Seeing The World As A Mother

Mother Day Heart Clouds on Orange Background

Today I walked around New York City for a few hours, very quietly observing the people that passed me by. Maybe because Mother’s Day is Sunday, I thought about each person I saw as someone’s child. I thought about what their mothers may have dreamed for them in their lives. I watched an elderly woman and wondered how long it has been since she hugged her mother. How would her mother feel watching her child limp down the block as an eighty-year-old woman? I imagined a homeless man’s mother. Does she know where he is? How did he become homeless? I even saw an angry middle-aged man and thought, would a hug from his mother make a difference?

What happened to me today when I saw everyone as someone’s child? My heart split open with compassion. I thought about how each person’s mother would want the world to treat her child. I thought about the kindness I hope my children will experience in the world when I am not around or when I leave this earth. Suddenly I started to cry. I imagined the heartbreak and joy every mother must have experienced with each person I passed and the hope that her child would be okay in the world. My heart opened so wide that all I could do was smile at people, hold a door a few seconds longer and make small talk wherever I went. Even though these were small acts of kindness, I had the larger realization that I need to treat each person that I meet each day the same way I want the world to treat my children.

For the few remaining days before Mother’s Day, Maybe you can try this practice when you are at work, running errands or just walking around town. We can have much more compassion and kindness when we see everyone we meet as someone’s child. It certainly keeps the love coming!

As mothers, if we can open our hearts to the world, Maybe it is the beginning of creating a more caring and loving society?  Just Maybe.





Gambling on Maybe

There is a garage attendant downstairs where I live in New York City.  His name is Stan and we chat a few times a week about life and Maybe. When my book was complete and I sent it out to publishers, I gave Stan a copy.

He called me the next day yelling with great excitement:  “Allison I read your book!  Later I only had a few dollars in my pocket, and not even enough in the bank to buy gas for my car.  I thought to myself ‘Maybe’ and then I bought a lottery ticket. You would not believe it – I won 25 dollars and I put gas in my tank!  This is the first time in my life I ever won anything.” Stan’s story gave me pause, but I was still happy that he had such a positive experience using Maybe.

A few weeks later I got another call from Stan.  He won Lotto again, this time 400 dollars.  Now, I began to worry that Maybe had turned him into a gambler! Yes, winning Lotto is a possibility in the land of Maybe, but this is not what I had intended when I gave him the Book. I hoped Stan would stay open to Maybe and make some changes in his life, but not end up in Gamblers Anonymous!

I became concerned about Stan, and when I saw him a few days later I asked him what he learned from his experience with Maybe.   He responded, “Allison, are you worried that I have become a gambler? Don’t worry! The book and my experience with Maybe did not teach me to gamble, it taught me that life changes and I am never stuck. I realize that Maybe whatever is happening in my life is good, Maybe it will get better or Maybe I will find a way to be okay no matter what I am experiencing.  I opened up to life and life opened up to me by filling my gas tank. Now I hold Maybe with me everyday and I feel more is possible in my life even if I can’t see it in that moment. Who needs lotto tickets when I got Maybe!”

Just like Stan, as you experience the power of Maybe again and again, it will free you to explore the unknown with all its hope for a brighter future.  You can bet on it!

Ah, Maybe.

Are Your Children Worried About the Future?


 It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.

Frederick Douglass

I can remember like yesterday sitting at the dinner table as a child with my parents and siblings and feeling like the world was going to end.  My parents would openly discuss current events, such as the hostage crisis in Iran, the assassination attempt on President Reagan, Black Monday in the stock market and the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie.   I thought to myself what will be in this world? How will I be safe?  What can the future look like when these terrible things are happening all the time?  Looking back, I probably should have asked my parents these questions, but I held them in and became a worrier.

But had I asked my parents how could I stay safe so many years ago, what would they have told me?  How could they have made me feel hopeful and secure, and at the same time not shield me from the problems that the world was facing at the time?  Thirty years later I found myself sitting at the dinner table with my children faced with different problems in the world but the very same question: How could I teach my children to be aware of current affairs and at the same time be strong and hopeful for the future? I don’t want them to feel like I did as a child that the world was doomed, but I also don’t want them putting their heads in the sand and ignoring real issues that need to be addressed.

I could tell my children that most people are safe from terrorist attacks and natural disasters in the world, but what foundation does that give them other than playing the odds that they will be okay?  I could tell my children to just stay positive, but how will they do that when they see bad things happening around them?  To harness the power of positive thinking, my children would need to be optimistic no matter what happens. For many children, this is too hard to sustain when they face obstacles that obscure the road ahead. They can get stuck on the idea that “if today doesn’t work out, it will never change in the future.”

So what can we teach our children that will sustain them through the uncertainty of the future?  We can teach them about the Philosophy of Maybe.  The idea of Maybe is beyond statistics and positive thinking.  Maybe is the steadying constant hope within uncertainty.  I tell my children that as bad as things may look or feel, there are always the possibilities that Maybe what is happening will turn out to be good, Maybe it will get better or Maybe we can make peace and live with what we are experiencing and still be okay.

The reason Maybe is so effective for children is that it continuously offers them more than the one possibility that is causing them stress at the dinner table or keeping them up at night.  Maybe is a constant reminder to our children that there is hope in the unknown even if they don’t know all the answers in the moment.

Whether they are struggling at school, with friends, health issues or fears of global warming, war or famine, the idea of Maybe can be a guiding light every day that allows them to clear their worry and guides them to all that life can offer. Over time, children come to understand that they have a choice. They can sit in the uncertainty with fear, anxiety or total despair or they can realize that there MAYBE a way out, a way forward or another way to look at what is before them.  And even if a child’s fears do become reality as fears sometimes do, Maybe will help them see that the next moment brings a chance for something new once again.

The best part about it — all our children need remember is Maybe!

Can We Really Make The World A Better Place?


The other night I had the pleasure of meeting Maggie Doyne, the founder of The BlinkNow Foundation, who is truly changing the world one child at a time.  At the age of 27, Maggie has 42 Nepalese children who call her mom and live with her in Kopila Valley Children’s Home, which was built brick-by-brick by Maggie and the local community in Nepal. Maggie has also built the Kopila Valley Primary School, which is attended by 400 Nepalese children, and a women’s health clinic. Maggie truly believes that if every child in the world is provided with their most basic needs and rights—a safe home, medical care, an education, and love, they will grow to be leaders and end cycles of poverty and violence in our world.

A few nights later, I had the pleasure of introducing Maggie to Maro Chermayeff, the Executive Producer and Director of the movie Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity For Women. Maro has traveled all over the world with award winning journalist Nicholas D. Kristof bringing to light dramatic stories of oppressed women and children, and introducing us to people that make a difference.

I was honored and overwhelmed to be sitting with these two women who are having such an important positive impact on the world.  At the age of 27, Maggie is having such a profound impact on the children of Nepal, and Maro is preparing to leave to film in Haiti and parts of Africa.  At one point in the evening I blurted out, “I need to do more.  I don’t think I am capable of doing what either of you do everyday.”  Maro turned to me and said, “It doesn’t matter what you do.  Just do something.  One act. One thing that makes the world a better place.  Just something. That will make all the difference.”

I think that is why some of us don’t act because we feel that our small acts won’t make a dent in the numerous problems the world faces. But Maybe what Maro said to me is true: every act does matter. It reminds me of the story about the Boy and the Starfish.  The story is told as follows:

A man was walking along a deserted beach at sunset. As he walked he could see a young boy in the distance, as he drew nearer he noticed that the boy kept bending down, picking something up and throwing it into the water.
Time and again he kept hurling things into the ocean. As the man approached even closer, he was able to see that the boy was picking up starfish that had been washed up on the beach and, one at a time he was throwing them back into the water.

The man asked the boy what he was doing, the boy replied, “I am throwing these washed up starfish back into the ocean, or else they will die through lack of oxygen. “But”, said the man, “You can’t possibly save them all, there are thousands on this beach, and this must be happening on hundreds of beaches along the coast. You can’t possibly make a difference.”
The boy looked down, frowning for a moment; then bent down to pick up another starfish, smiling as he threw it back into the sea. He replied, 

“I made a huge difference to that one!”

If you are interested, you can check out the work that Maggie is doing in Nepal through The BlinkNow Foundation and help her build a high school for the beautiful children.  You could also find something to do in your neighborhood, local school or charity, or even help an elderly neighbor.  If we all create more acts of kindness each day MAYBE we can make a difference and actually make the world a better place!!  It is DEFINITELY worth a try!!