Machu Picchu. Bucket List.

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Bucket List.

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

Not sure why it’s taken me so long to publish this post, but it has.  Some might call it lazy, but lazy I’m not.  Some might say, I was too busy to focus on it. But if the truth be known, I was not too busy; I was just a procrastinator. In any event, here we go!

A few months ago, I was watching a segment of Sunday 60 Minutes called, the Children’s Village. I was touched by the humanity of India Howell and her business partner, Peter Leon Massy.  Their love of and desire to help children was heart-touching. It also reminded me of my recent adventure in Peru.

Machu Picchu. Bucket List.

Machu Picchu was never on my bucket list.  No, I was not jumping for joy at the opportunity to travel 12,000 feet above sea level—in hiking boots.  I mean the truth is, I’m a high heel kind of girl—5 inches high, I might add.  Yet, much to my surprise, when given the chance to journey to Peru in July, I was willing and able to show up.  That’s how life works. When we are open to the endless possibilities presented to us, we get so much more than we planned. At least that’s my experience.

12,000 Feet Above Sea Level.

Because I had never ventured to such a high altitude, I was a bit concerned. So, I prepared myself for the journey. I spoke with several friends who had trekked up the mountain, and had a conversation with my doctor about appropriate actions to take.  But the interesting and most telling thing is that I took the suggestions offered to me. What a novel concept. That single action allowed me to avoid the sickness often visited upon high altitude hikers.

First Class Travel, not so shabby!

The actual flight to Peru was delightful. Because I travel a lot, I’m an elite flyer on American Airlines and a lifetime member of the Admirals Club. Being an Executive Platinum has its perks, and there is something to be said for first class accommodations.  It makes a difference. So even though I arrived into Cusco at 5am Sunday morning, I felt rested.

The Bread House.

But the real fun began on Monday, which was our humanitarian day.  We left Cusco at 6am headed for the Azul Wasi Orphanage.  But let me step back. On the way to the orphanage, we stopped by a bread house.  Peru is a relatively poor country, so folks make money in whatever way they can.  Many bake and sell bread in their homes, hence bread house. The bread was so delicious that I took several wheel-shaped loaves home.  Perhaps because I love bread, but also because it was my small way of supporting the economy in this poor village. Three months later, I’m still eating bread.

Azul Wasi Orphanage.

From the time we arrived at the orphanage, I felt like I was steeped into a magical experience.  Nineteen kids greeted my small group with bear hugs and kisses. Wow! What a sweet and pleasant surprise.  They were so happy to see us, and made sure we knew it.  From that moment until we left the orphanage hours later, my heart was cracked wide open. Had I returned to San Francisco after that day, I would have felt fulfilled.  But there was more to come.  It was the start of an affair to remember.

On one hand, being with the kids was joyful. But on the other hand, it was sad. For most of these children, being at this orphanage was a place filled with more love than they have ever known.  Most of them had lived on the streets since they were barely able to walk. Their ages ranged from 3 to 19-years old, yet you could see in their little faces that they were old beyond their years.  Drugs, alcohol, and the streets were all some of them knew.  It was sad to hear their stories, and for the most part, we couldn’t discuss it with them. The memories were too fresh and painful.

I, more than anyone in my group, understood their plight. While not an orphan, my childhood was lost to drugs, alcohol, and a sordid lifestyle.  I lived homeless on the streets of New York at 18 surviving in whatever way I could.  I know all too well what one must do to survive.  Yet, I was granted a reprieve, an opportunity to turn the tide. There were angels in my midst.  So for me, this trip was not just a trip to Peru, but one more opportunity for me to say thank you and give back. And as in my life, there was an angel for these kids, and his name was Alcides.

A police chief for 30-years, he got tired of seeing these street kids come through his station. So he saved and saved and vowed when he retired from the police force, he would buy land and build a place where these kids could come live, grow, get an education, and become productive members of society.  A place where they could feel safe and loved.  Alcides has obviously succeeded, as evidence by the fact that while the kids are free to leave at any time, not one has chosen to do so.  How lucky they are and how blessed I was to get to speak with Alcides.

Sacred Valley. Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu.

The next day we were off to the Sacred Valley, and then Machu Picchu. What I can say most about the Sacred Valley and then Machu Picchu is how awestruck I was with what the Incas accomplished. We often like to think we are superior to other people and cultures. Yet, when one is able to witness firsthand what these courageous people created, we think twice about our assumption that we are better than most. Like the Romans, the Incas built structures that are still standing.

The most exhilarating part of the Machu Picchu day trip was that I became willing to do something I was afraid to do.  In anticipation of a bumpy upward climb, I gave myself permission not to go to the top. Once there, I allowed myself to take one baby step at a time, and before I knew it, I was on top. Being atop Machu Picchu was wonderful, but being willing to get there was awesome!

Someone asked, what was my favorite part of the trip? My answer was – the entire trip!  From the first day at the orphanage with the kids, to interviewing Alcides, to interviewing two of the children (Alfredo and Dante), to visiting a bread house, to visiting the Sacred Valley, to climbing Machu Picchu, every step of the way was a piece of the puzzle that made for a beautiful picture.  The final piece, bringing the puzzle all together, was the group itself.  I went to Peru, primarily, to support a friend’s charity (Legacies in Motion), engage in humanitarian work, and visit one of the NEW 7 wonders of the world. What I got was so much more. Yes, the actual act of climbing Machu Picchu was awe inspiring, but what impacted me was the fact that I was even willing to go.

A Life Filled With Endless Possibilities.

Today my life is filled with endless possibilities, and I am grateful to be alive and fully present enough to participate in this, my journey.  There was a time when I sat on the sidelines judging those who showed up for life.  People who, even if afraid, had the courage to take risks, go for their dreams, and possibly fail.  I was always afraid to fail, so I made safe choices.  Making safe choices keeps you protected and out of harm’s way, but also keeps you and your life small.

After 37 years of trying new things, I take a stand for those who are courageous enough to show up for their lives, try new things, meet new people, and live a life of limitless expansion. Life is so short; don’t waste it. Before you now it, it’s over.

Here’s to you!   Feel free to subscribe to my newsletter

 

 

Chris Borland. 49ers. Self esteem.

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Chris Borland. 49ers. Self esteem.

Self esteem.

Self esteem.

Self Esteem Comes from DOING Esteemable Acts, and it’s an Esteemable Acts to have the courage to make tough choices.

How many people, yet alone a 24-year-old, would walk away from a multi-million dollar NFL contract and the opportunity to make much more in the future? I bet not most folks.  Yet, that’s what San Francisco 49ers linebacker Chris Borland did on Monday.  Self esteem comes from doing Esteemable Acts. Amazing!

Chris Borland just completed his rookie season for the 49ers, when he announced that he was retiring from pro football. His reason: mental health and physical wellbeing.  He chose not to be one of the many NFL casualties, who suffered long-term repetitive head trauma due to concussions.  Head trauma and its severe consequences is not new to football, but of late, the issue has become more public.  And, a few young athletes have made the choice to walk away, rather than live life like a vegetable.  Chris Borland is walking away from a lucrative four-year contract, with the 49ers, worth about $3 million, which includes a $617,436 signing bonus.  Some call him crazy; I call him courageous and smart.  Self-esteem comes from doing Esteemable Acts.

Head injuries and the NFL.

Repetitive head injuries have become a major concern for the NFL over the past several years. Many ex-NFL players are suffering from chronic long-term neurological problems as result of concussions and head trauma they suffered during their careers.  Everyone knows this is a problem, yet money is more powerful than common sense.  In fact, how can any thinking person say if you repeatedly get banged in the head that you will not suffer severe injuries?  According to a PBS report from 2014, 76 of 79 deceased NFL players were found to have some form of “brain disease.” In 2013, the NFL settled a $765 million class action lawsuit brought on by ex-players who said they suffer from illnesses due to head trauma. The suit alleged that the NFL covered up the long-term effects of head injuries.

Chris Borland said he began having doubts about his NFL future after what he believes was a concussion he suffered during his rookie training camp. He played through the injury because he was trying to make the team. Borland told ESPN, “I just thought to myself, ‘What am I doing? Is this how I’m going to live my adult life, banging my head, especially with what I’ve learned and know about the dangers?” It was after consulting with concussion researchers and former NFL players and discussing his concerns with his family, he came to the decision to retire.

And what a gentleman, he has decided to repay the 49ers part of his salary.

Money vs. Health and Well-being?

How much money is a person’s long-term health worth? Would you risk debilitating illness for your entire life for a chance to make millions of dollars?

Feel free to join my conversation on FacebookFacebook Esteemableacts Fan Page, or my Facebook Law Page, you can also interact with me on my Twitter Esteemable Acts pageTwitter Law Page, or on LinkedIn

 

Golden Gate Bridge. Suicide. Suicide Hotline. $76 Million on a Net.

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Golden Gate Bridge. Suicide.

Golden Gate Bridge. Suicide.

Golden Gate Bridge. Suicide.

The Golden Gate Bridge caused 46 suicides in 2014. Or at least, that is what the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District board would have you believe. They voted on Friday, June 27, 2014 to approve a $76 million project to install a safety net on both sides of the Golden Gate Bridge. Why? Apparently to avert suicide. (How ironic, considering the economic opposition to a high speed rail through California, yet $76 million for a net is okay). Am I dreaming or what? In a state that screams poverty, because we do not have enough funds to provide services to those in need, we dare spend $76-million on a suicide net. Not $76 or even $7,600, but $76 million dollars to build a net around the Golden Gate Bridge, ostensibly to prevent suicide. Why not spend some of that money to beef up the suicide hotline, or seriously address the mental health (including substance abuse) issues.

It’s reported that $27 million would come from the federal Surface Transportation Program, $22 million from the federal Local Highway Bridge Program, $20 million from its own reserves, and $7 million from California Mental Health Service Act money.

Suicide. Suicide Hotline. Golden Gate Bridge.

The District’s general manager, Dennis Mulligan said, “People committing suicide by jumping from the bridge has been a problem for many years… in 2013, 46 people committed suicide on the bridge.”

The irony is that the Bridge District members, who unanimously approved this measure, obviously believe the bridge cause suicides. Anyone who has lost a loved one to suicide knows, where there is a will there is a way.  If someone really wants to take their life–they will. If they can’t jump off the Golden Gate Bridge, they will go to the Bay Bridge, or the Dumbarton Bridge, or the San Mateo Bridge, or the Benicia Bridge, or any number of other bridges in the Bay Area. And if they really want to take their life and no bridge is available, they will find a more immediate and lethal option. I personally know that all too well.

Instead of spending $76 million to build a net around the Golden Gate Bridge, why not spend some of that money of health care provisions and counseling for those who want to commit suicide? Or why not invest in changing the conditions that drive people to want to commit suicide?  Invest in a suicide hotline. Make the suicide hotline a truly valuable resource. The issue is not the bridge.

What do you think? Join the conversation on one of my Facebook Pages, Twitter Pages, Google+ Circles, or in a LinkedIn Group.

 

 

Self-esteem. Wendy Williams Show. Terry O’Quinn. I love you.

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Wendy Williams Show. Terry O’Quinn. I Love You.

I love you.

I love you.

In a recent interview on the Wendy Williams Show, Terry O’Quinn of Lost and 666 Park Avenue fame (and an upcoming new show Gang Related) made a statement that compelled me to write this post. He said,

“At least once a day, we should have someone say to us, I love you.” He continued,

“We should never go a day without hearing the words, I love you.”

Self-esteem comes from doing Esteemable Acts, and it’s an Esteemable Act to tell someone you love them.

I love You. Self esteem.

I thought to myself, OMG, how awesome. How sweet it would be to have someone say genuinely that they love me every single day. Then in my next breathe I thought, but I do. Richard tells me every day how much he loves me. And, since I believe love is really an action word, not a static noun, I also know that Mango and Kiwi show me every day how much they care. Sleeping with me, letting me pet them, rubbing their bodies against my face, letting me take pictures of them, keeping me company when I feel sad, looking me in the face with a sweet meow, and purring whenever I touch them. Those are just little ways they say to me, “Mom, I love you.”

Esteemable Acts.

Because of Terry O’Quinn’s statement, I took my thinking one step further and asked myself, who did I say I loved today? So after I post this blog entry, I will let 10 people that I truly love know that I truly love them. What about you? Have you heard I love you today? Did it come from their heart? Have you told someone that you love them, and been truthful about it?

Who can you say I love you to today and really mean it? I invite you to call email, text, or communicate in any way you desire how much you love someone. I challenge you to find 5 people and do it.

Let me hear your thoughts? Share them on my Esteemable Acts Facebook Page, my Esteemable acts Twitter Page or in one of my LinkedIn Groups. For now, I am Francine Ward doing my part to create a better world—just for today.

 

Just for Today. Daily Meditation. Motivational Quotes.

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Just for Today.

I love motivational quotes. There is something magical and effective about inserting positive thoughts into the brain.

Just for Today. Motivational Quotes.

Just for Today. Motivational Quotes.

Many years ago I discovered a little tool called, Just for Today. It listed several simple, yet profound affirmative statements for living a happy, joyFilled, productive, and healthy life.  This morning during my daily meditation I was awakened to the affirmation that says:

Just for Today, I will try to strengthen my mind. I will study. I will learn something useful. I will not be a mental loafer. I will read something that requires effort, thought and concentration.

This short and “seemingly” useless statement has guided my actions for over 34 years.  When I was a young girl of less than 14, I read a lot. My mom was a librarian, so we had lots of books around the house. But I read to escape the pain of growing up ME—not to learn.  Today, I read and study to strengthen my mind and to learn. I am open to novel opportunities, fresh possibilities, and a world I have never known.  Not only do I have to secure a required number of continuing legal education credits (CLE) to maintain my 3 law licences, but I also study other things just to learn, e.g., I take classes, read articles, listen to audios, and go to the museum.

People ask, “Francine with your work and travel schedule, a husband, and extensive volunteer commitments, how do you have time to study?”

My answer is always the same, “I make time, because learning and education are important to me.

Today it feels good to strengthen my mind and learn something new and useful.  I was a mental loafer—I did just enough to get by and never pushed myself in any way.  Just for today, that is not my experience.

What one thing will you do today to strengthen your mind, which requires effort, thought and concentration? I’m Francine Ward, Author, Speaker, Attorney encouraging you to stretch far beyond your comfort zone—just for today!  Visit me on my Esteemable Acts Facebook fan Page, Esteemable Acts Twitter Page, or join the conversation in one of my Linkedin Groups.