This was a draining week for me, and from noticing a collective lack of energy in my school and in my yoga class yesterday, I assume for many Americans.  Our hearts broke for our brothers and sisters in Boston and Facebook pages were filled with tributes and quotes.  It is during these difficult times when I feel the ties that bind us together as a country.  I wish that these things would shock me, but I feel I have lived through too many of these tragedies and all of these have happened in my children’s lifetime:  Oklahoma City, Columbine, 9-11, DC sniper, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, movie theaters, military bases and now Boston.  I am still angry and called to action in my own life, but shocked? Sadly, no.  What stands out to me during these times is that the majority of our citizens are law-abiding, good and honest.  We disagree in our political beliefs  but should never allow our feelings on gun control, political pundits or prayer in schools to divide the beautiful collective feeling we have when we refer to ourselves as Americans.  Americans rush to emergency sites.  They take off their shirts to make a tourniquet, never asking if the person in need believes in banning weapons or repeats the same religious creed as the rescuer.    It’s beautiful.  Now allow me to go to a place where you may disagree with me, but it’s in my heart this morning.  

My heart breaks not just for the wounded, mourning, but the Mom in me wonders what went wrong with these kids, especially the younger one.  Initially, after hearing the father plea that his child was a “good boy,”  I  had this “oh great another parent with their head in the sand, ignoring their kid’s mental illness” moment. But then I kept hearing over and over from teachers, coaches, friends of the boy that this was completely shocking to them.  He really was a nice kid.  As a Mom, my soul was aching yesterday that somewhere in Boston was a boy, one year older than mine, hiding, scared and bleeding. You may think he is getting exactly what he deserved, but I need to know more about what went wrong. What turns a kid into a monster or was he lead to do this against his will? This morning I turned on the tv to watch the people of Boston screaming obscenities and “burn in hell” at the ambulance. I had to turn off the tv.  I ask that we allow man’s justice to be served and that we all remember, as my parents told me and I tell my kids, “God is God and we are not.”  It is not up to us to determine someone’s salvation. I pray that we take the energy of our outrage, the pride we feel today in being Americans and turn it toward prayer for the victims and maybe even a whisper of grace for the 19 year old boy who somehow lost his way.

How did I get here?

I am having an ADD moment, and no I don’t have ADD.   I’m having an evening when there is so much to do on my to-do list (finish planting trees, send MP3s of songs to record label, order mulch, finish yoga anatomy lessons before Friday, confirm that Aaron’s prom corsage is ordered, start graduation announcements and more) that I would rather just say screw it, pour a glass of horrible Trader Joe’s wine, reflect and write.   

Have you ever had a day when you look around at your life, and ask yourself, “How did I get here?”  For most of my childhood and even through high school, I assumed I would raise some kids on a farm, teach in the same school, live close to my family, and live a fairly simple life.    Instead, I married a guitar player, have taught at six schools in my 24 years, moved eight hours away from my home in Virginia  and now the closest thing to farming that I do is yard work and plotting to kill moles.   How did I get here?  How did I transform from the cry-baby kid who couldn’t open my milk carton (thanks, Dawn) to the single mom juggling multiple responsibilities?

Hmmm.. First, I figured out what I had going for me.  I realistically recognized my limitations (too short to focus on athletics, not thick-skinned or patient enough to be a singer or actress, not smart enough to be a doctor) and I heeded the call to use what was available to me.  I think we do our kids a disservice by telling them they can be whatever they want. Guess what?  You think you’re doing little Johnny a favor by telling him he can be an astronaut but if he can’t reduce fractions, it’s time to burst the bubble.  And if Susie can’t sing without making the dog howl, she is not going to be the next Kelly Clarkson.  They’ll be fine.  Gently guide them to another dream. 

 I got here with hard work.  Call it my farm-girl upbringing, but if I didn’t do a job right, I did it again.  There was reward, usually intrinsic, for a job well-done.  I didn’t get bribed with money for good grades.  As my mom said, “I already got good grades.  Your good grades are for you and are the reward or maybe the lesson to work harder.”  (Side note to politicians:  you can’t bribe a teacher with money to work harder.  All of us understand intrinsic rewards.)  Every teaching job I take, I make certain that my principal is going to be affirmed every day with his or her decision to hire me.  

  I got here with some tears, maybe not as many that I shed when I was an insecure little girl who hid behind her Daddy, but I allow myself a good cry every now and then.  It’s rather cleansing and keeps emotions from getting bottled up.  Honestly, sometimes my life is lonely, scary and poopy.  A good cry helps me move forward. 

 I got here with love and support from family and friends. The secret to making  new friends is to get involved in your school, community, church, yoga studio, etc.   I learned a long time ago that being shy just wasn’t going to work for me.  I have many, many friends, some get to hear more secrets than others, but that is the way it should be.  

So I guess it doesn’t really matter how I got here, but I am so grateful I’m here.