Today I am reminded of the times I’ve faced adversity. I used to count on the fact that there would be help out there waiting. Someone, somewhere would be ready and willing to save me. The hardest lesson I have ever learned is that I have to save myself. There are no fairy godmothers or superheroes waiting to throw me a life raft. I either swim on my own to safety or I drown. Simple as that.
I am happy to report that I am a much stronger swimmer these days. What doesn’t kill you, defeat or destroy every ounce of hope you have will indeed make you stronger. It’s true that sometimes being strong is the only choice we have and when you fake the role enough times, eventually you become a natural. So today is a reminder that there is help. Look in the mirror and your help will be staring you back in the face. You have to be your own hero because the ones you see in movies are make believe. You’ve got this. I know it. We both do!
I was thinking about how different heroes are today from when I was a child. I grew up with characters like Superman, Spider-Man, Batman and Robin. Characters who saved a city, a group of people and sometimes an entire world. Who didn’t dream about entering a phone booth ordinary and stepping out with shiny boots and a cape? As the years collected, I recognized heroes in real life people. Police officers who kept us safe, firefighters who ran into a blazing inferno to save a child, brave men and women who put their lives at risk to protect us and our so called freedoms everyday. A single mother who worked three jobs to make sure her children had clothes to wear and food to eat. They knew what it meant to sacrifice. Today, heroes seem to be the people who vilify others. We praise them and cheer them on. Sometimes I wish I could go back to believing in Superman. It’s no wonder so many people are lost and confused. We idolize the wrong kind of people today. It makes me feel a little sad. I wonder if there’s any chance of going back to the way it used to be. I don’t see many heroes anymore. I certainly don’t see them in people who are supposed to be our role models. I don’t see them sitting on a floor in Washington DC. I certainly don’t see them on Facebook or on tv. Heroes don’t need attention. You won’t find them competing to get their face in the limelight. They are the quiet type who travel to other countries for mission trips. They are the ones who slow down long enough to give a homeless man on the corner something to eat. They are the the people who deliver meals to the elderly or who volunteer their time to sit with someone dying. They are there in the background. They don’t need attention and they probably wouldn’t want it anyway. Who are your heroes? Who do you idolize and cheer for? What kind of people do you share in your posts on social media? Take a good look. You might learn a great deal about yourself. Do you like what you see?
I watched as the news media proclaimed Hillary Clinton a hero. The spin was something out of a Disney fairytale. A woman at that age who can keep up with that kind of schedule even with pneumonia shows she is in a category with Wonder Woman herself. Before you get your nose up in the air, this post is not about Hillary Clinton. In fact it is about ordinary people and how we perceive them.
I’m not sure when we started to accept the mindset that we should work until we collapse. I don’t know when that kind of behavior became glorified but the stories I lived and learned about women who were my heroes look much different than the ones woman are identifying with today. Through the years I recognized my importance in the roll of my family and keeping it connected and running smoothly. As a woman, I recognize that I am the battery that makes the clock tick and without me that clock would at the very least slow down and get off track and maybe even stop functioning altogether. I realized several years ago that the only way to do my job and do it well was by taking care of myself first. As a young mom with a husband who traveled and absolutely no family around to help, I realized that if I didn’t care for myself first, I would be in no position to care for anyone else. I couldn’t push myself to utter collapse because who would take care of my babies and keep them safe? I had to learn that my biggest strength would come by recognizing my limitations and admitting when it was time to step back for a moment and take a break. It’s necessary to know your mind and body well enough to nurture it when it needs nurturing and to push it when it needs motivation. But to not have the comman sense or instinct to know when to say when is alarming not only for oneself but for everyone around you. So what does a hero really look like? A woman who pushes herself until she literally collapses or one who knows when to take care of herself? Who is better suited to run the world, her household, her business? I guess we all have to decide for ourselves.
Today, on Veterans Day I am reminded of the many people who sacrifice themselves for others. Heroes come in many colors and sizes. They are all around us. Do you notice? Do you even recognize the ones who fight for the ones who cannot fight for themselves? They are sometimes hard to recognize. We may see a person getting on the airplane wearing fatigues but do we notice the strength and commitment behind the clothes? We may not see the doctors who save our lives sacrificing time with their own families so we can spend more days with ours.
Heroes are people who stand up for what is right, who speak up and support others regardless of the cost. They are silent and strong and don’t flash themselves before a crowd with a long, colorful cape. They often get no thanks, no recognition and trade in their own well being for the health and happiness and well being of others. If you happen to see one, look them in the eyes and say thank you. I bet if you look close enough, you may even see a tiny tear roll down their face.