I became a Million Miler on Delta last week and that honor, the miles I’ve flown, and why deserve their own post (or book, we’ll see). For now, I share that million mile achievement to underscore how many different places I get to go and the good that I get to witness Team Born This Way Foundation do in the world.
I was asked last night in Chicago what I like best about attending Lady Gaga’s concerts, and the answer is usually of course her talent, but a different answer came to me this time. I said I liked to watch people watch her. I love people, and my closely held belief is that people are good and more people together is better, so imagine how pleased I must be standing in the middle of thousands of people in Wrigley Field. But that wasn’t even the best part of my day, so let me share some of the things I watched our team do in Chicago.
We built more than 400 Find Your Anchor boxes at Senn High School. Founded by my dear friend Ali, Find Your Anchor shares physical reminders in the form of small blue boxes filled with cards, posters, phone numbers, and more to raise awareness, provide education and connection, and prevent suicide. From the moment I arrived to the moment they sat down to speak on the closing panel, Milo folded boxes. With each fold, Milo’s tattoo (we both have Find Your Anchor inspired tattoos) was visible and through their hard work, you could see how important this work is to them. I’ve been known to come to a community event for free food (yesterday, donuts) and as I watched the kindness, urgency and hope Milo put into each box they made, I was (again) inspired.
We also met with the team at Erika’s Lighthouse, a Kindness in Community Fund recipient that works to create upper elementary, middle school and high school mental health, depression and suicide awareness programs so educators, families and teens can create safe spaces to learn about mental health, letting students know they are never alone, and there is somewhere to turn. As I entered their second floor office, I could already hear Shadille’s voice sailing through the hallways, using the word “invite.” She always says, “I’d love to invite you to … ” and the end of the sentence is always a beautiful, community building invitation. That invitation happened to be facilitating an interview to help share the word about the scalable, school based resources they offer. Over the past nine years, I’ve heard Shadille issue thousands of invitations, and I have watched them change the trajectory of organizations and save lives. The kind, inclusive and focused way that she celebrates and story tells is an honor and pleasure to watch.
We ended up back at our hotel around midnight after a long, important day in Chicago and an epic show at Wrigley Field. I ordered a deep dish pizza, and we sat on the floor of my hotel room in our pajamas, tapping on our laptops and occasionally laughing about a picture someone had taken. The gift of watching people do what brings them joy – whether listening to Lady Gaga or reminding a student how much they matter – is the best part of my job and the greatest privilege of my life.
Thank you for looking for the joy, sharing it when you find it, and reminding people of it when they’re searching harder than they should. More people, more joy, and more connection is what I hope I get to give the world.