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Being Here

with Molly Barker

Remember This?


Back in 2013…I developed a project called “Run2Lead.”

The program’s goal was to partner congressional members, each with ten kids in their district…and as a group they would train for a 5k together. 

Along the way they would learn about leadership…

The curriculum I wrote for the program was chock full of activities around the power of listening, compassion and empathy…seeking first to understand…the importance of honoring each other’s stories. 

Several members had signed on. Two in particular had agreed to be Honorary Chairpersons!

With less than a couple months out from the kick off…the chief of staff of one of the honorary chairpersons called me. 

“We need to meet.”

Michelle Barbeau, who had also given countless hours to the program, and I flew to Washington, DC…filled with hope…

It was approximately three years ago today that we sat across the table from him…when he told us that there was no way his “boss” (that’s what staffers call the Congressional members they work for) could ever participate in a program that used words like compassion, love and understanding. 

He became increasingly angrier as the meeting ensued. 

For the first time…I witnessed just how threatening Love, empathy, understanding can be to the political status quo. 

I told him the program was for the children…that I had given my life to children…and that it was more about them…how they longed for leaders they could emulate, look up to, believe in. 

He told me it was too “Kum bah yah” and Kum Ba yah didn’t fly on Capitol Hill. 

When I got back to my hotel room I cried. I remember sitting on the edge of my bed, elbows on knees and my head in my hands and I wept. I had seen and what I saw made me feel hopeless. 

It may surprise you to know that my tears were not for the program lost, or the amount of work and effort that would never come to fruition. 

They were for this young man…this chief of staff…who had fallen prey to the political climate we have become all too familiar with in this recent campaign. This young man who could be my son, your son…who had come to Washington wanting to make positive change and had instead been told that “to survive up here, you have to play the game.”

As I sit back and observe the current election…the anger, the fear, the love and the hope…as I read and see it in the media, social media and in particular from my friends, who, by the way represent all political perspectives…I am overjoyed, filled with hope and thrilled to see that at last…at last so many of us are waking up to see…that this “us versus them” “win at all costs” mentality in politics (heck everywhere) no longer serves any of us. 

If your first inclination is to suggest that one party has awakened to this earlier than another…let me challenge you to reconsider that thought. I have friends who run the gamut in terms of their political persuasions and all are exhausted by and aware of how this mentality is no longer serving us. 

And this my friends…gives me great hope for the future.

Being Afraid…

Dear American Friends,

We’ve got a lot going on right now in our nation. Heck…it’s not just here. It’s everywhere. 

The world can be a scary place. It’s just part of living in it. I’ve been scared a lot.  
 

I’ve learned a lot in my life and as I look at my own fear with the current state of the world, I have come to a few revelations that I think may help you with yours. So take it for what it’s worth. If it helps, use it. If it doesn’t, pass it by. It’s all good. 

So…here goes…

1. Accept the fact that you feel helpless and really, really scared sometimes about the current course of human events This is perfectly normal and absolutely natural in response to what’s happening; But also friends…remember that you are important, because you were born. You have an essential role in the universe. You were chosen to be here. Never ever forget that. You have a purpose.

2. Even though at times, you may feel small and powerless, you possess more power than you can possibly imagine. You have the capacity to change the world with each and every encounter you have. It’s true. You have the power to positively influence all those with whom you come into contact, which on any given day can be literally hundreds and hundreds of people. People who remember this…are the ones who change the world. Sometimes they are famous and sometimes they are not. Sometimes they are rich and sometimes they are not. But the people who remember this, change the world and are remembered for doing so. Be that person.

3. Even though it can be scary to admit you’re scared…find those people you can talk to about it. You are wonderfully human…complete with your own story, your own journey and your own experiences. When appropriate share your story and your feelings. Share your mistakes and your fears. When you are vulnerable, your fear no longer owns you. You become free and in the process show others the way.

4. I know the internet can be scary…there is so much anger, violence and fear there… that can get in the way of interacting with what’s real. Be intentional with how you use it. Set it aside when you feel fear and look to the beauty and wonder around you. Talk to someone. Touch something that is real. Smell a flower. Eat something good. Go for a run. Make art. Dance. Hold someone’s hand. Cry hard at sunsets. Laugh with your friends. The world is not nearly as scary when we take time to be in it.

5. It’s so easy right now to be afraid of “them.” But my experience has been that we have a lot more in common with others than we realize. We all hurt, cry, laugh and love. We all want to be seen, heard and know we matter. Look to those around you and realize this. Assume positive intent when you see another person and assume that they come to you in the same way. Smile. Wave. Strive to open your heart. 

6. Take time to be still. Watch the trees sway in the wind. Feel the rain on your skin. Be still and know that there is a power greater than yourself. See it in nature, the sound of the traffic, the changing of the stoplight. This force is conspiring in your favor…at all times. Name it for yourself and call it to you when you are afraid. 

7. Give up needing to be right every once in a while. Watch what happens. It’s like magic. There is nothing to resist and nothing that resists you. The world needs safe places for people to feel right…without resistance. So be that. Be a safe place for someone to get out their fear and anger…to express themselves…to discover themselves. Every moment you provide safety for another, is another moment the world sings.

8. And my friends! Don’t postpone your joy. Don’t postpone it! Yes…it is hard to feel it with so much pain and suffering in the world. It is so easy to feel the burden of the world on your shoulders, but watch the children. Watch them dance, sing, laugh, skip. Joy is essential to the well being of those around you. Be joyful. Seek Joy. Bring Joy. Joy heals. If you can’t find it, go be with the children. 

9. And Love. Love even when you don’t want to. Push back your shoulders, physically open up your ribcage and walk through your day, being love. Let love pour out of your mouth, your eyes, your stride and the very essence of you. The world needs you to be love and light and wonder and joy. Because of all the things I’ve learned, lived and experienced I know one thing for sure. As a matter of fact it is for me, an absolute truth.
  

Fear cannot live where there is love. So be that. Be love.

The Anvil of Love

I have not yet met Charles Malone in person, but I do believe this man and I…this human and I…the two of us are indeed kindred spirits.

Charles sent this along…his words. They moved me. i thought they might move you too.  

“I think it is no accident that the most successful movements since the Second World War for social justice–those lead by Gandhi and King–were based on love. 

Love took form, then, through civil disobedience, which extended an implicit salute to those in power, no matter their sins. This kind of protest confused the powerful, making it impossible for them to convince the mass of people that the dissenters were their enemies.  

It is my view that the protests of today, both left and right, lack any element of love, so why should we be surprised that their attraction is limited to just their own true believers. 

Hammering to bend the arch of justice by the anvil of love is a journey on an uphill road with many curves and reverses. But it is a road heading in the right direction. It is a road with no detours. It is a road with no end. It is a road that is an end in itself.”

I am inviting you to join me and others. Please mark your calendars in advance for the evening of September 17th. I will be guiding a Red Boot Meeting…with a “talk-back” by Red Boot Coalition regulars.  

6 pm to 8 pm. 

Charlotte, NC. 

I am challenging our leaders to attend…to set aside their agendas, listen with their whole heart and see the humanity in all who attend. 

As your guide I promise (using the Red Boot guidelines) to hold the space…keep it safe. This is not about blaming, fixing, correcting. This is about sharing with each other the challenges we face daily to listen, to see and to honor each other. 

The fantastic Jeff Jackson (Jeff Jackson – NC Senate District 37) has agreed to attend. 

Pat McCrory, you and I have worked on numerous projects together. Won’t you join us?  

Jennifer Watson Roberts? Vi Lyles? Parks Helms? Senator Richard Burr? Senator Thom Tillis? Congressman Robert Pittenger?

Jane Campbell for N.C. House – District 98…any other candidates?

Others? Will you help spread the word? This is not about politics. This is about something so Great I don’t know what word to give it. 😀

Location to be announced. 

We will be sharing and listening on Steps 1 and 7. See the attached.

Please RSVP to us at info@theredcootcoalition.

I Wear the Red Boot


Today I wear the Red Boot as a way of letting you, all those I meet, and those I do not know yet…

That you matter to me; I am a safe person; I will do my best to remain open even if we disagree; that I will strive to seek first to understand; that I will assume positive intent of you and you can certainly assume positive intent of me; that I am trustworthy.  I will strive to listen without an agenda…to listen with my whole heart before responding. 
These actions are what empowered Love looks like to me. 

I wear the Red Boot as a way to show that this Love matters to me and that I will strive to boldly love even those I struggle to love. 

I wear the Red Boot to show you that I courageously stand with and for Love even when I am challenged by fear and hatred. 

Because I am human. And so are you. 

And we are all in this together.

Why do you wear the Red Boot?  

(Thanks to Eric Lerner for believing in Red Boot so much that he had these made…so that I can wear my heart on my sleeve/shirt ❤️ and can show others that I am doing my best to love even those with whom I disagree, may perceive as my enemy, those I may fear. 

If you would like a “Red Boot” please message me or drop in a comment. We will figure out a way to get one to you.)

I truly love all of you here…

Start With Love

Thought you guys night like to see this. 

I am so grateful for those of you on this journey with me. 

http://www.twcnews.com/nc/charlotte/in-depth-interview/2016/07/20/in-depth-molly-barker.html

Call of Duty

My son is home and we just had a truly enlightening conversation. 

I wish it had been sparkly and positive…and certain elements of it were. I also wish I could capture the whole thing in one post. 

But he talked for nearly 45 minutes straight. I listened. 

He is almost 21 years old. 

I asked him what he thought was going on in the world to cause the increase in all this violence. 

“Technology, video games, social media.”

I countered. “You don’t think maybe the violence existed before and we are just now seeing it because of social media and technology?”

“No.” His response was firm. 

“The people who hate, who are fueled by hate have effectively utilized technology to confirm the reasons for their own hatred.”

I asked him to give me an example. 

He brought me to a YouTube video…a particular version of the popular game “Call of Duty.” The player participates in a terrorist attack on a Russian Airport. 

I watched three or so minutes with him and we both agreed that we had had enough. 

The game is so disturbing I decided not to attach the link depicting it. Truly. It is traumatizing. 

“This version was popular among many of my friends in the late 2000’s…five, six, seven years ago.”

I realized how unaware I was at that time of the violence in the games. 

“Did we have that game?”  

“No. Not that version. I didn’t feel right playing it.”

“Who makes these games Hank? Is it all for money?”

“I don’t think so,” he said. “I think a large number of folks who make these games believe that fueling hatred is important…it’s all enmeshed with masculinity and bravado and heroism. It’s their own “call to duty.” They believe hatred is noble…a part of being a man.”

He sighed. 

“It’s totally messed up.”

He left to go be with friends and I called him after he had gone. 

“Why didn’t you get tangled up in this? What’s the difference? Why didn’t you play those games? You played sports video games, but not those. Why not?”

“I had passions that were connected in some way to something greater than just me. Skateboarding. Swimming. Art. Fashion. These in and of themselves are good. But somehow…these got connected to purpose…connected with a vision for myself…with other people. To expressing the good in me somehow.”

Pause. 

So my plea goes here. 

To you. 

Be outraged. Outraged that someone creates the violent versions of these videos games. (If you know someone connected with the production of these I would like to meet them.)

Be outraged by an entertainment industry that perpetuates the masculine, the racial and the gender stereotypes.

Be smarter than I was. (I was lucky.). Don’t buy them for your kids, and if you do, please review the games with them. Know what their friends are playing. Know what your kids are playing at their friend’s houses. Be firm about this. “Just because my friend’s have it” doesn’t make it okay. Some of them are truly twisted sick stuff. 

Like the Facehook page: The Mask You Live In. Visit it often. Trust me. It’s powerful. 

Better yet…download the movie, “The Mask You Live In” and watch it with your family…including the girls. 

And most importantly, if you have the opportunity, in your life, to help a young man, do it. If you don’t have the opportunity and have the time, seek it. 

They need us now more than ever.

Listen to them. Love them. Connect with them. 

No matter where or how. 

Because our boys are dying…to be heard.

Live Streamimg

If you live in Charlotte, (or elsewhere…we will be live streaming from the The Red Boot Coalition Facebook page) please mark your calendars for Thursday July 21st from 6 to 7:30 pm EDT, at the Morrison Regional Library Auditorium in Charlotte, NC. (Near the Morrocroft Harris Teeter.)

The Red Boot Coalition is hosting a panel discussion with Q and A about how you and I can engage in ways that cultivate, foster and encourage connection between people…more specifically…how we can build bridges and engage productively and compassionately on conversations around race, religion and politics. 

The first thirty minutes, (after brief introductions) I will be leading folks in the room in an actual Red Boot Coalition meeting…for those of you who are interested to understand more about what and how we do…what we do!

If you feel you are a “novice” or somehow “not educated enough on these topics” or concerned you have ” little to contribute”…Please know this is what Red Boot is about. To speak without fear of judgment…to listen with an open heart. 

Thanks to Leslie Lomax Boyd, Ann Davant Crehore, Patricke Ward and Kenn Shrader for agreeing to serve on the panel. All have been trained as Red Boot Guides. 

I will be facilitating. 

All are welcome. Seating limited. We are almost to capacity now. 

Please RSVP to Info@theredbootcoalition.org

Getting Clear

For those of you interested in The Red Boot Coalition. 
Getting clear. 

The Red Boot Coalition isn’t about agreement on ISSUES…i.e. Gun control, presidential candidates, this policy or that…it’s about creating safe spaces for people to listen without an agenda…to be heard without an agenda. 

We’ve been at this long enough to realize that agreement on an issue isn’t always the goal nor is it possible. 

Our goal is to get beneath the issues and ideologies that perpetuate the “us and them” mindset so prevalent in the world today, and look to the human…the story…the humanity of another.

We don’t play to the “system” as it is. We, instead, create connection, foster community and cultivate leadership that unites people at that deeper level…that human level. 

Yeah. It’s radical and revolutionary. 

It’s also Love. 

If something about this resonates with you…email us at info@theredbootcoalition.org.

We’re Gonna Shift This Planet

“With the kind of feminine leadership that’s coming out of this organization, we are going to shift the planet. We are no longer a program. We are a movement.”
I want to share my remarks from the 20th anniversary celebration for Girls on the Run. The summit is happening now. Thanks to one of our councils for filming this.
Please know that sharing these kinds of things sometimes feels a little bit odd. It’s really more about the message…not the messenger.
And with all speeches…I speak from the heart and rarely with notes…as was the case in this instance.
Fortunately I like what came out and I think it’s very relevant to what’s happening in the world today.
The sound isn’t great…but just crank up your volume and listen in.
Again…Happy Birthday Girls on the Run. I love you and all those connected to your powerful impact.

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