It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope.
~Robert Francis Kennedy~
I struggled this year, when trying to find the words to write on this fourth of July. It’s funny, I always found myself filled with inspiration to write on this day. So may thoughts flood my mind. I think about the events of 2009, and how my life was changed forever. I think about the happy memories I have within my heart. I reflect on how far we’ve come as a family, in recovering from the pains of loss, and understanding this new life of ours. For those who have not walked this path, that may seem difficult to understand. I also think about the people around me, eating hot dogs, waiting for the fireworks, living life, completely unaware of the delicate threads of life holding us together.
I’ve written about this before, how it feels to watch this American day of celebration from the outside, to have it marked with something different. But it is not just this day. It is everyday. I am a keen observer to life now. I watch closely, so as not to miss a moment. I am more sensitive, more compassionate, perhaps a smidge more dramatic. But the biggest change I find in myself is I am present. I am here, in the rain and sunshine. I am not missing a thing. I am forever changed, for the better.
There is something fantastic about a wake up call. Something that no self-help book can give you. It smacks you up the side of the head. Brought to my knees, I was better equipped to gaze up to the night sky and notice it was filled with stars. I was keenly aware of the feel of the hard ground below me, keeping me grounded to Mother Earth as I looked for an anchor, a sign that I would be okay.
Just One Little Thing did that for me. Not the book itself, but the way of life. Each day, I get up and I look around. I pause, and think, what was wonderfully magnificent today? What deserves a round of applause in my life? And each day, I grew stronger, the roots of my life reconnecting with the larger collective of this earth. By finding and sharing one little thing, I became aware of my present moment, but also how it is rooted and connected with yours.
Imagine that. My son dies, I absolutely fall apart, and as I hang on by my fingernails, I find a way back by becoming aware of the blessings in the present moment. And, finding myself awake for the first time, I start to connect and notice that others are trying to find their way back from the edge of the earth too.
So, what does this ramble all mean?
I’m not entirely sure. I keep getting up every morning and marveling at how far the ripple of Just One Little Thing extends. In the past four years, I have emailed back and forth with over 15,000 people who are on their own journey through loss. We meet, we share, and then we go on our way again, with the knowledge that we are not alone. Sometimes I hear back, months or years later, sometimes I don’t. But regardless, I know they are out there, just like me, trying to find the meaning and the lessons in loss.
With the JOLT Group, I throw out some one little things in the morning before starting my day, and find by the evening, people have responded in kind, sharing their own daily JOLTs. We share, we talk about things that matter. People weave in and out as needed, but the love within the group remains as the constant. With over 35,000 strong and growing by the day, the love within the group is palpable. People wish each other Happy Birthday, they congratulate each other on getting a job, or recovering from a surgery. They share their hobbies, passions, small businesses…it is like this petri dish of humanity. I marvel at it each day as I watch this large group come together, and just spread the ripple of JOLT. They don’t ask questions, or create membership requirements, or require a religious affiliation before you are allowed entry. All are welcome, provided you extend that same welcome to others, and allow all to feel welcome, safe, and loved.
I know it’s not rocket science. I know I am just a Mom who decided to live this way to survive, and ended up sharing it with all of you. But today, I want to celebrate the fact that my son’s life, the ripple of his life, had something to do with creating a place that celebrates the possibility for us all. I have to smile, as what we’ve created is just so….Stephen.
In the coming months, we will be doing more. Lots more. Why stop here? Let’s see how far this can go. I’ve been sending packages of Blessings stones all over the world, sharing hope. To South Africa, Iran, Egypt….why stop now?
This ripple. When I started this, it was the ripple of one boy’s life, but I can now see how far it is extending, how it is not only one story, it is everyone’s collective voice. It is a choir of voices noticing the perfection within the imperfection of life, it’s about a group of people who have decided that there is a different way. There is a path toward hope and peace. We all know the way. We need not walk alone. I’ll hold your hand and you hold his hand and so on and so on…
So, join me today in celebration for a life that continues to shine light into the darkness, and for finding each other on our journey towards peace. With each tiny drop of loving kindness that we share through JOLT, I can feel him smiling.
I ask you, what better way to celebrate the a beautiful life, than to make the choice to live a better life yourself?
Happy 4th and Happy 2nd Birthday JOLT my friends,