Grab a cuppa. The first one is a long one.
Good morning Cuppafam,
You know it’s funny, I told myself that I was going to blog for you guys, what I didn’t think I would do is delete my first one by accident. So here I am, 6:30am Saturday morning trying to recall the story I wanted to tell you. I’m feeling grateful this morning for the chirping birds, clear skies, and quite house. And grateful for the words that scramble through my head that I want to share with you. Gratitude, it’s not something we are born with, not something we posses, it’s something we practice.
I was recalling a time 7 years ago when the city that I grew up in was taken over by terrorists. Weird way to start, right? But stick with me. I remember that April morning in 2013 as vividly as the day I gave birth for the first time. If not more. I was 2 days back from my delayed Honeymoon with my husband and excited to take my nieces and nephew into the city to see their mom and uncle cross the finish line. I was a nanny for my sister in law, Noreen, and she was running the last mile with her brother, Glen, in honor of their mother who had recently passed away. I navigated my way through and met up with my mother in law, Sister in law, Brother in law, and two more of my nieces and nephews. That’s right, 5 children. The youngest being 6 months. Never in our wildest dreams did we think within the next few hours we would be walking through the aftermath of two BOMBS going off less than a tenth of a mile from where we were standing. Close enough to hear it, hear the screams, and see smoke. From that very moment, life was split in two. Life before the marathon and life after.
The entire story about that day is for an entirely different day. But when I heard that the fiancee of one of my closest friends was one of the 16 people to lose a limb, my life shifted. He was so gravely injured he was the last to leave the hospital months later. I was so scared and so confused, yet so proud of how my city rallied together to help each other. I spent days and days on end visiting Mass General Hospital seeing things I never want to see again. I remember being in lockdown when the bomber was on the loose. Risking a 2 mile drive to my best friend, Tiffany’s house just to sit and cry with her because the SWAT teams were going door to door in Watertown and we were worried about her uncle who is deaf hearing the knocks. And that was when I became OBSESSED with the news. Day and night. It was all I did for a year. I went to the trials. I lived and breathed the story of the “Bomber in the white hat.” And shortly after that infamous day, I decided to do what David “Big Papi” Ortiz told me to do… take back our fu#*ing city! So I did what I knew best, I figured out a way to raise a bunch of money, and I signed up to run the 2014 Boston Marathon! As I trained through one of the coldest winters in Boston’s history, I continued to follow the story like my kids follow Paw Patrol, relentlessly. I raised over $20,000.00 personally and was a part of countless other fundraisers. I distinctly remember the night that he was caught. Sean, Lucy and I drove into the city at 1am to be a part of the celebrations.
The night before the marathon I was doing what I loved, watching the news, when a scene came on my screen of the SWAT team and Boston Police at the finish line. Again, like a bad movie scene. Some “artist” decided to “express himself” by placing a bag with a pressure cooker filled with glitter and confetti at the finish line. At least that’s how I recall it now 7 years later. SERIOUSLY, though?! The fear crept in! I didn’t want to run. I thought I was risking my life. Here I was trying to show my nieces and nephews to not let these monsters win. To get up when they tried to knock you down, and that it was perfectly OK to go back into the city. And now this?! I shut off the news. And I never turned it on again. I ran that dang 26.2 miles on a 72 degree day. Far from the conditions that I trained in. And 6 hours and 4 minutes later, my worn out Brooks sneakers crossed the yellow and blue pavement hand in hand with a female marine who would now me a stranger to me. I did it. And I have the medal to prove it!
So now here we are. 2020. Trying to navigate our way through a global pandemic. Over these last 7 years I have chosen to use social media to build connections with people all over the world. And I NEVER thought it would turn into 150,000+ followers across Facebook and Instagram. It’s been a wild ride. But I’m so grateful for all of the life long friends I have made, both in person and virtually! I realize that with that amount of followers comes an immense responsibility. I have a voice that people listen to and my mission is to keep it positive. To be a force for good and to spread love and light. And to me, there is no more important time to do that than in a time of crisis.
Yesterday I was taking to my sweet friend over in the UK. And unlikely friend at that! We met for the first time in London at the ExCel Convention Center, but we connected over some hot tea and fresh chocolate covered waffles in the Red Light District of Amsterdam. Yup, you read that correctly. When we chatted yesterday she told me how she was feeling scared. Her husband had been stopped by a police man on his was to work to prove where he was going. She shared how her son is immunocompromised and how she was doing everything in her power to keep this deadly COVID-19 virus away from him. And she shared how the very convention center where we first hugged was now set up as a makeshift hospital for 4,000 patients. Not yet filled, but in the anticipation of the near future. How certain hallways were prepping to be morgues. I was not a conversation I ever thought I would have with a friend. I mean, we usually just talk about her love of Cadbury Eggs and how she’s grateful I turned a hot tea loving Brit on to iced tea! But there we were, talking some serious mama talk.
It impacted me more than I thought it would. The very room where I had the honor of gracing the stage to speak in front of 4,000 people was now empty of life and lights and energy. It is now cold, sterile and awaiting the sick. The hallway where so many of us embraced in love and happy tears and took WAY too many selfies in, was now prepping for people to lose their battle with this strange foreign virus. It’s surreal. So I did what I know how to do best. I took my words to social media. I posted a picture of the makeshift hospital attached to a photo of me in that aforementioned hallways. And then it began.
Now listen, I understand, I vulnerably put myself out there publicly and share 90% of my life and I should expect some criticism. And I do. And I swear on all things Mother Earth, I was BORN to handle them. But sometimes they become heavy. I was told that I was spreading fake news, to take the post down until it was verified, that I was scaring people for NO reason. Like that would ever be my intention! I was simply recreating a conversation I had to urge people to STAY home. Maybe it was the message I got the night before that of someone calling me a “fake bit*h” for not answering a message in what they considered a timely manner (6 hours). Maybe it’s being cooped up in the house for 3 weeks with two toddlers. Maybe it’s the sadness I’m feeling that my boys can’t celebrate their birthdays with friends and family like they are used to. But I let it get to me. And I deleted it. I didn’t have the energy to fight back or defend myself. And if I’m being honest, I think THEY were the fear mongrels in this instance. Planting seeds of doubt on a true story is exactly why we are all so confused right now. I don’t even feel comfortable letting my kids play with the neighbors, let alone letting my husband leave for work like my friend has to.
So what is the point of all of this? To encourage you to choose joy. I’m choosing joy. I’m going to practice my gratitude. I’m going to find joy in the mornings that I go for a run while my son rides his bike. Be grateful for new connections. New connections with myself. Reconnections with my marriage. And connecting with my children when they would’ve been in day care. I’m going to continue finding joy on social media even on the days it tries to fight against me. I’m going to find gratitude in having a home based business, even when people call me insensitive for sharing it. I’m going to find joy in watching the birds on the bird feeder. Joy in this forced time to just SLOW DOWN.
This temporary new way of living is confusing. Maddening even. But it’s happening for a reason. I truly believe that. We just have to do our part so that it actually IS temporary. Choose joy today. Shut off the news. That’s what I’ll be doing.
Love and Light,