Thursday, September 17, 2009

Friday, April 24, 2009


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Fasting for Darfur

In my work in Rwanda one the most devastating issues is ignorance. Not of the Rwandan people, but of the world and its view of what is going on in East/Central Africa.

I go to Rwanda because this country chooses not to be identified by its genocide but by the strength and resilience of its people. The foundation I co-founded, Itafari focuses on partnerships with local Rwandan organizations that have hopes and dreams for themselves and their people. What better way to make a difference than to work with those in country who are transparent, ethical and passionate. It is good work.

But there is a grave issue that is not changing just north of Rwanda. A personal concern of mine has been Darfur in western Sudan and the genocide and atrocities taking place in that country. The world must not turn its back. This is not an African problem, but a human right's atrocity.

Mia Farrow has been an outspoken advocate for ending the violence and atrocities committed against women, children and all people in the Darfur region.

Prior to the Beijing Olympics, she tried to call attention to the part China was playing in the genocide through their support of weapons to the janjaweed (the Rwandan equivalent of the 1994 genocidaires). She called it the Genocide Olympics. If you find that deeply offensive, you've not seen the results of a genocide to the survivors, the families, the victims. It is indescribable the pain they bear. And often because the world chooses to turn its back. Politics appeared to eclipse human rights issues and again: Darfur was ignored.

Farrow's latest action is to fast for 21 days beginning April 27th. I have decided to fast as well. So join me, support me through messages and learn why increased action is necessary.

Do you think 21 days sounds like a long time? It's not, because in 21 days the fast will be over. If we don't do something to support the victims of Darfur, it will be another 21 years.

The Darfur Genocide: A Present Reality

A Ten Minute Overview of the conflict in Sudan:

We can do more.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Life’s Journey

  • 31 years ago my only goal was to be on the cover of Time Magazine.
  • 16 years ago I was in Russia working with business leaders.
  • 11 years ago Dead Rita was not dead, but was dying.
  • 5 years ago I didn't know the story of Rwanda.
  • 1 year ago there was no global thought that the world's economy was going to seriously tank.

And none of those things did I anticipate before they happened.

And so this is what I know: I know nothing for sure. But every action, every reaction, is a choice to what lies in front of me.

There are great victories going on in the world. There is tremendous human tragedy. But if we choose, if I choose, I will honor those and myself more by my action than my mere grief. I am comfortable in the belief that there is no parallel universe. No other path for me. No what ifs.

I think some of my belief system and general optimism is personality. But I strive to see a greater purpose in all of this. To learn, to grow, to have patience with myself and others, to laugh hard, to love, and to not fear the future.

Faith in God plays a key role in my ability to be stable in an unstable world. I frankly don't know how people manage life without a belief in a higher power. And if they don't, it's ok. I'm serious though, I don't know how they do it.

Some of this entry comes from the toughness I face in the world. But some of it is because tomorrow is Easter. For me, it is the most glorious of holidays. It is my hope of God's grace. And if He is there, I can do my part here. And I have no idea what that will be.

Happy Easter.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Takes One to Know One

Dead Rita's Wisdom is done. But my daughter in law just reminded me of a chapter I forgot. And it's about an expression Dead Rita used all the time. Whenever I said something to her about what I saw in her, she would say, "takes one to know one!" whether it was a positive comment on my part or not. SHE KNEW THE SECRET LONG BEFORE IT WAS THE SECRET!

So much is going on in the world. And so much is out of our control. I swear we must learn to hold on to what we know. And not forget that. And I often do. Not for long, but long enough to probably build up some plaque in my arteries. Just long enough for it to be a useless or worse, harmful exercise.

Surround yourself with people who demand the best from you. I was telling a friend that I have very few friends who have gotten divorced since I've been married for 27 years. (more family comes to mind than anything). But we were told 27 years ago by an Episcopal priest to surround ourselves with couples intent on being married. And not those who would give up at the first sign of trouble. And there's plenty of trouble in a marriage – I can attest to that. But by surrounding ourselves with couples who believe in strong relationships we have had that support and example for ourselves.

And dear Laura reminded me of this when I reminded her of how beautiful a spirit she has. And she said, "takes on to know one". How easy to reflect something when you know what it looks like.

Sign up to receive notice when the book comes out – it's going to be good.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Happy Birthday Dearest Dead Rita

She would have been 77 today. It's impossible to believe she's been gone 10 years. Right now 'You raise me up' is playing. That was what she did for me and those she loved.

But the song that best describes her is Bette Midler's 'The Wind Beneath My Wings'. When that song first came out, I gave it to her on a little cassette. I stood there just in awe that she would play a song that perfectly described who she was to me. While it might have been named Song of the Year in 1990, it was the song of my greatest love, my Mom. Wherever Bette Midler is at this moment, may she continue to sing songs that bring such love and meaning to others. Also, I'd like her to read Dead Rita's Wisdom. It's perfect for her – outrageous, funny, heartfelt and wise. Like I see Bette Midler. So if you know her, please make an introduction for me. And I just looked up her BD on IMDb. December 1. Frankly, if her BD had been the same as Mom's, I wouldn't have been able to handle it. But it's nice and close!

Here are words that to this day make me cry when I hear them:

It must have been cold there in my shadow,
to never have sunlight on your face.
You were content to let me shine, that's your way,
you always walked a step behind.

So I was the one with all the glory,
while you were the one with all the strength.
A beautiful face without a name -- for so long,
a beautiful smile to hide the pain.

Did you ever know that you're my hero,
and ev'rything I would like to be?
I can fly higher than an eagle,
'cause you are the wind beneath my wings.

It might have appeared to go unnoticed,
but I've got it all here in my heart.
I want you to know I know the truth, of course I know it,
I would be nothing without you.


Fly, fly, fly away,
you let me fly so high.
Oh, fly, fly,
so high against the sky, so high I almost touch the sky.
Thank you, thank you, thank God for you,
the wind beneath my wings.

Happy Birthday Mom – how I wish you were here so that I could make you a pineapple upside down cake and you could eat all the pineapple off the top. Loved it when you did that!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A thought of how we end 2008

Click to read a little Dead Rita Wisdom and some other thoughts. This was sent to clients and friends and it's truly for anyone looking for a way through this time. A thought of how we end 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008

I wish I could see what you see

It was always one of the things about Dead Rita that was so frustrating. She couldn't see herself clearly. She couldn't see the beauty, the wisdom, the strength that those of us who knew her saw in her. And when I would spend hours talking with her about who she was, and that she could do anything, she'd look at me and sadly say, "I wish I could see myself the way you see me. But I don't."

I thought I had that one under control. That I saw myself clearly. But in the last few days, and especially today, I realized, I don't. I am truly not believing what is possible – or what I've accomplished. And it's a shame. Because too much time is spent trying to overcome my OWN objections. Really frustrated, I decided to blog about this and then I thought about turning to a chapter in Dead Rita's Wisdom for some….wisdom! And the following is an excerpt of what I found just now that I had previously written in a moment of clarity in the Chapter titled "Yes, but":

After she died, I received a wonderful gift from her. I believe it is the last piece of wisdom I ever heard in her voice. It was in 2003, I was at a coaching retreat and had come to some realizations about who I truly was and what I could bring to the world. And it wasn't grand or grandiose, but it was life changing and very grounding for me. Knowledge brings peace – there was no euphoria, just a settling in my soul who I was. And as I sat journaling in this last day of the retreat, I was filled with a serenity and then I heard Dead Rita say to me, "Vic, you have just learned what I never knew: you have learned who you are and now no one will have to spend their lifetime trying to show you that – and no one will have the responsibility as you felt for me to try and get them to see their own innate skills and gifts."

If Dead Rita's Wisdom never hits the shelves, I'm good because it's real wisdom and it will used to help those who can benefit from it through me. (But I'm seriously up for a monster book tour!)

I forgot what I know. I have to reflect and remember and see myself as others see me. Not for better or worse (the way I usually head), but actually as who I am.

In my fears and frustration today, I continue to faithfully ask for signs and support. And they come not from an apparition of Dead Rita, but in the form of profound conversations – and wonderful friends, old and new, who touched my life today.

And I am truly thankful.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Well said

So I'm a little late posting my joy at our new President Elect. But after YEARS of pain, a few days is nothing. Last night we had an event for Itafari at the Hyatt in Bellevue WA. The students of Prof. John Bacon's marketing glass had a pay it forward for our organization….they KICKED it !! Over $21,000 raised with FEW expenses. Amazing. They named their organization IGNITE and they certainly did. There was a great mood in the room last night – an aura of hope. Something will change in this country and I'm happy to be watching it and play any part I can in it.

So here are my thoughts about our new President Elect. And they're not my thoughts but a dear friend who said it as well as I've heard. Julie Bonaduce – fabulous woman, tremendous friend, and creative as all GET OUT! Her are her words:

What a miraculous time to be alive.

The last 8 years have been an exercise in despair for me, and I allowed it harden into a nasty shell. But at the Democratic National Convention in 2004, the crust cracked. Just a little, but it cracked. The next day I got online and gave $100 to a freshman senator from Illinois. In the comments section of the contribution form, I did nothing short of beg him to be my president.

Obviously I don't take credit for his decision to run. In fact, I was certain his webmaster would find it odd - some loony chick in Oregon sending a hundred bucks to a practically unknown senator half a country away. But maybe there were a lot of us loonies online that day. And on a chilly February morning in Springfield, maybe there were even more of us who decided to take an active role in a political campaign for the first time in our lives. And perhaps there were still more of us who had been dealing with despair for a hellava lot longer than eight years, and who finally decided it was time to fulfill the Dream.

I can hardly wrap my head around the joy and pride that I feel. I'm happy to call myself an American again, but also feel a little ashamed for having let one man's politics of fear take that away from me. So thank you, America, for showing what you're really made of. And thank you to those of you on the other side with the grace and willingness to participate in the miracle, even if you don't necessarily agree with the politics of it. And to those of you who are angry and dealing with your own despair now, I understand. I genuinely hope that we can make it up to you, and maybe even win back a little of your confidence in the system by showing that this way can work, too. You might even find we can be better and stronger for it.

I'm proud to be an American. Not in that loud, strident country song kind of way. It's a deep, abidingly peaceful way that leads by example. I'm proud to be an American that will again be compassionate and trustworthy and willing to listen, particularly to those with whom we disagree. And I'm VERY proud to be an American that finally and truly begins to live the values set down in our constitution. Ya know, that little snippet about all men being created equal.

This is a good day. I hope we remember and continue to live up to it every subsequent day of our lives.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Darkest before the Dawn

Twice I watched my parents file bankruptcy. It was brutal for Dead Rita. Not so much for Mr. Papa. He lived as if everything would take care of itself. Was a huge risk taker and didn't plan for the future. He sold insurance and ironically bought none for Dead Rita so that when she had cancer, she had no insurance. For her, there was so much shame at failure. For him, more of a defiance. He was the fighter. I did love that about him. But it cost them everything as a couple.

I always believed as I watched Dead Rita suffer, that her priorities were not quite in place. But her reaction came from a life of embarrassment and fear. And so to lose everything was … everything. My perspective is different.

I am so thankful I was in Rwanda this last month. Even the bit of news I saw on the BBC or CNN when it came through on my TV, was difficult. I could get the news on my laptop, but was too busy to follow the day to day ups and downs. We have tried to protect our assets as much as possible but are also deeply affected by the worldwide financial crisis. Not easy, but not everything as it was to Dead Rita.

I have been given a perspective that is not unique, but certainly not common. It is not all about the bankruptcy of the material – it is so much more so about the bankruptcy of the spirit. And that of course is not lost. While Rwanda is a place of incredible growth and healing, it is also a place of loss and pain. The deaths of over one million people have brought suffering on the millions left behind. True loss. True hopelessness. With no chance to recovery – just the prayer of healing the loss. And to see that first hand reminds me of what is important and true and worth suffering for.

Whenever I get overwhelmed thinking about our financial future, a different future than I imagined just a month ago, I remember. We are not bankrupt. Of the financial and certainly not of the spirit. I control only ONE thing: my reaction to the present. And dear Dead Rita's Wisdom comes to mind: it's always darkest before the dawn.

It is darker in the world than it has been in a long time. We must remember the dawn is coming. And while life is changing, we have so much to be thankful for. I cannot tell you how remembering those words, which while not original to her, but coming from her, comfort me. Remember the wisdom from those you love or have lost, and be comforted.