Healing With Boston

BostonBoston was for me the city of many firsts. It was where I tested my independence from my parents, where I first fell in love and had my heart broken – twice, and where I first saw who I was and was going to be. Boston was also the city where I first experienced really ugly aspects of society. It was in Boston where I first experienced unapologetic racism, where I witnessed police brutality, and where I felt a city’s invisible borders, constructed to separate those who are deemed to be outsiders from the established few. My experiences in Boston were as extreme as its weather and clustered around two poles  – either amazingly positive or depressingly negative.

When I left Boston for Washington, DC I felt no desire to ever see the Pru, Copley Square, Faneuil Hall, the Charles and the Public Gardens ever again. I was done with Boston. With time, I was able to appreciate my experiences there for what they were — life lessons. Since I left I learned to like Boston again and in my dreams I have gone back many times. Sadly, negative impressions from certain interactions with people and events remained in my mind.

The bombings at the Boston Marathon shook me to the core. I felt so sad. The marathon was one of those unique Boston events that I remember fondly and can appreciate more now as a new runner.  Like everyone else I was glued to the television and wanted answers. Why would anyone want to deliberately hurt innocent people?

 The beautiful acts of kindness and courage that occurred in Boston on that fateful day helped to take the sting from the wound that another act of terror has inflicted on us.  I cried when I heard that people had run to the hospitals to give blood after they had run the entire marathon, and that others had stayed with victims until help arrived. I cried for the victims and their families. I also cried because perhaps the Boston I had known had changed.

But is that really what happened? Kind people and bad people are everywhere, in every city and in every town. All of us have the capacity to be kind or cruel at any given moment, and so we are – both kind and cruel – every single day. Acts of extreme cruelty from a few bring out acts of extreme kindness from the masses. That is what we have seen happen from every tragedy and it comforts us to comfort others. But, after time passes and routine returns we forget to be intentionally kind and we become unintentionally cruel when we are indifferent to the need of others. What will it take for intentional kindness to stick so that we always go the extra mile for a perfect stranger? What will it take for us to always act like we are united? When will we serve others because we see only similarities between us?  When will meeting the needs of others be the norm? I wish I knew.

I pray for healing – physical, emotional and spiritual healing for the victims, the city of Boston, our nation, and humanity.  For me personally, this tragedy has made me reflect about my own unintentional cruelty. I am grateful for the healing that is happening within me that will make me a more intentionally kind person and is allowing me to appreciate Boston in a whole new way.

Much Love,

2am Call (Continued)

Hello readers, I hope you enjoy the 3rd post in the story that began with the 2Am Creative Writing Challenge.

“Silvia!!”

Someone is yelling my name. Stunned I look up to see Morelia my co-worker.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt you.”

She walks in shuts the doors and takes a seat, crossing her legs and swinging the top leg back and forth, as she often does when she is on a mission.

“Hey there. How are you doing? You look tired today,” she says.

I just nod and shrug to indicate that it’s just like any other day, not wanting to get into a lengthy conversation.

“Is this a good time?”

“Sure.”

I say, but truthfully, my head needs more time to process the text message that is on my phone. Morelia pulls up a chair and begins to go through a list of questions from her yellow notepad. True to form, Morelia is focused on getting the information that she needs from me in order to finish a proposal and does not notice my preoccupation with something else. Born in Colombia, Morelia has a strong business mind and does not like to end any day without having fully completed a project from her list. Morelia’s thick accent and contagious laugh can be heard above every other voice and noise in the office. She is attractive and looks much younger than her 39 years. Her ambition, combined with her larger-than-life personality, gets her regular and unwanted propositions from all men, single or married, mailman or chairman. A devout Catholic, Morelia is not interested in what these men are offering. She is waiting for real love, the telenovela kind that will one day sweep her off her feet. Her conviction to wait for true love had been a fountain of pride for Morelia’s mother and family. Now, at her age, it has become a source of disappointment.

“Morelia,” I interrupt. “When are you planning to send me the final draft?” I say, hoping to buy myself more time.

“Well, it’s Friday so I was planning to get through these few questions so that I could give you the draft by Monday at noon, at the latest. It’s due on the 15th, next Friday, and we have to send it out for signatures before then.”

Morelia and I get through the questions I can answer quickly and agree on a work plan that gives me more time to get her a response. I ask her to close the door as she leaves.

My mobile phone has been sitting on my desk. It is now dark and silent but I know it is hiding a scary message. I click it back to life.

Usted me conoce,” it says. You know me. As I read it again a new flash of fear courses through my body. I realize that this message is not a random wrong number. Only someone who knows me would send me a text in Spanish. I try to find connections to my past. Could it be someone I could know from Honduras? I have a large extended biological family, but I hardly know them. I left Honduras when I was six and I never really had a chance to create any kind of ties with my relatives. I can’t remember the last time I spoke to anyone from there. Besides, how could they get my number? Could it be a connection through someone who is close to me? An old boyfriend perhaps? As I think through the short list, only Brian would be sick enough to play a practical joke like this. I decide to reply.

Quien es usted?”

I hold the phone and stare at the screen waiting for an immediate response that doesn’t come.

I finish my day by staying close to my office, answering emails and making calls. Soon, the office begins to clear out. As my colleagues stop in to say hi and drop a line or two about what they’re working on, I realize that unconsciously, I have decided to work late.

I am scared to go home.

 

Pruning Away The Stuff That Drains From Us

Spring flowers

Photo taken in Sanlucar de Barrameda, Spain. If you thought this was from my yard, thank you!

Spring has finally sprung. Hurrah!! I am so excited to have warm weather and longer days again. Last weekend was the first time this season I spent time in my yard. Let me set the record straight — I only dabble in gardening. I enjoy gardening before the temperature sizzles and the insects multiply – which means only through May. I allow my husband to do his version of gardening (hint – it involves an electric saw) for the rest of the summer. I know, I know, I should do more to help but I really hate mosquitoes. Oddly, a mosquito’s love is unconditional and apparently those buggers cannot get enough of me. But, I digress.

 

I love this time of year when I see the new growth on trees, shrubs and in the flower beds. I find inspiration in the tiny green shoots that I uncover under the dead shriveled remnants of last year’s plants. Pruning and removing the dead stuff to allow new life to flourish is my absolute favorite part of garden work.

 

Last weekend was my birthday. I don’t know if any of you feel this way, but for me every birthday feels like a new start –  like a rebirth. At some point in the day, between the happy birthday wishes and my bedtime gratitude prayer, I will think about what I have not yet done in my life. Then I wonder if I have enough life left to complete the journeys and experiences that are on my bucket list. As I was pruning some of the bushes and trees in my yard I couldn’t help but sense a parallel to my own feelings of rebirth. What old dead weight am I still carrying that is preventing new thoughts and ideas to take hold? What old shriveled beliefs and negative messages are blanketing my thinking and preventing greater joy from springing forth? Which weak shoots do I need to prune from my life because they drain precious energy from my real life’s purpose?

 

Fortunately, I have pruned plenty of dead, old, or weak stuff from my life with the help of therapy, meditation and reflection. But the cycle of life, as seen in gardening, calls for regular pruning, reshaping and maintenance so that we continue to grow and strengthen. This internal pruning is hard work that requires being acutely self aware, taking time to dissect emotions and reactions by journaling or meditating, and (this is the part I don’t like) talking about it. What I have learned is that getting negative or confusing thoughts out of my head by having to talk about them is the best way to ultimately change how I act or react to things. So, I am starting a new birthday year with purpose – to prune off the old way of thinking and the stuff that is draining focus and energy from my life’s purpose.

 

Has something (or someone) inspired you to make change in your life? How will you know if you are making progress? Please share.

 

Much Love,

2am Call (Continued)

This creative writing piece is the second part of the 2am Creative Writing Challenge

The blaring of the alarm clock scares me awake at 5:30 a.m. I had fallen into the kind of sleep that makes you drool all over your pillow. I remember now why I am so tired and my mind is suddenly alert.

 

“Where is my phone?”

 

I begin to lift the sheets and turn my bedding upside down until I find it tucked under my overnight guest pillow. I go to text messages and there it is again, the picture of the boy. It wasn’t a dream.

 

I look over at the clock and it’s 5:33 a.m. I have a full day of meetings and don’t have a minute to spare. I decide that this picture has nothing to do with me, it was sent by mistake and that’s that. The shower does nothing to wash away my exhaustion or the look on the boy’s face that keeps playing in my head. Coffee will have to work overtime today.

 

I am pulling out of the driveway by 6:35 a.m. Already, I am 5 minutes behind schedule which I know by the end of the day will accumulate to a full half hour. Traffic at this time of the morning is awful, and this morning does not disappoint. Five minutes on route 66 and we are at a standstill. I know we will be inching along for another 18 miles so I take out my phone and dial the mysterious number.

 

It rings the usual number of times before it goes to voicemail but the message is a silent presence who at the very end of the message takes a slow extended exhale right before I get the beep to leave a message. I hang up. I am totally creeped out.

 

The rest of the morning goes as expected. In every meeting, I mentally check out to think about the boy. Pretending to check for important messages, I take out my phone to see if I have gotten a response or at the very least an apology from the middle-of-the-night caller. Still I wonder, is the boy okay? His eyes hint at hardship and suffering. What kind of trouble is he in? Has he been abandoned or in the hands of a pedophile? The thought makes me feel sick.

 

When I finally sit at my desk for lunch, I get the courage to call again. This time, after the beep I say,

 

“Aaah, hi. I want you to know that you dialed the wrong number last night. You called at around 2 am this morning, actually, and you also sent a photo, a boy’s photo. I am calling because…ummm, well, the person you were trying to reach is not me, so I am sure you want the person you were intending to reach to get the message. Having said that, I really would appreciate it if you called me or texted me back to confirm that you received this message. Okay, thank you, bye!”

 

The last part I had made up on the spot. Now they had the obligation to get back to me and at least confirm that they made a mistake. And, maybe, if they called I could somehow steer the conversation to inquire about the boy. 

BZZZZZ

 

I practically jump out of my skin. My phone is buzzing with a new text message. What I see sends chills up my spine.