We Are ALL Boston Stronger




I was at the finish line last year in Boston with family and friends cheering for my cousin and 1000’s of runners.  My cousin finished minutes before the bombs went off.  In those minutes, we were safely two blocks away and would later realize we had been standing almost exactly where the bombs detonated.   Call it a miracle.  Call it luck.  Call it whatever you like.   We are forever grateful and I choose to remember it like this.

As I look back on the events of the 2013 Boston Marathon I could write about the vice-like fear in my chest I felt from two blocks away when we heard and sensed the first explosion.  I could share the gory details, cry all over again at the sadness and loss that occurred, but today’s post is not about what happened in the wake of the tragedy, rather it is an account of what happened IN SPITE of it.

I do a lot of preaching at my kids to “look on the bright side”, “be grateful”, “focus on the good in things”…yada yada yada… when writing this post, I knew I needed to take my own advice.  I needed to be Stronger.  What I learned is by remembering the good WE ARE ALL STRONGER.  No better way to honor those who lost their lives and whose lives are forever changed than by sharing positive energy.   And so, you will have to pick up a copy of Lemony Snicket if you are looking to read about a “Series of Unfortunate Events.”

For this blog post is about one of the best days of my life.

It’s about how an iconic event like the Boston Marathon can teach us to extend our mind far beyond the terror and aftermath inflicted by a few troubled souls and come out stronger.

Thinking about last year can stir up emotions of fear and anxiety IF I let them.  But I am stronger.  I remind myself, “that day was a year ago and for me it was filled with hours and hours of excitement and joy and, in relative terms, only a few moments of fear. ”

These are my CHOICE memories:

At midnight the night before the race, I was snuggly tucked into bed content with a full belly of spaghetti and homemade sauce that my sister-in-law had made with so much love welcoming us into her home.

At the crack of dawn the morning of the race, I remember we excitedly gathered for breakfast and coffee and plotted our strategy to navigate the city and set out to spread our cheer.

By 6 am we stood huddled together with the racers and their families in the Boston Commons.  I can still feel the energy around us buzzing like an electric circuit through mazes of lines, charged up and ready to load my cousin and 1000’s of others onto the buses transporting her and her competitors out to the start line, 26.2 miles away to Hopkinton.  In the sub 40 degree crisp morning air, we were warm with pride for my cousin and for the many others who had made it this far.

With a wave to her and a final “good luck!” our energy continued as we sped off all crammed into my brother in law’s car to mile 16 where we would wait for hours to hopefully catch a glimpse of my cousin.  Hours and hours passed.  Runners ran by.

First the elite ones passed by in a lightning blur, next the wheelchair racers, followed by blind and disabled racers, military men and women in full uniform carrying more than their body weight in equipment, barefoot racers, the cast of the Wizard of Oz ran by, an elderly woman with blood running down her knee raced on.

How happy we were to finally see my cousin coming at us.
How happy I was to run along side her for a mile and tease her as we ran by her boyfriend holding the sign I had proudly colored like a kid.

CHOICE memories of over 10 hours of the best people watching you will ever imagine, hours of exciting, motivating, happy and awe-inspiring sights.

Sights I have chosen to engrave into my mind to honor those who were not as fortunate but are somehow even stronger.   These are some of the positive images that make my mind stronger and make my days more joyful.  They are stronger than the fear.  Being surrounded by loved ones and fans and being able to witness the power of the human spirit run by for hours and hours has afforded me the opportunity to carve out and hard-wire my brain with strong memories.  These memories of the day are so much stronger than the memories of the hour that tragedy struck.

It occurred to me that training one’s brain to think positive thoughts is like training for a marathon.

It’s not easy.  It pushes us to change, to grow, to get stronger.  How empowering to know that we can quite literally hard-wire new pathways of good thoughts and positive images into our brain, literally re-train ourselves to be ready for the marathon that is life.  Indeed we are stronger and all we need to do is choose to be.

Try it for yourself.

  1. Identify something that is troubling you.

  2. Acknowledge it.

  3. Now replace it with a more positive image.

If you need help, ask for it. Guaranteed your loved ones and friends will be happy to reassure you and remind you of something positive about yourself.  Be your own best friend.  Tell yourself what you would tell your best friend. It takes strength, but you will find that good thoughts are empowering.

As we drove out of the City fleeing for the safety of home, I remember my sister in law placing her hand on my shoulder and her saying “Kristin we’re ok”.  I can still feel the energy of her hand, the calming force of her words, and the magnitude of her love.  My memory of this moment is reassuring.  It makes me stronger.  I believed her then and I continue to remind myself now that through our tears we would endure the marathon journey home by recounting all that was good in our life, and letting our mind carry us home with good thoughts, gratitude and strength.   I dedicate my story to those who continue to overcome and persevere in the face of their experience last year in Boston.  I remind myself that they too are stronger AND I believe it in my mind and in my heart!