The Storms We Carry

Standard

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?

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.

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.

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….