Fear

Standard

Fear. In short, fear is the ability to recognize danger leading to an urge to confront it or flee from it. That is how Wikipedia sums it up. One word, so small, yet so powerful. I guess fear is different for all of us. I guess it’s perfectly understandable for a girl from a small town in New Jersey to be afraid of a little Oklahoma storm. I am trying really hard to get over it. Really, I am. I feel blessed that I have always found shelter that has provided me safety and security. What I didn’t expect was that every crack of thunder and every flash of lightening would begin to completely freak me out. I was never afraid of storms before. I loved them. I have blogged about this before. They always offered me a calm, relaxing place to visit in the middle of the busy of life. It was an excuse to stay home, curl up on the couch and listen to the rain.

Tonight, I decided to go for a run. As soon as I left the house, I looked up and saw lightening close by. Tonight, I was able to confront my fear and flee it at the same time. The approaching storm became my own personal trainer and hills I could only walk up 2 days ago became easy enough to run up tonight. I admit I was scared but I knew I had to make it around the block. It was my own personal challenge. As soon as my house came into my line of vision, I walked. I turned around, took one more look at that lightening and confronted it. I know it sounds crazy, but when you pass through a town a few miles away that has been destroyed, it takes a little piece of your heart. Every trip, every sight of such devastation rips at your heart. You can’t stop it, it just happens. To know these people are in tents while I am safely in my shelter as that tornado warning goes off leaves one feeling guilty and sick inside and scared.

I was fortunate enough to go to the Healing in the Heartland concert last night. The emotion and the energy in that arena filled me up. So many emotions, so much pain enveloped in love and hope. We just need a break here. Too many sirens in too few days. Fear, real or imagined, reminds us we are only human. Sometimes we need to be patient with ourselves and just let fear pass on through. Acknowledge it, then continue on. It doesn’t have to be crippling, but we can’t deny it’s there. So tonight, I acknowledge it, and hopefully tomorrow when I begin the day, it won’t have the same power over me. Acknowledge it and let it go until it doesn’t exist anymore.

Making Minutes Count

Standard

Something to look forward to. That is my new plan for feeling excited and alive. So many times we get caught up in the monotonous tasks of every day life. I vowed, at least for me, this year would be different. Perhaps that is The Secret everyone keeps talking about. Having this vision board to keep you focused then a plan to follow up achieving those dreams.

I just finished booking my plane ticket to fly back and see family. I can tell you this, at the base of the aftermath of a big storm lies perspective. If you dig down deep enough in the rumble, you can find yourself there vulnerable and honest. You find photos of all the people and events that really matter and after wiping the dust from the debris from your eyes, you find the clear focus that has been clouded up with what we think life is supposed to be. In the end it is memories, and special times with the people we love that matter most. So, I plan on making a trip to visit those people who mean the world to me. We never know when it will be the last time for us. The last time to see a person we love, the last time we are well enough to visit a place we love. Time is ticking all around us and we have to find a way to make the minutes count.

Some Good Ole Fashioned Therapy

Standard

Sometimes, we come to a point in our lives when everything catches up. It is in this moment that we feel weighed down with fatigue and inspiration gets snuffed out. That is a signal in this house to jump in the car and take an hour drive for some good old fashioned therapy in nature. That is exactly what we did today.

There is something very rewarding in climbing a difficult path to the top of a small mountain. With every step, I could not deny how similar this climb is to a difficult situation in life. One foot in front of the other they say. Well, I guess they’re right. It was hot and tiring and believe me there were times I wanted to just turn around and start back down the path. But, I dug down deep and walked a little faster with a little more focus and once I got to the top….

As I sat there on the highest rock I could safely climb to, I thought about some of my lessons from yoga. I felt the wind blow through me as I rooted down onto the rock. The wind was fierce today, but I felt solid as I sat there taking in the beautiful view. I thought about how long and difficult this past week has been. I was also reminded that if you fight your way through the difficult paths, the view at the top will be worth the struggle. So, that is the lesson here for me today. Let the things that don’t serve your higher purpose blow through. Don’t hold onto them, let them go. Leave room for all the positive, inspiring things and feel the weight of the world lift as you let the rest just blow away. There is nothing more powerful that sitting at the top of world, surrounded by the beauty that is always around us. Sometimes, we just have to climb high enough to see it.

20130527-192513.jpg

A Difficult Ride

Standard

Today, I started my morning at my usual yoga studio. This day though, and this yoga class would be one that I would never forget. It was supposed to be a class of healing and a fundraiser for all the victims of the Moore tornado. We had a guest of honor. One of the teachers from Plaza Towers was there to share our class and tell her story. I sat there hanging on every word. My heart was breaking as I imagined the fear and pretend courage that engulfed her in a time that must have seemed endless. She was shaken but not broken. Her gentle spirit and amazing words touched each and every one of us in that room today. You, like myself are probably wondering how does someone get through a situation like that? Well, she told us. It was God and prayer. She explained how the media painted a grim picture of hopelessness and despair. For those people, both staff and students that walked out of that school that day, believed it was nothing short of a miracle. The hand of God. Her words keep repeating over and over again in my mind, “When we got outside and saw the school we knew no-one should have gotten out of there alive”. That is how she put it. She is touched and moved to tears over the support and love pouring into her small community.

We finally took a ride through Moore today. I feel drained and heartbroken, speechless, and empty. I just kept saying Oh My God! The devastation is enough to cause physical pain to your very core. My heart hurts is not just a saying to me anymore. The heaviness I feel in my chest is crushing my breath. Its like the darkness that creeps over you in a moment of dread. I knew it would be hard to see, but what I didn’t realize was how deeply it would affect me. I saw a piece of a room with a picture still hanging and the rest of the house crumbled to the ground. I saw people standing in the middle of that rubble leafing through the mess that was once their home. I saw flags flying in piles of destruction and signs that read For Sale. Recently Remodeled. How will they rebuild? Where do you start when everywhere in your line of vision is a complete disaster? I am moved beyond words. There just are no words to explain what I saw today. The visions will haunt me for a long time. My heart goes out to that town. There were graduations today and funerals. There were clean up crews and volunteers ready to provide food and water. FEMA, Red Cross, Salvation Army and church parking lots filled with tents offering different services. Patriot Riders standing guard outside churches and teens holding signs offering hugs. What a sight, both sad and inspiring and touching on so many levels all at the same time. I am glad I took that difficult ride today. I needed to see it. It reminds me to hit my knees at the end of the day as I think of all the things I am grateful for. It reminds me that life is not guaranteed, time is not guaranteed, and that material things cannot define us. It is a lesson I will never forget. I thought it was worth sharing.

Another Ending

Standard

Today, I dropped my daughter off at middle school for the last time. Usually, I am in a hurry to fight my way through traffic and rush on to the the next stop. But, this day, I pulled my car over and took a moment to watch her walk inside. As the tears came streaming down my face, I had a flashback to the first day I held her hand and walked her into kindergarten. She was so big that day and so brave. But today, as she jumped out of the car with a plasterboard size card for her favorite teacher, she looked so grown up. When did it happen? Where did the time go? All the struggles, joys, lessons, and memories came rushing back all at once. My little girl was growing up right before my very eyes. I can’t help but keep returning to a mental image of her sitting on the bench so I could snap a photo of her on her first day of school. As she walked to her classroom she didn’t look back. Today, she didn’t look back either. It warms my heart to know we have given her the confidence to fly on her own. I know that little girl is still inside of her, but for me, she seems so far away. It’s like a blur of years that have blown by so quickly with the winds of change. It is one of my moments. A new mental picture that will haunt my mind the last day she walks out of this house, her last day of high school.

Today is such a mix of emotions for me. There are funerals going on for children that won’t have a next day or next year of school. My heart aches as those families bury their young children. I watch the amazing stories of how surviving children and their families are reaching out to help families who lost a child in that school on that haunting day. The stories are beautiful and they touch me deeply.

Today, I will wait by the window for the bus to come. I will watch Chase run towards the house, open the door and yell Hi MOM! Another moment, another mental image that I will store inside my heart. I can’t help but wonder if next year, as he gets off the bus from middle school, things will be completely different. But today, I will bask in our normal and be grateful that at the end of the day, I am blessed that my children will come home to me. Today is a special one, a painful one, a happy one. One I know I will never forget. Tonight, as I turn the page on a school year coming to another end, before I go to sleep, I will peek in their door. Perhaps, I will take a moment to listen to them breathe and watch them sleep. Then tomorrow, I will probably yell at them to clean their rooms. Isn’t that just the way life is? For a moment, we get it. Then the next day we our back to our normal busy selves, missing what’s important, standing right in front of us attempting to grab our attention . We have a lot to celebrate this weekend and I feel blessed. As a family, we are going to spend a few hours finding a way to volunteer. Although it will be difficult, it will bond us as a family and remind us that our community and our neighbors are an extension of our family as well. That is what life is all about. Loving others, appreciating others, helping others and giving them something very precious, our time. And this weekend, in Moore Oklahoma, that is exactly what we are going to do

Lighting the Spark

Standard

I have not had the best luck when it comes to teachers the last few years. I even admit that most have been uninspiring and turned my kids off on the whole idea of sitting in a boring classroom. This year however was a little bit different. Last night my daughter stayed up very late. She has been talking about doing something special for a particular teacher. I suggested buying her a gift but she had her own idea. She got a giant poster board and made her a card. She used her poloroid camera for me to capture silly pictures of her that she attached.

What was the difference? What was it about this teacher that made Kayleigh excited enough at the lazy age of 14 to make this teacher a card. I can’t get her to do anything willingly. I will tell you. This teacher won Teacher of the Year. Big deal I thought. What did that mean. In our lives, it meant that my daughter would be excited about school. She would be so excited that she would actually go out of her way to make conversation with me that didn’t involve eye rolling. This teacher did more than your average teacher. One of the assignments was on the Civil War. Instead of making them write a paper, she gave them the opportunity to participate in History Idol. Yes, these kids were able to write their own song to a popular tune and present it in groups in front of the class. They had the option to video tape themselves or perform it live. My daughter, dreaming of becoming the next Americal Idol, chose to do hers live. It was fun, informative, creative, and might I add very, very good. I was amazed. In hind sight, I wonder if a written paper would ever compare.

My message to teachers is this, be a stand out. Be different. Use all kinds of unique ways to get these kids involved and help inspire them. In the car earlier this week Kayleigh said something pretty amazing. ” Mom, I think I might want to become a social studies teacher. I don’t like kids much, so I think I want to focus on middle school age. They are the really cool kids”. Will she become a Social Studies teacher? I have no idea. But the fact that she has given it some thought, speaks volumes about how much this wonderful teacher has placed a small spark inside her soul. I sent that teacher a note today to thank her. I pray my kids sit in more classes in the future that affect them the way this one did. I am very grateful!

20130524-094122.jpg

Moments

Standard

There are crossroads in every lifetime. Moments that define us. Moments that change us. Moments that stay in our hearts and minds forever and moments that haunt our dreams. In the end all those moments come together to connect the days and years of our lives.

The last few days have been filled with so many emotions. So many thoughts, fears. Plans that have been disrupted and intercepted. So many questions and soul searching trying to make out the meaning of the events in our lives.

Tonight, I sat at my sons 5th grade graduation. So many moments are bittersweet. Tonight was one of those nights. I tried so hard to enjoy the moment but the truth is I fought back tears most of the ceremony. So many kids in a town so close would not make it back to school this year. Their schools are destroyed. Their town is destroyed. The human and compassion and empathy that lives in my heart grabbed on tonight and wouldn’t let go. I felt alone and empty in the middle of all those 5th grade parents. I wanted to disappear and emotionally I did, at least from the present moment.

Our painful track through elementary school has been a difficult one. I watched my son tonight and I had to revisit the whole experience. I can’t break life up and cut out the parts I don’t want to see. That is not who I am. I let myself feel each year, each struggle, each small victory. The fact that this ceremony lasted almost 2 hours allowed me to revisit the last few years of my own life. My own struggles. Happy times, difficult times, and all those times in between. It is easy to get lost in the shuffle when you don’t have solid roots. I believe all the moving around has left me estranged and somewhat empty. It hurts to get close and move. It hurts to start a life and uproot it long before the story is over. What I realized is this. Things affect us. People affect us. Every situation and experience at some point comes back to haunt us. How we react is a choice. It determines our character, how we treat others and how we decide we are going to be. Will we be depressed, angry, vindictive, nonchalant. We decide. Hopefully we choose carefully.

The lesson is this. For whatever reason, I believe we are in a particular place at a particular time for a particular reason.Im not really big on the idea of chance. Oklahoma has been a learning opportunity in so many ways. Moving around, I have experienced people from every culture, and political party. I have lived in small towns, big towns, rich towns, poor towns. It’s a blessing and a curse at the same time. It has made me question truth and character and motives. This week the lesson has been painful but hopeful at the same time. I have watched the media focus in on the small school that has become a pile of rubble. I have watched the doom and gloom and exaggeration they have put on the 7 children that lost their lives on that terrible day. I want to tell you my story. My truth. The truth is I have seen some difficult things on Facebook. I have seen posts that chide people that believe in God. I have seen people ask where is your God directed at people who have lost family and friends, and maybe their homes. I have seen people insinuate because Oklahoma is a red state and does not support federal aid we should not be granted any. Post after post, my heart just sank. I posted not long ago that our lives become the reflection we allow ourselves to see. I will not let the truth and the good be fogged over by nonsense. People wonder why I sometimes get discouraged about the world. You should see it here. The destruction. The devastation. It is enough to make one sick to their stomach. Last night we had more severe storms and I woke up in a panic at the sound of thunder. I went to sleep with my heart breaking thinking not only of the families and friends of people that lost their lives, but also the people that lost everything. I think I heard 3500 homes. These people don’t have a pillow, a bed, a home, food, or even a change of underwear. We are going to use this situation to argue whether there is a God or people of a particular party deserve disaster aid. Not anymore. Not on my watch. My mirror shows a community that has stepped up to help. The donations, the workers, the deli’s that offer free lunches to men and woman digging through rubble. Neighbors helping neighbors. People that have lost everything lending a hand to someone else in need when a hand is all they have left to offer. That is living. That is humanity. That is love. People are not broken here. They are in shock but they are taking action. It is hopeful, beautiful and amazing to watch. It is also gut wrenching. But, that is the real story in Oklahoma right now. We are not devastated over the fact 7 children died in a school. We are so saddened but at the same time grateful the number is not as bad as it could have been. It is almost a blessing to look around at the devastation and see so few lives lost. That is what we are focused on here now. Oklahoma feels and appreciates the love and support of people all around the world. It gives us strength and we appreciate it. Just know that there are amazing stories here to tell, different from some of the ones told over and over. People are good, and kind and compassionate. There is so much good going on here that it has changed the way I see the world. Maybe that is why I am here at this time, in this moment. I feel blessed to witness the outpouring of humanity and a community coming together in an amazing way in a time of need. This is one of my moments, one I am sure I will never forget. Some of the fear and pain will be hard to navigate through, but the kindness and hope that rise out of the rubble will forever soften my heart. I am really moved by all the wonderful, positive, genuinely concerned and compassionate posts I have been seeing as well. Keep them coming, because they do make a difference.

What I was able to focus on tonight during the ceremony was the speaker referring to momentous occasions. He asked for everyone to look around the room and realize we all share this moment together. It is a group of people called together to share a particular moment in time. These moments bind us in ways that sometimes we may not realize in a given moment, but it sure made a lot of sense to me tonight. I have those moments in so many states with so many different people. This time or this moment feels like one I just need to get through. However, it binds me to this State, this community, and the people in my life at this time. Just for tonight I will stay in this moment until the next moment comes along. Count your blessing because we only get so many moments to live….

The Winds Of Change

Standard

I don’t know what it is about the early warning that a tornado may soon be knocking on my towns back door. It really creeps right under my skin. We usually get the warning days in advance. It is then that the feeling of gloom creeps into the small part of myself that fuels my feelings of dread. I normally don’t sweat the small stuff, but Mother Nature is not small. She has a power so fierce that she can take down a neighborhood of houses so that all that is left is a remnant of foundation. I’ve seen her fury. As the sky darkens, my head begins to throb. There is no stopping the increasing fear just like there is no stopping the force of her winds.

I watched the news today. I saw the pictures of over turned cars, and foundations that have been stripped of houses. I can’t help but feel sad for the hundreds of people that have lost so much. I feel blessed today that my town was spared, at least for today. Sometimes I get so caught up in the little things that I forget just how fragile life really is. Today was a reminder, a wake up call. A chance to wake up tomorrow and count my blessings before I touch my feet to the ground. Our lives can change in an instant. Are we grateful for the things we have, the people who love us, and the acts of random kindness all around us? They say your life is a reflection of what you choose to see. I’ve been struggling lately, because the reflection has been unkind, and ugly. That is why I haven’t blogged. I’ve been trying to fight my way back to a better place and today I think I caught a ride on one of those fast moving clouds. Tonight, when I put this tired body into bed I will smile and be grateful my bed is comfortably underneath me. I will say a prayer that all those people affected by these terrible storms will be offered shelter and the help they need to get back up on their feet. And tomorrow, all day long, I will count all of my blessings while I wait for the next round of storms….

Color Me Rad Run!

Standard

For those of you that have never attempted this fun 5k run, I say put it on your bucket list. We ventured out on Mothers Day weekend hoping for a new and fun experience. We didn’t really know what to expect, but decorated our shirts, put on our funky sunglasses and colored headbands and headed out. The moment we stepped out of the car, we were surrounded with the amazing energy shared by all. There we were at the starting spot, grins on our faces, pleading with our eyes for the volunteers to hit us with color. And hit us with color is exactly what they did! As we got closer to a color spot, we moved as slow as we could getting lathered in color excited like small children in a gigantic candy store. It was a blast!

After the race, we bunched ourselves up in the small crowd that stood below a team of workers encouraging us to chant color me rad as we jumped up and down wildly waiting to get doused by more color. And the more we asked, the more we got! By the time we left we were covered head to toe in orange, purple, green, yellow, pink and blue. Here are some of our favorite pictures before and after. I hope someday you get to experience this too!

20130517-174311.jpg

20130517-174346.jpg

20130517-174412.jpg

20130517-174426.jpg