Fall Back into Gratitude

November is one of my favorite months. We will set our clocks back this Sunday night, getting the gift of an extra hour. A repeat of sixty minutes, arbitrarily decreed, for the express purpose of making early mornings lighter even as the days grow shorter. Since I am an early morning runner, I very much appreciate the light in the morning. It’s always hard to get up early and lace up for four, five, or more miles several times a week. Harder still to face when it’s cold AND dark. I’ll take these little mercies wherever I can get them.


The other November gift is that we are truly into fall. Pumpkins everywhere, now unrelated to Halloween and scary carvings, but omnipresent because of their beauty and flavor. Pies, bread, savory curries and even lattes are better with pumpkins. We get to bundle into sweaters and jackets, boots and wool socks, scarves and beanies. It’s all new again, this fall wardrobe and we’re nestling into the hygge of it all. Coziness, cuddling, contemplation, slowing down.

Fall is a transition season, moving us from the busyness of summer activities, and its long lit days that are filled with work and travel, parties and gathering, sports and games. We’ve stayed up late and wrung every moment out of the longer summer days. We are now reminded that winter is coming. I like to revel in the crisp fall air and begin to think about what indoor creative projects I want to accomplish. It’s also when I begin to look back at my January commitments and see how I’ve done and if they still resonate or are important for my life.. as it is right now. I start preparing to be more quiet and embrace more stillness in my life.

November also brings us the national holiday of gratitude — Thanksgiving. While I no longer display pilgrims and indians as decorative mascots for the mythology of an imagined Plymouth gathering, I share humanity’s longstanding instinct to celebrate and express gratitude for the harvest.

Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863, during the American Civil War. Lincoln proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens,” to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November. Deciding to establish a national day of gratitude in the midst of chaos and crisis is an apt example for our times. Whatever we believe in, I suspect that gratitude in-the-midst is a universal human longing.

I am hopeful that we can all find common ground in thankfulness. As we all suffer the consequences of climate chaos, societal fraying, uncivil discourse, and political upheaval, I’m choosing to stand in gratitude. For firefighters and health workers, for poll watchers and first responders, for mothers and nurses, for candidates and protesters. We belong to one another and I am grateful for each and every one of us.

All that’s Required

It’s easy to forget that the only thing required of us is to show up as ourselves.

We buy into the story that we are never enough or that constant improvement and a sense of lack challenge us and how we want life to go. Yet when we stop, settle into ourselves and listen to the quiet voice inside, we are reminded that each of us is the unique expression of our self that the world needs, right now, in this moment.

The reminders of this truth are all around me. In meditation — which I try to do each morning (still working on that )– I was reminded that grace and gratitude are linked. I’m listening to a 21-day series from Oprah and Deepak and it is just what I need to hear. The visualization of myself as a candle, placed outside and bathed in sunlight to the point that I vanish and become absorbed into the light, reminds me to simply be. Be my truest, most authentic self. Then I can remember that I am part of a greater truth, a bigger reality that is the beauty of all creation. My light is contained within a bigger light.

Last night I watched the Netflix documentary, “Knock Down the House” which followed the 2018 campaigns of four women who stepped into the fray and accepted the pull of the moment to show up. Of the four, one won and three lost: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Amy Vilela of Nevada, Cori Bush of Missouri, and Paula Jean Swearengin of West Virginia. As I watched these four women consider who they are, whether they were ready to run a race, grapple with the realities of campaigning, and dealing with the significant push-back they received, I was inspired by their courage and respect their determination to be themselves.

There is so much change, turmoil and conflict all around us right now. It’s easy to become overwhelmed and discouraged and wonder how we are going to be okay in the midst of it all. Just breathe. Be still. And then be grateful for exactly who you are. Because the world needs each of us to show up exactly as who we are. Together, we are one big light.

Photo by Geronimo Giqueaux on Unsplash

My Wish for 2019: Magical & Mundane

The world is a big, beautiful place, ready for our elbows-deep immersion in complexity and the many facets of all we create, feel, and experience. It’s clear to me that this life is a (carnival) ride, an experience, a chosen story that we’ve all selected to have together — actually as one.

It’s important to be aware of as much as possible. To see, hear, smell, feel, taste, absorb, drink in every thing. Every moment is a miracle. Every connection to another is a deep gift. Finding our unique place, and our individual task/gift/purpose adds to a universal vibration and evolution. How amazing to be part of the collective experience of building, seeing, creating, evolving.

I can see all of this on a macro level. The challenge is how to bring this into the minute, small, intimate moments of each day, each encounter, each day. The struggle is to see every encounter or experience as part of this great wholeness.

We constantly strive to remember that the people we meet, our relationships, jobs, home and chores are as much a part of the magical, mystical experience of life as is the awareness that comes in meditation. How do I see the mundane as mystical? How can I remember that each moment I am alive is full of so much to see, feel, be?

This abundance awareness, remembered in stillness, is what I wish for all of us in the new year. We are living in a chaotic time, challenged by too many crises, suffering the proliferation of devices and distractions. Let’s remember to cut through the noise, really SEE each other, and revel in our shared, co-creative experience that is this one perfect life.

Amazon leverages innovation to deliver a sustainability offering

Every time I talk to clients or give new employees a presentation on our sustainability offering, I always start with this quote  from KoAnn Skryzinyaz (CEO of Sustainable Brands) that describes how we define sustainability: “Transforming businesses to respect environmental limits while fulfilling social wants and needs has become an unparalleled platform for innovation on strategy, design, manufacturing and brand — offering massive opportunities to compete and to adapt in a rapidly evolving world.”

It’s sometimes challenging to find a good example of how innovation through a sustainability lens delivers strong brand relevance. Amazon’s recent announcement about its sustainability research project shows how linking your core business to solving environmental or social challenges well beyond the borders of your own company or sector shows us how it’s done. Quietly and in the background, Amazon’s expanding internal sustainability team has been working with its AWS (Amazon Web Services division) to offer a compelling solution set that will help tackle the challenge of climate change.

“The Amazon Sustainability Data Initiative leverages Amazon Web Services’ technology and scalable infrastructure to stage, analyze, and distribute data, and is a joint effort between the AWS Open Data and Amazon Sustainability teams. The AWS Open Data program already makes numerous datasets available for public use through its Registry of Open Data on AWS. Amazon’s Sustainability Team began collaborating with AWS last year to start warehousing the vast amounts of public data that describe our planet. The initiative identifies foundational data for sustainability and works closely with data providers like NOAA to stage their data in the AWS Cloud by giving them complete ownership and control over how their data is shared.

AWS ‘allows us to do things at scale that have not been done at scale before,’ says Josh Hacker, Co-founder of Jupiter Intel, which helps organizations prepare for climate change and weather risks. AWS customers, such as Sinergise, Intertrust, and OpenAQ, are increasing access to data by developing tools that help others access and use the open data on AWS.

According to Amazon, the Amazon Sustainability Data Initiative will support AWS customers in their sustainability work so that innovators and researchers are supported with the data, tools, and technical expertise they need to move sustainability to the next level.”


Even as this initiative will help thousands of organizations prepare for, or mitigate, climate risk, it doesn’t absolve the company from additional leadership in transparency and disclosure – something that experts say will be required in the next 5-8 years. Based on a recent benchmarking, it’s clear that Amazon still does not share details about its global carbon footprint nor its environmental or social impact targets/goals, programs and results. No one knows what the full carbon footprint is for Amazon.

This project, however, is a strong commitment from one of the world’s largest data companies to use its core competency for good and benefit the planet and all its species — including humanity.  In my way of thinking, we respect this innovation and keep pushing for transparency.


I Run Because I Can

It’s funny that such a straightforward statement about my ability to run can still make me feel like I must be kidding myself or, at least, fooling everybody else. Because after almost nine years of running and training AND completing my first ever marathon, I still can’t quite internalize that I am an athlete. That I am a runner. That my sport of choice is endurance events. Maybe it’s because I started all of this soon after turning 50, after years of being the high school nerd, the college smoker, the doughnut-eating pregnant lady, the sedentary working mom.

Yet here I am, almost a decade of running, swimming, biking and multiple 5k, 10k, half marathons, several triathlons and a duathlon plus the aforementioned 26.2, still not quite sure I can own the moniker of Athlete.

What’s that about? I think it has to do with reconciling the self we created as an adolescent with the adult we are. Underneath all of our growing, learning, wisdom and life experiences — which accrue to a current sense of self — is the initial model we created once we began the individuation process. It’s kind of like comparing the final painting to the original sketch. There are similarities between the two versions but, because that initial raw sketch was your first attempt at getting the idea on paper, there is some truth that feels real in it even if the final version has changed substantially through constant adapting, layering and learning which has modified those first rough lines.

So it is with my sense of self as an athlete. There were no athletic role models in my childhood and adolescence. We were a cerebral family, interested in debates about the daily politic, doing well (perfect) in school and being accomplished. So I had never drawn athlete lines in my self portrait. Until I turned 50 and decided I could.

Running one of my first half marathons along the Pacific Ocean in Monterey CA
(Photo Credit: Sandy Skees)