I was walking through the Boston Common this morning and found myself gasping for air. I realized I hadn’t taken a breath since getting off of the train.
I took a moment by the pavilion and took a few deep breaths. For the first time in a year, I thought about breathing.
What happened April 15, 2013 took us all by surprise. No one could have known what would happen or what would come next. No one could know how we’d all react in the days, weeks and months to come.
I didn’t know while on vacation to Mackinac Island with my family I would have flashbacks due to a cannon being set off.
I didn’t know the first time I walked by the finish line that I would need to vomit.
I didn’t know six months ago I would finally break down and cry about it… at a bar, of all places.
I didn’t know that opening TimeHop this morning would be as stressful as it was.
I didn’t know when I saw one of the Boston Strong founders this morning I would fight back tears as we hugged.
But, this is what I do know –
Two days after the bombing, I blogged about it and said “People come first.” I still believe this to be true. I believe this to be true with all of my heart. I closed that blog with a quote that has been near and dear to my heart for almost 15 years –
“See, in all our searching, the only thing we’ve found that makes the emptiness bearable, is each other.”
I know we’ve come together – friends, family members and strangers.
I know we’ve united and connected in meaningful and beautiful ways.
I know we’ve laughed and we’ve cried.
I know we were there for each other, arms open.
And I know our doors, our arms and our hearts are still open.
And today, I take a breath.
April 15 started out as an interesting day. By noon, I had already talked to The Barefoot Contessa on the phone (no really, it was a weird morning), did a ton of work for our end of the year leadership banquet and had been tracking one of my student leaders as she ran the Boston Marathon. I was thrilled to see her cross the finish line.
Within hours, all of us in the city had been shaken to the core. Things were rearranged and altered.
In the coming days, students, faculty and staff across the city of Boston reacted with a swift and sure hand, despite our general unease and confusion. We reacted with care, compassion and creativity. We reacted in the best way we could to help each other.
Today, three staff members from three Boston-area institutions want to tell this story. I want to share how three Emerson students started a movement called Boston Strong and in turn, started a healing and grieving process none of us expected. My friend Gordon wants to share how Boston University altered and evolved an admissions event by using social media when the city was on lockdown. My friend Amma wants to share how students at her college made their response expectations loud and clear.
The three of us want to present at Austin’s South by Southwest EDU. To do it, we need you to log on to their site and vote for us.
Take a few minutes and register at the SXSW PanelPicker and give us a comment and an upvote.
We want to share this story. It’s a story worth sharing.
Besides, you should just click on this because Robin Thicke wants you to do it.
Listen to Robin Thicke.
I’ve been pretty quiet for the better part of two weeks. Call it what you will: processing, grieving, coping, healing.
I’ve responded to dozens of emails, texts and tweets in the last few weeks and I give the same response – “We’re all physically okay.” But in reality, many of us (myself included) are still healing.
I’m certain I went through all of the stage of grief – I ate my feelings; I drank my pain away; I stress-vomited nightly; I threw myself into work; I went on a mini-vacation with #MyEric; I did it all.
But what I couldn’t figure out was how to get my groove back. How do I get back to me? How do I get back to life on April 14?
And it hit me yesterday. Slow down.
As part of Orientation training, I conducted a One Word Workshop with the student leaders. For some reason yesterday, my one word came back to me… and it was exactly what I needed.
My one word is #Slow. A reminder to enjoy where I am and what I’m doing; a reminder to appreciate the work I’ve done to get here and the work I will be doing in the future; a reminder I’ve accomplished a lot and I’m lucky to be in a place I want to be.
You’ll find me later today, slowly walking through the Public Garden, viewing storefronts along Charles Street and appreciating where I am. #BostonStrong