Get back up. Begin again.-BrenŽ Brown
I'm a huge fan of watching graduation speeches, and BrenŽ Brown crushed hers to the class of 2020 at her alma mater, the University of Texas at Austin. As we begin a new year, I'll let her words give us the boost we need to face whatever comes our way in the days and months ahead:
"To get back up from a fall, to get back up from a setback, to get back up from what we're in right now, you have to acknowledge you're down, that you've fallen, failed, made a mistake. You have to be brave enough to acknowledge that you're hurting, that you're sad, disappointed, grieving, feeling shame; whatever feeling you're in, you have to own it. We cannot begin again when we're dragging unspoken and unexplored emotions behind us. We have to be brave and curious and to dig into the feelings of a fall."
BrenŽ goes on to say that her falls have taught her much more about who she is than any of her achievements have. Yes! Day one . . . five powerful words: Get back up. Begin again.
Don't take yourself seriously. We are here today, we are gone tomorrow, so enjoy every moment of your existence.
I swear you contract peacefulness when you sit across from Deepak Chopra. His sense of calm is absolutely contagious. When I interviewed the Metahuman author, I asked him how he was doing. "I'm totally at peace," he replied. I believed him! When we began to talk about his favorite quote, Deepak offered his own words: "Don't take yourself seriously. We are here today, we are gone tomorrow, so enjoy every moment of your existence." He advised maintaining perspective on social media, saying that no matter what you say, there are people who will criticize, troll, and attack you. If you're taking yourself too seriously, you'll be offended for the rest of your life. "We become biological robots, constantly being triggered by people and circumstances into predictable outcomes, and that's a terrible way to live; you're at the mercy of every stranger on the street." Instead, Deepak suggests we focus our lives on embracing joy, maximizing the power of love, and finding purpose and meaning in our existence. See? Ahhh. Don't you just feel at peace right now?
A parent's day:
50% preparing to go somewhere
49% preparing to leave somewhere
This is what it's like when our family decides to have a picnic in the park, a mere sixty yards from our house at the beach.
Step 1: Preparing for the picnic
Get the kids ready . . . find two matching shoes, and who has the sunscreen? "Honey, you have to have socks on." Then, "I'm hot!" Time to explain that a coat must be worn. Meantime, bag sandwiches, find mats to sit on, toys to entertain the kids, cram a wagon full of all the stuff.
Step 2: The picnic
No one's enjoying the picnic.
Step 3: Preparing to go home
Repack everything from step one while questioning why we ever went on a picnic.
Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.-Jim Ryun
I'm open to any ideas when it comes to breaking habits . . . snapping a rubber band on my wrist, dumping detergent on discarded sweets so I won't eat them, whatever. So, I was interested in what B. J. Fogg, author of Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything, had to say. His approach was simple. "You take a routine you already do, like putting on your pajamas, and you put the new habit right afterward." B.J. then said to reinforce the habit with an affirmation, like a fist pump along with the word "Awesome!" (He said emotions cement habits.) When I asked B.J. to help me be more present, he suggested that when I get home each day, I should put down my bag, plug in my phone, and leave it there. Fist pump; awesome. I was willing to try, considering Haley had recently asked for my phone to "check her emails." Ugh. Bottom line: I tried it, I liked it, I wouldn't call it a habit just yet. Anything you'd like to change? Do it, then say out loud: "Fist pump; awesome!"
Let me keep my distance, always, from those who think they have the answers. Let me keep company always with those who say "Look!" and laugh in astonishment, and bow their heads.-Mary Oliver
We certainly were keeping our distance from one another amid the COVID-19 crisis. Very few airline flights were up and running, so I loved how one Southwest Airlines flight attendant kept her sense of humor during such a turbulent time. A video shows her addressing the one passenger on board:
Flight attendant: "Welcome aboard, Bob."
Bob: "Thank you."
Upon landing, she told Bob to call his grandmother and tell her it was his best flight ever.
When I saw you I fell in love, and you smiled because you knew.-Arrigo Boito
Hearts everywhere burst at the image of an eighty-eight-year-old Massachusetts man in a bucket lift visiting his wife in a rehabilitation center closed to family members during the COVID-19 pandemic. Married for sixty-one years, Nick Avtges hadn't seen his beloved Marion for a month, so with the help of a tree company, he found a way up to her third floor. "They could have lifted me ten stories," he said, "and it would not have bothered me." Wearing a mask and gloves, Nick is seen standing in a white bucket outside Marion's window. During their twenty-minute chat, Nick revealed a sign that read "I Love You Sweetheart." His bride's response? "She said, 'I love you too, more than you know.'" Used to seeing each other every day, the two lovebirds were grateful to share time together. "He's been a very devoted husband," said the facility president. "He never missed a day." Oh my goodness. True love always finds a way!
You can call it the "Perfect Moment" when the universe aligns and the music in your head actually matches the music outside and all is well.-Hugh Elliot
I still can't believe this happened. Waiting in a greenroom at The Ellen DeGeneres Show, I was driving Laura and Mary crazy playing the same song over and over. They are the loveliest women who work hair and makeup magic, and I was torturing them with the repeat button. I couldn't help it! The song "Underdog" by Alicia Keys is simply awesome. It's like an anthem for anyone who's scraped and clawed their way to victory, and you can't help but pump your fist when it's playing. Here's the magic moment: as I was cranking Alicia Keys's song, I turned around and ALICIA KEYS was walking past the dressing room! Whaaaaaaaaaat????? I screamed her name and about passed out. How was this happening? She joined us and started singing along . . . with herself! I was hearing both the live and taped version of "Underdog"! Laura said, "I've worked at the Today show for twenty years. This is in my top five." Mine, too! Maybe a perfect moment is waiting for you today. Get ready!
When you learn, teach. When you get, give.
I've never gotten choked up over a doughnut. Doughnuts make me happy! But I teared up when Today aired a story about an act of kindness that unfolded for an Ohio bakery owner. Emilie Smith owns the Tremont Goodie Shop, which her grandfather opened in 1955. When the COVID-19 crisis forced her to close her shop to foot traffic, Emilie cut back on staff and relied on to-go orders. Like so many businesses, the bakery was struggling and Emilie was terrified she'd lose the treasure that had been in her family for three generations. As Emilie was working on payroll one day, a longtime customer called in an order for his favorite doughnut: custard with chocolate frosting. The regular-who wanted to remain anonymous-offered to pay $1,000 for the sweet treat, the bulk of his stimulus check. "I couldn't talk, I was crying," Emilie said. She posted a photo of an older man's hand holding the packaged doughnut, a little red heart drawn on the bag. When you get, give. Even just a little.
Blessed are the curious, for they shall have adventures.
At home, we have a whiteboard to write down for Haley what we've got planned for the day. I always include "go on an adventure," even if it's the simplest of tasks, like our walks to CVS. "Okay, Haley, the first stop on our adventure is going to a drugstore. Where is one?" She'll look around intently-"I know, I know!"-excited to be part of Team Adventure. "Haley," I'll say, "the next part of our adventure is finding a dog," and of course there are a million in New York walking around. "I see one!" she'll say, delighted. If we're stuck inside, I'll post a "Funny Walk Zone" in the hall. Now we can have a brief adventure acting silly, bopping across five feet of hallway. I still catch myself rushing her around to get things done, but I do make an effort to turn the mundane into a memorable moment as often as possible. A kid's imagination is bigger than any adventure we can take them on, so I do my best to spark Haley's and just let her roll.
Everything worth doing starts with being scared.
US astronaut Christina Koch spent 328 days on the International Space Station, setting a record as the first woman to spend nearly a year in orbit. The video of her we ran on Today showed her beaming face atop the space capsule after returning to Earth. Her joy was unbridled! She'd completed the mission, she'd realized her childhood dream of becoming an astronaut, and . . . she was home. "Within the first two minutes of being back on Earth I saw more people's faces than I'd seen in a year," she said. Welcome back, Christina! Her advice to us all: do what scares you and go after things that seem like they're out of reach.
(On a lighter note, Savannah Guthrie asked all of us on set what our first meal back from space would be.
Craig Melvin: Steak and my mom's mac n' cheese.
Al Roker: A big bowl of ice cream.
Me: Fried chicken and mashed potatoes.)
What's broken can be mended. What hurts can be healed. And no matter how dark it gets, the sun is going to rise again.
I love the sun. My phone is filled with photos of the golden beauty rising, setting, and sparkling on turquoise ocean water. So, when I read about a song selected by a New York hospital to celebrate patients who'd recovered from COVID-19, I thought, Perfect. During the coronavirus crisis, weary hospital staff agreed that a feel-good song could lift everyone's spirits if it was blasted over the loudspeakers whenever a patient was taken off a ventilator or discharged. Someone with a very bright idea suggested the Beatles song "Here Comes the Sun." From that day forward, whenever a patient was extubated or released, a nurse would call the operator and say, "Code Sun." The uplifting music would then waft through the hospital, alerting both patients and staff of a win. The hospital reported twelve "Code Suns" in one day, which warmed hearts and provided a much-needed ray of hope.
Be the best
As we try to stick to our New Year's resolutions, this quote may serve as a motivator. Olympic superstar Simone Biles shared with me on Today that her mother, Nellie, raised her to "be the best Simone" she could be-the best version of herself. "I tried to be other people because I looked up to them," Simone explained, "but as I got older I thought, If I can be the best version of myself, then everybody gets that version, so we all win in the end." If you've wondered what must be going through Simone's mind before she competes, it's this very advice from her mom! Hmm . . . if that phrase can help Simone nail a double backflip with three twists, surely we, too, can be the best versions of ourselves today.
Every time a child is born, the world is renewed in innocence.-Boyd K. Packer
One of the best things about children is how simply they see the world and everyone in theirs. Country music superstar Carrie Underwood got a glimpse of how her four-year-old son sees her when he came home from preschool one day. On Instagram, she posted little Isaiah's worksheet titled "All About My Mom." He was asked to fill in the blanks for various questions about Carrie: I think my mom is 70 years old. My mom's job is wash the laundry. My mom is really good at folding laundry.
Hilarious! I love this because while we all know Carrie as a global celebrity, her little boy just sees and loves her as Mom. Pure, sweet love. (Hey, Carrie-since you're so good at folding laundry, c'mon over sometime!)
Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change.
Sure, social media has its negatives, but there are also so many beautiful stories about how it can be used to solve problems. During the coronavirus pandemic, a scared doctor's wife posted a request on Facebook, which led to an amazing solution for more than just her family. Emily Phillips was concerned about the potential deadly consequences of living with her physician husband as he treated COVID-19 patients. Their newborn, and she and her eight-year-old son, both asthma sufferers, were at great risk. When Emily's mother suggested she search for a mobile home to park in the driveway, she reached out on Facebook. Not only was Emily offered an RV, a group was formed online called RVs 4 MDs. Across the nation, spare mobile homes were matched with health care workers who needed to live separately from their loved ones. The images on Facebook were beautiful-grateful doctors, nurses, and paramedics holding thank-you signs and posting videos sharing their immense gratitude. What a clever and caring solution. That's how Americans roll!
Sharing a bit of yourself, opening a window into your own world, is a good place to begin.-Jeff Greenwald
I wasn't surprised by the emojis people chose to share most often during the pandemic. They truly reflected the wild swing of emotions we all were experiencing. An organization called Emojipedia tracked the most popular emojis selected during April 2020. Here are the top five: