Yes, AND.

 
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Social media is unbearable right now. At least for me.

My heart is so heavy. My emotions are intense. A quick scroll turns into an hour long journey into the darkest parts of humanity.

The stories of #metoo. Especially those in the athletic arena.

Exposing wounds that never completely healed. Shedding light on the power of my inner wisdom - that knowingness I silenced. 

The school shootings.

I'm so deeply affected. As a mother. As an educator. As a former classroom teacher. As a human. My soul feels crushed.

The noise in my news feed is deafening. The anger is palpable. The fear, paralyzing.

And, all of it feels so much bigger than me. 

Do I dare share my truth? Do I dare engage in dialogue?

Last week I shared a post written by my mentor, Brene Brown, on Speaking Truth to Bullshit. And, I've been trying to honor her words by asking myself:

What 'rules' am I subscribing to? Why?

How can I add value? What's really under all of this? 

What's mine to own?

What can I do?

And I wonder, can we really speak truth to bullshit on social media? 

I'm not sure - but I'm going to try. Because, it's one of those things that is worth trying even if I fail.

Tonight, I came across these words by a fellow educator:

"In my freshman composition classes, I tell my students to use their words only for the highest good. Our words aren’t for bullying, for tearing down, or for engaging in petty, online arguments. Language is a gift that we must use to build up and create. In my class, we use our words to tell our stories, to share our experiences, and to critically examine the world we live in so that we can make it better. Words should illuminate harsh realities, and words can rally.” -Victoria Fedden

Which shifted my question to:

How are we using our words? 

Words can rally. Yes. AND. We need to rally as humans. We need to stop dehumanizing those who don't agree with us. 

Because, what's the alternative? Where is it taking us?

We may never agree on the details of HOW we enact change - but I think it's safe to say, most of us agree on the fundamental issues.  

We have to start there. Common ground. Our common humanity. And shift away from fear and anger and rage - and the subsequent defensiveness - to truly listen.  

I think most of us would agree that what we're doing isn't working.

When we feel defensive, we need to ask ourselves: 

What are we afraid of?

I've seen this meme countless times on my news feed. And I get {and agree with} the sentiment behind it: nothing changes, nothing changes. If we want something different, we must be willing to do something different.

YES, 

 
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AND.

As someone who was buoyed by thoughts and prayers during the darkest time in my life - who believes and knows the power of prayer, I have to ask:

Why are we forcing a choice when all of these can co-exist? 

Thoughts and prayers AND policy and change.

If we want to rally, we need to stop forcing false dichotomies - and the idea that you're with us or you're with them. 

This is on US. 

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Corruption is corrosive - and it's pervasive. How can we keep it in check if we're stuck up here on the top of the iceberg, screaming and shouting? {we can't}

We need to band together and dive underneath the surface to solve these issues.

And that may mean challenging our own beliefs. 

We see what we believe.

Our emotions, thoughts, actions - all shaped by our beliefs. Impacting how we view the world - and ourselves.

It's not I'll believe it when I see it - it's I'll see it when I believe it.

In all areas of our life we find evidence to support our beliefs. More and more - we're retreating into our ideological bunkers and seeking news sources that feed us evidence to support those beliefs - even if they're unfounded and not grounded in reality. 

It's time to get uncomfortable. Because, isn't THIS more uncomfortable? 

We are in this together. 

It's time to come out of our ideological bunkers and walk to the space between. 

It's going to take a new level of courage. Because, this is a new level of hard. 

We are capable.

We have power.

In the words we choose.

In the way we engage on social media. The comments we write. The memes we share.

In our willingness to edit the beliefs that are blinding us from seeing reality. 

Our power is underneath the anger. And the fear. 

Anger. Fear. Judgement. Shame. When we allow those emotions to drive - the only place we'll move is away from the space between. 

If we want to tap into our collective strength, we must link arms.

It starts with us. 

It's in learning how to listen - without forming a counter argument in our mind.

It's in learning how to process our emotion - without deflecting, running or numbing.

It's in asking for help - without shame or guilt.

It's in giving each other the gift of generosity - believing that we are doing the best we can with the resources we have - instead of choosing judgement.

And when we fall short {not if}, it's in reaching out our hand to help lift each other up - instead of belittling and berating, and speaking from a place of perfection.

It's asking questions - instead of assuming.

It's embracing our common humanity - instead of dehumanizing the 'other.' 

It's time to ask ourselves if we're courageous enough to reject the rules that no longer serve us and choose love? 

We are capable.

The time is now.

~

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Samantha Arsenault Livingstone is an Olympic Gold Medalist, transformational speaker, high performance coach, mama of four girls - and the founder of Brave Leaders Academy

Samantha empowers athletes, forever athletes and never-been-athletes to cultivate the courage, resilience and perseverance needed to live their dreams. She helps her clients expand their high performance skill set and let go of beliefs that are keeping them stuck - opening up the door for freedom, balance and joy that transcends.

Samantha candidly shares her battles with her inner critic, depression, perfection, PTSD and parenting as a working mother because she believes in the transformative power of story – and the strength that comes from knowing we are not alone. She is on a mission to pay forward all that she’s learned to help others find joy and live free.
  
A mama of heart warrior and mama of twins, Samantha and her husband, Rob, live in the Berkshires with their four girls. You can learn more about Samantha at www.samanthalivingstone.com.

You can find her here, linking arms with the powerful community that is the  I AM CHALLENGE.