Friday, December 21, 2012

I cannot look away...

Today is the winter solstice. The darkest day of the year in which we look forward to the light joining us once again. It is also the one week anniversary of the mass shooting in Massachusetts. Since I saw the first post on Facebook about the shooting last Friday, I have not been able to peel myself away.

Children a mere two years older than my daughter are gone from this world, for reasons we may never know. Innocent souls who just wanted to open presents from Santa next Tuesday morning will not have that chance. I see the outpouring of love from around the world, the tears, and the petty bickering all over social media as to who's to blame, and I cannot look away.

I am one of millions of mothers around the world. I was a mom before I fully became a mom. I married a man with two boys, and through some of the early struggles, I adored them from the word "go." I often note that before giving birth, I never cried for movies. I was quite numb to the violence, sadness and fear projected on the silver screen. Giving birth changed all of that. There are movies that I once loved that I can no longer bear to watch. Yet, this 24/7 reality show that is the news acts like another one of those movies, and I cannot look away.

Thanks to social media, it takes no more than a click of the mouse to blame the NRA, a lack of God in schools, lack of access to mental wellness care, and what have you for this event. Pardon my moment of lewdness, but fuck all of you. Yes, perhaps it's easier to search for blame than to feel the pain violent tragedy induces. The President was not afraid to shed a tear in front of the camera. Don't be afraid to shed one in the comfort of your monitor's glow. I promise, it's OK. It shows you're still human.

At 9:30 EST the country shared a moment of silence. Here in Wisconsin, it was 8:30 and I was walking my daughter into her school, her purple gloved hand in mine. As I type this, 9:30 CST is approaching, and I will stop and meditate on these thoughts.

I'm completely jealous of the fact that my daughter has no idea what happened last week. I had a short bit of time between appointments that day to stop at her daycare and give her a quick hug and kiss while she ate her lunch after hearing preliminary accounts of the shooting. She had no idea why I was there other than to wish her a fun time at her cousin's birthday party/sleepover that night. She wanted to come home with me right then and there, which is odd, as she loves her daycare and never wants to leave. Alas, I had to go to work, and not see her until the following morning.

I frequently work nights, and don't get home until after the kids are in bed. Every night, I go into my daughter's room and kiss her goodnight. She never wakes, but it's a ritual I've maintained since she's been able to sleep soundly enough for me to pull this off. I cannot fathom having to cease that ritual. The very thought sinks my heart into my stomach.

I know my voice is one of millions around the world who is sharing their condolences. My wish for all of the affected families is that you may go forward today, on the Winter Solstice, and welcome the light back into your world. No person can be replaced. But I hope that, in time, you will receive closure and find a way to forgive. Until such time that absolute peace can be obtained, I will not look away.

Monday, January 2, 2012

being Grateful is not Dead

And so ends another trip around the sun. Right off the bat my knee-jerk reaction is to go over the wins and losses of 2011, and there were several biggies. A handful of which would probably drive me to tears.

Instead, I think on a Tarot reading I received at Earthfest 2010. Tarot, like any other form of divination, is far from an absolute. Timelines and details end in grey areas, and you still have the freewill to change your path if you so choose. Honestly, I don't remember much from this reading, but I do remember one line spoken by the reader. "A year from now, you'll hardly recognize yourself."

Did I have some life-altering "a-ha moment," as our dear friend Oprah has called it? Did I have a near-death experience or witness some massive trauma destined to change me forever? Nope. Shoot, I hardly lost the weight I was hoping to. The change was internal and gradual. Those who spend the most time with me have probably barely noticed. But that's OK. I'm not in it for the glory or pats on the back. That is a good portion of what has changed.

Sure, I appreciate a compliment or recognition for a job well done. But it's no longer what I strive for. I believe the quote goes, "Character is doing the right thing when nobody is looking." I work hard at my job, certainly not for the pay or recognition, as I get little of either. It's simply the way it should be. I love talking a little extra with my customers at the door. I love chatting with the kids that shadow their mom or dad, or giving treats to the dogs. It makes people smile. Sometimes it gets me a bigger tip, and it's appreciated. Which leads me to the other transformation in my life.

I. Am. Grateful. We are taught from toddlerhood to be polite. Say "Thank you," share, and compliment a job well done. These are important lessons that I'm teaching my soon to be four-year-old every day. But we then forget to be thankful for what we already have, whether it is what we have worked for, or the Universe simply let land on our lap. We forget to find beauty in the everyday.

Gratitude has been a subject that has been popping up around me quite a bit in the past few months. I started making a habit of thanking the Universe for little things; witnessing a shooting star, a good night of making more tips than expected, staying healthy while others around me get the traditional winter sickies, etc. But it seems every time gratitude slips away, some little comment made by a friend, or a program on NPR, as it were, brings me right back.

I haven't yet decided the details, but I'm determined to participate in some kind of Gratitude Project. I know the new year frequently gets people into the rarely-successful New Year's Resolution mindset, and perhaps the Project may be a brain child of that mindset. But this is something I've loosely kicked around for a few weeks.

With school, work, and a few family situations on the horizon, I've got some bumpy roads ahead. To be certain, I am grateful for the family and community I am surrounded by that will see me through this. But I'd like to give myself some simple goal to keep the gratitude in the front of my brain. It will come. I am grateful for this change, and I trust it to keep me on my path, wherever it may take me. Namaste.