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Gratitude and Grief: Kristin’s ThankList

When we launched the ThankList, we knew that we would likely hear compelling stories of gratitude from others. Once the concept of a ThankList is explained, it’s hard not to start creating the mental list of those who have had an impact on our lives. But the outpouring of support for our mission and desire from our fan base for their stories and voices to be heard has been truly humbling.

One of those conversations revealed a compelling, inspiring story that we wanted to share here with you.

In 2007, Kristin Meekof’s husband Roy was diagnosed with advanced stage adrenal cancer. Yet somehow, despite the grim prognosis and enduring an aggressive treatment schedule, Kristin found Roy not only accepting of his diagnosis, but relishing in moments of gratitude for the life he’d been given.

He never said, “Why me?”. Instead, he said, “Why not me?”

Despite being widowed at age 33 only 8 weeks after his initial diagnosis, it was Roy’s open heart and attitude of gratitude that has stayed with her. She says that he taught her that gratitude is the answer to nearly every question. Inspired by both his spirit and her ability to turn something tragic into something beautiful, we had a few questions we wanted to ask about Roy and his legacy.

Q: Tell us a little about your husband Roy.

Kristin: Roy was a middle school teacher, a veteran, and a gentle soul. My husband lived with an open heart and very much believed in living in the light, literally and figuratively. Before we were married we exchanged gratitude lists with each other via email, so thankfulness wasn’t something foreign to him. It was part of his being.

{Gratitude when you are diagnosed with terminal cancer

is bringing light out of a very dark well.

In this light of gratitude is the place that he dwelled. }


Q: Do you think he knew how he changed you? Did you ever get to say thank you?

Kristin: I would like to think that he knew that his presence, our marriage, our friendship changed me, but I don’t know if he knew how deep it was. Since we were in the habit of exchanging gratitude lists, something we started before we were married, I did say thank you.

And since my late husband’s death, I make it a point to give a handwritten thank you cards to my dear friends because their kindness matters to me. It is important to put these things in writing and thank you cards are a beautiful gesture of kindness.

Q: How has your life changed because of his perspective?

Kristin: With gratitude comes an openness and a sense of bravery. About three years ago, I decided that I wanted to co-write a book for widows of all ages, and I interviewed many widows about their experiences. The widows were incredibly generous with their time and thoughts and for each of them I am eternally grateful. It is all bittersweet because the impetus for this research and book is loss, but gratitude made it possible. Gratitude opened the door for this book project and as a result I’ve formed some incredible friendships.

Q: If you could speak to him today, what would say?

Kristin: I would tell him that I still think of him daily and continue to love him. I would thank him for teaching me that gratitude is the answer to nearly every question.

I think he would be surprised to know that I co-wrote a book, and then I’d explain that I decided to write the book for widows so that they would feel less alone. Then, I would talk about all of the beautiful people who helped me with this three year project, and some of the gorgeous opportunities that I’ve been given.

Kristin is a Huffington Post contributor and co-author of the book A Widow’s Guide to Healing: Gentle Support and Advice for the First 5 Years. As a part of her dedication to helping grieving widows around the world, she’s traveled to Kenya with a charity organization.

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5 Things Not to Say to a New Widow

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.” — C. S. Lewis, “A Grief Observed”

Death is a topic that can clear out a room of even the most kindhearted people. Just mention any of the following words — passing, mortality, funeral, burial, death — and people get nervous. Very few individuals are comfortable with holding an honest conversation about death, and even fewer know what to say to a new widow.

In 2007, I was just 33 when my husband, Roy, was diagnosed with adrenal cancer. About eight weeks later he died. Although I knew that his death from advanced cancer was inevitable, once he died, my entire being became depleted. I learned that death is like an amputation, and new life does not just grow back. Death does damage and at times for a widow, the grief is unspeakable.

Over three years ago, I decided I wanted to write a book for widows of all ages so that they would feel less alone. However, I didn’t want this to be a typical book about grief and loss. Instead, I wanted to learn first-hand from other widows from all different backgrounds about their experiences. I along with my co-author psychologist James Windell spent over three years talking with widows about their initial moments of grief and then their long-term emotions accompanied with loss.

Although each widow’s experience at her husband’s funeral or memorial service is unique, there were common things that I, along with other widows experienced. One of the common threads that all widows experienced were having to bear witness to uncomfortable comments. Sometimes, people do say the wrong things, and it stings.

5 Things Not to Say to A New Widow — These Are Not In A Particular Order

1. “Your husband is no longer in pain.” This is a case of stating the obvious. No matter what disease a widow’s husband may have endured, the fact of the matter is that a widow is well aware that he is not in pain. However, she is in unrelenting pain. A type of pain that pushes her to the outermost limits of her being and keeps her there with no immediate relief. She is in a very dark passage of hell. The emotional pain is that intense.

2. “You are not alone.” In so many ways a widow is alone. There can be a room full of family and close friends and yet not one person is experiencing exactly what she feeling at that moment. My late husband was my best friend and my main emotional support. We were a couple, and then I was alone. In my case, two minus one equaled one thousand. Those days and weeks following his funeral felt like an emotional ground zero. The loss was that deep. I felt that I was in a distant world far removed from all others. It is not a world that once a widow enters she can’t easily exit.

3. “I know what you are going through, Joan.” I’m making up this name, so you can go ahead and replace it with any widow’s name. Unless you have been widowed and even then each circumstance by which a woman is widowed is so unique, please refrain from this comment. If you have said this and the widow give you a blank stare, it is not because she agrees with you it is because she is using every ounce of restraint she has not to give you a piece of her mind. And for the common good of all concerned, please under no circumstance try to one up her with some loosely related story of a widow you once knew.

4. “He is in a better place.” I heard this over and over again. And I know other widows heard similar things. All religious beliefs set aside, the only place a widow knows is the one she is presently in. And it is without her husband. This place that a husband’s death has taken a widow is to one of vast isolation where the sounds of loneliness are inaudible.

5. “Give it time and you will feel better.” I’ve learned from widows that grief doesn’t have a finish line. The husband’s death will always be a part of her. I’ve found in talking with widows that many professionals and non-widows believe that grief is over in one year. However, I’ve found in doing research that quite the opposite is true. During the first year, widows are just trying to survive their first sets of holidays and cope with the daily stressors of widowhood. The second year, widows are deeply assessing all that is lost. They realize that it is so much more than their husband that they lost. They lost their emotional security, many friendships, perhaps even a home. These secondary losses, as many call them, are painful and compound the grief process.

There are few words to adequately describe the grief a new widows endures. If you must say something, be honest and offer, “I don’t know what to say. I am so very sorry. I am here for you.” And then for the widow’s good be there. Sit next to her. Hold her hand. Hug her. Bring her whatever she wants and don’t judge. Put your arms around her and listen to her. Don’t be afraid of her tears or silence. Sometimes the deepest laments are silent.

Kristin Meekhof is a Licensed Master’s Level Clinical Social Worker. She graduated from the M.S.W. program at the University of Michigan. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in psychology from Kalamazoo College. Her forthcoming book, “A Widow’s Guide To Healing: Gentle Support And Advice For The First Five Years” can be found here

#ThankList With American Greetings

Last week, I was honored to be a part of the American Greetings #ThankList initiative. An interview that I did with the American Greetings Card company is now live (a link is below). This is part of their ‪#‎ThankList‬series, and if you follow them (online) you will see additional pieces about my story a bit later this month.

Working with Meghan Olmstead and her team at American Greetings card was an honor and joy. I can tell you that this #ThankList initiative is very special to me because of the focus on gratitude. This project is supported by The Huffington Post President and Editor-in-Chief Arianna Huffington, Oscar award-winning filmmaker Barbara Kopple, Dr. Deepak Chopra, psychologist Randy Kamen and motivational speaker Gabby Bernstein

An interview that I did with the American Greetings Card company is now live. This is part of their ‪#‎ThankList‬ series, and if you follow them (online) you will see additional pieces about my story a bit later this month.

Working with Meghan Olmstead and her team at American Greetings card was an honor and joy. I can tell you that this #ThankList initiative is very special to me because of the focus on gratitude. This project is supported by The Huffington Post President and Editor-in-Chief Arianna Huffington, Oscar award-winning filmmaker Barbara Kopple, Dr. Deepak Chopra, psychologist Randy Kamen and motivational speaker Gabby Bernstein

Thousands of people viewed my #ThankList story and many people wrote to me as well. I am overwhelmed with this response, and I would love for you to share your own #ThankLists with me as well.

Here is the link to my #ThankList Story with American Greetings

The Value of Emotional Generosity

There is a lot of chatter about people being emotionally unavailable to fulfill certain roles, participate in a discussion or provide support. At times, it seems the phrase is used as part of an exit strategy to end a conversation or relationship. When one is seeking a way out of any type of commitment they offer this phrase, “I’m emotionally unavailable. All the best.” Of course, what this really means is that the person has no vested interest in pursuing any long term communication. Few want to be disturbed with having to follow up on another phone call or email. This is also a convenient phrase because in a world that honors the over-scheduled and hurried, being unavailable sounds logical and fits neatly into any dialogue.

However, I wonder how many of the emotionally unavailable obtain genuine support from others. After all, receiving support means to some extent that one is open, and this also infers that one is willing to give. To be clear, emotional generosity is not referring to a co-dependent, financial or abusive relationship. Instead, emotional generosity is being available for another, offering support, providing honest communication, and giving without an agenda.

Emotional generosity is critical for developing authentic relationships. It offers presence, trust, and comfort in world that can be overwhelming and lonely. Things happen over a lifespan, relationships fall away, but friendships where this generosity is practiced are deeper and wholeheartedly richer.

In doing research for my upcoming book, A Widow’s Guide To Healing, I interviewed widows of all ages about how they coped with their loss and what they found to assuage their grief. An overwhelming number of the widows reported that a close friendship, either with a family member or friend, was a critical factor. Now, I am not suggesting that one can only benefit from emotional generosity if a death occurs. What I am suggesting is that there are great benefits in having this deep social support.

Young children are often the best models for practicing emotional generosity. They are apt to tell you exactly what is on their mind, and find joy in giving. Years before my late husband was diagnosed with cancer he was visiting his close friend’s son, Charlie (not his real name), who had terminal cancer. Charlie knew he was dying and was prepared to say goodbye. Before my husband left their home, Charlie gave him a Transformer toy car. Charlie said, “This is for you because I’m being transformed.”

The day after I found out that my husband had advanced cancer, I noticed that the Transformer was on our fireplace mantle. It was Charlie’s mother who spoke at my husband’s funeral. Then without judgment she went on to teach me about emotional generosity. Now, the Transformer is on my bookshelf. It is the kind of thing that always stays with you as do dear friends.

Article published in HuffPost Healthy Living, 2/4/15

Detroit’s Vintage Auto Show


Astro III , 1969 photograph by Bill Rauhauser, Pigment Print on Archival Paper, used with permission from the Hill Gallery


Later this month, thousands will attend the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan; however, the other must see auto show is the Bill Rauhauser Photography: Detroit Auto Show, 1960s – 1970s at the Hill Gallery in Birminham, Michigan. This vintage auto show is a step back in history. And for many it will be their first opportunity to get a flavor of what it was like to attend these classic auto shows. Long before Instagram, digital photography and Photoshop, Bill Rauhauser, 96 was capturing the images here at these auto shows and on the streets of Detroit.

On New Year’s Day, Mr. Rauhauser talks candidly about the Detroit Auto Show images he photographed. “I remember it all”, he says as he is looking through the prints. “I would get there early and go by myself. There was no cropping (of the prints),” he recalls. Rauhauser is passionate about his upcoming exhibit. He is working closely with gallery owner, Timothy Hill. “Bill is interested in seeing these images on a large scale. He wants to give people a grand sense of what it was like to walk into the auto show in the sixties and seventies,” adds Mr.



Sebring, 1970, photograph by Bill Rauhauser, Pigment on Archival Paper, used with permission from the Hill Gallery


Mr. Rauhauser has spent seven decades on the streets of Detroit capturing the things that most see, but few pay attention to, and even fewer understand. He followed what he refers to as the three iron laws of street photography. The first law is to Being There. In other words, one does need to literally be present on the streets and closely observe. The second law is Being Ready, and this has nothing to do with having your camera on the correct setting. Mr. Rauhauser is clear that the competent street photographer is educated with a strong background in history and literature. One must understand the nuances of the culture and where they are working in order to develop an appreciation of what is critical to photograph. This is what gives depth to the photograph. The third law is to be lucky. Sometimes a stranger will give you a look, smile just the right way, the light is perfect and that moment, if you are so lucky is yours to photograph. The moment will never happen again, and it cannot be planned.

Initially, this artist had no plans of making photography his profession. He is self- taught, and earned an engineering degree. It was at a 1947 Henri Cartier- Bresson exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art that Rauhauser made the decision to make a career out of photography. He realized that photography is a universal language, an art that all can interpret and appreciate.

Then in 1951, Rauhauser was attendance at a lecture Edward Steichen was giving at the Detroit Institute of Art. It was here that Steichen discussed an upcoming exhibit Family of Man at the Museum of Modern Art. This exhibit would display common images and concerns that people could identify with in this post war era. Rauhauser had an inkling that a few of his prints would be a good fit for the theme, so he decided to send in three photographers, but heard nothing back for weeks. One of Rauhauser’s prints was accepted for the 1955 show. Unbeknownst to Rauhauser at the time that his print was selected, but this show would lead to international exposure. For eight years, this show ended up traveling the globe and more than nine million people would see his print.

For thirty years, Mr. Rauhauser taught at the College for Creative Studies. He describes teaching as his “passion” and there’s eminent joy in his face when he recalls his classroom experience. “I still have students come up to me and say that they remember me.” He quips, “I wasn’t afraid to fail someone if they didn’t understand the material.”

Mr. Rauhauser is still following his three iron laws of street photography and continues to take photographs. He plans to attend the reception for his exhibit on January 15,2015 from 6 to 8 pm. The show will run from this date until February 25, 2014.

To learn more about this exhibit, visit the Hill Gallery website
You can follow the Hill Gallery here

Article published in Huffington Post Detroit, 1/12/15

A Walk For Widows


The Route Mr. Parsons Will Take Across India.”A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.””A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” 

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Lao Tzu

No one is going to be better able to speak to this Lao Tzu quote than Mr. Chris Parsons. On January 10, 2015, the 53- year-old British attorney will be walking across India to benefit The Loomba Foundation. For the past several months he has adhered to a rigorous training schedule to prepare for this monumental journey.

In 2011, Mr. Parsons was attending an event in London, and happened to be seated next to Lord Loomba, CBE. It was at this event that Lord Loomba talked to Mr. Parsons about the impetus for the Loomba Foundation. When Lord Loomba, was a young child, his mother was widowed with seven children. As a result of this tragedy, Lord Loomba created the foundation to provide economic, educational and social empowerment to widows and their children.

Before meeting Lord Loomba, Mr. Parsons had already decided that he wanted to bicycle 2000 km from London to Gibraltar to benefit a charity to mark his 50th birthday. After talking with Lord Loomba, about his foundation, Mr. Parsons chose to support the Loomba Foundation through his cycling expedition.

The Loomba Foundation

Mr. Chris Parsons with Lord Loomba, CBE. Photograph belongs to The Loomba Foundation and is used with their permission.


This time Mr. Parsons will be walking from Mumbai to Bangalore. The 1260 km distance divided into thirty days means that Mr. Parsons is walking the equivalent of a marathon (42 KM) a day. The course isn’t flat, and the high temperatures add additional challenges. Each day, he will walk anywhere from eight to twelve hours. “The reality is that I fully appreciate how tough it will be,” he notes. He is counting on locals to walk beside him, which will provide the critical emotional support often needed for such a challenging task.

“I’m stepping into the unknown,” Mr. Parsons adds. However, he will not be embarking on this alone. He has a support team in a follow car, complete with a physiotherapist who will have a full medical kit to aid with any walking related ailments. His sponsors include Apollo Hospitals, Gatorade/Pepsi, TCS and the Bombay Stock Exchange.

It is not a coincidence that Mr. Parsons decided to pursue this walk within thirty days. He chose the number thirty to honor his own 30 year work anniversary with Herbert Smith Freehills, an international law firm. As part of his work, Mr. Parsons travels to India from London each month. When in India, he advises on foreign law (mainly English and United States), and teaches English law at a number of the Indian law school, often in conjunction with Oxford University.

In addition, Mr. Parsons has visited a number of children of the Indian widows who are directly benefiting from the charity of the Loomba Foundation. Further, he has developed many personal connections here as well. He adds, “Some of my best friends live in India. It is my second home. I wanted to do this walk to focus on Indian widows and their children.”

Mr. Parsons will be keeping a blog about his journey, and you can read it here

To learn about the Loomba Foundation, please check here

Article published in Huffington Post Impact, 1/5/15

When Things Aren’t Merry or Bright

2014-12-15-20141128_112555-thumb (2)

Photograph taken at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art

There is a big push this time of year for image management. Nearly anywhere you look there are guides on preparing the right meal, the perfect card, the amazing party, and an inspired holiday letter. There is pressure, real or imagined, to appear that you are pulled together and enjoying every minute of this season.

However, there are many who are experiencing untold suffering, and this time of year is filled with angst and sorrow. If you have experienced any sort of loss (job, divorce, death, friendship) then you can somewhat relate to these sentiments. Sometimes things aren’t spectacular, and you haven’t had a banner year filled with abundance. There are moments when someone asks how you are doing, you nod, clench your jaw, bite your tongue, and reply with the happy answer because it is far easier than explaining your despair.

Whenever you tell others that everything is “fine,” I wonder if you are really trying to convince yourself that your heart isn’t breaking? Instead, why not practice brutal honesty? This may counter your spirited holiday logic, but being honest with yourself is one way to fierce contentment. Fierce because at this time of year it isn’t natural to express sadness; and yet, contentment often follows when you can give yourself a dose of honesty. For those who have suffered a significant loss, whenever it occurred, the void that the person left is often more palpable during the holidays. It isn’t unnatural to see a certain item at a store and think about your beloved. Sending out cards without your child’s name on it is beyond difficult, and this sadness won’t easily dissolve. Walking to the grave from your car are the longest steps you will take. These are moments you never thought you would encounter.

However, being completely present with your grief and rawness is difficult. Many spend years avoiding these moments. Some feel pressure to act as though they feel special spiritual healing and experience guilt for not experiencing faith as they once understood it. Practicing this sort of raw and brutal honesty, rather it is through meditation, journal writing, or prayer won’t bring back your beloved, but it will allow you to be present with your sorrow. This is the bare bones of loss. You are emotionally naked and completely vulnerable and this is why it takes an incredible amount of bravery to even enter into this space. It actually takes practice becoming this open. Some call it the road untraveled; others refer to it as holy time. Whatever you call it, healing is taking place, even though it may be in small increments.

The path to contentment isn’t found in the aisle at your local department store. For many it is discovered in the small tender moments while there’s a lump in your throat when a piece of music is played or you when you find a photograph of your loved one. The most beautiful things come to us when the light is silent and darkness is bright.

Published in Huffingtion Post Healthy Living on 12/16/2014

Unbounded Gratitude

Last month I went to Nairobi, Kenya with a small group of widows. We were connected with a charity organization that services widows and their children. We were given the opportunity to meet with the widows and visit their homes. I had the absolute joy of meeting Peninnah, a mother of three young children. Peninnah is one of those women who you would expect to be depressed and pessimistic, and frankly who could blame her? She lives in a slum, called Kibera, the largest slum many believe to be in Africa. At times it is estimated that nearly 1 million people live here. Peninnah doesn’t have running water, electricity, a bank account, or even access to even a bicycle. She spent part of her afternoon with me telling me about her daily life: how she waters down the food to get two meals out of it, cares for her infant, and how she makes necklaces (photographed below) to earn cash.

Peninnah explains the process necessary to make these necklaces. She uses discarded paper, measures and cuts it, then dyes it. Once the paper is dry, she rolls each strip of paper with a toothpick and then puts it together, like you would stringing beads on a necklace. I ask her how long it takes to make one necklace. She responds by telling me that she can make five a day, and has even taught other women in the group how to make the necklaces so that they too can earn a living.

This all seems rather hopeless to me. I think she’s living in a disaster zone, and I can’t believe that she is smiling and loving on her baby while telling me this. When I ask about how she accesses health care, she calmly explains that she has to save up money to obtain transportation to get to the NGO hospital whenever one of her children needs medical attention. She is a warm and even asks about my late husband. Our conversation comes to an end when she realizes the women are getting together to participate in a group activity. I tell Peninnah that I can hold her baby so that she can participate with the other women.


Photograph is property of Kristin Meekhof

The next morning our group met the women, and I immediately saw Peninnah holding her baby. Upon sitting next to Peninnah, she opened her purse and gave me a bracelet. I am speechless. She was so grateful for my time in taking care of her baby that she’s giving me this bracelet as a token of gratitude. Full of love she said, “This is for you because you held my baby (so) I could be with the group.”

This mother who supports her family on less than a dollar a day, has found her way to gratitude. And once she has found it, she then decided to give with an open hand. Most humbling is knowing that the bracelet she gave me could have sold to earn a few shillings.

An open heart fosters gratitude, which in turn as Peninnah knows, produces joy. Gratitude despite any circumstances isn’t easy. And so every time I look at the bracelet Peninnah gave me I think of what this gift revealed: gratitude that knows no bounds leads to openheartedness and openhandedness.

Published in Huffingtion Post Healthy Living on 11/17/2014

Empowering Widows Across the World


Lord Loomba, CBE, receiving his lifetime achievement award from Abid Qureshi, President, UNA-NY Photography by Melanie Quinn Photography; Used with permission from the United Nations- New York

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” — Gandhi

Last month, I had the honor of attending the United Nations Association of New York Humanitarian Awards Dinner. The theme of the evening was Empowering Women: Promoting Peace and Progress. Lord Raj Loomba, CBE was honored for dedicating his life to doing just this — empowering women. More specifically Lord Loomba, CBE, has promoted the empowerment of widows and their children across the globe. As Founder and Chairman of the Loomba Foundation, he has personally taken on the plight of widows and their children by shining a light on their challenges and developing initiatives to support their needs.

I first met Lord Loomba, CBE, at his office in London, England. Lord Loomba is humble despite his vast accomplishments. In 2011, Forbes India presented him with an NRI Philanthropy award, and earlier this year Northampton University bestowed upon him an Honorary Fellowship. Lord Loomba is kind and generous. It was during this meeting that he asked if I would like to be his guest at the United Nations Humanitarian Awards Dinner where he was due to receive his lifetime achievement award.


Lord Loomba, CBE and I at the United Nations 2014 Humanitarian Awards Dinner; I am wearing a necklace made by a widow in Kenya. Photo is property of Kristin Meekhof


We met a few weeks later at this dinner which also honored Mr. Stefan Persson and Dr. Phumzile Mlambo- Ngcuka. The room was quiet when Lord Loomba shared his own story. He was eloquent in speech and explained how he used his personal loss to transform an entire group of widows and their chidren across the globe. He witnessed his own mother’s grief and suffer with the status of “widow” after his father died from tuberculosis. He was just 10, but still remembers that his mother was blamed for his father’s death, and within hours of his death she was asked to remove her bindi. Equally as troubling was when his mother was asked to wear all white and was no longer able to dress in her colorful clothing. Essentially she was stripped of her dignity.

One of Lord Loomba’s goals is to restore a level of respect and dignity to all widows. His tireless determination knows only the boundaries that governments have established, and even there he worked to bring about change. Lord Loomba spent five years campaigning with the United Nations to have June 23 recognized as International Widows Day. This date was chosen because on this date in 1954 Lord Loomba’s father died from tuberculosis leaving his wife a widow and single mother of seven children.

The United Nations uses the Loomba Foundation’s report, titled “Invisible Forgotten Sufferers” published in 2010, as their handbook to understanding the plight of widows and their children. The publication says, “One of the main reasons why widows continue to be subjected to gross human rights violations is that although they number 245 million, there has been no comprehensive research or attempt to gather information on a global scale about their existence.” Often overlooked are widows for example who are living in Kenya, Rwanda or Uganda. The publication addresses the needs and challenges of these widows.


Cherie Blair, HE and Ban Ki Moon at the Widows Research Study presentation- United Nations, New York Photograph used with permission from The Loomba Foundation


With the Foundation, Lord Loomba, CBE has created a number of initiatives, such the Punjab sewing machine project whereby helping 10k widows. This project has a tremendous reach; it helps 100,000 individuals. In London Lord Loomba, CBE told me that when you help a widow the “impact is tenfold. You empower economically and the widows are empowered socially.” When widows obtain a job or skill, not only do they support their children but often teach others the craft.

The foundation also recognizes the value of education. Lord Loomba said, “Rual India is hardest hit. There the widows are poor and undereducated.” In India alone, the Loomba Foundation has provided educational scholarships, for a minimum of five years or longer, to over 9,000 children of widows, and supported over 50,000 family members.

Equally as impressive are the number of notable individuals who have lent their support to the foundation. Lord Loomba has garnered the respect from political figures and celebrities, such as Cherie Blair, CBE, QC, His Excellency Ranjan Mathai, Sir Richard Branson, Yoko Ono, and Sir James Bevan KCMG.


Lord Loomba with Yoko Ono; she supports The Loomba Foundation. Photograph used with permission from The Loomba Foundation

There are vey few who have Lord Loomba’s spirit of generosity and passion for those who are first to be overlooked. He has embodied the change he wishes for the world to be.

To Learn More About The Loomba Foundation’s Punjab Sewing Machine Project, follow this link,

You can read Lord Loomba’s blog here

Published in Huffintington Post Impact on 11/21/2014

5 Things I Learned From Oprah’s Life You Want Weekend

Oprah Winfrey is on tour with her own version of a rockstar band that includes influential people she calls trailblazers. These trailblazers are: Dr. Deepak Chopra (select cities), Mark Nepo (select cities), Elizabeth Gilbert, Rob Bell, and Iyanla Vanzant. Her tour includes a two-day weekend called The Life You Want Weekend, complete with an interactive “O Town.” The “theme songs” of this tour are ones of courage, wisdom, clarity, gratitude, and unbounded positivity.

This tour has six remaining cities on their schedule, and I had the privilege of attending the one in Auburn Hill, Michigan. For hundreds of women in attendance, seeing Oprah was on their bucket list. Throughout the weekend, I heard dozens of woman say that hearing Oprah speak was a lifetime dream coming true.

Oprah was mesmerizing and brilliant. On Friday evening, when she took the stage there was silence. For two hours, she spoke with brutal honesty and humor, reflecting on her painful childhood, enormous career, and the people who molded her along the way. Oprah explained the conscious decision that she made to direct her television program away from rubbish and hate. She decided to use her valuable television platform for a greater good, and to help empower those seeking wisdom.

Each of the trailblazers took the on stage day two, and Oprah spoke throughout it. They shared their personal stories, and how they followed their passion. This wasn’t a superficial workshop. All the speakers acknowledged that life is messy and cluttered. Unplanned and unwanted things occur because this is a part of life, but learning how to transform these things is crucial. If you are stuck and frustrated, it may be because you’re looking for an easy out. Transformation takes hard work, and you are the only one that can do this work.

Five Things I Learned From The Life You Want Weekend :

1. Everyone wants to know that they matter. One’s status in society doesn’t make them immune to this. Oprah said that after an interview was taped, a criminal and very famous people would often wonder the same thing. They wanted to know if their interview was okay. What they really wanted to know Oprah said is, “Did you hear what I said?” Everyone wants their voice to be heard and acknowledged.

2. The question is just as important as the answer. Oprah strongly encouraged you to ask yourself the right questions. These aren’t questions of self-pity or despair. Instead she encouraged the audience to ask themselves these types of questions: How do I give to myself and others? How do I nourish myself? How do I discover my passion? What do I know for sure? It is in the quest, that you develop a sense of what matters. She taught her audience to listen to everything, even the things that are difficult. These things, she contends, bring you information, and what you do with that information can determine your future. If you chose to deny and rationalize what you hear, the situation can fester and grow, until it forces you to pay attention.

3. Oprah is not detached. Quite the opposite was true. She was deeply aware of the pulse of the audience. At one point, while one of the trailblazer speakers was talking, Oprah noticed that a female audience member sitting next to Gayle King was tearful. Oprah was several feet away from this woman. Oprah signaled a male staff, and asked him to bring this woman some tissue. The woman was touched mouthed the words, “thank you” to Oprah. She nodded back. Perhaps no one else noticed this moment, but I did.

4. Each person in attendance could learn something valuable. Each participant was given a beautiful workbook, and Oprah guided us through each exercise. She spoke of her own career goals, and the things that she continues to work on. All of us are yanked down at one time or another by the issues of life. This workbook gives you the opportunity to create a “reset” plan for your life.

5. Oprah encourages everyone to develop a sense of clarity, so that on your own you can complete this sentence — what I know for sure is. Personally, what I know for sure is that with gratitude you will glow with unbounded positivity. Gratitude is the answer to nearly every question, and with unbounded positivity all things are possible.

This was orignially published in the Huffington Post on 9/16/14

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