Your Inaugural Moment

Like many of you, I watched the inauguration this morning with one ear tuned to the television, where our new President was giving his speech, and one ear tuned to the torrent of rain outside my window that was slowly turning my backyard into a lake. While everyone has a different interpretation of what was said and done and meant during the ceremony, I can’t stop thinking about the word “inauguration” itself. According to Merrium Webster, the definition of the word inaugurate is “to bring about the beginning of.” To begin, to commence, to start, to initiate.

Right now, we’re at the start of a new Presidential term and the beginning of a brand new year, both of which have been the topics of much speculation. Yet, at this exact moment in time, you are also reading a new sentence, thinking a new thought, taking a new breath, and enjoying a new moment composed of an entirely new combination of sights, sounds and circumstances.

This reminds me that, in life, whether we’re a Commander-In-Chief or a concerned citizen, we are constantly asked to begin again. And again. And again.

Every time we fall down, we must summon our strength and rise back up. Every time we have our hearts broken, we must mend ourselves and love again. Every time we have a failure or a disappointment or a setback, we must dust off our pride and keep moving in the direction of our dreams.

Each new dawn, each new breath, each new moment is an inauguration, a beginning. And, just like our President, this inauguration requires an oath; it asks us to make a solemn promise—to ourselves--as to how we’re going to live our lives, where we’re going to pledge our allegiance, our service, our love. Where we’re going to invest our time, our energy, our own humanity.

The word inaugurate comes from the Latin word “augur,” which means two things:

1. “To give promise of.” 
Trump stood up in front of the world this morning and made this promise: “I will fight for you with every breath in my body, and I will never, ever let you down.”

And as we wait to see how he will interpret and enact that promise, the real question is: what do we want to fight for? What do we want to lend our voice, our breath, our very being, to? What promise are we fulfilling, both for ourselves and for the world, in every moment, with every action that we take?

2. “To predict the future.” 
While we certainly cannot predict the exact effect that our choices will have, one thing that we know for certain is that the actions that we take today will, in fact, shape our tomorrow. They will add up to the future—and the world—that we create for ourselves. So it’s imperative that we put our time and energy into actions and causes that matter to us and that create more of what we want to see in the world: kindness, fairness, love, hope, truth, equality, compassion, justice, peace.

I urge you to make this Inauguration Day, this Inaugural moment, your own.

Home of the Brave

The morning of the election, I said a prayer and set an intention that our country would elect the leader that it needed. Someone who would make us a kinder, more inclusive, more loving, more UNITED States. In my mind, I thought that Hillary was the clear choice for that. And just like many of you, I woke up the next morning scared for our country and for all the freedoms and liberties that we’ve fought so hard for over the course of our history. But underneath the fear, I felt this deep stirring in me: a call to take action, to spread as much love and kindness and compassion in my little corner of the world as possible, to shine my light even more brightly in the face of darkness, ignorance, hatred and fear.

Then, I started seeing all the lights turn on around me. Friends, neighbors, and loved ones were picking up their lanterns and holding them high. They were signing petitions, writing to their elected officials, organizing peaceful protests, performing intentional acts of kindness, and coming together as a community to talk about their hopes and fears in a way that I’ve never seen before.

For so long, we’ve relied on our elected officials to be the ones to take action on important issues and create meaningful change. For many of us, the most involved we’ve been, up until now, was showing up on election day and voting. We’ve become detached from the real democratic process. We’ve stopped being active participants. In leaving change squarely in the hands of our politicians, we’ve forgotten our own power to transform the world around us. And in handing over the podium, we’ve forgotten to use our own voices.

We’ve been giving away our power, one ballot at a time, and this election has reminded us that it’s time to take it back. It’s time for us to get involved, not just on a political level, but on a personal one, starting in our own homes and our communities. Our forefathers envisioned a government “of the people, for the people and by the people.” The question now is: what else can be done BY us? What change wants to be created through us?

The election may be over, but the democratic process isn’t. We still have a vote. We vote with every word that we speak and every action that we take. We vote when we stand up against injustice, give love to someone who’s been abused or ignored, or extend an olive branch to a neighbor who doesn’t see things the same way we do. We vote when we show love, kindness, acceptance, compassion, grace, patience and understanding. We vote by having the courage to show up in the world as our most authentic selves and let our hearts be seen and our voices be heard.

I’ve heard people say that our country has been “scammed” by Donald Trump, but I refuse to see us as victims. I choose, instead, to see us as victors, capable of conquering hatred, intolerance, injustice and fear. We can give up, or we can stand up for what is right. We can use our VOICES and the power of our CHOICES to make a difference.

Maybe my prayer—and our collective prayer—has been answered in the most unexpected way. Maybe Trump is the leader that we needed—to galvanize us into action and force us to get involved and take back our democracy.

It’s going to take a lot of effort and courage. But remember: We aren’t just the land of the free. We’re also the home of the brave.