How many more?

It’s been over a week since the shooting at the high school in Florida. I watched the coverage as it unfolded and each time I saw a photo of one of the victims, or heard a heartbroken family member speak out, my eyes filled with tears and a piece of my heart broke right along with theirs.

How many more innocent lives will be lost before we do something?

As I was watching my mind went to Mothers against drunk driving (M.A.D.D.). I don’t claim to be an expert on the organization, nor do I have any affiliation with them. I just know they have been instrumental in rallying for many of the changes in the laws over the past thirty plus years. Their tagline on the site states…No More Victims. https://www.madd.org

Founded in 1980. This movement was started by one mom, around her kitchen table, after her thirteen year old daughter was struck and killed by a drunk driver.

An example of turning heartbreak (and I’m sure anger) into activism.

We have now witnessed several shootings in schools and other public places over the past years. One of which took place here in my hometown of Charleston, SC in June of 2015.

I’ve been away for a few days. Got to spend some time with my oldest son, daughter-in-law and grandson. As I held my grandson in my arms, I couldn’t help but worry about what the future holds for him. Will he feel safe at school? Will he fear being in public spaces?

I love my country and the freedoms we are privileged to enjoy. I don’t want that to ever change but in my mind an important component of that freedom is being free to live our day to day lives without fear.

I am in awe of the movement the young people are initiating and their plans for a rally against school and gun violence in Washington, D.C. on March 24th. Another example of turning heartbreak and anger into activism.

When I started this blog I didn’t know exactly where it would lead me. In fact if I am perfectly honest I wasn’t convinced I would have anything to say. I did hope to do two things though; to write fearlessly from my heart and be true to myself. Like most of the reflection pieces I have written in the past, a thought usually strikes me and percolates until I just can’t take it any longer and must get it out on paper.

There is a saying…Actions speak louder than words. While I am a writer and have an affinity towards words, I do believe wholeheartedly in this saying. I’ve repeated it plenty of times while raising my boys. So this is where I get to practice what I have preached.

Please know I am not looking to start a political debate. We all have and are entitled to our own opinions and beliefs.

But for me, and something I plan on sharing with my representatives…

When asked “How many more?”

I’d like the answer to be “No More!”

 

 

 

  “Dedicated to the one(s) I love” … The Shirells

 

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This is the song going through my head as I write this piece. And let me apologize right now because I’m sure this tune is now running through your head as well. Sorry!

In case you haven’t checked your phone, turned on the T.V. or opened the newspaper. Today is February 14th. Valentine’s Day.  A day set aside to show appreciation for family, friends, significant others and anyone else you happen to love…ahem…your furry pets!

We all know we should be doing this every single day but it is nice to have the additional opportunity to say “I love you” to all the special people in our lives.

I have always said the good Lord knew what he was doing when he blessed me with three sons. (I’m sure God appreciates my thumbs up!) I grew up with brothers. Three to be exact and being around boys is what I know.

I have a feeling my brothers (and sons for that matter) would say any drama in the house was caused or initiated by me. The only girl. They would probably be right, but please don’t tell them I said so. In reality, I think they got off pretty easy and would have to admit when it came to drama queens, I wasn’t ever going to win the crown.

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Don’t get me wrong…It’s not that I wouldn’t have loved to have had a daughter. I was very close to my Mom and am confident I would have shared the same relationship with a daughter. And I don’t know what I would do without my daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, niece and all my gal-pals…but…there is just something about a house full of boys. The way they think, solve problems, and the fact that our house was relatively calm and drama free, all synced well with my personality.

Now my oldest son is married and he and my darling daughter-in-law were blessed with a son almost four months ago. They now get to experience firsthand how amazing raising a son will be and my sweet daughter-in-law has another man in her life who will love her with all his heart for the rest of his life.

There is an Irish Proverb,  “A son is a son till he takes him a wife, a daughter is a daughter all her life.”

Well, I don’t think this is necessarily true. My boys have loved me well and continue to show me how much I mean to them each and every day. I refuse to look at the marriage of any one of my boys as losing a son…instead I look at it as gaining a daughter! Yep…I finally have my girl.

There is no limit to how large our hearts can grow. My family and friends have taught me that.

Thank you all for your friendship and support. I’m a lucky gal to have lots of people in my life to say “Happy Valentine’s Day” to.

Wishing you much…

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And to my gang … well you know what’s coming.

I love you more…

 

Let’s Talk about Cheerleaders

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I’m not talking about those peppy, sweet, cute as a button, pom-pom waving young things who make my back ache with each flip they do. I’m talking about those individuals who are always there for you. The ones who patiently listen to your ideas and dreams, then unfailingly respond positively and enthusiastically and tell you to “do it”, “go for it”, or in my case most recently…”hit send”.

Are you one? Do you have a few in your life? I believe every person should have at least one.

I’m blessed to have several cheerleaders in my life. I won’t mention them by name, they know who they are and how much they mean to me. At least I hope they do! They have been busy these past few years as I continue on my journey of self reflection and discovery.

A few months ago I read about a writer’s retreat being offered in Ireland. Three bestselling authors, Hazel Gaynor, Carmel Harrington and Catherine Ryan Howard, who also happen to be friends (not of mine, unfortunately, but each other), joined forces to create The Inspiration Project. At the time, I was following one of the authors, Hazel, on Facebook which is how I heard about the weekend. It sounded intriguing and very informative, definitely something this novice writer would benefit from so I investigated a bit further.

Once I read all about the weekend and what the three facilitators had planned I was hooked. I knew I wanted to go, I just needed to check a few things out to see if I would be able to make it work. I also checked in with one of my cheerleaders who of course told me to “hit send”. This is a phrase she has used ever since my very first adventure eight years ago when I decided I wanted to resume studying French by attending an immersion program in France. But that’s a story for another day. Back to Ireland.

I even had a friend who said she’d like to tag along. Not for the retreat portion but to do a bit of sightseeing and traveling afterwards. Sounded great to me. Might as well take advantage of being in Ireland and kick around a bit.

So, all my ducks were in a row, the week was clear and my friend was on board. All that was left was to hit send. I filled out the form and pressed enter. FULL. Oh no. Would I like to join the waiting list? Ah, sure, I typed as tears fell down my face. Not really, but I was crushed. Hopes dashed, I told myself what I always tell myself when things don’t go as I hoped. If it’s meant to be, it will be. Truly not expecting to hear from the ladies ever again. You can imagine the excitement I felt when I got the email telling me a spot had opened up, and it was mine if I was still interested. Yes! I couldn’t type the word back fast enough.

 

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I’m home now…with memories of an amazing weekend to help inspire me.

I returned with so much more than I had ever dreamt. Naming the retreat, The Inspiration Project, was a brilliant idea on the part of Catherine, Carmel and Hazel, for this is truly what this weekend was. Inspiring.

Together with nineteen of my fellow participants, we learned so much about the writing and publishing process. Lead by our three fearless leaders, Hazel, Catherine and Carmel; we women, eighteen from Ireland, one from Switzerland, and me, the lone American, all bonded quite well. They sent me home saying “brilliant” and “grand” and I sent them home saying “y’all”.

But there is something else. Something all these ladies have in common, a trait they all share. They are all cheerleaders. Each one anxious to share knowledge and offer support. How blessed I am to now have them in my life. They are my friends…they are my tribe.

The next Inspiration Project is scheduled for March 2-4. Check out the website by clicking on the link below. If you find you’re interested or intrigued…Please allow me to be your cheerleader and be the first to tell you to “do it”, “go for it”, “Hit Send”! You’ll be glad you did.

 

The Inspiration Project…

https://theinspirationproject.ie