Tag Archives: hope

Remembering Tuesday, September 11, 2001


I wrote this on my phone and then shared it on Facebook. 

I want to share it here as well. 

The skies were crazy for days on end. All hours with the F16 scrambles. Thunderous jet engines and their afterburners looming throughout the skies, flying low, shaking the quickly made houses which proliferate so much of Fairfax County.
I remember a candlelight vigil at the end of our street that evening. I remember the resilience of a nation, steeped in rage stemming from fear. Our collective naïveté was shattered that day. The vulnerability from the exposure was crushing.

Yet, the children. They still giggled and ran and hopped. That was more precious, protecting them in the midst of such unfathomable loss and woe.

I live in Northern Virginia. I was in carpool line when I first heard the news, dropping off my oldest son at preschool, hearing a haughty Dennis Owens on WGMS announce “some sort of aerial accident in New York City … Possibly a Cessna crashed into a skyscraper in midtown…” Then I drove home.

Learned more. Watched a second plane burst into flames upon impact into the second tower behind Katie Couric as she was broadcasting a continual feed of the events as they unfolded. Silence. Nothing but silence. Black smoke and orange-red clouds filling an otherwise perfect blue sky. The same cloudless sky above me, 250 miles south.

Then the Pentagon. 11 miles away.

I called my husband. Told him to collect our son. He did. We both hunkered down together, with our eight-month-old second baby. Trying to stay reasonable, rational.

Then I knew fear was sidling up beside me. Here to stay. That was what the terrorists wanted. Fear is their currency.

My older brother lived in and worked in Manhattan. He survived the 1993 attempt. He survived the 2001 attacks; but barely. He was on the approach to the chaos, a drive in him to somehow help, learn more, be present, when the first tower collapsed. A tidal wave of smoke, dust, papers, existence overtook him and other fellow travelers. Covered in dust from the atomization of humans and industrial debris, he crawled to safety (was never in the Towers, but had a meeting scheduled nearby, in his workplace) by entering a familiar building despite the wash of dust all over the town.

I’ll always remember that day. And when he was located around 1pm. Dusted with ash, virtually unrecognizable. In shock. He bumped into a college friend he hadn’t seen in years who was waiting out the madness in a pub with colleagues. His friend was outside the pub on his phone, trying to connect with his own wife. He saw my brother, powdered with immeasurable remains, and took him in and walked him home from Chelsea.

On the following Monday, my brother rode the subway and wore the same suit, he’d had it dry cleaned, in strength and courage to work. He rode the elevator up to his office. He was determined to not give in to fear.

There is much more to say; there always will be. The feelings are ineffable.

Honor those whose memories should never fade. I chafe at the phrase “Never Forget”; it’s so war-like. I prefer “Always Remember.”

… And life goes on. I hear the birds chirping outside. A breeze makes the leaf shadows dance on the floor beneath my feet. The tick of our cheap clock behind me. The air pushing through the vents in my house. The same house I retreated to that day. I feel the rise and fall of my chest with sound of my own breath, today, 14 years later. 


Thank you. 

All Is Not Lost


With all the mayhem going on all over our blue marble of a planet, I am here to tell you that all is not lost.

I am here to remind you that children and teenagers even!, are out there singing and playing guitars and pianos and tambourines.

My sons participated in a holiday music program yesterday. They joined fifteen other kids who were singing about snow, love, egg nog, and peace. They sang about baby Jesus in a manger, stars brightly shining, and boughs of holly.

While the context does NOT matter in the least — you don’t need to give a patoot about Christmas or the holidays — the fact remains that our supposed youth, the ones who are going to run the show one day, still give a damn. They still care about music and love and fellowship. They respect the intangibles: the things that really matter most in life.

I’m glad their egos are nailed down to their myopic drives at the moment and that they’re not ramped up and terrified about all the crap going on that the adults are causing.

I hope, that once we can be free of the angry grown-ups running the world, that these kids are going to figure it out. They are figuring it out now.

Seeing them made me feel like things are going to be OK. My sons did great, it was nice to see them perform together. Then a couple more older kids performed and then …

A little girl, maybe five, sang a song from “Frozen” (which I have yet to see, I think I’ll have to wait for a grand-daughter on that one, she will be able to zap it on a floating hologram stage for me to see in 4D) and she stole the show.

After all these big kids, teenagers and middle schoolers, she stepped up to the mic and owned it, in a tender way. Through her giant grin and big breath sigh, taking in the room, her eyes brightened and widened and she showed her baby chiclet teeth.

She was wearing a beige wool winter-themed snowflake dress, ivory knitted stockings, little brown suede mary janes and brown felt antlers. We were on the edge of our seats. Everyone in the room waited. We held our breath, enchanted and dreamy.

She sang, “Do You Want To Build A Snowman?” in her cartoonishly adorable voice with an intention so clear and so bright there was no mistaking it; she wasn’t “performing” she was singing for us, she wanted to share the song she loved most in the world. She was Cindy-lou Who come to life. She sang it beautifully, not one mistake. She knew all the words and all the pauses.

I got on her wave and surfed along, cherishing every note. My heart swelled.

Will she end up on American Idol? Who cares. She was totally sincere and that’s all that matters. She was fearless. She was my hero and one day, she’s going to be in control of things and she’s going to do just fine.

So get out there. Stop reading about the world, get into the world. Listen to a child sing — about anything — and you will understand what I mean.

Thank you.

No Ordinary Day


So today, I got more than I gave and I gave a lot. I received more than I could ever hope to provide.

We talk in mysteries sometimes, about how “the universe provides.” How things work out, no matter what, even if the end result (so far) is not what we would have preferred. We talk about being “less-than” or “good enough” or “better than we deserve to be.”

Today, I was a moth, drawn to the inextinguishable flame of Survivor-hood.

Today, I participated, on some infinitesimal scale, in a program to give to a group of women who have never given up; to women who have kept on keeping on.

Today, I felt like a faker because I was able to supposedly give a gift to these women, Survivors all of domestic violence and sexual violence.

I thought I was brave.

I thought I had guts.

I thought I had seen suffering, survived it, eclipsed it. And in my ways, I have. But I was never PROUD enough to come out, as these women did, and said (without uttering a word) that they experienced it and are winning.

These are proud women.

These are strong and fierce women but they are fierce in a way that rejects aggression, fear, anger and self-pity; they don’t have time for pretense. They are on their way.

Every sixty minutes, from 10am to 3:30pm today, I was able to show (because I can’t say “give”) these women another gift they can give to themselves: the gift of gentle, loving, simple yoga and the gift of mindful meditation and self-awareness. What I was humbly offering, on behalf of The Duffy House Project (http://www.theduffyhouse.org) at its 5th annual “Day of Pampering” was facing stiff competition from other amazing services: complementary hair styling, mani/pedis, massages, housewares, shopping spree for mom and kids (clothes, shows, hand bags, suits), toy store, book store, child care and activities during these services, and prayer, but I was thrilled to be able to offer my services to even one person. Every ounce of everything today was donated by people like me and local businesses.

I prepped last night. I didn’t know what to expect. It was the first year I’d committed to The Duffy House (twitter @TheDuffyHouse). I was uncomfortable the first time they asked, I didn’t feel like I would be of value, I felt like I wouldn’t know how to talk to the women; like that their situations meant I wouldn’t be able to relate to them, that just because I wasn’t a survivor of the trauma they surmounted, that I wasn’t kin; that we were separate.

I know that might sound wrong, separatist, detached, even snobby, but the opposite could not be truer. I simply wasn’t being honest with myself. I am no luckier than they; I just had trouble admitting truths to myself. I’d spun my experiences to assuage my pain and hide my shame, shame that didn’t belong on me and shame that has no place on anyone but the man who’d taken advantage of me years before I cleared my head, made healthier choices and met my husband. But I am not here to talk about that; I’ve made peace with it all.

Nothing changed from then to now, other than my willingness to see my truth, walk in it and honor it and then when the time was right, as it was today, to give myself to these women and take the chance to move my own insecurities out of the equation. If I couldn’t muster the confidence and self-belief to give myself to these women, then I was not worthy of their time. I could not be a healer.

So I packed up eleven yoga mats, nine books, my Tibetan singing bowl, a stick from my yard that I found first step out the door this morning to strike the bowl, my iPod, my sound system, my truth and my courage.

the yoga mats are courtesy our school PTA. i use them to teach yoga to some 6th graders in the spring.

the yoga mats are courtesy our school PTA. i use them to teach yoga to some 6th graders in the spring.

The room they gave at the church for the yoga was sublime: it was cozy, dark and away from the joyful noises upstairs. The lamp in the room needed a light bulb, so I borrowed one (and just remembered I forgot to put it back) from a lamp in a meeting room down the hall. It was IDEAL, it was like a dream mini-studio to me. The lamp with the borrowed bulb cast a loving warm glow in the tiny room. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was.

Another yoga practitioner, Sheila (fake name), was lined up to join me in leading the women and we were going to alternate every 30 minutes. After the first round, Sheila and I had determined that 30 minutes was OK, but 40 minutes would be better. We were not as busy as I would have hoped, so if the women had more time between the other services they were offered, we took advantage of the cushion and spent more time with them.  I would say the other provider and I practiced yoga with about 20 women and all the while, it was me and Sheila who got the gift.

My iPod played meditation music all day and I used only one book. I used the bowl three times and I unrolled five yoga mats that Sheila and I shared for the Survivors. I read a meditation on “assertiveness” to the women as they laid in the darkened room, their palms facing the sky to accept peace and give strength and when I stopped, I heard sniffles and I was honoring my own throat’s lump. Some women told me that reading was exactly what they needed to hear. So I made copies and handed them out after lunch and left them on the tables. They were all taken up when the day was ending.

As the afternoon wore on, the lobby of the church where these Survivors stepped in to receive their services was getting crowded. Gift bags and backpacks and balloons and trinkets were waiting for all the women and their children who’d honored us with their courage and trusted our hearts and hands and thoughts and energy.


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I had the opportunity to speak with some Survivors; some were so transformed by changing their own lives, I’d mistaken them for service providers. Some were still quite broken and sad and I just sat near them in silence and honored the guts they’d shown me by not only persevering but by getting up and getting out and coming there. They could have stayed in; they could have stayed away, but all of them, just by being there, helped everyone else under that roof. The energy was authentic and spirited; the women were in their own way already in their peace.  The other women in the neighborhood, many whom I’ve known for years, were on hand to help out, drive, be logistically available, run errands and keep the kids in check. This wasn’t an event for just the Survivors, this was an event for all of us and its effects are long-lasting, cementing, and so nurturing. I can’t wait for next year.

I’m not here to talk about Mother’s Day. Having a productive uterus does not a mother make. You can “mother” another human being, even a man can, just by being decent, nurturing, kind, patient, genuine and forgiving. As I said in another post about mothering long ago, “If your person [mother] wasn’t there for you to begin with, become the person You’ve Been Waiting For.”

Today, was no ordinary day and I am all the better for it.

Thank you.

UPDATE: Mind officially blown. Read what happened on Mother’s Day: https://mollyfielddotcom.wordpress.com/2013/05/15/check-writing-angels-growing-up/