I Remember

I remember sitting in the back row of Mrs. D’s social studies class.

I remember how warm the room was, the noise of gym classes outside running the mile.

I remember another teacher rushing into our room, demanding Mrs. D to turn on the television.

Not a single one of my classmates or I could comprehend what was going on. My teacher put her hands up to her mouth, she became statuesque in front of the screen. From an 11 year olds perspective, I thought we were simply watching television. The weight of what was unfolding before our very eyes was a foreign concept to most of us in that room.

How do you explain to a room of 11 year olds that what you were seeing was thousands of innocent people being murdered by terrorists? College doesn’t teach future educators how to explain tragedy to children.

One tower fell. Helicopters flew around the other. News reports voiced over the video being broadcasted live all over the country.

And then… The bell rang.

Suddenly, we were thrust back into the reality of life. Things kept moving forward for us as we were not anywhere near the city. Many kids kept asking if we were going to get out early; the naïveté of childhood evident. Teachers answered these questions as sensitively as they could. Science was the typical science class, as was home and careers as was english and math. All of us witnessing something so unspeakably tragic, yet life had to keep moving forward.

I don’t think I ever felt fear like that until I got home and was getting ready for bed that night. Nothing else besides coverage of what they were calling a terrorist attack was on tv that night. No matter how hard we tried, we couldn’t escape news coverage of the tragedy. It was no longer live, but more and more footage was being reported by those who were down in the city and saw first hand the chaos that was ensuing.

I remember watching footage of people jumping out of windows, people crying and covered in what looked like a brown clay. I knew that it was in New York and I too was in New York. I wasn’t sure if I too was going to die that night. I remember hearing planes flying over head, and I prayed that it wouldn’t crash into my house.

They say you never forget where you were on days of tragedy, such as the bombing of the World Trade Centers.

I remember.

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Dear Self.

Eat as if you love yourself.

Give nutrients and love
to the most precious of gifts you’ve been entrusted with.

Don’t deny yourself the pleasure of food
for without, you wither away, like the flowers in the fall.

Be patient with yourself.

You’re a work in progress
and you don’t have to have it all figured out.

Enjoy the labyrinth of life.
Observe and appreciate each stone you step on
as you wind in and out of the paths.
Not one singular path is the right one.
Be flexible with yourself.

Let the past be free.

Release that bird from the cage
that you’ve been holding hostage for years.
It’s place is not inside your home
where you can be with it any time you choose.

Watch as it flies away into the distance.
Say a cheerful goodbye
for when it leaves, you will have less clutter,
one less thing to clean up after or worry about.

Take a break.

Go for a walk, and enjoy the moment.
My dear you have all day to live inside your head.
Clarity comes in these moments
when you observe the wind
the air
the smell of fresh cut grass.

Life and the demands can wait for a moment.
The stressors of life can weigh you down.
It’s ok to step outside every once in a while
and appreciate all you have in life.

The most important of all is this:

Treat yourself like the valuable jewel you are.

When Violence Hits Close to Home

A week and half ago or so there was a fatal stabbing not too far from where I live. It’s a sobering thought simply knowing that there is still a murderer running around free somewhere out there. Police have no leads, and this poor woman is receiving no justice for what happened to her at the hair salon she was working at.

What kind of world are we living in? I feel like almost on a daily basis there’s breaking news of someone getting shot or stabbed to death. From innocent hair stylists to police men to children and so on. It breaks my heart watching the news or seeing posts from local news stations pop up on my newsfeed telling of yet another fatality.

I had a sobering moment yesterday on my way to a meeting for work. I ended up driving past the salon where the woman was stabbed. It was a building I have passed countless times throughout my life, and in a neighborhood that I always viewed as safe and quiet; only this time the mood on that road seemed darker somehow. There was still kids riding bikes or walking with their friends, people were mowing their lawns and going about their daily lives as if the events of a couple weeks ago were just distant memories. Maybe it’s because I haven’t driven up that way in a few weeks, but I felt almost a heaviness in the air as I was at the red light, with the hair salon to my left.

There were balloons, cards and countless flowers spread on the front steps of the building. It broke my heart knowing that this young woman ran out of those exact doors I was looking at, begging for help from anyone who saw her bleeding. I could picture her collapsing on the sidewalk as she lost consciousness. It’s a sobering thought knowing that the community I live in and the surrounding areas of the region are not as safe as I once thought them to be.

As children we see the world through rosey glasses. We view our neighborhoods as innocent and safe, a place where nothing bad could possibly happen. So when we’re faced with tragedy so close to home, it’s a shock. Tragedy is always shocking, but when it’s so close to home and in a town that you have driven through on your way to the mall countless times throughout life, it hits a little harder.

We begin to realize that the world isn’t as safe as we once thought it to be, and we can become scared of the places we once went without a care. The world we once viewed through our childlike naïveté is tarnished by news of murders, attempted murders and violence of any sort. Our schemas are challenged, and the fear we once avoided by ignorance is brought forth.

It scares me to see all of these violent acts being committed, and it seems as if lately they are more frequent. The picture perfect world we once thought existed is shattered like glass hitting a brick wall.

Blasts From the Past

I keep having these dreams where those people who walked out of my life when things got tough were back in my life. We’re laughing and doing all of the things we used to do when we were close. It’s such a strange feeling when I wake up from said dreams, because all of these emotions come flooding back, but the strongest one of all is anger.

A good friend of mine reminded me of a quote this past week that said something to the effect of the people we once loved are the ones we hate the most. I never thought I would hate these people as much as I do, and the conflicting thing about this is that if they ever called me up or texted me when they were in trouble I wouldn’t hesitate to talk to them.

I’m a pretty forgiving person when it comes to friends. I try not to hold grudges because being alone isn’t something I’m good at handling. There have been countless times where I gave people chance after chance, even when they continued to let me down and hurt me.

It’s like my past friendships are coming back into my head, and I’m not all too sure what this means. Do I miss them? More than I would like to admit sometimes. Do I have a lot of resentment? You betcha. But I think what makes these dreams mess with my head is the fact that I would still give anything to have them be an important part of my life.

They say the past isn’t something we can change, which is hard because I feel almost like it’s coming back to bite me. I wish I could change; ever since these dreams have been happening (almost nightly), it’s brought up all of the things I did and said when these people were in my life. How I took their friendship for granted, how I pushed them just enough away that they didn’t have full access to what I was going through but were still in my life. How I felt/feel abandoned and betrayed by them and how they decided that I wasn’t worthy of their friendship any longer because what I was going through was too much for them to deal with.

Yet with these blasts from the past, I’ve learned just how far I’ve come. I went from being broken and feeling hopeless of ever changing, to confident and hopeful for my future. I’ve become more cautious about who I let in and who I need to set boundaries with. I’ve learned how to effectively deal with conflict and use those ever so lovely interpersonal effectiveness skills often. I’m more assertive and less of a doormat; and to top it all off: I’m more mature and have a sense of who I am for the first time in my life.

These dreams have seemed like a curse for the past few weeks. My mind has been working on overdrive to try and analyze what this means and what the emotions are that they bring up. Yet I’m realizing now, the more I work through these brought up issues, that they’re also a blessing. It made me realize that who I am now is not who I was back then.

Every person from your past lives as a shadow in your mind. Good or bad, they all helped you write the story of your life, and shaped the person you are today

– Doe Zantamata