I make my living engaging in social media. I speak at conferences about blogging and using social media to connect and inspire others. I believe in the power of social media to connect us, but right now-and I suspect I’m not alone-my Facebook feed and Twitter stream, news headlines have me on edge. I just can’t shut it off, hoping for a status update that will satisfy my mama bear instinct to keep her baby cubs safe, so I can relax and and resume with normally scheduled programing and passion for wanderlust. As any writer will tell you, sometimes after a dry spell, the words just come to you and this post came to me like a flood after a heavy storm.
The events in Boston this week suddenly have me flashing back through these last six months and the so many, very real reminders we’ve had as a family that life is fleeting. I had a friend who was running the Boston Marathon, a bucket list moment for her, she had a picture of the finish line on her Facebook cover photo taken before the race, and for a short time after the first bomb went off, had yet to check in that she had finished. Her friends waited. The world waited. We all waited for other loved ones to check in, watching every blog and social network we could get our hands on to piece it all together, feeling like somehow that would make us feel more in control of the situation. Another milepost moment in life we shared together in real-time and reminder of how precious life is.
Last month, we lost a beautiful soul in our family, my step father to lung cancer. We are still raw with emotion under the surface, and I know that each of you have your own stories of losing loved ones like this. Over the last few months when I connected with friends and people in my community about the courageous battle my step father was fighting with cancer, you shared your stories with me, offered words of comfort and support. The experience of watching Jack fight for his life in his final days were some of the most emotional and most connected times my family has experienced. My faith and respect for the strength of his spirit in his final days grew beyond measure. His caring hospice nurses who provided us the safe environment to say goodbye, priceless. The night before he died, we gathered in his room to hold his hand and let him know we’d be okay and it was time for him to let go, go on ahead and “Set up Camp” for us. Another milepost moment and trial that strengthened my faith, our family and my belief in the power of community more than ever.
As a parent, it is these mile post moments in life that hit home. In just the last few months, we’ve had our confidence rattled and helped each other feel brave enough to send our kids to school. My kids have had to say goodbye to their “Grandpa Jack” and try to process the heavy emotions of a funeral, contemplate faith and heaven. This week, we try to comfort our kids and explain how it is still okay to be in large crowds, or to cheer on mommy and daddy when they are running a marathon. We lift our heads up high in faith and try not to let the cracks of fear show through the facade of our superhero parent armor. At night, the kids go to sleep and we pour ourselves a big glass of wine and hope we didn’t F- that up.
Meanwhile, in the morning, life does and will go on. Carpools and little league games continue. Business meetings resume. To do lists are waiting on us to take action. I am an optimist and believe in living a life with no regrets and that family always comes first. Milepost moments like this make me want to clear the calendar and take a hard look at how I’m spending my days and ask myself if everything I’m doing is really that important. And then, focus on and strengthen my resolve to be better, to fear less and lean on my faith more. To resist the urge to react and retract, to be brave, explore and love more, despite an overwhelming desire to stay safely within my comfort zone.
I share this post because I hope that it brings you, a friend, mom, dad, or family a sense of comfort and community. Every day I wake up, I am extremely grateful for the gift of what I do for a living, the ability to travel, be with my family and do what I love. Sharing our experiences with you here is a great gift, inspiring you to get out and explore more and develop a more confident, connected and culturally-aware family by walking the walk and talking the talk. Family and making an impact in my community is what gets me leaping out of bed each morning and running this race.
Last week, I had the privilege of sitting around the table with some of the biggest thought leaders in travel. During one of the presentations, one executive had this to say about leadership; “The sign of a great leader is they never stop running.” This thought resonated with so many of us that the conversation carried over into dinner. These events have strengthened my resolve to get out and explore more, fear less, and to lean in to my community and never stop running. For it is during these milepost moments in life that we need family and community the most.