A different kind of May 9th

May 9th, has become a holiday in my life.  It’s the day that I stop to recognize the path that I have walked through to get to where I’m at.  It’s the pivot point in my life that changed everything about who I have become. Each year I have approached it with gratitude that the path has led me to bring hope to those around me.  I remember the hopelessness that changed my life 13 years ago and the trajectory into making my life’s purpose about building strength in others and then I recall all the faces over the last 13 years that I have witnessed fight through their own battles and still stand. I celebrate them, and the fact that I was part of their journey.  What a humble privilege to stand beside them and cheer them on through the highs and lows.   I also recognize the faces that tried to destroy this mission and I celebrate the fact that I’m still standing.  And still fighting.   

This year, however, has proven to be difficult.  This week, I’ve shut my business down to hopefully protect it from this world wide pandemic that is attempting to destroy the dream.  This virus that isn’t only aiming to take us down physically, but has attempted to destroy our communities and connections that we have all built.  I’ve seen the tears on many faces, as well as my own that is grieving the loss of our safe place, surrounded by like-minded women who push us to be strong and also allow room for our weaknesses.

So this year, the question is “How do you celebrate when everything seems to be falling apart?”  In an instant, the dream fell apart without a warning.  We were on a path to a place we had never been before with reaching more people than ever, and then the next day we had a closed sign in our window. Is there any reason to celebrate?  My soul wants to wallow in sadness and frustration, but my heart knows better.

What I do know is that a smile in a moment of terrifying circumstances can go farther than in times of celebration.  A hug in the middle of strife is more impactful than in mutual happiness.  Showing up in the middle of someone’s darkest day will be more memorable than being part of their happiest day.  So, if I believe that, I have to believe that my celebration during troubling times is more genuine gratitude then when things are easy.

To bring honor to the life that changed mine 13 years ago, I will celebrate even the hard times. We don’t get happiness without the sadness and the true testament to my gratitude is put to the test today.  Am I only willing to celebrate when it makes sense?  Is my gratitude based on stipulations based on success?  Or am I willing to smile in the midst of this chaos and remember all the ways my life has changed and the people that I have been blessed to know along the way? Am I truly willing to celebrate the journey?

Today, I choose gratitude.  I also choose faith.  Today, I put all my fears aside of what the future holds and remain grounded in a peace that I find through my faith.  The tears, the sadness and the gratitude.  They all can go together and as a package, they offer the true beauty of the journey. 

I will spend the morning, pushing my people to be strong as we do a workout at the park.  Although the feeling will be a little different, this may be one of my most memorable celebrations.  Reminding myself, and these people of our community.  That they aren’t alone and that they matter to someone.  A reminder that my dream isn’t in a building, it’s a purpose and a why and that can transcend any obstacle. 

There’s no pandemic great enough to rip that from me.  I choose joy on May 9th

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