From “panic” to “stupid” in 3 minutes or less …

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When I worked in radio full time, whenever I did something stupid or silly, I always shared the story on the air. It often led to many phone calls from people sharing similar things that they had done. It also led to those listeners and me laughing at each other’s stories. With the dawn of social media, I began to share those stories on My Space and Facebook. I love when one of those silly stories pops up on the Facebook “Memories” feed. It usually still makes me laugh.

I have no problem sharing my stupidity with you, so here is the latest installment, entitled “The Battle of the Belt”!

Friday morning, Sam had an appointment with a financial guy where she works to discuss retirement stuff. She wanted me to go as well. She was up and showered before me. We had to be up at the crack of dawn to be on the road, and I was pretty tired. When I finally crawled out of bed, she said that we needed to be on the road in about 30 minutes or we’d be late.

For whatever reason, I decided to shave my head, which added a few minutes to my normal “get ready” routine. Fearing that those extra minutes might put us behind, Sam told me that she would be driving because she “don’t drive like a senior citizen” and has “no problem driving over the speed limit.” Keep in mind that I usually do all the driving when we are together. I’m not sure why, I just usually do. So for this trip, I am in the passenger seat, which I suppose is the key to this story being funny.

In our relationship, Sam and I, have all of the comedic qualities of a good sitcom. What I mean by this, is that our internal thermostats are completely opposites! If I am hot, she is cold, and vice versa. When she drives in the car, the heat is ALWAYS on! Thank God there is a way to control the heat for both driver and passenger in her car! So here I am in my bulky winter coat, dying – because even though the heat on my side is turned down, it is still full blast on her side.

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Somewhere in the middle of out 35 minute drive, I slip out of the coat and it is behind me on the seat. We pulled into a parking spot and Sam shuts off the car. As I normally do, I reach to my right to unbuckle the seat belt. The problem is, I am reaching down and around the sleeves of my winter coat in a effort to find the buckle to undo the seat belt. I cannot find it! For whatever reason, this fresh wave of sheer panic overcomes me! Sam sees me starting to freak out and asks, “What’s wrong?” I can feel my heart pounding now, as I continue to try to find the damn buckle! I have what feels like the end of the belt in my hand – but there is NO buckle! I am sweating and panicking!

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I must have looked like a crazy person! Thoughts of being stuck in this car run through my mind! Scissors! Where is a pair of scissors to cut me out of here!? Why can’t I find this damn buckle! I am yelling now, “Where is the buckle?!” Let me help you visualize this:

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See the white circle and arrows?? This is the area that I am grabbing at and searching for the buckle. Now – notice the red circle …………. and the buckle?! You can imagine how stupid I felt when Sam reached over and literally pushed the button – releasing me from the seat belt.

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The entire traumatic event lasted approximately 3 minutes. As you know, when you panic, time stands still. It seemed like longer!

Let me say that this is NOT the first time I have been a passenger in this vehicle! I am not sure why, other than force of habit, I reached to my right to take the seat belt off. I am sure that it gave Sam one of the biggest laughs since we’ve been together! I have a feeling I will be reminded of this for years to come!

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Friend or Foe?

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So this weekend, I had two things happen that made me think, then chuckle, then I smiled, reminded of just how good things are in my life.  First, I was out at the store and I saw someone who is a mutual friend of my ex and me.  I wasn’t going to go out of my way to say hello, and I guess I didn’t need to.  You see, as soon as this person saw me, and made eye contact, they immediately looked the other way and walked away as fast as they could.

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As I said, first it made me think:  She’s done what all narcissists do – told a bunch of lies about me and got this person to believe them.  Second it made me chuckle – we used to be good friends.  They have chosen to believe the lies and had the perfect opportunity to ask me about them to my face, and decided to just run away.  Finally, I smiled.  I don’t need people like that in my life!  Go ahead and believe whatever you want.  I feel sorry for you.  You, too, are caught up in the self pity party and in the fantasy story that has been told over and over to make her look good and me look bad.

The second thing that happened was via Facebook.  It’s no secret that when I was in the process of making positive changes in my life, I went through my list of Facebook friends and deleted many people.  I would say 80% of those people were people who were mutual friends of my ex and me.  I knew that those particular people would be people who, if given the choice, would chose to remain friends with her, instead of me.  No loss, really.

So this weekend I get a friend request from one of those mutual friends who I deleted.  Like the first incident, it made me think – Now why on earth would they be sending me a friend request years later?  I was never really that close with that person.  Why all of a sudden? I was really thrown for a loop.  Again, it made me chuckle – see, I recently took the deleting of friends a step further and “blocked” certain people (including a significant other), and so her spies can’t really snoop around on my page anymore.  Then, I smiled again.  It’s really funny to see just how her network of spies is trying to get information to bring back to her.

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The narcissist is manipulative, controlling, jealous, never takes responsibility, is angry and full of rage, shifts blame, and plays themselves as the victim.  They will use whoever they can to get what they want.  They tell stories and falsehoods to get someone on their side, so they can use them for their own reasons.  They live to take joy from others, especially others who they want to control.

To person number one – have a nice life.  I’m here when you are ready to hear MY side of things.

To person number two – Friend Request Denied.

 

Too Early??

Halloween is barely behind us, and we are just a day or two into November.  Christmas is over 50 days away, however, it is everywhere! Even before Halloween, many stores had their Christmas displays and decorations up!

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For years, people have pondered, discussed, and debated the “how early is too early for Christmas” topic.  In September this cartoon was all over the internet:

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Just before Halloween, Sirius XM radio began adding their holiday channels to their line up.  Countless radio stations across the country flipped to “all Christmas” music yesterday and Facebook and almost every major news outlet had stories about it.  I really don’t know why people were acting so surprised by this, because it happens every year!  Is this the earliest stations have flipped?  No.  I recall a few years where some stations flipped to all Christmas BEFORE Halloween.

There was a time when Christmas music didn’t even start playing on the radio until Thanksgiving weekend.  I recall scheduling 3 to 4 Christmas songs an hour throughout that weekend, and then cutting back to 1 an hour after Thanksgiving weekend.  As Christmas got closer, the number of songs we played increased to 2, 3, and eventually 4 an hour.  We almost always went all Christmas music at 12 noon Christmas Eve and then would continue through 6pm Christmas night.  That’s not the case anymore.

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People inevitably ask me the question – “Why do stations go all Christmas so early?!”  The answer is a simple one – ratings!  Its not always the case, but most of the time, these stations who play all Christmas music do very well in the ratings books – which means more $$ for the station.  Some retail stores do not have the pre-recorded satellite music, so they will pipe the “all Christmas station” throughout the store.   That means more listeners to that particular station.

Is it good or bad?

So this brings me to a Facebook discussion some friends were having (after one person voiced his disgust at the fact that his station flipped to all Christmas) yesterday.  His argument was that “holiday music increases stress and is unhealthy for people.”  I knew exactly what he was referring to.

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A couple years ago, a psychologist named Linda Blair said that listening to Christmas music too early in the holiday season can have a negative effect on people.  She stated that it can affect mental health triggering “feelings of stress.”  She said that hearing holiday music is a reminder of all the things that you have to do to get ready for the holiday.  She said the music will cause you to worry about (and become overwhelmed by) the things on your “to-do” list like travel planning, shopping, and planning for parties.

She also said that people who work in retail, especially those who work at places like shopping malls, face a higher risk of what she called “Christmas music-induced stress”! “Hearing the same songs over and over each day could make workers struggle to ‘tune it out’ and they become ‘unable to focus on anything else,’ she said. “You’re simply spending all of your energy trying not to hear what you’re hearing.”

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That story first hit the news in 2017, and has already be reprinted this year on many social media and news pages.  Blair never really cites any concrete evidence, or study results, so how do we know that this is actually the case?  Maybe she is just a Grinch who hates Christmas Music?? Who knows?!

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On the other hand …

In response to Linda Blair’s findings, there is another article (this one citing “scientific studies”) that says the exact opposite!  In those studies, it was proven that listening to “uplifting music”  – like Jingle Bell Rock, Frosty the Snowman and A Holly Jolly Christmas, to name a few – has been known to have a positive effect both physically and psychologically.

According to these studies, the feeling associated when listening to music can be sorted into two categories, perceived emotions (when we appreciate the emotional tone of the piece, but not feel that emotion ourselves) and felt emotions. Felt emotions are when we connect to the feeling behind the piece we are listening to and it can impact our emotional state.”

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As someone who has worked in radio for 30+ years, I know first hand the connection that music has to memories.  Do a google search on “music memory quotes” and there are plenty of them. One quote in particular holds true for the next point – from Michigan’s own, Stevie Wonder:

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“Music has a strong tie to nostalgia.”

This is why hearing a song from your childhood may bring back memories of elementary school, a high school dance, or a major life event like it was yesterday. It’s also why listening to certain Christmas songs can make people feel warm, fuzzy and child-like. Part of the reason why Christmas music is associated with joy is not necessarily the music itself, but the memories that come with it.

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So, listening to Christmas songs may make you feel nostalgic for your childhood or just generally happy, because your brain has already created positive associations with the music. And it’s been proven – research conducted by researchers at McGill University proved that when people listen to happy, upbeat music, they can recall happy memories within a short amount of time.   The entire article can be found here:

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“In the experiment, the researchers had participants listen to four different genres of original music they had never heard before: happy (positive, high arousal), peaceful (positive, low arousal), scary (negative, high arousal) and sad (negative, low arousal). The researchers found that when the participants listened to happy, upbeat music, it brought about happy memories.”

That being said, there are Christmas songs that can bring about sad memories, too.  So I guess there is that possibility, too.  For the most part, though, Christmas music is happy and upbeat.  That would suggest that listening to Christmas music brings about nostalgic thoughts which brings about happy memories and you being a happier person.

What’s my take on it?

While I don’t listen to Christmas music 24/7/365, I do have Christmas songs on my iPod.  When I am listening to it and a Christmas song comes on out of season, it depends on my mood as to whether or not I am going to listen to it.  There are some Christmas songs that I can listen to no matter what the season, because (as the latter study suggested) it makes me feel good or happy.

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I remember when I worked at Honey Radio in Detroit, we would throw in “summer songs” when it was summer time.  We’d play “Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summmer”, “Wonderful Summer”, “Summertime”, and others and then cut back on them in the fall and winter.  I have never understood why songs like “Let it Snow”, “Winter Wonderland”, or “Jingle Bells” (which are basically winter time songs that never really mention Christmas) didn’t play throughout the Winter.

Final Thought

There are people who complain just because they like complaining.  Bottom line is this – radio is free.  You have many choices up and down the dial.  There are many other stations that are not playing Christmas music 24/7, so if you don’t want to hear it – DON’T!  Pop in a CD, listen to your Spotify, plug in a USB with your tunes on it, or find the satellite channel that plays the format you enjoy.  Problem solved!

I have always looked forward to the Christmas season.  People tend to be friendlier.  People seem to be kinder.  There is a sense of happiness that comes with the season.  Elvis Presely’s “Why Can’t Everyday Be Like Christmas?” captures that sentiment.  Just because you don’t want to listen to Christmas music, doesn’t mean that others don’t want to.  Christmas music and the holiday season bring about a joy that seems to be lacking today – don’t be a Scrooge!

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Halloween Dress Up

Tonight on ABC, one of the greatest Halloween specials of all time aired again – It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.  It is in this special that poor Charlie Brown utters those sad words, “I got a rock.”

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In that scene, Lucy is wearing a witch mask.  It got me to thinking about Halloweens of my past.  I remember the streets would be packed with kids when I went out trick or treating!  I remember standing in lines at the doors of my neighbors, waiting for my turn to yell “trick or treat!”  By the time I took my boys out on Halloween, I was sad to see that the streets were not very busy at all.  I remember being out late and rushing from house to house – hoping to get them all before they turned the porch light out (telling you that “we’re out of candy”)!

As I sat here pondering this blog, I tired to think of some of my past Halloween costumes.  I can remember some of the ones from when I was older: a vampire, Oliver Hardy, and a Robot.  The robot was a couple cardboard boxes my dad taped together and spray painted silver.  We put cassette tapes, a vacuum hose, and other things on it and it was actually very cool.  My brother used the same costume for a play he did in elementary school.

Other than those mentioned above, I didn’t remember any specific costumes off the top of my head. This is probably because most of the costumes I grew up wearing sucked.  They were so bad, Jerry Seinfeld did a bit about them in his comedy act.  I did a Google search for Halloween Costumes of the 1970’s and it all came back to me!  Halloween costumes back when I was a kid were hardly original.  Today, if you go to an elementary school and watch a Costume Parade, you will see some really good costumes!  Many of them will even be homemade.  This was not the case when I was a kid!

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You usually bought your costumes at K-Mart, or Kresge, or the local drug store.  The costumes of the 70’s consisted of primarily a mask.  The mask had two big eye holes (which you really couldn’t see out of!), two small nose holes (which you couldn’t breathe out of!), and a slit by the mouth.  It was a cheap piece of plastic and it sometimes cracked.  The mask had a cheap rubber string that was stapled to each side.  This rubber string was what kept the mask on your head.  If the string broke, you either re-stapled in, or you took it off and didn’t wear it.

The costume also included a cheap one piece outfit.  They were like “onesie” pajamas.  You first put your feet and legs in it and then your arms.  There was a tie that you tied behind your neck to keep it on.  On the outfit it usually has the character’s name in bold letters on it.  This must have been so if the mask fell off, people knew who you were supposed to be.  97% of all kids wore these dumb costumes when I was a kid!

While I Googled, I came across two of those stupid costumes I sort of remember having.  The first was The Six Million Dollar Man:

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I also remember having C-3PO:

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I think I may have had an Underdog costume, too!

The outfits were so cheap that by the end of trick or treating, there were rips in the crotch or legs.  Sometimes they were ripped up before you even got to go out trick or treating!  We’d wear our costumes to school that day and they would rip in the classroom!  They were paper thin, too, so you either had to buy it three times too big, so you could wear something underneath it, or you covered it with your coat and no one saw what you were anyway!

Here are some of the funnier costumes I found while searching:

From TV – Welcome Back, Kotter:

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Mr, Kotter (above) and Barbarino (below)

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Mork from Mork and Mindy

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The Fonz from Happy Days

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There were plenty of super heroes, including Batman!

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And, despite how sexy she looked on TV, the Wonder Woman costume was actually quite scary …

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I mean – look at Lynda Carter!  She’s beautiful!!  That costume is just freaky!!!!

One of the most ridiculous costumes was this one based on the movie Jaws!

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Finally, for the gals who thought Donny Osmond was cute … this costume should make them think twice.

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Come on!  That looks like a weird Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner!!!

For whatever it is worth, I am going to guess that these costumes are probably worth money today.  I have a lot of friends on Facebook who have extensive toy collectibles, and they probably have some.  Mine are long gone, more than likely because they were ripped up and destroyed the same year we bought it.

It was fun to just spend time searching up the old costumes and looking at them.  Do you remember wearing these?  What were some of your favorite costumes?  What are some of your favorite Halloween memories?

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Sometimes I feel like I repeat myself in my blogs.  If I do, I apologize.  In all honesty, sometimes I forget if I have mentioned something in a previous blog.  I have been meaning to hook up with my friend and fellow blogger, Max, to learn how to index the content that I have already published.  I guess I should do that sooner than later. So pardon me if I have said this before.

When I started this blog, I did it primarily for me.  It was a place for me to (1) write about the things I was dealing with in my life (2) write down memories for my children to look back on and read in the future (3) occasionally rant about things that bothered me and (4) share memories of things that interest me (movies, music, TV, etc…).  I first began blogging in the days of My Space.  This would have been around 2005-2007.  To my knowledge, my My Space page is still in existence in cyber space, but with the dawn of Facebook, I haven’t done anything on it in years!  I used to blog on there all the time, the blogs used to pop up on your front page.

Some time ago, My Space removed the blogs from everyone’s page.  I contacted them because many of those blogs had personal things I wanted to remember.  I blogged often in the months and weeks proceeding my mother’s death.  I blogged about the birth of my second son.  All of those were gone.  They provided me a link to go in and download all of my blogs.  All of the comments were gone, but the original content was there.  For that, I am glad.  Re-reading some of them is emotional – they capture a moment in my past and give me a sense of what I was feeling at that time.  Some of those old blogs have been updated and additional thoughts have been added here.

At any rate, during the time I was blogging, I was told by someone I was once close to that “nobody cares about the things you write about”.  For whatever reason, I was constantly being told by this person to stop writing.  Occasionally, I would write a “note” on Facebook, which was similar to the My Space blogs.  These were also met with negative responses and the request was again made to stop, which I eventually did.

Fast forward to almost two years ago, when I started to blog.  I had been in therapy trying to sort out things in my life and it was suggested that I keep a journal.  I mentioned that I used to blog and my therapist asked why I had stopped.  She encouraged me to begin blogging or keeping a journal – and this is it. Blogs have ranged from fun stuff to serious stuff. I began to share links to my blog on Facebook, and many of my friends began following it, and sometimes, even sharing it on their page.  Through Word Press, I began to follow other blogs written by people who share my love for music, old movies, and classic TV.  Often times, my blogs will inspire someone to write one and vice versa.

All of this brings me to why I am writing this blog.  Today, I was informed that this blog now has 100 followers!  I am humbled that 100 people would find the topics that I write about worth reading, let alone wanting to be informed every time I write something new!  I thank you for reading and I thank you for interacting.  If there is every anything you’d like to see this blog explore, I would love to hear it.  Writing is often met with what some call “writer’s block” and I often face the “What should I write about today?” dilemma.  Feel free to offer suggestions.

There are those who say that bloggers/writers/authors should write everyday, no matter what – even if you are just scribbling a sentence or two.  For me, time is an issue.  Finding the time is always the challenge.  I try to write as often as I can. Sometimes, the stuff I write never makes it here and ends up as a Facebook status.  For example, this week marked the anniversary of my grandma’s passing, today is the 117th birthday of the great Larry Fine of the Three Stooges, Sam is starting to feel our baby move, and it’s Homecoming week – all things that I could probably blog about (and probably should).  I just have to find the time!

Thanks for following!  Thanks for reading!

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Quotes I Needed To Hear Today

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It’s not worth my time (or yours) to rehash why I am writing this blog. It will be a short one. After an incident today, Sam (as she always does), saw a great quote that really helped me today:

“Learn to be ok with people not knowing your side of the story. You don’t have to prove ANYTHING to ANYONE.”

That quote was followed by a post from a friend on Facebook which read:

“Start ignoring people who threaten your joy. Literally – ignore them. Say nothing. Don’t invite any parts of them into your space.”

Both of these quotes were just perfect and helped me deal with a situation. While I have never been one to seek revenge on anyone, another quote I stumbled on also helped:

“Living a good life really is the best revenge. Once they acknowledge that they cannot ruin your happiness, they lose their power.”

It’s all about control. Author Jill Blakeway says it this way:

“When a toxic person can no longer control you, they will try to control how others see you. The misinformation will seem unfair, but stay above it, trusting that other people will eventually see the truth – JUST LIKE YOU DID!”

Fitting right in with that last quote:

“The sociopath fears two things. (1.) Losing control and (2.) Being exposed”

Author Daniel Chidiac says:

“When a person attempts to control someone else’s life, it only reflects the lack of control they have on their own.”

Not sure if this is true, but actor Will Smith is credited with saying:

“Haters are the people who will broadcast your failures and whisper your success”

When you break free from people who have controlled you or manipulated you for years, you have to remember that now that you are not in their life anymore, they must turn to someone else and manipulate them. There is a great truth here!

So why did I write this? To be a constant reminder to myself of how far I have come and to always remember:

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18 years later – 9/11

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Like the assassination of JFK for some people, or the Challenger explosion for others, 9/11 is one of those life changing events that is forever etched in the minds of those who lived through it.  No doubt, you remember exactly what you were doing and where you were when you heard the news.  So do I.

In radio, an aircheck is a recording of your show.  It consists of just your talk breaks.  Many times your boss brings you in to listen to a past show together.  You listen to the breaks you did, talk about what was good, what was bad, how to improve your performance and so on.  On September 11, 2001, I was in my bosses office going over a show.

I was working at B95 in Flint at the time.  Brian Cleary was my boss.  We had just listened to a break where I told a stupid joke when our morning gal, Kristine Turner, came in to tell us that a plane had hit the World Trade Center.  At the time we all thought it was some sort of freak accident.  We walked out of the office and down to the newsroom.  The TV was on and there was a live shot of the World Trade Center with smoke pouring out of it.  Even the news people on the air were talking about how this was some sort of accident.  And then we watched as the second plane hit the other tower on live TV!

At this point, we understood that this was going to be no ordinary day.  When I went on  the air at 10am, I became the link to what was going on to people without access to TVs at work.  I recall breaking format and playing news updates.  I remember the South Tower collapsed just before I went on the air.  We then heard of Flight 93 going down in Pennsylvania.  Then came the news of the North Tower collapsing just before 10:30am.  It was the busiest and craziest day of my radio career.  I remember staying after my shift and manning the canopy that we had set up in the parking lot to take donations for the people in New York.  I also remember being exhausted when we wrapped up for the night.  We all knew that the days and weeks ahead were going to be VERY different. 

I don’t think any of us knew just how much the world was going to change that day.  My ex and I had just found out that we were expecting our first child, who was due in April of 2002.  I remember being scared about the world that our baby was coming into.  What we also didn’t realize was how these horrible events would bring our nation together. 

What follows is something that I posted on Facebook last year and reposted today:

“18 years ago today the people of this country forgot all about race, gender, political stance, religion, and stood together as one after the events of 9/11. What followed was a surge of patriotism that hadn’t been seen since World War II. American Pride soared. Today the country is extremely divided, and not just into two parts, but many.

Today we live in a country where everything seems to offend somebody. We tend to forget that the things of the past have made us and this country what it is today. History is history. We can look back in hindsight and see that there were things in the past that were (at the time) considered to be okay, but now we know they are not. We study history, to learn the things not to repeat. We also study history, to show us the things that worth repeating. Let’s take a lesson from history, a day 18 years ago, let’s put away the divisions. Let’s remember that no matter what race, color, or gender you are, we are all human beings.

There are plenty of scientific studies to show that it takes more effort to frown than to smile, and to hate rather than love. Today, as we remember those people who were on the planes, in the towers, in the Pentagon, or were first responders… remember the love, sadness, and the patriotism that brought this country together. Life can change in an instant. Practice kindness. Love one another.”

The emotions of that day will never be forgotten. We will never forget the acts of heroism we witnessed or the outpouring of support that was shown by Americans everywhere.  The uniting of a nation is one that I will always remember. Today I remember the people whose lives that were cut short. I remember the innocent.  I remember the heroes.

Today I reflect and remember. I hope you will too.