One Year

When I lay in bed this morning, in the dark quiet before the dawn, the first thing that came into my head was the song, “Seasons of Love.”

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?

It’s been one year today since the awful tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary.  I can still remember the day so vividly, and so many of the days afterwards.  The terror, the fear, the tragedy, right here in my own backyard.

In the past year I’ve become increasingly involved with one of the families affected by that terrible day.  I’ve gotten to to know them and am now working with them on the foundation they’ve set up to raise funds in their child’s memory.  Their spirit and ability to move forward has just astounded me.  Today, this family quietly marks the day in a tropical location far away, away from the sadness and the madness that they hoped wouldn’t happen here.  I’ve seen how this family has been able to find their son in a million tiny moments every single day.  I’ve seen how they’ve been able to truly take this tragedy and create from it a life filled with passion and love and hope for the future of others.  How they’ve surrounded themselves with energy and light instead of darkness.

The bracelets they had made for their foundation, coincidentally, have imprinted on them:  “Measure your life in love.”  As I look back on the last year, I am proud to say that I have taken that oath and brought more love, more laughter, more gratitude into my own life.  I’ve done that by working with this family, working with others, donating my time and energy.  And it has come back to me in so many ways.

Today, five thousand twenty five hundred six hundred minutes later, I am praying for all of those who measured this past year in those excruciating increments as they moved forward from unspeakable tragedy. I am hoping that everyone affected by the awful events that happened one year ago today are able to measure their lives in the love that surrounds them today, and every day. We are here for you, thinking of you, and hold you in our hearts.

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?

In daylights, in sunsets
In midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife
In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, a year in the life?

How about love?
How about love?
How about love?
Measure in love

Seasons of love
Seasons of love

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand journeys to plan
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure the life of a woman or a man?

In truths that she learned
Or in times that he cried
In bridges he burned
Or the way that she died

It’s time now, to sing out
Though the story never ends
Let’s celebrate
Remember a year in the life of friends

Remember the love
(Oh, you got to, you got to remember the love)
Remember the love
(You know that love is a gift from up above)
Remember the love
(Share love, give love, spread love)
Measure in love
(Measure, measure your life in love)

Seasons of love
Seasons of love
(Measure your life, measure your life in love)

Things Are Quiet

I know that I haven’t blogged in weeks.  Things in my life have been busy, mostly in a good way, and not much news or anything eventful has happened.

For a few minutes my husband talked about the possibility about moving overseas.  But as has happened every other time this topic has been brought up, the talk faded and nothing happened.  This time he dangled Budapest and Shannon, Ireland in front of me.  Neither are exactly on my bucket list or anything, but still, the thought of spending a few years as an expat in Europe seems like an amazing opportunity for us as a family.  I was a little disappointed when the opportunity was snatched away.

The kids finished up the school year.  My youngest, the one on the spectrum, finished fifth grade.  In our world this means transition to middle school.  I spent several weeks planning meaningful gifts for all who have looked out for him and helped him grow over his time at the school.  It’s still hard to believe he’ll not be there next year.  When I look at him compared to the other kids his age, I wonder how he’ll survive; he seems hopelessly immature.  But he has always risen to the challenges life presents to him, so I am confident he will to this as well.

My son and his wife spent last weekend here, the first time we’ve spent any significant time with them since they were married in April.  It was nice to just sit and be with them, although I felt slightly guilty for not really having anything planned to do with them.  They had actually come to see our favorite priest, because he has been sent to a different church and we won’t be seeing him very often anymore.  Their visit was a sum total of 26 hours.  But in that time I got to see that they do seem to be smoothing out each others’ edges and getting along quite nicely.

My web design business is still puttering away.  It’s not a lot, but it’s enough to keep me occupied.  Two projects this summer are being worked out via the barter system:  I get services in return for my services.  It’s a nice deal that would only happen in a small town like the one I live in, so I’m grateful for it.

For now, it’s summer and the living is easy.  We are visiting the pool, the Farmers’ Market and loving the bounty coming from our garden.  There may be a family trip, or there may not be.  Either way it’s fine.  Things are quiet and content for the most part.  Sometimes quiet is good.  Right now, it is.

Outside My Comfort Zone Is Where I Need To Be

Well, it’s over.  The big race is over.

If you want to read the blow by blow of how the day went, you can visit my fitness blog.  It includes all the geeky details that people who routinely attend races and things like that might be interested in.

In the last paragraph of my second post about the day (two 1000+ word entries were enough, right?) that the event was life changing for me.  Overstating?  Maybe.  Then again, maybe not.

It’s been a long time since I’ve had that kind of direction or a goal.  Honestly, since 2004, when I stopped working for Rick Springfield, I’ve never had a situation where I felt that all of my skills and knowledge were brought to bear to make something happen.  And this event pushed me very, very far outside my comfort zone.

Right from the start, I had to make contact with strangers.  This would surprise people who knew me personally, except those closest to me, but I truly hate “cold calling” people I don’t know.  Soliciting them for something, asking them for something.  Is it fear of rejection?  Is it shyness?  I’m not sure, but I’ve never liked it, never felt good at it.  It’s why I like email better than phones.  It’s easier to sound composed and poised when you have the ability to backspace.  I put off making the nearly 40 phone calls and in person visits until I literally had no choice any more.

Then there was working with the people who had previously worked on the race, some of them for the last 20 years.  They were all strangers to me, and most of them significantly older than me.  Again, my insecurity came into play here.  Would they like me?  Would they be willing to share with me how things usually went?  Would they think I was some kind of interloper who was traipsing all over their turf?  I like to be a leader, certainly, but it is usually with a group I have chosen and assembled because I know them and their skillset. Would these people support me or back out, leaving me in a real lurch?

But as the months have gone on, I’ve slowly gotten better at both things.  I got to know my committee members, added a few new ones, and communicated with them regularly (still mostly by email, but I learned who needed to be dealt with on the phone, too).  I’ve gotten better about the cold calling, to the point where I might put it off still but I don’t dread it the way I used to.

There were also things that I really liked doing on this race that I haven’t had a chance to do in a very long time.  I designed a new logo for the race, giving a nod to the events in Newtown.  That was extremely important to me, and since I was in charge, I could do it.  I redesigned the entire brochure, using my graphics skills that have been quietly growing cobwebs.

By the time race day grew near, I had gained a confidence that has been missing from my world for a long time.  My committee not only seemed to be supportive of me, but they seemed to genuinely respect the work I was doing.  These strangers became friends.  They were helpful, friendly, wonderful new additions to my world.

Other than a few minor glitches during the event, it went off without a hitch.  Nearly a thousand people descended on our local park that day.  Nearly 700 of them ran or walked the 5K.  Another 225 kids ran the kids’ race.  We had about 50-75 people volunteer doing everything from putting the after race food and refreshments together, to pointing people in the right direction on the course, to helping with parking.  It was just a tremendous feeling to watch it all come together and know that each of those tiny little details was something I’d made happen.

I can’t wait for next year.

Hype? More, please.

I’m not sure why I care.

You know how you never seem to be as affected by the nice things someone says as you are by the rude things people say?  That’s me to a T.  Did I glow for days when an old friend mentioned how inspirational she found my Couch 2 5K success that she started it herself?  No.  Sure it felt good to hear, but I wasn’t going on and on for days about it.

But an old friend of mine posted something on Saturday to Facebook and it just made me so angry, and I can’t stop thinking about it.

She posted this:

meanwhile

And she lives in MIchigan, where they only received about six or seven inches of snow.  She was complaining about the “hype” surrounding the storm that hit the Northeast from Friday to Saturday.  Apparently, judging from the photo, she thinks we should all just shut up about the historic snowfall and blizzard here.  The commentary went on.  She and a few other like minded friends were saying that when they were kids, storms like this happened all the time.  That they couldn’t believe the governors out here instituted travel bans and closed the roads.  That people should be free to get in an accident if they want to, because the government shouldn’t be able to tell them what to do.

Except.

Except that it’s that government that you will expect to show up when you get in that car accident.  Police officers or public works plow guys who will be put in harm’s way because someone did something stupid.  It’s the government that you’ll expect will come tow your car when you get stuck on the highway because you thought the roads weren’t “that bad”.  Some poor DPW guy will be diverted from plowing that necessary high way to a: go around that idiots car and b:  get him to somewhere safe because the government shouldn’t be able to tell them what to do.

Jesus.

I can’t even tell you how much this riled me.  Because this is what I woke up to Saturday morning:

I mean, it’s pretty easy to complain about the hype when you don’t live here.  But frankly, I am glad for the hype.  Because it meant a lot more people didn’t get stuck on the roads, because most people stayed off of them due to the well predicted storm.  It meant we had a lot of good information about what was going on around us, since we couldn’t venture out for two solid days.  I personally thought it was a great idea to close the roads in our state, since it would take that level of seriousness to keep some people off the roads.  I saw a woman drive by my house on Saturday, with the road still covered in several inches of snow, with her SUV blowing snow from its roof (she hadn’t bothered to clear it) with a cell phone stuck on her ear.  Really?  People can be seriously stupid.  I’m sorry, but you CAN’T be free to be as stupid as you want.  Not when you are endangering other people with your idiocy.

Our schools are closed again today, which I think is the right call.  We ventured out for the first time last night and found the roads icy and slippery.  I know people who are still trapped in their homes because it was impossible for most regular plows to cut through this deep a snow.   Many towns here will take a day or two more to return to normal.  Towns to our east are still without power.  Can you imagine being without power along with having this kind of snow?  I was worried about that the most, more than the snow, more than anything else.  I was so grateful not to have to deal with that on top of moving this snow.

So hype?  Sure.  Nanny state?  I’d rather that then a bunch of idiots endangering other people.

But seriously.  When did our country become so unsympathetic to the plight of other people, that you make fun of and mock a disaster of this magnitude?

Anonymity

It has been three years since I started this blog.  Three years!  I can hardly believe it.  According to my WordPress dashboard, that’s 567 posts about my life, past and current, that I’ve written in this space.

And hardly anyone in my day to day life knows about it.

My anonymous blog.  Why is it that still, after three years, I cringe at the thought of people from my Real Life reading my innermost thoughts, when I put them out there for total strangers to read.  Why is that?  Why do I hide my thoughts?

This situation came to a head this week.  My previous post here, Open Letter to Those Who Would Doubt Sandy Hook, was featured on BlogHer this week.  And I’m not just talking featured in the Interesting Posts down at the bottom.  Here’s where my post is on their site:

That's my post way up there near the top, OMG!

That’s my post way up there near the top, OMG!

The news came to me via an email from one of their editors.  In the email she asked that I go onto my Facebook, my Twitter, all of my social media and shout loud and proud about my content being featured on their site.  Which was superawesome and why wouldn’t I do that, right?

Except.

Except the post on BlogHer links back to my supersecret blog.  The blog I don’t talk about.  The blog that hardly anyone I know in real life talks about.

So I hesitated to share it.  I certainly couldn’t share it on Twitter, which would have been awesome, but where my husband routinely follows my posts and comments on them to me.  On Facebook, I could share it with a custom privacy setup, where I could block certain people from seeing it.  The people I worry the most about seeing my writing here (my husband and my mother in law, although I don’t write about her in anything but glowing terms).  And then what do you know, eighteen friends of mine shared the BlogHer, using my name, which I am pretty sure everyone can see.   What happens if people I know actually read my blog?  What will they think?

MizFitOnline posed this very question in her blog post this morning.  She comes to the conclusion that it’s OK to be transparent and let the real people in your life see the real you in your thoughts posted online.

Me?  I’m still not sure.  But I’m edging ever more closer to actually not sweating it if any of my friends click that link below my post today on BlogHer.  I thought about removing the link, honestly, from the post on BlogHer.  But I don’t want to.  I have several more Newtown related posts on this blog that deserve readership.   That I’d actually like people to read.  Maybe even people I know.

Maybe the fourth year will be the charm.  The year I take My Current Life in the blogosphere and let those who actually live in it in on the secret.

Maybe.

Coming Here

They’re coming here.

The students.  The survivors.  Those who the gunman wasn’t able to kill.  They’re coming to a school in my town in a few days.

We closed a school, a few years back, in a contentious budget cutting year to save money.  We reconfigured our entire school system and changed the culture of our district.  It was a difficult, divisive time in our town.  Every time I have driven past that closed school to the current middle school, I have felt a twinge of anger and sadness.  It sits empty, the sign in front claiming it schools students in grades 5 and 6, but it doesn’t.  On the side of the building, boards fill in a space where windows should be; when the window broke, no one thought it was worth spending money to fix.  Because no one uses the building anyway.

But now, in the wake of the horrible tragedy on Friday, our empty school is no longer a burden, a symbol, an albatross.

It is a gift.

It is a gift we can give those families that lost everything last week, so that they don’t have to return to the place where so much evil occurred.  They don’t have to go back at all this school year, if they don’t want to.  They will have the luxury of time to figure out what to do next.  Because they can come here.  They can come to our town, to our school, and hopefully feel some shred of safety and comfort in returning to some sort of routine.

I’m grateful that there is something tangible we can offer these families.

I don’t know any of those who died on Friday personally.  But I know so many who do.  I knew three of the names before they were released because they were friends of my friends.  One little boy went to preschool with a friend’s daughter.  Another took Tae Kwon Do with several friends’ kids.  A third used to work with one of the parents.  And the father of the gunman works for the same company as my husband, although in a different location.

My own daughter is fearful.  They put her school in a lockdown so strict that they all huddled in a corner away from the windows and the doors.  When the kids snickered and talked the teacher told them tersely that this was “not a drill”.  For a period of time, she thought the incident was at her school.  That the bad guys were coming down her hallways.  And now she knows that only a few miles separated her from that reality being hers instead of those poor childrens’.   She has friends that don’t want to return to school tomorrow.  There will be police, there will be counselors, there will be little learning and much talking about unspeakable things.

I do not know what kind of world it is that we live in.  Today, from my small town in Connecticut, it seems a very, very dark place.

Divided

I didn’t know what to expect with yesterday’s election.  It’s no secret to my friends and family which way I lean; I ran for our local board of education as a Democrat three years ago.  I consider myself a very middle of the road, moderate D, but more often than not, I find myself looking towards that side of the aisle. Still, I pride myself on being very open minded, researching the issues, and not demonizing people who disagree with me.  I try, really try, to listen and have discussions with those who don’t feel as I do to try and understand why people think they way they do.  I have plenty of friends who are conservative, but the ones I am very close to have the same ability to see things from someone else’s point of view, and respect that just because we don’t agree doesn’t mean either of us are wrong.

Still, in the last few months the divisions have been heating up, even with those I know personally.  The anger and rhetoric has reached a very divisive, fevered pitch, all of which was going to culminate yesterday in the election.

I was uneasy from the start of the day.  I knew that no matter what, no matter which side prevailed, our country was still going to be in a mess.  With the country so divided, and angry, no matter who won would have a mess on their hands, I reasoned.  I fully expected that we’d find ourselves in a 2000 election scenario, with the winner unknown for days or even weeks.

Which is why, while everyone I knew stayed glued to the TV last night, getting either very happy with each passing hour or very upset, I went to bed early.  I fell asleep on the sofa at 9pm, tired and frustrated.  Feeling as if no matter who won, I wasn’t going to be terribly happy with the result.  Don’t get me wrong, I was hoping for a blue side victory, but I knew that the other side would be so angry and so upset that any hope for real compromise or bipartisanship would be out the window.  As much as I didn’t agree with much of Romney’s stands, I realized that he likely would have a better shot at getting anything done because he would have a Congress willing to work with him.

And so here we are, the day after the election, and just as I feared, half the country is Extremely Pissed Off.  My own Facebook feed has comments that include, “God Help Us Now,” “Welcome to the United Socialist States of America”, “I’ll just stop working now and put my hand out,” “We just handed America over to the Devil.”  I’ve seen people compare Obama to Hitler repeatedly, and Lenin.  Honestly.I get that some people are upset and disappointed.  That makes total sense to me.  But the name calling, the vitriolic anger, the total lack of respect for a human being is just abhorrent to me.

And I truly don’t get why no one else seems to get that that is just plain wrong, and does nothing to move our country to a better place.  I mean, we all say we love our great country.  But part of the whole premise around our great democracy is that it is built on compromise.  No one person holds all the power for a reason.  And to get to the land of compromise, two things have to happen.  People have to trust one another and respect one another.  Two things that I see very much lacking, not only in Washington, but in much of the political talk that goes on between regular folks these days as well.

The elections are over.  The decision is made.  It’s time to push up our sleeves, respect our differences, and find some common ground to get the hard work that needs to be done, done.  Our country is great, but it won’t be if we continue this level of division and anger.  It’s time to get over ourselves, all of us.  No gloating from the left and no whining from the right.  Just put your heads down and do the hard work that needs to be done.

%d bloggers like this: