Like Oxygen

Happy Thursday. I've been unplugged for a bit,
enjoying beautiful sunsets like this one, in Wisconsin.

On my break, I finished Brené Brown's Dare To Lead;
what a treasure trove of insight and inspiration.

First stop: Spokane, WA, to spotlight the launch of
PurposeFULL People, our Character & SEL Toolkit.
What fun to meet up with these educators who inspire.

Aaron, Principal in Montana
Bob Sornson, author of Stand In My Shoes

Jeff Kubiak, Principal and Author of One Drop Of Kindness

JoAnne Duncan, Principal in WA
I also met my friend Melissa, the incredible school counselor 
at Wilson Elementary up in Spokane, for dinner. She's the
wizard behind this cool kindness collaborative. 

Wouldn't you love to be welcomed by this school entrance?

That's how time with these superhero friends feels.
Warm and welcoming. 
Like life-reviving oxygen.
We were, after all, created to be relational.

From WA, I headed east to Wisconsin, for this sibling reunion.

It had been almost three decades since our Dad
 could enjoy the gift all five of his children 
in one place
at the same time. 

Huge hurts got in the way, until now.
Talk about your life-giving oxygen.
We spent our time laughing, sharing, remembering.

More sunsets; this one over the family farm
made the perfect backdrop for an inspirational adage.

Then it was time to head north, to my sister's cabin in the woods.
Here's a mindful minute so you can join us for a bit,
taking in the sights, sounds, scents of the sugar bush.

While we were there, we took our Mom to visit
a woman she met almost 50 years ago.
The year was 1970. My great Aunt Norma had retired,
and the young teacher taking her place at our Parochial School
would need a place to stay, so my parents offered
to take her in, to provide temporary lodging.
We loved Elaine immediately, so it wasn't long
before we also made friends with her extended family.
Our parents connected with one another,
and I became friends with her soon-to-be sister-in-law Lori.
(To this day, Lori and I are still penpals!)
Anyway, it has been a few years since Mom and Trudy,
Elaine's mom, had seen one another, but since my sister's land
is near her nursing home, we stopped to reunite these fast friends.

It was like time slowed down when they saw one another again. Trudy, now 94, looked up at my mom and reached out for her hands. When her daughter asked if she knew who my Mom was, Trudy replied, "I can't remember her but she feels so familiar that I know I love her." 

Like oxygen, that love between friends permeated the air 
to make it a heartwarming, tearful gathering.

Interestingly, my mom came to life during that brief reunion
in a way that we haven't seen in a while as she herself ages.

This visit gifted her with purpose, something that actually 
wielded the power to change her physical appearance 
as it deeply touched her heart and soul. Like oxygen. 
She lit up to be with her friend again.

All of these rich connections beg the questions:

Whom do you light up for?
And who lights up for you?
Who are your oxygen catalysts?
And {how} do they know?

Now I'm home savoring more colorful canvases,
this sky ablaze through the windows at Minute Maid Park 
as we were celebrating an Astros' win on Saturday ... 

prompting today's Like Oxygen challenge:

Reconnect with a faraway friend
or simply connect with someone nearby.
Tell them you're thinking about them,
and let them know what they mean to you and your life.
Celebrate those connections who complete you,
who breathe into you that life-sustaining oxygen.
Send them an email or a text.
Better yet, call them on the phone.
Or optimally, stop by and see them in person.

Then, smile at someone new 
and be like oxygen for them.

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