Losing Yesterday

My friend Angie symbolizes a beautiful gift that each of us has the opportunity to grasp.

I started writing stories at the age seven. I have vivid memories of sitting in my childhood bedroom filling an entire notebook in a single afternoon.

My mom saved an assortment of my earliest notebooks and recently brought them to me in a large box. It was profoundly moving to look at the bound collection of old stories and realize I had not let the writing part of my heart die with age.

You see, this is what my bedroom floor looks like right now.

(Pardon me while I say something to my father. Dad, I promise I will never call your “pile” system of organization messy again.)

As you can see, I am still filling notebooks, writing on scraps of paper, and scrawling permanent messages on whatever movable surface I can find.

Yet, in my 32 years of committing eloquent words to paper, I have never entered a writing contest.

So when my friend Shannon presented the submission guidelines for a writing contest she read about in a well-known magazine, I agreed to take a look.

As she handed me the entry rules, she spoke with such conviction … as if my life depended on entering this contest.

“You have to enter this, Rachel. You can win this.”

I felt the hairs on my arms stand straight up.

I looked down and read the contest question, “Who are you most surprised to be friends with?” and then the words, “Winner receives $1,000.”

I immediately knew the answer to the writing prompt question; it was the same person to whom I would give the prize money, if I should miraculously win.

There was only one small (literally, small) problem. The maximum length for the writing submission was 300 words.

300 words!*#! Are you kidding me???

Let’s just put it this way … I’m the person whose phone messages run so long, I tend to get cut off. I’m the lady who has to ‘continue on the back’ when filling out a comment card. I’m the nerd who actually types her thank you notes because the cute little cards are simply too small for everything I have to say.

I just couldn’t imagine how I, the wordiest of all wordy people in the world, could write a winning story in less than 300 words.

But for the woman I was writing about, my dear friend Angie, I could do anything for her.

So for the first time in my life, I was succinct.

Here is my 290-word contest submission:

Intertwined By The Wind

She’s collard greens, barbeque ribs, and Granny’s cornbread. I’m California rolls, wasabi, and edamame.

She ends her sentences with acronyms like LOL and LMBO followed by a never-ending row of exclamation points. I couldn’t bring myself to use Internet slang if I was using twigs to create a distress signal.

She performs expressive worship dances in front of entire church congregations. I can’t imagine dancing in public without consuming at least one glass of wine.

She’s the moxie of Queen Latifah mixed with the timeless beauty of Erykah Badu. I’m a bubbly version of Sporty Spice with Martha Stewart tendencies.

Friends like us don’t meet at the park, Starbucks, or in the Ten Items Or Less line.

Friends like us meet providentially.

While I was huddled in my basement with my two young daughters praying for our lives, she was about to lose one of the few things that truly mattered on this earth.

When I found out this woman lost her daughter and would be caring for her two young grandchildren, I knew I had to go to her.

A tornado can bring together the most unlikely pair.

I’ll never forget when I drove up to her house, my car loaded down with children’s clothing and toy donations from my neighbors.

From an outsider, we probably looked like the 21st century version of “The Odd Couple,” but to us, it was the embrace of a long-lost sister.

She invited me in and we talked; we laughed; we cried. In three mere hours, she not only became my forever friend, she also became my hero.

I intended to add a little light to her eyes during a devastating time, but instead she has illuminated mine forever.

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After several weeks of waiting, I found out I didn’t win … the writing contest, that is.

But I have won something far greater.

You see, I am one of those people who have trouble forgiving myself for past mistakes. I am one of those people who can be downright cruel, beating herself up over poor choices, wasted opportunities, and daily failures.  Although I encourage my friends, family, and blog readers to just “let go” and move on, I have difficulty allowing myself the same privilege.

Until last Saturday.

Just days after discovering my submission was not chosen in the writing contest, I met Angie and her family at the zoo.

When I saw Angie and her two precious grandbabies walking toward me with radiant smiles that challenged the sun, I felt as if an enormous weight was being lifted.

And when Angie grasped me in her arms and held me with every ounce of love and gratitude she felt in her heart, I knew. I knew why my life had intersected with Angie’s on my journey to grasp what matters.

In my 39th birthday post last January, I wrote these words:

I have today.

Yesterday is gone. All the mistakes, failures, poor choices, and the things I wish I could do over … they are gone.

Today stands before me with its arms wide open.

All I have to do is grasp it.

I wrote those words, but at time, I didn’t believe they applied to me.

But now I do.

You see, Angie IS my today. She holds her arms wide open, allowing me to step into a beautiful new beginning despite what happened yesterday, a week ago, or ten years ago. Through her, I have the opportunity to make this moment in my life significant in any way that I can.

And what I didn’t believe in January 2010, but do now is this:

The gift of today is not an exclusive “winning ticket” for only a select few. It is not just for those who are chosen by a panel of judges or by a jury of their peers. It is not solely for those deemed “worthy” by some unattainable standard.

The gift of today is available to you; it is available to me. It is for anyone who wants to make this moment the kind of moment in which hope and courage are born.

Today is waiting with open arms. So what are you waiting for? Jump into her arms and never look back.

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Do you beat yourself up about mistakes in the past? Do you ever feel consumed with guilt over missed opportunities or daily failures?

Imagine waking up tomorrow and finding the remains of yesterday completely erased and the opportunity to begin anew is right at your fingertips.

You don’t have to imagine. Today holds the opportunity to grasp what matters, even if you have not quite managed it in the past.

*Have you put off calling someone to make amends? Do it today.

*Have you put off pursuing your true passion because you’ve been too busy? Do it today.

*Have you put off starting an exercise program because you just don’t have time? Do it today.

*Have you put off creating a blog? Entering a photography contest? Selling a piece of your art or handmade clothing on Etsy? Do it today.

*Have you put off taking a weekend excursion with your significant other because the time is never right? Do it today.

Tomorrow is gone, but a beautiful, glorious, and forgiving today stands before you with arms wide open.

Rachel & Angie

Do What You Can Do

I haven’t been able to get a recent tragedy out of my mind.

I thought perhaps it was because it happened in the state where I grew up.

I thought perhaps it was because I am an avid concert-goer myself, and a freak accident such as this could have very well happened to me or to one of my friends.

Then I realized it wasn’t the circumstance of the accident, nor the location that consumed my thoughts and weighed heavily on my heart. It was what happened in the minutes directly after tragedy struck.

On August 13th, as fans awaited a concert at the Indiana State Fair, strong winds from an approaching storm caused the stage rigging for the outdoor concert to collapse, abruptly ending five precious lives and injuring forty-five more.

As many terrified spectators understandably ran away from the danger and chaos, approximately 100 people ran toward it.

With bare hands, men and women lifted steel beams and heavy scaffolding from the injured and frightened survivors.

Other heroic bystanders sat and comforted those who were bleeding or had injured loved ones until medical assistance arrived.

When I think about the courageous souls who ran to assist, I find myself in awe of their split-second decision to go forward, rather than to turn away.

If only one or two people had decided go forth and help, the beams could have never been lifted. But because a group of individuals each did what they could do, their collective actions created one dramatic, life-saving impact.

A week after the State Fair tragedy, one of my blog readers sent me a link to a website. She thanked me for continually inspiring her and wanted to share a website that she thought would inspire me, in return.

My first thought upon viewing this website was this: The steel beams from that tragic night are still being lifted.

A beautiful mother and wife named Andrea was among the many spectators who were critically injured at the state fair that night.

Andrea’s skull was crushed by the collapse of the enormous metal structure. She suffered a traumatic brain injury that nearly took her life.

You can read about Andrea’s injuries and progress in a touching post written by her brother here.

While Andrea remains hospitalized, local businesses, community members, even small children and pets are doing what they can to support Andrea and her family financially, emotionally, and spiritually.

Here are a few examples …

A local day spa is offering $15 pink hair extensions …

A local bakery is selling pink “A” cookies …

The local roller skating rink recently hosted a benefit skate …

And there are bake sales, t-shirts, bracelets, window decals … with proceeds all benefitting “For The Love of Andrea.”

When you see each of these respective acts as one meaningful collection, the impact is indescribable. Go to www.fortheloveofandrea.com to witness this beautiful inspiration for yourself.

The day after I viewed Andrea’s website, I was confronted with the choice to either run toward or turn away from a family who was enduring great heartache and sadness.

Through the Caringbridge website, I learned that just ten houses down from me was a loving daughter trying to make the last few days of her mother’s life as peaceful and as painless as possible.

I stood at my computer that morning and literally ached as I read her words, thinking selfishly of my own mother and how excruciating such circumstances would be.

My hands hovered over my keyboard in the “Sign My Guestbook” section of the website, yet I was unable to move my fingers.

For a person whose passion and purpose is to create beautiful sentiments from the written word, I was at a loss.

What could I possibly say to this hurting family?

It would have been easy to run away, simply close my laptop and become distracted by a million insignificant things, but I yearned to run forward.

I thought of the small town bakery with their hot pink cupcakes; I thought of the high school boys who had painted their nails pink and the local St. Bernard dogs that proudly donned hot pink bows … all for the love of Andrea.

Then I thought of many individual hands grasping a heavy metal beam and lifting simultaneously at the count of three to free the trapped lives underneath.

I looked at my hands. What can I do?

I am a baker. I have been a baker since the day my four-year-old self could stop eating the butter long enough to toss it into the mixing bowl with a little flour and sugar. Baking is what I do well.

And when I looked on the counter, I saw four very ripe brown bananas ready to become succulent bread.

I summoned my five-year-old daughter (otherwise known as my ever-willing baking assistant and taste tester). I explained what was going on ten houses down. I had taught her about protecting herself against skin cancer, but today the brutal reality of melanoma was crystal clear.

I looked into her worried eyes and explained that it was our job to make the best tasting bread we had ever made.

I held her hands in mine and said, “This is what our hands are meant to do for this family in pain.”

My daughter convinced me that since it was going to be our best bread ever, we needed to make a mini loaf to sample (smart girl).  So before we prepared the larger loaves for delivery to our neighbor, we tasted the dense, warm bread and both agreed it was the best we had ever made. It was for someone very special, after all.

We wrapped the fragrant confections loosely in a brightly colored cloth because they still radiated heat from the oven.

As we carried our gift up the walk, my daughter stopped and suddenly seemed scared.

Understanding she was about to witness a heart-breaking moment in time, she asked, “What do I do, Mama?”

A friend of mine once said my daughter could solve the world energy crisis with her smile.

So I said, “You are going to do what YOU do so beautifully … SMILE. Smile that smile that makes your eyes all squinty and causes your mouth to reach the tips of your ears. Your smile is what our dear neighbor needs right now.”

I watched as my child practiced her best smile as we forged ahead on the walkway to my friend’s front door.

Run toward the pain, not away.

When my neighbor answered, I simply held out the bread and said, “I came to give you warm bread and a big hug.”

Lift the heavy beam.

There were few words, mostly a deposit of love and strength inside a hearty embrace.

My neighbor later posted an update on her mom’s Caringbridge site, noting the outpouring of support her family was receiving through food, cards, prayers, and by caring for her children’s afterschool needs.

I was again reminded how the individual actions of many, when compiled as one, can result in the substantial lifting of another person’s heavy burden.

That evening, my daughter and I sat on the front porch step watching a brewing storm off in the distance.

In the middle of the menacing sky a ray of sun peeked through, illuminating only the outline of the black cloud. It looked like a golden electric string suspended in mid-air.

For whatever reason, this sight triggered my daughter to think about our neighbor and her fragile mother who was slowly slipping away from her loved ones.

“It’s beautiful in heaven,” my daughter pointed to the ray of light that had suddenly cut a sizeable hole in the black cloud, revealing abundant sunshine and puffy white clouds on the other side.

Then without warning, my freckle-faced child bowed her head and said the loveliest prayer for a mother and daughter whose incredible bond would continue to exist, even beyond death.

Run toward the pain, not away. And once you are there, do what it is that you do best.

If we each lend a hand, then together as one, we just might begin to see a more beautiful world.

*****************************************************************************

Today is the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

Let this be a day where you push aside daily distraction and abandon the thought that you can’t possibly make a difference. Instead of running away from someone in need, run toward.

Think of a neighbor, co-worker, friend, or family member who is going through a difficult time. Now do what it is that YOU do to bring comfort to someone in need.

  • Make a phone call and just listen
  • Offer to run to the store
  • Make cookies
  • Grab take-out and tell them not to worry about dinner tonight
  • Mow their yard or rake their leaves
  • Write a note of encouragement
  • Pick some flowers
  • Say a prayer
  • Simply ask: How can I help?

Together we can make 9/11 a day of light and hope by collectively running toward someone who needs a reprieve from the heaviness of life.

How Do You Go Hands Free?

What does Hands Free look like to you? I am grateful to the many people who have shared their stories so this post could be made possible!

When I began my Hands Free journey a little over one year ago, I started alone. I was three months into it when I realized the transformation occurring in my life was too good to keep to myself.

So on December 13, 2010, I posted my first Hands Free Mama blog entry and invited the world to join me on this journey to grasp what really matters.

I have mentioned several times how grateful I am for your company. I have mentioned it publically in posts like “Within Reach,” “Did You Get The Memo?” and “How Kind of You To Notice.” I have also expressed my appreciation for your partnership in the Hands Free journey through personal email correspondences with my readers.

But today I am going to show you how much I love having you on this journey. I want you to see exactly why I love having you by my side in this battle against distraction.

Why is this important?

Because it is your Hands Free story that keeps me going on the days I fail miserably at grasping what matters. Yet, it is also your story that keeps me going on the days I succeed at grasping what matters.

While you anxiously await my successes, celebrate them, and even implement them into your own life, you graciously allow me to reveal my failures, learn from them and move on.

Your story keeps me going during the low times, the high times, and the times in between.

It is your story that keeps me going.

Therefore, I am compelled to share your story. Because your story is worthy of sharing, just like mine is. In fact, I find it quite beneficial to see what Hands Free looks like, not just in my life, but in the lives of my readers, ordinary people creating extraordinary moments by letting go to grasp what matters.

I have used the format “You know you’re living Hands Free when…” to present your stories because I think that is exactly how living Hands Free feels. It sneaks up on you unexpectedly and causes you to say and do things you didn’t say or do before.

The difference in living Hands Free and not living Hands Free is in the choices we make about how we are going to spend our precious time. Your Hands Free stories illustrate that point so beautifully.

Perhaps someone’s story will resonate with you, inspire you, or like me, motivate you to keep you going on your own journey to grasp what really matters.

Here are YOUR Hands Free stories …

You know you’re living Hands Free when…

you begin singing a medley of Broadway tunes, Christmas songs, and lullabies to your over-tired and cranky six-year-old only to find that you quite enjoy this moment of tranquility and continue singing softly in the dark long after he falls asleep.

You Know You’re Living Hands Free When…

you finally realize how many times a day you tell your children to “hurry up,” and decide you not only need to stop saying it, you need to stop living it.

You know you’re living Hands Free when…

your children hug you and you find yourself holding on a bit tighter and a bit longer than you did before.

You know you’re living Hands Free when…

you reluctantly step in to help your son practice kicking field goals and when it’s over, you are surprisingly declared “Best Field Goal Kicker Mom” on your street.

You know you’re living Hands Free when…

your daughter is home sick from school and instead of completing all the things you need to do, you sit with her and watch an episode of “Hannah Montana” that you both have seen a hundred times.

You know you’re living Hands Free when…

you submerge yourself in the community pool (hair and all), and while playing in the water with your kids, your daughter wraps her arms around you and says, “Isn’t it great being with your kids?”

You know you’re living Hands Free when…

you are frantically packing for your trip to California when you suddenly stop what you are doing, take a deep breath, and pick up the Bible because your eight-year-old son meekly asked, “Will you read to me, Mom?”

You know you’re living Hands Free when…

you interpret the shattering of your computer screen by your son’s flying flashlight as a wake up call, a second chance at living Hands Free, and begin limiting the time you spend on your computer to when he is at school or asleep.

You know you’re living Hands Free when…

you request that your employees place all electronic devices in a designated bucket as they enter meetings and conferences. Instead of giving you flack, some of them actually thank you.

You know you’re living Hands Free when…

you tell your seven-year-old son there will not be a story at bedtime tonight and as your tired body descends the staircase, you mumble a four-letter-word directed at Hands Free Mama, turn back around and say, “OK, but YOU have to tell ME the story.”

You know you’re living Hands Free when…

you bake cakes with your three small children and for the first time ever, you allow them to break their own eggs and put as many sprinkles on their cake as they want without using the word “germs” or “mess” even one time.

You know you’re living Hands Free when…

the sign your daughter made for your computer that says, “Do not use until you cuddle,” is no longer needed.

You know you’re living Hands Free when…

you hear joyful commotion in the background when you call your husband who is at home with the kids. He says, “I decided to blow off my to-do-list and go Hands Free; the kids and I are playing football.”

You know you’re living Hands Free when…

you witness your son’s triple play, the congratulatory words from the opposing team’s coach, and exchange smiles with your son from across the field while painfully realizing distraction could have easily robbed your son of his mother’s presence in that unforgettable moment.

You know you’re living Hands Free when…

you forget your iPad on vacation and instead of having a panic attack, you see it as a sign, a blessing, and an opportunity to connect with your family.

You know you’re living Hands Free when…

You send your spouse the link to “Joined In Silence,” and ask if you can discuss it tonight when you get home. It then leads to a fruitful discussion about ways you can help each other limit distraction and deepen personal connection.

You know you’re living Hands Free when…

your husband agrees to go to yoga with you and accidently forgets his phone, resulting in the most connected sixty minutes the two of you have shared in a long time; you vow to forget the phone more often.

You know you’re living Hands Free when…

you get up early and throw on a hat, fully intending to fix your hair after the morning activities, but it doesn’t happen because you’re too busy playing and having fun; you decide you’ll be wearing your hat more often.

You know you’re living Hands Free when…

your brother-in-law won’t get in the pool with the rest of the family and before you can stop yourself, you quote a line from your favorite post, “Fully Submerged,” by saying, “You are witnessing a moment in time that will never occur exactly this way ever again. And there is only one thing missing from it.”

You know you’re living Hands Free when…

you are pushing the kids in the double stroller as they watch movies on their iPods. Suddenly you announce it’s time to “turn off, get out, and collect!” Everyone comes home with the most beautiful collection of rocks, leaves, flowers and memories.

You know you’re living Hands Free when…

you realize how critical the “hellos” and “goodbyes” truly are and make a commitment to stay off the phone when picking up or dropping off your children.

You know you’re living Hands Free when…

your afterschool coaching duties are unexpectedly canceled. You excitedly anticipate all the things you are going to get accomplished at home when your son asks, “Will you play Pick Up Sticks with me?” You decide the chores can wait.

You know you’re living Hands Free when…

you read Hands Free Mama posts like “Tipping The Scales” and “The Girl With The Broken Smile” to your children at bedtime.

You know you’re living Hands Free when…

you announce to your regular walking partners that you will no longer be taking your cell phone on your weekly jaunts so you can devote your entire focus to them.

You know you’re living Hands Free when…

you no longer view the handprints on your glass door (which belong to your grandchildren) as something that needs to be wiped off.

You know you’re living Hands Free when…

you enact “Wireless Wednesdays” at your home where all adults and children refrain from using all electronics and instead connect with one another.

You know you’re living Hands Free when…

you decide that seventy-two years is long enough to beat yourself up over your weight and decide love and acceptance towards your body is how you want to live the precious days that remain.

And finally…

You know you’re living Hands Free when …

you begin viewing life as a million little “Sunset Moments” and you decide you aren’t going to miss anymore.

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What’s your Hands Free story? If you have one, you know I’d love to hear about it. Simply use the “contact me” button at the top of the website or post a note in the comment section. If you don’t have a Hands Free story yet, you know what to do. All it takes is pushing away (or turning off) distraction and choosing to grasp what matters.

Thank you to each and every individual who has ever shared a Hands Free story with me. Not only did you take the time to grasp what mattered with someone you love, you took time to encourage others by sharing it.

Keep sending me those emails, commenting on my blog, and even stopping me in the grocery store parking lot to tell your stories. When someone shares his or her struggles or triumphs, it fuels me in such a powerful way to continue sharing my own.

The Truth About Texting

You just never know what might be coming around the bend.

*The National Safety Council’s Statistics Department estimates 400 people will die in traffic accidents this Labor Day holiday period, which begins at 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 2, and will end at 11:59 p.m. Monday, Sept. 5. Together we can reduce that tragic number simply by reading and sharing this message.

I recently found myself frantically pulling off to the side of the road, steadying my trembling hands, and taking deep calming breaths until my heart regained normal pace.

Never had I felt so certain I was about to die than I had in the two terrifying minutes prior to pulling my car to safety.

On a winding country road, just behind my neighborhood, a young man driving an old Chevy El Camino suddenly appeared around the bend traveling at a dangerous speed.

For a brief, yet agonizing period of time, I watched him lose control of his car and veer directly into my lane head-on.

I saw every agonizing detail of his pale white face.

And just below his chin, atop his steering wheel, nestled comfortably between his two hands was his phone.

While my life flashed before me, all I could think was this: Oh how tragic; the woman who writes about the cost of distraction was killed by a man who was texting and driving.

By the grace of God, the driver regained control and served back into his lane as my vehicle kicked up rocks along the roadside until it slowed to a stop.

I could barely finish my prayer of gratitude, when I began spitting words of raging anger at this young man. He was now long gone, probably continuing to type with the same agile fingers and careless disregard for human life that he had before he came around the curve.

I am not a violent person; I do not welcome confrontation, but how I wanted to grab him by the front of his shirt and shake him viciously until he begged for mercy. How dare you! How dare you value a stupid text message over my life?

Those words sounded vaguely familiar. I had spoken them somewhere before.

Oh, that’s right. To Myself.

I believe in being real in this space I call Hands Free Mama. For it is through my sharing that others can speak similar truths in your own lives. And through these truths we can begin to truly grasp what matters.

The truth hurts, but the truth heals.

While drowning in my overcommitted, highly distracted life approximately two years ago, I never indulged in texting while driving. However, I did allow myself to check email at stoplights when I was driving alone.

I convinced myself that it wasn’t like texting at all; I assured myself I was 100% focused on driving when the light turned green.

What a joke.

One day, as I was reading an email at a stoplight, the car in the left lane hit the gas and entered the intersection. Because I was multi-tasking, I carelessly followed his lead and began pressing on the gas. Suddenly I realized the car next to me had the green left turn arrow; my light was still red.

In that moment, I realized what I was doing was stupid. I realized what I was doing was wreckless, irresponsible, and risky. I realized this “innocent” little habit of mine, that I thought wasn’t so bad, could cost my children their mother.

I reprimanded myself the way I would have liked to scream at the texting driver who almost killed me:

How can you even think that reading a trivial email is worth risking the presence of a mother in your daughters’ lives?

Can you imagine whoever would have to break this news to your husband and parents? “I’m sorry, but Rachel was checking email on her phone and accidently drove into the middle of an intersection while the light was red.”

Seriously? You are an educated woman. What the hell is wrong with you????

It was the wake up call I needed; and I only needed it once. Thank God, I grasped it before I lived (or died) to regret that senseless habit.

I think of that decision every time my daughters and I make our 20-minute trip three times a week to my oldest daughter’s swim practice.

With my phone turned completely off, conversation flows freely. The three of us cover topics from Halloween costumes to endangered animals … from school yard bullies to American Girl dolls … from what it means to go to jail to what it means to go to heaven.

I hear my children’s dreams, their fears, their laughter and yes, sometimes their fighting. I am privy to the stories and questions of their five and eight-year-old minds and hearts, stories I wouldn’t hear (and may not even occur) if I were tied to my phone.

You see, my friends, here’s the best news of all …

When you turn off the phone and begin to connect with what really matters, like the dreams in your own head, and the conversations of the people in the backseat, you don’t even miss your phone.

This coming from someone who, two years ago, held on to her phone like an added extremity. Now there are occasions when I accidently leave home without it because my phone is not what I am connected to anymore.

And if your personal safety doesn’t provide enough motivation to abstain from your phone while driving, consider the fact that your driving habits greatly affect the driving habits of your children.

The following excerpt is taken from an article in the Washington Post entitled, “U.S. teens report ‘frightening’ levels of texting while driving.

“At a conference that U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood convened to discuss distracted driving, he urged parents to set an example for their children by paying attention to the road.

But, the report says, ‘the frequency of teens reporting parent cellphone use behind the wheel in our focus groups was striking, and suggested, in many cases, that texting while driving is a family affair.’”

As I write today’s entry, I can’t help but think about the young mother who was texting while driving on the interstate with her ten-month-old baby in the car. Tragically, neither one survived the crash that resulted from a brief texting conversation. I cannot begin to imagine the pain their family is enduring.

Perhaps we can honor their memory by sharing today’s post with as many people as we know.

Perhaps someone will read this and decide to put the phone in the glove box while driving. And perhaps in that one simple action, this person will experience a conversation, a song, or an inner thought that will remind him or her just how beautiful … and how fragile … life truly is.

Maybe it will be someone you love.

Maybe it will even be you.

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The National Safety Council’s Statistics Department has declared Labor Day weekend as one of the busiest and deadliest times on U.S. roadways. It has been estimated that 400 people will die in traffic accidents during this Labor Day holiday period.

Because nearly one in four crashes involve cell phone use, the National Safety Council suggests the following, if tempted to use a cell phone when driving:

  • Change your voicemail greeting to indicate you are driving and will call back when safely parked.
  • Put your phone in your trunk or glove box.
  • Turn your phone on “silent.”
  • If you need to contact someone, pull over to a safe location and put your vehicle in “Park” before dialing.

And with your phone out of reach, may I suggest:

  • Conversing with someone who is riding with you.
  • Playing music and singing your heart out.
  • Cherishing a moment of complete silence.
  • Whispering prayers of gratitude.
  • Dreaming a dream.
  • Making a wish.
  • Simply feeling alive.

Let Labor Day weekend be a turning point in your life; let it be the day you put the phone away while driving.

The most meaningful connection is not found in a phone. It is either along side you or within you; all you have to do is grasp it.

*I urge you to click the “share” button below and send this to as many people as you can. Perhaps you could be the reason someone lives to see Tuesday, Sept. 6th and all the days thereafter.