be the same because of him. I’m grateful for the memories the old songs bring; smiles. friendships, laughter, tears, flirting, after parties, connection, dancing and more.

Prince’s untimely death is a reminder that we need to take care of ourselves when we are ill and that in this world obsessed with the glorification of “busy-ness,” life is short. In the distraction, we forget to slow down and pay attention to this moment.

Today my prayer is that more of us figure out how to “be here now,” fully present for others in fellowship and as servant leaders. May we discover all that comes along with remembering to be mindful and grateful for how blessed we are.

Do you have any thoughts or memories related that you would like to share?

If so, please leave a comment below. Thanks for visiting my blog!

Time: Stop, Travel, Escape, Feel, Release | Weekly Photo Challenge



|  How to stop time:  kiss.  |  How to travel in time:  read.  

|  How to escape time:  music.  |  How to feel time:  write.

| How to release time:  breathe.


 MATT HAIG; REASONS TO STAY ALIVE

 How to stop time: Kiss

AKiss

anotherkiss copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to travel in time: Read

A-book_edited-1

READ

 

 

How to escape time: Music

piano2_edited-1

Dance

Piano2.1

 

 

 

 

 

How to feel time: Write

Write_edited-1

How to release time: Breathe

Breathe copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

This post was inspired by Lignum Graco who asks us to show him time as part of The Weekly Photo Challenge over at The Daily Post. Please feel free to leave any comments below and thanks for visiting my blog!

Interpretations for Gathering


GatheringOver at The Daily Post, the theme for this week’s weekly photo challenge is posed by Krista, who asks us to document a gathering and share our interpretation of it.

Consider the different ways we can think about the word; Gathering as in material things we can see and touch. Gathering as in knowledge or information we get from various sources. Gathering as in symbolic ritual like celebrations or at places of worship. Gathering as in shared experiences like school plays or concerts. Gathering as in complex systems, where everything is related to everything else. Many may argue that there are interdependencies and that we can’t refer to one type of gathering without taking into account all the others.

Regardless of the kind of “gathering” we refer to, each person gets to decide which definition (singularly and collectively) is the most important to them.

In life, we gather things that we don’t get to take with us when we leave this world.

At work, we gather reports and data. We gather at meetings or to network.

In change management, gatherings are significant because they are considered as a type of symbolic ritual that can help bring a group of people together and move them through transition, from one stage to another.

In communities, we gather to celebrate, to educate, to worship, to grieve, and to share experiences.

Mentally we gather knowledge and information.

Emotionally we gather our thoughts.

At home, we gather as families to make sense of this world. We come together to teach, learn, share, grieve, grow, pray, laugh and to love. We create memories and meaningful experiences that leave legacies.

Do your organizations use the concept of “gathering” as a symbolic tool to move people through change? My wish for you; may your gatherings bring significance to whatever is important in your personal and professional lives.

Please feel free to share your thoughts below and thanks for visiting my blog!

Thirteen Behaviors that Build Trust in Relationships


Building trust is a process of modeling behavior shared vision and repeating messaging

Building trust is a process of modeling behavior, a shared vision and repeating messaging

What behaviors build trust in relationships?

Think about a time you were part of a really effective team that excelled at pulling together to achieve a shared outcome. What were the attributes that made it successful?

Research shows that teams who collaborate to attain a common end goal are usually high in trust. Success often relies on a group with a sense of shared values, vision and purpose. When all stakeholders are given opportunities to have input, they are inspired to build something together, so as to change leaders, how do we work to create a culture of trust? Recently I read Stephen Covey’s book called; “The Speed of Trust,” which looks at trust from three perspectives.

Read more of this post

A Random Act of Kindness for Wordless Wednesday


When was the last time someone reached out to you and performed a random act of kindness? I was pleasantly surprised when a complete stranger recently did something thoughtful for me just when I needed it most. As a result of her good-hearted deed, I plan to honor her by paying it forward.

WholeHeartedThankYou

As thought leaders, we sometimes forget the view, taking a moment to acknowledge the people around us via random acts of kindness can go a long way. We get so caught up in our calendars, goals, and tasks and only see the road ahead. But when we slow down a little to enjoy, pleasant surprises seem to come out of the woodwork.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday, this past Monday, has been deemed a day to encourage making a difference in communities. As I wrote in a previous post called: Servant Leadership: Facts about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Dr. King was a strong proponent of servant leadership, so whether or not you took action this week, I would like to propose a challenge.

What can you do to make a difference for someone this week? Please make the effort, then come back here and share your story below. I’d like to hear what you did, the response you got and how it made you feel. I look forward to hearing from you.

Thought Leadership on Community


DSC00299Imagine this: Your entire community — however you define that; your hometown, neighborhood, family, colleagues — are guaranteed to read your blog tomorrow. Write the post you’d like them all to see.

If you are reading this post, that means you are part of my community. I have long held a belief that somehow, I am supposed to make differences that ripple out, affecting a lot of people, in positive ways. So hopefully something in this will resonate for you.

In Latin, the word Communitatum was a noun that meant “fellowship” and the word Unitatum meant “oneness, sameness or agreement.”  From that, the word Community is derived; Fellowship in agreement, which means different things to different people.

In life, we have a choice to go down many roads two of which could include judgment or compassion.  Read more of this post

Extraordinary Singular Sensation | The Daily Prompt


If one experience or life change results from you writing your blog, what would you like it to be?Graduation Post Kakie Fitzsimmons

The connection that sparks meaningful conversation and reaches the masses. Dialogue that results in personal, professional and spiritual growth, paradigm shifts, reflection, healing, laughter, joy, and friendships.

Relevant discussions about alternative perspectives that are rich, thought-provoking and insightful.

I have served as a speaker and presenter about different topics. I have been writing for years in a number of formats. I believe at my core, that there is something in my experiences that are supposed to move and touch the lives of many people. It just hasn’t revealed itself yet. But I have faith that something greater is in store because we all have a story to tell. So what is yours? Please comment below!

This post was inspired by The Daily Prompt

A Journey With No Direction


 A nomadic lifestyle is one of wandering around from one place to another with no sense of direction and no fixed pattern of Nomad, a journey with no destinationmovement.

When I saw today’s Daily Prompt, the question posed was; “If you could live a nomadic life, would you? Where would you go? How would you decide? What would life be like without a “home base”?.

It seems like an easy question at first glance. An intriguing idea because I have a natural curiosity about possibilities in the world. I love to travel, explore different cultures, learn how people use resources and spend their days.

If I lived a nomadic lifestyle, there is humorous irony in the fact that I can’t really say where I would go, or how,  because, isn’t that the point of being a nomad?

But that doesn’t mean I can’t IMAGINE what it might look like…..  I would be a wandering soul, trusting the next destination would unveil itself at the right time and that I would get everything I need. The driving force would be faith as an optimistic learner seeking to do good in the world, make a difference, touch lives. That would be my legacy. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

I have seen the saying; “Everywhere you go there you are,” play out in the lives of people I know. I suspect being a vagabond would change the meaning of community and home.  It is easy to IMAGINE a romanticized life different from what we have. But doesn’t dealing with issues faced by other people mean limited connections or ties with anything or anyone? Wouldn’t it involve observing a community, but not fully being part of one?

I think it is all in how we choose to frame it because what works for one might not be right for another. We have relied on others to get to where we are today and there is something to be said for that. I like the idea of home, community and being part of something larger than myself. I’m grateful for that.

How about you? Please share how you might answer or what you think about the questions above. Thanks for visiting!

 

TED: Brene Brown: The Power of Vulnerability


In business, we have been known to shy away from the emotion of any kind on the job. Somehow it frightens and makes us uneasy. Perhaps it is shame or fear of not being good enough. But being vulnerable is also what makes us human. Relationships and connection are important in every aspect of our lives. Brene Does a great job of sharing her discovery. This is an amazing video. What are your thoughts about vulnerability? Feel free to leave your thoughts below.