Glen Haven, Colorado, one year post flood

Today, while on vacation in Estes Park, Colorado, we traveled to the tiny town of Glen Haven, which was destroyed in the floods that occurred in the area in September 2013.

The Denver Post covered the floods: “The soul of the community survived. People in Glen Haven dug the mud out of one another’s homes. They evacuated their stranded neighbors four days before federal rescue workers showed up. From the wreckage left when West Creek became a roaring river, they built their own footbridge to reach homes on the other side,” the article stated. 

Today, nearly one year following the flood, the devastation is still obvious. It was sad to see where homes stood, where a community once stood. The fire station, post office and general store has been restored, but many of the homes in the area still remain damaged — and that’s the ones that even exist at all. Many were wiped off their foundation.

I was so struck by the devastation, yet the endurance of a small community. People sat at the local general store. Heavy equipment was working to move debris. 
I will not be sharing any more of these photos, because it doesn’t feel right. Their little community is not a tourist attraction. It’s their home and one they are struggling to re-build.

An unsolicited story

So, my coworkers Kathleen, Jessie and Regina got the pleasure of listening to an unsolicited story — or rather a dumbass Brandy moment this morning.

So I thought I’d share it here too.

The lesson in this story before I write it: never put the cap back on pancake batter. You know, the kind that comes in a jar, you add water, shake it up and voila: pancakes!

If you read the directions, which I did but did not heed, it says you’re not supposed to re-cap it after mixing the contents. Well, don’t. Just don’t. They mean it. And bad things happen when you re-cap it after mixing and put it on a warm stove.

That is just what I did. I was happily making pancakes — regular AND blueberry!! What heaven!! I mixed one batter, cooked them all up and then mixed the other and recapped it until I was ready to cook it, set it on the stove and walked off.

A few minutes later I heard this explosion in my kitchen. WTF?! Rushed into kitchen and there was the reason why you should NEVER recap one of these puppies. It was all over my ceiling, walls, stove…every place imaginable. Pancake batter. Everywhere. Again, pancake batter. EVERYWHERE. In places pancake batter should never be!

I swear every once in a while I still find more batter.

So, don’t. Just don’t re-cap these jars. I promise nothing good will come of it unless you’re looking for a very messy science experiment.

On 301 days of gratitude

Yesterday I hit 300 days of posting my gratitude on Facebook. 300.

I started this quest the first of November 2013, when many of my Facebook friends were committed to 30 days during the month of November. I decided what the hell, I’ll bite.

On November 15, tragedy struck. A house fire took the man I had come to know as my father. The man that became a role model at a critical moment in my life. The man who loved and supported my mother. Just like that, he was gone.

At that moment, 15 days into the gratitude challenge, I could have (and considered) giving the gratitude challenge up. After all, nobody would have thought bad of me, considering what had just happened.

But, as the days unfolded following my dad’s death…I saw kindness all around me. Kindness in the people who came to my mom’s house and helped us sift through what was left. Kindness in the person at Red Cross who helped set mom up with a gift card and other items she needed. Kindness in The Salvation Army, who also helped us. Kindness in others who donated gift cards, food and money. Kindness in family, friends and coworkers.  Those became my thankfuls in the week following the fire.

When I returned home following the funeral, I decided to keep it going. And November folded into December, my original goal was to get to 100. 100 folded into 200 and yesterday I hit the 300 mark.

I will admit, there are days where I want nothing to do with this whole gratitude posting bit. Those days, I write down what I’d like to say, but I give myself the space to not post it. We all need a break. There have been weeks where I post an entire week’s worth in one sitting because, frankly, it’s hard to post every day about gratitude. It’s been a lot more challenging than I thought.

It’s not that I’m not grateful every day…sharing it is the hard part. I’m a pretty private person. By posting my gratitude I share a piece of my soul with my Facebook friends. That’s a really hard thing for me to do some days.

As I progress into the 300s, I’m sharing more. Going deeper into my gratitudes. Yet I still have days where I pull back. And I still will have days where I’m feeling more private and will hold back a bit.

To my Facebook friends, thank you for reading the last 300 days of my gratitude. What began as a challenge has become a way of life for me. One moment of every day I stop and ask myself what I’m grateful for. Sometimes it’s something funny. Sometimes I stop and be serious.

But I’m always grateful.

Why negativity screams and positivity is often the quiet one

So, this is my third attempt to write this blog post. The app on my tablet ate it the first two times. So, while this won’t be as eloquent as the first two times I typed it, I’m determined to not give up on this blog post. Because it’s an important one to me.

The other day I got to thinking. After a really challenging day I realized it’s so easy to get caught up in negativity. I started the day in a very positive mindset and soon after the day began I was caught up in some negativity and it was really hard to dig myself back out.

Which led me to think: WHY?

Why is it so easy to get caught up in the negative? Positivity is available to us anywhere, anytime. In ANY situation. Yet, the negative screams for us to join it. To be sucked up into it. And we often willingly sit with it — and join others in sitting with it.

Here’s what I came up with:

Positivity is often quiet, subtle.

Negativity feeds on attention. The more people it draws in, the more powerful it feels and the louder it gets.

Positivity is like a quiet sunrise. It scatters its colors across the sky, but if one isn’t looking or is hanging out with negativity, the sunrise goes unnoticed.

Misery loves company. Misery REALLY loves company. The more the merrier it seems with misery.

Be the positive one in a negative situation and you’ll find out just how true the above statement is.

Let’s talk about kindness for a moment. Kindness, in its purest form, does not need any recognition. The doer of the deed doesn’t seek any recognition. The person doesn’t need that recognition. I realized I had reached this point in my life when it was SO hard for me to hand a gift card to a random stranger. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to do the deed…it’s because it didn’t feel right that this person saw who was giving them the gift card. I wanted nothing out of the exchange. I simply wanted to brighten their day. If I do a random act of kindness now, you’re not going to hear about it. Period. That is not the goal. I do not want the attention.

To me, this is the answer why it’s SO easy to get caught up in the attention-seeking negativity that is rampant in our world today. It yells at us. Kindness does not. You have to look deeper to find the positive. The negative? It’s right there holding its hand out, calling your name. It pretends to be a friend.

I feel like this is a really important concept. While it’s much easier typed than practiced, it’s my goal to put this into practice.

 To find the light and good in all situations.