12 Days: Finding the Light

IMG_1496“Birds don’t sing because they have the answer, they sing because they have a song.”

-Maya Angelou

Words. While words can heal us, help us and hold us in times of crises, words also can hurt us, harm us and hinder us from moving forward. A lot of words are being thrown around after Friday’s tragedies. A lot. And not all of them as sensitive as we would like.

On Friday, I decided to take a short respite from social media. What I was seeing on Twitter and Facebook was in some ways comforting (reminders to hug my kids) but mostly it just made the knot in my stomach (criticism of gun control, mental health, etc.) There are children who won’t have a Christmas. Moms and Dads that will not have their entire family with them Christmas morning. Words won’t change that, no matter what your politics are.

But words are what make up prayers, letters, songs, thoughts, memories and conversations with our children. Words are what teach, guide, help and plan our future. Words are what we use to connect with each other.

And, although I don’t know much, I am pretty sure that the person who did this did not feel that words would guide him or help him. Words did not bring him solace. Words did not help him to connect to others.

So, I have seen that people are using the time to make connections to others in an effort to honor the lives of the people we lost. Instead of getting on a political soapbox or criticizing safety in schools, think about the little people who are still forming in those classrooms in Connecticut or New York or Texas or Arkansas. There are tons of other little people who need to see that we are able to honor what is good in people. We can do this while using it as an outlet for our grief and sadness. And with that, keep the good— the good words, the good spirit, the good ways of a person as a prominent force in our lives.

Some Examples:

  • Two local teenagers were killed in a car accident recently. Many schools around the area made an effort to “go green” (wear green in honor of the school the two kids attended) in the weeks following the tragedy. Students in our school made key chains showing the athletic numbers of the two students who were killed. There was an outpour of support and gentility from the teenagers I teach every day. It was beautiful.
  • When a girl in college was killed in a car accident my freshman year, her father spoke at the memorial service of challenging us all to have a “Lindsay Day” in her honor. He said that when we have a day where we spend time with friends, do something fun or special with family or just have a peaceful day to ourselves, we should name it a “Lindsay Day,” a day to honor the sweet daughter he lost. He gave us his address and asked us to mail him a postcard describing our day to him. Probably heartwarming and positive reminders of the continuance of his daughter’s spirit.
  • Recently, an old friend from college lost her mother to cancer. On her mother’s birthday, she asked everyone to post to Facebook about what they were doing that was celebratory. She called it “Ursula Fun Challenge Day” in honor of her mother. People posted pictures from all over the country telling about fun things they were doing with friends and family in honor of her mother. I know it helped Heather get through a particularly difficult day and it also was heartwarming for everyone to see all of the happy things we are all doing all the time that any Mom would be happy and proud to be a part of.
  • One day I somehow stumbled upon a blog, The Livie Project written by a Mom who had lost her daughter very early in infancy. She made the blog about all of the things that her daughter would experience but experience in spirit. She had people post pictures doing things where her daughter Livie’s name was spelled out somewhere in the picture. The idea is that through the photos, Livie lives on and gets to experience things she would otherwise never be able to.

So, today, I am going to send out some positive words to people that have affected me or continue to affect me and have made my life better. I am hoping that they, and others, will comment on this post to share positive thoughts, feelings, memories and prayers to help to do what I think words can do: heal, help and hold us.

Because without being the light in the world, we only have the dark. So, we have to look to each other to make the light, be the light and keep the light going, even during a time of great, great, great sorrow.

Like Maya Angelou says, we don’t have an answer about what has happened. But we have words, and those words make up songs and in those songs are the stories of who we are and how we got here. I’d like to say I got here all by my own hard work and dedication to myself, but that would be a lie. I have countless people who have loved and supported me. And this is to them.

12 Blurbs about 12 People Who Make My Life Bright

  1. Michael for challenging me, always, to be a better person and in his words, “make good decisions.”
  2. Kristy for sending me emails that outline the five things that make her smile every day. And for writing to me on certain days and saying, “You ok? I haven’t heard from you in a while.” There are some friends that are lifelong and she is one of those (23 years and counting!). And also to Kerri for being my first best friend who introduced me to Kristy:)
  3. My father who taught me what fresh coffee, a good attitude and a kind word could do for a person’s day.
  4. Katie for not making me feel like my obsessions with reality TV and bologna are gross.
  5. Parker for teaching me that life is big and fun and full of possibility. And for making me take myself less seriously.
  6. Celia for making me see how parenting a daughter is so different from parenting a son—already.
  7. Julie for being the best stand in Mom for my kids. There isn’t anyone sweeter to them. And for being a faithful editor and feedback artist to me in my writing.
  8. My mother, who may never read this blog or be able to use a computer without help, but who told me one important thing as a teenager: “Your reputation is your integrity, Bridgette.” And how right she is.
  9. My students for the way they appreciate me and laugh at my corny jokes.
  10. Mr. Wagar, my fifth grade teacher who recognized my talent in English Language Arts.
  11. My sister-in-law Liz, who, after enduring a brain cancer scare just six months ago can still be one of the most supportive and selfless people I have ever met.
  12. My friends, family and even some strangers who read this blog and make me feel like starting Shortcut Girl wasn’t just a crazy idea that a crazy person came up with.

Post below any “songs” you have for those very special people in your life. Share some words with someone you love today. Because sometimes the words you use to describe a person can really make a difference in how they see themselves.

Because, sometimes, we just need to help each other find the light.


  1. Ironically, there are no words to describe what it feels like to be supported in one of my darkest moments…when through my endless tears I see my first “best friend” standing in line, waiting to give me a hug at my dad’s funeral. There were lots of words exchanged that day…words of sorrow, words of peace, and my favorite way to use words…in the form of a hug. There are no words to describe true friendship…therein lies the beauty of it. I am blessed and grateful to have found you again, and am ecstatic that you and Katie have the honor of knowing each other. Your words are beautiful. The hugging kind and the written kind. Keep inspiring all those who are lucky to know you :)


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