The space between the storms

Note: wrote this post last week on vacation. Publishing now.

Miranda Lambert accompanies me as I sit in front of the floor-to-ceiling windows at the Marriott airport hotel in Nashville, just hours before I’ll head back home to Oklahoma – a place Miranda also calls home. I titled this post when I was 20,000 feet in the air on our way to Tennessee last Thursday, wanting to follow up on my post about growing up in Tornado Alley. It’s fitting that it’s pouring rain outside. That’s the way of life – sunshine, storms and back again.

I wanted to write about being human, about the importance of giving ourselves space between the storms to regroup and unwind. To allow ourselves to cry and gather strength for what comes next.

Our vacation to Colorado had been set long before the EF5 tornado hit central Oklahoma on May 20th and left 24 dead. I gave myself space to see what good I could do – something to help the teachers of Briarwood and Plaza Towers where the courageous teachers not only shielded students but went above and beyond well after the storm.

With breathing space in the mountains of Colorado, I decided the benefit “Authors Love Teachers” could help pay tribute to teachers and I called on my author friends around the country to help. Authors have been extremely generous with their book boxes and bundles which will be auctioned off on eBay between June 15th and June 25th. See the full list in photos on our Facebook page. Full information will be listed on Facebook as well as on Full proceeds from the auction will benefit the teachers and staff to get as many items as we can on their wish list.

Two days after the Moore tornado, I gave a workshop to executive women on the importance of giving ourselves space to allow creativity. We also discussed the biggest creativity busters, the top among them being stress and anxiety. This time I was able to physically give myself that space with the fresh air in the Colorado mountains, but usually we must find that peace amidst our day to day life, right where we live, even if that means among the ruins.

Because even if we away, we will get hit again. You know a storm of some sort will always be around the corner, whether it’s in the skies or our jobs or families or other tragedies near or far.

Three days after we returned from our peaceful trip, central Oklahoma was under a tornado watch again, even while I was emailing authors to confirm their donations for the recovery from the last tornado. The watch turned into warnings to panic as thousands of Oklahomans decided it would be better to get out of the way of the new powerful tornado with the multi-vortices. Their decision to flee caused gridlock on the highways as rain poured down causing flash flooding. The sick feeling returned – “here we are again,” as I went to bed that Friday night knowing people would be dead. The storm didn’t stay on the track the experts predicted -storms can be that way. If we knew exactly what would happen in our lives, how much easier it would be to set the course. Instead we do what we can with the information we have and hitch our morals on “doing no harm.” Normally it works. Normally we stick together and those that remain know we’re the ones who must work to make a difference.

When we checked the forecast for Nashville, we knew there was a chance for storms, and it did storm two of the four days we were here, but life is about being flexible and not planning for perfect. A vacation will likely not go the way we had pictured. Life is full of peaks and valleys. Lately Oklahoma has seen more valleys, but the peak comes from our attitudes and our actions; our strength in rebuilding and making the most of the space between the storms.

As I wrap up this post, Pandora has randomly given me Carrie Underwood’s, “See You Again,” from her Blown Away album. I used to be surprised when coincidences like that occurred, but not anymore. The universe has a way of staying in sync, of giving us what we want when we least expect it – big or small. Today was the first time I’d heard that song, but Carrie has been a big part of this trip and a big part of Nashville, period. Her Blown Away tour exhibit opened last week at the Country Music Hall of Fame and I saw it on Friday. Her latest tour was based on a tornado theme, but Carrie grew up in Oklahoma and Tornado Alley just like I did. It seems rather natural, though it’s eerie. Storms have a way of inspiring us; we can find creativity in our darkest days. We know life is unpredictable and too short. We should go ahead do those things that need to be done. Sooner than later.

Carrie donated a million dollars to the relief efforts from the May 20th tornado. She’s a young queen here in Nashville and Oklahoma is proud to call her our own.

Now it’s our turn to help. I’m hoping for a great auction and ask that you help me spread the word so we can gift teachers with those items they need to feel great about their upcoming school year.

Thank you for being generous you.

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