What is the “Why” Behind Your Goals? Keeping it Real.

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A frequent phrase out of my mouth in high school was, “Just be real.” My history teacher overheard and asked me what I meant by that. Back then I explained it this way: stop playing games, don’t manipulate, be honest, don’t keep secrets, stop trying to control me. There was a lot going on back then. I was desperate for some realness.

Even though I had the insight to understand what wasn’t working for me, I had no idea how to BE real, or how to find people who would be real to me. I lived with pretense and denial, and as a consequence, fear and shame settled in and took residence in the pit of my gut. The wasted years of potential and impact, because of the false beliefs I adopted, breaks my heart.

Fast forward thirty years to this blog and to this post. In the last several months, I see I am in good company. These are direct quotes from people I’ve had interaction with.

“I’ve always wanted to be in music, but I landed here instead.”
“I’m just surviving, getting by day-by-day. I’m not really living.”
“I’ve always wanted to open a restaurant, but there’s too much to lose if I fail.”
“I’ve always wanted to publish a novel; it’s still sitting in my drawer.”
“I work myself to the bone so I can retire and live the good life.”
“Life isn’t fair. It constantly throws stuff at you. It’s like a card game. Some people are dealt good hands, they are the lucky ones, and some are dealt bad hands, we are being punished. That’s just the way it is and there’s nothing we can do about it.”
“My life didn’t turn out as well as yours.”
“I was given a bad lot in life. Luck of the draw.”
“It’s too late to get an education.”
“I’m too old, my time has passed.”
“I’m so ugly.”
“Who else would want me?”
“Of course this is happening to me, why wouldn’t it?”
“I’m not good enough.”
“My product isn’t good enough to sell. I don’t want to sell something that isn’t perfect. It takes too long to make it perfect.”
“I have no idea where I’m headed in life.”
“People will make fun of me.”
“I wasn’t born with any kind of privileges. I didn’t come from a good family.”
“I have kids. What dreams? What purpose?”
“I want to start this new product line, but, who would want what I have to sell?”
“Nothing is ever going to change. This is my life until I die.”
“My insecurities cause me to view myself as less than. But I am smart.”
“I really just want to die.”

Fear and shame permeate this list. This breaks my heart because every single statement was uttered by an amazingly talented and beautiful person and we are missing out on real fulfillment.

One of the reason’s I love shows like American Idol and The Voice is that it highlights the fact there is real talent lurking around every corner. Didn’t tears fill your eyes when Susan Boyle first sang, “I dreamed a dream” on Britain’s Got Talent?

A plain farm girl with no formal training brought the house down with a voice she was created to use. Her voice is a gift that was given to her—not to keep, but to share—and that makes our heart sing as well. When we are in the presence of a person who is doing what they were created to do, when they are operating in their sweet spot, it’s an out-of-this-world-experience.

And when you hear your favorite artist hit a high note, or your favorite band blend into magical harmony, or you see a craftsman build or create something or witness a philanthropist donating time or resources or you experience a person who has overcome tremendous odds to achieve or you watch your favorite team win the National Title with their third-string quarterback—doesn’t that make your heart resonate with the hallelujah chorus? Aren’t you filled with unexplained emotion at that moment?

Why am I asking this question? Why do I keep writing posts about fear and shame and boundaries and pretense and character and co-dependency and insecurity and passive-aggressiveness? Because these behaviors are anchors; they hold us back from not only living our purpose but from being real and having real relationships that last.

If we refuse to let go of our fears and insecurities (shame), our gifts and dreams die out and they do not have the chance to make a positive impact on the world. We can actually miss our purpose for being here. We are then unfulfilled and our relationships suffer.

If we are intentional about our lives, instead of passively letting things come down the pike, everything changes. We have to believe we are worthy, that we have been given gifts to share, and that there is a God who loves us who has given us a purpose.

I’ve poured through a large amount of resources to help untangle the chaos, to live with intention, to begin building and living a legacy before it’s my turn to go. I don’t want to miss my destiny. We all have one. And I don’t want you to miss yours either.

Many of the organizations and programs that I have used, that I trust, and that are safe and solid places to learn and grow are listed on the resources page on my website. Books will be added soon.

At my funeral, I don’t want people to simply acknowledge I was here. I hope people will say that I learned how to be real, that I made a difference, large or small, and that I loved God so that I could love others with my gifts with intention and purpose.

–Tara Schiro is the author of “No Arms, No Legs, No Problem,” the inspirational memoir of Bronze-Medal Paralympian, Bob Lujano, NOW AVAILABLE on Amazon, Ingram Spark, and Barnes & Noble. www.TaraSchiro.com

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Should You Remain Friends With Your Ex? The Deeper Issue of Marital Boundaries

Photo cred: copyrighted by Joel Rogers at www.Coastergallery.com
Photo cred: copyrighted by Joel Rogers at http://www.Coastergallery.com

“My ex called last night.”
“Which one?”
Holding the pot of coffee in her right hand and her favorite King’s Island mug in her left, Keenan instinctively turned to size-up her co-worker. She watched as Julia methodically dropped sugar into her cup. The red head was always fashion forward; today in baggy, faded jeans, rolled up at the bottom, booties, sweater, t-shirt, long necklace. Keenan blinked at the odor of stale coffee burnt to the bottom of the pot mixed with the aroma of freshly ground and brewed Italian beans wavering in the steam between them.
“The one from college,” said Keenan as she poured the coffee into her mug and replaced the pot.
“Oh?” said Julia, with a raised eyebrow and a taut smile.
She had this way about her, like a professor or a therapist. Her eyes penetrate much deeper into the soul than is comfortable. Keenan had spoken to her a few times around the office but most of the time she listened to Julia speak to the other women on staff. She was wise, reserved, and confident. But she made Keenan nervous. An ex-boyfriend wasn’t the topic she would have chosen to address with Julia, she would have preferred the lady that sits next to her, but the entire staff was at a board meeting. Keenan and Julia were left in the insurance office to answer the phones.
“He looked me up online,” said Keenan, stirring in the cream and sugar.
“Why did he call?”
“He wanted to make sure I was ok, after all these years.”
“To make sure you were ok?” Julia’s eyebrows had drawn in but her smile remained taut as she turned and picked up her coffee. Her body was now squarely facing and focusing on Keenan. There was no turning back. The conflict inside Keenan regretted opening her big mouth and yet she was curious to hear what sage wisdom Julia would have for her.
“Yes, well, it didn’t end well. We were in college, as I said, and we dated for five years, and I broke his heart. His whole family was crushed when I left town. He just wanted to reconnect.” Keenan faced Julia, clutching the hot amusement park mug, waiting for a response.
“So, does he want to get back together?”
“No! No, nothing like that.”
“So what does he want?”
The pendulum swung to the regret side in Keenan’s heart. She didn’t know Julia intimately enough to have this conversation. Keenan flicked her dirty blonde hair off her shoulder and turned to look at the tables and couches in the kitchen.
“He just wanted to reconnect. He’s a sweetheart. He helped me through a difficult time in my life and I’m so grateful for that. I broke-up with him because we were not right for each other long term. It would have ended in divorce. I have no animosity towards him. In fact, I could see us being great friends. Like Jerry and Elaine. It was comforting to talk to him, healing. For all these years I surmised he and the family must hate me for leaving but he said it was just the opposite. He said his mom thinks about me often, wondering and hoping I’m doing well. I’m so grateful that he called. I don’t feel like a jerk anymore. I’ve had so many bad dreams over the years; the same scenerio over and over, trying to make it right. His call relieved all that guilt. Besides the fact that he’s just a sweet guy. A gentleman. No hard feelings. No ill will. Just checking to make sure I was ok and hoping to be friends.”
“How long have you been married to your husband?” asked Julia.
“Twenty years.”
“And is your ex married?”
“Going through a divorce.”
The taut smile turned to concern as Julia took a drink of coffee.
“Let’s sit down,” she said.
Keenan was happy to give her feet a break from her new heels but not sure she wanted to participate in this conversation any longer.
“So you were with this guy five years in your twenties. You got along well with his family, they liked you, you’re excited to be relieved of your guilt, and you want to be friends with him. He’s getting a divorce and you have been married twenty years. Accurate so far?”
“That’s kind of abrupt, but yes.”
“Don’t entertain this. Leave it alone.”
Keenan was annoyed. “Because?”
“Did you tell your husband this guy called?”
“Yes.”
“And what was his response?” asked Julia.
“Taken aback at first wondering what his motive was, then jealous, then just listened and was glad I got some healing.”
Julia leaned in across the table, her red curls falling in front of her. “Let me tell you a story. My husband and I have also been married for twenty years. For the first several of those years, he was friends with a woman he used to date. Same type of story; they dated five years, weren’t the right type of people to be married so they broke-up. They remained friends, though. There was never a break in the relationship. Kind of like Jerry and Elaine. So when he and I started dating, I often felt like the third wheel. Not that it was the three of us that went out; she got married to someone else. But they had this friendship that whenever she was around, I felt like the third wheel. Like, they were privy to things I was not. They would talk on the phone, they were connected on social media, sometimes they had lunch together. Neither of them had any ill-will towards their own marriages or spouses. Neither wanted to get back together. We had fun as couples together. Both me and her husband were included in the friendship. But I still felt like the odd man out. Like there was a part of him that wasn’t mine, as his wife. Like he was talking to her about things he should have been talking to me about. Or to another guy instead of her. After many years I finally told him I wasn’t comfortable having her around. He said she was a very good friend. I told him he shouldn’t have very good female friends outside of our marriage. As a married couple, I should be his best friend and confidant as his wife and he should be my best friend and confidant as my husband. And, or, he should have guy friends only to talk about stuff that he can’t talk to me about.”
“So what happened?”
“Out of respect for me and our marriage, he ended the friendship. He put me first. Broke off all social media ties and erased her contact information.”
“So you think I shouldn’t talk to him?”
“That’s a decision you and your husband should make together. But think about this: everytime you text, talk to, email, or communicate in any way with other people, that’s time and emotional energy being invested in someone besides your spouse. It’s a slippery slope. A marriage needs strong, intentional boundaries to survive. Nothing ever ‘just happens.’ It’s all about choices, choosing the right thing.”
Both women jumped at the sound of the telephone.
“I’ll get it,” said Julia standing up. She walked across the kitchen and then paused in the doorway. “Just remember that Jerry and Elaine were single. They used other people for sex, but their heart and souls remained with each other. Ultimately, no-one came between them. If either of them would have gotten married, the friendship, by necessity, would have ended.”
Keenan stared at the capital letters on her mug, THE BEAST, and as she slowly rotated the mug, she focused her eyes on the wooden roller-coaster as it went up and down and around in an endless cycle.
–Tara Schiro is the author of “No Arms, No Legs, No Problem,” the inspirational story of bronze-medal Paralympian Bob Lujano. It is NOW AVAILABLE on Amazon, Ingram Spark, and Barnes & Noble. http://www.TaraSchiro.com

Should Women Wear Makeup? The Deeper Issue of Concealer

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Two women sat at a table nearby and talked just loud enough for me to hear
“If I wear makeup, I’m afraid I won’t be taken seriously. I don’t want to be perceived like her,” said the one facing me.
This is what caught my attention. I didn’t look up but I sensed she had pointed at me. My face flushed as I stirred the potatoes on my plate. The other one turned to look at me.
“That wouldn’t happen. I don’t see anything wrong with makeup if you keep it light,” said the one with her back to me.
“I want to blend in, be accepted for my brain.”
That’s funny, I thought. I don’t want to be perceived like you. Plain, nondescript, blending-in, no one giving you the time of day because they don’t see you.
We were in the cafeteria at Fuller Theological Seminary in 2006. I was working on a (short lived) Master’s Degree. It was around this same time period, during the height of my insecurity, that I was first accused of being Lipstick Girl (which I recounted in the post, “Who is Lipstick Girl?”).
The anxiety over ‘to wear or not to wear,’ and ‘how much to wear,’ and ‘at what age is appropriate to wear,’ makeup has turned into an ongoing question that never seems to be answered. I’m pretty sure it’s because we are asking the wrong questions.
Oprah did a show several years ago about the freedom of not wearing makeup and had four women come out in foundation only. Their body language exuded embarrassment and one said she felt naked. The TV show “What Not to Wear” dealt proficiently with the issues women have with makeup. There was a strong divide between women who didn’t wear enough and women who wore too much. It was a struggle for them, lots of tears and turmoil, to either put more on or take some off to get to a balanced approach. The common insecurity on both sides had zero to do with their outer appearance.
Magazine covers shame celebrities with headlines like, “See what they look like without makeup!” They also glorify a perfect portrait with, “Get the look!” There are many videos on YouTube of women claiming freedom by shedding the makeup and shedding the clothes to show the “natural” beauty of wrinkles, flab, disease, etc. There was also a recent uproar when a paraplegic woman posted pictures of herself looking sexy in lingerie, to postulate the idea that she can still ‘be beautiful.’
The deeper issue is the identity, not the skin, beneath the concealer.
The question we should be asking is, “Why are we using makeup to conceal our heart?”
Somewhere along the line we’ve decided that thick eyelashes give us a different view of ourselves. We use foundation and powder to hide the insecurities of our souls along with the wrinkles around our eyes. The bright color on our lips is no longer just for fun; it begs the deeper question, “Am I worthy?”
The woman in the cafeteria was rebelling against this dichotomy and I don’t blame her. However, the use of academics, perfectionism, clothes, and career can also be the measuring stick to determine “Do I measure up?”
Collectively, we tell ourselves, “It’s the inside that counts,” but we all know it’s a lie. None of us can turn our head without seeing a picture on a billboard, a magazine cover, an internet article or advertisement, a TV show or movie, or a commercial of the perfect specimen; there are perfect bodies everywhere eating hamburgers and looking fab at 50. We look, because, well, they are perfectly beautiful. It’s mesmerizing and revolting at the same time.
Our eyes cannot see the inside “that counts;” only the heart can do that. A soul-to-soul connection brings out the inner beauty but that takes a time investment. It takes time to find out if a person is charitable, if they are making a difference for positive change, if they are full of wisdom and insight and humility, if they lead by bringing out the best in those around them, if they are pursuing their passions, talents and skill sets for the fun and benefit of others instead of themselves, if they are truly beautiful from the inside out.

The posts on Facebook are predictable from moms with daughters around grade six and above. “My daughter wants to wear lip-gloss! Should I let her?” The comments are also quite predictable, swinging between, “Absolutely not!” and “Of course!” to winded judgments about the long-term implications.
I suspect that women have an intrinsic understanding that makeup is more of a shield and a weapon in addition to shrinking the pores. There is a resistance to leading our young into a system that ultimately works against us.
There was a time I wouldn’t go to the mailbox without my “mask on.” Both my kids were delivered with me in full makeup. In fact, my mother re-applied my lipstick, just before the last push, so we would have good pictures. What?!
The fear (wrong thinking) was that if someone saw me without my mask, they would see how empty my inside was. If I was caught without lipstick, say after eating a meal, or doing a quick errand in the grocery with little makeup, I could barely hold the conversation. The only thoughts in my head were, I know I’m not measuring up, please don’t judge me. I’m so embarrassed my mask isn’t in place. I am not worthy in my flaws.
It was as if my entire soul—all the mistakes, missed opportunities, failures—were on display for all to see because it wasn’t hidden behind the mask. I had somehow equated looking acceptable to being acceptable. I had decided that if wrinkles on my face were erased, then the wrinkles in my heart were erased as well.
Let’s be honest. Nobody, not even men, looks good under fluorescent or harsh lights. Makeup is a way to even out the skin tone, brighten the eyes, lessen the bags, and add some color to the face. Makeup can enhance your natural features to bring life to your presentation.
But if our physical presentation (or career, or perfectionism, or knowledge) becomes the barometer for validation from the people around us, we are running a race with no finish line. We might as well buy stock in treadmills.
We need to sever the tie between the beliefs in our gut about who we are and the job of makeup. Concealer is to cover the dark circles under our eyes, not our souls.

What do you think about women and girls wearing makeup? Let me know in the comment section!
–Tara Schiro is the author of “No Arms, No Legs, No Problem,” the inspirational biography of Bronze-Medal Paralympian, Bob Lujano. NOW AVAILABLE on Amazon, Ingram Spark, and Barnes & Noble. www.TaraSchiro.com

Photo Content Cred: Thank you to Sally Van Swearingen at Studio Essentials, for your natural beauty!

The Deeper Issue of Humility: Background Acting in Hollywood

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Humble Pie is bitter and unappealing. It lands surreptitiously on my plate. I take a naive bite and immediately the palate needs cleansing. The saliva of resistance floods in but there’s no turning back. Arrogance has hit the radar leaving me with two choices: finish the pie, savoring each acrid bite to get to the sweetness of contentment, or, push it back to the server in defense, refusing to grow.

I am of the belief that every circumstance or situation in life is a tool for emotional, physical, or spiritual growth; if we choose it to be.

One of my first jobs in Hollywood was on “Partners.” I was chosen to sit at the front table of the “reunion” where the actors would dialogue and surprise, suprise, Kelsey Grammar interacted with me during the scene. He’s one of my favorite actors. I thought to myself, this is so easy! Just show up in the right dress and I’ll get moved to the main action! Filming the explosion scene for the season three finale of Scandal a week later was pure joy. Hollywood magic is something I’ll never tire of experiencing. However, the special effects guy kept yelling at the background actors to stop stepping on the fake smoke placed under the fake debri. Some of the extras snapped back at the special effects guy. This was the beginning of my education.

On set that first summer, I surmised this was an industry where (seemingly) no one has your back. There is a hierarchy, a separation of classes and the extras are the lowest on the totem pole. Production is at the top and it goes down from there. The reason they call some of the jobs cattle calls is because the extras get hearded like cattle. I didn’t handle this truth with any kind of grace.

There are rules for behavior for the extras. Don’t talk to the actors, especially the famous ones. Don’t look at them while they are doing their scene. Never ask for pictures. Don’t ask questions of anyone except the PA or AD in charge of you (I’m horrible at that one). Do what you’re told. Don’t wander off. Don’t talk on set. Smile and say thank you to the wardrobe, hair, and makeup people, even if they make you look ridiculous. Don’t complain. Dont argue. Don’t lean on the trailer of the principle actor, or stand in the shade of the trailer (this was told on a sunny, 100 degree day as we stood melting in a long line for wardrobe). Don’t talk loudly near the trailer of the principle actor. Don’t eat until the actors and the crew have eaten (or not at all). Only two or three at a time can go to the craft services (snack) table. Only union members can get a snack or drink (the majority of extras on set are non-union). Stay out of the way of the crew. Hurry up and wait. Hurry up and wait.

On one occasion, the PA said, “Don’t eat until I come back and tell you to eat.” He was gone for 50 minutes. Lunch was one hour. At the 40 minute mark, I angrily walked over to the table to sum things up. The area was clear. The crew had obviously taken their food. I didn’t want to disobey, but, I also knew that at exactly 60 minutes we would be called back to set. I needed time to eat, use the restroom, brush my teeth, powder my face; time was ticking the final 20 minutes to get all that in. Besides the fact that he left us sitting on a dark soundstage and it was beautiful outside. I rationalized he forgot about us so I made a plate of food and went out to watch the sunset. He came back and scolded those of us who didn’t listen while those who did scrambled in the ten minutes that were left.

Initially, I was offended. I kept thinking to myself that I was better than that, I didn’t deserve to be treated with such disrespect. Everyone on set enjoyed a nice break except the background. Over the next several months I got sucked into conversations about the need for agents and calling services and multiple agencies to maximize potential. I began asking questions of other background actors, “What are your goals? Why are you an extra? Where are you headed?” Some want to direct, act, write, produce, some are in between jobs, but one man’s answer stopped me. “I like doing background.” “So you’re just a background actor?” I emphasized just. He caught my arrogance and called me on it. I was served.

I rejected the first piece of humble pie and made haste to get into the Union because my inseciruty whispered that minimum wage was beneath me. “I’m in my late 40’s. I’ve held important jobs at large companies and could work circles around some of these people. I’m a person whose going places,” I rationalized to myself.

It took a year-and-a-half of standing in long lines, sitting in holding for hours (sometimes eleven) before going to set (or not at all), filming a featured scene only to be cut out during editing, being talked down to by various crew members, being told that “if you ever do that again you will never work in Hollywood again!”, enduring ridiculous hairdoes, and listening to other extras complain about someone using their chair, to really understand how arrogant I was. Still am?

I’m a firm believer that if we pray for maturity, for growth, for wisdom, God, in His sense of humor, will answer. In my case, he gave me a whacky job to produce a calm heart. He puts people in my path to grow patience, to learn to respect authority, and to understand the true definitions of love and servanthood. He puts me in severe situations, like working sixteen hours straight on a rainy night in a thin dress to produce endurance.

No one can place me at the bottom of the totem pole without my permission. My arrogance and insecurity made me feel inferior, not the hierarchy on set. I am the daughter of The King. My identity is in Jesus, the Living God, not my job title or family status. To be humble is to think of ones self, less; it is not thinking less of yourself. The more I seek validation from people, the more insecure I am. God needed to remind me that who I am in Him is what I take with me wherever I go. I am not less than because of salary or position or task or because someone is talking down to me. I am more than enough because of what Jesus did for me.

I love background acting. I get to see the inner workings of production. I get the opportunity to meet icons like Clint Eastwood. I get to listen to and enjoy other people’s story. I get the pleasure of being a servant to everyone on set. I get to practice my attitude, reflect on my purpose, and allow myself to be made strong. I get to be on hit shows and learn from the best of the best. Don’t get me wrong; I haven’t “arrived.” But I get the chance to practice and to enjoy life wherever I am, if I choose to.

–Tara (Hoke) Schiro is the author of “No Arms, No Legs, No Problem: When life happens, you can wish to die or choose to live,” Now Available on Amazon, Ingram Spark, and Barnes and Noble.

The Deeper Issue of the Democrats, the Republicans, and the Pope

The political process is alive and well as we prepare to vote for a new President. It highlights what is good and yet what is terribly wrong in our contentious society. As citizens of the United States, we have the privilege to run, campaign, and vote for elected offices. We have the right to determine the direction of our country. But privilege comes with responsibility.

It’s difficult, if not impossible, to accurately distinguish the best candidate for the job when everyone one of them is covered in mud.

Sam Adams, the first openly gay Mayor of Portland, Oregon (2008-2012; He is now the Director of the New Climate Initiative at the World Resources Institute) and Kevin Palau, the President of the Luis Palau Ministries, an evangelical group that shares the good news, were today’s guests on the Focus on the Family Daily Broadcast. They came on the program to talk about the partnership between the LGBT community and 500 evangelical pastors and congregations in the City Serve Project which is also told in the book, “Unlikely: Setting Aside Our Differences to Live Out the Gospel.” City Serve has transformed schools, foster care, sex trafficing, and the homeless in Portland, New York, Colorado and many other cities in the U.S. A longer explanation will be for another post but there are a few take aways that pertain to politics.

Political candidates, political parties, salespeople in general, want to make the sale. They want to win. They want to push their agenda. The pitch is often disguised as what’s best for the country but because of the way the campaigns are run, it is easy to see through the smoke screen. Our candidates tell us everything that is wrong with the other candidates. The political pundits take the baton and tell us everything that is wrong with the other party.

We, as Democrats and Republicans, run the final leg of the race by posting negative, and sometimes derogatory and condemning rhetoric on social media, or verbally at the water cooler, about how stupid this or that group or political party or candidate or lobbying group is. There are “news” shows whose sole purpose is to bash the other party. And once the elections have taken place, we hear statements like, “Now that the Democrats are in control,” or, “Now that the Republicans are in control,” we can accomplish our agenda or it will be a lame duck session. Every time a new President is elected there is a promise of unity. Every year we are more and more polarized. We never hear statements like, “Now that the elections have taken place, now that the team is seated, we can get to work.”

How can our country move forward in a positive way, respecting and representing all its citizens, when we as a people put each other down? We are much of the problem. Not the President, not the Congress, not the House or the Senate, not the Republicans and not the Democrats. It’s us as we move around in our everyday lives.

We throw around the phrase “be the change we wish to see in the world” but then talk out of both sides of our mouth when we turn around to judge, gossip, criticize, condemn, control, poke fun, bully, and spew anger and bitterness. Labeling or slandering another person is acting a part of the problem, not the solution. We are all fighting for space to be recognized, heard, understood, and validated. We want peace. Putting another person or group on the defense through finger pointing is not practicing what you preach or being the change you wish to see.

If we want the new President to be a unifier, we need to be unifiers. At work. At home. Out running errands. At church. Serving at a charity. On social media. Everytime we point the finger, physically or metaphorically, in an effort to say “those people” are the idiots, “they” are the problem, “they are what’s wrong with our country,” we ourselves have just jumped into the swamp and have become the problem rather than the solution. We are all equally arrogant and muddy.

A good campaigner or pundit will have the courage to highlight the other party’s strengths and weaknesses while highlighting their own strengths and weaknesses. This builds trust and shows humility as well as wisdom. Both the Democrats and Republicans have good and not-so-good qualities. We need both parties to run the country; together. Senators in different parties used to dine together. Someone needs to be brave enough to begin the practice again; the art of sharing a meal while listening to their guest, acknowledging the issues that can be agreed upon and working together for the greater good of our society.

The Pope was here last week. He embodies Jesus’ teachings. Masses of people flocked to see and hear him speak or drive by. He spoke to the world via the United Nations and Congress and Mass celebrations and kissing babies. He’s a unifier. We can learn from him on how to agree to disagree agreeably. It’s possible. We just need to put our selfishness and fears aside for the greater good of these United States. The solution starts with you and me.

–Tara Schiro is the author of “No Arms, No Legs, No Problem: When life happens, you can wish to die or choose to live,” now available on Amazon, Ingram Spark and Barnes & Noble.