I have been working and playing and dancing and crying in this space of listening and healing and holding people…my whole life. 

First with little girls in Girls on the Run. 

As time went on I learned quickly that big people need healing and holding and listening too. 

And here’s the thing. 

In all that listening and holding and loving I sometimes forget the people closest to me. I sometimes forget that peace begins at home. I sometimes forget to look my own two children in the eyes and say to them, “You matter to me and this world. I appreciate you for the human being you are.”

This has been a tumultuous week for so many. And when I read the news this morning I am again overcome with sorrow for what’s happening in Charlotte, Washington…our presidential election, the world. It feels messy and joyless and mean. 

I am learning though that to postpone joy…to infinitely carry the burden of all that sorrow with me, isn’t good for me or the people around me. I am learning that holding that space of sorrow or pain or anger doesn’t mean letting it get stuck…because tucked into all that yearning for love and being heard and mattering is also a yearning for joy. 

I am in Lancaster, PA and last night at an event I asked the audience the question I’ve come to love “How are you going to let people know they matter? Give me specifics.”

People began sharing…and then Eva raised her hand. Eva is four years old. She has cascading curls of brown and black hair, cherry-red cheeks and eyes that sparkle. I was surprised that she, at such a young age, understood my question. 

“What’s your name,” I asked. 

“Eva,” she said with a giggly smile on her face. 

“Eva, how are you going to let people know they matter?” 

Without skipping a beat, she said, “Be kind.”

We looked at each other for a long, long time. 

“Eva,” I asked. “What does being kind look like?”

“Giving hugs to people.”

Later that evening Maddie and I were talking and we decided that right now what the world needed was a little Joyful Girl Power. 

So…here you go. 

First, to my son, James Henry Barker, on your 21st birthday…I love you. You are joy incarnate. You are the man this world yearns for…loving, strong, peaceful and protective. I am crazy about you. 

To Eva…one day you will grow up and do great things because you are kind and you hug people. This is truth. Keep it simple. Just do that. 

To Maddie who thinks the world needs some Girl Power. I couldn’t agree more sister. So how about you and I and all the girls of this world get out there and do our thing.​