This Is An Urgent Message

Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli

Yesterday was my birthday—I’m now 47 years young, thank you very much. Though, based on the beautiful opportunity that EVERY birthday presents us, I’m actually embracing this birthday as #1. This is the first year, the first day. A starting line.

What, oh what, will I do with it??

(I can’t wait to find out)

One thing I know for sure that I’m going to do is take a lesson from my remarkable- stunning- breathtaking- courageous- creative- beautiful- unique- fierce- children. Because my 11-year old daughter now has a pet snake and my 8-year old son now plays guitar in a rock band, and both of those things are pretty outstanding examples of saying a HEARTY yes to life, if you ask me.

The other thing I know for sure is that my heart seems to have grown ten times larger lately, so my urge to reach my hand out, in love and empathy, to everyone, really-but in particular those who feel lost in a dark place—is practically bouncing off of me. So, beware coming too close—I’m likely going to hug you. I’m very sorry in advance if you are not a hugger.

So, while I’m not sure the particulars of this new year, this starting line, I do know it involves loving the world fiercely and saying YES to every day.  

And this feels urgent to me, and I urgently want to say it to you, too:

Many of us, on a birthday or the occasion of a new year, spend some time in contemplation of our life and sometimes wonder what it is that we were put on this earth to do, and if our time here is making a difference. We wonder if we matter.

My birthday message to myself, and to all of you, is this:  Not only do you matter, but you are irreplaceable. You are the only one of you that we’ve ever gotten before and will ever get again. So today, make sure the world gets you.

If you smile at a stranger, if you water a plant, if you answer an email, if you laugh with a friend, if you make soup and share it, if you apologize quickly, if you sit next to someone in a waiting room, if you hold the door, if you ask for help, if you offer help, if you say hello, if you let that person go first, if you pick up the trash, if you love unapologetically, if you pet a dog, if you share a positive message, if you open the blinds, if you open the door, if you step outside… then, the world gets you.

And on this #1 day, believe me:  the world really needs you.

How will you make sure the world gets you today?


One way to show up for the world today is with kindness.

October is National Bullying Prevention MonthAt least one in four young people in America report that they have been a victim of bullying. Whether in person or on-line, the effects of bullying can be traumatic, and they can be fatal. Each of us can play a part in decreasing the prevalence of bullying behaviors, in our homes, schools, workplaces, and communities.  At The Leadership Program our Bullying Prevention approach is called “Empowering Upstanders.” For lesson plans and project ideas, you can find our curriculum book on Amazon.  For other ideas on how you can prevent bullying, a quick search on-line will offer you countless opportunities to take action. You can start with a stroll through these sites: Pacer Center, Stomp Out Bullying, Stop Bullying, Cyber Smile, The Bully Project, as a start.


Erika Petrelli

By Erika Petrelli

Erika Petrelli is the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development (and self-declared Minister of Mischief) for The Leadership Program, a New York City-based organization. With a Masters degree in Secondary Education, Erika has been in the field of teaching and training for decades, and has been with The Leadership Program since 1999. There she has the opportunity to nurture the individual leadership spirit in both students and adults across the country, through training, coaching, keynotes, and writing. The legacy Erika strives daily to create is to be the runway upon which others take flight. If you enjoy these blogs, you should check out her interactive journal, On Wings & Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary, now available for sale on Amazon. While her work takes her all around the country, Erika calls Indiana home.