There are no words

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A line spiraling behind him, the man stood at the checkout — frozen.

The cashier stared, waiting for his response.

She rolled her eyes. Why is this foreigner holding up everything? Why can’t he just speak up and move on?

And I thought, I’ve been him.

Once upon a time, in a country where people spoke a language I didn’t understand, I, too, stood frozen, unable to say what I held in my heart.

Inspired by the Daily Prompt: Translate

After trauma, I am grateful for everyday heroes

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A few months ago, something terrible happened.

In early September, my son and I were suddenly and violently attacked by three dogs, about a minute after my 7-year-old Noah stepped off his school bus. With his forehead ripped open, Noah had to undergo emergency plastic surgery. He spent two days at Levine Children’s Hospital, where he began the long road to physical and psychological healing. I was also injured while trying to protect him— my arm and leg punctured by the powerful jaws of the attacking dogs—but my heart is what hurt the most.

Despite the range of feelings we experienced, from fear and anger to sadness and anxiety, this traumatic incident also reminded me of humankind’s profound ability to do good.

So many people—friends, family, and strangers —have reached out to us to help.

There are good people out there, everyday heroes who make a huge difference. Sometimes it’s a professional calling, people who have made rescue and healing part of their daily lives. But just as often it is someone who makes an extra effort to do something kind, generous, and restorative.

Fred Rogers, the beloved children’s TV host, summed up these types of heroes well: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'”

Thinking back on this challenging autumn, there are an extraordinary number of helpers to whom I want to express my gratitude. They have given me hope for a better world—people of all backgrounds, differing politics, from preschool aged kids to 95 year olds. Their instinct to do good reassures and reminds me that each of us has within us the capacity to help, heal, and improve the world.

We will never forget what people have done for us during this difficult time and I intend to pay it forward for the rest of my life: in daily actions, in choosing to do and help rather than shake my head in frustration; in reaching out when there is a need.

Do not believe anyone who says your actions don’t matter or can’t make a difference. They do. They can change the world—starting with the very first person you reach out to help.

I am grateful for…

  • 14368658_10157321205435417_3831717987397763119_nThe man who appeared on our doorstep, offering his tickets so Noah could see his first Carolina Panthers game
  • The custodial worker who loaned her cell phone charger to my husband in the ER  
  • The Child Life Specialists who eased Noah’s worry before each new step—sewing stitches on the forehead of a stuffed toy alligator to cuddle, showing Noah how to spray Mama and Papa with syringes filled with water, giving him a certificate of bravery when he had to return to the ER for rabies immunizations 14225556_10157268366100417_7244498196059035147_n
  • The bus driver who gave Noah a heartfelt card and gift, sharing her own worry and sorrow over what had happened, and who ensures his safe arrival home with such love each day 
  • The hospital chaplains who held my hand and listened 
  • The dear friends who saw a need and jumped into action organizing meals and funds to help with medical expenses 
  • The firemen who came by a week later to check on Noah and invited him to tour the firehouse when he felt better  
  • Friends, family, and strangers who sent cards, emails, texts, and messages of encouragement 
  • Those who sent Legos, puzzles, magic tricks, books and more to help Noah recover 
  • 14237743_10157282649700417_8798556737170770263_nThe paramedics who showed such calm and reassured Noah at the height of his pain and panic 
  • The Missouri school teacher and her students at the French immersion school who heard about what happened and sent Noah a care package full of well wishes and gifts 
  • Folks who appeared on our doorstep with cookies, gifts for the kids, and soup 
  • Friends and strangers who thoughtfully sent notes and gifts for Noah’s 4-year-old brother Matéo too 14355792_10157302199265417_4270704502750235806_n
  • Our caring pediatrician and her staff who supported us immeasurably and even made a house call
  • Friends who told us how important self-care would be and offered support in multiple ways
  • My sister and brother who dropped everything to come help
  • An elderly woman who saw Noah’s story on the news and sent him a care package filled with superhero mementos
  • A school counselor and school psychologist who went above and beyond, visiting Noah at home and ensuring his positive readjustment to school 
  • Handmade cards from Noah’s schoolmates as well as from other local kids 
  • 14269753_10155171614135410_1676238903_nThe Animal Control Officer who stayed with us at the hospital, long after his shift ended, to ensure our safety and the police officers we never met who scoured the surrounding neighborhoods for the attacking dogs 
  • Friends who sat with us in the hospital and made sure we ate something
  • Neighbors who sprang into action—on the scene and in the days that followed
  • Reporters who showed compassion
  • Friends who helped with childcare in our most challenging hours
  • A principal who called Noah at the hospital
  • Nurses who eased Noah’s worry (as well as our own) and made him comfortable during his hospital stay 
  • 20160912_165043Teachers who came to visit, called Noah, read to him, and checked on our family repeatedly
  • A surgeon whose superior technical skill was matched by his ability to relate and empathize with his patient and parents 
  • Cousins, aunts, uncles, and dear friends who reached out from across the US and around the globe
  • Mental health professionals who have helped us stay afloat and progress
  • Those who lovingly prepared meals and sent gift cards, cleaned our house, or did our laundry 
  • Our parents who ran errands, sent thoughtful gifts, entertained the children, gave hugs from near or far, and provided shoulders for us to lean upon

We are forever grateful for your acts of kindness.

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Super Bowl Conundrum

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I’ve always been a Super Bowl fan — the food, the commercials, the game (roughly in that order). What’s not to like?

But this year’s different: 1.) I took a killer Super Bowl cooking class at Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen to enhance my game day repertoire and 2.) I’ve actually been paying attention to what’s been happening on the field. (It’s been a heck of a season!) But it gets even better… 3.) This weekend my home team is playing!

Both of them.

Therein lies my dilemma: who should I root for? Carolina—the place I’ve called home for nearly 10 years, where I own a house, gave birth, and am raising two boys with my sports fanatic hubby? Or Colorado—my home on the range, where I spent summer days watching the Broncos training camp, about a mile from my parents’ house.

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Cam Newton — what a player, what a smile!

It has been amazing to witness the Panthers’ historic, virtually undefeated season. Cam Newton’s smile and confidence are contagious. Underestimated week after week, he and his team keep slogging away and spreading their joy (sometimes with a “controversial” dance in the end zone).

 

People are dabbin’ all over town. Flags are waving. Skyscrapers are lit up in Panthers’ blue. And I was even charged with spearheading efforts at work for swagger rights in a friendly bet between Charlotte- and Denver-area arts institutions. Professionally, I’m 100% a Panthers girl.

Personally—it’s more complex. I think about my dad and my brother leaning into the TV, transfixed by the Broncos games all those autumn Sundays, when I was growing up. (They still are…) I think of the crazy Denver fans, like the guy who used to wear a barrel—that’s it—to every game for about 30 years. I think of the stunned look on my friend Staci’s face when rounding a corner, she ran smack into the massive chest of John Elway at a local burger joint. And I think about Broncos barefoot Kicker Rich Karlis, #3, coming to visit my brother when he was a patient at the Denver Children’s Hospital.

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The Barrel Man in his signature hat, barrel, and boots (not pictured).

These things stick with you. Fanhood runs deep. And they still bring tears to my eyes. I can’t deny I will always be a Colorado girl.

But now I’m a Carolina girl, too.

It’s nice to have a definitive view on the world, like my nieces and nephew, who are pulling 100% for Peyton Manning, indoctrinated in the Broncos-way by their Colorado elders.

For my Charlotte family, it’s not so clear cut. My oldest son plans to wear his Panthers’ jersey with an orange shirt underneath. And my youngest switches his allegiance minute by minute.

Luckily, there is a bright side to this whole situation: on Sunday, my team is gonna win.

What is freedom?

 

Stop-gun-violence

For a long time, I have been trying to find words to express my frustration, fear, anger, and sadness about the epidemic of gun violence in our country. Each terror attack and act of violence shatters us — but all too soon we go back to our “normal” lives. Enough.

Every time the news recounts the latest horrors — in a school, in a movie theater, at a holiday party, at an office, at a concert, at a health clinic, in a place of worship — I wonder, what can we do now? It’s time to act.

As a child, things were different. We met relatives at the airport gate when they came to visit. We felt safe at school. Going to the movies, the mall, a sporting event were things that we could enjoy without fear. I didn’t have to wonder if somebody could carry a concealed weapon into my local grocery store.

My children are used to security checks at the airport, they know where to hide during a lock down at school, and surely notice the way I tense up when we’re in crowds. My sister said she’s no longer comfortable seeing a blockbuster movie on opening night in our home state of Colorado. I am sad that my children will never feel as safe as I once did.

But when I hear the response from the Far Right — I’m absolutely disgusted. Freedom is not, as they claim, about carrying a gun and having the right to shoot anyone.

  • Freedom is living in a country where elected public officials make reasonable, common sense laws regarding guns
  • Freedom is knowing that your elected officials are not beholden to a gun lobby that blatantly urges us to become gun-toting vigilantes
  • Freedom is knowing that loopholes have been closed to ensure background checks are standard on all gun purchases
  • Freedom is knowing that we have taken every step possible to ban military style, high capacity weapons from a civilian setting

The worst thing we can do is throw up our hands in exasperation and stop trying to do something. We must keep pushing for common sense gun laws. We must call our elected officials, write letters, show our outrage. We must not stop until these freedoms are our reality. It will take a village. These organizations can help:

Everytown for Gun Safety

An organization dedicated to building awareness about gun violence and providing evidence-based research to help inform public policy decisions.

Say it to our faces

A grassroots movement that will deliver thousands of photos of kids across America to our elected leaders to show them exactly who their inaction on gun legislation is harming.

Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America

Formed after the tragedy at Sandy Hook, it fights for common sense gun laws to “decrease the escalating epidemic of gun violence that kills too many of our children and loved ones every day.”

I urge you to do something today — call a legislator, talk to your neighbor, write a letter to the editor. More guns are not the solution. More people working together to prevent gun violence is a move in the right direction.

What other groups or actions do you know of that are working to enact common sense gun laws? Please share them in your comments.

 

 

 

 

7 Wild Things That BACK TO THE FUTURE 2 Never Could Have Predicted

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We all know that technology has come a long way since BACK TO THE FUTURE 2 imagined what October 21, 2015 would look like. Sure we can make video calls, drive electric cars, and even watch the Chicago Cubs in the playoffs but what about these 7 surprising things that no one ever saw coming?

1.) Kale and brussels sprouts are popular veggie options — even for kids.

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2.) Vinyl records are making a come back.

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3.) People actually spend their time watching shows about “Real” Housewives.

MIAMI SOCIAL CLUB -- Season:1 -- Pictured: (l-r) Alexia Echevarria, Marysol Patton, Larsa Pippen, Cristy Rice, Lea Black, Adriana Sidi -- Photo by: Adam Olszweski/Bravo

Photo by: Adam Olszweski/Bravo

4.) The 1976 Olympic Men’s Decathalon champ looks ravishing today as a woman.2A92852200000578-3152418-Courage_award_Caitlyn_Jenner_accepted_the_Arthur_Ashe_Courage_Aw-a-70_1437038353203

5.) People will soon be reading Playboy for the articles.

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6. The Clinton and Bush families are still duking it out for the White House.

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7.) And The Donald is leading the list of Republican presidential hopefuls… (seriously?)

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