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 ground work 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 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!

Never Forget – A Letter Written to My Son on September 11, 2001

“That’s what it takes to be a hero, a little gem of innocence inside you that makes you want to believe that there still exists a right and wrong. That decency will somehow triumph in the end.  -Lisa Hand

 At the time, we had no idea how the events of that day would change our lives forever. I worked at American Express Financial Advisors downtown Minneapolis, and the corporate headquarters of American Express was right across the plaza from the towers in New York. We lost 11 employees that day. For weeks the company had internal message boards, where workers could go to read and write their accounts of what they witnessed on that day. Those of us who worked in other locations could share our condolences.  The company put up a memorial in their honor called “Eleven Tears‘.

Since my son was a baby I have kept journals where I write letters to him. Below is my note from September 11, 2001.

 09-11-01 “Today was a day that will change how we do things in America. I was on a conference call at work with some field leaders who work in the Carolinas and one of them told me what happened. I could hardly believe it and went to to see what I could find. The World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon had been attacked by some people who were not nice at all. My employer told us if we didn’t feel safe we should go home and we all left. 

People began evacuating downtown Minneapolis and it was so crazy we could not even get a taxi out of the city and the whole nation is stunned.  They closed down businesses, the stock exchange, the airlines, etc., all across the country for the first time in history. Locally they reported prayer vigils at churches all over the Twin Cities and the globe. It was an emotional day for everyone.

When I finally did get home, we spent the day together with the television and non-stop special reports all day as everyone was trying to make sense of the chaos. I remember sitting on the rocking chair in the living room watching the news in disbelief as your little ten month old body was sleeping so peacefully on my chest and I was praying as the tears fell quietly down my face. I felt so numb I could barely speak today. 

Son, the message I want you to take from all of this is that freedom is not something we take lightly. Those who went before us fought and died for our freedom and there are people now still doing the same thing. We need to never forget what happened and to remember those people and their families in our thoughts daily. The opposite of love is fear and the opposite of hate is compassion.  May you always walk in love and compassion. ILY – Mom

Please share your comments below, thoughts and experiences below.

Day 17: Multiple Paths and Convergence of Knowledge

In Buddhism, the tradition of chanting is a method for preparing the mind to meditate. A few months back we toured The Tooth Relic Temple and Museum in Singapore and as we heard this chanting in the background we gathered around our tour guide. “Now we are going to walk now into the hall of the creator of my future The Buddha,” she said. I thought that her words were such a fascinating way to explain a power greater than ourselves.

We proceeded to the garden on the roof where she explained the core principles of the faith and that in Buddhism there is not belief in one supreme-being, but that the universe is The Supreme Being. It is not male or female, good or bad because there is no name that can explain that kind of omnipotence. It’s essence is everywhere. We walked clockwise around the prayer wheel three times, expressing thanks and asking for special intentions. While exiting the prayer wheel she went on to say;

“It’s the destination it’s not the road. Religions are just roads that lead us to the destination, so whichever road you take it still leads you there & it doesn’t matter what you believe in. The path is not constant or persistent, so that which is “the way” which can be described as not the true way” -Lim Lin

In our Executive MBA program, the concept of consilience is brought up often. One of my professors explains it as different ideas jumping around together to form a comprehensive theory based on facts. This concept demonstrates there are multiple ways to come to the same answer and as leaders we strive for consilient thinking. It isn’t about being right or wrong, but rather being open to possibilities because often, there are many.

In Taoism the word “way,” also means path or principle. The belief is “the way is not the true way” which is the idea that we don’t need to search outside of ourselves for truth or meaning because it is right in front of us and within us. It always has been.

Please share your thoughts below.

Three things I am grateful for:

  1. Freedom
  2.  Faith and spirituality
  3. This journey that helps me strive for consilient thinking
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