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Healing Kansas City: Using The Power of Our Own Wholeness

We are one week into our new reality, and I wonder how each of us are doing as we take it in, personally. Valentine’s Day in Kansas City started with all the promise of a beautiful spring day, and most of us were primed for another grand Super Bowl Celebration. City officials and law enforcement had worked together to ensure that security measures had been considered and all were poised to execute. Personally, I watched both Stacey Graves (KC’s Chief of Police) and Quentin Lucas (KC’s Mayor) spell out plans on the news in the days ahead, both hoping their hard work and combined efforts would protect our Parade. Their excitement shined brightly in those interviews, exuding civic pride about being able to share this celebration as Chiefs fans, and as a part of our larger community. We could all feel the electricity pulsing around us, if we were tuned into it at all.

We had advance knowledge that this day would be one for the history books. Judging by the number of families in the crowd, a lot of people were feeling safe enough to show up. In the past several days, I’ve heard many people share their pre-cognitive fears that something bad might happen at the rally, and I want to give some serious acknowledgement to those feelings (insert deep breath here). That awareness is meaningful, and the more we learn to rely on our emotions to indicate what is actually happening around us, the better communicators we become, overall. 

I’m not suggesting we trust each fearful thought – quite the contrary. If we repeat our patterns of fear, without thinking ideally of ways things could be better, we lose balance in our perspective. They become part of our rigid belief system, instead of our temporary guide. Our natural ability to trust our own thoughts and concerns is one of our greatest assets, but that system is highly dependent on thoughtful creativity for its fuel. Fear carries tremendous power, no doubt. It slows us down and drains our confidence, but there is a beneficial flip side available, too. Our fears are specifically designed to support our body awareness and overall health, and once we begin to practice working in collaberation with those energies, we see the difference almost immediately. 

The waves of painful aftershocks are still reverberating through us, and they move in stark contrast to the tone and mood Kansas City was feeling moments before we became forever altered. We all felt our bodies tighten up, as if that could shield us from feeling this stark reality. We very likely held our breath in response, collectively, without even knowing it. Our fears took form before our eyes, and video accounts continue to give us new details as they surface for viewing. It’s helpful if we can go back and replay our own experience with this trauma, so that we can fully clear the energy of it from our bodies. Our memories will not forget that this happened, but we do not need to embody the weight of it, too. It has taken me several days, but I feel more at peace with accepting this event in stride. It is simply part of my/our Wholeness, no matter how much I wish it hadn’t happened.

My group started walking away as soon as the festivities ended. We were all laughing with pure joy at the low-key embarrassment we had just witnessed onstage. Travis Kelce’s family of teammates had just dragged him, reluctantly and hilariously, from the microphone as he tried to belt out Garth Brooks’ Friends in Low Places. The song choice is the epitome of Wholeness, but I didn’t make that connection until days later. It still makes me smile. Ever the consummate teammate, Mahomes stepped in and wrapped up the play as the background music began to swell and Garth Brooks’ voice took over. Game over, we thought. Another KC Win.

Side note: It was abundantly clear to the crowd around me that Travis Kelce had fought hard enough for his right to party this season that he had practically knocked himself out at the parade, and we were all here for it! As I was walking away, I was considering the crazy cache of memories he has to reflect upon from the last 6 months, both on and off the field. Who can really blame him for this epic public display? Embracing his vulnerable, albeit drunken, heart, and appreciating everything before him with increasing humbleness and intention – out loud, even! In that moment, Kelce felt like a symbol of the heart of the entire Chiefs Team, and by extension, its connected love for Kansas City. 

At 1:32pm, 12 minutes before our tide would turn, I took a beautiful picture of the sun peeking from behind the Liberty Memorial. I thought about how it probably looks like that every day as the sun passes behind it, though I’m not usually there to get to see it. I was keenly aware that the gratitude I felt in that moment was owed to the Kansas City Chiefs. They brought us to this point in time, and it felt ‘Kansas City Connected’. My heart was flooded with memories of being in that exact same spot for other moments in my life, and I could feel a sense of ego pride in Kansas City welling up from within me. I savored those memories as I took in our unique backdrop from every direction. It dawned on me that our physical landscape has always seemed solid, but at the same time it remains in perpetual motion, as it continues to change and grow around us. 

We are an amazing fucking town, Kansas City, and it’s become harder to keep a lid on that secret as our creative energies boil over. We are used to resting comfortably at the center of our Country; existing as a steady drumbeat of heart energy. We care for the roots of our people in ways that others don’t often understand (or even notice) because they haven’t felt the intrinsic power and value that comes from so much intentional care for so many years. It is also a nice balance for any negativity we experience, as a city. It’s part of what makes us unique, and part of why we don’t take steps to encourage a lot of attention. We enjoy being rooted in this sweet spot. Beneath the harsher judgments from people who simply don’t consider the magic we create here. They can’t imagine something that powerful could actually happen here. But it does–every day. The Kansas City Chiefs are proof.

Until our recently amped up notoriety, we were considered part of what is known as “flyover country”, and/or an open invitation for a Wizard of Oz reference. But now we are gaining attention whether we want it or not. There are handfuls of celebrities with direct roots to Kansas City, and they all seem to share a similarly amazing trait. Once you notice, it’s hard to miss. If this is news to you, please give yourself an opportunity to share the love, because every one of them carries the heart energy of Kansas City with them onto the stage and into the hearts of their fans and contemporaries. They wear their KC pride on their sleeve (for real, if they can get away with it), and are unapologetic about their love for where they learned about life. Together, they seem to have tapped into the collective confidence that is woven into the very same inventive fabric that built Kansas City, and continues to keep us thriving, despite our occasional missteps, our controversial historical accounting, and our inability to put an end to violence. We are still human, of course. We must accept what is before us if we are to set about changing it.

We are deeply humorous and creative beings, which, unfortunately, has allowed us to dance around our neglected underbelly to some degree. Right now, I feel like the universe is doing its part to let us know that there is a lot of power to be gained from acknowledging our hard truths and finding ways to honor the resulting fallout from the ugly parts. If we are going to ThreePeat as hard as we’d like to, we can do more than relying solely on the physical skills of the team and claiming to be the greatest with enough force. In Kansas City, we succeed when we know things and feel them from within our cores. Patrick Mahomes ‘decided’ we were going to win ahead of time, because he honors the power of this energy, which allows him to draw on it whenever he chooses. He feels it and knows that he can grow it by sharing it. It’s part of his own raw material, so he offers it to his community: willingly, freely, and repeatedly.

Cool fact: Walt Disney, one of our world’s best known creative personalities, spent his formative years in Kansas City. His energy remains tapped into that very same supply of imaginative force that continues to grow as part of Kansas City’s organic resources today. It is rumored that his Mickey Mouse himself was inspired by the real live mouse that liked to frequent Disney’s desk drawer at his first company, Laugh-o-Gram Studios (1127 E. 31st Street). Creatively, Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse, respectively, became the father and star of the wild, animated ride we know as his cinematic masterpiece, Fantasia. That movie combined imagination with music in a way that compelled human beings to take notice of the vibrant physical sensations in their bodies as their minds were occupied watching the movie. DIsney’s offering of an animated energetic attunement was formed straight from the roots of Kansas City’s rich creative vein. 

It proved to be a natural recipe for increased creativity, and a boon to Disney himself. He went on to create the types of movies he believed would foster the magic of imagination in the minds of human beings. He has encouraged generations of children to follow their dreams and celebrate exactly who they are. He has also been accused of various offenses, including stealing ideas. I don’t know the truth, but let’s assume it’s true. “How dare he?”, we think, but then we remember him in the light of Wholeness. We can’t expect him to be infallible, as much as we might want that. We shouldn’t be expecting that from anyone, but that seems to be among our collective challenges. We could learn a lot from Patrick Mahomes on this one. He appears to hold himself to a seriously high standard, while simultaneously giving himself and those around him unconditional grace when things go sideways. It’s aspirational.

When gunfire quite literally rained on our parade, the official celebration had just ended. Most of us had turned to the business of gathering our belongings and making our way towards the balance of the day. We were satiated with the feelings of having another winning Chiefs season under our belts, and happiness radiated all around us – until my phone started blowing up, along with everyone else’s in the crowd walking near us. In our rear view, down the hill, tragedy had just entered the tranquility (pun intended) of The Chiefs Kingdom. *If you missed Drue Tranquil’s on air parade lovefest, which happened way ahead of the violence, click that link.

We’ve seen these things happen in other places, way too many times to have an accurate count anymore. We’ve opened our hearts with empathy to the growing number of victims connected to each violent incident, both emotionally and physically. But since this one hit us at home, we can now understand this pain at a deeper, more spiritual level. As awful as that may seem, I truly believe this is the light that will persevere through the cloud of darkness that currently pervades our joy in Kansas City... 

Our collective foundation has been rocked, and it will be a while before we get a sense of what that looks and feels like, as a community. Probably even longer before we all gain an understanding of how it has changed the way we feel in our own bodies, and what shifts have taken place about our larger world view. It was only a brief moment, but its impact will continue to be felt. The fact that we experienced it together, as a community, has the potential to pull us together in ways we might not have foreseen without this awful blight on an otherwise lovely day. We see this response form in the wake of tragedy, over and over, and I can already see those effects taking place here, as I watch us begin the process of healing.

As we wake up to this new reality, I want to tie us clearly to the creative roots of our past. We have always been a great city, but there is no city, anywhere, whose operations are strictly good. Our energy ebbs and flows as political, economic and emotional conditions shift and change. We are all from the Greater Kansas City Area, but make no mistake in assuming we all share the same types of experiences here. People like Stacey Graves and Quentin Lucas face these disparities every single day, so these heart-breaking acts come as no real shock to them. They were just hoping for something better. We all were.

Our celebration was marred by a reality that already exists among us, but somehow we have felt some false protection from its pain. Gun safety will obviously be a hot topic, but the root of the problem is likely much deeper. A person who is so reactive that they become unconcerned for the lives around them, including their own, is always potentially dangerous. Unfortunately, there are a lot of human beings who walk around in this state, regularly. This stems from ongoing, unmet expectations, as well as emotional barriers and denials – nearly every single time. The obvious exception here is mental illness, which also grows very well in neglected and untended environments. Some people experience daily conditions which keep them separate from the creative outlets that could help. When we can release the feelings of shame, blame, and straight neglect that have riddled our confidences with tremendous fear and apprehension, we begin to feel the effect of healing. Especially when we can work together to respect each others’ differences in opinion and experience.

The creative forces from Kansas City cannot and will not be quelled. We face the darkness of these clouds, and feel the ramifications of devastating tragedy washing over our joy, but it won’t stop it from shining through. This is a chance for us to experience our city’s Wholeness in its truest form. Yes, Kansas Citians are great people. Patrick Mahomes is a phenomenal quarterback, and the Chiefs are up for tackling any challenge. I believe that Patrick Mahomes inherently understands the value of Wholeness, and he is eager to share it with his team, his community, and human beings in general. He taps into the power that already exists right here to catapult us all into a higher vibration of being. He knows how much easier it is to live there, because he does it every day. That type of co-creation raises the energy of everyone around it, and I think Kansas City can be an example, if only to ourselves, of how strong these Kansas City roots really are. 

My heart goes out to all of the public figures who must absorb and explain what happened here, as if they can somehow make sense of it. Their positions must rise to the occasion, no matter how they are feeling, and I find myself caring about that for our news crews, too. If you read this far, you get to hear me give a public thank you to a specific member of the Chiefs Organization, Rick Burkholder, for creating a moment that will forever eclipse the tragedy for me, because it provides a balance to my horror. That morning, I was walking into Fluffy Fresh Donuts and he was walking out. I did not know who he was at the time, but I would learn. He asked if we were going to the Parade and we said yes. He wish us a good time and left...or so we thought!

He came back inside holding two Superbowl rings and asked if we wanted a cool story to take to our friends. He encouraged pictures and shared the cool hidden details of the rings. (Who knew they can also be worn as a pendant?) He was super stoked to be getting his third ring, and his awe and gratitude were palpable. He told us the donuts he had just bought were for Andy Reid, who he was on his way to meet. We asked his name and we shared with him what we were saying before walking in the door: We were saying how the day felt magical – right before we found ourselves casually trying on Superbowl Rings in the donut shop. He agreed that the day was super special and left with a bigger smile than he was already wearing. When I looked him up, I realized he is the Chiefs Head Athletic Trainer. Of course he spreads great energy around the city - he’s a healer.

There is a spotlight on healing for Kansas City right now. President Joe Biden tweeted his heartfelt sentiments, suggesting that we, the people, should be sufficiently shamed into action by this event. I know he means well, but I can’t disagree with him more about the use of shame to solve our issues. I don’t believe that shame serves us in any way that helps us learn or grow. As I have watched our own public officials change their tones from super to somber, I can’t help but feel for the range of emotions that they must juggle as they find the right words to comfort a city who expects answers, but knows more than ever, that we are unable to fully ensure comfort and safety. I also think of Rick Burkholder, riding back to Arrowhead with Andy Reid, who is no stranger to taking a hard hit in the middle of what ‘should’ be joyful. I hope Rick Burkholder always remembers who he was in the moments before this bad thing happened. I hope he can revisit the joy he was carrying that morning, as easily as he can relived the moment where it shifted. I hope that for every single one of us. 

Do yourself a favor. Remind yourself of how you felt that morning, or the moment we won the Superbowl a few days earlier. Tap into the creative resources that are available through the energy of Kansas City. Play around in your imagination with the ways you would solve these problems, if they were up to you. If we know better, we can always do better. We must stop adding shame to our trauma if we really want to shift ourselves away from feeling like potential victims. Bad things happen. Karma aside, once we can ride the waves of our naturally-occuring changes without feeling like we are drowning, we can finally mine those moments for the nuggets that are good for us. I promise they exist, underneath the piles of blame and shame that are draped all around them. The elusive silver lining.

It’s no coincidence that we are being deeply humbled at the exact same moment that we are being recognized for outstanding achievements. Universally, this is a mark of true greatness, and I think that sentiment will become more and more clear as we all adjust our footing around what happened here, and how it happened. Many people were shot, and Lisa Lopez-Galvan lost her life. Accepting it as part of the day, but not the denture experience of the day, will help us all become a little more able to see the world from the perspective of Wholeness. Our egos can remain grounded, knowing that our active, connected and creative  spirit will always take us farther than the single skill set of any one person. Kansas City Strong, indeed.



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