Turning Pain into Power

by Patricia Spadaro

On the anniversary of 9/11, what really inspired me today: a  quote from an interview I saw with Frank Siller, brother of NYC firefighter Stephen Siller.

Stephen, 34, was just getting off his night-shift duty and on his way home when he heard that the first tower was struck on 9/11. He rushed back to respond. He couldn’t drive through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, so he strapped his 65 pounds of gear to his back and ran through the tunnel to reach the towers. He never returned.

Here’s what his brother said today: “I’ll tell you what Stephen taught us all that day, that you don’t run awayyou run at your problems. You go right after it; you do what you’re supposed to do.”

Stephen is survived by his wife and five children. His brother Frank now runs the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, which holds a run retracing his heroic brother’s final steps each year on 9/11 to raise money for children who have lost a parent, firefighters, and military who have been seriously injured in the line of duty. More than 25,000 people are expected to take part in the New York City run on this tenth anniversary of 9/11. And more than 50 cities also held the run this year.

This story, like the legacy of so many others of that day, is inspiring beyond any words I could write here. Thank you, Stephen, and all who risked your lives to save others.

And thank you, Frank—and everyone who takes part in that run—for showing us how to turn pain into REAL power for good. For showing us how to honor the legacy of love. For turning this tragedy into an opportunity to do great things. This is how we heal.

Check out the site at tunneltotowers.org

Beating the Doldrums

by Patricia Spadaro

P1050957Put a little wind in your sails…

The dreaded doldrums. We’ve all been there—feeling stagnant or stuck, down and out or depressed.

Did you know that that word doldrums also describes an area of the world just north of the equator where the trade winds meet. It’s a place that can be either very calm or have very severe weather. In the still weather, with no wind, the progress of sailors can be delayed for days or weeks—sending captain and crew into the doldrums.

Whereas those sailors can do little but wait, fortunately we can do something about our own case of the boring doldrums. That’s especially true if you just don’t have a clue why you’re in a slump.

Of course, I’m not saying there is, or should be, a quick fix for the deep problems that throw us into a funk. But sometimes when we’re feeling gloomy or down or uninspired, it’s just a matter of giving ourselves a little self-prescribed kick in the pants. And it’s often completely counterintuitive. Here’s what I mean:

If you have a serious job with lots of responsibilities, push yourself to be playful. Go take a break where there are lots of children. Play some games. Watch a kid’s movie and let yourself laugh.

If you are constantly around a lot of people, schedule a solitude date—with yourself, by yourself—in a quiet place.

If you tend to sit a lot (in front of a desk or the TV), force yourself to move. Take your friend up on their invitation for a free guest pass to their zumba class at the gym. Or just turn on your favorite radio station and dance your heart out.

Lost your taste for life? Tickle your taste buds. Treat yourself to a totally different kind of food than you normally eat. Try some Indian tikka masala or a Thai curry (grocery stores often have jars of premade ethnic sauces, so it’s not hard to do).

If you’re a literature enthusiast, pick up a copy of Popular Science or Field and Stream. Soak your brain in something entirely new—something that is the very opposite of what you are habitually attracted to.

You get the idea.

If you want to sail out of the doldrums—or even to stimulate your creativity during a dry spell—you need to give yourself a jump-start. You have to jump out of the molds you find yourself in day after day, night after night. You have to get yourself into a new groove.

When you’re in the doldrums, you have to be daring.

Put some wind in your sails by choosing to do something completely different today. What will it be?

For your inspiration:
Here’s some advice on getting unstuck from the ever-wise Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Nature abhors the old. . . . In nature every moment is new; the past is always swallowed and forgotten; the coming only is sacred. Nothing is secure but life, transition, the energizing spirit. . . . People wish to be settled; only as far as they are unsettled is there any hope for them.”

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