If I had forgotten somehow, yesterday I was alarmingly reminded that life is truly unpredictable. There is no way of knowing or even guessing from one moment to the next, what life will bring.
It’s tornado season again in Oklahoma. I had a terrible feeling that this year would be a spring filled with tumultuous storms. I’m starting to believe my instincts were right. As I stood outside and felt the winds slam against me, I was frightened. The weather can be so over powering, so destructive. If you are in the wrong place at the right time, nothing can save you from Mother Natures fury. The town next to mine got hit again. What are the odds that the same place can get hit so many different times? It’s heartbreaking and it’s terrifying and when I woke up today I was very grateful to be safe and alive. I forget how fragile life really is. I want to believe I am invincible but the sobering truth is I am not. None of us are. Today I will take the time to appreciate all that is around me. I will not allow myself to get stressed if Chase doesn’t do well on his math test or if there are 20 loads of wash piled up. The sand is slowly moving through my hourglass, there is not a single second to waste. Enjoy your life because this one is the only one you will ever have. Don’t sweat the small stuff and be grateful that you are who you are, this wonderful human being who is uniquely you. Make a difference, smile more, stress less and laugh from the heart of your belly. It’s not the years in your life that matter, it really is the life in your years.
I can’t help but reflect on all these horrible storms. The devastation and enormous impact leave a mark on the towns and people in it for their entire lives. I am still sad when I hear about the stories from Moore, Oklahoma. It seems almost a short while ago that the hearts of the people that live here were left with their hearts exposed and bleeding out for the world to see. These storms are becoming more common and the impact scars more than just the physical structures that are ripped apart and destroyed.
I can’t help but think of the storm inside us all. Be careful what you carry. Remember, each angry thought, negative feeling, tumultuous word builds up. At first it makes up a small part of you until finally it overcomes and consumes who you once were. How dangerous to carry that around with you both devastating to yourself and others. Remember what that storm looks like when it grows out of control. There is no containing it once the momentum builds. Find a way to let go of all that forms that large black cloud and try with all your might to see the sunshine above the clouds. It is always there waiting for you to find it. Gratitude is a direct route. Find things to be grateful for every day and let love back in your heart. You get to decide, do you want to feel the sun on your face or be stuck in a chilly endless rain?
As I have followed a story in our local news recently that is slowly gaining media attention all over the world, it occurs to me that somehow the facts get hidden behind a false shield. I have watched the video myself of a man who has lost his life after being restrained by 5 police officers. I heard the pain in the voice of the wife as she screamed “papa, are you okay?”, as I watched his lifeless body lie eerily still. I am not tainted by media or rumors. I base my opinion on the nervous voice of the police officer and what I witnessed with my own eyes. Then I see a disturbing Facebook picture accusing people of forgetting what this courageous police force did in the midst of devastation after the Moore tornado. That is where the facts get blurred. This is not about not supporting a police force but rather is about NOT supporting the actions of a few men that happen to be part of that large force.
It saddens me that there is a misconception that people in certain jobs are assumed to be good. NEWSFLASH! The point here is that there are people in every profession that make bad choices and they should not be protected under the falsehood that all police officers are good. There are people that abuse the power that comes along with the title of their job period! Whether it’s a teacher, a nurse, a senator, a coach, there are people that do bad things and make mistakes that there must be consequences for. I have taught my children from the time they were very little that they cannot automatically trust someone because they are an adult, a parent, a teacher, a coach. The fact is people do bad things. Adulthood does not come without flaws and believe me we are all flawed. However, actions have consequences and no-one with any type of power should be allowed to skip out of consequences regardless of the position they hold.
Here is the link if you want to check the video out for yourself. We can view the same 6 minutes of footage and still see the situation entirely different ways. I am curious to see what you think.
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.
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.