Hiking, Stephen Colbert, and the Importance of Celebration

Each day holds a surprise. But only if we expect it can we see, hear, or feel it when it comes to us. Let’s not be afraid to receive each day’s surprise, whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy It will open a new place in our hearts, a place where we can welcome new friends and celebrate more fully our shared humanity. 
Henri Nouwen


I woke up this past Saturday morning delighted to find a text from my Dad inviting me to join him for a long hike at Percy Warner Park followed by breakfast.   Despite having planned out my precious Saturday with a to-do list a mile long, I rolled over in bed after reading the text, thought about the generous offer, played a little pro/con, and jolted out of bed to suit up for the hike.  There was little debate in my mind as it’s not often you get to spend a whole morning on the magical trails of Percy Warner with such a wise, kind-hearted man as my Father.  This is the stuff of father-daughter date platinum dipped gold.


I’ve always thought the best conversations happened while walking.  I don’t know what it is.  Maybe the flow of endorphins or the scenery or the overachiever in me that likes to kill two birds with one stone.  Whatever the case, I love conversations on the trail, especially with Gerrit.


We talk about everything: history, family, work, music, God, and ideas—especially ideas. We’re both big picture people who are easily excitable when it comes to new ideas and figuring out ways to propel them forward.  I discovered the importance of having a strong vision for life from him, a consummate dreamer and visionary.  For this I’m grateful.

Power Chord

Something my Dad shared with me really struck a resounding power chord in my heart.  I asked what advice he would offer his 25 year-old self now if he could.  He said, “I’d encourage him to value relationships far more than ideas.”  That leveled me pretty hard.  SO  good.


I’ve been mulling this over for almost a week now as it’s unlocked something curious inside me.  This relates to you too, so don’t bail on me.  We tend to run on a vicious treadmill of contingency living.  By this I mean we live on the verge of happiness as it’s always contingent on the next milestone or achievement we’re after we think will provide some level of satisfaction or contentment.


You know the drill: once I lose weight, or make more money, or meet someone special, then I’ll be okay.  Yet a bigger, sexier carrot always seems to dangle ten feet after we’ve achieved our goal.  Often times I’ll get these great ideas (or so I perceive them to be) only to cross their threshold and be left in the dust wanting more.  This drug-like promise of “more, more, more” can be so seductive we often forget or abandon the most life-giving things in life: relationships.


If there is anything I’m convinced of it is the power of our desire.  I want so many things for myself and for other people in this life it can feel overwhelming at times,  stealing my focus and energy from that which all this desire is meant to prop up: thriving connection with others.  We must identify the defining line between living freely out of our desires and being enslaved to a twisted version of them.

Dinner Party

Let’s be honest.  We all secretly want to be our own version of Stephen Colbert, right?  He’s so stinking funny, smiley, charming, successful, witty, and annoyingly energetic.  Does the man ever wake up on the wrong side of the bed with a bad attitude? And what kind of vitamins does he shovel in each morning, pray tell!?  If I had a dinner party and could invite anyone in the world to be there, he’d surely be there along withBono, Ellen DeGeneres, my husband, Richard Rohr, Oprah, Jesus and Audrey Hepburn (in no particular order, of course.)


If I boil it all down, Stephen Colbert inspires me to laugh more, succeed without taking myself too seriously, and live in the moment.  This brings me to my question for us today: how can we fully love life right now? Not tomorrow, not when we figure it all out, not when we “arrive” at our ideal destination.  How can we desire and dream from a place of abundance instead of lack?  How do we long for more and stay tethered to the beauty and fullness of now?  I’ve got a few ideas I’ve been rolling around…


Meraki is a Greek word that means “to do something with soul, creativity or love; as you would when you leave a piece of yourself in your work.”  I just discovered this word and LOVE it.  I remember training as a sous chef in a little local wine bar back in the day.  Hernon, the head chef, is Argentinian and made cooking a simple marinara sauce look like a sacred, sensual dance with tomatoes.  Imagine the Waltz of the Sugar Plum Fairies in the Nutcracker only savory and Spanish.  Hernon did not simply cook, he sifted in a heavy dose of his heart and soul into each and every dish.  He was dripping with Meraki and his food proved it time and time again.


We must learn how to fully engage and celebrate the tiny slivers of good throughout our day.  This is more than gratitude, this is Meraki and it’s oozing with a soulful flavor only you can bring to the present moment.  Have you ever noticed how easy it is to live in a constant state of “out there”, or future-based thinking?  In my observation, we slip into this behavior like a well-worn pair of jeans.  It takes us away from the simple celebration of now.


If we don’t celebrate well, we become hard-hearted, cynical, and often burn out.  This week, bring your whole heart into every moment, despite what you’re doing.  Be velcro for good news and positivity, not only receiving it, but stopping to celebrate it, and thus, sealing it in.  Practice laughing and smiling more.  We are maxed out on serious, folks.


I don’t know about you, but what motivates so much of my daily energy, choice, and action is simply to create more opportunity for joy in my own experience as well as others.  Sometimes I forget that joy is everywhere—it’s there for the taking! I simply need to slow down and faithfully tap into it, like charging an iPhone or something.  When we’re charged, we connect to so much more.  This joy is contagious, I swear.  So go forth and celebrate: the small, the beautiful, the weird, the unexpected.  Meraki with abandon and leave that authentic, soulful mark that only you can leave.

Love & Gratitude,