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As I sit here looking out my office window at a beautiful Salt Lake City, Utah blue sky I can't help but smile. Life is such a marvelous and wonderful gift, and every day that we are alive is a new chance to create a powerful future. As we say in my non-profit organization, The Athlete Outreach Project, "there is always hope."
Yet even as I smile, I cannot help but sigh at the tragedies and darkness that fills this world. As a former journalist I know only too well the number of wars and conflicts that rage around the globe. I just spoke at a suicide prevention event and often study the statistics surrounding those struggling with mental illness. I have participated in countless cancer research fundraisers and visited cancer patients in the hospital on several occasions. I have seen marriages fall apart due to infidelity, abuse or just plain apathy. I have seen lives destroyed through the use of drugs or other addictive substances. I have visited with youth incarcerated for foolish choices and helped save at least one life from ending through an eating disorder.
Even as I write this I'm mentally reviewing the tough circumstances that so many in my own life face. I have one friend who survived a potentially fatal car accident only to have her ex-husband force her and her daughters out of their old home and onto the streets. I have another friend who just got out of the hospital after some major surgeries. I could go on and on and so could you, and that doesn't even include all the struggles we have in our own lives.
As a dear friend of mine reminded me this week, "We all get tired, we all get discouraged, and we all have days where we want to give up. But we can't. Life is too amazing. And we are not alone in it."
Growing up in Oklahoma, America’s Midwest, I saw firsthand the results of Mother Nature’s terrible might when tornadoes touched down. Entire neighborhoods were leveled, swathes of landscape flattened and lives were upended. Even as a child, while I lived in fear of these awesome and powerful monstrosities, I could appreciate the way their power was formed…by air.
Because, when you think about it, what are tornadoes but collections of air that rushes forth?
Over the past few months I have listened to dear friends tell me of the tornadoes in their lives. These tornadoes have leveled their confidence, flattened their joys and upended their hearts. But these tornadoes have not been like those I saw in Oklahoma; no, the tornadoes they spoke of were the words and actions of those around them who used the air that rushed forth from their mouths to hurt, to judge, to criticize, to gossip and to belittle.