Sunday, January 14, 2007

How to Maintain Serenity When They Evacuate the Airport and Everyone Around You is Freaking Out

Nothing like a good old fashioned Red Alert security breach at the airport to cap off your holiday season.

On Friday January 5th, my brother graciously agreed to drive Citlalli and I to the Oakland Airport for our 1:50pm flight. It was about 12:30 when we got off the freeway and since we were checking lots of baggage, I felt pretty good about being on time.

As we headed down the main road into the airport, traffic slowed to a standstill. For the first 2 or 3 minutes we figured it was due to construction until we saw a news van and a reporter. Hmmmmm, better switch on the radio.

An unidentified man ran past the security perimeter at Oakland International Airport at approximately 11am this moring. All operations have been halted, including the grounding of all flights and the evacuation of all passengers, numbering over 1000.

There we were in my brother's van, my 13 year old niece reading a book in the front seat, Citlalli and I in the back. We noticed people around us were turning their cars off, some even getting out. Two women were running down the lanes of stopped traffic, suitcases in hand. They didn't look serene.

Our key to serenity was tied up in the mood and joy of our 4 year old passenger. Being stuck in traffic with a preschooler requires creativity and patience from the adults, not unlike taking a long road trip with kids. Keep the kid happy and we'll all be happy, was our unspoken motto. So we started on an alphabet game, everyone got a turn to say a letter and an animal that started with that letter. We cut major slack for Citlalli, but overall she did pretty well.

Over 30 minutes passed, then we turned on the radio one more time. A spokeswoman for the Oakland airport was making a statement.

"No one will miss their flight today." She said a few more sentences, but that was all I needed to hear. Cool, I thought, no one will miss their flight today! Hey let's play another round of animal alphabet!

At 1pm the airport was reopened, and with that thousands of people converged upon the Terminals for their flights. I saw impatient people losing their cool left and right, but I kept the words of the spokeswoman in my head: No one will miss their flight today. I need to get spiritual in stressful times so I told myself that it was my higher power letting me know all would be well.

For whatever reason (I think it was because we didn't fly Southwest which was a total fluke), there was no line at the counter. All of our Christmas gift loaded suitcases made the baggage limit, we got ticketed without a hitch. The woman behind the counter looked at me. "You have missed the scheduled check in time for your flight and there's no way you're going to make it in time." Awww, uninformed pessimist that she was. I looked her in the eye. "No one is going to miss their flight today." (Just then her co-worker clued her in that the computers weren't updated yet and she exhaled a "Hmmmph") I think she still wanted to see if we'd crack.
"See that huge crowd of people over there?"

I nodded.

"That's the security line. Good luck."

No worries mon! I kept the mantra flowing, "No one will miss their flight".

We walked for ages trying to find the end of the line and finally got there. A young woman with a backback was obviously distressed; her face red with worry. I didn't know her, I wasn't asked for a comment but I simply turned to her and said, "No one will miss their flight today. You're fine." She looked a bit marveled at my comment, but just then a security agent yelled out numbers of flights and she was yanked out of line and taken to the front of the pack so she could get on her plane. Coincidence? Hmmmmmmmmm.

Hey this spiritual approach rocks, I thought to myself. Citlalli was being such a great sport, too. She had a stuffed kitty to play with and was beyond content. She barely noticed we were standing in line. I made a game out of it and when I sensed impatience, managed to get her mind back on our fun game.

The security line lasted forever, but we made the best of it. I saw how hard the airport staff was working and when one was nearby I'd tell them what a great job they were doing. "Thanks for helping us all out", I said. You should have seen them beaming! Most other people were raising their voices and getting stressed out. (I don't think they heard the "no one will miss their flight" part)

Citlalli and I now had an important job in this event: we had to be ambassadors of gratitude and joy.

Eventually we made it to our gate, and of course the flight was delayed but that was fine. Our 1:50 flight became the 4:00 flight but that gave us time to grab a bite. The young woman at the gourmet burrito stand was really exhausted from all this. We chatted a bit and she said it was the most awful day of work. "You're doing such a great job. All of you are! Thank you so much."

If you've ever seen a person's energy rise, you'd know what I'm talking about. Simple words of thanks truly brought people up. And each time I shared my gratitude with someone, I felt better too.

We ultimately made it onto our plane, met a charming college student named Clare, and next thing you know we're on the curb waiting for our ride home.

When I got home, I found lots of unopened mail. The first envelope I opened was a Christmas card from my friend Laurel. In it she attached a pin. It said "Gratitude Attitude".

Now wasn't THAT the perfect topping to an unusually awesome (yet spiritually rockin) day.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Thanks for Praying for Bunny

In a recent issue of my ezine The Pocket Comadre, I shared with readers that Bunny (my awesome mom) was recently diagnosed with colon cancer. She is undergoing chemo and radiation, and despite all that has a great attitude.

I asked people to keep her in her prayers. These are some responses I got back- many from total strangers- wishing her well. The kindness and love poured out amaze me. I am so full of gratitude right now. If you think the world is filled with horrible people, read these notes and think again. People are beautiful, the world is beautiful.

From Andy in LA
I am sending lots of love and healing thoughts to your Mama!

From KK in Malaysia:

Dear Nancy,

Warmest greetings from Penang, Malaysia! May your mum be in the best of health ... always ...


From Ibis:
Dear Nancy's mom,

Prayers have a tremendous power to heal. I will pray for your health and well-being. I know you are going through some challenging times but from reading Nancy's description about you and learning about her love towards you I get the impression that you possess an impressive inner strength. Que Dios la Bendiga. Ibis

From Leyden in NYC
Hi Nancy,
Please send your mother my very best wishes for her good health. Tell her that I will pray for her quick recovery and send her waves upon waves of positivity.


From Ali in Florida
Estimada Señora y Mamá de mi querida Nancita,

Siento mucho los problemas de salud que se les ha presentado. Cuando Nancy me dijo que la enviaron al Hospital yo hice oraciones especiales para que todo saliera bien. También llamé a mis amistades para que todas rogáramos por usted a las cuatro de la tarde del DIA cuando usted fue hospitalizada.

Aunque no nos conocemos, sí conozco muy bien a su hija Nancita, la cual es un Ángel enviado de cielo y a la cual le tengo mucho cariño y respeto. Me imagino que Nancita salió a usted. Quiero que sepa que continuamos pidiéndole a Dios por una recuperación rápida

Y que el Espíritu Santo la mantenga protegida bajo su manto omnipotente.

Que Dios la bendiga y le aporte con mucha salud, dicha y bienestar…y mucho, mucho amor.
Bendiciones y abrazos,


From Diane G.
Nancy's Mom
So sorry to hear of your recent diagnosis. Please know that you will be included in my thoughts and prayers...your strength and vibrancy can only help in your fight. Between all the benefit of the recent medical advances made in fighting cancer and all the love and prayers that are coming your way, your chances are great! Good luck!

From Gloria U.
Nancy, I wish you and your mom the very best and will include you all in my prayers.
God Bless, Gloria

From Gloria H.
I pray your mom gets a total healing. Share this scripture with her.

Mark 16: 17
And these signs will accompany those who believe: they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.

And this one is for you:

Take delight in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.

From Ruben in Orange County
Have a great year and I send prayers for your mother. RUBEN


Dear Nancy,
Thanks for your new year greetings.

I am so sorry to hear about your mom's recent diagnosis.

My father was diagnosed with cancer 4 years ago. He has something
called multiple myeloma which is basically bone cancer. Without
treatment, he would not have much hope, so of course he decided to have
the treatment.

Now treatment for this rare type of cancer is very complicated. Not
only did he go through the strongest chemotherapy treatment but he also
had to have a stem cell transplant. When he was diagnosed, his kidneys
had failed and he was told that he had to have dialysis for the rest of
his life. All in all, it wasnt' very good news. And it wasn't an easy
time at all. My dad spent 8 months in hospital due to a crazy amount
of complications. And me and my mom spent every day with him. and we
laughed and cried and talked about life and death and jeopardy and how
was it possible for the champion to have such a big brain!

My father was very close to death a number of times. He had 2 blood
infections, his heart stopped for 6 minutes, and he had dangerously
high blood pressure...but in the end he is still with us and he is
doing much better. About a month ago, the doctors said that they
didn't want to see him for a year..which is amazing considering he went
every two weeks to see them!

When my dad was sick, i organized something that i called the kindness
of strangers letter writing campaign. I sent out emails letting
everyone i knew what was happening to my dad. I asked everyone if they
could send this to all they knew and if they could continue passing it
on. Basically i asked if people could write some words of peace, love
and kindness to someone going through a rough time. Well, we ended up
with about 75 letters from many different places! Heck, we even got
some letters from japan and israel!

I put all of the envelopes in a box and delivered them to my mother and
father who were incredibly touched. My mother found these letters very
meaningful and she looks at them often.

If you feel so inclined, i would urge you to do the same. Simply put
out one email asking people to send this out to friends who might be
willing to participate and ask them to forward it along. Provide a
mailing address and see what happens. A friend of mine did it and she
recieved about 75 letters of love and support.

When my dad was diagnosed he said that he wasn't going anywhere cause
he had too much love to give! My father has fought this disease and
has been the most stubborn guy ever. I think that having a strong
spirit really helps, but from what i gather your mom is probably a very
strong woman!

much love to you and your familia!