Power of Words - My Meeting Cheryl Strayed


As promised, I am trying to write a blog on a weekly basis.  This week, I want to focus on the meeting of someone I truly admire and have been inspired by her words and actions, author, Cheryl Strayed. 

Earlier this week, I attended a fundraiser breakfast for Youth Eastside Services. I was happy to support this organization who work with troubled youth and I was excited to hear the program’s keynote speaker, Cheryl Strayed, author of the book, Wild.  Before Cheryl spoke, six other people involved with the organization spoke about their personal experiences with addiction. When Cheryl spoke, I expected she would give us pearls of wisdom and a map to live by, but what she offered us was even more valuable. She, and the speakers before her stood vulnerable to a huge room and offered raw details of their lowest points in life. No one lectured, no one preached, they just stood exposed and spoke their truth. Witnessing their personal omissions was an honor as the whole room softened.

 As I listened to Cheryl up at the podium, I could feel the power of her words spread like a blanket of love across the room and I was in awe of how one person’s ability to be raw and honest could impact so many. Although not everyone in the room related to the stories told about addiction, everyone in the room related to human struggle, the need to find one’s own strength and the power of love.

 It is a tough time in the world today. We’re moving at such a fast pace, connected to our electronics, that it is hard to notice all the bleeding hearts around us including our own. I took away many important reminders from the program that I hope to apply to my life. I call these reminders because I believe so much lies within us, our own pearls of wisdom, our map to live by, we just need to tap into them.

1.     If you dare to speak your truth, risk being vulnerable, you can touch people who are suffering inside and afraid to speak up. Many of us hold our truth inside were it is protected from judgement and ridicule. Understandable, yes but we can only help one another with honesty.

2.     Be as loving as you can.   As Cheryl Strayed spoke, I watched the faces of the people in the room and you could feel loving nature touching so many as they started their day. Yet, she appeared no different than anyone else, she did not stand with a secret love wand nor do I believe she was born with a greater ability to love. She allowed herself to open up to love to her fullest potential. It was powerful.

3.     We are all responsible. Recently, I heard Marianne Williamson speak about the need to all work together for the power of the whole. She referenced the body and the need for all its cells to work towards the health of the body, but when one cell ventures off on it own we call that cancer (Really though?). As each speaker spoke this morning, it became apparent the epidemic our youth are experiencing, anxiety, depression and fear occupy their minds. They are all our children, our future, our responsibility. For the good of the whole, there are many simple ways to impact our communities. Ask a young person how they are doing and really listen. Compliment total strangers and don’t take their action lightly, “Great latte, thanks for making it.” Don’t assume they don’t want to hear it or it is not necessary, the world is tough, support and show gratitude whenever you can.

The program reminded me to put all judgement aside, so I can reach out to someone on the wrong path and be received with love. Judgement closes the door, love opens it and allows the ability to save someone. It reminded me that no one does it alone. Even Cheryl Strayed needed people to help her get to the trail to walk alone. And it reminded me that we all have the ability to be amazingly loving if we just open and allow it.

Read more about Cheryl Strayed here