Thursday, August 24, 2017

A Reminder Letter to the World

Wake up, World, it’s mourning time. Time to grieve the loss of your old, stale, hateful ways. Time to heal your past wounds, to make a change, to do something different. Yesterday is gone, but do not cry, because today burns bright with new purpose: to open your eyes and recognize that there is so much potential.

The sun is always shining, regardless of where you are. Right now, you may be in darkness, but the Earth will spin and shed light for you soon. It’s all a matter of perspective, really, this human experience. Yet the heart of the matter is always love, and the essence of who you are is not made of matter, no matter how your mind attempts to dismiss this. You always have been, and you always will be, Love.

NEWSFLASH: Your fear is broadcasted daily, primetime. So much of your news is who killing this and who murdering that, but those newscasters do not shed light on how what we can’t see never does die (your love, your beauty, your soul).

Your entertainment, so much shoot ‘em up, crazy guys. It’s not real, just for fun, you justify, but isn’t it all getting very real? Your “protection,” so filled with guns and bombs, and contradictions to peace. Safety, you ask? Well, what of harmony. What, really, are you fighting for?

When you fight for freedom, you fail to see that you are born free, and always will be, Love. Because when you step back, dear Friend, you see you are only a prisoner of your own mind. There are no real lines scrawled across the dirt. No borders or boundaries. Move beyond your city, your state. Your precious country. Your continent.

Our Earth. What’s yours is mine and mine yours—this beautiful, immaculate place we call home, the country of our soul. Our World. Floating amidst an abundant Universe filled with all you could ever ask for, and more—at your fingertips, if you so choose.

Once you move outward and see from beyond, return back in to yourself. The nation of the heart resides deep within, my beautiful Brother, my stunning Sister; you see, the extraordinary light that burns in my eyes, burns too in yours. What your true purpose is you may not know just yet, but trust that it is an important one. Yes, you. A peaceful power that illuminates your truth.

When you close your eyes and listen to the silence, you begin to remember why it is you’re here. That you are NEVER alone, and that your inner guidance is always a heartbeat away. Always nurtured and protected, forces seen and felt and known, beyond what meets the eye—so very real, if you so believe.

It is never too late to start editing your rules—the rules you may have forgotten were written by your own hand. History repeats, they say, if you do not learn, but every day is a chance to re-write your story anew. Every day, a new chapter. What, World, do you want for yourself?

Money and power? Peace and purpose? Know that the most powerful things in life your special paper/metal cannot buy. Pound, Dollar, Euro, Yen. Your cents are nonsense when you recognize the true currency of your world is unwavering, unconditional, all-encompassing LOVE. Heartfelt gratitude. And the essence of your soul radiates color beyond what you can see in any skin pigment, far beyond the magic of any rainbow. (Light and beauty you are, my dear, in all colors and in absence thereof.)
You see, the true race of the world is unity, and the core of your being celebrates a religion that joins all Gods, all beliefs, in a quest for oneness. A journey within that reveals how serenity lies at the center of each and every single one of us. Yes, everyone single one. That you truly possess the ability to release, to let go of any anger, any hate. To eliminate the division. To become one with who you are, and always have been: Separate but equal. Different, but the same. Many, but one. (Fear not the duality; Embrace it.)

Do you hear now... the laughter of your children? The whispers of your elders? Do you recall, now, your mission?

Not just to teach your children to re-create this world through co-creation, but to remember that we too learn from our children. That what’s born from you, my sweet, is only love. That joy, presence, laughter, and positivity are your best medicine. That healing lies at the heart of your own will. Your own magic. Your own great gifts.

Goodnight, World, it is time for rest. Close your eyes, and dream sweet dreams of a new Earth. A new you. A bright, peaceful and into forever.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

My dear little one, never stop growing...

Photo by Cassema Photography

Often, we are so sad to see our little ones getting bigger.

Nowadays, a hashtag says it all. #Stopgrowing, we beg.

But seeing this particular hashtag used by numerous friends struck a chord for me. A part of me too felt sad at the thought of my baby getting bigger - yet, the larger part of me couldn't believe that when searching on Instagram, over 1.3 million people had used this hashtag compared to #neverstopgrowing, a measly 42K.

Time moves fast, we realize, especially the older we get.

Photo by Fairy Dust Photography
I recall snuggling my baby girl atop her nursing pillow like it was yesterday, her tiny body growing day by day until her head and toes reached each side - my body starving for sleep then, but my heart taking such comfort as I watched her slowly but surely transforming into the happy girl she is today; the pillow, now tucked behind our rocking chair as she jumps out of my arms, unlike the baby of just a year and half ago.

And while I understand the feeling of wanting to stop time, stop the growth, keep her little forever, I want her to know one of the most important aspects of life she could ever learn: No matter how old we become, we never, ever stop growing.

I want her to know, as I have discovered along this journey, that the most important growth cannot be measured.

As friends encouraged me to "grow myself through inspirational reading", I was reminded that even when we reach our 16 to 18 year old self, when we no longer grow physically, the person inside is forever expanding.

Immersing myself in the teachings of Dr. Wayne Dyer, over and over I'd hear him talk about how we are no longer the "person" that occupied our baby body, toddler body, teenage body, middle-aged body...And even just a few minutes ago, we are not the same.
I distinctly remember as a kid seeing my family members at the holidays. "Oh you are getting SO big!" they'd gush, and I'd look in the mirror later and wonder what the heck they were talking about. Because to me, I looked the same; felt the same on the inside. Was I really growing that much?
I realize now that even "the same on the inside" is never the case. While our younger years certainly give us growth for others to see before their eyes, this kind of "forever growth" is what makes life so special. It's the reason we're here.

My dear little one, someday I hope you will understand...

Forever growth is learning to love unconditionally, without reservation. It is recognizing that the love and the light within us is truly all there is, regardless of the anger and hate and violence that surround us. (Love, the only cure for our brutality.)

Forever growth is learning to hush the negative voices in our minds that haunt us day in and day out, telling us that we're dumb or that we're not good enough. (Quiet, voices. Please.)
Forever growth is learning to forgive, no matter how badly we're hurting. Not only forgiving those who have wronged us, or the negative events in our lives which hurt so badly, but learning to forgive ourselves. That sometimes, our best doesn't have to be enough. Because no matter what, we are enough. Always.

Forever growth is not giving up on the dream or vision we have inside, our reason for breathing each day. Our reason for being here. (Not an accident you're here.)

Forever growth is learning to let go of what other people think of us. Being true to who we are and having 100% confidence in it.

It is knowing that even if we are having a bad day, we have the power to stop the day from affecting us. We can choose to take our day in a different direction.
It is fully enjoying what we've got in the moment, acknowledging that our past is done, and the future is always now.

And most importantly, it is knowing that someday when we are no longer beside our children physically, even still, they will grow beside us...

Because forever growth, like our love, never ends.

Photo by Fairy Dust Photography

Just the other day, (now weeks or months ago), my daughter opened the cabinet and pulled out my old Winnie the Pooh alarm clock that my mom gave me during my childhood. I didn't think much of it at the time other than, Oh I forgot about that clock.

That night, I looked down at the floor and saw that the hands on the clock had stopped. The clock that had measured so many moments from there to here - all of the old "me's" that were once my mother's baby. The clock that went right into the cupboard when I went to sleep in my baby's room so my husband could get some rest in our bedroom without the tick, tick, tick in his ear, of time drifting away.

As I watch my baby run and laugh now as happy as can be, I know that someday my arms will ache for those sleepless nights where I snuggled her in the dark. That I will yearn to feel her soft baby skin against my arms, and to breathe in her baby kisses...but instead of allowing the sadness of life passing by to overcome me, it is the journey of accompanying her growth that I will treasure.

Because my baby is forever growing, and the beauty in that, there are no words to describe it, other than expressing to her this:

I love you and the person you are becoming. Grow, my dear little one, and never, ever stop.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

What I have already learned from my unborn baby

 "Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body." --Elizabeth Stone

As someone who has deeply enjoyed working with kids since being a kid myself, I always knew and felt excited to have a few of my own--yet, even after getting married at 29, and then hitting the big THREE-OH while my husband entered his mid-thirties, I still felt the strong need to wait.

Seeing my friends' adorable babies scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed certainly didn't make the wait any easier. One more year, one more book, I'd tell myself.

After going through over 6 years of college and graduate school, studying to pursue my lifelong dream of becoming an author, I knew I needed to establish myself somehow. I knew that finding an agent or publisher was just like finding a husband, a soulmate--dealing with many painful rejections before finding the perfect match, if ever. Then, when my path lead me into independent publishing, it was like giving birth to two babies that I needed to care for constantly, just like real children.

"It's a lot of work," I continued to hear about having babies and having independent books. And while I had an uber amount of experience taking care of little ones and rocking my co-worker's children to sleep, I would continually hear: "You always get to return them at the end of the day."

And then I'd hear that independent authors needed to continually give their books lots of attention to help grow their readership.

It was just over the past year where the itch for real children of my own really began to make me squirm.

"She'll come when she's ready," I reminded myself. More cute babies. More days passing by. More close friends sharing their exciting news. On top of it, I'd hear about how getting pregnant is not always the easiest thing for some women, especially as we get older... Yet, I continued to remind myself that she would come when she was ready. And yes, I say she. I always felt like I would have two charming daughters, just like my mom.

The first time I heard our baby's heartbeat, I was hit with the realization that another person's being existed within my own. Tears welled up in my eyes. Though a tiny blob of a person, seeing and hearing each thump through the ultrasound made it that much more real--she was on her way.

There was one day, just before seeing that initial ultrasound, that I thought I had lost her. Through my worry and fear, I continued to reassure myself: If she's not ready yet, it's okay. It will all be okay.

The first thing I learned from my unborn baby? That our children come to us with their own agenda. They have their own timing, apart from what we hope and plan. I do not believe our children come to us by accident. As a kid, I was always so intrigued by who we are and become as people. Did God choose who we were born to? Did we even exist before being born? Were we merely a spark created on that fateful day of conception? Years later, I discovered stories about peoples' memories of choosing their parents and many aspects of their lives before coming to Earth. That we do not become who we are by chance. The whole concept made so much sense to me, especially since I always felt like I had to have been somewhere before becoming this little girl in Massachusetts sometime in the 1980s.

I know I will have to continue to keep this in mind as my baby grows up--that is so important to nurture and encourage our children's special gifts, no matter what we envision for them. We cannot control them, but we can guide them with our whole hearts, and all that we've learned about ourselves from living. Though we give them life and we help them grow, it is their life to live, no matter what we intend for them or whether their very purpose is similar--or very different from our own.

Next, I learned (not so eagerly) that our children teach us patience before they even enter the world.

Patience is the number one trait we must nurture when having or working with children, but we don't often associate it with a little fetus...until the time actually comes.

The wait between ultrasounds literally drove me up a wall. Was our little blob healthy, growing okay? Did it have 10 fingers and 10 toes? Did it actually have arms? Was it even still in there? Is it a boy or is it really a girl? The more people guessed, the more crazy I became, and the more patience my little one taught me. While I knew all that mattered was that the baby was healthy, I'd hear that it was definitely a boy, or that it was a girl, and the weeks couldn't seem to go by fast enough. Even finding out that the sex could be determined with about 80% accuracy with a good ultrasound "nub shot" picture at 12-13 weeks, I was still going nuts. The ultrasound tech guessed girl. The experts guessed girl. My intuition told me girl. But did it really matter?

 I will be who I am, Mom, do not worry. Have patience and trust that it will all be okay. Relax.

When it was confirmed that she is, in fact, healthy, and growing and developing the right way, I finally breathed a sigh of relief and began to fully enjoy it, especially the little nudges, and wiggles, and kicks, which continually reminded me I was helping to grow a little human being. Creating a body, but not a life.

The third thing I learned from my unborn daughter? Before I got pregnant, I was going at 100 miles a minute. Marketing. Writing. Exercise. Running errands. Cleaning. Coaching. Making dinner. Laundry. Not always sleeping. I was exhausted, and didn't always take time to "smell the roses" as they say. While I did try to make time to meditate, I was not always fully present during many aspects of my life. And even though into my first trimester I began to feel guilty for not getting everything done that needed to be done that day, I learned to feel and enjoy the moment. I learned to fully relax.

People continue to ask me, "I bet you can't wait until November?!" And as excited as I am to meet my little girl, I know that there are books to be taken care of it. There is preparation to be done before my little one's arrival. There is a gymnastics meet season to conquer. Until November, I will savor every little movement, every breath of fresh air, every smile from the kids that I coach. I will enjoy my 8 hours of sleep, and even the nights I wake up a little too early for a bathroom run, but find that she is awake, too.

And I know that when I finally hold her in my arms, hear her first giggle, look into her little eyes and see bits of myself, my love, but more importantly, this little being all her own, it will all have been worth the wait.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The beginnings and the endings are only illusions

When is it that our lives begin? Is it the instant of conception, the day of our birth, or the first memory we have of our childhood? Or maybe we count our beginnings each morning, as the day begins anew. Some people believe their life begins when their heart finds another to hold its hand for life, or when their first child enters the world. Beginnings are different for everyone, but just like endings, they are hard to pinpoint--the exact moment we step into and truly fill our own shoes. And even still, the beginnings and endings in life cannot be exactly communicated.

I remember speaking with my mother when I was young, wishing that we could take a special elixir so that we never had to die. While I also remember realizing that the world had been around much longer than I had been alive, and that I had to have been somewhere before this life, I was still consumed with the fear that I would lose her, or even myself for that matter, forever. Eventually, as I lived and experienced more, that fear subsided for me.

Many people say there is no proof of what comes before or after this earthly existence, yet I disagree. I truly believe there is so much proof right before our eyes, ranging from simple things like watching a scorching sunset paint the sky, or taking in a deep breath of fresh air, to subtle signs from our loved ones who have passed, to memories of past-lives that children and adults exhibit, to incredible sychronicities. Moments where you just feel and know at the core of your being that you are in the exact right place at the right time.

Last year, I was introduced to an incredible medium by the name of Necole Stephens who explained to me that it is not "dead people" that she sees, but love ones--not loved in past tense--because love is forever. When you consider that this life we are living right now is really only a small piece in time that makes up an unfathomable amount of infinite amazingness, you realize that there is SO much we cannot grasp, and that's okay.

In a way, I think we actually have it backwards. When we lose people, they return to the limitless life we forgot when we entered this body. We are the dead ones (but only if we allow ourselves to be). Our bodies experience the pain (if we choose to wallow in it.) Yet these hardships are part of life. Part of being human. Part of the experience we signed up for to grow. No one said it was going to be easy, but it can and will get easier if you truly believe that it can.

When I wrote my novel, Illusion of an Ending, I almost felt like I was communicating a message that wasn't mine, per se, though I'm not a medium. What if there was a young man who left his life early and who yearned to communicate to his mother and the world not the exact moment of "beginning" or "ending", but that the whole concept of start to finish was just an illusion?

I think it is important to realize that this life, right now, is only temporary. That when we "die" we are more alive than we can even imagine in this moment, pulled down by the weight of our body to the Earth. But that's not the point. We did not come here to suffer. We came here to remember the love and peace and joy and greatness in between the moments of pain. As we let go of our problems and just be, enjoying the short time we have here. As we realize that everything that happens to us is part of plan, which does not solely belong to God-- our own plan to remember and define our own greatness which is One with everything.

We may only get glimpse into our limitlessness. They may come and go, but one thing is for much more exists that we do not see.

"Now he wants you to use your gift of compassion to help people realize that life is far from over. remind them to enjoy the beauty of the earth and to bask in the sheer joy of being alive in the moment. Let the love that exists within you shine. Listen to what the world has to say without letting your doubts overcome you...

"He wants you to know that his life's plan was a short one. In his heart, he always knew that, even when he was a boy. But he wants to assure you that part of him will live on. The way he's touched the world will never really disappear. This is when you must set your grief aside. Understand that there is no death and no matter how much it hurts, you are alive. It is the ache, in fact, that assures it. The pain we associate with dying is actually the harsh realization that we will be okay, and that our only option is to keep going. If we recognize that our suffering won't continue forever, that life persists through physical deterioration, then there is the potential to move through the grieving process, the outcome making us stronger." -- Excerpt from Illusion of an Ending: a novel

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Intuition, Inspiration, Interconnection

Intuition. That little voice in your head. A feeling in your gut. The strange sense in your chest and heart. Visions or dreams which seem so very real you can almost touch them. However your intuition notifies you, it is there, always. Whether you listen to your inner guidance or not, I believe we always have an incredible innate sense of where our paths in life should or shouldn't go. There have probably been many instances where I've ignored the little voice, and not so good things happened, or maybe nothing seemingly happened at all. (Although every experience has substance, pushes us in a certain direction.)

It is impossible to tell how many bad situations we've nearly missed because our intuition steered us clear of disaster. It is very easy to recognize, though, that particular déjà vu- like feeling where you know you are in the exact right place at the right time. You can look back on how you met certain people who you know belong in your life, and you realize, wow, what a magical experience. The way our paths interconnect without force, yet it is these invisible forces which direct us.

If my mother-in-law had decided not to leave the beautiful state of Oregon (a place very near and dear to her heart) for Ohio for a few years before heading to San Diego, my husband might not have made friends with my friends to introduce us years later, our paths leading us to all connect together in Orange County. Another reason why we cannot look back on the "coulda, shoulda, woulda," but instead enjoy the events going on as they happen, and smile in hindsight at how we were lead to the roads we needed to take (though we are incessantly traveling)....

Maybe the wrong direction develops forks, which eventually lead us the right away. Maybe every wrong step was the right one, as we meet people and see places we might have missed along the way.

As a writer, my intuition shows up not just in moments of disaster, but in moments where an idea must be communicated. Intuition and inspiration, hand in hand, are constantly dishing out stories, which tug at our imagination, transforming into real characters on our computer screens. As I research for my next novel, I push the worry away that I will not be able to determine what will happen next. For my first novel, I did not map out every little detail before writing it, but rather, found myself writing to figure out what would happen next. People and events in my life would spark inspiration for characters. Still, sometimes I thought I might be "stuck," wondering where the story would go, only to let my intuition do the talking.

For me, I constantly receive messages from my intuition through indistinct thoughts nonchalantly entering my mind. I recall time after time, this voice in the back of my mind, reminding me, warning me, guiding me.

I very clearly remember the warm night back in high school when my friends and I stopped for a night stroll along the beach. I remember not locking my car doors, but not being concerned about it due to lack of cash in our purses. Rookie mistake #120,480. When we got back our stuff was gone. Ironically, my intuition did not tell me to lock the car doors, but rather, led me to believe everything would be okay. Stupid I know. Odds were that the person who took our stuff would not be found. Still, there was a calm that fell over me and I told myself everything would be fine. We reported our things at our local police department, then went home to sleep.

I woke up the next morning to the phone ringing downstairs. The thought crossed my mind that the call was someone reporting our stolen stuff, but I pushed the thought out of my mind and went back to sleep. I later listened to the message which was left by an undercover cop. He had caught a man trying to buy lobster at a supermarket miles from my home using my debit card. And so it was, we got our stuff back and indeed, everything ended up okay. I did, however, learn not to take any more chances on leaving an unlocked vehicle.

And so I continue to believe, through intuition, inspiration, interconnection, all people and events in our lives, however insignificant or meaningless, connect us to where our path should lead, no matter how dreary things seem along the way. The way seemingly good things fall apart, but actually make way for the best things, and in the process, make us stronger people.

Looking back at my very first publishing experience, although things did not work out as originally planned, I smile as I realize how the pieces of the puzzle were all dropped at my feet. Only thing I needed to do was simply pick them up, and put them together.

It was one year ago that I set up a Law of Attraction Craft Brew Meet-up for a potluck and hike behind my home. As fate should have it, one of the members accidentally came to my house a week early. Not by coincidence, we took a short hike around my creek, where she offered me invaluable information on publishing, being a ghostwriter herself. I listened to her ideas about self-publishing, although in graduate school, we had always learned that looking for an agent or publisher was the best route to enter the publishing world. Yet she urged me that the way I was going at the time did not seem right. A few days later, she sent me an email about a Publishers and Writers of San Diego event lead by #1 best-selling award-winning independent children's author, Sheri Fink. But my mother had already found the event and passed the information along to me, and I was already going.

I was forced to find a sub for my coaching job that day. I drove up to the library in Carlsbad, and listened eagerly as Sheri shared her journey of leaving her corporate job to becoming a #1 best-selling author and international speaker--to write the story which had existed inside her for so long, but it was not until she fatefully met a woman at a conference urging her to write that story for the woman's grandchildren that she let go of her safety net and moved in the direction of her inspiration. I was nearly in tears several times as I listened to her incredible story, and scribbled down all of the information I needed to follow in her footsteps. Was I supposed to follow in her footsteps? It was odd, because that day Sheri had no idea who I was, yet I felt she was speaking right to me. Like her message was for me. I introduced myself, got a few of her incredible books, and drove home, excited about the recent turn of events.

While I did not act upon the synchronicity immediately, I realized after being asked to sub for the in-home daycare where I used to work that indeed I needed to get my book out there. After reading the book (printed out on computer paper) and hearing cheers from the little ones, "Read it again!" and watching them roll, and cartwheel, and smile, I knew I could not wait any longer. Regardless of the advice I'd heard for years to find an agent or publisher, I simply could not wait.

Now, one year later, I can officially call myself an author, hold my "baby" in my hands. The best part? Other kids can hold my baby too. My book, no longer just my childhood story and dream, but an actual thing to be held in the hands of others. My book no longer belongs to just me, but to many kids, and many more in years to come. And I know without all of the miscues, wrong steps, things that did not work out, it was all for this, to get me here.

Still, I know the search is not over. Where to go next? What choice is the right one? Am I listening to my inner guidance, letting go of doubt and ego? The answer, it must be yes. No matter how many steps and stumbles I take, I am going the right way and I will not stop.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

How the Heart Works

I do not know how the heart works
                        although it talks to me all of my life.
            It thuds in my ears like thunder storms, beating
                                                      these claps
                                                                        one—two—three inches close.
                        It is forever restless as I sleep and as I read how heart is,
heart is like machine—absolute organ composed of intricate parts.
            Heart is solely inter-working instrument—yet I feel deep down,
                                                            it is more than valves, ventricles, vessels, and veins;
                        Can heart be more than mechanism pushing blood through chambers?
I learn how the heart works, but I am not told
                                     how the heart understands. Heart is pump and muscle,
            but it is not brain.
Out of sheer adrenaline, I attempt to distinguish heart’s proper classification:
                                                Heart is not distorted half circles meeting at two points
                        and it is not undying love and not heart-wrenching emotion                                        but it is upside-down pear, aorta and atria and pulmonary artery.
                                     Heart is not allegiance to red lines and white shapes.
                Heart-less is no offense since all have pulse and live
                                    and all hearts strike and strike
                                                            and strike and I discover how the heart works
                                    but I feel that this force, these punches, secretly
                        know more than me; more than definition and device seek.
It is said: follow heart’s desire. I wish to chase this yearning each burning day—
            return to the place in this heart which floods not only with blood,
                                    but with solidity, warm feeling which text book does not describe.
            When explanation enlightens that a lifetime
                                     is more than two and a half billion bangs,
I see that Science blends so cleverly with Philosophy.
                         Hearts are not broken, boys and
                                                girls, who cry blood tears.
Heart is not paper Valentine, not balloon
                        which pops and never pops again. Hearts are not floating
            in air with holes, deflating, although sometimes
                                                I feel heart sink—heavy like rock, but the books
                        do not say why heart is deep in sensation in my chest
                                   when I tell it, stop. Heart has mind of its own like child,
                                                to whom I explain: these heart facts are more like fine lines.
                                    I sense this truth in the pit of pounding organ and I pray
                                                                                                  I pray that this heart-sense
            is no nonsense; that it is more than picture and name. I swear
                                    I swear heart is like person.
Heart is wholeheartedly aware.
                        I feel heart sighsmile like faces, whispering through my veins
            the secrets of imagination and bitter actuality.
                                    Heart proceeds—it proceeds to drum out rhythms
                                                every single second of these noisy nights.
            Under a dark sky, I listen, awake and
                                     I hope to some time comprehend precisely, this appendage,
            these awkward beats which remind me
                                                constantly— I am real,
                                                                             I am throbbing,
                                                                                       I am alive.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

"What if you could go back in time and take all those hours of pain and darkness and replace them with something better? Like a Hawaiian sunset, or the Grand Canyon..Just, things that remind you of how beautiful the world can be?" --Gretchen Ross from Donnie Darko

Rewind Marathon Monday, April 2010. After many hours and miles of training, my little sister decided to participate in all 26.2 miles of Boston's marathon for the first time. I was a proud sister on that day and hoped that she would continue to participate, raising money for local charities. One year later, her goal was the same. The results that year, however, were different--a sore IT band had stopped her short of the finish line.

Maybe, it stopped her from participating in the years following. This year, my sister watched from her workplace in Newton.

It was her post on facebook that I noticed first. She could not believe what she was seeing. A piece of our home, terrorized by two bombs. Typically, a place where people race to celebrate their accomplishments instead became a horror scene, everyone fleeing from the finish line.

Three thousand miles away in San Diego, facebook allowed me to keep everyone close. I learned of friends running the race, a few miles out from the finish line when the bombs exploded. Friends working at the finish line, outside and in buildings close by. Friends taking pictures from the scene hours earlier, only to navigate away during the moments of terror. Friends of friends watching at a nearby restaurant, risking their safety to help innocent victims. 

I breathed a sigh of relief knowing that my sister, people that I knew, were safe. Many, though, were not. While I did not know them personally, I, along with the nation, became consumed with empathy...Our hearts aching, yet recognizing our ability more so than ever to unite through compassion. Sadly, it is during these moments of tragedy that people are brought closer together; on the other hand, others feel the need to propose additional threats, whether empty or carried out... just after we thought we were done with it all.... Most people feeding off love, others feeding off the fear. It is very easy to fear, but it is far more brave to release worry from your heart and trust that love conquers all.

A few hours before learning about the horror surrounding the city of Boston (located just forty-five short minutes from my childhood home) I finished reading the book, "Adu, my Grandfather Said, Climb a Tree and Look for the Light: The True Story of El Fadel Arbab, Survivor, Genocide in Darfur." Until my publishing company, Red Skies Publishing and author Lauren Kempton, introduced them to me, I had never heard of El-Fadel or Darfur. It occurred to me that these awful violent acts happen all over the world, all the time. While some of it is brought to our attention, a lot of it remains outside of our awareness... 

Sometimes we wonder, even if we do know about it, what can we do to stop it, so far away? In the midst of people's reactions on facebook, I found that one of my facebook acquaintances posted the same picture many were spreading around: the boat where the 19-year-old bomb suspect hid. Instead of making fun of the suspect for trying to flee in a boat out of water, Micah Daigle's picture referred to American drone strikes in Pakistan; something I had never heard about until now. Innocent men, women and children killed, in hopes of eliminating one or two bad seeds, thousands of miles from our doorsteps...So far away we never heard the explosions, let alone knew that they were even taking place (everyday!) How could it happen at our hands? The same hands of the nation consumed with empathy for the victims in Boston. Are there other ways, my friends, to offer a helping hand? Syria too reached out to Boston: "Boston bombings represent a sorrowful scene of what happens everyday in Syria. Do accept our condolences." --the Syrian Revolution KNRC Kafranbel. (Every day.)

It is when violence happens at our doorsteps that we are reminded we are not immune-- I truly believe though that violence does not have to happen. We must communicate. (Use our words, as taught to pre-schoolers)... Talk out our differences. Agree to disagree. Find common ground. Let go and love each other...With this crazy thing called the internet, our ability to reach out to others far away is stronger than ever before. Micah's one post led to over 11,000 shares, and about a dozen new Pakistani friends. However far away, we are always connected..

........Regardless of where we are, El-Fadel and Dr. Kempton remind us that we all see "the same sun, same moon, same stars"........

Mulling over the gravity of the situation, how the heartbreak hit so close to home, seeing everyone’s responses, both fearful and hopeful, I refuse to believe that our world is anything but a beautiful, happy, peaceful one...

Imagine pieces of our world: a orange-pink stretch of sky as the sun disappears below the horizon; the sound of waves crashing into the seashore, salt lacing the air; the smell of fresh flowers in all bright colors; a bird's song catching the wind; freshly fallen snow dazzling bare trees; mountains so tall they touch the sky; a tree swaying in the breeze; stars dotting a night sky; the song of a violin lighting up a room. Whether it a photograph, the view out our window, a tune playing on our radio, or existing in our imagination, if we stop for a moment and remind ourselves of all things beautiful which exist simply, peacefully in our world, perhaps we too can exist in a similar way? 

Despite all of the tragedy, if we stick together, remain strong, and most importantly, spread the love, we will be ignoring exactly what the people who start of all this violence wish to instill in us..Ironically, peace can never be “fought for.” Not to be cliche, but we must kill all those angry people with kindness. We must release our hate, anger, worry, and our differences, and replace them with all of the good things--Unconditional love, respect, trust, acceptance, and caring for one another. Not just for friends and family, but for everyone. And we must never lose hope that someday, maybe in ten years, or a long, long, long time from now, love will be enough.

 "My goal in the work I do now is to change the lives of my listeners by teaching them to care enough about people and events around our world that they will want to contest and stand up when they learn of genocides and other forms of oppression. I want them to understand that in the developed world, we have it within our power to affect events anywhere else, at any time. I want them to see that it is possible to halt such events and perhaps even someday to prevent them. I want them to understand that even little people can accomplish very big things." -- El-Fadel Arbab, Dr. Lauren Kempton