Powerless is Not Helpless

(I.O.W. “Do What You Can, With What You’ve Got, Where You Are”)

Many of you are likely familiar with the quote, “Do what you can, with what you’ve got, where you are,” frequently attributed to Theodore Roosevelt but, in fact, first coined by Squire Bill Widener.

Regardless of its provenance, it is a phrase that has been top of mind for me, on both a personal and global level.

Let’s get the personal out of the way:

I had 2 surgeries in February: one left me on crutches, the other with 17 stitches.

As both were scheduled, there was no attendant drama, just frustration, as I enjoy moving my body and didn’t enjoy being told I couldn’t do so.

But then I recalled;

  1. Powerless is not helpless and
  2. Do what you can with what you’ve got, where you are.

Given that, I got on my yoga mat every day— if only to stretch and breathe.

Once there, however, I discovered a lot of things I could do that didn’t necessitate putting weight on my legs or lifting my arms. (See photo, above.)

In other words, I was not helpless

Now to the – far more important—global situation:

Like many of you, events in the Ukraine have me anxious, angry, and very, very sad.

Given the barrage of bad news—and the distance at which it’s occurring— my first thoughts were how I had no power to change the situation.


That said, I am not helpless.

“If you’ve been feeling the same, neither are you.”

On a super-practical level, you can inform yourself and—if you are able— get involved with organizations dedicated to helping the Ukraine.

Global Citizen’s “20 Meaningful Ways You Can Help Ukraine” is a great starting place for taking action.

On a moment-to-moment level, I recommend internalizing the words of Thich Nhat Hanh, the Buddhist monk nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr..

“If we want peace, we have to be peace. Peace is a practice not a hope.”

So before you engage in that next conflict: with a colleague, friend, neighbor—yourself!—take a moment. Breathe. Choose peace.

Because choosing peace has power.